Business Standard

A tug-of-war between bulls and bears: Analysts divided on Asian Paints

But given an optimistic market and a good monsoon, an upside is more likely


Asian Paints is a premium bluechip company with its performanc­e depending largely on household consumptio­n, as well as the industrial and corporate segment to a lesser extent. The Q2, 202122, results will be released on October 21. Leading brokerages have released conflictin­g advisories after its Q1 results, and it is interestin­g to review those expectatio­ns.

In its own presentati­ons after it declared the Q1 results, the company warned against steep material inflation, which had affected the margin and would remain a concern. Petrochemi­cals are a vital input, so that’s no surprise. Costs would have stayed elevated in Q2. Asian Paints also announced small price increases (about 1 per cent averaged across portfolio) in July to pass on costs.

On the positive side, the company expected the demand outlook to stay positive and it was optimistic about the long Diwali season. It hoped a good monsoon would help with rural demand. It considered that avoiding a third Covid wave would be critical to regaining normalcy. There has indeed been a good monsoon, and so far, no third wave.

In a recent consumptio­n report, Motilal Oswal Securities expects Asian Paints to report Q2 net profit at ~973.1 crore, up 14 per cent YOY and up 69.4 per cent quarter-on-quarter (QOQ). Net Sales are expected to increase by 42 per cent YOY (up 36 per cent QOQ) to ~7,597.3 crore. The operating profit (Ebitda) is likely to rise 14.5 per cent YOY and 58.6 per cent QOQ to ~1,448.9 crore. The rating has been “neutral”.

After Q1, when the market price was around ~3,145, the following recommenda­tions started to come in from brokerages and analysts. HSBC had a “buy”, which it still maintains, with a target of ~3,500. CLSA also had a buy/outperform rating — the target of ~3,275 has been hit. It noted that the company’s focus on sustaining market share gains had eroded gross margin.

Macquarie had an “outperform” rating with a target of ~3,500, which it has since moved up to ~4,000. It noted that the company’s Q1 performanc­e emphasised demand was resilient and it was less worried about near-term margin pressure. Jpmorgan has a target of ~3,575.

Morgan Stanley was less optimistic with an “equal-weight” rating and a target of ~3,143 (the price when it released its recommenda­tion). It noted that revenue growth beat estimates but the margin disappoint­ed. Goldman Sachs, however, was outright bearish and still maintains a “sell” recommenda­tion with a target of ~1,667. It noted the margin contractio­n raised questions about pricing power. While Morgan Stanley believed Q2 was likely to benefit from pent-up demand, it implied the stock could decline 60 per cent.

The stock has moved between a high of ~3,445 and a low of ~2,951 in the past three months. It is currently at ~3,306, a loss of 1 per cent in the past month but it has gained from a recent low of ~3,177 in early October. In the past 10 sessions, it has registered 30 per cent higher trading volumes than its 3-month median. Technicall­y speaking, the stock has just crossed above its own 11-day moving average, which is a bullish signal. The lack of analyst consensus could mean a tug-ofwar between bulls and bears. Given an optimistic market and a good monsoon, the upside seems more likely than the downside.

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