Mumbai: Diving into a turbulent stock market can be a dangerous sport, though in recent days, it has proved to be an attractive and profitable activity for many large investors in the share of one company: Satyam Computer Services Ltd.
There was a surge in trading volumes in Satyam shares in the four trading days after the firm’s former chairman B. Ramalinga Raju admitted on 7 January to cooking the books over several years. Even as large institutional investors dumped Satyam stock and the price crashed from Rs178.95 on Wednesday morning to a low of Rs23.75 on 9 January on the National Stock Exchange (NSE)—with the stock market being closed on 8 January—day traders quickly bought and sold profited from the wild lurches in the price of a Satyam share. The scrip ended Tuesday at Rs31.05, down 9.7% from its Monday close.
Satyam was by far the most heavily traded share on both NSE and the Bombay Stock Exchange during these turbulent days. Trading volumes jumped to 473 million shares and 298 million shares on 7 January and 9 January, respectively, or around 45% and 70% of the firm’s total number of shares. Another 173 million shares were traded on Monday, as the government stepped in over the weekend to reconstitute the Satyam board. Volumes were still at a sky-high 101 million on Tuesday.
Many big boys had a field day. Bulk deals made up a quarter of the total traded volumes on 7 January and 9 January. Bulk deals are transactions where the total quantity of shares that are either bought or sold is more than 0.5% of the total number of shares issued by a listed firm.
Of the 44 large transactions that were filed with the stock exchanges, 34 transactions were paired, where investors squared off by the end of trading—buying and selling on the same day to make a killing.
For instance, a Ahmedabad-based firm called Genuine Stock Brokers Pvt. Ltd sold and bought 4.19 million shares on 9 January for a profit of 4 paise, netting about Rs1.60 lakh in the process. It smartly played the Satyam stock on Monday and Tuesday as well. “It’s proprietary trading,” said Nikhil M Agrawal, promoter-director of Genuine Stock Brokers. “There is a lot of news of the company and this is driving volatility.”
BSE’s website describes Genuine as a firm serving clients seeking arbitrage transactions. Another firm called PRB Securities Pvt. Ltd traded around 4.1 million shares for a profit of Rs2 lakh on Monday.
Others, such as a foreign institutional investor Swiss Finance Corp. (Mauritius) Ltd made a Rs37 crore profit in two days by selling six million shares at Rs85 levels and buying back at Rs22. It sold on 7 January and bought on 9 January.
Another large chunk of bulk deals was done by institutional investors such as Aberdeen International India Opportunities Fun (Mauritius) Ltd, which sold around 15.5 million shares, and Morgan Stanley Mauritius Co. Ltd, which sold around 4 million shares, thus exiting the stock. But even as institutions have dumped the stock in droves, retail investors have entered it in a big way because of cheap valuations. “Most of the deliveries are going into retail hands,” said Monal Desai, vice-president at brokerage Prabhudas Lilladher Pvt. Ltd.
The number of shares delivered—which indicates stock actually changing hands as opposed to just trading—increased to 139 million on 7 January and 59 million on 9 January, against an average of around two million in December.
“Anything which is lower in value is cheaper to the retail investor,” said Siddharth Bhamre, head of investor advisory services at Angel Broking Ltd. “This company is not going to be zero (Rs),” and therefore the downside for them is limited.
Ashwin Ramarathinam contributed to this story.