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Monday, March 17, 2008

About PE ratios and the right time to buy

I was asked an important question by Raghu, and I thought I'd blog it for everybody else also

Raghu said...
Hi Naveen.Today I read in TOI that the Sensex may breach 11000 levels which means there is still lot of downside left.In such scenario do you think it is a good time to open the positions? I am not talking about value stocks like JKL but some good stocks which have taken the beating along with junk stocks. Though I understand that an optimum PE Ratio for each co varied based on its future prospects can you pls advice as to is there any standard/PE for evaluating Small/ Medium and large scale firms respectively.Also I have noticed that after a bear phase market gives an excellent returns for the following next 2 -3 years. Is it true or just a co-incident. Just a curiosity question pls.

Hi Raghu, it is the nature of the market that the participants get overly optimistic when the times are good and overly pessimistic when the times are bad. There are excesses on the way up and also on the way down. A good player will choose his/her target company carefully and should be able to evaluate it both in relation to and independent of the Indices.

You've asked me what is the optimum PE ratio for various groups of companies. There is no standard PE ratio which will fit every stock. It will vary from industry to industry and from stock to stock. Take for example, a stock like Punj Lloyd. I gave a sell on that stock when it was trading around 500-550 levels. At the same time many so called 'Analysts' (the ones who regularly appear on certain TV channels) were singing praises of that stock and advising a buy. The stock today closed at 297. Most people would think it is a great opportunity to buy that stock because it has fallen 45% from its highs. But do you know what PE it is trading at even now for FY08? 27!! That means that it was trading at a PE of 50 when the price was at 550. Compare that with the the current PE of JK Lakshmi which is less than 2.5.

How would you reconcile this anomaly? The truth is that the market does not always run on fundamentals. In fact, it seldom runs on fundamentals. More often than not, it runs purely on the will of the Operators and the Hype generated about that stock. But this is true only in the short to medium term. This is so because the vested interest parties cannot keep the price of a stock up or down as per their convenience beyond the medium term. In the long term the true fundamentals of a stock have to catch up. Punj Lloyd is just an example I am giving to elaborate my point. If you look closely, you will find that Punj Lloyd is still Up nearly a 100% from its year's low of 147 which was the prevailing price in April, 2007. But public memory is short, so they don't remember the figure of 147 attached with Punj Lloyd, they only remember the recent high price of 550. If you ask me, then the fair value of this stock should be between 150 and 175....................maximum 200. But the 'TV Analysts' would have you believe that it is a great buy even at 550!

At the peak of the recent Bull market, certain Power stocks were trading at PEs between 70 and 100. Thankfully, today many of them have come down to nearly half that. Though there is no thumb rule as to what should be the Optimum PE limit for any stock, I personally would be very uncomfortable in buying any stock over a PE of 25, no matter how good the company or the management, in the present scenario.

Coming to the last part of your question.........ofcourse bear markets give an excellent opportunity to buy good stocks at throwaway prices, but provided you buy the right stocks and for the long term. The simple basic rule of the market is to buy low and sell high. But it is ironical that most people actually end up doing the opposite.

Friday, March 7, 2008


The Nifty is down to 4764 at the time of writing this. Can it go down further? Yes, it can. The way I look at the current market scenario is like this. There are two different pockets in the market right now. One pocket consists of the frothy stocks which went up to crazy heights just a couple of months ago, without having any real earnings to justify their price rise. I am talking about stocks like REL, RIIL, Jai Corp, Unitech, JP Assoc, Punj Lloyd, GMR Infra etc. These stocks need to go down further.

Then the second pocket consists of stocks like JKLAKSHMI CEMENT which have gone down on very low volumes purely in sympathy with the overall negative sentiment in the market. They don't deserve to be at such prices. At today's low of 119, JKLAKSHMI is trading at a PE of 2.53. This is incredible for a company of this size and quality of management. JKLAKSHMI's PE is at a huge discount to its peers. The industry average PE used to be in the range of 10-14 which has now shrunk to between 8-12 after the January crash. If I was a Fund Manager I would be going all out to buy this stock in bulk at these prices. Capacity is going to be enhanced from the present 3.5MT to 5MT by October 2008 and to 10MT by 2011. Cement is going to be in demand due to the thrust on building new infrastructure in the country.

Considering all this, I would say that the market is giving a golden opportunity to buy gems like JKLAKSHMI at such throwaway prices.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

BUDGET IMPACT on various sectors

Here is a brief compilation of the effect this Budget will have on various sectors :

Excise on 2 and 3 wheelers, small passenger cars reduced from 16% to 12%.

2.BANKING : POSITIVE with a caveat
PSU Banks are expected to face pressure on their net interest margins until the subsidy for waiver of agricultural loans and one time settlement of loans is released from the govt.

The govt. has increased budgetary allocation for roads under NHDP. This coupled with the govt.'s focus on Infrastructure & Housing development will be key drivers for raising demand. Appointing of a Coal regulator is a postive move as it will facilitate timely and proper allocation of coal (a key raw material) blocks to the core sectors, cement being one of them. From a differential excise duty levied last year, the budget proposes a flat rate of Rs.400 per MT bulk cement or 14% ad valorem, whichever is higher and cement clinkers excise duty at Rs.450 per MT. This move will not have much impact because most cement manufacturers have set up grinding units so they don't have to source clinker.

Reduced excise duty on manufacturing goods will boost demand. Custom duties on project imports lowered. Overall, a good budget for engineering.

Reduction in taxes and waiver of farm loans will boost consumer demand. Increased consumption to boost volumes.

Higher spend on education is good news for training providers. But the service tax on customised software is a negative for technology companies but it will be passed on to the clients.

Continued thrust on Infrastructure spending is good news. Major developmental schemes get vastly increased allocations. But service tax on works contract raised from 2% to 4%.

Cheaper set top boxes is good news for direct to home operators and will help in digitisation of the TV Industry. More money for I&B Ministry.

No reduction in custom duties for crude oil and petroleum products. Marginally negative for polymer industry as costlier Naptha will push its cost structure upwards.

Reduction in excise duty from the current 16% to 8% is a big positive for this industry. Increased allocation of funds for eradication of HIV/AIDS and polio and reduction in customs duty on certain life saving drugs from 10% to 5% is a positive for companies having product pipeline catering to these segments.

Cut in peak CENVAT rate from 16% to 14% could benefit companies as raw material cost would come down. Increase in short term capital gains tax could increase tax liabilities for several companies.

Nothing specifically aimed at development of this sector. But Increase in threshold limit for personal income tax to result in a rise in disposable incomes thereby fuelling a growth in this sector.

Service tax, revenue sharing licence fee, spectrum charges unchanged. Cheaper data cards, convergence products. 1% excise duty on cellphones will make them more expensive.

Integrated textile parks, upgradation gets a boost. Yarn banks on the anvil. Additional allocation to TUF to accelerate capital investment in the textile sector. Removal of National Calamity Contingent Duty (NCCD) of 1% on polyester filament yarn to benefit companies that have spinning capacities.

Reduced 7.5% customs duty on project import to 5% to boost investments. Additional 4% duty of 4% withdrawn from power generation projects (other than mega power projects), transmission, sub-transmission and distribution projects, good for high voltage transmission projects.