AES: A Global Renewables Play, But Somewhat Expensive

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Energy lecture screen

Laurence Dutton

Dear Readers/Followers,

AES Corporation (NYSE:AES) isn't your emblematic inferior play. Instead, it's a Fortune 500 vigor institution that focuses connected accelerating the aboriginal of energy, with a absorption connected renewables. I haven't written astir this institution before, due to the fact that whenever I looked astatine it, the valuation honestly wasn't that great.

And the information is, it inactive isn't large today. I'm going successful with a "HOLD" into AES for a fig of reasons, each of which I'm going to spell done present today. Still, there's a batch to beryllium said for investing successful utilities, and if this 1 declines backmost down to mean levels, it could go an absorbing investment.

So let's spot what we person going for america here!

AES Corporation - What is the institution and what does it do?

AES is headquartered successful Arlington, VA, and has its inheritance successful the consulting space. That's really however AES started. It was initially a consulting concern that was started by 2 Energy Administration appointees from the Nixon era. It went nationalist successful -91.



AES was heavy impacted by the Enron scandal, owed to the liquidity situation that followed the collapse. The institution went from consulting to gathering powerfulness plants crossed 20+ antithetic countries. Over the past fewer years, AES has switched its absorption from bequest to the operation and proviso of star and wind-based vigor and retention systems. The institution does M&As, not conscionable integrated growth, and has revenues implicit $10B, a marketplace headdress of implicit $18B, and carries a institution recognition standing of BBB- from S&P Global. Not the best, but serviceable and understandable fixed the company's somewhat heavier indebtedness (75.32% lt/cap).

The institution has a dividend that it's held since 2012, meaning astir a 10-year tradition. The output connected that payout is 2.51% today, which makes it 1 of the lower-yielding alternatives successful the space.

Low output combined with debased recognition rating, in turn, combined with precocious multiples, bash not marque for a precise charismatic acceptable of cardinal circumstances - and they are the crushed wherefore this institution hasn't been precise precocious connected my database for immoderate time.

But let's continue, due to the fact that it would beryllium unfair not to notation the company's absolutely stellar track grounds successful the aftermath of the caller years of vigor investment.



AES investors person done precise good for themselves historically - but this is mostly owed to the information that the institution was severely undervalued for respective years betwixt 2010-2017. I didn't person my eyes opened for maine for AES until later, truthful the accidental that existed was investing during COVID-19 - which I didn't, and alternatively elected to put successful different dividend potentials. Clearly, an concern into AES would person been a bully prime arsenic well, though my archetypal statement is that the institution is really excessively overvalued here, with the marketplace unsure of however to worth it successful its existent form.

The institution has a bully way grounds of delivering dependable maturation - astatine slightest for the 5 past years. There's a crushed the institution focuses connected that 5-year play due to the fact that EPS for the past 20 has been a batch choppier.

AES Valuation

AES Valuation (F.A.S.T Graphs)

Yes, it has 10 years' worthy of DGR astatine 16%, but that's lone due to the fact that it started astatine 0%. The institution calls its equilibrium expanse beardown and insulated - I'll let that it's investment-grade, but successful the discourse of inferior and vigor plays, I won't hold with the assertion that BBB- is "strong".

It's acceptable.

The institution has 4 market-oriented concern units and it's the owner/holding institution of 6 abstracted inferior companies that service 2.6M customers with a full of $33B worthy of assets connected the books. These assets person the capableness of output 31,500 MW, with different 3,500MW presently nether construction. The institution employs implicit 8,400 worldwide.

Its stated extremity is the enabling of modulation to low-carbon sources of vigor and accomplishment of the Paris Agreement's extremity of net-zero emissions by 2050. By that logic, it should beryllium viewed much arsenic a renewable play than thing else, though the company's feedstock/energy exposure does not yet afloat bespeak this ambition.



AES is simply a play connected the accidental presented by the translation of the energy sector, and its ambition is to turn its portfolio with low-carbon products and solutions, arsenic good arsenic moving to turn these further. In 2021 alone, the institution signed semipermanent contracts for astir 5GW of renewables, bringing its 2021FY backlog to 9.2GW.

The institution works with its lawsuit with co-creation ventures - including examples similar 24/7 carbon-free vigor to Google (GOOG). The institution besides works connected its input side, collaborating with mining companies to trim their emissions and alteration the modulation to renewables.

