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MDA Inc is still a Buy, this investor says

MDA

Canadian space tech company MDA Inc (MDA Inc Stock Quote, Charts, News, Analysts, Financials TSX:MDA) should be on your radar list if you’re interested in satellite and space sector plays. That’s according to portfolio manager John Zechner who sees the drop in share price for MDA over the past year as not really a result of underperformance by the company.

“These guys have got probably a five-year growth rate of close to 25 per cent and they’ve done most of the contracts they were expecting to get a year ago. They have low-Earth orbit and satellite systems and they build components for the Canadarm and others, and they’ve done exceptionally well and their backlog has grown,” said Zechner of J. Zechner Associates, speaking on BNN Bloomberg on Friday.

Founded back in 1969 and at one time known as MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, MDA had acquired in 1999 the robotics division from Spar Aerospace which created the iconic Canadarm. The company then made a move by acquiring in 2017 space imaging business DigitalGlobe and renamed the combined entity Maxar Technologies. That company was again split apart in 2020 when the MDA assets were sold from Maxar to Canadian firm Northern Private Capital. A year later, MDA emerged as a publicly-traded entity through an IPO that brought in $400 million but was about 20 per cent under the expected offering amount.

And after an initial upward push, MDA’s share price has mostly headed south over the past 12 months, going from a high of $18 last April to now in the low $8.00 range. The drop began in earnest in mid-November of this past year, which is right around when the market began its rotation away from growth and technology names towards other more defensive sectors, with MDA’s falling sharply to close out last year.

But the company appears to be doing well, announcing in December, 2020, a major contract with the Canadian Space Agency to build a third iteration of the Canadarm as part of Canada’s contribution to NASA’s ongoing lunar space station program. Last month, MDA announced its first commercial sale related to the Canadarm3 through a deal with Axiom Space, which plans to put a commercial space station in Earth orbit and will use Canadarm3 interfaces as permanent robotic system fixture points on the currently under construction space station.

“The sale of our Canadarm3 technology to Axiom Space signifies a major shift in the commercial landscape and is a turning point for MDA as we fulfill our vision of bringing a full suite of space robotics products to market,” said Mike Greenley, CEO of MDA, in a May 3 press release. 

“As the global space economy continues to accelerate, there is increasing demand for a wide variety of space robotics designed to fulfill all kinds of objectives – and MDA is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this opportunity. Today’s announcement is just the beginning of this journey, and yet another proof point that MDA can meet the growing needs of space companies around the world,” Greenley wrote.

Zechner says MDA’s progress since being repatriated have been notable but currently not reflected in the share price.

“They’ve got a growing EBITDA and it’s a newly public company. It only came back to public markets about a year and a half ago. It’s sort of small cap and it’s under the radar screen,” Zechner said. 

“Multiples in the sector have just come down. It’s disappointing because they’ve done what we expected them to do. They’ve delivered the numbers and yet the stock has acted poorly and it’s come down. We still own it, but clearly it hasn’t delivered for us in the past year,” he said.

MDA’s most recently reported financials came earlier this year with its first quarter, 2022, numbers, which featured revenue up slightly to $128.4 million compared to $123.4 million a year earlier. Net income was $8.4 million or $0.07 per share compared to a loss of $1.6 million or a loss of $0.02 per share a year earlier.

Breaking down the quarter into the company’s three segments, MDA generated $48.9 million in revenue from its Geointelligence business compared to $49.0 million a year earlier, $42.4 million from its Robotics & Space Operations compared to $34.3 million a year earlier and $37.1 million from its Satellite Systems division compared to $40.1 million a year earlier.

Management guided for full 2022 revenue of between $750 and $800 million, which would represent a year-over-year growth rate of about 55-65 per cent, while on EBITDA the company guided for between $140 and $160 million.

As a leading space technology provider, we are leveraging our capabilities and expertise to execute on specific growth strategies across our end markets and business areas,” MDA said in its MD&A discussion on the first quarter. 

“Underlying industry trends for space continue to be strong and market activity remains robust. We believe our long term future growth pipeline is significant and underpinned by the existing contract awards of our key programs,” the company said.

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