Angel Broking is one of the leading discount brokers in India. Broking as a business historically has been volatile due to fluctuations in the market.
The business model was based on a % fee of the value of transactions and thus fluctuations in the market prices lead to volatile business performance for the broking firms. However, discount broking has changed the business dynamics totally.
The reduction in pricing and thus the overall profit pool for the brokers is well discussed; but the most important change which is less talked about is that the driver of broking business (under the discount broking model) has changed from value to volume. Revenues are no longer linked to the value of transactions, instead they are linked to the volumes as the fee is charged on per order basis.
This change is what has improved the resilience of overall business model for companies like Angel Broking wherein fluctuations in stock prices have a much lower impact now vs the earlier value-based model.
And this reflects well in the below table from Angle Broking’s presentation-
During the down years of 2008, 2012, 2015 and 2020, though the overall traded value fell due to price corrections, the number of orders (the new driver of revenues) were higher.
In the earlier % of value business model, a broking business would have seen de-growth in revenues & profits; however, under the new no. of orders model, the business would have grown during these down years.
I did seek Angel Broking’s management’s thought on this improved resilience of the business model back in Q1FY22 and though they did agree on this perspective, they did not have any data point to substantiate the same at that time. But from Q3FY22 onwards, Angle Broking started sharing the above volume data table.
Snippets from Angel Broking’s Q1FY22 Concall-
But even though the business model has become more resilient, there is one major risk factor that investors need to consider here, which is that the underlying order volumes have grown multifold over last few years and the same has been on the back of massive increase in the speculative FNO activity.
Discount brokers like Angel don’t charge for Cash orders, they only charge for FNO orders which makes the business one that relies on increasing speculation for its growth.
Last few years have seen phenomenal growth in Futures & Options trading, every other person is doing options and so many people think selling options is a risk free strategy.
Any market event that causes major losses for these FNO traders might result in a significant reduction in order volumes here. And this concern that such high speculative volumes will not continue in the future probably explains the reason why market gives a very low valuation multiple of ~12x to Angel Broking. Market clearly looks to be factoring de-growth or no-growth future here.
In summary, the business model has become more resilient from a longer term perspective. However in the near term, a challenge exists from the perspective of sustainability of current speculative activity. Discount brokers charging for Cash orders or increasing the flat fee is an optionality that does exists (Zerodha did hint at considering the same due to increase cost of running a broking business).
That’s it for this week, new insight coming up next week. So stayed tuned!
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