What are we reading?

  1. Visualizing companies in the trillion $ club (here)
  2. Prof Galloway – 2020 predictions (here)
  3. Ben Graham’s last investment fund (here)
  4. How Piramal contains NPA despite large exposure to real estate (here)
  5. Markets just don’t care about human suffering (here)
  6. Jeff Bezos’ unhappy passage in India (here)

Piramal Watch

On Friday, Piramal announced the sale of DRG, the healthcare focussed IT analytics firm, to Clarivate for $950M. With this, Piramal will receive $900M at the close of the deal and $50M 12 months after the deal closure. You can find the press release here. More interestingly, you can find, Clarivate’s presentation on the deal here

Coupled with the rights issue and CCD worth about $770M, Piramal will have raised around $1.6B in capital starting October 2019 (provided the Rights issue, underwritten by the promoters, go through successfully). In addition, the reliance away from commercial paper into longer term bank loans and the proceeds from the sale of STFC, will play a key role in improving the liquidity position and the balance sheet of Piramal significantly. Coupled with the fact that the D/E of the business was low, total construction finance book a little over $4.3B, it looks like the balance is finally tilting in Piramal’s favour that will allow it to wait out the downturn in real estate while opening up a few offensive moves.

While the opportunity cost might be high, Piramal has long been a counter-cyclical investor and time will tell whether he can extend this to a leveraged financial model.

Disclosure: Long Piramal.

Disclaimers: here


Piramal Watch: Another strong quarter from the numbers!

We had written about Piramal Enterprises before here recently. Last night, they announced their results. Strong revenue and profit growth at 21% YoY. As expected, the focus on was their financial services portion of the business. The book was flat quarter or quarter with about 5K crores of repayment and 4.8K crores of disbursements.

Screenshot from 2019-07-31 04-52-13.png

The real estate book is starting to show signs of diversification with a lower wholesale residential RE portion but it is still 47% of the book.

Screenshot from 2019-07-31 04-56-07.png

The ROA and ROE seems to be holding up well for the business. GNPA actually fell in the quarter based on 90 dpd. It does look like payments are coming in through for Piramal as of now.  I suspect there is a lot of advance payments that is going on here that is causing this to look very strong and probably some better risk management as well.

Screenshot from 2019-07-31 04-59-05.png

A detailed book sensitivity shows that there are probably around 10% of the deals that need attention which is not concerning given that Piramal has shown an ability to actually implement corrective action and fix them in the last few quarters.

Screenshot from 2019-07-31 05-03-42

The key news was on the liability and equity side. The company informed that they were planning to bring in 8K-10k crores of equity on what they called significant growth and consolidation opportunities that are opening up on the NBFC.

I will also link here the CNBC transcript that shows a more aggressive yet cautious contrarian waiting for the right opportunities to open up in the NBFC space. It was good to see that they are treading with caution and watching instead of jumping into the first deal they get. With a solid quarter behind them, will this be a case of yet another counter cyclical aggression from Piramal? Only time will tell.

Disclosure: Long Piramal.

Piramal Watch: Distressed Seller or a Predator on Hunt?

With all the bearishness around the NBFC and the liquidity situation surrounding the industry, we are closely monitoring the status of several NBFC’s. Amongst them is Piramal. Depending on which source you read at or talk to, you have Piramal, either an overexposed real estate NBFC lender in a liquidity crunch, selling investments to fund liquidity issues OR a savvy predator hungry for more deals in the market when there is blood on the streets. Either way, when the results come out tomorrow, it will be a good indicator of what the reality looks like.

With so many stories swirling around, it is really tough to separate out the truth from the rumor. All we can say is, given the sheer number of permutations and combinations of the stories out there, it is evident that Piramal is talking to investors. But for what and as what? A distressed seller or as a bloodhound on a trail. We will have to wait and see how this plays out.

