Investors with a long-term perspective can consider accumulating the stock of Piramal Healthcare. A strong presence in the domestic pharmaceutical market, established relationships with several global pharma majors, and its firming hold over the high-margin inhalation anaesthetics space underscore our recommendation.
While the restrained growth in CRAMS (Contract Research and Manufacturing Services) business so far this year could mar the company's overall growth picture, signs of restocking by global pharma majors suggest that a revival may be in the offing. With innovator companies under increasing pressure to manage costs, the low-cost, high-quality offering of domestic CRAMS companies may not be easy to ignore.
Valuations too appear reasonable. At current market price of Rs 397, the stock discounts its estimated FY11 per share earning by about 15 times. Piramal's increasing domestic market presence offers it a considerable long-term growth potential. The company has been improving its market share going by its better-than-market growth in six out of the seven last quarters. While growing competition, with MNCs too entering the fray, could throw up challenges, Piramal's large field force and growing focus on tier-II and semi-urban cities will provide it an edge. New product launches (26 so far this year) and focus on lifestyle products could further complement growth.
For CRAMS, the consolidation in the global pharma landscape, in addition to restructuring of manufacturing operations at Piramal's end, appear to have cast a cloud on the segment's near-term prospects. For the nine months ended December 2009, the CRAMS business shrank by about 12 per cent. In that too, while the business from overseas was impacted significantly due to the closure of its Huddersfield plant (which has been moved to India), the India operations managed a growth of 27 per cent. The management expects the segment to get back on the growth track by next year; its strong relationship with other MNC clients, as also the long-term contract with Pfizer giving it a fillip. The other business segment that offers a significant growth potential is the global critical-care segment. Piramal now has the intellectual property to manufacture inhalation anaesthetics across the pyramid, thanks to its last year's acquisition of the US-based Minrad International. The inhalation anaesthetics present an addressable market of about $435 million in the US.