Are you Saying These are Small Losses, Mr. Nath?

No. 

Everything is taking a hit. 

Sure. 

Hit’s actually in the “Wealth” segment…

…and not as such in the “Income” segment.

Would you like to elaborate on this one, sounds pivotal?

Yes it is exactly that, pivotal. Because of this one fact, I’m talking to you with a straight face.

I see.

Auto-pilot income-creating avenues are still doing what they’re supposed to do, i.e. creating income. Nothing has changed there, yet.

You mean something could change there?

Sure, if companies start going bust, their bonds won’t create income. Instead, principal will take a hit. It’s not come to that yet, at least in India. You have an odd company going bust here and there now and then, but nothing major as of now. Income is intact, for now. If were done with CoVID in two months, this factor might not change. Let’s focus on this scenario. 

Right. 

Secondly, we’re highly liquid. We try and become as liquid as possible during good times, ideally aiming to be 80% in cash before a crisis appears. 

How do you know a crisis is going to appear?

This is the age of crises. A six sigma event has now become the norm. After Corona it will be something else. This has been going on from the time the stock market started. It’s nothing new. Come good times, we start liquidating all the stuff we don’t want. 

Don’t want?

Ya, one changes one’s mind about an underlying down the line. At this point, one shifts this underlying mentally into the “Don’t Want” category. Come good times, one makes the market exit oneself from this entity on a high.

Makes the market exit oneself?

Yes, through trigger-entry of sell order.

Why not just exit on limit?

Then you’ll just sell on the high of that particular day at best. However, through trigger-exit, your sell order will be triggered after a high has been made and the price starts to fall. It won’t be triggered if the underlying closes on a high. That way, if you’re closing on a high, you might get a good run the next day, and then you try the same strategy again, and again. In market frenzies, you might get a five to seven day run, bettering your exit by 15-20%, for example. Who wouldn’t like that?

You talk of market frenzies at a time like this, my dear Sir…

The market is like a rubber band. What were witnessing currently is the opposite pole of a market frenzy. Humans beings are bipolar. If they’re reacting like this, they sure as hell will react like the opposite pole when conditions reverse. Especially in India. We’re brimming with emotions. 

Which brings us back to the initial question…

Yes, these notional losses look huge. But, who’s translating them into actual losses? Not us. We’re busy enhancing our portfolios as multiples get more and more lucrative for purchase. That’s entirely where our focus is. We are numb to pain from the hit because our focus is so shifted. 

And there’s no worry?

With such high levels of liquidity, shift of focus, income tap on, dividend tap on – yeah, please don’t ignore the extra big incoming dividends, underlyings taking a hit currently are paying out stellar dividends, and these big amounts are entering our accounts, because we’ve bought such quality – – – we’re ok.

Stellar would be?

Many underlying have shared double digit dividend yields with their shareholders! That’s huge!

So no worries?

No! We’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing, i.e. buying quality. We’ll keep getting extraordinary entries as the fall deepens. 

What if that takes a long-long time?

Well, the year is 2020. We’re all on speed-dial. 18 months in 2020 is like 15 years in 1929. Because we follow the small entry quantum strategy, our liquidity should hold out over such period, providing us entries through and through. 

And what if it’s a four digit bottom on the main benchmark, still no worries?

NO! Look at the STELLAR entry over there. A bluechip bought at that level of the benchmark can be held for life without worries. So yes, NO WORRIES.

Thanks Mr. Nath.

One more thing.

Yes, what’s that?

What’s my maximum downside in an underlying?

100%.

Correct. Now what’s my maximum upside in an underlying?

Ummm, don’t know exactly.

Unlimited. 

Unlimited?

Yes, unlimited. Entries at lucrative levels eventually translate into unreal multiples. Looking at things from this perspective, now, the size of these notional losses pales in comparison to potential return multiples. It’s a combination of psychology, fundamentals, mathematics and what have you. In comparison, these are still small losses. If we can’t take these swings in our side, we shouldn’t be in the markets in the first place, focusing our energies on avenues we’re good at instead.

Right, got it. 

Cheers, here’s wishing you safe and lucrative investing. 

🙂

My Buddy called Compounding

Compounding…

…is my happy space.

When I’m having a difficult market day,…

…I open my calculator…

…and start…

…compounding.

My friend clears all doubts in a flash.

It’s easy to compound on the calc.

In German they’d say “Pippifax”.

The younger tribe in the English-speaking world would say easy peasy…

…(lemon squeasy).

Let me run you through it.

Let’s say you wish to calculate an end amount after 25 years of compounding @ 9 % per annum.

Let z be the initial amount (invested).

The calculation is z * 1.09 ^25.

That’s it.

You don’t have to punch in 25 lines. It’s 1 line.

What if you went wrong on the 18th line?

So 1 line, ok? That’s all.

What’s ^ ?

This symbol stands for “to the power of”.

On your calculator, look for the y to power of x key, and then…

…punch in z * 1.09 (now press y to the power of x)[and then punch in 25].

What does such an exercise do for me?

Meaning, why does this exercise ooze endorphins?

Let’s say I’m investing in sound companies, with zero or very little debt, diligent and shareholder-friendly managements, and into a versatile product profile, looking like existing long into the future, basically meaning that I’m sound on fundamentals.

Let’s say that the stock is down owing to some TDH (TomDicK&Harry) reason, since that’s all it’s taking for a stock to plunge since the beginning of 2018.

I have no control over why this stock is falling.

Because of my small entry quantum strategy, I invest more as this fundamentally sound stock falls.

However, nth re-entry demands some reassurance, and that is given en-masse by the accompanying compounding exercise.

At the back of my mind I know that my money is safe, since fundamentals are crystal clear. At the front-end, Mr. Compounding’s reassurance allows me to pull the trigger.

Let’s run through a one-shot compounding exercise.

How much would a million invested be worth in thirty years, @ 11% per annum compounded.

That’s 1 * 1.11^30 = almost 23 million, that’s a 2300% return in 30 years, or 75%+ per annum non-compounded!

Now let’s say that my stock selection is above average. Let’s assume it is good enough to make 15% per annum compounded, over 30 years.

What’s the million worth now?

