ITC is turning into a favourite of India’s Dalal Street.
The cigarette maker,in which British American Tobacco owns a 25.4 per cent stake,this week overtook traditional blue chip Reliance Industries as the biggest weighting in India’s benchmark index.
To many fund managers in India’s version of Wall Street,ITC provides both safety as a consumer staple stock and growth potential as the rising purchasing power of Indian consumers will allow the company to raise cigarette prices.
By contrast,Reliance Industries has suffered a multitude of recent downgrades due to doubts about its natural gas output and its refining margins.
Consequently,ITC shares have surged 20 per cent this year as of Wednesday’s close,versus a 8 per cent gain in Reliance shares.
ITC provides safety and growth while Reliance Industries is getting bogged down by lack of triggers,government intervention,falling margins and tepid earnings growth,said Andrew Holland,CEO of Investment Advisory at Ambit Capital.
From buy-side perspective,ITC is better than Reliance to hold for next 1 year,he added.
Analysts expect ITC to post strong double-digit earnings-per-share growth in fiscal 2013 and 2014,compared to far lower single digit growth for Reliance Industries,according to estimates compiled by StarMine.