Some of the links to articles around Piramal:

  1. Piramal capital eyes $600M of buyouts in NBFC space (here)
  2. Can Piramal enterprises weather the NBFC storm (here)
  3. Softbank set to infuse capital into Piramal capital (here)
  4. LIC, IFC come to the aid of Piramal’s financial services business (here)
  5. Piramal’s INR 2500 Crore debt up for redemption in next 18 months (here)
  6. Piramal sharply cuts short term debt as NBFC crisis lingers (here)
  7. Piramal raises 1500 Crores from Stanchart through NCD’s (here)
  8. Reliance Jio and Piramal might setup a joint venture for financial services lending (here)
  9. Consumer finance focus can bring softbank to Piramal (here)
  10. The pathetic performance of the IndiaReit V fund (here)
  11. Piramal sells entire stake in Shriram Transport (here)
  12. Piramal is in talks to sell stake in Shriram group of companies (here)

Update: Added a few more links to the Lodha issue

  1. Piramal capital offloads 2,000 crore linked to Lodha (here)
  2. Piramal to pare 1,000 crore of Lodha developers debt (here)

Disclosure: Long Piramal.

What are we reading?

John Malone and his Cable Media empire (jInvestor)

Piramal Enterprises (BigInvestor)

Roller Coaster investing (Sanjay Bakshi)

Titan Q1 dips 15% (MoneyControl)

A year on, how Vishal Sikka put his stamp on Infosys (LiveMint)

Worst investment / retirement mistakes (Subramoney)

How much do I need to retire early in India (FreeFinCal)

Is this India’s worst real estate nightmare (LiveMint)

Piramal Enterprises Annual Letter

It is that time of the year when most of the companies release their annual reports for the fiscal year 2014-15. We started the season by reading through Piramal Enterprises annual letter. By and large, it was boilerplate, which by itself is not bad.

The letter did touch upon the long term value creation that the company has created. 24% CAGR on sales over 27 years and EBITDA of 26% CAGR over the same period. The sales mix over the last few years were discussed. Ajay Piramal indicated that they considered the three distinct segments as three different companies in healthcare, financial services and information management.

One of the interesting exhibits was the profit bridge between 2014 and 2015.


The interesting piece in  this bridge is the first half where one can see that the marginal sales of INR 301 + 211 + 120 crores of 632 Crores in 2015 generated operating profit of 246 Crores which is north of 35% OP which is great. The de-leveraging that Piramal has undertaken by paying down debt with the proceeds of the Vodafone investment is evident and it will result in better bottom line in the future years. That is just about the only interesting thing in the annual report. The rest of the report is noticeable for the questions it did not answer than what it did.

Let us look at the 2015 results from the consolidated results published.


 Let us take a closer look at Pharma. The 2015 results include the NCE write-offs. So, let us exclude that and look at the segment profits.

Pharma in Crores 2014 2015
Sales 2877 3165
Segment Profits -162 -497
Profits Excluding NCE write-off -165 -198
% -5.7% -6.3%

a. The annual report is very descriptive and talks about the revenue growth. What about the operating profits of the Pharma segment? The annual report does not allude what the company was doing to improve the profits of the segment which contributed to ~60% of the sales and losing money?

b. A lucid MD&A must talk about what steps the company can take to rationalize the operations to make it profitable. What is the real true worth of the Pharma business where the operating margin continues to trend south?

Moving on to the financial services.

Financial services

The company does a great job of explaining where the sources of revenue and how it is growing. However, the following questions do remain

a. What is the leverage ratio of the financial arm? (Which I do not think is much? If you take out the DRG portion of the debt (which I think is the USD denominated debt), very little is left behind

b. What is the CAR for this arm?

c. What is the GNPA and NPA for this segment?

d. What is the plan with respect to the long run on how we plan to continue to fund the business?

Granted that Ajay Piramal is a master capital allocator but I do think the shareholders deserve to know the risks they are taking on when they hold Piramal shares. While Piramal continues to think of the three segments as three different companies, the annual report does not provide the required clarity easily to the shareholders to understand the risk of the three segments.

Make no mistake, Ajay Piramal has done wonders in the past and does not owe any answers to analysts but I do think the half minority owners do deserve to know on the key metrics that drive the firm in the long run.

Disclosure: Long Piramal