The company released its report for the first quarter of 2023. Q1 achieved revenue of 11.499 billion yuan, yoy +117.77%; achieved net profit of 4.875 billion yuan, yoy +46.49%; net profit deducted by the mother was 4.836 billion yuan, yoy +70.67%.
Ping An's point of view:
Mining and metallurgy volumes and prices have risen sharply, and performance continues to soar. In 23Q1, the volume and price of the company's products maintained a high growth trend. The gross sales margin and net profit margin reached 89.80% and 73.84% respectively. In terms of prices, 23Q1's average sales prices of lithium compounds and derivatives and lithium ore increased by 40.47% and 245.09% respectively over the same period of the previous year. Beginning in 2023, the Greenbush lithium concentrate price adjustment cycle changed from semi-annual to quarterly, while lithium salt prices were regularly adjusted to underwriting agreement prices based on market prices. The 22Q4 rise in lithium salt and lithium concentrate market prices led to an increase in the company's related product prices in the first quarter. In terms of production, the company's output of the first phase of the company's Quinana lithium hydroxide project in Australia has steadily increased. Currently, TLK is distributing samples of relevant lithium hydroxide products to existing and potential purchasers for customer certification; the new 20,000 ton lithium carbonate project built by Suining Anju is expected to be completed and put into operation in the second half of '23, providing a new increase. In the long-term plan, we will strive to keep the production capacity target of around 300,000 tons of lithium carbonate equivalent by 2027.
SQM's performance increased substantially year over year, and the company's return on investment increased again. During the reporting period, the company received investment income of more than 1.4 billion yuan in joint ventures and joint ventures, yoy +183%, mainly due to the high performance expectations of SQM in 23Q1. Furthermore, the “National Lithium Strategy” recently announced by the Chilean President has little impact on the company in the short term: first, the company currently processes all raw materials for lithium compounds from the Greenbush lithium concentrate, which is 100% self-sufficient; second, the policy is still in the early stages and still needs to be reviewed and approved by the National Assembly. There is no conclusion yet. SQM is analyzing Chile's lithium nationalization policy within the framework of the contract signed with Corfo, and the company will continue to monitor policy progress.
The cost rate fell again during the period, and the results of cost reduction and efficiency were remarkable. In 23Q1, the company's sales/management/R&D/finance expense ratio was 0.07%/0.98%/0.07%/-0.71% respectively (the various expense rates for the same period in 2022 were 0.11% /2.61%/0.11%/4.63%, respectively). The overall trend was declining year by year, with remarkable cost reduction and efficiency gains.
The termination of the transaction involving the holding subsidiary TLEA's proposed acquisition of ESS -100% of its shares has had no real impact on the company's performance. The Pioneer Dome lithium mine and the Juglah Dome and Golden Ridge gold mines owned by ESS are all in the early exploration and testing stage. The lithium ore takes about 5-8 years from exploration to final production, so the above are all long-term long-term projects, and it is difficult to produce revenue in the short term. Furthermore, according to the relevant agreement of the “Plan Implementation Agreement”, no party will pay break-up fees due to the termination of the transaction due to the aforementioned matters, so the termination of this transaction will not have a significant adverse impact on the company's financial situation and operating results this year.
Investment suggestions: The company's performance continued to increase in the first quarter of 2023, product prices rose, new production capacity was released in an orderly manner, and the cost rate continued to decline during the period; the peak terminal season in the second quarter will arrive. Lithium prices have already shown an upward trend. The valuation of the lithium industry is expected to be repaired. I am optimistic about the company's value correction opportunities as an industry leader. Based on the performance of the company's quarterly report, the unit sales price of the company's products was raised, and the company's net profit of 2023-2025 was increased to 232/200/21.3 billion yuan respectively (the original value was 221/191/21.3 billion yuan respectively). On April 29, 2023, the corresponding share price of PE was 5.0 times, 5.9 times, and 5.5 times, respectively, maintaining the “recommended” rating.
Risk warning: 1) The progress of the company's project falls short of expectations: if Australia's Quinana lithium hydroxide project and the Suining Anju lithium carbonate project cannot be put into operation in time, the company's performance may fall short of expectations; 2) The growth rate of terminal demand falls short of expectations: the growth rate of demand in the terminal new energy vehicles and energy storage market declines, leading to the risk that lithium salt demand falls short of expectations; 3) Following the sharp release of global lithium resource production capacity, there may be an excess risk. A reversal in the supply and demand pattern will lead to a greater decline in lithium prices; 4) Accelerate the nationalization of lithium resources overseas, and policy tightening may lead to competition for mineral rights Increased risk.