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PETALING JAYA: The government’s decision to cut the number of special draws for numbers forecast operators (NFO) is expected to have minimal impact on Sports Toto Bhd’s earnings.
Analysts remain positive on the growth prospects of Sports Toto despite the reduction in the number of special draws to eight in 2023 from the present allocation of 22, as announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, following a Cabinet meeting on Monday.
Hong Leong Investment Bank (HLIB) Research said it was not overly concerned by the development as special draws have minimal impact to NFO’s earnings.
“Firstly, special draws typically have lower sales compared to normal draws because of the former’s non-routine nature. Punters typically prefer to play on routine normal draws which are held on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, while special draws are held on selected Tuesdays as prescribed by Finance Ministry,” the brokerage explained in its report.
“Secondly, a portion of special draw sales cannibalises the sales from normal draws. Recall that special draws have higher tax than normal draws, thus, this results in a net negative impact to earnings for this portion of sales that is cannibalised,” it added.
HLIB maintained its “buy” call on Sports Toto, with an unchanged target price of RM2.27.,
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Similarly, RHB Research also maintained its “buy” call on the counter, premised on a handsome 7% dividend yield. The brokerage, however, cut its target price for Sports Toto to RM2.07 from RM2.10 previously.
“As special draws tend to fetch lower margins, this lower number of days will also crimp earnings,” the brokerage said.
It cut its earnings estimates for the financial year ending June 30, 2023 (FY23) to FY25 for Sports Toto by 3% per year.
“We think the expectation of lower earnings is already in the price. We also highlight that, despite the increase in the number of special draw days in end-May, there was no significant improvement in Sports Toto’s first-quarter FY23 earnings,” RHB Research said.
“While we recognise that regulatory uncertainty and risks remain, we do not rule out the possibility of favourable policies in the future, that is, the potential ramp-up in enforcement efforts against illegal NFOs,” it added.
RHB Research noted that special draws tend to fetch lower margins, as compared to normal draws, as NFOs have to pay an additional 10% as a special contribution to the government on all special draw gross ticket sales (after deducting the 8% gaming tax). Historically, previous administrations would turn to special draws to shore up their coffers.
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