Apollo Hospitals, a $2 bn health empire run by 4 sisters, makes a comeback

Apollo Hospitals, a $2 bn health empire run by 4 sisters, makes a comeback

Next to Suneeta Reddy’s desk in the executive suite of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd. hangs an icon of Hinduism’s many-armed warrior goddess Durga, who Reddy prays to each morning. The deity’s presence seems fitting at a company run by four women engineering an aggressive expansion into new territory.

About a decade ago, Reddy and her three sisters took over most executive functions at Apollo, India’s largest hospital chain, from their father. They embarked on a multi-year building spree in a bet that India’s economic growth would spread from its metropolises to second-tier cities, where patients are getting richer. But Apollo’s stock tumbled as the sisters’ investments weighed on profits.

Now, almost 20 billion rupees ($280 million) and four years of construction later, there are signs that strategy is about to pay off. All those hospitals are built. Analysts are predicting that annual earnings are poised to climb for the first time since 2015. Apollo’s shares have gained about 30 percent after hitting a four-year low in June, and stock forecasters are more bullish than they have been in a decade.

"The four of us recognized there was a demand and supply gap, and we needed to fill it," Reddy, 59, who holds the title of co-managing director, said in an interview this month in the South Indian city of Chennai. "The capacity to pay more will exist."

The company’s stock climbed as much as 2.5 percent in Mumbai before trading 1.9 percent higher at 1,215.70 rupees at 11:51 a.m in Mumbai, reversing three days of declines on a day when the broader Indian market was down.