1 * 1.15^30 = about 66 million, whoahhh, a 6600% return in 30 years, or 220% per annum non-compounded.

Let’s say I’m really good, perhaps not in the RJ or the WB category, but let’s assume I’m in my own category, calling it the UN category. Let’s further assume that my investment strategy is good enough to yield 20% per annum compounded.

Ya. What’s happened to the million?

1 * 1.20^30 = about 237 million…!! 23700% in 30 years, or 790% per annum non-compounded…

…is out of most ballparks!!!

How can something like this be possible?

It’s called “The Power of Compounding”…,

…most famously so by Mr. Warren Buffett himself.

Try it out!

Pickle your surplus into investment with fundamentally sound strategy.

Sit tight.

Lo, and behold.

🙂

Nature of the Beast

Stocks…

…crash.

It’s the nature of the beast.

Stocks also multiply.

For stocks to multiply, one needs to do something.

What is that something?

One needs to buy stocks when they crash.

Let me give you an example. 

Let’s assume markets are on a high, and there’s euphoria.

Excel Propionics is cruising at a 1000.

The prevailing euphoria seeps into your brain, and you buy Propionics at a 1000.

For Propionics to multiply 10 times in your lifetime, it will now need to reach 10,000.

Likely? Wait.

Cut to now.

Stocks are crashing. 

The same stock, Excel Propionics, now crawls at 450.

You have studied it. 

It’s debt-free.

Positive cash-flow.

Ratios are good.

Numbers are double-digit.

Leverage is low.

Management is shareholder-friendly. 

You start buying at 450. 

By the time the crash is through, you have bought many times, and your buying average is 333.

For Propionics to multiply 10 times in your lifetime, it will now need to rise to 3330.

Which event is more likely to happen?

Just answer intuitively.

Of course, the second scenario is more likely to play out than the first one. In the second scenario, Propionics will need to peak 3 times lower.

Simple?

No!

Try buying in a crash.

You are shaken up. 

There’s so much pessimism going around.

Rumours, stories, whatsapps, opinions. The whole world has become an authority on where this market is going to go, and you are dying from inside.

What’s killing you?

The hiding that your existing portfolio is taking, that’s what’s killing you.

Are you liquid?

No?

Very bad. 

Why aren’t you liquid?

Create this circumstance for yourself.

Be liquid.

Optimally, be liquid for life. 

Then, you will look forward to a crash, because that’s when you will use your liquidity copiously, to buy quality stocks, or to improve the buying averages of the already existing quality stocks in your folio. 

How do you get liquid for life?

You employ the small entry quantum strategy.

Yes, that’s about right. 

We’ve been speaking about this strategy in this space for the last two years.

Read up!

🙂

Happy Eighth Birthday, Magic Bull!

Hey,

Today, we turn eight.

This is an extreme time.

Extraordinary moves have become normal.

How do we react to a world full of upheavals?

Does anyone have a satisfactory response?

We don’t know, and time will tell if our responses are correct.

However, we do know, that we possess common sense…

…, and we are going to hold on to it for all our life’s worth.

It has not come for free.

It has been earned after making costly mistakes.

It is very valuable.

It is going to see us through.

The topsiness and the turvyness is good for us.

It will set up opportunities.

We are only going to grab opportunities.

When there’s no opportunity, we do nothing.

We have learnt to do nothing.

Doing nothing actually means no entry.

We use this time to do due diligence for the future, when entry is allowed as per our entry criteria.

Doing nothing is a steady part of our repertoire.

However, when opportunity comes, we are going to let go of all fear, and we are going to pull the trigger.

We know how to pull the trigger.

We are not afraid.

Why?

We are debt-free.

Our basic incomes are in place.

Our families are taken care of.

Without that, we don’t move.

We invest with surplus.

We implement a small entry quantum strategy.

We enter again and again and again, upon opportunity.

Because of our small entry quantum, we are liquid for life.

Crash?

Bring it on.

We’ll keep going in, small entry quantum upon small entry quantum.

Don’t forget, we have rendered ourselves liquid for life.

And, we’ve got stamina!

Happy eighth birthday, Magic Bull!

This is Why Your Blockbuster Gain Story is going to Happen

You’re learning to sit. 

You buy with margin of safety. 

You buy in small quanta,…

…and that’s why you’re always liquid,…

…to avail any opportunity that arises. 

Yeah, there’s nothing impeding your liquidity…

…because you’ve kept yourself virus-free, i.e. debt-free. 

You only buy quality…

…that’s going to be around for a long, long while,…

…because you don’t sell for a long, long while. 

You don’t listen to what the grapevine is saying…

…because of the conviction and strength of your own research and opinion.

Yes, you regularly go against the crowd. 

You either buy into debt-free-ness, or into managable debt that spurts growth. 

Your input into the market doesn’t affect your daily life, leaving you tension-free to address your non-market world and thrive in it,…

…and that is why,…

…for all the above reasons,…

…your blockbuster gain story is going to happen,…

…and what’s more,…

…you are also enjoying the ride leading up to it. 

Going for the Jugular

It’s time.

Why…is it time?

And, time for what?

It’s time to go for the jugular.

Meaning?

There comes a time, when, after working hard, struggling, doing the whole jig, the rigmarole, you achieve your basics. 

Well done. Pat on your back. 

Then you secure these basics. 

Forever. 

If you can. 

Wonderful. More pats.

Worry factor is now out of the equation. 

Your family is secure. 

Food, safety, education, all basics intact.

Fantastic. You deserve an award. Not that anyone’s going to give you one. Frankly, nobody could care less. Never mind. You know in your mind that you’ve achieved a milestone, and that’s enough for you. 

Whats the next step…

…for you?

Jugular. 

What is this jugular?

Multiplier.

X-factor.

Call it what you will.

What does this mysterious thing do?

Better question is, what is it capable of?

You’re looking to multiply your networth. 

Isn’t everyone?

This is different.

Why?

Because it is coming as a logical conclusion, and not as a first-step with no experience and no secure basics. 

You’re keeping your head-earned basics secure. 

Nothing is touching these. You’ll be surprised at the kind of courage secure basics give you to act further. 

Next, you’ve identified an area where your skill-set can be leveraged into huge profits with minimal risk. 

