Maruti Suzuki overtakes Hindustan Unilever in market cap race

It has been a high-speed ride this year for Maruti Suzuki, the country’s largest car maker.  With an 80 per cent surge in its stock price, the Suzuki-promoted company has surpassed six Sensex companies in market valuation since January to become the fifth-most valued listed firm.  On Tuesday, it overtook top FMCG company Hindustan Unilever in market cap, just 11 days after it surpassed the country's largest bank, SBI.

 

Maruti Suzuki, which enjoys a market share of over 50 per cent in the world's fifth-largest car market, saw its stock price hit a new high of Rs 9,855 on Tuesday. It closed the day at Rs 9,804.50 (at the BSE), up 5.33 per cent from the previous close. A mere two per cent rise from here can take the scrip to a five-digit value of Rs 10,000.

The car maker had a market cap of Rs 2,96,174 crore at the close of trading on Tuesday, Rs 4,468 crore higher than that of Hindustan Unilever. Maruti Suzuki also happens to be the most-valued automobile company in the country. Its market cap is more than the combined market cap of three leading auto companies in the country: Tata Motors (Rs 1,21,052 crore), M&M (Rs 96,627 crore) and Hero MotoCorp (Rs 73,827 crore), totalling Rs 2,91,506 crore.

 

Maruti Suzuki has overtaken top firms like Infosys, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Coal India, Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC), and SBI in market cap in this calendar year. Four companies — Reliance Industries, TCS, HDFC Bank, and ITC — are ahead of Maruti. A mere nine per cent rally can take the car maker to fourth position and ahead of ITC (if the ITC stock remains unchanged). ITC had a market cap of Rs 3,22,499 crore.

What is driving Maruti Suzuki? It has been able to expand its market share each year for the last six years. From a share of just 38 per cent in FY12 (when it was facing labour unrest), it grew to near 47 per cent in FY16. With the commencement of operations at the Gujarat plant early this year (owned by parent Suzuki), it has overcome capacity constraints and further expanded its share to over 50 per cent. The firm has, to a large extent, managed to shed the image of being a small car maker and marked a strong presence in bigger and premium ones (through its Ciaz, Brezza, and S Cross); this also helped improve its average realisation. The profit in 2016-17 was a record at Rs 7,337 crore, about 37 per cent higher than in the previous year. Maruti Suzuki's growing volume of 15 per cent is better than the eight per cent industry average.