The benchmarks may be scaling new peaks but the broad market remains in a trough; more than 70% of stocks with a market capitalisation of Rs 1,000 crore or more have lost value since January. More than a third of these stocks have lost more than 20%. In fact, the rally in the Nifty has been really narrow with half the constituents posting negative returns so far in 2018 even though the index hit yet another high of 11,551.75 points on Monday. Just five companies — Reliance Industries, Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, ITC and HDFC Bank — have between them contributed over 80% of Nifty’s gains of 1,021 points in 2018.
What’s worse, small-cap stocks have been badly bruised — 85% of the 100 Nifty Small Cap members are in the red. The share of the 100 Nifty Midcap members that have posted negative returns is slightly better at 64%. Foreign portfolio investors have not even nibbled at Indian equities this year, selling $360 million worth of equities since January. In contrast local funds have shopped for a record $10 billion worth of stocks. Despite the spectacular rally in the benchmarks, India’s market capitalisation in dollar terms has fallen by about 7% to $2.22 trillion.
The Chinese market has seen a bigger erosion in its market capitalisation of nearly 25%. Among the top 10 equity markets by market capitalisation, only the US has yielded positive returns with a gain of 6.2% so far in 2018. India remains among the most expensive markets in the world. At 38,278.75 points, the benchmark Sensex trades at a price-earnings(PE) multiple of 18.9 times to the estimated one-year forward earnings, a premium of 17.3% to the long-term average PE of 16.13 times. This compares with 8.5 times for the Kospi and 13.9 for the Jakarta Composite. Brazil’s Bovespa and the Shanghai Composite are trading at a price-earnings multiple of 10.3 and 9.9, respectively, data from Bloomberg show.