Specifically in the market, these areas are abundant. 

So what exactly will you be doing?

Playing on a minuscule portion of your net worth. Let’s say not more than 2 %.

Leverage.

Stoploss.

Profit-run.

Position-sizing. Scaling up upon profits. Scaling down upon losses. 

Overcoming your demons. 

Fear.

Worry.

Hypertension.

Exuberance.

Hubris.

Complaecency. 

Going beyond. 

Multiplying.

Going for the jugular. 

Holding the Line

Your systems are in place.

They’re implemented. 

Basics are going. Life basics. Family basics.

Then you’ve got your income basics. They’re safe. They generate income. This income goes towards comfortable upkeep of your family. Some of it is saved. 

Your investment portfolios are firing. Savings have built these up. You don’t touch these, but keep adding to them upon opportunity. 

You’ve just finished implementing all your trading systems. 

Some of these are on auto-pilot. 

The other ones demand a little of your time each day. 

They keep you sharp and all there. 

Nothing much. 

Just fifteen to twenty minutes each. 

Skin off your teeth. 

You tackle them with your bed-tea. 

In other words, you are set as far as being income plus plus plus. 

Good. 

Now what?

Now you need to hold the line. 

What does that mean?

It means everything. 

It means no blow-ups…

…no crazy decisions that impact folios and family…

…basically nothing insane coming from you that will threaten your hard-earned situation or worse. 

Holding the line means making sure basics stay intact…

…folios keep growing…

…and new systems keep developing that add to these. 

It’s really that simple. 

When you hold the line, your next step either maintains status quo or adds to you. Preferably, it adds to you.

However, the simpler something is, the more difficult it is to follow. 

What are the demons that can slay you?

Over-confidence.

Over-ambition.

Hubris.

Greed.

Showmanship. 

Debt.

One-up-on-the-Joneses-ideology. 

This stuff looks pretty harmless at first, but is enough to give rise to cracks. 

Cracks grow… 

…till you’ve either come back to your senses and filled and sealed them…

…or till they’ve destroyed you right down to beyond your basics. 

Yeah, a full blow-up is never really far away, once cracks start to appear. 

Therefore…

…while holding the line…

… you keep reminding yourself about what you’re doing…

…why you’re doing it…

…and that you’re never going to blow up, come what may…

…and that you’re going to keep holding the line, come what may…

…and that your next step is always going to add to you.

Happy Holding!

🙂

Scaling Up

When you find a system… 

… that works… 

… what’s the next step? 

Plunge? 

Wait. 

Look left and right. 

Meaning? 

Look at your basics. 

Are they in place? 

Meaning? 

No worries about food on the table? 

No worries about kids’ education funds?

Basic family luxuries in place? 

No? 

Get these together and going. 

Yes. 

Ok. 

Go for it. 

Scale up. 

Your decision to scale up should at no time endanger your basics. 

You’re scaling up from  your extras.

You’re scaling up with stops in place. 

If your stops are hit, you’ll change your system till it works again. 

You will not borrow from your basics. 

You will wait for your extras to accumulate, and divert these into scaling up. 

Having gotten all that out of the way, let’s cast a glance at the concrete process. 

1x is working, or so you say. 

In fact, you’re sure 1x is working. 

Ok. 

Now do 2x.

Working? 

5x.

Can you take it? 

Do you sleep well at night? 

Fine. 

10x.

Working? 

Family life intact? 

Basics intact?

Fine. You take it from here. 

Where do you plateau? 

Right before a level where something might get disturbed. 

It’s really that simple. 

Happy scaling up! 

🙂 

Wealth-Generators often go Contrarian

You knew that too, right? 

Sure. 

Going contrarian is a buzz-phrase. 

We hear it again and again…

… till we begin to start thinking… 

… that we know what it means. 

Well, try going contrarian. 

Yeah, try actually doing it. 

You’ll see what I mean. 

It’s real hard. 

Going against the crowd takes all the strength you might have… 

… and then some. 

Most humans aren’t able to go contrarian. 

Most humans aren’t wealthy. 

When there’s blood on the streets, there’s no telling how much more there will be. 

Under such conditions, the contrarian investor lets go of his or her hard-earned money into an investment, knowing perfectly well that the Street might even value the investment tomorrow at a huge discount to today’s price.

That’s ok too, says he or she.

Why?

Because homework’s been done.

Underlying is strong.

Debt-free.

Management is stellar.

Balance-sheet is robust.

Projections are paramount.

That the world is pricing the investment wrongly is a problem with its vision.

Underlying is not going under. With above credentials, this alone matters.

Times change. Vision of the majority changes. Investor makes a killing. Cashes out some, principal and what have you. Leaves lots of free-standing shares… forever… or till parameters change.

Wealth-generators repeat this behaviour-pattern many times in their lives.

They’re not afraid of going against the grain.

They know otherwise.

Also, the money they use has been freed up.

Its being out of action for a long time is not going to change their lives even a bit.

They will have the last laugh.

Wealth is the reward of going contrarian. 

Wealth vs Income – the What-When-Why? 

Income… 

… comes into your account… 

… on a regular basis. 

You spend a good part of it to keep your ball rolling. 

If you save even a fraction, well you’re good, because this ain’t really an age of savers. 

Saved income goes into an asset. 

The asset either generates more income…  

… or, it generates wealth. 

What is wealth?

Wealth is not income. It doesn’t come into your current account regularly. 

Wealth accrues. 

Wealth compounds.

Wealth multiplies. 

Wealth grows in a skewed fashion, like an exponential curve.

You don’t look at your wealth-generating asset everyday. Once a month is more than enough. 

Wealth funds big events. 

Wealth likes time, to grow. 

Wealth separates you from those who are hungry. Hunger is not limited to food. 

Have you understood the nature of wealth?

What do you strive for, income or wealth?

That’s a huge question.

I’ve answered it for myself.

It’s taken 12+ years to find the answer.

I’ll tell you.

I now strive to create wealth.

Why?

Because income has become just a number to my mind.

Yes, that’s the answer for me.

Learning to define the quest for income or wealth requires the appropriate state of mind.

When income becomes just a number to your mind, addition to it doesn’t satisfy you anymore.

