Escape Revolution

80% rally year to date: This Jhunjhunwala stock is a bet on a Rs 6,30,000 crore dream

Jhunjhunwala---Reuters-1Look who is seeking to cash in on the acute water crisis that much of India is facing! One is ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala.

Most investors on Dalal Street have spotted the opportunity in water management. Shares of Ion ExchangeNSE 0.26 % and VA Tech WabagNSE 0.07 % have done remarkably well this year in a widely polarised market, where 80 per cent of stocks have witnessed severe selling pressure due to economic slowdown and a liquidity squeeze.

Ion Exchange stock is up over 80 per cent year to date to trade at Rs 677.60 on July 15 from Rs 375.70 on January 1, while VA Tech Wabag has rallied 10 per cent. BSE benchmark Sensex is up nearly 8 per cent in this period.

Ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala is among the investors betting big on Ion Exchange. He held 8,00,000 shares as of June 2019. Over the years, he has more than doubled his holding in the company to over 5 per cent from 2.50 per cent in December 2007.

Ion Exchange believes increased investment in water sector by the government and industry and rapid urbanisation would lead to greater demand for the water treatment infrastructure. The company also expects its chemicals business to grow at 13-15 per cent on healthy bottom line expansion.

The government’s ‘Nal se Jal’ scheme is expected to attract an investment of Rs 6.3 lakh crore to the water and sanitation sector in next five years and the company hopes to benefit from it.

Ion Exchange’s sales have jumped 135 per cent from Rs 493 crore in FY2009 to Rs 1,162 crore in FY19 and profit from Rs 2.10 crore to Rs 65.30 crore.

Kochi-based investor Porinju Veliyath says there is an opportunity in water treatment. “We cannot be fully dependent on rainwater. India has to go a long way in desalination or waste water treatment, drinking water treatment and water solutions,” he told ETNOW in an interview.

JM Financial Institutional Equities says the ‘Nal se Jal’ scheme, which aims to provide piped water connection to every household by 2024, will likely lead to a massive jump in investment in water and sanitation.

Ion Exchange offers a wide range of solutions across the water cycle from pre-treatment to process water treatment, waste water treatment, recycle, zero liquid discharge, sewage treatment, packaged drinking water and sea water desalination.

It is also engaged in manufacturing ion exchange resins, specialty chemicals for water and wastewater treatment as well as non-water applications.