Citigroup downgrades Indian Hotels to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’

Citigroup has downgraded Indian Hotels to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’ rating with a target price of Rs 47. The downgrade is based on lower earnings estimates to take into account the recent terror attacks in Mumbai, which will lead to temporary shutdown of the company’s flagship property in Mumbai and likely lower occupancy of the company’s other properties in India.

Indian Hotels is the largest hotel operator in the country and is looking to enter the budget hotel segment through its new brand ‘Ginger’ . It already operates 11 budget hotels and plans to add 35 such hotels in the next few years with an investment of Rs 400-600 crore. Indian Hotels also plans to foray into the adventure business with wildlife lodges.

The company is looking to expand overseas through acquisitions/management contracts. There is limited upside from current levels, given the unfavorable outlook for the hotel sector in India. The target price is based on 10x (versus 13x earlier) FY10E P/E as Citigroup builds in concerns of slower earnings growth, given expectations of lower occupancy, economic downturn and upcoming room supply.

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