Monthly Archives: April 2014

I Love It

Hi,

I start this monthly post with Icona Pop’s inspired title- I Love it, I don’t care.

Let me explain. “I love it” emphasises my passion on equities. “I don’t care” symbolizes a bet on where the nifty or bse will head.

 

In the life of every investor what matters is what he feels from within. Whether his intuitive, logical or deductive sense makes him believe better times are around and then whether his analysis allows him to identify stocks that he can live through amidst volatility.

 

The definition of living through could be very subjective right from a flirt caused by temporary mispricing that renders an opportunity for a stock to be bought or sold, a live in relationship that allows an assessment of initial compatibility (things panning out as forecasted) or a wedding where adjustments will be made as you live along and where things will last as long as the partner does not turn sour. 

 

While the flirt is exciting and adventurous, it has the risk of a heart break, sometimes even of one making a fool of himself, even more so, in times of an uncertain or unknown environment. Some of the best movies show fears of two people on a date getting locked up in a mall at night or a museum or stranded in the sea or forest with lots of uncertainty. 

 

Right now there remains a consensus divide in the markets on whether the rally has lots of steam ahead or will sizzle out post election results.

Market men talk of a possible huge volatility on the 16th of May, so much so that there is media talk of a possible extending of market hours on 16th itself or even an opening of the market on a Saturday, the 17th of May to tide over. 

For all you know the markets may zoom on 16th or even 17th (if open).

If that scenario spans out, I would be happy with the ride as I have a pre-paid ticket. The portfolio is well stocked of companies I like notwithstanding any event most of which were bought over the last year or so at reasonable valuations. 

In other words, if we see a rally, the portfolio should do ok with our stock focus. It may well be that some other stocks with higher beta such as Infra, Real Estate etc outperform on a comparative basis but then in a class where a student does well every year you take him as a better job prospect than a guy at the end of the class who suddenly gets inspired by a Complan ad and thinks that that itself will take care of his life.

 

It may well be that the election results don’t live up to market bullishness or even if they do people don’t have the x factor to make a further bet on and book profits. Thus if it transpires that the markets fall, I would be happy to consider each stock idea stand alone ie depending on its fall and relative future prospects and valuation. Also depending on how severe the fall is and what the new govt looks like, I will evaluate what winners fit into my 4 seater car and those that may need a public transport.. For all, I make just take a breather and allow some health gains through pranayam at the cost of a momentary paper loss of profits.  

 

In my personal experience, some of the success for an investor lies in just a mindset. In context to investing, you need to be convinced but not blinded that your path and process is good. A journey has its moments of excellent scenery (akin to green on screen) and some unexpected speed breakers or even bumps, some of which do justice to a higher alert or speed control or play aid memoir to the remembrance of god.

 

As every successful man has some elements of madness in him, faking some of such success in me but more inspired by the sense of inculcating some madness to be successful,  I have infused an insane but placebo belief that having resisted from booking profits on most of my ideas the portfolio looks somewhat insured from a major set back.

 

This is sponsored by zero tax and not a god father.

 

 To explain, when an investor sells stocks in less than 1 year he pays capital gain taxes.

We have crossed one year of ownership of core ideas with a decent upmove and zero penalty (tax).

If I had sold some shares a tax of 15% would have gone from my wealth, effectively to the govt which it did not.

 I have thus mentally alerted myself of this 15% insurance/saving of wealth.

 

Theoretically one can argue that the 15% is on gains and after deducting purchase price but my ideology is more towards rewards than risks and the finer maths can follow adjusted for dividends earned, capital saved (and not spent) and the fun that I had in the investment selection, verification and execution process (there is a price for even a ride in an amusement park, even a long queue and sometimes even a travel to it. This was better).

 Going ahead, I remain bullish on stocks. The fact that I am still finding it worthwhile to search for ideas and am getting some good ones (atleast so I believe even if I am actually getting conned by luck or sheer market wake up from slumber) makes me want to believe in a rally than a fall. Trust me the ideas are coming even when I am fully engrossed at work and not at the cost of unemployment where any dream will do.

