Although we're more than a month out from the end of 2023, we can still conclude, at least so far, that this year has been a tough one for Telstra Group Ltd (ASX: TLS) shares. Telstra began this year at just under $4 a share – at $3.95 to be precise.
By June, everything seemed to be going this ASX 200 telco's way, with Telstra clocking a new multi-year high of $4.46.
But as we approach the end of the year, the telco's shares have come markedly off the boil. Today, the telecommunications blue chip is back down to $3.78 a share at present, after touching a new 52-week low of $3.76 this morning.
This is some of the lowest share prices Telstra has traded at since mid-2021. Barring some epic December share price miracle, perhaps one heck of a Santa rally, it seems Telstra is heading towards a year to forget.
So what would it take for Telstra to have a better 2024 than it has over 2023?
Well, there's little doubt that it was the telco's full-year results from August that really took the wind out of Telstra shares' sails this year.
Why is the Telstra share price at a new 52-week low?
As we covered at the time, Telstra reported some objectively inoffensive numbers. Total income was up by 5.4% over FY2023, while Telstra also reported a 13.1% rise in net profits after tax to $2.1 billion.
However, it was another announcement that seemed to really put investors out. Telstra's management revealed that, after floating the idea for a while, it would not be pursuing a sale or divestment of the company's valuable InfraCo Fixed infrastructure assets.
The market had been hoping that the company would sell at least some of these assets off, which could have generated a huge windfall and allowed for a major capital return. However, Telstra's management decided to keep these assets in-house, for at least the time being. Telstra shares subsequently plunged in value, and have explored new lows ever since.
So how the Telstra share price performs next year will arguably rest on whether investors can, for want of a better phrase, get over this decision.
Let's say the telco continues to build on its healthy FY2023 full-year numbers and delivers some more healthy growth figures at its half-year results in February. This might be an easier task than it was this time last month, considering the recent woes of its major competitor Optus.
This could well provide the catalyst for a share price recovery going into March and April.
ASX broker reckons Telstra shares are a buy
One ASX broker reckons Telstra is on for a top year next year. As we discussed last week, broker Goldman Sachs is very bullish on Telstra shares indeed.
It recently gave the company a buy rating, alongside a 12-month share price target of $4.70. That would see investors enjoy a share price gain of more than 24% if accurate.
However, we'll have to wait and see what happens next year.