Share prices of telecom stocks fell on Monday, the first trading session after Reliance Jio announced a new plan exclusively for its Jio Phone users. Reliance Jio is offering free voice calls and unlimited data at `49 for a validity of 28 days. The announcement was made post-trading hours on Thursday. The shares of Idea Cellular, Bharti Airtel, and Reliance Communications fell by 1.63%, 2.66%, and 3.88%, respectively. The BSE Telecom index fell by 1.18% and ended the session at 1487.65. Last week telecom stocks fell after Reliance Jio decided to offer 500 MB extra data to its subscribers using 1GB and 1.5GB per day data packs. The move came after Bharti Airtel introduced its Rs 399 plan, offering unlimited calls and 1GB 4G data daily with 84 days validity. In a note, to investors, Kotak Institutional Equities said Reliance Jio’s aggressive competition could continue until it reaches unspecified market share, revenue or profit targets. “We are not sure if the Indian market revenues will be sufficient by then for the industry to earn any decent return on investment. We expect investments to rise rapidly to support higher data usage and revenues to shrink disproportionately as incumbents try and defend their subscriber base through similar pricing strategies,” the note said.
A K Prabhakar, head of research at IDBI Capital, said: “The price war is likely to continue till Jio achieves a good market share. But the good part is only the three major players will be left in the arena and will be fighting for the market.” An analyst requesting anonymity said, “The quarter was very bad for all the telecom companies. The losses were much higher than what the markets were expecting and with this measure coming from Jio, one can assume that stabilisation in the sector has not yet happened and the issues are likely to continue for some time.” He added that while the telecom stocks look fine on valuation from a long-term perspective, the problems would likely persist in the short-term.
Stocks of major telecom companies have been on a roller coaster ride since the launch of Reliance Jio in September 2016. Since the start of 2018, the BSE Telecom index has declined by 11.2 %, even as the Sensex has gained 6.5%. The telecom stock particularly in the limelight on Monday was Reliance Communications. The stock saw a sell-off ahead of its results for the third quarter. The company reported a 29% growth in profit in its new business on a quarter-on-quarter basis, after market hours. The stock of Reliance Communications has been on a downward spiral over the past two years—declining from near Rs 90 to Rs 28 on Monday. The share touched a record low on November 15, 2017 of Rs 10.15 before recovering on the back of expectations of a profitable restructuring of the business.
On Monday, a total of 11.88 crore shares of the company changed hands on the BSE and NSE–1.32 times the average daily volume of the past six months.