 

The questions that come to mind are: where will I generate money from to buy new ideas and what if markets fall or better co are available cheaper?

The first is a non issue as if you find good companies and invest at decent prices or at decent phases of growth, some propellers usually trickle in to guide you. Sometimes the weightage of a stock becomes duly high and allows some trimming more like a hair cut to avoid an unruly look while at other times unexpected events bless you. Of late these have includes extra ordinary dividends and even buy backs by companies such as Astra Zeneca, GSK Pharma, GSK Consumer, Ricoh India and now recently in the announced buy back and delisting of Fulford India. Also I have a source of Income outside the markets (which is a good advise, the first good one in this update whether by professional income, savings or rental income) so in the true sense I am in fact deploying surplus and investible funds unlike a 100% all or nothing situation.

 

Secondly I remain a diversified investor and on any day can pick something to sell to save the rest in case liquidity is a constrained, just as I can buy what looks good due to the mood of mr. market.

 

This freedom binds those who concentrate and go all invested and thus they are forced to either sell a core position or resist a new idea for want of funds. Or get confused between which road to take.

 

In many debates including those some of you my friends and guiding forces have had with me  and based on my own reading of books, forum, blogs, etc there is too much debate and expression of views on concentration vs diversification. This is not a WWE wresting bout or a one for all fit situation.

 

In the midst of empirical evidence that both can work and both can be a bane, I personally think the issue is a non issue and depends much on every individual.

 

Most comments on this front are one sided (sometimes life too is) and suffers from a lack of interaction on:

 

a) What is the investible corpus of the concerned person;

b) what is his competence in picking stocks;

c) what is his time horizon. There is much difference between stock peaking and portfolio peaking. I have known many investors who having diversified sold a concentrated position only to find a continuous upscale of returns. Or who got fatigued by a concentrated position pulling down overall returns to find the stock outperform many times over post selling;

d) I find it amusing that if I have a concentrated portfolio and find a new stock idea which looks extremely promising I should ban the stock from an inclusion because it would dilute my concentration. Even a connoisseur of the finest scotch adds water and many of the concentrates need a partner add on to make a perfect drink.

e) To err is human and to allow a concentrated err to ruin your returns is a set back.

f) The word diluted holding is very subjective. What good investing requires is to avoid portfolio holdings that would make no difference if the results were favourable. Even Peter Lynch in his returns at 29% odd pa was registering more than Warren Buffet at 18% odd pa just that Warren Buffett made up big time by the additional no of years he spent in the market and in the concept of compounding. Ironically Warren Buffett now holds over 90 stocks and many argue that this is fine given his portfolio size. Man you got to think big and about your own self and there are no free and one way tickets in life even from well wishers.

g) most investors buy in tranches throughout their lives. That means in a sense SIP into either funds or stocks. Which means they buy stocks not at pre set but varying prices. I find it crazy to buy a stock at a high price just to concentrate whereas better options on other stocks may be available to me when additional funds are deployed.

h) It is true that in every bull run there has been a new sector. And its also true very few people have lived to encash the best sectors in every bull run by maximum results. Its like saying the player in NBA who hits max home runs may burn out while the most consistent player may last several tournaments. Stocks revert to mean over time unless issues of bad management, stock price rigging etc set in.

A diversified portfolio works well for me and I am happy that most of the core stocks discussed in this blog have given spectacular returns without any pains. My mother calls it skill as also my pet believes so. My deterrents call it luck. It does not matter, We buy what works and junks what doesn’t.

 

I) Times have changed, There was a time you could own a Colgate or HUL or similar and had to do nothing as compounding and operational efficiency with growth would do the best for you. I would like to ask you all, I’m sure you heard stories of some person in your office or neighbourhood who got a new house or marriage sponsored by simply owning xyz shares of xyz co. Many of such people were simple and just disciplined. Not chasing momentum, not ill advised by information overkill and yet too savvy to even understand what they owned in terms of q1, q2, eps, PAT growth, EBIDTA etc. The world was simpler with less knowledge of undue gains by promoters, less impacted by globalization and its destructive impact, no WTO or dumping or anti dumping duties, no USFDA, no fno, no margin funding etc.

