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Mutual funds slash stakes in key Nifty stocks in January

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Indian mutual funds (MFs) cut their holdings in Nifty stocks in January, as retail investors continued to withdraw money from equity schemes with indices setting new records.

In January, local MFs trimmed their positions in Reliance Industries Ltd, Infosys Ltd, Bharti Airtel Ltd, PowerGrid Corp. of India and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, according to data sourced from Edelweiss Alternative Research and ACE MF.

Data showed Reliance was the most-sold stock by MFs in the month with an outflow of 2,081 crore. Shares of Reliance fell 7.22% in January. Currently, it has 23 buy, seven hold and five sell ratings by analysts on Bloomberg.

Despite the sell-off by equity funds in January, RIL remains one of the top 10 holdings by almost all mutual fund houses.

“Most fund houses have rejigged or rebalanced their portfolio, which is why they have cut shareholdings in Nifty major heavyweights. Typically, fund houses have high exposure to index stocks and, hence, the sell-off in these companies in a month do not necessarily reduce their holdings by a big margin,” said Abhilash Pagaria, an analyst at Edelweiss Securities Ltd.

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Top stocks mutual funds sold in January

Other top stocks that were sold by MFs in January include Infosys ( 2,011 crore), Bharti Airtel ( 1,203 crore), PowerGrid ( 1,031 crore) and TCS ( 986 crore).

Domestic MFs were net sellers in Bharti Airtel while foreign institutional investors raised their stakes in telecom stocks. Data shows telecom stocks received $355 million in January from foreign portfolio investors (FPIs).

“It’s quite possible that the MSCI-benchmarked active funds and other FPIs could have accumulated key telecom stock Bharti Airtel. The company in January finally received 100% FII approval. The FIIs will further add Bharti Airtel (fresh flows of $700 million) in February because MSCI has increased the weight of the stock,” said Pagaria. The Bharti Airtel stock has risen 8.6% in January. Currently, it has 30 buy, two hold and zero sell ratings by analysts on Bloomberg.

Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC), with an inflow of 927 crore, was the most bought stock. Other top stocks that MFs bought in January were HCL Technologies, Axis Bank, Asian Paints and Larsen and Toubro. The funds also bought initial public offerings (IPOs) worth 1,200 crore. Out of the new issues, IRFC got the major chunk followed by Indigo Paints, which got 140 crore, and Home First, which received 120 crore.

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