‘Opportunities for growth delivery across segments’- Amitabh Chaudhry, Axis BankMaitreyee Vaishampayan
Update on the Indian Equity Market:
On Monday, Nifty 50 closed marginally lower at 12,046. IT was the only sector that ended marginally in the green. PSU Bank (-3.0%), Realty (-1.5%) and Media (-1.1%) were the top losers. Titan (+1.7%), GAIL (+1.6%) and Nestle (+1.6%) were the top gainers while Yes Bank (-4.0%), Coal India (-3.8%) and ONGC (-3.2%) were the top losers for the day.
‘Opportunities for growth delivery across segments’- Amitabh Chaudhry, Axis Bank
Excerpts of an interview with Amitabh Chaudhry, MD, and CEO, Axis Bank published in Mint on 17th February 2020:
- The market share of Axis Bank is in the 4.5-5 percent range in deposits and loans. Opportunities are there and growth delivery across all businesses is possible. Although the loan growth has been good, the bank has seen some unexpected stress. Now the stock of overall stress has come down which will hopefully be reflected in the slippages.
- The bank has been one of the most transparent ones in his view, in terms of disclosing numbers. Barring further shocks, from all the metrics, the future looks good, which they need to demonstrate in the coming quarters.
- The growth is mainly coming from refinancing activity. No significant new activity has been observed. Hence, he is of the view that economic activity will take some time to pick up.
- The SME side of the business is the first one to get a hit as the economic activity slows. The average realizations are coming down in a very calibrated way. In some sectors, the exposure has been reduced and some new relationships added.
- The growth has been good in the retail segment, aided by slower lending by Non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and the slowdown in consumption. Retail estate and some other asset classes also help in adding to the momentum in retail. In terms of the delinquencies and risk metrics, the bank is at historical lows except for CVC and some parts of MFI business.
- The retail story is the talk of the day. Everyone is either already into the business or entering it. Either way, the probability of the retail cycle coming is increasing as time passes. The government is also trying to offer relief measures to push consumption, RBI also has a loose monetary policy, thus liquidity is there in the system.
- Despite the rabi harvest being pretty good, there hasn’t been a significant pickup in tier-2 and tier-3. The slowdown has helped inventory stabilization at a reasonable level but there has not been any pickup in consumption as yet.
- The government is trying to infuse liquidity to benefit both the real estate and NBFC sectors. Some of the troubled NHBCs today have high exposure to the real estate sector. So, if NBFC is okay and can start lending, the money is expected to go to the real estate sector.
- The banker is of the view that the cleansing process is not over yet and that the government will continue going after people who have taken the system for a ride. So, that means there will be a negative surprise but they have to be prepared for it.
- In the hindsight, it was a good thing they raised capital when they did. There is enough ‘firepower’ now for continued growth over the next few years, which will be used in a very calibrated manner.
- The promises made as part of the GPS strategy haven’t changed yet. The aspirational 18% return on equity (ROE) is not possible. However, they have been able to maintain the long- term credit cost below 1 percent and cost to asset ratio below 2%. These promises were made because they believe they have the means to do something very different, digital banking is one of them.
Consensus Estimate: (source: market screener and investing.com websites)
- The closing price of Axis Bank was ₹ 739/- as on 17-February-20. It traded at 2.5x/ 2.2x/ 1.9x the consensus Book Value estimate of ₹ 302/ 342/ 396 for FY20E/ FY21E/ FY22E respectively.
- Consensus target price is ₹ 847/- which implies a Price to Book multiple of 2.1x on FY22E Book value of ₹ 396/-