Surprise performance as Nifty profits at highest level amid pandemic

New Delhi (IANS) Rather unexpectedly when the economic conditions looked challenging and visibility was low, India Inc has surprised with the Nifty companies delivering their highest-ever quarterly profits in September 2020 in the last 45 quarters.

"While this quarter's superior earnings performance is well acknowledged, just highlighting this exhibit of last 45 quarters of absolute PAT. Both Nifty and MOSL Universe delivered their highest ever quarterly profits in Sep'20. (Guess very few, if any, would have imagined this in April'20)," said Gautam Duggad, Head of Research, Motilal Oswal Financial Services.

No wonder that stock markets are rallying to lifetime highs as companies are posting record profits and stock prices are keeping pace with the improving profitability, at least among the big companies. As the Covid pandemic rages, there was uncertainty about corporate performance which has clearly been belied.

In an earlier report, Motilal Oswal Institutional Equities had said that the September quarter (2QFY21) corporate earnings season was a blockbuster one, with big beats and upgrades across sectors.

According to a report by Motilal Oswal Institutional Equities, wiith an upgrade (more than 5 per cent) to downgrade ratio (less than 5 per cent) of 4:1, this has by far been the best earnings season in many years.

"Sixty-three per cent of the companies in our coverage universe beat 2QFY21 estimates, while 18% reported below estimate results. This has resulted in the first material earnings upgrade for Nifty EPS estimates in many years", the report said. More importantly, corporate commentaries across the sector suggest continued demand recovery in 3QFY21, underpinned by a healthy start to the festive season.

While sales growth was in-line, better-than-expected demand recovery, continued cost control measures, and lower-than-expected provisioning costs for the BFSI segment drove a spectacular profit beat. Cement, private banks, banks, PSU banks, healthcare, oil and gas, technology, and utilities reported year on year profit growth, while auto, capital goods, consumer, NBFC, and retail reported YoY declines. The telecom sector posted a loss.

The report said QFY21 corporate earnings were a broad-based beat, leading to significant upgrades in earnings estimates. Better-than-expected demand recovery and continued cost control initiatives were the key highlights of the quarter.

BFSI earnings were particularly strong, with commentaries from large private sector banks indicating the stress on asset quality may not be as bad as initially feared. Although, banks continue to increase provisions for COVID-related stress. Economic recovery continued, with high-frequency data for October coming in fairly strong (GST collections, Manufacturing PMI, rail freight, power demand, and IIP).

Early trends from the festive season suggest continued demand recovery. However, after the 68 per cent rebound from March lows, Nifty valuations are no longer cheap, the report said.

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