The Nifty 50 is currently scaling new heights, pushing many stocks into elevated valuation territories. However, amidst the bullish trend, some stocks are holding steady at valuations reminiscent of the Covid era, presenting intriguing opportunities for investors seeking fundamentally strong options. One such stock is Asian Paints Ltd.
At the height of the Covid crisis, Asian Paints Ltd witnessed a PE ratio ranging between 55-60. Surprisingly, in the current scenario, the PE ratio stands at 62.2, marginally higher yet still below the 5-year median PE. This suggests that the stock has reverted to Covid-level valuations despite a 100% price surge over the past 4-5 years.
Price and Earnings Dynamics
The stock’s price trajectory has soared by 100% over the last 4-5 years, while the PE ratio has shown a downward trend. This divergence is intriguing, especially when examining the trailing twelve months’ earnings, which have been consistently rising.
Asian Paints’ financial performance tells a compelling story from 2020 to 2023. Sales witnessed remarkable growth, surging from 20,211 in 2020 to 34,489 in 2023, marking a 70.35% increase. The growth rates in 2021 (7.43%) and 2023 (18.51%) indicate robust expansion, with a noteworthy spike of 34.03% in 2022.
While net profit experienced a slight dip in 2022, the earnings per share (EPS) displayed an overall positive trend, culminating in a significant 35.52% growth in 2023. The doubling of both top-line and bottom-line metrics reflects the company’s resilience and adaptability.
Balance Sheet Strength
Asian Paints boasts an all-time high in reserves and a doubling of borrowings. However, the company’s robust financial performance suggests that the increased borrowings have not hindered its overall health. Strong reserves position the company well to navigate challenges and capitalize on growth opportunities.
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Market Dynamics and Consolidation
The stock price has been consolidating within the range of Rs 2,600 and Rs 3,500 since 2022. Weak consumer sentiment, particularly in rural areas, has contributed to this consolidation. Compared to peers, Asian Paints has experienced a slowdown in sales growth, primarily due to stagnant growth in rural areas and only a marginal uptick in urban areas.
Management Outlook and Industry Factors
Management anticipates a demand upswing in Q3 and Q4, driven by expectations of a good harvest and a potential reduction in inflation in 2024. Additionally, the company’s fortunes are linked to crude oil prices, with 40% of input costs tied to oil. The recent decline in crude prices over the past four months is a positive signal, potentially boosting profit margins for the entire paint industry.
In conclusion, Asian Paints Ltd appears to be a fundamentally strong stock trading at valuations reminiscent of the Covid era. The company’s robust financial performance, balanced borrowings, and management’s optimistic outlook position it favourably for potential growth. However, investors should remain vigilant, considering external factors like crude oil prices that could impact the industry’s profitability.
Disclaimer: This blog has been written exclusively for educational purposes. The securities mentioned are only examples and not recommendations. The information is based on various