The 2016 All-Europe Research Team: Ireland, No. 2: Robert Eason & team

The Goodbody Stockbrokers squad earns its seventh straight No. 2 appearance on this list, with Robert Eason at the helm since 2014.


< The 2016 All-Europe Research Team


Robert Eason & team
Goodbody Stockbrokers
First-place appearances: 1

Total appearances: 14

Team debut: 1998

The Goodbody Stockbrokers squad earns its seventh straight No. 2 appearance on this list, with Robert Eason at the helm since 2014. Stationed in Dublin, the group has added three team members over the past year, raising its head count to 21, and increased the number of Irish equities in its portfolio by nearly one third, to 65. “They’ve always given me excellent coverage, especially for gaming and construction companies,” says one money manager in Paris. “I prefer analysts who can provide me with in-depth, local knowledge — and they’re very familiar with companies, managements and markets. Goodbody is the only brokerage I use for Ireland.” Last year the researchers dubbed low-cost airline Ryanair Holding a preferred name in this market, and they are doing the same going forward. Although its shares outperformed the domestic market by 24.8 percentage points in 2015, soaring 53 percent, to close at €15.01, they foresee substantial potential ahead. Contributing to their optimistic outlook, Eason advises, is the carrier’s ability to exceed the investment community’s expectations “in terms of its increasing market strength, delivering substantial growth at the same time as improving its brand image.” Ryanair is in the midst of expanding its fleet by 30 percent over the next three years, to 401 aircraft, says the 44-year-old head of equity research, enabling it to branch into a broader array of markets, including cities in Germany and Italy. Lower fuel costs, moreover, should translate into the Dublin-based operator’s becoming even more price competitive, he and his associates project. In addition, its executives are holding down costs. Helped by “balanced growth” into both primary and secondary markets, Eason notes, Ryanair slashed expenditures by 1 percent during 2015. Given the company’s industry-high 30 percent return on capital and an estimated price-to-earnings ratio of just 4.7, the stock is “fundamentally undervalued,” he insists. Goodbody’s analysts assign it a price target of €19.50. Another company that wins their ardent favor is Dalata Hotel Group, the nation’s largest hotelier, with a near 10 percent share of the countrywide market. Factors they cite as enhancing the Irish lodger’s bottom line include Ireland’s increasingly strong economy and the record number of overseas visitors arriving on its shores. Accordingly, the paucity of new hotel rooms in Dublin, where the company is headquartered and roughly 45 percent of its rooms are situated, has been a boon to Dalata’s performance, Eason explains, facilitating price hikes and revenue growth per room of more than 20 percent in 2015 — the highest in Europe. Priced at €5.26 in mid-January, the shares are pegged at €6.20.