While it was a day of losses for Zomato shares on Tuesday, falling as much as 6% to Rs 182.10, several leading brokerages remained confident in their positive outlook for the foodtech giant. Despite the intraday decline triggered by concerns around a proposed employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), target prices for Zomato were revised upwards by CLSA, Jefferies, Bernstein and Elara Capital. 

Zomato Shares Take a Dip

CLSA upped their target to Rs 248 from Rs 220 previously. Jefferies and Bernstein both set targets of Rs 230 per share, representing potential upside of around 26-27% from current levels. Elara Capital was the most bullish, projecting Zomato could reach Rs 280 in the coming months. That target implies gains of over 50% are possible if Elara’s forecast comes to fruition.

So with such rosy targets from top analysts, should investors see this dip as a buying opportunity? Let’s take a deeper look at what’s driving the optimism as well as the factors weighing on shares in the near-term.

The Positives

Zomato undoubtedly has strong momentum behind its core food delivery business as well as the high-potential quick commerce segment led by Blinkit. Some key factors analysts are cheering:

  • Continued leadership in the online food ordering market, with Zomato capturing over 50% share. Moat remains wide as barriers to entry for competitors remain high.
  • Blinkit is achieving scale rapidly after the acquisition last year. Orders and grocery assortment volumes grew at a brisk pace last quarter. Expansion to 1,000 dark stores by 2025 signals confidence. 
  • Overall revenues jumped 73% in Q4. Blinkit and Hyperpure subsidiaries also posted triple-digit growth, diversifying revenue streams.
  • Adjusted EBITDA is trending in the right direction. Losses are narrowing as the company moves towards profitability.
  •  Cash reserves of over Rs 6,000 crore provide ample firepower for future M&A and expansion plans. 
  •  Management execution has been strong. Turnaround of food business and integration of Blinkit have proceeded smoothly so far.
  • Longer-term opportunity in online grocery remains huge as the market is still in early stages of adoption in India.
  •  Valuations have corrected from peaks and are at more reasonable levels now versus price-to-sales multiples of 10-12x for global peers.

The Near-Term Headwinds

However, a few overhangs could cap upside over the next 3-6 months:

  • Additional ESOP allocation of 2% of outstanding shares raises concerns over aggressive dilution for employees. This was a key trigger for today’s decline.  
  • Blinkit continues to bleed cash flows while scaling up. Significant investments are needed before break-even is achieved.
  • Macro headwinds like high inflation, falling discretionary spends could impact order volumes in the consumer sector.
  • Fierce competition from Swiggy, Reliance Retail’s JioMart and Tata could squeeze margins in the core food delivery segment.
  •  Global growth stocks, including technology names, have corrected sharply in 2022. Sentiment for loss-making Indian startups has weakened.
  • Geopolitical risks like rising interest rates, recession fears overseas add volatility to markets.

So in summary, Zomato’s long-term prospects remain bright thanks to strong growth drivers and a large total addressable market. However, the road to profitability will be a gradual one and near-term challenges around costs and macro factors cannot be ignored.

A Balanced View

Taking the positives and negatives into consideration, a balanced view would be:

  • For long-term investors with a 1-2 year horizon, this dip looks like a buying opportunity. Target prices indicate significant upside is possible once execution proves out. 
  •  Those with a shorter 6-12 month view may want to wait for clarity on Blinkit’s path to profitability and the impact of the latest ESOP issuance. 
  • Aggressive investors could average into the stock on further dips, while conservative players may stay on the sidelines and watch how things unfold.
  •  Given high volatility in growth stocks, only risk capital should be deployed rather than the entire capital for higher risk-reward.
  • Set price alerts and reassess if Zomato moves below Rs 160, signaling further weakness in the stock. 
  • Be prepared to average down cautiously on dips rather than going all in at current levels.

In summary, analysts see multiple levers for long-term growth yet acknowledge near-term challenges. A balanced, staggered approach seems most suitable than taking an extreme bullish or bearish view. For long-term portfolios, this dip in a high-quality name like Zomato looks a good buying opportunity. But only invest amounts you’re comfortable seeing stuck for 12-18 months.