How to evaluate an investor

Supreme Industries, Cera Sanitaryware, Page Industries, HEG India, Thirumalai Chemicals, APL Apollo Tubes… We see/hear about them all the time. On Twitter, in blog posts and in conversations. Investors or Investment Managers talk of a stock they identified, a few months or years ago that has since several ‘X’d its initial price. When they explain their rationale for why they felt it was massively undervalued, it seems obvious, in hindsight. Let’s temporarily suspend cynicism and appreciate the investors’ skill in identifying multibagger stocks. Now how do you decide whether you should give them your money to manage or take their advice

Read more

Fundamental Analysis Tools for Investors in India

In the course of finding the most time-efficient way of analyzing companies shortlisted for investment, I’ve come across various tools available to Indian investors. This post compiles a list of some of the tools that I’ve tried either briefly or extensively along with some of their key strengths and weaknesses. Note that this list is far from comprehensive and also that digested analysis from any source is typically only a starting point and not a substitute for diving into past annual reports to gain context of the fundamentals. Overall note of caution on using any tool that aggregates data is to assume

Read more

Fixating on Buffett is hurting your returns

It’s that time of the year when the world’s most awaited corporate communication comes out. My guess is if we take all publicly listed companies around the world (except one), and add up the number of times their management letters get read, that number would be dwarfed by that for Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett’s annual letter to shareholders. At $300,000+ per Berkshire Class A share, it’s safe to assume only a fraction of those readers are potential buyers. All around the world, people from fund houses, financial media, popular investment blogs, investment advisories pore through the simply formatted, 20-page

Read more

Learning to invest vs Investing to learn

Learning to Drive You’re on a fairly empty side-street, your cousin, an experienced driver next to you, in the passenger seat. It is her 8-year-old Fiat Punto, but the make or model doesn’t matter to you, just that it’s a functioning car. You don’t know if you will enjoy driving, but you want to be able to. You don’t know if your cousin is the “best” driver around, but you know she’s been driving for a few years and you trust her. She instructs you step-by-step to first push the brake, turn the key in the ignition, press down on

Read more

The difference between Financial Planning, Asset Allocation and Security Selection

I get a few emails every week asking for stock recommendations. So I ask a few questions to form the context of the person’s experience with various investment vehicles, track record, their ability and willingness to take risk. In many cases, at this point, I realize the person asking for advice on stocks has little idea of their current financial situation beyond how much they make each month. This short post will clarify and differentiate between three interlinked but distinct elements of the wealth-building process: Financial Planning and Investment Management (Asset Allocation and Security Selection). Financial Planning: “The Where” and

Read more

Investing and Life, Balance Sheets matter over Income Statements

How do you follow your investments? If you’re like a lot of people, you keenly await quarterly earnings announcements to track projected versus actual growth in Sales, EBITDA, Net Profit, EPS (Earnings per Share). Positive surprises mean high fives for the minor bump up in stock price. Negative surprises are explained with a range of reasons including “delayed project approval”, “rural distress”, “rising raw material prices” and so on. If the reason for the miss makes sense i.e. they seem significant enough that the company couldn’t have done much, you shrug and move on. The problem with Salient-Recency We use a

Read more

Difference between ROCE and ROIC and does it matter

Financial metrics and investment quality Deciphering financial ratios can be daunting for investors looking to differentiate potential investments on quality. But if you’re set on picking your own investments, then you need to be able to understand and interpret them. If there are better ways you could be spending your time, then leave it a mutual fund manager in spite of its drawbacks or even just buy a low-cost index tracker, which tends to beat most active investors anyway. When it comes to financial metrics, it’s important to understand the spirit more than the letter of the metric, i.e. what the

Read more