Indian large-cap laggards among Goldman Sachs’ ‘conservative’ bets ahead of elections

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs favours large-cap Indian stocks that have lagged the broader market recently for one of its bets ahead of the country’s general elections next year, as the broader macro outlook warrants a conservative stance, it said on Thursday.

Besides large-cap laggards, the Wall Street brokerage prefers companies with stable growth and consumer stocks that are likely to reverse their underperformance as demand recovers, analysts led by Sunil Koul said in a note.

The blue-chip Nifty 50 has risen more than 16% from its March lows, compared to a 37% rally in mid-caps.

Financials, consumer and IT stocks have lagged the Nifty 50’s rally and could rise in the coming months ahead, the analysts said.

They noted that cyclicals such as banks, industrials and consumer discretionary companies have, in general, outperformed blue-chips in election years, while defensive sectors such as telecom, consumer staples and export-linked IT stocks have been key laggards.

The recent rally in large-caps, Goldman said, is only “slightly ahead” of typical past pre-election rallies, while the mid-caps look “extended”.

Moreover, the analysts added that some opinion polls suggested the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would retain power if elections were held now, a policy continuity that markets would likely welcome.

However, they also cautioned that no “significant event risk” is priced in.

While domestic growth remains resilient and the earnings outlook is strong, Goldman prefers a conservative stance over the next 3-6 months due to expensive stock valuations and the risk of higher oil prices, elevated U.S. yields and a stronger dollar, it said.

That could also tame the pace of foreign investors inflows into domestic equities, they said.

(Reporting by Bharath Rajeswaran in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Janane Venkatraman)