KUALA LUMPUR: AmInvestment Bank Research is revising higher its earnings forecasts for Berjaya Food Bhd, its new top sector pick, on expectations of more bullish sales and margins.

"We are revising our earnings forecasts upwards by 34% for FY22F, 42% for FY23F and 51% for FY24F," it said.

The research firm, which has a "buy" call on the stock, raised its fair value to RM5.05 a share from RM3.30 previously, on 14.5x price-earnings based on FY23 earnings per share.

The research firm said in its stock update that Starbucks Malaysia' earnings, which contributed to 96% of the group's FY22 net profit, are expected to remain resilient with high cutomer retention rates.

It said the company is also effective in generating consumer interest through switching outlet formats, leveraging third-party delivery services, and change in customers’ loyalty reward programme.

"Leveraging on Starbucks’ strong brand equity, we believe BFood is relatively in a better position to compete in retaining consumers’ share of wallet under the current inflationary environment compared to its peers.

"In addition, Starbucks’ target audience of middle to high-income groups are likely to be more sticky given their bigger discretionary income buffer and more resilient spending habits to offset rising costs of living," it said.

According to AmInvestment, while rivals are passing on additional costs to end-consumers, Starbucks is managing the increase in raw material prices by actively improving its product portfolio via higher-margin products and widening offerings.

In terms of marketing, AmInvestment said Starbucks appears to be running more aggressive marketing campaigns to promote season blended beverages, which tend to have better margins, and also widening its merchandising offerings.

The research firm said the company is also taking active measures to diversify Kenny Rogers Roasters’ (KRR) offerings by reducing its heavy exposure to one single-cost item - chicken - while new franchise Paris Baguette is a positive addition that will extend Berjaya Food's potential growth runway.

"The group’s new venture, Paris Baguette’s earnings contribution is expected to be immaterial in the near-term as it goes through a gestation period," it said.

"The group’s strategy to progressively open five outlets/year, or a total of 50 stores in 10 years, will avoid potential over-investment while giving local consumers an opportunity to develop an appetite for the Paris Baguette brand," it added.

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