MSCI: A Long-Term Compounder

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Financial banal speech marketplace show surface committee connected nan street, selective focus


Company description:

MSCI Inc. (NYSE:MSCI) is simply a institution that provides finance determination support devices to clients worldwide. The institution operates done 4 segments:

  • Index - This conception provides finance indexes, specified arsenic ETFs, communal funds, and options.
  • Analytic - This segment offers consequence management, capacity attribution, and portfolio guidance services.
  • ESG and Climate - This conception provides products and services to thief organization investors understand really ESG factors effect their portfolio's semipermanent consequence and return.
  • All Other - Private Assets - This conception includes existent property marketplace and transaction data, benchmarks, and return analytics.

Share price:

ChartData by YCharts

MSCI's stock value has performed highly good complete nan past decade, returning complete 1000% to shareholders. This has been driven by compounding gains complete nan period, pinch markets and nan institution seeing accordant gains.

With a noticeable driblet from its ATH and marketplace weakening, now is simply a awesome clip to see wherever MSCI presently stands. The institution has shown unthinkable consistency successful its financial capacity and gains. This looks to beryllium an astonishing semipermanent hold, pinch investors fundamentally betting connected marketplace prosperity successful nan decades to come. Our nonsubjective is to see nan semipermanent value of MSCI, pinch a position connected factors impacting nan business/industry. This is alongside an study of nan company's financial performance, pinch nan position of deriving if location is still worth to beryllium gained.


One of nan cardinal trends impacting nan investing manufacture is nan increasing value of sustainable investing. Many investors are progressively focused connected investing successful companies that show beardown ESG values, pinch galore having contractual mandates to invest, and not invest, wrong definite types of businesses. As a result, location is simply a increasing request for ESG-related investing services. MSCI has been astatine nan forefront of this trend, processing a scope of ESG indices and analytical devices that are wide utilized by organization investors. As nan pursuing illustrates, MSCI has achieved thing short of unthinkable maturation successful this segment.

ESG and Climate growth

ESG and Climate maturation (MSCI)

What is awesome is really resilient this maturation has remained, pinch maturation successful different segments slowing to a greater degree. This to america suggests nan manufacture is still person to infancy than maturity, pinch a important level of maturation remaining. Our position is that MSCI tin proceed to turn astatine these levels owed to its market-leading position for an extended play of time. Management is forecasting a semipermanent maturation complaint of mid-to-high 20s.


The semipermanent maturation of MSCI is limited connected patient maturation successful marketplace finance activities by investors. We are seeing an uptick successful passive finance strategies, specified arsenic exchange-traded costs and scale funds, which person go progressively celebrated successful caller years arsenic investors activity low-cost, diversified vulnerability to nan market. We must retrieve that nan immense mostly of group cognize thing astir financial markets yet understand that they tin beryllium beneficial, frankincense nan earthy way into investing is index/ETFs. PwC is forecasting a 15% maturation complaint successful ETF AuM going into 2026. Additionally, nan number of group investing successful nan US has been expanding successful nan past decade, reaching levels not seen since nan aftermath of nan financial crisis. We tin spot this maturation remaining sustainable arsenic nan number of group investing globally arsenic a percent of nan organization remains debased presently extracurricular of nan US. As much group are lifted retired of poorness and a greater number of group spot nan benefits of investing, nan full marketplace size will only increase.


One of nan superior characteristics of MSCI is its geographical split, pinch important gross generated from different regions. In Q4-22, nan company's Subscription tally complaint breaks down arsenic follows.


Subscription tally complaint (MSCI)

The use of this is that MSCI is much insulated from region-specific shocks which could trim subscription gains. EMEA has seen robust maturation successful nan past fewer quarters, offsetting softening from different regions. This has contributed to capacity resilience during what is simply a carnivore market. The logic we put worth successful this is that nan US has seen nan lion's stock of maturation successful nan past fewer decades but this is not needfully really things whitethorn create successful nan future. Therefore, having a mature offering successful cardinal geographies will let nan business to bask maturation sloppy of wherever it is.



Retention and RR (MSCI)

MSCI's services are captious for marketplace participants, pinch nan institution boasting awesome retention statistics. Despite nan world carnivore marketplace and disruptions crossed nan proviso chain, MSCI has seen maturation stay successful excess of 10% and retention stay supra 93%. Interestingly, nan company's retention has not dipped beneath its Q4-17 level, moreover during COVID. This suggests nan institution is not cyclical successful quality though will inevitably acquisition a flimsy slowdown.

One of nan reasons request has remained sticky is owed to MSCI's customer base, which is chiefly financial institutions that are taking a semipermanent view. These institutions are improbable to illness aliases look distress to nan grade they will cease to usage MSCI's services. This is why a business for illustration MSCI is acold much resilient than opportunity an exchange, which faces a crisp diminution successful transaction measurement during a downturn erstwhile unit investors disappear.

MSCI customer base

MSCI customer guidelines (MSCI)


MSCI Financials

MSCI Financials (Tikr Terminal)

Presented supra is MSCI's financial performance. As we person suggested previously, they are fantastic.

Revenue has grown astatine a CAGR of 11%, driven by beardown marketplace gains, particularly successful nan US and Asia. As nan pursuing breakdown illustrates, MSCI's vulnerability is chiefly to Index services, which person only continued to turn arsenic financial institutions marketplace investing solutions to individuals.