Yeah, the kick is missing…

…the thrill-factor…you know what I’m talking about. 

In an effort to rekindle this missing element, you then look to create wealth.

There’s enough additive securing you. 

You start going for the multiple. 

🙂

Inflammation Anyone? 

Inflammation… 

… needs a reason to be… 

… and a reason to go. 

Let’s talk about the most common inflammation afflicting mankind. 

Sugar induced obesity. 

Human body recognizes Glucose and metabolizes it. 

However, the same human body treats isolated Fructose as poison. 

HFCS, short for high fructose corn syrup, is therefore full of poison. 

HFCS is much cheaper than table sugar. 

HFCS is used in big volumes by the food industry. It’s replacing normal sugar. Everywhere. It’s sheer… poison. And it’s cheap. Very cheap. 

It’s in cola, it’s in ketchup, it’s in almost all processed foods.

What happens to it in the body? 

Well, what happens to poison?

It goes straight to the liver. This wonderful and magnanimous organ tries to break it down. 

One big side-effect of the breakdown mechanism is the triggering of inflammatory enzymes. Body cells then start to swell up to protect themselves from poison. To and fro is impaired. They don’t want poison coming in. Unfortunately, good stuff, like insulin that throws out excess sugar, is also not allowed to enter.  Mankind is poisoning itself to obesity. 

Cut out the HFCS. 

Exercise to shake out inflammatory mechanism. 

See how your inflammation vanishes. 

Now let’s talk about the most common financial ailment afflicting mankind. 

Debt. 

We are in debt. 

We take more debt. 

We surround ourselves with useless paraphernalia, to ward off reality. 

Inflammation, again, disguised, but inflammation. 

Ultimately,  the mountain of due interest buries us under it. It chokes off our air-supply, just as obese cells produce “bad” lipids that deposit as mountains of plaque in our arteries, and choke off our blood supply. 

Let’s nip the problem in the bud. 

Like no HFCS – no debt. 

Craving for sugar? Fine. Control. To a point. Still craving. Fine. Have. But have normal sugar, along with fibre. Don’t have anything that contains HFCS. Shake off the relatively minor inflammation caused by normal sugar with exercise. You’re good. 

Longing to spend money? Control. To a point. Still longing to possess that something? Fine. Save. Consolidate. Accumulate cashflow. Only use debt when upcoming cashflow nullifies it in very foreseeable future. You’ve gotten your something, and you’re either debt-free already, or are going to be debt-free very soon. 

You’re good. 

🙂 

Happy Sixth Birthday, Magic Bull!

Phews…

…game’s getting interesting…

…as we turn six. 

We’re thinking of endgame scenarios. 

We don’t consider endgame-discussion to be silly anymore. 

We’re not treating an endgame as far-off. 

We’re financial-health-conscious. 

We’re learning to detest debt. 

We understand that debt is a virus. 

It starts to eat us up from inside. 

The only avenue when we do consider debt as a tool is when cashflow fills up any void soon enough, annihilating whatever debt that’s been incurred. 

Debt-free-ness is our goal. 

Maintenance of debt-free-ness becomes our natural endeavour. 

Why?

Such a condition leads to burgeoning financial health,…

… ultimately culminating in full financial freedom. 

We take “two minutes of freedom” to think about what financial freedom means. 

Not needing to worry about repayment of any bill, whenever, whatever, however much…wow!

That’s where we want to be. 

If we’re not there yet, we’re defining conditions that’ll get us there. 

If we’re there, we’re ultimately starting to realize, that one can’t eat money. 

Money is a force. It’s physical existence is in the form of paper. However, the force nature of money is what we’re in the process of understanding. 

Force can be used to do the highest good, but also its opposite. 

A part of our excess force is diverted towards doing good. 

Charity. 

Upliftment.

Legacy. 

What are we if we don’t leave behind a legacy?

What will we have lived for?

This is our one shot, and it’s a big one. 

We’re making it count.

Slowly, realization is taking over. 

We’re evolving. That’s one side-effect of financial freedom, but one needs to want to evolve too. 

Our evolution is making us divert more and more funds towards the greater good. 

We’ll take that. That’s fantastic. No further discussion required. 

Happy reading!

🙂

From Strength to Strength 

Baby steps… 

… into freedom. 

What kind of freedom are we talking about? 

Universal freedom? 

If you insist, smarty, but first things first.

Financial freedom. 

That’s the kind of freedom that sparks off every other kind of freedom. 

Our first and foremost goal is to achieve financial freedom. 

What is the one big nemesis of financial freedom? 

Debt. 

Tear off debt. 

Detest it with every cell of your body. 

If it comes towards you, move in the other direction.

Don’t allow it’s tentacles to engulf and then strangle you. 

You do all that by nipping it in the bud. 

A new world order in being defined. 

The debt-free… 

… and the in-debt-ones. 

Where do you wish to belong?

The former category calls the shots. 

That’s where you belong. 

Your every move… 

… takes you from strength to strength… 

… towards debt-free-ness. 

Full financial freedom is a short walk from there. 

Story doesn’t stop there, sure, your strength-momentum sees to that.

However, it’s the first debt-free million that’s always the hardest-fought, and the most-fondly remembered.  

When Do You Bet The Farm? 

Bread and butter. 

Safety-…

…-net.

Basics.

You gather yourself to carve out a comfortable life for your family. 

Build-up. 

Debt-free-ness. 

Yeah, zero-debt. 

Feel the freedom. 

Breathe. 

No bondage. 

No tension. 

You have to feel it. 

Surplus. 

First, small surplus. 

Then, big surplus. 

You’ve made sure that nobody ever will remind you to pay your bills. 

Great! Well done. Now… 

… keeping all basics intact… 

… you play with small surplus. 

Risk. Calculated. Digestible. 

Multiplier. 

Loss. Cut small. 

Win. Allowed to grow. 

Small surplus starts giving regular fruit. 

You put back the principal into your family’s basic corpus. 

Repeat. 

Many of your small surpluses have grown into fruit-bearing trees. 

Your farm is bursting with grain and fruit. 

Have you taken any big, indigestible risks? 

No. 

Have you ever put your family basics at risk? 

No. 

