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This article was first published 8 years ago  » Business » Indian markets will see a de-rating in near term: Mahesh Nandurkar

Indian markets will see a de-rating in near term: Mahesh Nandurkar

By Sheetal Agarwal
May 03, 2016 09:49 IST
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'The single biggest theme we are looking at is earnings visibility where you will see least amount of earnings downgrades.'

Premium valuations and lack of big triggers will weigh on Indian equity markets in the near term, believes Mahesh Nandurkar, bottom, left, India Strategist, CLSA. In a conversation with Sheetal Agarwal, he talks about the earnings, foreign institutional investor inflows and overall market outlook. Excerpts:

Do you believe the recent rally in markets is sustainable?

We don’t think so. We believe that there have been a few triggers for the markets over the past two to three months, such as a reasonably good Budget, decent monsoon forecast and the US Federal Reserve’s dovish statement in February.

So, the market has had a decent run. But, going forward, I don’t see any big positive triggers for the market. In fact, I think there could be a few sentiment dampeners.

Of late, there has been some excitement around the high frequency indicators, which have improved quite a bit. As we go into May or June, many of these will soften as the base effect normalises.

Also, the earnings expectations are still high and we will still see some earnings downgrades. We believe the Sensex could give five to seven per cent returns over the next 12 months.

Are the Indian markets over-priced?

By consensus estimates, the Nifty trades at 16.1 times earnings on a one-year forward basis. This is an 11-12 per cent premium to past 10 years' average of about 14.5 times on unrealistically high growth expectations.

As against 23 per cent earnings growth expectations, if you look at a more realistic picture of 14-15 per cent, then 16.1 becomes 17.5 times, which is a higher premium and does not look sustainable to me.

The fair valuation should be 15-15.5 times, which is average valuation plus some premium on account of corporate profitability bouncing back from its lows. But, it is still a de-rating from current levels.

Are we at the bottom of the earnings downgrade cycle?

Downgrades this year will be lower than last year. The market seems to be expecting 23 per cent earnings growth from Sensex companies in FY17 and reality will be closer to 15 per cent. So, it is still a downgrade.

Which sectors will drive earnings?

The effect of a low base in earnings will play out in FY17. Earnings growth will look up for companies that reported very badly last year. Corporate banks, for instance, because last year in the December and March quarters, they took big write-offs, driven by the Reserve Bank's asset quality review.

That is not going to happen again next year. Non-performing asset ratios will still rise in FY17 over FY16 but the pace will be much lower. Similarly, health care companies had to do acquisitions-related write-offs in FY16 and will benefit in FY17, due to a very low base.

The numbers will be good to some extent from cement companies as well. A lot of this, though, is base effect-driven and appears unsustainable.

What are the key investment themes in this market?

The single biggest theme we are looking at is earnings visibility where you will see least amount of earnings downgrades. Apart from that, disruption is a big theme and is not restricted to e-commerce.

For e.g, a Patanjali trying to disrupt the consumer goods space space or Amazon web services having some negative impact on information technology companies. If there is a new entrant on the telecom side, then existing players will get impacted.

You will see a lot of this disruption. We need to see to what extent these companies will get disrupted. Where you will see the least amount of disruption would be relatively safer bets.

How does India stack up vis-à-vis other emerging markets?

In 2016 so far, India has under-performed all other EMs, except China. With some rebound in commodities, the commodity-driven markets benefit more than us. But, on a structural basis, my talks with most investors suggest India remains a more attractive bet for the longer run as compared to Brazil, Russia.

Indian markets have seen healthy FII inflows in 2016 so far. Is this sustainable?

While India has seen inflows, the other markets have seen larger inflows. It’s a global risk-on and India has had its own share in that.

At the international level, at some point the markets will start questioning the efficacy of central banking actions. We did see the impact of that earlier, when the Bank of Japan cut rates deeper into negative territory but local Japanese markets actually collapsed. Something similar happened in the case of the European Central Bank.

This tendency will increase, which is a global risk for emerging equity markets, including India. In this context, I believe the possibility of these flows sustaining is low.

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Sheetal Agarwal
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