Hitting a nearly 10-week low, shares of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd ended down for the fourth consecutive session on Thursday, tracking a fall in the broader market.

Shares of RIL closed at 1,255.15, a level last seen on 5 March, and down 3.41% from previous close, while India’s benchmark Sensex Index was down 0.61% at 37,558.91 points. Since 3 May, RIL has fallen nearly 11%, losing nearly 96,000 crore in market valuation. Domestic equities were down for the seventh session today, having declined nearly 3.5% due to fresh concern about a trade war between the US and China.

With this fall in RIL shares, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd has overtaken the company to become India's most valued firm with total market capitalisation of 8.14 trillion. RIL’s total market cap stood at 7.96 trillion.

Investors were cautious on RIL after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to equal weight with a price target of 1,349 a share. The brokerage expects earnings growth of the company to halve in fiscal year 2020. The brokerage firm said that an upside in earnings appears limited as the core operation of the company drags.

"We expect RIL's two-year earnings upswing to reverse, yet investors are dismissing refining headwinds amid tighter crude markets. A rising glut in the gas & polyester markets could also slow growth into 2020. Upside appears limited amid core business drags, with no material capacity adds", said Morgan Stanley in an 8 May report.

"We expect earnings growth to halve in F20, after a 17% CAGR, F17-F19. Downside earnings surprises in the energy business should unfold and attract increasing investor attention – a complete reversal in narrative after the positive triggers that played out since 2017. While the potential upside from digital investments could however offer structural upside as RIL rolls out new businesses, the cyclical headwinds in energy lead us to downgrade RIL to EW", the Morgan Stanley report said.

Investors have been also worried about RIL's rising debt, weak gross refining margin amid the recent positive earnings from Bharti Airtel – Reliance Jio’s rival in the telecom space.

RIL's refining margin narrowed to a 17-quarter low at $8.2 a barrel in the March quarter. Since the launch of its telecom arm, Reliance Jio, RIL’s debt has been steadily rising due to higher capex. RIL had an outstanding debt of 2.87 trillion as on 31 March, up from 2.18 trillion at the end of the previous year.

Of all total brokerages covering the stock, 22 have buy ratings, 11 have hold ratings, while 3 have sell ratings, according to data from Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, Bharti Airtel on Monday reported better-than-expected revenue for Jan-Mar, led by a healthy revenue growth of 4.3% quarter-on-quarter in its India wireless business. The company’s EBITDA margin improved 145 basis points q-o-q to 32.2% in March quarter.

"We believe Bharti is moving in the right direction with aggressive 4G rollouts, partnerships, balance sheet strengthening etc. Bharti’s cash war chest is likely to increase by 500-550bn in FY20. This should provide it ammunition to combat competition. Persistent cash burn may compel Jio to relook its aggressive pricing stance. This is key trigger," said Himanshu Shah, analyst at HDFC Securities, in a 7 May note.

Reliance Jio’s net profit largely remained flat quarter-on-quarter at 840 crore, while average revenue per user declined to 126 in the March quarter.


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