The valuation of the express delivery industry has basically reflected the long-term decline in the industry's growth rate and continued price competition. Overall expectations are relatively pessimistic, there is a margin of safety, and the risk-return value is relatively high.
The Zhitong Finance App learned that Zheshang Securities released a research report saying that in 2023, due to industry price competition, market sentiment in the express delivery sector was relatively sluggish. Currently, the sector's valuation corresponding to 2024 has generally fallen to a low level. The valuation basically reflects the long-term decline in the industry's long-term growth rate and continued price competition. Overall expectations are relatively pessimistic, there is a margin of safety, and the risk-return value is relatively high. Wait for the pattern to improve, focus on the long-term value of high-quality leading companies, and focus on restoration targets. 1) Direct Express: Optimistic about SF Holdings (002352.SZ); 2) Affiliate Express: It is recommended to pay attention to Zhongtong Express-W (02057), Yuantong Express (600233.SH), Shentong Express (002468.SZ), and Yunda Shares (002120.SZ).
The views of Zheshang Securities are as follows:
After 30 years of industry development, the express delivery industry is now relatively mature; differences in market demand have led to different express pricing models.
The development of the express delivery industry has mainly gone through the following stages:
Sprout: Private express delivery companies started in the 1990s. With the development of foreign trade business, demand for export customs materials and sample postage has skyrocketed.
Rapid development: In the context of the superposition of the Taobao Internet launch in 2003 and the enactment of the “New Post Law” in 2009, e-commerce blowout development has brought a golden period to express delivery development.
Capital helps: In 2016-2017, leading express delivery companies went public one after another under the enthusiasm of the capital market, speeding up progress through financing.
Leading competition: Since 2018, the growth rate of the industry has slowed. In terms of volume, it has now basically formed a competitive pattern where Zhongtong is leading, Yuantong is temporarily stabilizing second, Yunda Shentong is catching up with each other, and extremely growing rapidly. SF Express also maintains a leading position in time-limited express delivery.
Volume: The development of commercial flow promotes logistics growth, and the development of e-commerce platforms has greatly contributed to the growth of express delivery volume. With the increase in the penetration rate of online shopping and the continuous evolution of e-commerce models, the growth rate of volume in the industry is slowing down. In the future, market sinking and express delivery overseas may become the focus of competition.
The development of e-commerce has gone through 20 years of development and transformation into a diversified ecosystem. From Dangdang.com in 1999, to the launch of Taobao and Jingdong in 2003-2004, to the establishment of Pinduoduo in 2015, and Douyin tested the waters of live streaming in 2018, e-commerce platforms have also evolved from the initial shelf e-commerce to a diversified ecosystem model of live streaming and social e-commerce.
Commercial flow development promotes logistics growth. With the growth of commercial flow on upstream platforms, express delivery volume has also experienced explosive growth. From 2011-2017, the CAGR of express delivery volume was as high as 49%.
The development of new e-commerce platforms such as Struggle and Shake has had a clear impact on traditional e-commerce. In 2017-2021, the compound annual growth rate of Pinduoduo's GMV was as high as 104%, and Pinduoduo's share of GMV's top five e-commerce platforms also increased from 2% to 16%.
The value of single packages continues to decline, and the declining market has become the focus of competition among e-commerce platforms. Coupled with the rapid development of e-commerce in Southeast Asia under policy support, express delivery overseas may become the second growth curve for express delivery companies.
Price: Competition among upstream e-commerce platforms, the industry entering a stage of stock development, and the homogenization of superimposed e-commerce express delivery services have determined that price competition has become the main line of price evolution. Under policy support, vicious below-cost price competition may no longer occur, but price competition and sustainability in some regions remains to be seen.
With the development of upstream platforms and the evolution of the industry's growth rate, express delivery pricing has experienced changes from supply and demand pricing (before 2009), competitive pricing (2010 - 2017) to cost plus pricing (since 2018).
After nearly 20 years of development, single express ticket revenue continues to decline, and price competition continues to develop throughout the industry. Under the current cost plus pricing model, price competition is more frequent.
The competitive strategies of leading companies and off-peak seasons are also important factors affecting price changes.
Costs: Sorting and shipping costs are core costs for courier companies. Various companies have increased capital expenditure one after another, increased the self-employment ratio of core transportation and sorting links, and achieved cost reduction and efficiency in the core express delivery chain.
The cost of a courier ticket is mainly composed of face slip fees, transportation, sorting, and delivery costs. Among them, payment fees are more of a circulation effect, so the difference in the cost of a single ticket is more reflected in the transit process.
The rapid growth in business volume is an important basis for the decline in the cost of express delivery on a single ticket. In order to increase production capacity, leading express delivery companies have increased capital expenses and raised the level of equipment automation.
In addition to the scale effect, increasing the self-employment ratio of core transportation and sorting links through capital expenditure will increase express delivery companies' control over core links and improve the operating efficiency of transit centers, thereby reducing costs and closing the gap.
Risk warning: Economic downside risks, industry growth is lower than expected, and the express delivery price war worsens.