BTS share price hit by plummet in passenger numbers

Shares of BTS Group Holdings, operator of Bangkok’s mass transit system, fell by more than 4 per cent on Friday after the company reported an 80-per-cent decline in passenger numbers from pre-pandemic levels.

BTS dropped by 4.35 per cent to 8.80 baht during midday as the third-biggest percentage loss of the morning session. The stock accounted for 606.5 million baht of transaction value.

Surapong Laoha-Unya, BTS executive director, said on Thursday that passenger numbers had plunged to 170,000-180,000 per day, down 80 per cent from 800,000 prior to the pandemic.

This is expected to pose a small impact on the company’s annual revenue since it earned a 40-billion-baht funding from the government for constructing the Yellow and Pink Line railways, he said.

The Pink Line project is the extension to the existing railways from Khae Rai station to Minburi station, while the Yellow Line goes from Lat Phrao station to Samrong station.

Surapong added that the Pink Line opening will be delayed from March 2022 to the middle of next year, due to the effects of the pandemic. The Yellow Line will also be postponed to March 2022 instead of December this year.

An analyst at SCB Securities noted that the third wave of Covid-19 will pressure the company’s second-quarter performance to be lower than the previous quarter, but he still forecast a year-on-year growth from low base levels in 2020.

Given its ‘Neutral’ rating, BTS’s full-year earnings forecast from SCB stood at 3 billion baht, down 34 per cent year-on-year.

For a long-term outlook, the analyst said the company will likely return to pre-Covid performance levels from April 2022, with the Green Line concession extension as a key catalyst.

However, the analyst warned that “the timeline is unclear and has been delayed many times to the point where we do not recommend investors speculate on this issue until there is actual movement.”

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