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Wednesday 25 December 2013

2013 Portfolio Roundup

With the calendar year coming to an end, it is time to take stock and look back at the year and the developments in the portfolio.

For the majority part of the year, I was bearish on the Indian economy. Even today, I am not convinced that the country is in very good financial health. The recent rally is more based on hope than substance. This rally has been fuelled by the hope of a stable pro-reform BJP government at the centre in 2014. Purely on fundamentals, there is no improvement on the ground. Inflation continues to be high, specially food inflation. It is unlikely to come down any time in the near future as long as the supply side structural issues are not addressed. The Current Account Deficit, thankfully has come down with the prices and consumption of gold falling during the year. Rupee scared everyone (atleast the importers and of course cheered the exporters) by shying away from the Rs 68 mark and settling for some time around 60, up from the 45-50 range established for a fair number of years.

I made some changes to my portfolio. I booked profits on some of the stocks where I had made good profits and where the business climate was looking sluggish for the next few years like Balaji Amines, Titan, GRP, Shriram Transport Finance, Cravatex and JK Lakshmi Cement. I booked losses in CEBBCO (lost 70% of my investment on this), Sintex and Thangamayil Jewellery.

During the year, I added some stocks, which are either more export focused and thus likely to gain by the strength in the dollar or simply who businesses are faring well in this recessionary environment. Shilpa Medicare, Poly Medicure, Alembic Pharma, Ajanta Pharma and Finolex Cables. I have added to my initial positions in PI industries and Kaveri Seeds over the year in small quantities. I have reduced my positions in Cera as I think the price has run much ahead of fundamentals. I have added Page Ind to my portfolio as a dipstick investment more from a tracking perspective. I am still not decided on the valuation comfort in the stock. I have not made any changes to my top 3 holdings.

Over the year, my portfolio has returned 25.14% versus 8.27% of the Sensex and 3.3% of the HDFC Equity fund. I have chosen the HDFC Equity fund as it is one of the largest and best-managed equity fund over a 15 year period. The point is, if I am not beating a decent mutual fund, then I would rather put my money there and go sit on a beach ;-)

Name of Company
% of Portfolio (Dec'12)
% of Portfolio (Dec'13)
Mayur Uniquoters
Hold / Buy on dips
Supreme Ind
Hold / Reduce
Astral Poly
Kaveri Seeds
Hold / Buy on dips
Amara Raja
Cera Sanitaryware
Hold / Reduce
Finolex Cables
Hold / Buy on dips
Yes Bank
Auto Auto
PI Industries
Balkrishna Industries
Hold / Reduce
Shilpa Medicare
Alembic Pharma
Ajanta Pharma
Poly Medicure
Page Industries


Balaji Amines

Analyze mistake

Gujarat Reclaim
Wait for turnaround
JK Lakshmi Cement
Keep watch; Buying time may be soon
Shriram Transport Finance
Keep watch; Buying time may be soon
Sintex India
Keep watch; Buying time may be soon
Thangamayil Jewellery
Analyze mistake
Titan Industries
Keep watch

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Why Doesn't Sachin Tendulkar & Roger Federer Retire?

With another new Test series coming up, one of the favourite questions for Indian sports journalists have started raising all over again is the question of Sachin Tendulkar's retirement. Roger Federer, another sporting legend, had an early exit from the currently ongoing US Open. So, instead of asking the usual question of is it time for them to retire, I was thinking about why it is so difficult for them (or similar others) to let go.

I have tried to answer my question from the Charlie Munger's theories of human misjudgement.
Here are the psychological tendencies/biases at work for these people that prevents them from being rational:
  • Psychological Denial - It is difficult for a great performer to admit that his performance has declined. That he does not make the cut purely on merit but more on the crutches of past performance.
  • Incentive caused bias - Huge endorsement contracts and money is at stake. Roughly, Federer earns over $65 million annually (from Forbes). Tendulkar has earned $18 million through his endorsements (from Forbes). Great incentive for not quitting, I would think!
  • Social Proof - Everyone around them say they are the greatest ever. Everyone says, form is temporary but class is permanent. Sachin can think that if Gavaskar could have played till 39-40 years, why can't I? Federer sees people like Hewitt, also a former world no 1 and same age as him, still playing, so why can't he?
  • Commitment & Consistency bias - They have both said multiple times, that they will get back their previous form. Also, that they will play till they "enjoy" playing. It is difficult to go back to that one fine morning and say, I am not enjoying playing anymore.
  •  Overoptimism tendency - Over reliance on their own individual abilities.They think with a little bit more practice they can get back their previous form.
  • Deprival super-reaction syndrome - There may be a conscious or sub-conscious fear in their minds that the adulation and fan-following that they get will wane once they are out of the spotlight.
So, now you ask, all this is fine, but what has all this got to do with investing?

