Bank of America Merrill Lynch has upgraded Telstra to "buy" from "neutral", seeing an extra $700 million worth of earnings value in the telco's mobile division over the next three years.
That is on top of the $300 million in growth it had previously predicted. The broker lifted its one-year price objective by 45% to $5.70 largely as a result of its boosted estimate on mobile earnings, but also upgraded its view on earnings contributions from IP data, network services and Telstra's contract wins with the federal government.
While acknowledging that Telstra is trading at a premium, BA-Merrill Lynch thinks the share price will be amply supported by the earnings upgrades as well as higher dividends and an improved medium-term outlook.
The broker lifted its dividend per share forecast to 30 cents in 2013-14 from 28 cents, which Telstra has stayed at for seven years.
Telstra lifted by 1.5% to sit at $5.03 at 1511 AEST.