Rural India has felt more of a squeeze from the slowdown, says Adi Godrej, chairman, Godrej Group

Rural India has felt more of a squeeze from the slowdown, says Adi Godrej, chairman, Godrej Group

Update on the Indian Equity Market:

On Friday, NIFTY ended up 433 pts up (+4.5%) at above 10,023 level. It was an eventful and highly volatile session with significant gains after posting a record intra-day recovery. The Nifty50 index was locked in 10 per cent lower circuit early morning, prompting a halt in trading for 45 minutes. However, once the markets re-opened, the headline indices Sensex and Nifty shot up as much as 5,381 points and 1,604 points, respectively, from their early morning lows. The volatility index surged over 24 per cent during the session.

PSU Bank (+11.7%), Financial Services (+6.2%), and Metal (+6.5%) were the top performing sectors. Media (-0.6%) was the only loser for the day.

Among stocks, SBI (+14.9%), TATA Steel (+14.5%), and HDFC (+10.5%), were the top gainers. UPL (-7.2%) ZEEL (-4.2%) and NESTLE IND (-3.7%) were the top losers.

Rural India has felt more of a squeeze from the slowdown, says Adi Godrej, chairman, Godrej Group

While the discretionary spend in rural areas has not risen as per expectations, FY21 is likely to deliver better numbers than the ongoing fiscal, says Adi Godrej, Chairman of the Godrej Group.

Edited excerpts of an interview with Mr Adi Godrej, Chairman of the Godrej Group; dated 13th March 2020:

When asked about his views on GST implementation he said that the implementation of GST has been good for the economy and it would not be correct to attribute the decline in GDP growth to the new tax regime. There are other factors like the China and US trade war or the killing of an Iranian general by the Americans that might have impacted the economy; we can’t be sure. So, it’s a combination of geopolitical and other factors that have affected GDP growth. He also added that there is no doubt that the economy has slowed down, but it will recover, if only slowly and expects FY21 to be better than FY20.
He commented that for FMCG products, the slowdown has been more pronounced in the rural areas, though rural growth was ahead earlier. The rural economy has been impacted by the slowdown in production and an irregular monsoon. Also, the discretionary spend of the rural population has not grown as per expectations. He expects to fare better in FY21, though a lot would depend on government policy going forward.
When asked about his suggestion on steps that should be taken by government to boost overall consumption, he suggested that there might be no tax on agriculture, but animal husbandry is taxed fully, bringing under the net income from poultry, dairy, fisheries, etc. which affects rural growth.
He informed that Godrej Agrovet was affected but it managed to recover from the lows and the business is expected to grow provided the government accepts the suggestion of treating animal husbandry on a par with agriculture.
He stated that Godrej Consumer Products Ltd (GCPL) performed better in 3QFY20. The international businesses have been performing well as the economies there have done well, especially Indonesia, which is a large market for GCPL. The hair care business is rated number one in Africa; new products are being introduced in the haircare and repellant segments, besides those to prevent dengue and malaria.
When asked about the real estate business performance and company’s focus on residential or the commercial segment given the slowdown, he said that real estate business over the last two years we have had record sales and that the company will continue to grow both businesses though commercial segment as it is doing better. The factor contributing to such kind of growth even in a phase where construction projects are facing liquidity and demand-related obstacles is the reputation of the group and trust of the people on the brand.
When asked about his vision on India and Godrej group in next five to ten years he stated that he believes India has a great future. On purchasing power parity, India will be the largest economy in the world by 2050. At present, India is ranked third after China and the US and will overtake both. India will also overtake China on population. As far as the Godrej Group is concerned, it will keep growing faster than the economy.
Consensus Estimate: (Source: market screener, website)

The closing price of Godrej Consumer Products Ltd was ₹ 525/- as of 13rd March 2020. It traded at 36x/ 31x/ 28x the consensus EPS for FY20E/ FY21E/ FY22E of ₹ 15.6/18.1/20 respectively.
Consensus target price of ₹ 750/- implies a PE multiple of 37.5x on FY22E EPS of ₹ 20/-.

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