These reasons in themselves are enough for me to believe I should be diversified, have meaningful but not overkill bets and yet enjoy the fact of discovering new ideas.

 

Back to stock talk.

In my last posts, I identified a couple of mis-priced opportunities here. Tata DVR,  HCL Info, KRBL have done reasonably well.

I have maintained my holdings in all these.

Archies had a sudden spurt from 15 to 20 with a very large volume at or over 20 rs. I decided to prune the Archies position a little to do with the need totake home the 30 percent plus profit and a little to coincide with the fact that in the famous comic ARCHIES, the character is being put to death. I don’t want some pan eating rich investor to dump my stock on reading ARCHIES dies and is now being shut.  In markets we deal with them all.

My sale was triggered by better conviction in a few new ones.

PTC Financial Services is a new idea added to the portfolio.  At an almost zero NPA, a decent loan order book size, a dividend in place, a new business head and better prospects from the power lending space with a cheap valuation seem triggers. In most election interviews, economic agendas, trade association papers (FICCI, ASSOCHAM) etc there is a huge talk of how roads and power supply have to be improved to take the economy forward. The order book of capital good companies that cater to power sector is also looking up. I remain averse on power companies directly given their huge capex, issues with states on pricing and leakages but it seems that the space lending to Power and related projects will see an uptrend. A stable asset base with lower cost of funds should enhance both margin growth and volume growth.

 

Fulford India. Actually my writing on this has become redundant for those reading the blog now but the rationale to buy Fulford remains some common sense and some herd thinking. In the last month odd, Pfizer and Wyeth consolidated big time and doled out huge dividends. GSK pharma did a massive buy back at 3100 rs. Astra Zeneca took board approval to delist. Fulford is a subsidiary of MSD a world giant in pharma that was showing better results in last 2 qtrs. and yet ignored by markets. Looking at the issues of even huge dividend payouts by some MNC cos lately, I was hoping for one of the following: a) better growth, hence better valuation b) newer launches and hence focus c) buy out or d) capital infusion by parent as was done in Astra Zeneca to strengthen India arm.

 

Multibase India; Its rare to find a subsidiary of two Fortune gaints, Dow Chemicals and Corning with 75% holding trade at market cap of 60 odd crores. MNC Ceos the world over are measured by market cap and in any good book on the subject you will read how CEO train their heads on increasing market caps usually by takeovers. Similarly non core businesses are demerged to unlock capital to divert in more focussed areas. Seamec recently announced a sell out by its 75% parent to another co as the Indian business was found to be too small to concentrate on. Multibase also conserves its profits with no dividend to its parent or shareholders which means the owners have no reward either in terms of market cap or dividend. At 2 times book value and a PE of around 12, no debt, a good product line including air bags and with improving financials for 2012, 2013 (trailing) and now increased focus in car segment and safety by majors, the stock looks cheap.

I am currently exploring two more ideas. One where the market cap is less than liquid investments. Mind you liquid investments here are not in group companies that cannot be liquidated or are strategic. The stock in fact even does well in its primary business and has this bonus of a good investment surplus. just working on some data before taking a significant weightage in the portfolio.

 

The other idea worth looking at is MT educare. I will be writing on that soon.

 

As I conclude, I wish all of you a good election result. May our country get a stable govt that leads us towards exciting times. Sometimes the best opportunities are just around and sometimes it’s all about just being lucky to be in the right place at the relevant time.

