If I were to ask you to name the top industries in India, you might name steel, banking, auto, IT, etc.
But would the marriage industry cross your mind as one of the top industries in India?
As per estimates by the Economist, the annual spending in the Indian marriage industry is expected to cross US$ 130 bn during this season.
To be honest, I had no clue that Indians take the business of tying the knot so seriously.
The marriage industry is India’s fourth largest ahead of Cars, Steel, and Technology.
Well, it looks like Indians do take the process of getting married very seriously.
Over the weekend, I wanted to find out more about this opportunity, the scale, the margins, etc. I dialed my cousin, a successful wedding planner who is rated among the top 10 wedding planners in India as per Times Sutra Awards.
My questions were direct and targeted at understanding primarily two things.
First was the growth of the wedding industry and how sustainable it is. Second was the sub-segment that would benefit investors the most.
The numbers my cousin told me were unbelievable to be honest.
He didn’t agree about the idea of pent-up demand. People normally postpone marriages for 6-9 months. The Covid restrictions on the numbers of guests lasted till March 2022.
Therefore, in his opinion, most people who had postponed, got married within those restrictions. So only 5-10% of the marriages were postponed.
On the growth question, he said this summer marriage season (March to May or June), spending jumped of 150% according to his calculations.
He expects the winter wedding season to be even bigger with an estimated 200% growth in revenues for wedding intermediaries.
The vendor chain is huge, right from the obvious which is jewelry (gold and diamonds) and traditional outfits to the indirect plays like 2-wheelers, cars, hotels, and alcohol companies.
So, with these inputs, I shortlisted sub-segments of the marriage industry as well as a few stocks which would benefit the most.
Readers my articles would concur that I normally prefer a combination of growth and reasonable valuations. I believe growth is probably the most important factor in investing and evaluating companies. But it’s extremely important to be cognisant of valuations too.
Once growth stops, valuations will derate and stock process will crash.
To start with, the obvious choice for most people to play the wedding season led by the huge volume growth would be jewelry stock Titan.
If you just pass by any Titan store, you will see the rush to buy jewelry, both gold and diamonds, during wedding season. After all, in matters of expensive ornaments, trust is the prime factor and who else would you trust more than the Tata’s.
However, if you look at the valuations, you will feel a bit uncomfortable.
Now a lot of people will tell me that Titan stock was always expensive and will continue to be expensive.
While I couldn’t agree more, the point I am trying to make is this…
Titan is priced to perfection.
I’m sure it will do well in the long-term, but the alpha that investors look for, won’t come from Titan.
In fact, Kalyan Jewelers or Thangamayil Jewellery might give you a better opportunity.
Now if you look at the numbers of Kalyan Jewelers, you might wonder what I’m talking about. It barely even makes profit.
My point is that two or three good wedding seasons can change the fortunes for this stock.
Or consider South India based Thangamayil Jewellery with a ROE and ROCE of 13% and 12% respectively and trading at a P/E ratio of 28 times.
To cut the long story short, supernormal growth in the industry will re-rate smaller players higher as compared to the market leader where optimism is already built to the fullest.
While jewelry stocks are the obvious choice, I came across certain hotel stocks which have a substantial portion of their revenues coming from weddings.
This is a safe bet as room occupancy is already higher than pre-covid levels, with most of the hotels anticipating a strong winter season.
Again, to look at hotel stocks like Indian Hotels and EIH Ltd from the marriage industry perspective would be too farfetched.
So why not look at standalone listed hotel stocks or smaller, regional hotel chains?
Hotel stocks like Sinclair Hotels and Royal Orchid are a better fit to play the upcoming wedding season. They will also get a boost from the surge in travel post Covid. This has become an on-going factor and is not only due to pent-up demand.
If you think about the budgets of a big fat Indian wedding, I’m sure you would agree that the pecking order with the highest spends would start with the wedding venue. These are the standalone hotels as mentioned above.
This would be followed by jewellery i.e. small and mid-sized jewellery stocks.
That is where most of the budget gets allocated to.
There are also some other obvious names too like Vedant Fashions (Manyavar) which I’m not discussing in this piece.
Well, this way you can play the big fat Indian wedding theme which is going to explode this winter.
But be cognizant of the valuations dear reader. You might not end up buying market leaders which are priced to perfection.
Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only. It is not a stock recommendation and should not be treated as such.
This article is syndicated from Equitymaster.com.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)