13 July 2014

P/E Ratio of Indian Markets in July 2014 - Is It Telling Us Something?

I regularly monitor index ratios like price-to-earnings, price-to-book values to gauge overall market sentiments. I know it’s a very crude way of doing it. But still it provides a decent picture of what is happening in markets.

Now here is something interesting what happened on July 7th, 2014.

Nifty 50’s P/E multiple crossed 21 after almost 3 years. Surprisingly, last it stood past 21 was also on July 7th (2011). That’s exactly 3 years back!

Long term analysis (starting end of 1998) of Nifty’s P/E ratio tells the following story...

PE Ratio India 2014


We all know its common sense to buy low (Low PEs) and sell high (High PEs). And we also know that its difficult to do it. So if you go out and buy the index as whole when P/E multiples are less than 12 (quite low), then on an average, your probable 3 year and 5 year returns will be 39.5% and 29% respectively.

Similarly for index-buying during P/E multiples being in between 12 and 16, the 3 and 5 year returns are 28% and 25% respectively.

But we are currently in the band of 20-24. And this is not a cheap market at all. As per past data, your 3 year returns and 5 years returns look bleak at 4% and 7%. 

So does it mean that we sell all our stocks and put money in bank deposits?

The answer is I don’t know.

The above numbers are based on data of past 15 years. And there is no guarantee that past performance may be repeated. Or whether this time it might be different.

The last instance of PE21, for which 3 year returns data is available (May 02, 2011), the market gave a return of 5.3%.

Similarly for last instance of PE21, for which 5 year returns data is available (June 11, 2009), the returns were 10.3%. Not bad considering the superiority over returns given by safer ones, but also not eye-popping considering the optimism we have for next 5 years.
Now we are all quite hopeful that the new Indian government, if permitted by external uncontrollable like oil-shocks, natural-disasters, wars, etc… would be able to provide a conducive environment for India’s return to high growth days.

But having said that, I also beg to differ with those who believe that this would be achieved overnight and Sensex will hit 40000 by end of 2015.


As for the current markets which are rising everyday, it seems that they are now running ahead of the actual ground realities. But it is this over-optimism that gives us, the long term investors a chance. Isn’t it? :-)

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11 July 2014

Mailbag: Should I take a Loan to Invest Now? (because Markets are making New Highs everyday)

This is going to be a short post. It’s more of a warning for those who have questions like one in title of this post....in their mind.

Yesterday, I received a mail from a reader asking me the following question:

My portfolio has moved up almost 50% in last 3 months. Some shares of small companies are up more than 100%. Do you think it is a good time to invest more? I don’t have lots of spare cash to put in markets but I am thinking of taking a personal loan to invest. A loan would cost me around 15% and that is much less than what can be easily made in these rising markets.



I replied to this reader’s mail instantly and without any hesitation.

But I felt that right now, there would many people thinking on similar lines. And that is because in recent times, markets have been moving in just one direction. And that is upwards. And this gives a perception that it is very easy to make money in stock markets.

My personal interaction with people tells that they have now started feeling that Fixed & Recurring Deposits offer just 8% in one year....whereas some stocks can give that kind of return in a day. True. It is possible. But can we be 100% sure about this? Can we be 100% sure that we will be making 5% to 8% every day kind-of-a-return on regular basis in stock markets?

The answer is no. I can’t do it. I am pretty sure nobody I know has done it. And neither have people like Warren Buffett done it. And since we are not sure about the returns, it would be a big mistake to borrow money for investing. 

It’s possible that when you take a loan and put that money in markets, your expectation is that markets will move up, like they have been doing for a while now. And probably in a year’s time, you will make much more from your investments than 15% interest that you need to pay on your personal loan.

But what if markets do not rise as expected?

What if returns are less than 15% in one year?

What if markets just stay at same levels after one year?

And what if markets fall...say by 15% in one year? What will you do then?

I hope you are getting what I mean here. 

Market returns are unpredictable. You can never be sure of returns or losses which come your way in markets. But if you take a loan, your EMIs would be predictable and fixed. You can be quite sure that you will have to pay around 15% every year for the loan.

I have seen people make this mistake in 2008 during Reliance Power’s IPO. People took loans, liquidated FDs to invest in the hottest IPO of that time. And what happened after that is known to everyone. Everyone lost money. Those who borrowed to invest lost much more than just money. They lost their sleep and faith in markets.

So, please understand that its not wise to borrow and invest in markets.

Even if you are 100% sure that markets will go up, please don't borrow money to invest. If you do, I think it would be the biggest financial crime you can ever commit.

Note - Some months back, someone asked me just the very opposite question. I have a loan. Should I pay it back before investing? 

Seems like the question of this mailbag post is a side-effect of a bull market ;-)

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6 July 2014

Tata Motors DVR - Why is it Rising Faster than shares of Tata Motors?

Recently there has been a lot of noise about reduction in percentage difference (discount) between ordinary shares of Tata Motors and its DVRs.

For those who don't know, Tata Motors has two kinds of shares listed on exchanges.

Ordinary shares (TTM) …and the DVR shares.

What is a DVR share?