Well, if people like Federer and Tendulkar are being fooled by psychology, just think what your brain is doing to you and your investments? How many stocks have you bought because someone else has it (social proof)? How many stocks are there in your portfolio for years but you are not able to sell because you think you will get back your price (anchoring) or the company will turn around (denial)? How many times have you chased a stock when it hit upper circuits because you just had to have it (deprival super-reaction syndrome?

The list goes on....

Be mindful of what your mind is doing to your portfolio!!

Enjoy investing!

Monday 26 August 2013

Supreme Industries: Notes from Annual Report

* The Company during the year processed 2,81,452 tons of Polymers vs 2,45,700 tons of Polymers in the previous year, a growth of 14.55% in Polymer consumption.
* The Company exported goods worth US $ 14.32 mn vs US $ 13.49 million (excluding discontinued business of PP Mats) last year, a growth of 6.15%.
* The 23rd plant to manufacture LPG Gas Cylinders and Composite Pipes is ready. It may go into production in the 3rd quarter of FY14 after getting regulatory approvals. The Company has plans to put up another manufacturing unit in Kharagpur during the current year, subject to getting all clearances from State Governments on the land owned by the Company. Investment of Rs 250 cr is planned for this.
* The Company has committed an investment of Rs 415 cr in the year 2012-13.

Fig 1 - Revenue Mix across Segments

Segment Review : Plastics Piping Systems
* The Company has added 169 new products in the range during 2012-2013 taking total product portfolio to 5682 nos.
* CPVC piping has grown by 37% by volume in FY13.
* The company is exploring the possibility of entering into Industrial applications as well as Fire Sprinkler segment of CPVC business. The company has entered into an understanding for technical tie-up with leading world brands in that segment.
* The overall percentage of sale of Value Added Products to total sale increased to 26.47% vs 24.24% of last year. The company expects to further increase the share in years to come.

Segment Review : Consumer Products
* Revenues have grown by 5% and 3% by volume. 
* The company has decided to get out of the traded furniture business altogether.
* The Company’s business in Premium Products sales has increased from a level of 38% in 2011-12 to 40% of overall sales in the year 2012-13.
* The Company has more than 303 Exclusive Franchise Show Rooms on All-India basis displaying entire range of Supreme Furniture.
* The company has also initiated steps to start exporting furniture items

Segment Review : Industrial Products
* Although there was heavy demand recession in general, company managed growth of 21% in Automotive sector and 12% in Consumer Durables, against its planned target of 30% and 18% respectively.
* The company started supplies to two major Japanese companies in Consumer Durable sector and a few other customers in the same and Auto sector.
* The initial trial run for the Cockpit Assembly for one of the prestigious projects of our customer has been completed at the Plant. Company expects supplies to start towards later part of this year. Supplies stabilized for the parts of ‘Vespa’ being made by Piaggio.
* It supported two prestigious product launches of Maruti that is a LUV and a small Car during last year. The plant has successfully started supplies to Honda Car for its first order in recently launched Sedan which has become a market hit. Development is in progress for the next model of Car which is scheduled to be launched during early 2014. The company has bagged order for one more model of Car in mid-size range scheduled to be on road by mid-2014. Company expects good long term prospects with Honda Motors.

Segment Review : Construction - Supreme Chambers
* Out of the total saleable area available of about 2,79,529 sq. ft., the company has till now realized net Rs 143.05 cr against sale of 92,632 sq. ft. Remaining area to be sold would be about 1,61,241 sq. ft. The going rate is around Rs 14000 / sqft.

Segment Review : Composite LPG Cylinder
* The company expects to start production in Jan / March 2014. Company is equipped to make six different sizes of Cylinders ranging from 5 to 14 kg. of LPG.

Expected EPS for June 2014 : 24-25
PE range : 12-15
Expected price range (June 2014): 288-375
CMP: 334

My View:  
The upside potential at this price seems to be already priced in, so no real point in buying aggressively. On the other hand, the stock is also very unlikely to take a major beating, so may be a good overall portfolio choice as a store of value.

Disclosure: I have a nearly 20% of my portfolio in Supreme Industries, so I am highly biased. This is not a recommendation to buy or sell in the stock.

