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Corporate Jan 21, 2013

Earnings show: Kotak sees inconsistencies in RIL numbers

By Firstbiz Editors

Reliance Industries' forecast beating performance and upbeat outlook have driven its shares up 5 percent to their 52-week highs.

But not all analysts are happy about the company's outlook and earnings.

Here are a few brokerage views.

Kotak Institutional Equities has said the company's "segment results (are) somewhat inconsistent with overall results and underlying data".

According to the brokerage Reliance Industries' refining segment EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) increased 3 percent on quarter Rs 3,620 crore despite throughput 0.6 percent decline in lower throughput and stronger exchange rate (+2 percent). Refining margin was very modestly higher (+US$0.1/bbl).

Further, Reliance Industries' petrochemical segment EBIT increased 11 percent on quarter to Rs 1940 crore although volumes were down significantly on quarter (5 percent for polymers and 3 percent for polyester), it said.

"...If production volumes broadly represent sales volumes, it would suggest that profitability improved quite strongly qoq despite lower domestic petchem margins," the brokerage has said.

Axis Capital, meanwhile, has said the management's sees a positive change in the regulatory environment, which has turned conducive with several back-to-back E&P approvals by oil ministry in the last few months.

Also, the Rangarajan committee's recommendations are also positive for the domestic exploration and production industry. "However, implementation of the recommendations would be a key challenge," the brokerage said in a post earnings note.

Both the refining and petrochemical segments surprised positively. With reported GRM of $9.6 per barrel, the company recorded its highest-ever refining EBIT, said Nomura.

The improvement in gross refining margin was more cyclical and is likely to normalise. Reuters

According to the brokerage, the company has indicated that the KG-D6 production declines would likely be arrested only when compression capacity is commissioned by 2014-15. So, the declines are likely to continue at least until then.

Religare does not see a meaningful revival in petrochemical margins for a few more quarters as demand is still weak, global operating rates are low and as ethylene capacities of 14 million are likely to be added in Asia and 1.5 million in North America over 2013-15. Also, it does not see an improvement in KG-D6 gas output in the near future.

According to the brokerage, the improvement in gross refining margin was more cyclical and is likely to normalise.

Deutsche Bank said it was after a long period the management sounded optimistic on its upstream portfolio in the country. "The company is awaiting approval for the revised development plan for MA field in KG D6, gearing up to submit the development for R series fields within a month and restart its exploration campaign," it said.

HSBC, meanwhile, expects "RIL to increasingly turn into a proxy for downstream cycle as new businesses are unlikely to be meaningful enough for a company of RIL's size".

"With the downstream business accounting for 86% of Q3FY13 EBITDA, RIL is increasingly turning into a cyclical downstream story," it said.

It sees further downside to consensus gas production assumption from KG D6. "We believe even after all other discoveries of the D6 block are brought on production, the peak production is unlikely to cross 40 mmscmd," it said. It even sees further downside to this figure.

The brokerage is not upbeat about the company's shale gas venture either. RIL has drilled a total of 54 new wells in three shale gas projects. The production increased 16 percent on quarter, and the company clocked $330 million EBIDTA during the nine month period ended December, HSBC said.

"The returns are not yet commensurate with the capital investment of USD5.2bn in shale gas projects," it said.

The brokerage is not enthused with the 44 percent turnover growth to $1.4 billion in RIL's retail business during April-December.

"Retail business is yet to break even. The size of the business is not enough to move the needle for a company of RIL's size," it said.

The company now has 1,400 stores in 129 cities, it said.

According to a report in the Economic Times today, the company is not looking for a foreign partner in the retail business and plans to bring its all independent retailing units under Reliance Fresh.

The move is aimed at removing administrative glitches and increasing synergies and efficiencies, the report said quoting a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

(Disclosure: The Reliance Group has funded the promoter of Network18, which publishes Firstpost).

by Firstbiz Editors

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