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Sensex Opens Firm; Bharti Airtel & Tata Teleservices Rally on Merger Buzz
Fri, 13 Oct 09:30 am | Rini Mehta, TM Team

Asian stock markets are higher today as Japanese and Hong Kong shares show gains. The Nikkei 225 is up 0.23% while the Hang Seng is up 0.13%. The Shanghai Composite is trading up by 0.12%. US stocks closed lower on Thursday as Wall Street digested earnings from some of the top financial companies.

Back home, share markets in India have opened the day on a firm note. The BSE Sensex is trading higher by 136 points while the NSE Nifty is trading higher by 31 points. The BSE Mid Cap and BSE Small Cap index opened the day up by 0.2% & 0.4% respectively.

Barring FMCG stocks & power stocks, all sectoral indices have opened the day in green with stocks from metal sector and oil & gas sector leading the pack of gainers. The rupee is trading at 65.1 to the US$.

Information technology stocks have opened the day in green with only TCS witnessing selling pressure. TCS share price opened on a negative note after the company's second-quarter profits dropped 2.2% year-on-year to Rs 64.5 billion. However, the revenues grew 4.3% to Rs 305.4 billion.

The revenue performance was in line with Street expectations, and was helped by improved business from clients, but profits were ahead of analysts' estimates aided by better margins and other income.

TCS operating profit margins for the September quarter expanded 170 basis points on a sequential basis to 25.1%.

Further, digital revenues continued to increase and accounted for 19.7% of TCS' overall revenues for the quarter. On a year-on-year basis, digital revenues grew 31%.

India's most valued firm by market capitalisation declared a dividend of Rs 7 per share as its revenues increased 4.3% to Rs 305.4 billion.

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During the quarter, the company added six clients in each of the US$ 10 million and above, US$ 20 million and above, and US$ 50 million and above billing segments of clients. The US$100 million and above reported one addition.

While the growth momentum in the second quarter was strong, the fact that the constant currency revenue grew at a slower pace of 1.7% sequentially compared with the reported pace of growth reflects weak demand scenario.

Meanwhile, Reliance Industries share price will be closely watched today ahead of its Q2 results ending September.

Moving on to the news from telecom sector. As per an article in a leading financial daily, Bharti Airtel Ltd is acquiring virtually for free Tata Teleservices in a deal that will enable the Sunil Mittal led company to expand its subscriber base and spectrum network as the Tata Group opts out of a loss-making venture that has been draining its resources.

The two companies announced on Thursday that they have entered into an understanding to merge consumer mobile businesses of Tata Teleservices and Tata Teleservices Maharashtra into Bharti Airtel. The acquisition is subject to requisite regulatory approvals.

Reportedly, the transaction will be done on a "debt-free cash-free" basis, although Bharti Airtel will take over a "small portion" of Tata's unpaid liabilities for spectrum acquired in government auctions.

As part of the deal, Tata's mobile customers in 19 service areas will shift to Bharti Airtel along with airwaves that Tata had purchased.

The telecom companies are going through a phase of financial distress as they are also saddled with huge debt raised for financing costly spectrum purchases.

Further, Tata is in the initial stages of exploring a combination of its enterprise business with Tata Communications Ltd and its retail fixed-line and broadband business with satellite TV arm Tata Sky. Tata will retain its stake in tower company Viom, and will take care of the liabilities associated with it.

One shall note that, the whole telecom business has been an underwhelming story so far. While the telecom subscriber base has increased from 300 million in 2008 to 1.2 billion in 2017, investors have little to cheer.

The BSE Sensex has gone up 3.25 times in nine years, but the BSE Telecom Index has not moved an inch from its levels of 2008.

Telecom Sector: A decade of Underperformance

Telecom companies are straddled with high debt, intense competition, and lack of pricing power. High spectrum costs and regulatory issues have hampered the sector.

While consumers have benefited from low costs and new players fighting for their share, investors have suffered.

Going forward, whether the situation will change in the future will be the key thing to watch out for.

Bharti Airtel share price & Tata Teleservices share price surged 5.9% & 10% respectively.

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