India’s Top Challengers 2022: Redefining financial growth

01 Jul 2022

As the saying goes, “Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength”. This stands true for the Indian infrastructure sector that has finally started to witness improvement. After a difficult FY21 on the back of COVID-19, not much was expected from infrastructure in FY22 as well. However, the infrastructure and allied sectors have shown that strength and growth can come through continuous effort and struggle.

If the FY22 numbers are anything to go by, it seems that the levers for private capital expenditure (capex) revival seem to be falling in place. Corporate India is well geared to step up the capex. Free cashflow-to-capex ratio averaged approximately 0.5x over FY14-20 and is at 1.0x currently. Indian manufacturing companies have repaired their balance sheets by deleveraging, with net debt/equity or net debt/EBITDA back to FY12-13 levels. The interest burden is significantly below peak levels. Estimates across the manufacturing universe indicate a strong double-digit uptick in capex for the steel, cement and chemicals sector over pre-COVID levels.

Apart from this, the investment intent of the private sector is robust. New investment announcements by the private sector in FY22 are more than double as compared to the FY20 levels. This was led by the manufacturing sector, which saw a 4.7x increase. Most important factor is order inflow and order backlog of large, listed capital good plays on aggregate at record high. We opine that real estate can join the party over the medium term, as unsold inventory of residential property units is down 40 per cent from the peak. Going ahead, we expect government capex led by infrastructure to at least keep pace with nominal GDP growth.

With the economy coming back on track, we at CW are recognising the efforts of India Inc. In our yearly exercise, we have analysed the companies from the universe of construction and contracting, engineering, metals, building materials and cement. It is time to honour all those who have been able to overcome the difficult challenges they faced on both the macro and micro fronts.

We have followed a rigorous method by focusing on parameters such as net sales, PBDIT and net profit. While sales figures are important as they reflect how the demand for products or services is moving, profit before depreciation interest and tax (PBDIT) figures guide us on how the company is doing at the operational level and its efficiency. As for net profit, it clearly shows how much is left for shareholders. Further, in the context of the current series of default on payment by a few companies, we have also closely observed if the companies we have analysed have risked their debt profile or leveraged too much. Hence, parameters like long-term borrowings and short-term borrowings have been examined. With such comprehensive observations, the companies that have managed to show ability to grow are true challengers, proving their mettle in a difficult economic environment.

As stated earlier, we have ranked the companies on three parameters: net sales, PBDIT and net profit. We have selected companies that have shown improvement in at least two of the above parameters. It means if the company has managed to show an increase in sales but failed to show improvement in PBDIT and net profit, it has not been considered. Further, to ascertain the real challengers and the larger ones, we only considered companies with a market capitalisation of over Rs 500 crore. We have also taken companies with FY21 sales of over Rs 500 crore. This is to ensure that the base is higher, yet the companies managed to post strong growth. There are a few companies who posted losses in FY22 but we took care that losses have reduced compared to FY21.

We have made a few adjustments. For instance, for companies with fiscal closing other than March 2022, the trailing four quarter financial performances were considered. Companies that have not yet announced the March 2022 quarter results have not been considered. (Please note that a few companies have not announced Q4FY22 results even till the second week of July 2022.) Apart from this, a few organisations chose not to participate in this process and hence, do not figure in the list.

With regard to the ranking, we provided a weighted average to three parameters: 40 per cent to sales, being a prime growth driver, and 30 per cent each to PBDIT and profit after tax (PAT). After ranking the companies on growth in percentage terms (FY21 over FY20), the rankings were provided with weightages. This process helped us rationalise the ranking process and all players were rated on similar ground. In some cases, we offered the right to veto (to the selection panel) by adhering to qualitative factors. The final list is an extensive one and the panel has taken into account almost all aspects that needed to be considered. We have ignored ranking them as the purpose was to choose the companies that have braved the odds and they belong to diverse sectors.

Top Challengers 2022

  • BigBloc Construction
  • Brigade Group
  • Capacit'e Infraprojects
  • Godrej Properties
  • Greenpanel Industries
  • HCC
  • ITD Cementation India
  • J Kumar Infraprojects
  • Jindal Stainless
  • Kolte-Patil Developers
  • Mahindra Lifespaces
  • Man Infraconstruction
  • Marathon Group
  • Orientbell Tiles
  • Patel Engineering
  • PSP Projects
  • Rushil Décor
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