It has been just over a year since the near demise of the company behind India’s largest corporate fraud, Satyam Computer Service (SAY), a company that at the time provided services to more than a third of Fortune 500 companies. A subscriber asked me about Satyam last week and wanted to find out if I would consider buying the stock. Given that it has been a year since the scandal broke out and the company has started reporting results once again, I figured I would take a closer look at the company.
In case you did not follow Satyam’s saga at the time, here is a timeline of the events that transpired:
What is the stock actually worth?
Regarding JP Morgan’s forecast, since the Satyam ADRs represent two shares each, the equivalent price target for the US listed ADRs is $6.04, representing a 9.6% upside from the current price of $5.51. The litigation risk that Satyam continues to face combined with a tarnished image and lack of visibility should ideally support a valuation that is at a steep discount of at least 50% to its peers. The last time Satyam reported revenue under US GAAP was back in October 2008 when they reported revenue of $652.2 million. If revenue was indeed inflated 20%, let us assume actual revenue was $543.5 that quarter. Revenue most likely declined after the scandal broke out and at the time Tech Mahindra acquired a stake in Satyam, full year revenue was expected to be $1.3 billion. If Satyam does post $1.3 billion in revenue for fiscal 2010 ending in March 2010, based on its current market cap of $1.86 billion, the stock is trading at 1.43 sales.
With competitors like Wipro (WIT) and Cognizant (CTSH) trading at 5.63 and 4.38 times sales respectively, Satyam is indeed trading at a steep discount to its peers when you look at revenue. However Satyam’s operating margins were 3% when the scandal broke out while Wipro and Cognizant sport operating margins of 17.91% and 18.99% respectively. Unless Tech Mahindra can improve Satyam’s operating margins, which it most likely will, the steep discount appears to be justified. Assuming Satyam does post revenue of $1.3 billion, manages to improve its operating margins to Cognizant’s level, and we apply a 50% discount to Cognizant’s 4.38 times sales valuation, I get a market cap of $2.85 billion for Satyam, representing 53% upside for the stock from current levels provided you are willing you live with the risks, don’t mind the lack of visibility and are hopeful that these assumptions will bear out.
With the Indian economy expected to grow by 7 to 8% for the current fiscal year that ends in March 31, 2009 and a world bank real GDP growth forecast of 8% in 2010 and 8.5% in 2011, India is certainly a favored investment theme. Despite the fundamental reasons for buying into India and the cost cutting in developed countries that has fueled the rise of Indian software companies like Infosys, Wipro and Satyam, the industry does face a number of headwinds in the form of a weak dollar, rising salaries and increased competition from companies like IBM that have developed large operations in India. So along with company specific risk, you also have currency risk and industry risk to consider.
Overall it appears that Satyam might be worth considering as a highly speculative investment that may do well should conditions at the company improve in 2010 and beyond. If JP Morgan’s revenue forecasts for 2011 and 2012 bear out, the stock is a bargain at current levels.
Model Portfolio Update: I am going to close our position in mattress fabric and furniture upholstery maker Culp Inc (CFI) and book gains of approximately 93% in the InsideArbitrage model portfolio. The stock has performed well beyond my expectations since I wrote about it in the November 2009 investment newsletter and taking profits at this point would be prudent. The closing price tomorrow (Jan 13, 2010) will be used as the selling price.