Bharti Airtel shares plunge 4% despite firm’s Rs 32,000 crore war-chest plan; should you buy or sell stock?

Shares of Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Airtel tanked in trade on Friday morning, after the telco announced a major fund raising plan of Rs 32,000 crore in a bid to pare its debt pile, amid rising competition from Reliance Jio. Bharti Airtel shares slumped by more than 4% to intra-day low of Rs 305.45 on BSE. Of the aggregate Rs 32,000 crore, Rs 25,000 crore will be raised by way of a rights issue and another Rs 7,000 crore will be mobilised through foreign currency perpetual bonds. Taking stock of the development, global brokerage firm Credit Suisse has downgraded the shares to ‘Nuetral’, with a target price of Rs 320. According to the firm, theoretical setting price for Bharti Airtel should be Rs 297. 

At Rs 220, Bharti Airtel’s rights issue is priced much below Credit Suisse’s estimate. “Raising capital will help address the rising leverage levels of the company. This should be seen as a ‘War-chest’ in battle for market share,” Credit Suisse noted. The commitment from promoters should be seen in a positive light, the firm noted. Whether relative shareholding within promoter groups need any significant change remains to be seen, noted the report.

Citi has a buy call on the stock with a target price of Rs 390. According to the firm, theoretical setting price for Bharti Airtel should be Rs 295. The firm notes that the total number of shares outstanding will increase by 28%, implying 22% EPS dilution. The issue would improve the Debt/EBITDA ratio in the near-term, offsetting impact of the firm’s de-consolidation. In the long-term the Balance Sheet strength will keep pace with Jio. 

CLSA has a buy target on the shares with a target price of Rs 410. The capital raising plan will lower Bharti Airtel’s net debt by 30% if the proceeds are used for deleveraging. Over the past few years, the firm’s revenue market share defence has been commendable, noted CSLA. The balance sheet is expected to strengthen over the last year.

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