Close contest in Modi’s home ground pulls Gujarat-linked stocks down

NEW DELHI: A close fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress in Gujarat has hit stocks linked to the state. The BJP faces a tough fight from its opponents and a possibility of its not coming to power is looming on traders.

Many Gujarat-linked stocks are perceived to be impacted if the BJP loses in Gujarat.

For instance, Adani Group stocks Adani EnterprisesBSE 2.41 %, Adani Ports, Adani PowerBSE 0.58 % and Adani Transmission remained subdued in the last one month. The group is perceived to be close to the BJP and the party’s defeat in elections would be seen as impacting the group. Many state-run stocks which have performed quite well in the past also witnessed profit booking.

“Political risk is an important business risk which needs to be accounted for by the investor for long-term investments. Generally, corporates remain equidistant from different political parties. But some groups like Adani have grown and prospered under the BJP rule in Gujarat. Therefore any change in political leadership in Gujarat would pose a risk to them,” Jimeet Modi, Founder & CEO, Samco Securities said.

Recently, Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that the BJP government in Gujarat wasted Rs 26,000 crore of the public exchequer by purchasing electricity from Adanis, Tatas, Essars, and China Light Power at “unimaginably high rates”. Adani Group denied the allegation and said the power sold to the state was at an attractive price of Rs 2.65 per unit over the last four years.

On another occasion, the BJP government in mid-November released subsidy on ammonium sulphate to Gujarat State FertilizerBSE 1.42 % Corporation (GSFCBSE 1.42 %). But soon the government was attacked by the Congress which called the subsidy to farmers an “election lollipop”.

A recent poll by Lokniti-CSDS predicted that both the Congress and the BJP could get 43 per cent of the votes. The opinion poll, though, expected the BJP to win between 91 and 99 seats in the 182-member assembly and the Congress to remain between 78 and 86 seats. Such a close contest between the two rival parties has created uncertainty in the market.

GSFC fell 16 per cent in one month to Monday, even as its one-year return stood strong at 51 per cent. The stock recovered a bit. Still it is down 7 per cent for the one-month period. City gas distributor Gujarat GasBSE -2.11 % has fallen 6 per cent in the past one month.

Another state-run stock GNFC (Gujarat Narmada ValleyBSE 0.33 % Fertilizers) is up just 2 per cent in last one month after rising about 120 per cent in the past one year. This stock was in fact down 13 per cent in one month to Monday, before it advanced in the last four sessions.

In its state election manifesto, Congress has promised an up to 50 per cent reduction in electricity rates and up to Rs 10 per litre reduction in petrol and diesel rates.

“The nervousness surrounding Gujarat poll results was visible in the stock prices of PSUs and Gujarat-linked stocks. Investors are trying to book profit at higher levels of the stocks which had rallied over the past one year. Looking at the campaigning by both sides, investors are clueless on who will form the next government in the state,” said Achin Goel, Head of Wealth Management and Financial planning at Bonanza Portfolio.

“Gujarat election is an indicator of how the 2019 is going to be. It is like a semi-final. The market will be very sensitive and any less-than-expected results for the BJP will see a short-term impact,” said Sunil Subramaniam, CEO at Sundaram Mutual Fund told ET Now.