A shortage of shares has helped drive a surge of almost 7,700% in Orchid Pharma Ltd. over the past seven months. And now it looks poised to end.
New owners have to divest part of their stake of about 98% in the firm, which re-listed in Mumbai in early November after emerging from bankruptcy. That’s to comply with an Indian regulation that requires the new owners — in this case Dhanuka Laboratories Ltd. — to boost the minimum public float to 10% over the next few months.
Orchid is among a handful of Indian companies to post meteoric gains after exiting bankruptcy proceedings. Such rallies could pose considerable risks for investors as those firms typically don’t have good fundamentals, according to some market watchers.
In a bid to limit such occurrences in future, India’s securities regulator in December decided, among other measures, to reduce to 12 months the period such firms have to meet the minimum free-float requirement, down from 18 months earlier.
“It’s not really investment, I call it fun and excitement,” said Ajay Srivastava, managing director of New Delhi-based consultancy Dimensions Consulting Pvt. While trading such stocks is an “adrenaline rush,” the share sale by founders will force the valuation to likely become more realistic, especially since the pandemic has brought new value to legitimate drug makers, he said.
Dhanuka won the Orchid stake after a three-year legal tussle. Creditors got 1% in the restructuring, with another 1% going to existing shareholders. Apart from working to boost the public holding, Orchid’s board is also evaluating a proposal to merge the unlisted Dhanuka Laboratories with the company, according to an earnings statement released on May 22.
With about 99% locked in with founders and lenders, barely about 2,000 Orchid shares have been traded on an average per day. But those precious few had, until recently, always found willing investors — with the stock rising by the daily limit about 100 times since November. As time runs out before the divestment, though, it has fallen sharply from an April peak.
Orchid’s shares ended at 1,401.95 rupees ($19) on Wednesday. They had surged to as high as 2,680 rupees intraday in early April from 18 rupees on Nov. 3, the day trading resumed after months of suspension.
A similar share-price trajectory has been seen for companies such as Ruchi Soya Industries Ltd., Bafna Pharmaceuticals Ltd. and Alok Industries Ltd., which resolved bankruptcies and were taken over by new investors.
Orchid Pharma gets a majority of its revenue from active pharmaceutical ingredients used in the manufacturing of anti-bacterial drugs. It was forced into bankruptcy court in 2017 by Lakshmi Vilas Bank Ltd. as the company failed to pay back a loan of about 500 million rupees.
The Chennai-based pharmaceutical company reported a preliminary net loss for the year ended March 2021, data compiled by Bloomberg show. It didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment by phone.
“Investing in a stock such as Orchid is no less than trying luck in a casino,” Chokkalingam G., managing director of Mumbai-based Equinomics Research & Advisory Pvt., said in a phone interview. “There is neither value in such stocks, nor do they have fundamentals.”
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.
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