MSCI gross split

MSCI gross divided (MSCI)

The astir caller period's maturation has slowed owed to nan effect of nan carnivore market. Although nan institution is resilient successful maintaining growth, it does look immoderate softening, chiefly successful nan diminution successful AUM worth (MSCI-linked Equity ETFs) which is illustrated below. This has contributed to a diminution successful asset-based interest tally rate, which realistically will proceed to do truthful successful FY23.

AUM Decline

AUM Decline (MSCI)

With a technology/service-backed operation, nan anticipation should beryllium that costs efficiencies are consistently achieved. This is because nan incremental costs of providing an further subscription should beryllium substantial. This is observed pinch MSCI, arsenic its GPM and EBITDA separator has accrued by 10% and 9% respectively. As nan number of customers increases, margins will only grow further.

Another use of an cognition of this type is nan deficiency of a worldly moving superior mechanism. For this reason, these profits travel straight into FCF, pinch nan institution achieving a mouth-watering 36% FCF conversion. This will money continued inorganic growth, which MSCI does undertake connected occasion, arsenic good arsenic distributions to shareholders.

Moving onto nan equilibrium sheet, nan company's position is incredibly clean. Improving operational ratio and effective superior allocation is reflected successful nan gradual uptick successful ROA, which has doubled successful nan past 10 years.

The institution has raised indebtedness successful caller years to money nan astir caller acquisition, arsenic good arsenic prolong awesome distributions to shareholders. The institution has aggressively repurchased shares, pinch its treasury shares equilibrium expanding 48% successful 10 years. Alongside this, investors person received accordant dividend growth. Our position is that buybacks and dividends are sustainable but not astatine nan Dec22 level. The institution is forecasting FCF of ~$1BN successful 2023 which alongside its rate balance, gives MSCI ~$2BN for nan year. As nan beneath shows, nary worldly indebtedness is coming owed and truthful overmuch of this tin beryllium straight distributed.

Debt floor plan - MSCI

Debt floor plan - MSCI (MSCI)

With a ND/EBITDA ratio of 2.76x, nan institution tin spend a greater indebtedness equilibrium if required. This is owed to nan maturation and FCF conversion MSCI is capable to achieve. We do not propose this but nan institution maintains nan elasticity to undertake M&A aliases reward shareholders. Presented beneath is its existent in installments rating.

MSCI Credit rating

MSCI Credit standing (MSCI)


With nan continued tailwinds we are expecting and awesome financials, nan forecast should beryllium business arsenic usual, without immoderate missteps.

MSCI Forecast

MSCI Consensus analysts' forecast (Tikr Terminal)

Analysts are forecasting conscionable this, pinch 8% gross maturation and greater gains connected nan bottommost line. As we person mentioned, nan quality of nan business allows for margins to proceed to improve, pinch analysts expecting a mammoth 16% from FY22 levels by FY27F. This does look somewhat optimistic but nan big-picture connection is much important here. Growth will proceed to beryllium beardown and margins will expand.


With an manufacture and institution that is this attractive, it is unsurprising to spot nan institution trading astatine a steep valuation. Seeking Alpha succinctly communicates this arsenic illustrated below.

MSCI valuation

MSCI Valuation (Seeking Alpha)

The trouble present is that bully businesses will ever waste and acquisition astatine an costly valuation, investors are not going to find MSCI astatine a discount, arsenic shown by MSCI's 5 twelvemonth average. Is nan business much charismatic than it was 5 years ago? Yes, margins person improved and maturation has continued. Will nan institution beryllium much charismatic successful nan coming 5 years? Yes, we deliberation so, forecasts support this and truthful does our analysis. In this case, it is difficult to reason against investing successful nan company. If we thought a carnivore marketplace would bring maturation to a standstill successful FY23, we could propose a alteration successful sentiment is possible. But this is not nan case.

Final thoughts:

The financial information sub-sector that MSCI operates wrong is incredibly attractive. We spot outsized returns successful nan mean word pinch ESG and sustainable semipermanent maturation done greater investing activities by individuals globally. MSCI is perfectly positioned to maximize returns from some pinch its market-leading position. Looking astatine nan business itself, it boasts charismatic metrics, pinch 90%+ retention and an awesome profitability profile. We spot nary logic why returns cannot compound long-term, pinch investors seeing nan mostly of nan rate flows done distributions. The cardinal consequence pinch MSCI is simply a awesome diminution successful marketplace conditions, driving distant growth. This feels unrealistic astatine this stage.

The valuation is simply a difficult 1 to rationalize arsenic its prices successful MSCI stay precisely arsenic it for an extended play of time. Any scholar who thinks anemic marketplace conditions could bring MSCI's value down, aliases that location is simply a chink successful its armor, should surely not see buying astatine this price. However, we struggle to spot immoderate issues complete a 5-10 twelvemonth period.

This article was written by

Welbeck Ash Research floor plan picture

We intend to supply insightful investigation and caller ideas, done heavy bottom-up business analysis. We look to show a communicative and place nan hallmarks of semipermanent quality. We are not swayed by nan emotions of marketplace sentiment and short-term desires.“Day to day, nan banal marketplace is simply a voting machine; successful nan agelong word it’s a weighing machine.”

Disclosure: I/we person nary stock, action aliases akin derivative position successful immoderate of nan companies mentioned, and nary plans to initiate immoderate specified positions wrong nan adjacent 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my ain opinions. I americium not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I person nary business narration pinch immoderate institution whose banal is mentioned successful this article.

Editor: Naga

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