Bank of Maharashtra, BoI and IOB have given over 50% returns year to date on privatisation hopes

Public sector banks Bank of Maharashtra, Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank and the Central Bank of India, which are reportedly on the privatisation shortlist have risen manifold during the year.

The rally in PSU banks has strengthened in the last few days despite the yo-yoing markets due to the coronavirus pandemic wave.

Bank of Maharashtra shares have nearly doubled from Rs 13.55 at the start of the year to Rs 25.40 per share. It was up 2.21% over the previous close on Wednesday.

From 10.80 at the start of the year, Indian Overseas Bank's shares have risen over 52% to 16.45. The shares were up 3.13% over the previous close on Wednesday.

From Rs 50.35 a share in January start, the Bank of India share price has climbed to 72.70 on Wednesday. It was up 4.76% over the previous close.

From 14.10 in January, the share price of Central Bank of India has jumped to Rs 18.45 on Wednesday. It was up 7.89% over the previous close.

The top PSU banks including SBIBank of BarodaCanara Bank and PNB are also outperforming over divestment hopes around PSU banks.

More upside seen

Traders see another 10-15% jump in PSB shares if the Nifty holds 14500 levels.

SBI is the top investment pick in case the Nifty holds 14,400, with others offering a good trading opportunity for greater upside on talks around divestment.

PNB, Canara Bank, Bank of Baroda and SBI, which hold 74.63 per cent weight in the Nifty PSU Bank, have rallied between 4 per cent and 17.5 per cent in April 20-May 11, driving the index up by 15.05 per cent to 2,239.7 over the same period. This beats the Bank Nifty's 6 per cent rally through 32,953 over the comparative period.

On May 12, when the Nifty and Bank Nifty corrected by more than 1 per cent, the Nifty PSU Bank closed up 3.2 per cent, underscoring the buying in these counters.

Futures prices of these stocks along with aggregate open interest change signal the market interest in these counters.

Canara Bank active futures contract has risen 17.5 per cent through 151 between April 20 and May 11. Over this period, the aggregate open interest, which measures traders' outstanding buy-sell positions, rose 11.25 per cent, implying bullish sentiment on the counter.

Bank of Baroda’s 17 per cent gain in futures was accompanied by an 11.3 per cent decline in aggregate OI, signalling that bears were covering their sell positions. Likewise, SBI active futures contract, which has risen 11 per cent in the relevant period, was accompanied by an 8 per cent decline in aggregate OI, implying short covering. PNB futures, which rose 4 per cent, saw aggregate OI jump 40 per cent, suggesting bullish build-up.

The status

Indian Overseas Bank and Central Bank are under the Reserve Bank of India's stringent prompt corrective action framework.

These banks have reported net non-performing assets (NPAs) below levels that trigger PCA. However, on the proforma net NPA front, Central Bank falls short as its NNPA is 6.58% against the 6% required to be out of PCA.

The Reserve Bank of India is likely to delay regularising struggling state-run lenders that are under the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework as it has reservations over their capital adequacy levels.

Two public sector banks and one general insurance company are expected to be disinvested this year in addition to the divestment of IDBI Bank, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced during Budget presentation in February.