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Progressive State of Mind

Hey,

Hope all of you are in smiles with a fruitful end to the financial year. I am particularly elated at the way the portfolio shaped up throughout the year, though for varied reasons.
a) I tried being more disciplined towards identification of companies and in persistence.
b) I stuck to a repeated allocation to best performers, a moderate allocation to second line and no third line;
c) I tried reading as much as was desirable but avoided all the usual noise that sprang from media-print, electronic or from any person who advised market disaster or scrip’s “too much run up”. History bore its dent in reminding me of “quality compounding” and “greater certainty in disciplined investing” rather than forecasting.
d) I remained tax efficient in my investing. Some of this was more attributed to a general sense of bullishness and desire to build a quality portfolio rather than to fall for a quick buck. It is ironical that when it is well known that there is a zero tax cost of long term gains and that maturity cycles in a company are not in months but longer, there is a greater desire by post investors to kill the very goose that lays the golden egg on its first egg itself.
e) While there could rightly be a debate on what is quality and what is not, I decided to keep investing simple and focussed. Something that has always worked for me in years. Since “selfie” is the latest word that found universal acceptance, I decided to admit like a selfie and a proud one too: I have always done well in picking stocks when I follow a read, see, research, buy in phases, persist and prune when over exposed approach. In several years of investing that started as a student, the only time that I was not disciplined was when boisterous of my success in stock picking and tempted by some rather insane stock brokers who really have no interest but to make you churn and trade, I flirted with the derivative segment for 2-3 years. What started as a huge and easy money game landed with a thud. One of my mentors says that was worthwhile as “it was the fee I paid for an education”. Almost committed to not falling in this pit of day calls, tips and x y z buying A B C company, I remained focussed on only what I saw, liked and believed.

It gives me pleasure to share some of my stars without whom I would have ended up like a lame duck and the rationale that drew me to them. I will try and do this with brevity to keep this post short of a book.

a.Ajanta Pharma- the stock was identified at 150 rs levels, booked out at 600 odd and then re-entered at around 350 odd. The stock continues to find its own room in my holdings now fortified with a bonus credited to its holdings.

b. Ashiana Housing- I was initially inclined towards the stock. Then became somewhat unsure when they changed their accounting practice. What alarmed was not the usual paraphernalia about real estate companies, since this co had a better accounting system (all cash, no agents and a profiling towards better life for old people. The co was drawing referrals from existing customers and as a good management book oriented towards sales will tell you happy customers are the best source of growth. I prompted myself to ignore the short term aberration that would trigger slower growth in the back drop of its accounting change to focus on the ability of the same accounting turning favourable with time and stuck on. The stock has delivered a great return and I thank Ashaina Housing and its promoters for an excellent role.

c. Astral Poly- this has been one of the best return stocks. Identified at 90 rs before any split/bonus the key here was technology in an underpenetrated market with aesthetics. The fact that it had exclusivity from Lubrizol, a Warren Buffett co, had low interest of institutions and a great opportunity were draws. In one great book I read, Asia, Automation and Aesthetics/Designs will play a good differentiation role going ahead. Astral scored not only in terms of technological excellence but also aesthetic appeal targeting a rather depleted looking home and industrial Pipes solution. I recall one of my dear friends after the release of one of Astral’s qtr results sold out and called me to say results were not good. I coaxed him to read the results again and told him where the judgement error lay. Thankfully both he and me are smiling today though he still owes me a treat. I wrote this deliberately so as to get my treat in good time.

d. Atul Auto: in several interviews, Mr. Rajiv Bajaj kept talking of a slow down in motorcycle sales but suggesting the 3 wheeler segment was doing better. And here we had a 3 wheeler co expanding capacities both in manufacturing and in terms of geographic spread. Recently two value investors, Mr. Raamdeo Agarwal and Mr. Sanjoy Bhattacharya, added Atul Auto at 260 rs (post bonus/split)which is gratifying considering an identification of this idea at 90 rs pre bonus/split. Thank god for the distraction of this markets will go to 4500 levels that kept people away from identifying such gems. Logically value is a function of either earnings or asset base, or both. With a rather small market cap and improving order size, how would 4500 if it were to arrive hit a co that was trading at the lowest band of its industry PE and yet registering higher growth and return on capital ratios is historical. In hindsight I would have liked it to stay low as I was adding religiously every month.

e. Aurobindo Pharma: Amidst the gloom lies the opportunity. Auro went through nightmares with USFDA, Patent Suits and tanked all the way to 100 odd levels. Picked up on my radar at 160, somewhat by reading between its problems and motivated by a meaningful exposure initiated by HDFC mutual fund at 105 odd levels, this stock had the portfolio in the pink of health.