So, the institution is massively expanding its pipeline into renewables, diluting the bequest of its wide substance premix with a dense aboriginal tilt to renewables. In 2021 alone, instrumentality a look astatine the company's renewable highlights.



Most of the company's generated energy is sold done contracts - mean oregon agelong term, with 2-5 oregon supra 5 years successful presumption of the timing. The company's inferior businesses are recovered successful AES Indiana and Ohio successful the USA, and 4 Utilities successful El Salvador. AES Indiana is simply a afloat integrated utility, and AES Ohio is transmitted and distributed, regulated, and has contracts successful their respective geographies. AES Indiana owns and operates each of the facilities indispensable to generate, transmit and administer energy - the aforesaid is existent for AES Ohio.

In El Salvador, determination is constricted contention for the company's capacities - truthful there's immoderate much volatility here. Other than that, the company's utilities enactment the aforesaid arsenic immoderate different inferior does - it's allowed to gain a regulated complaint of instrumentality connected assets, determined by the regulator based connected the utility's allowed regulatory plus base, superior structure, and outgo of capital. That's however regulated utilities enactment - crossed astir of the world.

Here's the divided and borderline successful presumption of geographies.



The institution further owns capacities successful Puerto Rico, Chile, Colombia, Brazil and Argentina - a monolithic acceptable of assets crossed the full continent...



...and besides owns procreation crossed the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, India, Bulgaria, Jordan, Netherlands, and Vietnam. Aside from this bequest and renewable generation, the institution besides invests successful Fluence (FLNC) and different investments.

This is simply a planetary business, with a precise analyzable hazard vulnerability owed to its dense assets successful what I would telephone riskier/emerging markets specified arsenic South America, Vietnam, and different geographies. Not needfully bad, but surely not arsenic harmless arsenic investing successful legacy.

The institution has been flying precocious connected the number of planetary vigor trends - and it continues for the latest quarterly report. The company's EPS maturation is successful enactment with a 7-10% yearly maturation rate, with beardown fiscal results. It's a planetary vigor empire that has the capableness of utilizing its resources to wherever they are utilized most/are the astir profitable, specified arsenic what they did from Panama successful 3Q22.



The coming Inflation Reduction Act, oregon IRA, is besides going to beryllium a large boost to renewables maturation successful the USA, starring to a important request summation crossed the board, which AES is positioned to instrumentality vantage of. The bulk of the company's existent backlog is expected to travel online 2025E astatine the latest, and its 42% solar, 32% wind, and the remainder Energy retention (only 6% gas, 1% hydro). A precise charismatic wide mix.

So, EPS is up owed to some an charismatic vigor market, and due to the fact that AES tin instrumentality vantage of the existent concern and merchantability LNG with higher margins and its operations increasing. There aren't truly immoderate cardinal worries connected the skyline with immoderate of its subsidiaries oregon operations.

However, what we request to retrieve is that this is an planetary operation, with immoderate riskier exposures, meaning you should much oregon little expect that determination is immoderate benignant of interaction successful immoderate 1 of the company's segments. The company's planetary vulnerability besides goes a mode to explicate the comparatively debased recognition rating, contempt what is different well-laddered fundamentals, with nary monolithic indebtedness owed until 2026 and beyond, and a weighted mean CoC of 2.88%, astatine 94% of fixed oregon hedge ratio for the recourse debt, and agelong maturities (10 years average), with somewhat higher (5.15%) mean all-in cost. Again, not the best, but decidedly bully enough.

An enactment similar this is bound to person a scope of planetary outages and challenges, portion besides seeing advantages.



Results truthful acold are good, and I don't truly spot immoderate benignant of headwinds that would effect successful the institution not achieving its presently forecasted guidance and goals. Also, the company's maturation trajectory seems set, successful this peculiar macro with dense advantages towards renewables. The institution has besides garnered involvement from infrastructure investors similar Hannon Armstrong (HASI), who is investing successful their business.

Based connected these fundamentals, and these results, I determination to valuation.

AES Corporation - The valuation

While the institution suffers from macro hazard owed to its exposures to a full big of geographies that travel with geopolitical and climate-related implications, I judge that operations are coagulated capable that we tin delegate oregon let for immoderate benignant of premium connected portion of AES here.

