Paytm stock plummets for a 2nd straight day, fueling criticism it was overpriced in its record-breaking IPO

November 22, 2021, 10:18 AM UTC

Indian digital payments firm Paytm’s share plunged for a second consecutive day on Monday following its trading debut last week. The selloff wiped out millions of dollars in value for investors who had bought into the company’s oversubscribed $2.44 billion initial public offering earlier this month, India’s largest IPO ever

After falling 27% below its issue price on the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange on Thursday, the company’s share plunged by another 12.5% on Monday. They were priced at INR 1369 ($18.4) in afternoon trading, down from the issue price of INR2,150 ($28.85) per share. Indian bourses were closed on Friday because of a public holiday.

Retail investors have rushed to exit the stock amid analyst worries that the company will struggle to turn a profit in the long term. Those worries are mounting despite Paytm releasing data to the bourses showing that its gross merchandise value—or payments made through its platform—jumped 131% to $11.2 billion last month year-on-year. The company is due to announce its half-year results on Nov. 27.

Paytm is one of India’s largest digital payments companies with around 337 million users, 50 million of whom are active monthly users. Indians use the fintech service to pay for a wide range of goods and services, from groceries to taxi fares to airline tickets. Paytm also offers wealth management solutions and banking. The company narrowed its operating loss to INR16.55 billion ($220.6 million) in the financial year that ended March 2021 from INR 24.68 billion ($329 million) a year ago.

“Paytm’s share fall on the first day is prompting other [retail] investors to liquidate their investments as well. I don’t know where the stock is heading, frankly,” says Harshad Chetanwala, founder, MyWealthGrowth.com, an investment advisory company.

Paytm’s shares took a beating as the broader BSE stock index plummeted 1,408 points or 2.4% to 58,227.04 in afternoon trading following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision on Friday to roll back proposed reforms for the farm sector and as rising COVID cases in Europe hit global markets.

India’s benchmark stock index, the Sensex, hit a record high of 62,156 points on Oct. 19, up roughly 30% year-to-date as the economy recovers and COVID cases drop. Since the October peak, the index has fallen by 6.3%.

Indian tech startups have lined up to list, hoping to take advantage of the optimism to raise capital and achieve high market valuations. The poor response to Paytm’s share listing struck a sharp contrast to other recent IPOs.

Retail Indian investors have been investing in IPOs indiscriminately, hoping to profit from blockbuster trading debuts, without scrutinizing share prices or the business prospects of companies, says Chetanwala.

“The Paytm episode will help investors understand that IPO investments are for the long term and not for listing gains,” Chetanwala says.

Analysts said that investor sentiment toward Paytm has turned negative because of growing competition in the digital fintech payments space and the company’s failure to show how each of its businesses will become profitable.

The company’s presence in multiple business lines inhibits Paytm from being a category leader in any business except Paytm wallets, which have become inconsequential following the rise in government-run Unified Payment Interface (UPI), Macquarie said.

Other analysts argue that Paytm’s vast network of customers and merchants gives it an advantage in the payments space but that its shares were still over-priced.

“It’s a good company to own, but the question is at what valuation. But at some point in time the [shares] will get priced appropriately through market forces,” says Nikhil Kamath, co-founder of True Beacon, an asset management company, and Zerodha, a stock brokerage.

Paytm’s IPO bankers should have priced the share “appropriately” and to leave “enough room for the share price to pop on debut,” Kamath says.

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