October 19, 2018 / 9:09 AM / a year ago

Reliance shares slide on debt, delay in key project

Labourers work behind an advertisement of Reliance Industries Limited at a construction site in Mumbai, India, March 2, 2016. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/File Photo

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Shares in Reliance Industries dropped as much as 7 percent on Friday, the first trading session after it reported record second-quarter results, weighed down by the company’s heavy debt and a delay in a key refining project.

The refining-to-telecom conglomerate posted on Wednesday a record consolidated quarterly profit of 95.16 billion rupees ($1.3 billion), driven by growth in its core petrochemicals division and consumer businesses of telecom and retail.

Indian markets were closed for a holiday on Thursday, but shares in Reliance took a hit on Friday with some investors concerned by the company’s debt load and the delay in its $5 billion petcoke gasifier project.

“We think the earnings momentum will remain strong, but a material improvement in credit metrics is still less likely as telco capex is likely to remain elevated,” international broking firm JP Morgan said in a report.

During an analyst meeting, the company admitted to the delay at its western Indian refinery.

Analysts have been counting on the project upgrade, which could boost Reliance’s gross refining margins from next quarter.

The company also indicated continued capital expenditure in the ensuing quarters to roll out its ambitious fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) service under its telecom venture Jio.

A delay in the gasifier project served as an indication of the pressure on refining earnings in the forthcoming quarters, several analysts said.

Shares in Reliance were down 4.4 percent, as of 0856 GMT, while the broader Mumbai market was down 1.61 percent.

Reporting by Promit Mukherjee, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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