f. Relaxo/La Opala: while I no longer own these companies, one was a play on moving up the pricing (and hence margin) pyramid (relaxo) while the other a BUY WHAT YOU SEE phenomenon. Relaxo was identified at 160 odd and is now 2500 rs while La Opala identified at 85 rs odd is now 730 rs odd.

g. Bajaj Finance, Mah & Mah finance: it was interesting to see better and faster growth in NBFCs when Banks were constrained by their own to extend funding in some of the niche segments these cos catered to. While both gave super returns, MnM Finance is now out of the portfolio following some concerns on its future profits.

h. Cera, Kajaria: one was a clear play on sanitation, a segment that I previously blogged on. Cera has been a star performer from 190 odd bucks. Again, negative news on the untimely death of the son of the promoter just when the ball was to be handed over to him for his inning had triggered a crash. Entrepreneurs who create businesses and not inherit them usually are a world apart. Mr. Somany came back with a bang in his second inning to create lots of cheers. Kajaria: interesting write up on Gen 2 in latest Fobes makes a valid point on the vision ahead.

i) Dhanuka, PI Ind, Monsanto, Bayer, Kaveri: i now wonder why I liked so many seed, agro chemical and speciality chemical cos. Two reasons: one was a bet on domestic one on MNC. One trigerred by a generic vs Proprietary battle, one by its R&D muscle. Bayer had the additional cash flow advantage setting in from sale of its properties. Continue to own all these.

j) Gruh, Repco: Specialized housing players, one with a commendable backing of the giant, HDFC and the other branching out from a regional focus of small loans into more territories. Recently (at 190) India Bull Real was added

k) JK Bank, HDFC bank, Indus Ind: the banking sector is a mirror of the economy even more so in a country where savings were historically as cash or jewellery or land. The per capita consumption of banking services and allied services remains low and HDFC and Indus Ind both showed max focus on tapping this. HDFC bank recently found the going good even at this mkt cap in terms of tapping branches in Tier 2 and Tier 3 and under the dynamic Aditya Puri promised continuing growth and the best of times. Indus Ind too had its share of a dynamic Mr Sobti breaking the bank away from the not so sure Hinduja control and lead with incentives in ESOPs and NRI access to funds. JK bank was uniquely placed in terms of maximum surveillance (being in Kashmir- recall how the last Chairman too was replaced) to a handsome holding in MetLife India. Higher scrutiny equals better accounts. Dividend payout at 650 bucks when I identified it was the dessert.

l) Tech M, Hcl Technologies: Tech M was the cheapest IT co that was coming out of a telecom over focus (British telecom) and Europe slowdown and a messed up Satyam. Just as the frog turns into a handsome price when kissed, Tech M was turning into the league of the biggies. The fact that Infosys was (and to my mind remains) in a spot of worry meant some one was winning a pie of the huge IT spending. hcl Tech was obviously one such gainer but the others could have been TCS with the highest market cap in India, Wipro where till 2 quarters back the management itself was experiencing a transit from a low growth to an improved growth wish list. I interacted with some software engineers too who frequently travel either on offshore projects or to book new orders and the feeler was Tech M was giving TCS, Infy a tough time. In his book, One up on Wall Street, Peter Lynch advocates the feel on buy what you see. Two things stuck me here: one that Tech M was a threat to the giants and being acknowledged so in the midst of a transition and two the taking of granted approach of HCL Tech doing well in getting orders, usually a sign of a good business.

m)Mayur Uni: I can write on Mayur Uni as a separate post. However since the best of it has already been baked , its best to enjoy the cake. Enough has now been written on Mayur and Westbridge’s recent stake into it has drawn more crowds. While I hold this stock, I am more tempted to read THE CROWD: A STUDY OF THE POPULAR MIND by Gustave Le Bon for now. If the madness continues in terms of price running ahead of a sustainable earning I may switch to reading IRRATIONAL EXHUBERANCE. For now, Mayur had rewarded twice in the year one with a bonus one with a stock split. I sound cuckoo calling Bonus a reward but in such stocks infusion of liquidity in markets (by additional shares or split shares) is a reward not only in price performance but the ability to buy or sell in more controlled dosages.

