Ahead of the counting of votes on 02 May, the exit polls brought out some clear trends. The polls appeared to indicate a clear win for the DMK in Tamil Nadu and a clear victory for the LDF in Kerala. The BJP is expected to retain Assam with ease while it is likely to form a majority government in the union territory of Puducherry. The most interesting is likely to be West Bengal where polls are predicting a close finish between the BJP and the TMC. While individual polls differ in numbers, the broad gist appears the same.
A day after the FOMC statement, the US economic growth came in at 6.4% for the first quarter, the best GDP growth in any quarter since 2003. This growth was apparently triggered by massive government aid to households and businesses. This comes on top of a 4.3% growth in the fourth quarter of 2020. The actual growth for the Mar-21 quarter is slightly better than the consensus estimates of Reuters at 6.1%. GDP growth was triggered by consumer spending which increased sharply at the rate of 10.7% in Q1.
Titan reported 48% jump in net profits at Rs.529 crore on a standalone basis in the Mar-21 quarter. Total revenues for the quarter stood at Rs.7,135 crore a growth of 61% yoy. However, Mar-20 was an exceptionally weak quarter and hence the base effect may have been amplified. Titan also recommended a dividend of Rs.4 per share. The growth was led by solid traction displayed by the jewellery retailing segment, which gained from pent-up demand as the festival season demand made the most of the trend.
SEBI has extended the timelines for various regulatory filings, including financial earnings announcements by listed companies in the light of the COVID-19 resurgence. The original deadline to file the March quarter and annual financial results were 15-May and 30-May, but now both have been extended till 30-Jun to ease the burden on corporates. There had been several representations from trade and industry bodies for this postponement. Even last year, SEBI had given companies concessions as a special case.
Bajaj Auto declared quarterly results on 29-Apr and reported net profit of Rs.1,551 crore marking a growth of 14.57% in the Mar-21 quarter. Revenues from operations were up 26% at Rs.8,596 crore in Q4. The big news was that one of the leading lights of Indian business, Rahul Bajaj, resigned from the post of executive chairman. Niraj Bajaj will now take over that position. Rahul Bajaj has been synonymous with the story of Bajaj Auto and has stepped down considering his age. He has been a director of Bajaj Auto since 1970.
Reliance stock was up 2.5% on Thursday after reports suggested that Reliance was in talks with Saudi Aramco on a cash-cum-share deal for sale of 20% stake in its O2C business. A report in the Financial Times, London suggested that Aramco was exploring paying for its stake in the O2C business of RIL via stock swap followed by staggered cash payments over several years. This disclosure was apparently made during an interview given by Prince Salman pertaining to the sale of minority stake in Aramco to global investors.
Hindustan Unilever reported 41% growth in standalone net profit at Rs.2,143 crore for Mar-21 quarter. The top-line revenues grew 34.63% to Rs.12,132 crore driven by growth in volumes and pricing power. These numbers comfortably beat the consensus estimates of earnings growth. The EBITDA margins were higher by 150 basis points in the quarter. Health, hygiene and nutrition, which account for 80% of HUL business mix, grew in double digits. Hindustan Unilever recommended a final dividend of Rs.17 per share.
According to the World Gold Council, Indian demand for gold in the Mar-21 quarter was up 37% at 140 tonnes, compared to the Mar-20 quarter. In value terms, the growth was much higher at 57%. Ironically, even as India experienced robust gold demand, global gold demand actually fell by 23% to 815 tonnes. Global gold demand is predominantly investment driven and outflows from gold-ETFs had led to a sharp fall in gold demand. In India, it was a combination of softer gold prices and consumer confidence in Q4.