Have you ever thought about betting the farm? 

NO. 

Will you ever bet the farm, no matter how big the lure? 

NEVER. 

Nath on Equity – Some more DooDats 

Yawn, the story goes on… 

Let’s 21). not think about our folio at night. 

We’re also 22). only going to connect to the market on a need-to basis, no more. 

If there’s a 23). doubt, wait. 

24). Clarify doubt. If it goes away, proceed with market action. If not, discard action. 

Don’t spread 25). too wide. 75+ stocks means you’re running a mutual fund. 

Don’t spread 26). too thin either. Just 5 stocks in the folio means that risk is not adequately spread out. Choose your magic number, one that you’re comfortable with. 

Once this number is crossed, 27). start discarding the worst performer upon every new addition. 

28). Rarely look at folio performance. Only do so to fine-tune folio. 

Don’t give 29). tips. Don’t ask for them either. 

You are you. 30). Don’t compare your folio to another. 

Due diligence will require 31). brass tacks. Don’t be afraid to plunge into annual reports and balance sheets. 

32). Read between the lines. 

Look 33). how much the promoters personally earn annually from the underlying . Some promoters take home an unjustified number. That’s precisely the underlying to avoid. Avoid a greedy promoter as if you were avoiding disease. 

Is 34). zero-debt really zero-debt?  Look closely. 

Are the 35). promoters shareholder-friendly? Do they regularly create value for the shareholder? 

Are 36). strong reserves present? 

Are the 37). promoters capable of eating up these instead of using them to create value? 

Is the 38). underlying liquid enough to function on a daily basis? Look at the basic ratios. 

Is any 39). wheeling-dealing going on with exceptional items and what have you? 

40). Is the company likely to be around in ten years time? 

Yeah, things in the equity world need to be thorough. 

We’re getting there. 

🙂 

Meet the BenchWarmers

Yeah, one too many real-estate agents (REAs) have popped up over the last decade.

Any Tom, Dick or Harry (TD/H) who has nothing to do becomes an REA.

Small little office, empty chairs, one TD/H reading a newspaper or watching TV… familiar?

Meet the bench-warmers.

Real-estate is in the dumps.

Sure.

Real-estate bill is in the offing. Might come out soon, might come out later.

Circle-rates are trying to bring the black-money component down.

Government A-B-C categorization is all warped.

Meanwhile, deals have dried. Volumes are zilch.

Is this the bottom?

Who says yes?

I’m afraid not too many have that conviction.

I don’t either.

You see, at bottoms, there’s blood on the streets.

Do you see any blood?

Nope.

Is black-money receding?

Slightly, maybe. Some say significantly. Some say insignificantly. Wishy-washy answers at best. Let’s put this under the “not-sure” category.

Are the bench-warmers packing up their benches?

Nope.

Are more bench-warmers springing up, in anticipation of volume-spikes?

Yeah.

Is this going to make their situation only worse?

Yeah, probably.

When will things start moving finally?

No one knows for certain.

Under the circumstances, how can one call this a bottom?

We’re still way above 2005 levels.

It’s not a bottom, or so I think. Maybe I’m mistaken. However, that’s my opinion.

All right, if it’s not a bottom, what is it then?

Time to wait and watch?

Yeah.

Time to pick up (a property) already?

Probably not.

Time to nibble at a real-estate stock?

Maybe. Just make sure the fundamentals are good and debt-component is negligible. And nibble. That’s all.

What about the bench-warmers? How should they act?

Use their office to generate income. Any which legal way, through any vocation. If not, rent it out with fool-proof lease deed. That’ll generate income too.

Bench-warming degenerates our faculties. It shouldn’t be practised over a prolonged period of time.

The Valuation Game

Value is a magic word. 

Ears stand up. 

Where is value?

Big, big question. 

Medium term investors look for growth. 

Long-termers invariably look for value. 

How do you value a stock?

There are many ways to do that. 

Here, we are just going to talk about basics today.

For example, price divided by earnings allows us to compare Company A to Company B, irrespective of their pricing.

Why isn’t the price enough for such a comparison?

Meaning, why can’t you just compare the price of an Infosys to that of a Geometric and conclude whatever you have to conclude?

Nope. 

That would be like comparing an apple with an orange. 

Reason is, that the number of shares outstanding for each company are different. Thus, the value of anything per share is gotten by dividing the grand total of this anything-entity by the number of outstanding shares that the company has issued. For example, one talks of earnings per share in the markets. One divides the total earnings of a company by the total number of outstanding shares to arrive at earnings per share, or EPS. 

Now, we get investor perception and discovery into the game. How does the public perceive the prospects of the company? How high or low do they bid it? How much have they discovered it? Or not discovered it? This information is contained in the price. 

So, we take all this information contained in the price, and divide it by the earnings per share, and we arrive at the price to earnings ratio, or P/E, or just PE. 

Yeah, we now have a scale to judge the value of stocks. 

Is this scale flawed?

Yeah. 

A stock with a high PE could have massive discovery and investor confidence behind it, or, it could just have very low earnings. When the denominator of a fraction is low, the value of the fraction is “high”. You have to use your common-sense and see what is applying. 

A stock with a low PE could have low price, high earnings, or both. It could have a high price and high earnings.  The low PE could also just be a result of lack of discovery, reflected in a low price despite healthy earnings. Or, the low PE could be because of a low price due to rejection. What is applying? That’s for you to know. 

At best, the PE is ambiguous. Your senses have to be sharp. You have to dig deeper to gauge value. The PE alone is not enough. 

Now let’s add a technical consideration. One sees strong fundamental value in a company, let’s say. For whatever reason. How does one gauge discovery, rejection or what have you in one snapshot? Look at the 5-year chart of the stock, for heaven’s sake. 

You’ll see rejection, if it is there. You’ll understand when it is not rejection, because rejection goes with sell-offs. Lack of discovery means low volumes and less pumping up of the price despite strong fundamentals. You’ll see buying pressure in the chart. That’s smart money making the inroads. Selling pressure means rejection. You’ll be able to gauge all this from the chart. 

