Update on the Indian Equity Market:
On Wednesday, Nifty ended flat at 14,565 while PSU banks outperformed. The top gainers for Nifty 50 were M&M (+5.7%), SBI (+4.6%), and Adani Ports (+4.4%) while the losing stocks for the day were Bajaj Finance (-2.9%), Shree Cement (-2.8%), and HDFC (-2.8%). Top gaining sectors were PSU bank (+3.3%), Auto (+0.9%), and Bank (+0.7%) while Pharma (-0.9%), Financial Service (-0.6%), and Realty (-0.3%) were the losing sectors.
Edited excerpts of an interview with Mr Pawan Goenka, MD & CEO, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M); dated 12th January 2021 from Economic times:
The demand is now no longer a pent-up demand, it is a structural demand that is coming back.
With the new product launches, all companies have plans for 2021. Many of the companies had held back on product launches and that is certainly going to spur demand now. On top of that, if the government comes in with some kind of stimulus to grow the auto demand, then the demand will really take off and will lead to a great year.
The Heavy Commercial Vehicle (HCV) industry which was lagging for the last several months has started showing signs of revival. There was good growth in November and December. Once HCV is also on the growth path, the auto industry overall should look pretty good in FY22E.
Mr Goenka said GST rate cuts may not be possible because of the need for tax revenues in these difficult times, but GST rates should be simplified. There are eight or nine different GST rates. He hopes that the government will just keep two rates – 28% and 43% and not have all of these different rates. Right now, a rate reduction is not expected. When the economy is fully back on track, the government could reconsider rate reduction.
The massive cost cuts in 1Q & 2Q for the Company is not cost cutting but removing the fat. That is where a lot of the cost reduction has happened in terms of travel. Use of digital media for meetings has resulted in a significant reduction in cost in 1Q & 2Q FY21 and this will never come back. Maybe travel will go up somewhat but probably 75-80% will continue. The reductions have happened in events, inventory costs and communication costs. These will not come back to earlier levels, according to Mr Goenka. He said that more than half of the reduction is for good and continue to aid in the Company’s bottom line.
In the auto industry, this year there has not been any significant price cut or increased incentives given to propel demand.
Compliance with BS-VI emission norms has led to prices going up, therefore per unit revenue has gone up which will lead to a top-line increase for the Company. Given that volumes are also going up and the Company does not expect 2021 to be any worse than 2020 there will be a revenue growth for most companies. There are some companies that will do better, some will not and competition will continue. But overall for the industry, he sees reasonable revenue growth in 2021E.
Many companies have not passed on the full BS-VI cost increase yet and as the companies become more comfortable with the continued volume or continued demand, the gap in the BS-VI cost increase will get passed on during this year.
The big thing looming ahead of the industry is the commodity price increase, which will also lead to a price increase. That is not desirable if the auto industry were to pass on all the cost increases, then there could be a significant increase in prices. So commodity price increases are a matter of concern right now for the auto industry.
Most companies are coming back to their core where they have a right to win and have strength in India and globally and this is automatically leading to capital allocation which is going more towards the core.
The Company is going to be working on multiple platforms for personal mobility.
The overall positive sentiment in the rural area, in the agriculture area, somewhat tempered because of the farm agitation right now but that will be soon resolved. Mr Goenka remains very bullish on the Agri sector and on the overall rural demand coming from the income of the Agri sector for durables that are sold in rural areas.
M&M is one of those who had very robust demand this year. As a result, a marginal increase in prices is possible and usually in January every year, prices have increased. So M&M has announced a 2% price increase. It should not be a dampener on demand.
A partial increase is very much doable for most companies. Companies will have to do it because nobody can absorb the kind of commodity price increases that we are seeing and one will have to simply get used to it. Not only auto but the effect of commodity price rise will also be felt by users of almost all sort of durable goods.
The auto industry overall has gone through some very difficult times because of the investments in BS-VI which led to increasing in costs, most of which could not be passed on. The cost reduction that happened during Covid outbreak has come to the rescue and therefore most companies have managed to maintain their profit margin.
On an average, before Covid, in the passenger vehicle segment, a 30-35 days’ inventory was considered to be good. Now, most companies are saying 30-35 days is too high and they need to learn to work with 20-25 days of inventories.
If all companies bring down the inventory level to 20-25 days and also do very good inventory control in their plants and to the suppliers, the auto industry could take out as much as Rs 50,000 crore from the working capital. This is a learning from Covid that will help the industry reduce working capital and improve the balance sheet of almost all the companies.
Consensus Estimate: (Source: market screener website)
The closing price of M&M was Rs 838/- as of 13-January-2021. It traded at 31x/ 22x/ 20x the consensus EPS estimate of Rs 27.3/37.4/42.0 for FY21E/ FY22E/ FY23E respectively.
The consensus target price of Rs 762/- implies a PE multiple of 18x on FY23E EPS of Rs 42.0/-.
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