Is it a good time to accumulate SAIL – Part 2

Here is the second and last part of our analysis of SAIL. You can read the first part here – Part 1.

We take up an analysis of P/E & EPS Expansion (& Contraction) of SAIL in this post.

The Blue blocks in graph are Trailing Twelve Month EPS figures for SAIL since April 2004. The Red Worm is a plot of P/E multiples of the stock.

SAIL PE EPS figures
SAIL – EPS (TTM) & P/E figures since April 2004

As of now, stock is trading at a PE multiple of 7.8. Though this in itself looks cheap, it is still not close to its historical lows of around 3. Another thing which we observed, and we may be wrong, is that PE expansions trail Earnings Expansion for this company (or cyclical commodities in general). And since last 2 years, it seems that earnings are neither going up nor going down. They have stabilized in a band of Rs 7 – Rs 9 per share. We believe that this may be the bottoming out of the earnings. The earnings may not go down much from here. And since, there is no immediate trigger for stock to move up, we believe that market expectations (and we take P/E as a proxy for that) are bound to stay stable or go down in near future, i.e., the stock may stay at these levels or go down a little. We don’t know if it will go down to PEs of 3 with current earnings or not. If it does, then that would mean that stock would move lower to levels of 35-40. But that would be the worst case scenario.

What seems more plausible here is that earnings have bottomed out and after a few quarters, they may make an upward move. With expansion in earnings, market sentiments would also catch up with an expansion in PEs. Hence there is a possibility of increase in share prices from current levels of less than 70.

Hence though we do like the stock as the risk reward ratio seems more skewed towards reward, there is also a possibility that stock may go down, even without a fall in earnings, just because of lack of positive news. And if Indian economy does start gaining momentum in quarters to come, that would once again help in raising market sentiments and hence a higher PE assignment to SAIL. On the downside, if things don’t turn out to be as bright was we might like them to be, we always have a decent dividend payout to look forward to. Over the years, SAIL has consistently doled out generous dividends. And we think that same would be continued in future.

So once again, we come back to our original question?

Is it a good time to buy / accumulate shares of SAIL?

Upfront, we would say that one can start accumulating this stock. By this we mean that one can start buying in small quantities. We are still not sure if the stock can go down more or not. But if stock is going down more because of PE contraction rather than earnings contraction, then one can continue accumulating the stock. Atleast this is what we plan to do. 🙂 But if the earnings, which we are assuming have stabilized for the time being, start going down, then one has to relook at the investment.

A lot of indicators (read more in Is it good time to accumulate shares of SAIL – Part 1) are pointing that downside may be limited. Hence, we plan buying this stock in small quantities for capital appreciation as well as dividend income.

This should not be taken as an investment recommendation. Do your own research before investing your hard earned money.

Disclaimer – Created long positions recently in SAIL. Author(s) plan to accumulate the stock in future, depending on various factors detailed in this and previous post.

Disclaimer – Author had a short stint in steel industry.


A 9-Year Case Study of an investment in ONGC & why it is available close to its historically cheapest valuations?

Some time back, we did a post on ONGC’s dividend history. Since, we hold this stock in our long term personal portfolio as well as Dead Monk’s Portfolio, we thought we could (or rather should) give it a deeper study. We were debating on how to go about it, when we came across a great post by Joshua (link) analyzing an investment in Starbuck’s IPO. We really liked the thoroughness with which the investment was analyzed. This prompted us to take a similar approach to evaluate ONGC.