Here are some avenues to look for value :

 

– price divided by earnings per share,

– price divided by book-value per share,

– price divided by cash-flow per share,

– price divided by dividend-yield per share,

– in today’s world, accomplishment along with low-debt is a high-value commodity, so look for a low debt to equity ratio,

– look for high return on equity coupled with low debt – one wants a company that performs well without needing to borrow, that’s high value,

– absence of red-flags are high value, so you’re looking for the absence of factors like pledging by the promoters, creative accounting, flambuoyance, 

– you are looking for value in the 5-year chart, by gauging the chart-structure for lack of discovery in the face of strong fundamentals. 

 

We can go on, but then we won’t remain basic any more. Basically, look for margin of safety in any form. 

Yeah, you don’t buy a stock just like that for the long-term. There’s lots that goes with your purchase. Ample and diligent research is one thing. 

Patience to see the chart correct so that you have your proper valuations is another. 

Here’s wishing you both!

🙂

 

Due Diligence Snapshot – IL&FS Investment Managers Ltd. (IIML) – Jan 14 2013

Price – Rs. 23.85 per share ; Market Cap – 499 Cr (small-cap, fell from being a mid-cap); Equity – 41.76 Cr; Face Value – Rs. 2.00; Pledging – Nil; Promoters – IL&FS; Key Persons – Dr. Archana Hingorani (CEO), Mr. Shahzad Dalal (vice-chairman) & Mr. Mark Silgardo (chief managing partner) – all three have vast experience in Finance; Field – Private Equity Fund managers in India (oldest), many joint venture partnerships; Average Volume – around 1 L+ per day on NSE.

Earnings Per Share (on a trailing 12 month basis) – 3.55

Price to Earnings Ratio (thus, also trailing) – 6.7 (no point comparing this to an industry average, since IIML has a unique business model)

Debt : Equity Ratio – 0.35 (five-year average is 0.1); Current Ratio – 1.05

Dividend Yield – 4.7% (!)

Price to Book Value Ratio – 2.1; Price to Cashflow – 5.1; Price to Sales – 2.2

Profit After Tax Margin – 32.85% (!); Return on Networth – 35.24% (!)

Share-holding Pattern of IL&FS Investment Managers – Promoters (50.3%), Public (39.2%), Institutions (4.9%), Non-Institutional Corporate Bodies (5.5%). [The exact shareholding pattern of IL&FS itself is as follows – LIC 25.94%, ORIX Corporation Japan 23.59%, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority 11.35%, HDFC 10.74%, CBI 8.53%, SBI 7.14%, IL&FS Employees Welfare Trust 10.92%, Others 1.79%].

Technicals – IIML peaked in Jan ’08 at about Rs. 59.50 (adjusted for split), bottomed in October of the same year at Rs. 13.60, then peaked twice, at Rs. 56.44 (Sep ’09) and Rs. 54.50 (Aug ’10) respectively, in quick succession, with a relatively small drop in between these two interim high pivots. By December ’11, the scrip had fallen to a low pivot of Rs. 23.30 upon the general opinion that the company wasn’t coming out with new product-offerings anytime soon. A counter rally then drove the scrip to Rs. 32, which is also its 52-week high. During the end of December ’12, the scrip made it’s 52-week low of Rs. 23. People seem to have woken up to the fact that a 52-week low has been made, and the scrip has risen about 4 odd percentage points since then, upon heavier volume.

Comments – Company’s product profile and portfolio is impressive. No new capital is required for business expansion. Income is made from fund management fees and profit-sharing above designated profit cut-offs. Lots of redemptions are due in ’15, and the company needs to get new funds in under management by then. If those redemptions are done under profits, it will increase company profits too. Parag Parikh discusses IIML as a “heads I win (possibly a lot), tails I lose (but not much)” kind of investment opportunity. His investment call came during the mayhem of ’09. The scrip is 42%+ above his recommended price currently. What a fantastic call given by Mr. Parikh. Well done, Sir! Professor Sanjay Bakshi feels that IIML has a unique business model, where business can keep on expanding with hardly any input required. He feels, “that at a price, the stock of this company would be akin to acquiring a free lottery ticket”. I opine that the price referred to is the current market price. Before and after Mr. Parikh’s call, the company has continued to deliver spectacular returns. The company’s management is savvy and experienced. They made profitable exit calls in ’07, and fresh investments were made in ’08 and ’09, during big sell-offs. Thus, the management got the timing right. That’s big. I have no doubt that they’ll get new funds in under management after ’15, alone on the basis of their track record. Yeah, there’s still deep value at current market price. Not as deep as during ’08, or ’09, but deep enough.

Buy? – Fundamentals are too good to be ignored. They speak for themselves, and I’m not going to use any more time commenting on the fundamentals. Technicals show that volumes are up over the last 3 weeks. People seem to be lapping the scrip up at this 52-week low, and the buying pressure has made it rise around 4% over the last 3 weeks. If one has decided to buy, one could buy now, preferably under Rs. 24. The scrip seems to be coming out of the lower part of the base built recently. There is support around Rs. 23 levels, so downside could be limited under normal market conditions.

Disclaimer and Disclosure – Opinions given here are mine only, unless otherwise explicitly stated . You are free to build your own view on the stock. I hold a miniscule stake in IIML. Data / material used has been compiled from motilaloswal.com, moneycontrol.com, equitymaster.com, valuepickr.com, safalniveshak.com and from the company websites of IIML & IL&FS. Technicals have been gauged using Advanced GET 9.1 EoD Dashboard Edition. I bear no responsibility for any resulting loss, should you choose to invest in IIML.

Stock-Picking for Dummies – Welcome to the Triangle of Safety

Growth is not uniform – it is hap-hazard.

We need to accept this anomaly. It is a signature of the times we live in.

Growth happens in spurts, at unexpected times, in unexpected sectors.

What our economic studies do is that they pinpoint a large area where growth is happening. That’s all.

Inside that area – you got it – growth is hap-hazard.

To take advantage of growth, one can do many things. One such activity is to pick stocks.

For some, stock-picking is a science. For others. it is an art. Another part of the stock-picking population believes that it is a combination of both. There are people who write PhD theses on the subject, or even reference manuals. One can delve into the subject, and take it to the nth-level. On the other hand, one can (safely) approach the subject casually, using just one indicator (for example the price to earnings ratio [PE]) to pick stocks. Question is, how do we approach this topic in a safe cum lucrative manner in today’s times, especially when we are newbies, or dummies?

