Major real estate players including DLF, Unitech, Parsvnath and Omaxe appear to have taken a sharp hit with the slowdown in the economy as their advance tax payments have fallen sharply. Faced with lower sales and liquidity crunch, DLF hasn’t paid any advance tax in September of this financial year, compared to Rs 37 crore in the year-ago period.
“It’s a general slowdown in the real estate sector which is showing in the advance tax figures,” says Omaxe CMD Rohtas Goel. Omaxe hasn’t paid any tax for September quarter as against Rs 37.5 crore in the year-ago period.
The trouble in the realty sector was evident in the stock market on Monday as the BSE realty index fell 5.26%. DLF scrip touched an all-time intra-day low of 329 despite its previous announcement of share buyback.
Unitech‘s advance tax declined by half to Rs 50 crore, while HDIL has paid nothing as against Rs 30 crore last year. Sobha Developers’ tax payment in September fell 60% to Rs 5 crore from Rs 12.5 crore in September 2007. Ansal Properties &Infrastructure paid half the advance tax at Rs 5 crore compared to the year-ago quarter. Parsvnath paid 20% lower tax at Rs 20 crore.
A senior Unitech executive said realty firms operate through hundreds of subsidiaries and so advance tax figure of the parent company may not reflect the health of the group. However, Karvy Stock Broking vice-president Ambareesh Baliga said: “Given the current market scenario when real estate stocks are getting hammered every day, all listed firms would like to show a better profit in the parent company rather than subsidiary.”
One industry executive blames liquidity crunch as one of the reasons for lower advance tax. “Companies may have better profit but not enough cash to pay tax,” he said. Mr Baliga says companies can’t afford to not pay tax despite showing profits. “At best they can defer booking profit to next quarter if they don’t have enough cash to pay tax.”
Meanwhile, DLF’s buyback announcement doesn’t seem to have helped arrest fall in its share price. A DLF spokesman said, “The impact of buyback announcement was not visible on our share price because we have not started the action yet”.