L&T crosses Rs2 trillion market cap for the first time

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Mumbai: India’s largest engineering and construction company Larsen and Toubro Ltd on Thursday crossed Rs2 trillion market cap for the first time after its shares soared over 13% so far this year.

The stock touched a high of Rs1,430.60 a share and gained as much as 1.25% in intraday trade. Currently, its market cap stands at Rs2.01 trillion. At 9.35am, its shares were trading at Rs1,429.50 apiece on the BSE, up 1.17% from its previous close, while India’s benchmark Sensex index rose 0.49% to 36,228.72 points.

Until now, 21 Indian companies have crossed this landmark. These companies are Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), HDFC Bank Ltd, ITC Ltd, Housing Development Corp. Ltd, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, State Bank of India, Oil & Natural Gas Corp. Ltd, Infosys Ltd, Indian Oil Corp. Ltd, ICICI Bank Ltd, Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd, Bharti Airtel Ltd, Coal India Ltd, NTPC Ltd, Wipro Ltd, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, NMDC Ltd, DLF Ltd and MMTC Ltd.

Currently, RIL is the most valued company in India with a market cap of Rs6.18 trillion, followed by TCS and HDFC Bank with market caps of Rs6.03 trillion and Rs5.15 trillion, respectively.

L&T stock is rising since October 2017 as analysts believe India is poised to be among the world’s fastest growing economy in 2018 and due to this upbeat economic outlook, its long-term growth will benefit.

Also, investors hope that the upcoming Union budget is likely to give a boost to the infrastructure sector which may increase its capital spending and will improve order books, top line and profit. Analysts expect this will also benefit the company.

The company will announce its December quarter earnings on 31 January. According to 17 Bloomberg analysts’ estimates, the company may post a net profit of Rs1,384.50 crore, while net sales will be at Rs283.85 crore.

“We believe that the three key parameters on which investors assess L&T are order book growth, capital efficiency and execution/margin momentum. Over the past 24 months, we have seen visible efforts by L&T to focus on profitability vs. what we viewed as its skewed focus on order inflows earlier. We believe the company is walking the talk on its five-year strategy and, thus, maintain our Buy rating on the stock and highlight it as our top pick in the India industrial sector,” said brokerage firm Nomura in an 8 January report.

The company has disclosed that it got Rs34,000 crore orders in the third quarter 2018, the highest announced quarterly orders over the past 16 quarters. Analysts expect that the overall order inflow for the quarter will be Rs48,000 crore indicating an year-on-year growth of 38%.

“In its ongoing five-year strategic plan (starting FY18e), L&T’s focus is on improving profitability, reducing working capital intensity, RoE expansion and asset monetisation. We believe these areas align with investor expectations for the company in the current cycle and should be value accretive for the shares,” said HSBC in a 3 January report.

The brokerage firm forecast 19% earnings compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) over FY17-19 estimates and a return on equity improvement from 12.6% in FY17 to 16.1% by FY20E.livemint