Before we plunge into the stock-picking formula for dummies that I’m just about to delineate, let me clarify that it’s absolutely normal to be a dummy at some stage and some field in life. There is nothing humiliating about it. Albert Einstein wasn’t at his Nobel-winning best in his early schooldays. It is rumoured that he lost a large chunk of his 1921 Nobel Prize money in the crash of ’29. Abraham Lincoln had huge problems getting elected, and lost several elections before finally becoming president of the US. Did Bill Gates complete college? Did Sachin Tendulkar finish school? Weren’t some of Steve Jobs’ other launches total losses? What about Sir Issac Newton? Didn’t I read somewhere that he lost really big in the markets, and subsequently prohibited anyone from mentioning the markets in his presence? On a personal note, I flunked a Physical Chemistry exam in college, and if you read some of my initial posts at Traderji.com, when I’d just entered the markets, you would realize what a dummy I was at investing. At that stage, I even thought that the National Stock Exchange was in Delhi!

Thing is, people – we don’t have to remain dummies. The human brain is the most sophisticated super-computer known to mankind. All of us are easily able to rise above the dummy stage in topics of our choice.

Enough said. If you’ve identified yourself as a dummy stock-picker, read on. Even if you are not a dummy stock-picker, please still read on. Words can be very powerful. You don’t know which word, phrase or sentence might trigger off what kind of catharsis inside of you. So please, read on.

We are going to take three vital pieces of information about a stock, and are going to imagine that these three pieces of information form a triangle. We are going to call this triangle the triangle of safety. At all given times, we want to remain inside this triangle. When we are inside the triangle, we can consider ourselves (relatively) safe. The moment we find ourselves outside the triangle, we are going to try and get back in. If we can’t, then the picked stock needs to go. Once it exits our portfolio, we look for another stock that functions from within the triangle of safety.

The first vital stat that we are going to work with is – you guessed it – the ubiquitous price to earnings ratio, or the PE ratio. If we’re buying into a stock, the PE ratio needs to be well under the sector average. Period. Let’s say that we’ve bought into a stock, and after a while the price increases, or the earnings decrease. Both these events will cause the PE ratio to rise, perhaps to a level where it is then above sector average. We are now positioned outside of our triangle of safety with regards to the stock. We’re happy with a price rise, because that gives us a profit. What we won’t be happy with is an earnings decrease. Earnings now need to increase to lower the PE ratio to well below sector average, and back into the triangle. If this doesn’t happen for a few quarters, we get rid of the stock, because it is delaying its entry back into our safety zone. We are not comfortable outside of our safety zone for too long, and we thus boot the stock out of our portfolio.

The second vital stat that we are going to work with is the debt to equity ratio (DER). We want to pick stocks that are poised to take maximum advantage of growth, whenever it happens. If a company’s debt is manageable, then interest payouts don’t wipe off a chunk of the profits, and the same profits can get directly translated into earnings per share. We want to pick companies that are able to keep their total debt at a manageable level, so that whenever growth occurs, the company is able to benefit from it fully. We would like the DER to be smaller than 1.0. Personally, I like to pick stocks where it is smaller than 0.5. In the bargain, I do lose out on some outperformers, since they have a higher DER than the level I maximally want to see in a stock. You can decide for yourself whether you want to function closer to 0.5 or to 1.0. Sometimes, we pick a stock, and all goes well for a while, and then suddenly the management decides to borrow big. The DER shoots up to outside of our triangle of safety. What is the management saying? By when are they going to repay their debt? Is it a matter of 4 to 6 quarters? Can you wait outside your safety zone for that long? If you can, then you need to see the DER most definitely decreasing after the stipulated period. If it doesn’t, for example because the company’s gone in for a debt-restructuring, then we can no longer bear to exist outside our triangle of safety any more, and we boot the stock out of our portfolio. If, on the other hand, the management stays true to its word, and manages to reduce the DER to below 1.0 (or 0.5) within the stipulated period, simultaneously pushing us back into our safety zone, well, then, we remain invested in the stock, provided that our two other vital stats are inside the triangle too.

The third vital stat that we are going to work with is the dividend yield (DY). We want to pick companies that pay out a dividend yield that is more than 2% per annum. Willingness to share substantial profits with the shareholder – that is a trait we want to see in the management we’re buying into. Let’s say we’ve picked a stock, and that in the first year the management pays out 3% per annum as dividend. In the second year, we are surprised to see no dividends coming our way, and the financial year ends with the stock yielding a paltry 0.5% as dividend. Well, then, we give the stock another year to get its DY back to 2% plus. If it does, putting us back into our triangle of safety, we stay invested, provided the other two vital stats are also positioned inside our safety zone. If the DY is not getting back to above 2%, we need to seriously have a look as to why the management is sharing less profits with the shareholders. If we don’t see excessive value being created for the shareholder in lieu of the missing dividend payout, we need to exit the stock, because we are getting uncomfortable outside our safety zone.

When we go about picking a stock for the long term as newbies, we want to buy into managements that are benevolent and shareholder-friendly, and perhaps a little risk-averse / conservative too. Managements that like to play on their own money practise this conservatism we are looking for. Let’s say that the company we are invested in hits a heavy growth phase. If there’s no debt to service, then it’ll grow much more than if there is debt to service. Do you see what’s happening here? Our vital stat number 2 is automatically making us buy into risk-averse managements heading companies that are poised to take maximum advantage of growth, whenever it occurs. We are also automatically buying into managements with largesse. Our third vital stat is ensuring that. This stat insinuates, that if the management creates extra value, a proportional extra value will be shared with the shareholder. That is exactly the kind of management we want – benevolent and shareholder-friendly. Our first vital stat ensures that we pick up the company at a time when others are ignoring the value at hand. Discovery has not happened yet, and when it does, the share price shall zoom. We are getting in well before discovery happens, because we buy when the PE is well below sector average.

