Paytm stock drops to record low

Shares of Paytm closed Monday at ₹1,157 ($15.6), the lowest since its market debut in November following the nation's biggest-ever initial offering, after a key brokerage house further cut its price on the payments stock.

The stock, which opened Monday at ₹1,226, dropped 6% at 3:30 p.m. India standard time. Paytm, which has been struggling to improve its stock price ever since its debut, has slid by over 46% from its issue price of ₹2,150 ($28.9). The firm’s market cap, at the time of publishing, was $10.13 billion, nearly half of what it had sought during the debut and below the $16 billion valuation at which it raised a financing round in late 2019.

The plunge in price follows brokerage house Macquarie's report on Monday in which it retained its lowest rating on One97 Communications, the parent firm of Paytm, and cut its target price to ₹900 ($12.14), down from ₹1,200 that it had assigned ahead of the market debut on November 18. Paytm, which says it has amassed over 300 million users, operates a number of businesses, including mobile wallet, credit top-ups, movie and travel ticketing businesses, and an e-commerce service.

Macquarie was the only brokerage firm which had such a grim view on Paytm’s outlook at the time of market debut. Analysts at Bernstein, in comparison, had estimated that Paytm's valuation will swing between $21 billion to $24 billion. (A Bernstein spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment in November.)

“Post the various business updates and results, we believe our revenue projections, particularly on the distribution side, is at risk and hence we pare down our revenue CAGR from 26% to 23% for FY21- 26E. We are roughly cutting revenue estimates for FY21-26E on an average by 10% every year due to lower distribution and commerce/cloud revenues offset partially by higher payment revenues,” Macquarie analysts wrote Monday.

“We cut our earnings (increase our loss projections) by 16-27% for FY22-25E owing to lower revenues and higher employee and software expenses. We cut our TP (target price) sharply by ~25% owing to lower target multiple of 11.5x (price to sales ratio) (from 13.5x earlier) and lower sales numbers. Maintain UP with a revised TP of ₹900.”

The brokerage firm said RBI's proposed digital payments regulations could cap wallet charges, which would hurt Paytm's business, where payments side still accounts for 70% of the firm's overall gross revenue. Macquarie also cited departure of senior Paytm executives and the shrinking ticket size for loans disbursed by Paytm as other factors that could impact the firm's future outlook.

In a report in the second half of December, analysts at Morgan Stanley labeled Paytm's stock as "overweight," and assigned a target price of ₹1,875 ($25.2), saying the firm was "well positioned to capitalize on upcoming acceleration in digital distribution of financial services/commerce in India."

"Huge TAM (total addressable market), India's distinctive tech architecture and regulatory supportive partnership approach are key enablers, we believe. India is under-penetrated in financial services, and across segments we expect strong growth. More importantly, the penetration of third party digital distribution of financial services is significantly low and we will see strong acceleration over the next five years - this will be helped by the distinctive rails in India around identity, payments and data sharing," they wrote in a report to clients on December 18.

"Also, we believe that Paytm's financial services is synergistic, in line with the regulatory thought process and scalable. Balance sheet risk is low, and Paytm's technology capabilities to leverage alternative data sets as well as design customized products are some key value adds against the above backdrop."

The story was updated at the close of the trading day to reflect price changes.