Top-performing Reliance Industries is shaking off past decade's slumber

Reliance Industries
Reliance Industries’ (RIL) recent gains are helping the companies catch up with the benchmark index, which it has trailed for much of the past decade.

As of Wednesday’s close, the firm’s shares had surged 135 per cent since it launched telecom services in 2016, nearly four times the advance in the S&P BSE Sensex, making it the best performer. 

That brought its 10-year gain to 149 per cent, just shy of the Sensex’s 155 per cent advance. Reliance shares closed up 2.8 per cent on Thursday, adding to an advance this quarter that would be the steepest since 2009 if maintained.

For seven of the 10 years through December, the retail-to-refining giant trailed the Sensex, partly due to doubts about its $35 billion bet on telecom. “Reliance is coming out of a long period of consolidation,” said Nikhil Bhatnagar, head of global capital markets at Auerbach Grayson & Co, a brokerage firm in New York. 

Concerns around the telecom venture have been put to bed after Jio amassed 215 million users and started posting profits. “The company is challenging the market’s perception around Jio’s profitability and efficiency,” said Nitin Tiwari, a Mumbai-based analyst at Antique Stock Broking.

Jio’s success has given confidence that RIL can disrupt other sectors. Mukesh Ambani’s July 5 announcement on expanding RIL’s e-commerce presence — challenging and Walmart — triggered a surge in its shares.