Avanza reported strong results and continued to grow its customer base which is up 17% year over year from 837k to 976k in 2019 (Avanza report its customer base in terms of the number of funded customers). A growing customer base is the single most important metric for long term value creation. It demonstrates that Avanza continues to be the most attractive retail investment platform in Sweden. Avanza’s customer base is ~10% of the Swedish population but only has 4.2% market share in the Swedish savings market. Avanza announced the ambition to increase savings market share to 7% by 2025 which means a double of savings capital from SEK ~400bn to ~800bn. This should then translate into a doubling of revenue.
Stock brokerage is high switching cost business, especially for retail investors. The high switching cost works both ways – it protects Avanza existing customer base from poaching by other online stock brokers but also deters Avanza’s attack on incumbent financial institutions. Avanza is winning market share because it is the lowest cost broker in Sweden AND provides a user-friendly investment platform.
Revenue grew 14% which was mainly driven by net interest income growth. Net profit grew 28% due to lower operating cost growth of 6%. Riksbank decided to go against their peers and raise repo rates in Sweden. The repo rate in Sweden is now at 0%. This has helped to increase net interest income by 70%.
The new CEO, Rikard, is very ambitious and continues to build on the customer-focused culture that has driven Avanza’s success in the past.
My view on Avanza remains the same: the best value-for-money investment platform in Sweden that has a very user-friendly online platform. It has an incredible mind share with young professionals, and as they progress in their careers, their savings on Avanza will grow too. There are two main optionalities with Avanza:
1) interest rate sensitivity where every 1% increase in interest rate will lead to incremental interest income of SEK 300m (2019 net profit is SEK 447m). I don’t count on it for the investment case to work but I consider a very valuable;
2) Avanza might grow into an online bank and offer more services to its existing customers hence increase product per customer and then revenue per customers
Trading at 36x P/E, Avanza is not cheap. But the strong growth visibility and the long growth runway means that I can be patient. Since my initial purchase in 2017, the stock is up 55% and generated 14.5% annualised return albeit with huge volatility. Over a longer time period, I believe Avanza is a 10-15% annualised return investment with very limited downside risk. Maintain current position and will add if Mr Market presents attractive opportunities to do so.