MRF, a nearly 80-year-old tire maker, became the first Indian stock to cross the $1,200-mark on the country’s bourses yesterday (June 13).
It hit an all-time high of $1,220—more than 100,000 Indian rupees—a piece, rising 46% over the past year. It is now more expensive than stocks of Amazon, Google, Apple, and even the global tire giant Goodyear.
MRF’s stock market success has been attributed to its strong financial performance in the March quarter, and the expectation of better profits in the coming months with raw material prices easing.
In the March quarter, MRF posted a net profit of $38.08 million, up 86% from the same period the previous year. In the financial year 2023, its net profit rose by 26% to $99.1 million.
Another reason for the stock’s seven-fold rise is that MRF has not split its stock or increased dividends since 1975. Usually, companies undertake stock splits or pay out bonuses to make their shares more accessible to retail investors.
Having split its stock only twice in its history—1970 and 1975—the Chennai-based company enjoys institutional ownership of 27.6% while private companies hold 27.8%. Only 30% of its shareholding lies with the general public.
Yet, with a market capitalization of $5.14 billion, MRF is not among India’s most valued companies.
MRF began as a small toy balloon manufacturing unit in 1946, but is now one of the most prominent tire makers. However, its portfolio also includes tubes, flaps, hoses, tread rubber, and conveyor belts.
In 1967, it became the first Indian company to export tires to the US.
In the 1980s, MRF forayed into sports sponsorship, while extending its business to paints and toys.
For almost a decade until 2009, veteran cricketer Sachin Tendulkar donned the MRF logo on his bat, making the brand a household name in India. The impact was such that many thought it manufactured bats.
In 2017, MRF sponsored football clubs in the English Premier League and has also been associated with Formula One motor racing.