n)Bosch, eicher motors: I am very keen to meet Siddharth Lal over business. I have some good thoughts and lots of appreciation for how Eicher has built a dual business. One in the consolidated co with VOLVO which I learn is now exploring growing with Eicher outside India and the second with the formidable reputation of the Bullet. While one is a smaller contributor financially it talks god depth about the management’s versatility, passion and progression. Eicher was picked at 1000 rs odd and now hits the 6000 mark. Bosch, one of the most committed auto ancillary companies. Most auto ancillary business is characterised by a generic nature of the industry and growth from capex (volume growth) with very little pricing power. In an ACMA seminar where I spoke I asked the attendees who were all from the auto trade why automobile brands have brand power, so much so that brands like BMW, Mercedes even license the brands to products such as key chains, t shirts etc but auto ancillary co have not focussed on similar brand power. Exide, MICO (Bosch) and now Amaron are perhaps the only known auto ancillary brands. Another good factor feel for Bosch was the commitment of the management on capex despite plant shut downs on designated days to meet the slowdown blues. Bosch was picked up around 5000 levels and remains a core holding.

Enough.

Not many are keen on all that I keyed in. Most want to know what’s next.

Starting with my standard caveat that I am not an investor advisor and only express my personal views with the possibility of going wrong and surely with an invested interest, I feel the markets will reward going ahead as also could punish. The probability of the later lies in an unfavourable electoral outcome or if BJP wins and Mr. Modi comes to power, the role that support partners play in taking reforms ahead. The recent move to summon the head of Samsung in India leaves a bad flavour even though from a legal stand point it may be within the expected norms. There is a positive move to enter into tax agreements with some MNCs that should place India better. The BJP party has expressed concerns on FDi in Retail(multi brand) but suggested that all other FDI will be allowed. Insurance should be a big trigger if opened under FDI as it may attract a more sustained inflow into equity markets as well.

The good feel about markets is most of the cos under the tracker are not truly IFFY ie based on a Congress or BJP govt. we are also now in a capitalist frame of confidence ie if some of my favorites fall I may shuffle some of my holdings and perhaps add to a few at the cost of some non core holdings. As I say to a few friends: who knows? The process needs to be good, the outcome will follow.

I have started picking a few small cap companies that seem to be currently in a stage that could transform them. For the good or for the worse is what time will reveal. I surely believe the efforts are on for the good.

Some of these companies include HCL Infosystems which is re vamping its product and services business, has undergone change of directors, business heads and is making efforts to improve working capital was was locked up.

Another is Archies, a 250 store business, with a phenomenal brand ownership that has struggled from a change for the worse towards printed cards (product obsolesce) but should pick up partly due to CSR (CRY, UNESCO cards) and partly by an alarm clock that needs to trigger management focus into building a better internet business for its gifting business. At 50 crs odd market cap, for a co that has a good brand, 250 stores, some 5 tie upsm some real estate, almost no debt and some easy potential if there is awakening patience could be a real test.

The third is a borrowed idea, KRBL, on which smarter investors have worked and benefitting from the change. Global crop, with ability to store, huge export demand for premium with an awakening Indian demand, scarce land, good brand, almost 6 takeovers in the industry in recent times.

Review of some of the recent thoughts: Heritage, Hatsun have done well in the logic I propounded for dairy stocks while Sunshield Chemicals (owned by Solvay) is basking in the glory or as INXS’s song says AFTERGLOW of its parent’s gracious open offer in Rhodia CHemicals.

I conclude for now, wishing our country a good election and a good govt. We are proud of India and its a matter of time we will take the lead to transform our country. We have no dearth of talent, hard work, intelligence and success stories. It’s time to look forward and not backward. Except in markets where we must always learn from history. Cheers

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