Friday 2 August 2013

Market Update - Where are we headed?

In the last 13-14 years, that I have been observing and participating in the markets, I cannot recollect a time where market sentiment was so negative. It was not this bad (atleast in India) in 2000, nor in 2008. Before, there was always a ray of hope, of optimism, that India was doing fine and the market problems were "imported". Once the external problems sorted itself out, Indian markets would go back up. This time I don't see any hope, no optimism at all amongst market participants. Because the problems are within. The problems are self-created and cannot be wished away.

When I speak to my friends who run their own businesses, they say thing s are terrible on the ground. There are just no orders. Inquiries have come down drastically. At the macro level also, the problems are all well documented - very high current account deficit, a central government hell bent on killing the economy by rocketing the fiscal deficit by harebrained welfare schemes like the food security bill. Rupee getting killed vis-a-vis the dollar with the RBI not having enough resources (either through reserves or policy initiatives) to be able to defend the currency, systemic policy inaction and flip-flops so that no one in their sane minds would want to invest in India.

Look at the way the RBI and Finance Ministry is behaving. It is very evident that they are a scared lot and have no clue as to what to do. Chidambaram is giving statements everyday to try to soothe the ruffled nerves of investors. But, it is not working. Simply because investors have lost trust on the effectiveness of the government to deliver on results. What is needed is decisive action, which sadly is missing. What we are getting instead is minor tinkering with FDI policy here and there. None of it is going to make any substantial difference anyway.

Jim Rogers in a recent interview said very candidly that there is nothing good in India (other than being a terrific tourist destination). The fact that he is short on an India ETF proves that atleast he puts his money where his mouth is.

I am beginning to get worried. A lot. I am worried that the era of 7-8% GDP growth was an aberration for India and is now gone forever. We are back to the 3-4% growth rates of the post-colonial license raj era. How long is it before the Indian economy stabilizes or will it ever go back up to 8% GDP growth levels? I don't know. What I fear is that we may be getting into a negative spiral of mediocrity and low-to-no-growth era for the many many years to come.

So,what does all this mean for investments? Specially in equities? I think, its time to take a long, hard look at the stocks in our portfolios. Keep those that can survive in a very difficult environment; which have low or no debt on their balance sheet; preferably have a large component of earnings coming from outside India. And most importantly, moderate expectations. Don't expect more that 10-12% growth. If you do get better, great. But don't count on it. Wait this period out. Maybe in hind sight, you would have missed a great buying opportunity, but it is better to be prudent and give off the first 10-20% of the up move (if it comes) to the really brave. Keep you ears to the ground and see if actual business sentiment is improving. Only then take a plunge.

Disclosure: I am an interested market participant. All views are personal. I reserve the right to be wrong!! I also reserve the right to change my mind anytime!! So, please do your due diligence before investing.

Sunday 9 June 2013

Cera Sanitaryware - Stock Update

I was reading the latest annual report for Cera and I am capturing the key points here:
  • Company’s brand extension to other related categories like showers, faucets, PVC cisterns and seat covers has helped in accelerating the growth.
  • This year Cera forayed into tiles in a modest way and launched digital wall and floor tiles, vitrified tiles in both soluble salt and double charge and also regular porcelain tiles.
  • Even though there was significant drop in construction sector in the fiscal under review, Cera was unaffected by sporadic upheavals in construction activities because of its well-established mid-segment product positioning in the market. The demand in mid-segment housing is likely to be least affected by any impending slow-down and hence the company is confident of maintaining its growth rate.
  • Vikram Somany got a total salary of 3.3cr which was up from 2.5 cr last fiscal.
  • Promoters hold 55.5% of the stock (no major change since last year)
  • Revenues of 487 cr and Net Profit of 46.21 cr.
  • EPS was 36.51 up from 25.32 a year back (up 44.91%)
  • Paid a dividend of Rs 4, up from Rs 3 in 2011-12.
FY14E EPS ~ 40-41
FY15E EPS ~ 52-53
Expected PE range (low – high) – 10-15

I am expecting a price of close to 600 at FY14 end, which is about 13% up from the CMP of 530. And
750 by FY15, which is about 40% higher from current levels. A good buying zone is 450-475, if the price gets to that level. I would NOT buy at current levels.

Disclosure: I am invested in Cera Sanitaryware and have a vested interest in the stock.

