A man looks up at an electronic ticker board showing stock information figures outside the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)  

Downgrade Risks Mount for India Profit Outlook on Oil, Rupee

(Bloomberg) -- The rupee’s longest rout since 2000 and oil’s surge to a four-year high have put earnings estimates of Indian companies at the risk of downgrades.

Analysts have boosted the average profit forecast for NSE Nifty 50 Index companies by 9.2 percent this year, shrugging off a 12 percent slump in the gauge since August. But history suggests the divergence won’t extend for long, and the growing stress in Asia’s third-largest economy may soon translate into lower projections.

Downgrade Risks Mount for India Profit Outlook on Oil, Rupee

Not that a weaker rupee is bad for all Indian companies -- exporters including software producers and drugmakers will gain in local-currency terms. Still, the net impact on the broader corporate sector may be negative because of higher import bills. Add to that the tighter local-funding conditions, and profit estimates begin to appear optimistic.

“Key factors are rising input costs, volatile crude prices, rupee depreciation and tightening liquidity, all catalysts for market de-rating,” analysts led by Dhirendra Tiwari at Mumbai-based Antique Stock Broking Ltd. wrote in a note. The brokerage expects earnings growth for Nifty companies to be 2.8 percent on year in the fiscal second quarter, much slower than the 13 percent expansion seen in the April-June period.

Demand in the world’s fastest-growing major economy is cooling after back-to-back rate increases by the central bank, prompting policy makers to pause the hiking cycle in October despite the currency’s free fall. A default by a systemically important non-banking finance company aggravated the sell-off in stocks, which were already reeling under a tumbling rupee and elevated prices of crude oil -- the nation’s top import.

“Rupee depreciation and higher crude prices will further widen the current-account deficit and pose a risk of higher inflation,” Pankaj Pandey, the head of research at ICICI Securities Ltd., wrote in a note this week. “There could be a downward revision in earnings across sectors post the adverse movement in macro parameters.”

Here’s what brokerages and investors expect from the September-quarter results season that kicks off Thursday with Asia’s top software exporter Tata Consultancy Services Ltd.

Reliance Securities

  • Expects banking, financial services and insurance companies to see pressure on operating performance; prefers HDFC Bank, IndusInd Bank and DCB Bank
  • Earnings growth for construction firms and power utilities may remain flattish; capital goods expected to post revenue growth of 13 percent and earnings gain of 23 percent year-on-year. Key results picks: HG Infra, KEC International, Kalpataru Power, Engineers India and NTPC

Deutsche Bank

  • Predicts weak rupee may be favorable to technology companies. Tata Consultancy and HCL Tech may lead with year-on-year earnings growth of 24 percent and 19 percent, respectively.
  • Sectors likely to report weaker earnings growth are telecom, consumer discretionary and industrials

Citigroup

  • Says rising input prices and weaker rupee among factors affecting profits for consumer sectors; financials to benefit from lower base while earnings for autos, health-care, industrials and telecom may be weak
  • Expects positive surprise from Aurobindo Pharma, IndusInd Bank, Ambuja Cement and HCL Technology; negative surprise likely from Lupin, Shriram Transport, Mahindra & Mahindra Finance, Emami and Crompton

Motilal Oswal

  • Recent macro events pose significant risk to Nifty’s second-half fiscal 2019 estimates; with 2Q profits expected to climb 12 percent on a base of 15 percent growth.
  • Rural consumption recovery to continue, with consumer staples likely to post fifth straight quarter of double-digit profit growth. Non-bank finance firms, too, should report strong growth as most headwinds emerged only toward the quarter end.
  • Top ideas include HDFC, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Maruti Suzuki, Hindalco, Ashok Leyland, Tech Mahindra.

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