My main contented with the institution is that this really wasn't that stable, oregon "good" of a institution successful the past. If we look astatine semipermanent normalized multiples, they don't enactment up with the existent ones. Not adjacent close.

For a 20-year average, determination is simply a P/E of 13.3x, arsenic the institution hasn't been capable to turn its net by much than 1.84% implicit the past 20 years per year. In fact, if you had bought the institution during the highest earlier the recession, your existent RoR would person been horrible, careless of however overmuch the institution has grown successful the past fewer years.

AES valuation/ROR

AES valuation/ROR (F.A.S.T graphs)

So, the past 5 years person been perfectly stellar. The bullish thesis hinges connected that improvement continuing, and the forecasts telephone for that to beryllium the case.

Is it likely?

I would accidental yes, it's likely. The existent concern successful the renewables space, successful presumption of governmental enactment and planetary interest, would request to spot important derailment for this company's net to spell negative successful the abbreviated oregon mean term. However, don't kid yourself - this institution is beauteous costly astatine this time, particularly for the output it offers. At its 20-year average, the upside is little than 5% per year.

F.A.S.T graphs AES Upside

F.A.S.T graphs AES Upside (F.A.S.T graphs)

Even if we presume 15x that upside is lone 8.19%, meaning my ain minimum of 8.5% annually isn't adjacent fulfilled. In presumption of humanities pricing, the institution isn't inexpensive either.

Analysts bash deliberation the institution is inexpensive present - they springiness it a $30.17/share average, with a debased of $22 and a precocious of $33, with 11 retired of 12 analysts either astatine a "BUY" oregon an "Outperform". So my ain presumption connected the institution is simply a number - which is fine.

I bash spot the imaginable upside for AES present - I conscionable deliberation we're paying a spot overmuch for it astatine this time. Maybe the institution volition beryllium to beryllium that perfectly stellar and harmless investment, generating above-average returns and possibly normalizing astatine person to 15-18x P/E. But that's immoderate of the champion afloat integrated utilities connected earth, which I hap to put in. These utilities travel astatine importantly little risky exposures, and mixes that are already arsenic attractive, oregon arsenic charismatic to AES.

Because of that, I don't spot a monolithic "BUY" lawsuit for the institution astatine this clip - and I would similar for it to at least get backmost down to 15x normalized.

That would beryllium astir $25/share, and that's wherever my archetypal stock terms ends up being.

Thesis for the communal share

  • AES is an charismatic planetary vigor play, with inferior exposures crossed each large continents successful the world. They person an attractive, renewable-tilted pipeline that could presumption AES arsenic 1 of the world-leading businesses successful this segment.
  • Institutional investors and larger companies are loving this concern - but I judge the caller 5 years of valuation amusement uncertainty arsenic wherever to this institution "should" beryllium traded.
  • I personally judge that the institution should commercialized person to 15x P/E, which leads maine to springiness the concern a $25/share PT, making it a "HOLD".

Remember, I'm each astir :1. Buying undervalued - adjacent if that undervaluation is slight, and not mind-numbingly monolithic - companies astatine a discount, allowing them to normalize implicit clip and harvesting superior gains and dividends successful the meantime.

2. If the institution goes good beyond normalization and goes into overvaluation, I harvest gains and rotate my presumption into different undervalued stocks, repeating #1.

3. If the institution doesn't spell into overvaluation, but hovers wrong a just value, oregon goes backmost down to undervaluation, I bargain much arsenic clip allows.

4. I reinvest proceeds from dividends, savings from work, oregon different currency inflows arsenic specified successful #1.

Here are my criteria and however the institution fulfills them (italicized).

  • This institution is wide qualitative.
  • This institution is fundamentally safe/conservative & well-run.
  • This institution pays a well-covered dividend.
  • This institution is presently cheap.
  • This institution has a realistic upside based connected net maturation oregon aggregate expansion/reversion

The institution has an upside - it's conscionable not precocious capable astatine this time. I accidental "HOLD".

The institution discussed successful this nonfiction is lone 1 imaginable concern successful the sector. Members of iREIT connected Alpha get entree to concern ideas with upsides that I presumption arsenic importantly higher/better than this one. Consider subscribing and learning much here.

Source Seekingalpha