Hutchison Whampoa’s 3G business has been viewed too gloomily by the market, as its current setbacks are only short-term and supply-related, Merrill Lynch says. The investment bank holds the contrarian view that Hutchison’s disappointing take-up rate in Europe was mostly to do with a lack of handsets supply, rather than a lack of demand. It said Hutchison may spin-off part or all of its 3G assets in an initial public offering in 2005 or 2006.
Revising its 2003 earnings forecast by 78 per cent to HK$14.08 billion, due to its use of a different accounting approach for 3′s depreciation and amortisation, Merrill Lynch maintains a “Buy” rating on Hutch shares and a HK$70 price target.”Ultimately, we believe that indications of demand are more important than short-term subscriber targets especially as the shortfall seems to have occurred because of temporary shortages,” Merrill Lynch said. Continue >>