Another point you need to take away from all this is the automation of our stop-loss. When we are outside our safety zone, our eyes are peeled. We are looking for signs that will confirm to us that we are poised to re-enter our triangle of safety. If these signs are not coming for a time-frame that is not bearable, we sell the stock. If we’ve sold at a loss, then this is an automatic stop-loss mechanism. Also, please note, that no matter how much profit we are making in a stock – if the stock still manages to stay within our triangle of safety, we don’t sell it. Thus, our system allows us to even capture multibaggers – safely. One more thing – we don’t need to bother with targets here either. If our heavily in-the-money stock doesn’t come back into our safety zone within our stipulated and bearable time-frame, we book full profits in that stock.

PHEW!

There we have it – the triangle of safety – a connection of the dots between our troika PE…DER…DY.

As you move beyond the dummy stage, you can discard this simplistic formula, and use something that suits your level of evolution in the field.

Till then, your triangle of safety will keep you safe. You might even make good money.

PE details are available in financial newspapers. DER and DY can be found on all leading equity websites, for all stocks that are listed.

Here’s wishing you peaceful and lucrative investing in 2013 and always!

Be safe! Money will follow! 🙂

So, … … , When’s Judgement Day?

The “fiscal cliff” thingie has come and gone…

Gone?

People, nothing’s gone.

If something is ailing, it needs to heal, right?

What is required for healing?

Remedial medicine, and time.

Let’s say we take the medicine out of the equation.

Now, what’s left is time.

Would the ailing entity heal, given lots of time, but no medicine?

If disease is not so widespread, and can be expunged over time, then yes, there would be healing, provided all disease-instigating factors are abstained from.

Hey, what exactly are we talking about?

It is no secret that most first-world economies are ailing.

Specifically, the US economy was supposed to be injected with healing measures, which were to take effect from the 1st of Jan., ’13. Financial healing would have meant austerity and a more subdued lifestyle. None of that seems to be happening now. The healing process has been deferred to another time in the future, or so it seems.

You see, people, no one wants austerity. The consumption story must go on…

So now, since the medicine’s been taken out of the equation, is there going to be any healing?

No. Disease-instigating lifestyles are still being followed. Savings are low. Debt with the objective of consumption is still high. How can there be any healing?

Under the circumstances, there can’t.

So, what’re we building up to?

We’re all clear about the fact that consumption makes the world go round. What is the hub of the world’s consumption story? The US. That part of the world which does save, and where there is real growth, well, that part rushes to be a part of the consumption story. It produces cheaply, to sell where there’s consumption, and it sells there expensively. Yeah, like this, healthy economies get dragged into an equation with ailing economies. Soon, the entanglement is so deep, that there’s no turning back for the healthy economy. It catches part of the ailment from the diseased economy. Slowly, non-performing assets of banks in such healthy economies start to grow. The disease is spreading.

Hold on, stay with me, we’re not there yet. Yeah, what are we building up to?

Healthy economies take time to get fully diseased. Here, savings are big, domestic manufacturing is on the rise, and there a healthy demographic dividend too. Buffers galore, the immune system of a healthy economy tries to fight the contagion for the longest time. As entanglement increases, though, buffers deplete, and health staggers. Non-performing assets of banks grow to disturbing levels.

That’s what we are looking out for, when we are invested in a healthy economy which has just started to ail. Needless to say, we pulled out our funds from all ailing economies long back. Our funds are definitely not going back to economies which refuse to take medicine, i.e. which don’t want to be healed. Now, the million dollar question is …

… what’s to be done with our funds in a healthy economy which has just started to become diseased due to unavoidable contagion?

Nothing for now. Watch your investments grow. Eventually, since no one is doing enough to stop the damage and the spread, big-time ailment signs will invariably appear in the currently “healthy” economy, signs that appeared a while back in currently ailing economies. Savings will be disappearing, manufacturing will start to go down, and bad-debt will increase. Define your own threshold level, and go into cash once this is crossed. You might not need to take such a step for many years in a row. Then again, you might need to take such a step sooner than you think, because the ailing mother-consumer economy is capable of pulling everyone down with it, if and when it collapses. And it just stopped taking its medicine…

Let’s get back to your funds. In the scenario that you’ve gone into cash because you weren’t confident about the economy you were invested in, well, what then?

Option 1 is to look for an emerging economy that gains your confidence, and to invest your funds there.

Not everyone is comfortable investing abroad. What if you want to remain in your own economy, which you have now classified as diseased. There’s good news for you. Even in a diseased economy, there are pockets of health. You need to become a part of such pockets, just after a bust. So, remain in cash after a high and till after a bust. Then, when there’s blood on the streets, put your money into companies with zero-debt, a healthy dividend-payout record and a sound, diligent and honest management. Yeah, at a time like that, Equity is an instrument of choice that, over time, will pull your funds out of the gloom and doom.

You’ve put your funds with honest and diligent human capital. The human capital element alone will fight the circumstances, and will rise above them. Then, you’ve entered at throwaway prices, when there was blood on the streets. Congrats, you’ve just set yourself up for huge profit-multiples in the future. And, the companies you’ve put your money with, well, every now and then, they shower a dividend upon you. This is your option 2. Just to share with you, this is my option of choice. I like being near my funds. This way, I can observe them more closely, and manage them properly. I suffer from a case of out of sight, out of mind, as far as funds are concerned. Besides, when funds are overseas, time-differences turn one’s life upside down. This is just a personal choice. You need to take your own decision.

At times like this, bonds are not an option, because many companies can cease to exist in the mayhem, taking your investment principal out with them.

Bullion will give a return as long as there is uncertainty and chaos. Let there be prolonged stability, and you’ll see bullion tanking. Yeah, bullion could be option 3 at such a time. You’ll need to pull out when you see signs of prolonged stability approaching, though.

One can use a bust to pick up cheap real-estate in prime localities. Option 4.

You see, you’ve got options as long as you’re sitting on cash. Thus, first, learn to sit on cash.

Before that, learn to come into cash when you see widespread signs of disease.

Best part is, widespread disease will be accompanied by a big boom before the bust, so you’ll have time to go into cash, and will be ready to pick up quality bargains.

You don’t really care when judgement day is, because your investment strategy has already prepared you for it. You know what to do, and are not afraid. If and when it does come, you are going to take full advantage of it.

Bring it on.