Sunday, June 30, 2013

The 5 Year Plan

There are certain things in life that you know are mistakes because you have committed them. If you had not made those mistakes, you would have lived in doubt. If you commit twice, you are on your own.

If the caption of this blog grabbed your attention, there is a fair chance that you would have lost money in the financial markets. Take that as an allowance as the anticipation of making money is far more rewarding for that's how the brain is wired. Marketers use ‘buy one get one free' schemes to attract more customers than ‘a 50% discount' although both are same. Most popular investment avenues that attract maximum investments are created on similar lines and must be deplored. The best ones are those that do not look all that attractive, are time tested, bought but not sold and rooted in principle of compounding over long time than ‘Big Quick returns’.

Investing is part art and part science and hence the difficulty in laying down several steps to be a successful investor. It’s easier to say what can be detrimental to good investing. Meet Amrit Pal, who claims to have compounded an average yearly return of 21%+ over the past decade. Now that means an amount of Rs. 10,000 invested every month for last 10 years would be Rs. 40 Lakhs.  Ask him what his secret is and he goes 'value investing'. His approach is to buy businesses that are trading at less than its intrinsic value calculated using discounted cash flow formula. There are many websites that provide this value for many listed companies. During times distress, Amrit identifies such business which is available at least at 30% discount to its intrinsic value. Temporary setbacks lead to a crash in stock prices of even valuable companies with a durable moat. In simple terms, this is buying 100 rupee worth asset at Rs 70 or lesser. The greater is the uncertainty or setback, the bigger is the discount these companies are available at. And bigger would be the returns. Gruh finance at 190, LIC at 180 after the bribe scandal broke out was such value picks. Even our pick, Cera went through a crash when one of the promoters died pulling the stock down to 280 less than a year ago; two weeks ago it was trading at Rs. 500. The market realizes the anomaly and at some point corrects it to near intrinsic value, offering great returns. Great business gems offer such buying opportunities few times in its business cycles and it is for us to lap them up. And at those times, as Spider our proxy investor puts it - 'back up the truck and load it'.  Recently we did identify one gem which is available at 38% discount to its intrinsic value and it is one of the best managed companies in our country. It’s a matter of time before the market realizes this anomaly and offers it its due price. Here we are making an assumption that those are the businesses that pass through several of our filters and we would really want to be investing in them.

Such opportunities come far and few, and when they arrive lets recognize and take big bets. Like Amrit, it pays to keep a minimum of Rs 5 Lakh in banks as reserves for initiating purchases in special market situations. That’s when the stocks are on sale and on huge discounts, 1+1 offer so to state.