How Amazon.com is better positioned to win the battle against Walmart

Background: Walmart Inc, the world’s largest retailer, took 77% equity stake in Flipkart, an Indian eCommerce company, on Wednesday. With Amazon.com establishing its presence organically, the fight to capture the Indian market has now shrunk to these two giants. So who has the better chance of winning this war?

Walmart is the world’s largest retailer, but its online rival, Amazon.com has better war chest when it comes to winning the Indian eCommerce market. Amazon’s cash at hand is thrice that of Walmart’s, though the online giant’s sale is only 36% of Walmart’s topline. Interestingly, Amazon.com has bigger long term debt than Walmart, but its interest cost is 50% lower than the offline retailer. Much more than cash at hand, Amazon’s valuation is thrice that of Walmart’s that gives US online retailer edge to acquire firms through non-cash transactions.

This table gives a preview of where the companies stand:

 

Walmart Inc. Amazon.Com, Inc
Cash 6.7 20.5
Sales 482 177.8
Net profit 15.08 3.03
Earnings Per Share (EPS) 3207 6.32
Market capitalization 252.35 776.43
Long term debt 36.7 45.6
Interest expenses 1.9 0.848

All in $ billion, except EPS
All numbers, except market capitalization, are December 2017.
Market capitalization is as May 9, 2018
Source: Company websites, NYSE

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Profiling: Hindi Vs Non Hindi Markets

One way to understand the market is through the language spoken by consumers. And in India, it can be broadly divided into Hindi and non-Hindi speaking population. The data can be further sliced to look at differences between Hindi speaking states.

For example, Chandigarh is vastly different from Patna in all aspects – demographics to economic affluence. This article is an attempt to understand the major differences between the Hindi and non-Hindi speaking markets through three parameters – urbanisation, education and female population. In the next article, we’ll look at what people own in these two markets.

We have considered 14 states as Hindi speaking states, mainly based on percentage of people who can talk in Hindi as per 2001 Census data (Yes, that’s the last time Census released data on languages spoken). Marathi is the mother tongue for Maharashtra, but they would come under Hindi speaking state because a large proportion of the population can talk in Hindi. A detailed table can be seen at the end of this article.

What can these indicators speak of:
Urbanisation – more non-farm employment opportunities, higher share of service sector jobs, more opportunities to move ahead economically
Literacy – ability to read and understand issues and take an informed decision.
Share of female population – how are women treated in the society.

In terms of population, Hindi speaking states account for nearly two-thirds of India’s population. But in other parameters – urbanisation, literacy and share of female population – they lag behind.

State-wise data on the parameters used in the analysis, see the map below.

In the second-part of the series in understanding Hindi vs Non-Hindi speaking markets, we will look at affluence as measured by ownership of assets like two or four wheelers etc. For more data, please check HowIndiaLives.com, India’s most granular database covering all the 715,000 geographical locations.

(John is co-founder of How India Lives)

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Are Promoters Cashing Out?

 

A larger share of IPOs has gone to promoters and investors than to the companies this year. Several LEDs bulb brands are found to be non-compliant. Job growth is not keeping pace with that GDP’s.

 

76%

What is it? The percentage of LED (light emitting diode) bulb brands, besides 70% of LED downlighter brands, sold across 200 outlets in India that were found to be non-compliant with the government’s consumer safety standards, according to a survey by market research firm Nielsen.

Why is it important? The report says this would impact energy efficiency in India, which is looking to replace over 200 million incandescent light bulbs with LED light bulbs under the Ujala scheme. This would pose safety hazards for consumers besides causing losses to the government as some of these brands are manufactured illegally and sold. The total LED market is reportedly worth Rs 10,000 crore, with LED bulbs and downlighters accounting for about 50%.

Tell me more: The Nielsen study was conducted in four cities: New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. Of these, the capital recorded the highest number of Bureau of Indian Standards violations, with nearly three-fourths of LED manufacturers being non-compliant.

 

5.18 million

What is it? The aggregate employment in 1,473 medium to large companies in 2016-17, against 5.07 million in 2015-16 and 5.01 million in 2014-15, according to a study by ratings agency Care Ratings.

Why is it important? The report makes a case for employment generation not being aligned with GDP (gross domestic product) growth. The annual growth in employment in the companies under review was 1.18% in 2015-16, against GDP growth of 8%. In 2016-17, growth in employment improved to 2.25%, while GDP growth slowed to 7.1%. This is also a worrying trend for the NDA-led government, which had swept to power in 2014 with employment generation as one of its key promises.

Tell me more: The study warns it does not include the small and medium sector, which plays a dominant role in employment generation. However, it claims to be “indicative of the trends witnessed in the last two years”.

 

1,000 km

 What is it? The length of the proposed tunnel that China is planning to build to divert water from Brahmaputra, one of India’s largest rivers.

Why is it important? The tunnel, which would be the world’s longest if built, could become another point of tension between the two Asian countries. Recently, India and China were locked in a 73-day military stand-off over the construction of a road by the latter in Doklam, the border tri-junction with Bhutan. The tunnel project involves draining of water from the river in southern Tibet, which is close to Arunachal Pradesh. India, a riparian state, has previously expressed concern over the number of dams being built by China on Brahmaputra; the Chinese say these are run-of-the-river projects and not used for storage purposes.

Tell me more: The tunnel is expected to drop from the world’s highest plateau in various sections connected by waterfalls and provide water to China’s Xinjiang region, a barren area in northwest China.

 

6

What is it? Number of seasons that House of Cards, the popular Netflix political drama series, will finish with. On Monday, Netflix announced the 2018 season, currently being filmed, would be its last.

Why is it important? The announcement comes a day after Kevin Spacey, one of the lead actors in the series, issued a public statement to allegations that he had made unwanted sexual advances on a 14-year-old boy in 1986. Kevin Spacey is the latest Hollywood figure to face a pushback after allegations of sexual abuse, following producers Harvey Weinstein and director James Toback.

Tell me more: Netflix maintained the decision to terminate the series—whose Season 1, aired in 2013, is ranked 33 in IMDb’s list of most popular TV shows—was made “months earlier”.

 

80%

What is it? The share of initial public offerings (IPOs) in 2017 that has gone to promoters and investors of companies, as compared to the companies themselves.

Why is it important? This is the highest percentage since 2003. Seen another way, only one-fifth of the combined size of IPOs has come to companies as new capital, which they can channel into avenues of growth and business enhancement. This also means that promoters and investors are using the buoyancy in the market to cash in and unlock value.

Tell me more: The current IPO rush has also seen entirely new sectors debut on Indian bourses, notably insurance and mutual funds.

 

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Indian aviation: passengers, position, profits

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com

 

In a year in which new-economy sectors made all the news, one old-economy business finally delivered a maturing it had been promising for two decades now: domestic aviation. The stage for this coming of age was set in 2015, when the price of aviation fuel—the biggest cost head for an airline—tumbled and the sector started turning in 20%-plus growth in passengers. But 2015 was also coming off a turbulent 2014. In comparison, 2016 was challenged by a high base and it bested that, as airlines steadily added routes, flights and passengers—catapulting India up the global ranks in domestic aviation.

 

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