Weak rural demand dents several large-cap stocks in 2021

Market participants believe large-cap stocks are safe as they have low risks associated with them and they usually give steady returns in the long-run.

Even as Indian equity markets gave handsome returns in 2021, many large-cap companies have failed to display healthy performances.

Market participants believe large-cap stocks are safe as they have low risks associated with them and they usually give steady returns in the long-run.

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Some of the stocks in that category are ITC, Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj Auto, HUL and Maruti Suzuki.

Accordingly, disruptions in economic activities, particularly in rural pockets, during the pandemic have hurt the prospects of their businesses as a high percentage of demand for these companies is generated from rural India.

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"Overall economy recovered well in 2021, while few sectors witnessed turbulence post the second Covid wave, which severely impacted the rural economy," said Mitul Shah Head of Research - Institutional Desk at Reliance Securities.

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"This led to lower rural consumption during 2021 and companies with rural centric products like HUL, Hero MotoCorp, M&M, Maruti etc witnessed impact on profitability. This caused their underperformance."

According to Anup Gupta of IIFL Securities: "There were both demand and supply side disruptions in the economy."

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"Auto and consumer goods sales declined due to rising costs for metals and other raw materials."

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A rise in edible oil prices also dented consumer goods' markets, Gupta said.

Edible oil, particularly palm oil, is widely used in manufacturing consumer goods.

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In 2021, Hero Motocorp shares declined 22 per cent, Bajaj Auto slumped eight per cent, HUL over two per cent, and Maruti Suzuki over five per cent, while ITC stocks gained just one per cent, exchange data showed.

Notably, in the same period the benchmark domestic indices -Sensex and Nifty -- rose over 20 per cent.

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