Standard & Poor (S&P), a US based financial service company recently released a statement remarking that the long term corporate credit rating on Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited (RIL; BBB/Positive/–) has remained unaffected despite the company’s recent plans to buy back its equity shares. If anything, Reliance Industries ambitious plan to buy back its shares at Rs. 870 a share (one of the largest ever buyback programs in Indian corporate history) is quite likely to reflect confidently on the current share price of the conglomerate. This buyback announcement, more than anything, will signal a strong commitment from the company to increase the valuation of its share price with respect to its intrinsic worth. S&P also acclaimed that despite a 25 per cent drop in RIL’s EBITDA (Earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortisation) in the quarter ended December 31st2011, the factor is least likely to affect RIL‘s existing credit rating regardless of many industry speculations about the same.
S&P is of the view that Reliance Industries Limited’s liquidity will continue to hold fort despite the buyback, considering the company’s significant cash and cash equivalent reserves of Rs. 745 billion as on Dec 31st2011. And given the buyback is expected to produce at least Rs. 104 billion in cash outflow, the additional sum will only help mitigate the impact of volatile operating performances in refining and petrochemicals quarter, if any. The S&Ps report cited that the rating on RIL had already factored in these volatile elements, including the challenges the company is facing with respect to its prolific KG-D6 gas block in the Andhra coast.
Reliance Industries present rating of BBB+ is reflective of the fact that the company has adequate capacity to meet its financial commitments. However, adverse economic conditions or changing circumstances could possibly lead to weakening of the capacity of the obligor to meet its financial commitments. Regardless of this, if cynical discrepancies do erupt to hinder Reliance Industries core business’ performances, the support foundation in the form of robust cash reserves will help impede any adversity to a large extent. “We believe RIL’s financial performance will remain strong in the next 12 months, with the ratio of adjusted debt to EBITDA at less than 1.5x. We adjust the ratio for cash and cash equivalent excluding Rs 75 billion, which we assume the company needs for its operations. In our view, RIL’s business strategy, particularly the use of its significant cash balances, would be a key determinant of any future rating action on the company”, stated S&P in its statement.