Feature

Fully booked

Pratibha Industries, with its overflowing order-book in a down-and-out infra sector, makes for a good bet

Bhupinder Singh

It is not easy being in the infrastructure business these days. Regulatory hurdles, rising costs and the general slowdown add up to a triple whammy. So what is Pratibha Industries doing differently? The Mumbai-based infrastructure company had an order-book target of ₹6,000 crore for FY12, which seemed rather ambitious given the general economic climate, but now, it appears set to close the fiscal with orders worth ₹6,567 crore. The irony is hard to miss. Every infra company is struggling to get orders but Pratibha is overbooked for the year.

But first, what is Pratibha Industries all about? Chaplinesque line drawings introduce this little-known company on its website rather charmingly, belying the broad sweep of its ‘one-stop-solutions’, from tunnelling, roads and bridges to modern townships, airports and railways stations. There is, though, a more mundane reason for Pratibha’s insulation from the slowdown — water and sanitation projects. A significant part of the new orders worth ₹3,350 crore have come from the water and housing segments.

Rohit Katyal, wholetime director, says the probability of getting projects is higher in engineering procurement and construction (EPC) compared to build-operate-transfer (BOT) road projects. “We have been focusing on EPC in water based projects, where competition is limited to six or seven players.” Water projects make up more than 60% of Pratibha’s order book, while the rest is from airports, construction of buildings and urban infrastructure projects (see: Repeat business).

High mark

Analysts say the company has seen consistent growth in its order-book. A report by brokerage firm, Sushil Finance, notes that the order-book has seen over 30% CAGR over the past four years — from ₹2,000 crore in FY08 to ₹6,500 crore in FY12. Backed by the strong execution of its projects, Pratibha posted a 19% growth in revenue in H1FY12. Analysts also like the company for its presence in the high-margin water segment. 

Pratibha’s order-book to sales ratio, indicative of its revenue visibility, is one of the highest in the industry (see: Healthy as ever). “The current size of

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