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Nicholas Piramal: In need of a vitamin A

Oct 17, 2000

This week a spate of pharmaceutical results are in the offing. One of these companies is Nicholas Piramal (Nicholas) which is slated to announce its results tomorrow.). Nicholas derives 77% of its turnover from formulations with the balance accruing from vitamin A and diagnostics apart from generics. In the first quarter of the current year while the company’s anti–infectives showed a de–growth of 12%, the growth in nutritionals (Haemaccel), cardiovascular and anti–diabetes drugs helped the company report a 18% growth in the topline (vis-à-vis the corresponding quarter of the previous year). In the second quarter the company was slated to launch six new products which include Bulaquin (an anti–malarial), atorvastatin (a cholesterol reducer) and ceftazidime (an anti–infective). While these can be expected to drive growth over the longer term, in the short term increased promotional expenses could dent some of the topline gains. Moreover, Nicholas has five projects in New Chemical Entity research, two of which pertain to cardiovascular products and the other three in diabetes, cancer and anti–fungals.

The company reported a topline of Rs 1325 m in the first quarter. While the pre–tax profit margins increased by 1% to touch 12.5% the post tax earnings amounted to Rs 152 m (annualised earnings: Rs 17.44). The stock however, has followed an altogether different trajectory and has slumped to its 52–week low (Rs 305) last week. It currently quotes at a price of Rs 312 which implies an earnings multiple of 17.9 times its FY2001 earnings.

It is quite likely that the company would maintain this level of annualised earnings in the second quarter. Whether these would be sufficient to perk up its valuations remains to be seen.

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