Arising tide lifts all boats. With the stock market surging, it isn't surprising that the market capitalisation of most listed companies has moved northward. During the first half of the financial year 2007-08 (the period for which the BT 500 list has been computed), the Bombay Stock Exchange Sensex gained 32 per cent. Compare that to the corresponding period last year, when the Sensex was up by just 10 per cent. This year's BT 500 list of India's most valuable companies, therefore, reflects the overall bull run on the bourses. But as we analysed the market cap of the BT 500 companies (as well as the next 500, making for a total of 1,000 companies), some distinct trends emerged, which our special cover package of eight stories will help you discern.
Among the top gainers this year have been real estate, financial services and infrastructure firms, several of them first-timers with recently issued IPOs that rode the boom conditions prevailing on the stock market. While real estate companies have been notable new entrants into the BT 500, the show-stealing sector has been telecom, which, because of the huge potential and no sign of a slowdown in growth, is still considered a sunrise industry. The two biggest telcos, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications, have shot up the totem pole-at #2 and #6, respectively- and we have a feature (The Race Is on, page 94) that analyses how the two are pitted against each other. Another feature (Ringing in Gains, page 112) explains why real estate companies have recorded heady rises on the bourses and whether this will be sustained.
Another notable trend this year has been the falling from favour (among investors) of Indian IT companies. The appreciating rupee has affected the bottom lines at most IT companies and this has been reflected by their slide on the BT 500 rankings. The Doubtful Darlings (page 100) looks at why IT stocks are not catching the fancy of Dalal Street as much as they did before. Going by emerging trends, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies could be on the comeback trail, riding the boom in organised retail. Likewise, for drug companies where restructuring (many of them plan to hive off high-risk discovery business from their steady-growth generics operations) could help unlock more value on the bourses. Our story, Down But Not Out (page 106), shows how the future for pharma and FMCG looks much better. Other stories in the package include: a look at some newcomers that have posted gains but are companies that you may not have heard of; how the handful of listed retailing companies have fared; and of how a couple of MNCs have maintained their standing, riding on the boom in infrastructure and manufacturing.