x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Nawras hot as investors seek telecoms haven

Nawras, the Omani telecoms operator, looks set to continue benefiting from investor buying as the telecoms sector becomes a safe haven for traders

Shares in the Omani telecommunications operator Nawras, one of the few successful public listings to emerge from the Middle East in recent years, show no signs of faltering as investors shift their attention to the sector.

The company's shares advanced for a fifth consecutive day yesterday, rising 1.51 per cent to 738 Omani baisa as investors turned to the reliable telecoms sector as a safe haven amid volatile markets.

There are several growth opportunities for Nawras, Rasmala Investment Bank said in a note to investors yesterday.

The high-speed data market, which allows fast access to the broadband network, is the main driver of growth, the note said. The recently launched fixed-line network and the mobile segment is also expected to help shares in the company.

"If Nawras can capture market share on [the data market] front, we believe it could surpass Omantel, its main rival in terms of revenue growth and profitability per subscriber," the note said.

But Rasmala added the leader in the data market depended on what will be "more aggressive in market differentiation, branding and pricing".

Nawras, 55 per cent controlled by Qatar Telecom and 5 per cent by an Omani pension fund, broke Omantel's monopoly in March 2005.

It has continued to expand its market share and in its first full-year results since its listing on the Muscat Securities Market it reported a 20 per cent jump in net profit, compared with 2009, to 50 million rials last year.

Rasmala yesterday upgraded its recommendation for the company to "buy" from "hold". It boosted its target price to 830 baisa a share, from 770 baisa.

In terms of price to earnings, a method of determining how expensive a stock is in relation to its peers, Nawras is trading at 30 per cent discount, the bank said.