Bharti Airtel Ltd. has lost over a quarter of its market value this year, but little in terms of analyst confidence.
From its record in November, shares of the country’s largest wireless carrier have tumbled 27 percent and is now the worst stock on India’s benchmark index. And yet, more than 70 percent of analysts covering the company suggest buying the stock.
“With its strong balance sheet and spectrum/network footprint, we believe Bharti Airtel is likely to maintain its leading market share in an intensely competitive but consolidating market,” Manish Adukia, an analyst at Goldman Sachs India, wrote last month.
Airtel has faced pressure from Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., which disrupted India’s wireless industry in 2016 by launching free services. Reliance, owned by India’s richest man, Mukesh Abmani, has since started charging, but kept prices low to acquire subscribers. Last week it extended a membership program that offers lower tariffs and free content to subscribers.
“Competitive intensity is unlikely to abate anytime soon,” Gaurav Malhotra, analyst with Citigroup Global Markets wrote in a note on April 1. “We think a pricing recovery is unlikely in the near term.”
Nevertheless, for Goldman Sachs and many others, the stock remains a buy.>