It’s the kind of story out of India’s stock markets that sounds almost too good to be true. A company that started out as backyard venture selling balloons in Chennai has now clocked the highest share price for an Indian company at Rs 60, 000.
Chennai-based MRF set a record on March 27, when its share prices reached the Rs 60,000 mark. This stock price, reports say, is almost three times higher than that of the next most expensive stock (Rs 24, 000), Eicher Motors, which manufactures Royal Enfield motorbikes.
An Economic Times report said that the stock prices of MRF, India’s largest tyre manufacturer, have grown by close to 50 times in the last 16 years, from Rs 1,218 in 2001 to Rs 60,000 on March 27, 2017.
The 70-year-old company, which started off manufacturing toy balloons in a shed in Tiruvottiyur in Madras in 1946, was set up with initial funding of Rs 14,000. Padma Shri KM Mammen Mappilai, then a fresh graduate of Madras Christian College, set up the unit together with his wife, a chemist by profession. Mappilai not only made balloons, but also travelled across Chennai to sell the balloons himself.
By 1949, Mappilai had diversified the company into producing gloves, toys and contraceptives. But it was the foray in 1952 into manufacturing tread rubber that started MRF on the course to eventually becoming India’s biggest tyre manufacturer. Within a short time, MRF was the market leader in the manufacture of tread rubber, which extends the life of worn-out tyres, having a 50% share of the segment.
The company went public in 1961, and tied up with a United States company called Mansfield Tire & Rubber Company, and set up its first plant in Thiruvottiyur. Three years later it started exporting tyres to the US.
Today, the company exports its products in more than 65 countries and its product portfolio includes paints, sports goods, rally sports.
MRF is also known for setting up MRF Pace Foundation, a a workshop for fast bowlers across the world. Mappilai was a known cricket-lover and has played the role of cricket administrator at the state level. MRF also holds the majority stake in one of India’s leading toy and board-game manufacturers, Funskool India.