Saturday 25 May 2013

Finolex Cables - Wired for a Turn Around

Finolex Cables is a lading manufacturer of electrical and communication cables. It also sells copper rods. The company has about 15-16% of market share in both electrical and telecommunication cables segments.
  • FCL offers the full range of optical fibre cables.
  • It has backward integration to produce both Copper and PVC insulation material
  • Only cable company to hold the  consumer Superbrand  status.
  • The Pune manufacturing operations would be consolidated at the Urse site. This will help further improve the cost competitiveness in the Low Duty Electrical Cables offered by your Company.
  • Expansions at the Roorkee facilities will double capacity at a total expense of 100cr.
  • Co has a JV with J-Power Systems (which is itself a JV between Hitachi  Cables  and  Sumitomo  Electric  Industries, Japan  who  are  the  world  leaders  in  the  Extra High Voltage Electrical Cables technology, to produce cables in the range of 66KV to 500 KV.
  • The marketing JV with Corning was established will market Optical Fibre to cable makers within India. Corning is the creator of optical fibre and has the largest market share in the world for them.
  • In March 2012, the Company repaid an External Commercial Borrowing of JPY 3.5 billion which was originally drawn in 2007. The loan was repaid in full and on time out of internal accruals and without resorting to either a roll over or substitute loans.

Future Growth Prospects (Medium to Long term)
Govt of India is making efforts to connect India’s vast rural areas through internet connectivity.
Last 4 yrs the communication cables business has seen a degrowth as telcos have not invested in network infrastructure.

The National Broadband Plan:  The Government of India has approved a scheme for creation of the National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) for providing Broadband connectivity to 250,000 panchayats on 25th October 2011. The project is estimated to involve more than 100,000 km of optical cable routes and US$ 4 billion in funding.

Defense network:  A large scale Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) network project that has been delayed is the defense network which was expected to get underway. India’s telecom commission has also approved additional funding as requested by BSNL for building the fiber network. The proposal envisages a network to be laid out over 60,000 km to provide connectivity for 129 army, 162 air force and 33 navy stations. The proposal for the pan-India OFC is currently being processed and it will be to the tune of $ 1.3 billion.

Mobile Infrastructure:  Today almost 95% of India’s mobile base terminal stations are connected through microwave which is not able to support the bandwidth explosion. It is expected that the transition to fiber as the connecting medium for the nation’s backhaul network will begin in the next 1-2 years leading to an added fiber demand in the country.

Derivate Losses coming to an end
The company had entered into forex derivatives in FY2007 and made huge losses in FY08 and FY09.  The company has been writing off the losses consistently since then. These contracts are to end in the current fiscal, as per the Management. With closure of these contracts and losses thereof, the profit margins are expected to improve.

2013 saw a healthy growth in PAT (& EPS) after a couple of years of stagnation. Net Profit was around 145 cr (up from 98 cr in 2012), growing nearly 48% on the back of a modest top line growth of 9%.
FY14 is likely to wind up with a PAT of between 165-180 cr and a EPS of between 11-12. I am expecting a slight PE expansion from around 5 now to 8. 

The probable target is close to Rs 90 in a year's time which is close to 80% up from here. Even without the PE expansion a 20%-25% return is a reasonable bet in my opinion.

Disclosure: I am invested in Finolex Cables and have a vested interest in the stock. Please do your due diligence before investing. This is NOT a recommendation to buy or sell the stock.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

No News Worth Noting (For The Markets)

The last few months have been fairly uneventful in the equity markets. During the last 3 months (Feb 14th - May 14th), Sensex has been more or less flat. It was about 19,500 in Feb middle and is close to 19,700 today. In between, it went down to 18200 and up to about 20100. But, you would not believe that if you were clued into the pink papers or the "pink" channels - CNBC, NDTV Profit, ET Now etc. They would make you believe that the world changes with every breaking news!!

Corporate results are being announced and they are mixed. The economy is in a bad shape so it is unjustified to expect that companies would do exceedingly well in this kind of an environment. US economy is limping back very slowly, unlike it's stock market, which is galloping away. Europe continues to be in unknown economic territory.

Back home two interesting events took place:
1) Karnataka election results came out and Congress thumped the incumbent BJP
2) The much touted Food Security Bill was not passed in Parliament as it was not functioning amidst the plethora of scam revelations.

And here goes my comments on these two interesting events:
I read in a newspaper article that after 1980, no party which wins the Karnataka state elections has ever won the elections in the center. So, I am not sure if winning Karnataka was such a good thing for the Congress ;-)

On a more serious note, does this give a sense that the polity will not tolerate corruption as the media wants us to believe? Or is there local factors which loom large in the minds of people which decide the electoral successes of political parties. The answer to that would probably come in 2014.

