The most awaited event of the Indian primary market calendar is here. Reliance Power may have priced its IPO in the Rs 415-450 band but the active grey market price is Rs 900. This gives Reliance Power a potential listing market capitalisation of Rs 2,00,000 crore. With zero installed capacity today, expected generation capacity of 6,000 megawatts by 2011 and 26,000 MW by 2016. NTPC, in itself a richly valued stock, has an installed capacity of 27,000 MW and commands a similar market cap. The market has simply taken an eight year leap and priced it in the Reliance Power stock today. I find that staggering.
A look at the ratios look even more mind numbing. This IPO money is being raised to execute about 7,000 MW of capacity. That should be done by 2012. That year, if all goes perfectly, Reliance Power will have revenues of Rs 7,700 crore, EPS of under Rs 8 and a book value of Rs 70. At the listing price of Rs 900, the stock would be trading at a 2012 price-earning ratio of 110, a price to book value ratio of 13 and a market cap to sales ratio of 26. These are four-year forward ratios, remember. The ratios moderate somewhat for 2016 but by then much further dilution would have happened to finance the additional capacity so the market cap would balloon substantially.
This is madness. While many explanations abound on how such valuations could be justified, this is so similar to the 100-plus PEs the market gave freely to information technology stocks back in 2000. While all of us know how that story finally ended, we should also remember how long that madness continued. The power madness, too, will end, sector tailwind notwithstanding, but it may continue longer than we think it can before fizzling out. While it lasts, the most expensive stock in the sector will become the valuation benchmark and will pull the others into the clouds. Just remember the old adage: those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.
(The writer is Executive Editor, CNBC-TV18)