Now lets look at MTNL in this light.
Market cap Rs.4600 crores
The company is debt-free.
Cash on books as per March 09 balance sheet Rs.4803 crores
Investments on books as per March 09 balance sheet Rs.465 crores.
Even if one does not consider the investments, the cash on books alone is more than market cap. Sounds yummy? Well then how bout this BSE announcement on 22nd March 2010:
If we add this to the March 09 cash on books, MTNL would be having cash of Rs.6183 crores. Against a market cap of Rs.4600 crores! It doesnt get better than this huh? Blind buy? Sitter? Well not quite.. Lets see some reasons why...
- Lets look at the quarterly results broadly. The company has been making losses at the PAT level. But if we add back depreciation, the company is making cash profits. Thats good right? Welllll...if we look into it more, 'other income' is a major chunk, which is essentially the income earned on its huge cash reserves. If we reduce other income from the results, it is evident that the core business of the company is burning cash.
- As a business, MTNL's performance has been really poor, to say the least. During the era when other telecom companies grew by leaps and bounds, MTNL has barely managed to grow. Also, there are issues like a large employee base, inefficiency, limited growth opportunities, etc.
- The upcoming 3G auctions will take huge chunk out of MTNL's cash reserves. MTNL operates in prime circles, where the bidding for 3G can prove to be expensive. (i have no expertise in this, but estimates suggest that it could take more than Rs.1500 crores out of MTNL's cash reserves.)