Irrational exuberance in D-Mart shares

By Rob 0

It was a foregone conclusion that shares of Avenue Supermarts Ltd, which runs the D-Mart supermarket chain, would list at a huge premium on Tuesday. But the 112% appreciation in D-Mart share prices is taking things too far, notwithstanding the pedigree of the company.

At Tuesday’s closing price of Rs634, D-Mart shares traded at 76 times estimated earnings for financial year 2016-17 and 54 times one-year forward earnings. “Valuations are certainly expensive; the euphoria around the listing is driving prices,” said Arun Kejriwal, director of Kejriwal Research and Information Services Pvt. Ltd.

On an EV (enterprise value) to Ebitda basis too, valuations are sky high at around 30 times, based on FY18 estimates. Ebitda stands for earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. “I find it very difficult to buy D-Mart at this valuation. It reminds me of the heydays of retail stocks,” says a fund manager.

Nevertheless, the absurd valuations may well sustain, given a dearth of quality stocks and investors’ admiration for the company’s promoter, who is an ardent investor himself.

ALSO READ | D-Mart IPO: Value does not come cheap

“It may take some time for the euphoria to cool down”, says Kejriwal.

To be sure, the quality of the company and its superior margin profile are appealing as well. D-Mart’s net margin in the nine months to December stood at 4.4%, higher than Future Retail Ltd’s mere 2% margin. And since the IPO proceeds will be used to repay debt, net margin is expected to rise to about 5%, increasing its lead over other retailers. Further, D-Mart’s return on capital employed (RoCE) for 9MFY17 was 22.9%, higher than Future Retail’s estimated return of 12.8% for fiscal 2017.

Still, should that justify valuations of as high as 30 times Ebitda. Analysts at IIFL Capital, for instance, have a price target of Rs480 for the stock, at EV/Ebitda valuations of roughly 24 times, based on its FY18 estimates.

In hindsight, it’s clear that the issue was underpriced. SP Tulsian, an Independent analyst says, “It was a goodwill gesture on the part of the company to price the issue lower and the market has rewarded it generously,” according to Tulsian. But as a consequence, the company ended up raising far lesser funds than it could potentially have. The value of its free float capital has risen by around Rs2,000 crore; if it had decided to share half of the spoils by pricing the issue higher, D-Mart would have received an additional inflow of around Rs1,000 crore. That is fairly significant for a company with a balance sheet size of around Rs4,000 crore.

While the good taste of the spectacular D-Mart listing may linger for some time, investors would be keen to know whether growth rates will persist. More recently, revenue growth has slowed. For FY16 and FY15, revenue growth was 33% and 37%, respectively, year-on-year. That is lower than the annual revenue growth seen in preceding two years.

It’s also worth remembering that D-Mart’s quarterly financial results history and the impact of seasonality, if any, is not known to the Street yet. Those factors are worth watching for the stock along with other factors such as same store sales growth.

And finally, with valuations so high, there is hardly any room for error on any of these counts.

First Published: Tue, Mar 21 2017. 04 31 PM IST

[Source: livemint.com]