For much of 2020, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) was the toast of the town. Its fund-raising blitz—which saw it raise a combined $27 billion through stake sales in Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail—was an unrivalled display of both ambition and potential. The stock market, however, has since been the sun to Reliance’s Icarus. After the euphoria, the market seems jittery about the company’s famed execution prowess not being able to match sky-high expectations.

The burden of expectations has weighed heavy on India’s most valuable conglomerate, and even in the midst of a roaring bull run, the price of its stock has dropped. From mid-September till date, RIL stock has lost 16.5%, standing in sharp contrast to the 23% gain in the BSE Sensex. The overall weak show in the past few quarters and the stock’s high valuation haven’t helped either.

If the company hoped its December 2020 results—which were announced last Friday—would stem its slide, it was wrong. The stock dropped more than 5% on Monday. 

The market seems glum at the company’s muted financial performance. Consolidated revenue, at about Rs 1,38,000 crore, was down almost 19% year-on-year. Its consolidated operating profit, meanwhile, was flat at about Rs 26,000 crore. The good show put up by Jio Platforms, an investment income boost in the retail segment, drop in interest cost, and low taxes salvaged the company’s bottomline. Without these, RIL’s consolidated net profit would have fallen instead of rising about 12% year-on-year to Rs 13,100 crore.

Many were quick to point to RIL’s oil-to-chemicals division as the reason for RIL’s most recent slump on the bourses. Severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the division—which accounts for as much as 65% of RIL’s revenue—saw a 28% drop in operating earnings over the quarter ended December 2020. But while Covid’s disruption continues to take a toll on RIL and its ‘growth is life’ philosophy, it’s not the only thing that doesn’t sit well with investors. Indeed, rather than a reaction to what RIL disclosed in its quarterly results, investors are equally put off by what the company didn’t show or tell.

Three strikes

For all the hype that has surrounded Reliance Jio, RIL’s telecom business, since its inception in 2016, the finer details of its financial performance were conspicuous by their absence in Friday’s results. 

Jio is housed under Jio Platforms, RIL’s digital holding company. While other digital businesses, such as its nascent e-commerce play JioMart, could increase their contribution to Jio Platforms in the future, Jio is still the overwhelming needle-mover. It contributed more than 95% of the operating profit of Jio Platforms in the December quarter.

Despite this, for the second quarter running, RIL did not provide granular financial details such as the finance cost and net profit of Jio.


Anand Kalyanaraman

A certified Chartered Accountant, Anand chose to pack the power of numbers with words when he left a career of seven years in accounting, putting together MIS reports, and investment research to enter journalism. Before joining The Ken, Anand was Deputy Editor at The Hindu BusinessLine, a newspaper he worked at for 11 years.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 60+ new stories with 3-months worth of archives from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 1,750


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 35+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 50


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20



What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at [email protected] detailing the error or queries.