As for the Food Security Bill (FSB), in my opinion, it is one of independent India's most shameful proposals of legislation. The noble objective of feeding the hungry is being used as an election gimmick without any consideration to how it will be implemented. If the government was so keen on this, it could try to prop up the derelict PDS system. It would not try to do that, as it knows it is not possible to effectively identify and reach the real poor, so it is trying to gather popular votes by announcing a scheme which it very well knows cannot be implemented.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Updated the "New Bookshelf" page

I have a new "My Bookshelf" page where I intend to list some of the best investment books I have read. This will be a work in progress, so do drop in sometimes to check it out.

Saturday 23 March 2013

Gold - To Buy or Not to Buy!!

I was discussing investments with a very senior investor, someone who has been in the Indian markets for nearly over 50 years and has his finger in nearly all major asset classes - stocks, bonds, gold, real estate in addition to his own business, which these days is managed by his two sons.

While discussing investments, he told me, "Beta, sona kharidna thoda thoda har saal. India mein sona ka bhav girta nahi". I was sure he was wrong. I have seen long term charts of gold and have seen severe price corrections. The chart below is what I have seen multiple times. Which shows gold bugs have not made any money from around 1980 till around 2008 - a fairly long period.

Then when I looked at gold prices in Indian Rupees, the mystery was solved. Look at the chart below for the same period. The difference is the $-INR conversion rate. Dollar has appreciated over the years and compensated for the loss of price in gold, thus keeping the INR price of gold high. Looking at this chart, we can clearly see that there has been no long term bear market in gold in India for over 40 years. And the way the dollar is moving with respect to the rupee, I don't see the trend reversing anytime soon.

So, as Peter Cundill used to say, there is always something to do (and learn) in the markets :-)

Dislcosure: I do not own any investment gold (other than family jewellery).

Friday 22 March 2013

Deepak Nitrite - Interesting play in the chemicals space

Here is a short write-up on Deepak Nitrite.

§         Established in 1970s by Mr. C.K. Mehta
§         Market leader in India for Sodium Nitrite / Nitrate & Nitro Toluenes.
§         DNL is a top 3 global supplier for products like Cumidines and Oximes
§         On par with global players in colour intermediates business
§         Exports are around 44% of sales (FY12) & 29% YTD (FY13)
§         Manufacturing of hazardous chemicals is shifting from developed economies to developing economies due to environmental hazards. India is benefiting from this trend.
§         Diversified  customer  base  consisting  of  some  of  the  largest chemical  companies  in  the  world,  including  Sygenta  Global,  Bayer  Crop  Science,  BASF, Kemira,  Lanxess,  Clariant,  Isochem,  Lonza,  IOC,  Reliance &  Essar.
§         Fuel additives & Solar Salts are expected to be significant growth drivers in the future.
§         Fuel additives grew by 56% in Fy12. It was 98 cr in FY12. In 9mFY13, it is already 130 cr with Q3 35cr. Company is expecting 150-160 cr from this segment this year.

Organic Intermediates
Inorganic Intermediates
Fine & Specialty Chemicals
Product Categories
Nitro Toluenes, Fuel Additives, Nitro Chloro Benzene, Xylidines, Cumidines
Sodium Nitrite,
Sodium Nitrate
DASDA, Oximes, Fuel Additives,  Specialty chemicals 
Pigments, Dyestuffs, Fuel
Pigments, Dyes,, Rubber
Chemicals, Explosives,
Food Colour, Electro
Plating Glass
Paper,  Detergent,  Textiles,
Agrochemicals,  Fuel Additives, Pharmaceuticals
% of revenue


Market Cap: Rs. 273.42 Crores
Current Price: Rs. 260.40
Book Value: Rs. 267.78
Stock P/E: 7.20
Dividend Yield: 2.30%
Stock is Rs. 10.00 paid up
52 Week High/Low: Rs. 325.00 / Rs. 139.00
Dividend Payout Ratio: 16.54%
Debt to equity: 1.18 (high... key monitorable)
Price to book value: 0.97
EPS FY12 = 22.06

9M EPS FY13 = 27.14
Fy13 EPS (exp) = 31-32
FY14 EPS (exp) = 38-40

For the next 2 years, earnings can grow 30%. If there is a moderate PE re-rating (only possible if the mid/small cap market sentiment improves) to 9-10, the price in a year can be around 350-400.

Disclosure: I am invested in Deepak Nitrite and my views are likely to be biased.