DVRs are a completely different class of shares of a company whose ordinary shares are already listed on exchanges. DVR stands for Differential Voting Rights. It means that when compared to ordinary shares, a DVR carries different voting rights.

In India, it all started in 2008 when Tata Motors became the first Indian company to issue DVRs. The company came out with a Rights Issue where existing investors of TTM, were offered 1 DVR share for every 6 ordinary share held by them. As for the voting rights, one DVR share of Tata Motors has only 10% voting rights of an ordinary share, i.e. you get only one vote for every 10 DVR shares.

Apart from Voting Rights, is there any other difference between a DVR and an Ordinary share?

When you buy DVRs, you have lesser voting rights. And this needs to be compensated for. The shareholders of DVR are entitled to an extra 5% dividend compared to ones given to ordinary shareholders.

Tata Motors DVR Dividend
Dividend History (2010 Onwards) - Tata Motors (Ordinary & DVR shares)

Unlike India, DVRs are used extensively in other countries to prevent hostile takeovers. At times these are used to bring money into the company without significant dilution of promoter’s voting rights. On an average, DVRs trade at a 10%-15% discount to ordinary shares.

Tata Motors – DVR Discount Trend Analysis

Like global peers, TTM-DVR also trades at a discount to ordinary TTM shares. But there is something interesting about this discount. I plotted this discount and found that in past 4 years, this discount has oscillated between 30% to 50%. And this is nowhere close to global average of 10-15%.

As of now, its quite close to its 4 year lows. And this has happened because share prices of DVRs have outpaced that of ordinary shares since start of 2014.

Tata Motors DVR Discount
Discount at which DVR has traded in last 4 years

Now in 2008, when DVR was originally offered, the discount was a reasonable 10%. But over time, this discount kept widening until it reached almost 60% in mid-2013!

And this seems to be against common sense. That is because both DVRs and ordinary shares are based on the same business. Only difference is of the voting rights. And that anyways has been compensated for by a higher dividend promise to DVR holders. Ideally, discount should not be so large.

But in past few weeks, this discount has reduced to 33%. And many market participants now believe that this trend will continue and eventually, discount will settle at levels of 10%-15%. But we must remember that this is not the first time discount has come down. Few years back in 2010, discount had narrowed down to levels below 30%. Even at that time, experts felt that time had come for markets to give more respect to DVRs and that discounts will stabilize at 10-15%. But markets have this uncanny knack of surprising...And it did surprise once again by proving the experts wrong.

Price of DVRs fell and once again, it was available at huge discounts to ordinary shares. As mentioned above, discount almost touched 60%.

This time too, I am not sure if experts have any idea what they are talking about when they say that discounts would further reduce. :-)

Beware – Controversial Idea Ahead

The last traded price for TTM was Rs 468 and that for DVR was Rs 312. Now simple calculation tells that for gaining ‘a’ vote in Tata Motors’ votings, you will have to shell out Rs 156 extra (468-312). I personally don't think this makes sense for small investors. It might make some if you have substantial stake in Tata Motors and want to affect company’s decision making. But since you are reading this post on this small website, I assume you don’t have a very big stake in Tata Motors. ;-)

I agree that its very important to exercise voting rights if the company is not being managed properly or its taking certain decisions which are not in best interest of minority shareholders. But broadly speaking, Tata Motors is managed decently if not brilliantly. And hence a small investor should not worry too much about his voting rights and consider DVRs as long term bets (if convinced about Tata Motors business).

One is getting the same business at 30% discount with assured higher dividends.

And if the DVR discount was to reduce further, a DVR investor stands to gain further as he will also be earning higher dividends in addition to capital appreciation. And if discount does eventually become insignificant, one can always sell DVRs and buy ordinary shares.

But having said that, please understand that we are not valuing DVR here. We are just discussing the discount at which DVR shares are available. It is very much possible that ordinary shares are over-valued and consequently, DVR may themselves be overvalued.

Why Did DVR Rise Much Faster Than Ordinary Shares in 2014?

The DVR shares have outperformed ordinary shares in last 6 months as evident from graph below:

Tata Motors DVR 2014
Price Appreciation in last 6 months - TTM and DVR

Now the text that follows can be speculative and you should take it with a pinch of salt.

In last week of June 2014, a UK based fund house Knight Assets came out with a recommendation for Tata Motors. It advised the company to list its (planned) new DVR shares on New York Stock Exchange. But it asked Tata Motors to add the words ‘Jaguar Land Rover’ to the name of the DVR before listing. This according to fund would help it correct the big discount which DVR trades at and bring it in line with global averages of 10-15%. And since US markets are more familiar with JLR brands and with the dual-class shares, it would help listing the DVR in US markets.

This possibility of international listing might not be the only reason, but possibly one of the main reasons why DVR prices were running way ahead of ordinary shares.

Another possible reason can be that markets and analysts in general had ignored this stock completely in past few years. And because of this absence from analyst’s radars, it kept going down without any logical reason. Another evidence that markets can be irrational at times.:-)

What do you think? What are your thoughts about DVR shares of Tata Motors?

Disclosure: No positions in both the shares discussed above.


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