In the last few weeks, shares of some NBFC/BFSI stocks have fallen between 15-60%. Here we try to find out the key causes, possible timelines and suggest next steps for investors.
The recent developments in Indian Banking Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) sector have created a fear of systemic risks – causing stocks in general, specifically NBFCs, to correct sharply.
The IL&FS Default
- IL&FS is a core investment firm and the holding company of the Group with firms in infra, finance, social and environmental services. IL&FS is a “systemically important” NBFC firm as per RBI.
- In Sep2018 IL&FS Financial Services, a group firm, defaulted in payment obligations of bank loans, term and short-term deposits. It failed to meet the commercial paper (CP) redemption due on Sept 14, 2018. After this ICRA downgraded the ratings of its short-term & long-term borrowing programs.
- The short-term paper of IL&FS saw a credit rating fall to a rating of D on 17 Sept (indicating default), down from a rating of A4 (as on 8 Sept) and A1+ (as on 6 Aug). Similarly, ILFS Financial Services short-term paper credit rating fell to ‘D’ on 17 Sept, down from A4 (as on 8 Sept) and A1+ (19 Feb).
- Infra sector in India does face challenges like long gestation periods, low returns, and funding issues. Investments in infra should be financed by long gestation sources like insurance and pension funds.
Spill over effect on equity market
- IL&FS has total debt of Rs. 91,000 cr. at the group level from 350+ direct and indirect subsidiaries, JV’s and associate companies. Of this debt, 61% is in the form of loans from financial institutions, indicating its woes could spread to other shadow banks.
- Fresh inflows into MFs, especially into debt funds, slowed, and debt fund managers began to adopt a “wait and watch” policy on deploying fresh funds. A few MFs started selling short term debt instruments issued by NBFC companies including those funding the housing sector. There are concerns over short-term liquidity in the market for CPs raised by NBFCs. Further, there is also an uncertainty about the ability of certain NBFCs to raise capital.
- Fresh bond issuances by NBFCs declined and the costs of borrowing rose. Post the default, there was a sharp decline in bond prices for HFCs which brought funding/liquidity situation of NBFCs into fresh scrutiny. This resulted in a sharp sell-offs in anticipation of rising borrowing costs, tightening liquidity situation which could impact growth sharply in turn also. Hence there was a double blow to stock price targets from earnings downgrade as well as valuation multiples downgrade (faltering growth).
What added fuel to fire?
The macro is also seeing headwinds such as:
- The NPA issues around Public Sector Banks (already under resolution)
- High Crude Oil Prices and Depreciating Rupee against USD
- Consistent selloff by FIIs of debt & equity; and Trade War fears
- Regulatory Whip on private banks – Yes Bank, Kotak Mah. Bank, Axis Bank and Bandhan Bank
- The merger of 3 PSBs
- Upcoming State and General Elections
- Market Rumors causing volatility
- Mid-year cash flow issues due to advance tax and bank repayments
Regulatory Rescue and other Positives
- The RBI, Finance Ministry and MCA have stepped in quickly to avert a crisis. They took control of IL&FS, and with NCLT approval, reconstituted the board and it is now headed by Uday Kotak as chairman. The new board is focused on turning around the operations of IL&FS soon.
- The RBI will infuse Rs. 36,000 crores through open market purchase of bonds to ease liquidity concerns.
- A reduction in excise duty was announced to reduce petrol & diesel costs.
- The RBI MPC kept interests rates unchanged, indicating that inflation is under control and giving a thrust to economic growth.
- Domestic liquidity and growth of MFs was strong recently and should continue.
- India’s GDP grew at 8.2% cent in Q1 of FY19. This is an outstanding number,the highest growth in two years. Surely the growth will also reflect in the BFSI sector, as this sector addresses both consumer and industrial credit.
Which stocks got affected the most?
- A lot of private sector banks and many of the HFCs from the NBFC space were affected. Here is how the share prices have moved in the last 1 year.
Fig 1 – One year Normalized Price Graph / Fig 2 – In Percentages Note: The share prices in Fig 1 have been scaled for a better representation of relative movement of all the stocks over 1 year, which may not reflect the actual share price. The 9 stocks chosen above are an incomplete but sufficient representation of the sector.
- After a few weeks of uncertainty and liquidity dry-up, the financial system will surely rebound. Short term interest rates are firming up too.
- IL&FS may undergo a restructuring; a fresh infusion of funds – maybe a rights issue and a sale of assets will help the firm meet its debt obligations. Some strategic announcements should happen in 1-2 months.
- The developments around IL&FS and the macro economy do call for a correction in stock prices. However the correction has been overdone in BFSI/NBFC stocks.
- Long term investors should look at selectively accumulating the beaten down quality stocks when some signs of recovery are in place.
Appendix / Legend – Sorry we keep using shortforms
- BFSI – Banking Financial Services and Insurance
- NBFC – Non banking Financial Services company
- CP – Commercial Paper
- HFCs – Housing Finance companies, a type of NBFC
- RBI – Reserve Bank of India – India’s Central Bank and regulator for banking sector
- MPC – Monetary Policy Committee, a group from RBI
- FIIs – Foreign Institutional Investors
- MF – Mutual Fund Industry
- NPA – Non Performing Assets
- NCLT – National Company Law Tribunal, is a quasi-judicial body in India that adjudicates issues relating to Indian companies.
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