ongc logo
Caution – This is a long and number intensive post.
ONGC’s IPO came sometime in first half of 2004. The price band was initially set as Rs 680 – Rs 750. And retail investors were offered a discount of 5%, i.e., shares were allotted to them at Rs 712.50 (non-adjusted as of today price). Retail category comprised of those who invested less than Rs 50,000. The proceeds of the share sale were going to Government of India and not ONGC.
This ONGC case study looks at following issues:
  • What a Rs 50,000 investment in company’s IPO would have turned into over a 9 year holding period? We look at all aspects including capital appreciation and dividends.
  • We also try simulating results of another approach where we make regular investment in ONGC’s stock over this 9 year period.
  • We also look at how ONGC has increased its book value per share over these years and how it can be used to make decisions about when to enter this stock for long term.
  • We also evaluated why the above approach might fail.
This is the first time we are trying to evaluate a company in this manner and would like to get your feedback and suggestions. Though this post took several hours, we think its result was worth it, atleast for us. J
What a Rs 50,000 investment in company’s IPO would have turned into over a 9 year holding period?
Suppose you had Rs 50,000 to spare in 2004. You decided to invest in ONGC’s IPO as a retail investor. The shares were sold at Rs 712.50 apiece to retail investors. You received a total of 70 shares (rounded for ease) for your investment.
First of all, after these 9 years, your 70 shares would have grown to 421 shares as a result of 2 bonuses (2:1 and 1:1) and a split (from face value of 10 to 5). At a market price of Rs 320 (at time of writing this post), your stocks would be worth Rs 1,34,737. To top it, you already know that ONGC is a generous dividend payer due to government’s mandate. This means that in past 9 years, you would have received 19 dividend payouts totaling a sum of Rs 30,035.
That means that between capital gains and dividends, your Rs 50,000 investment grew to Rs 1,64,772 in nine years.  That is a compound annual growth rate of 14.17%. Compare this with Sensex journey from 5600s to 19500s, i.e. a compound annual growth rate of 14.87%. Not bad for a dull and boring company like ONGC when compared to glamorous Sensex. J

(Edited to add): The Sensex returns would be higher than 14.87% if we also consider the dividends issued by the constituent companies.

investing in ongc ipo
Investment in ONGC IPO: Calculation of returns (including dividends paid in last 9 years)
This also means that in less than nine years, ONGC has returned more than 60% of the initial investment as dividends (that too pretty regularly: 19 times)!! It is here that one can truly understand John D. Rockefeller’s feeling when he said – ‘Do you know the only thing that gives me pleasure? It’s to see my dividends coming in.’
ongc dividend history
Dividends Paid in last 9 years & comparison with initial investment in ONGC’s IPO
Note – John D. Rockefeller was the richest man ever. More than 10 times richer than the current richest man!! You can read about him and his company Standard Oil’s story here.
What a Rs 10,000 investment every quarter (3 months) in ONGC’s stock would have turned into over these 9 years?
This approach is born out of our interest in disciplined investing. Suppose you decide to invest Rs 10,000 every three months in ONGC’s stocks. This can be considered similar to having a regular SIP (Systematic Investment Plan) in mutual funds. This approach would have resulted in you investing Rs 3,50,000 in last 9 years. Result?
First of all, after these 9 years of quarterly investments, you would own about 1656 shares of the company. At, current market price of 320, these shares would have a value of Rs 5,30,077. Apart from that, these shares would have earned a total of Rs 73,828 as dividend income. That is, your total investment of Rs 3,50,000 has turned into Rs 6,03,906.
regular investment in ongc
Quarterly Investment of Rs 10,000 in ONGC during last 9 years: Analysis of  total returns (including dividends)
What has been the trend in Book Value per share for ONGC in last 9 years and how this data can be used to decide when to invest in the stock?
The company has been growing its book value at a decent 13.6% (CAGR) for last 9 years. The great thing about this growth is that it has been uniform, i.e., all yearly increases have remained in the range 11-15%.
book value history ongc
ONGC’s Adjusted Book Value Per Share (2004-2013) – (Note: 2013 book value is estimated)
book value trend ongc
ONGC Book Value Per Share & Annual Growth Rates
The above trend shows that the company has been successful in increasing its book value over the years. You may question this as the book value can be rigged. Also there are much better parameters available for valuing oil exploration businesses But lets just delay that discussion for a while. So, now what we have at our hand is a company (ONGC), operating in a capital intensive business of oil exploration, which has consistently grown its book value in last nine years.
So, now if we consider a very simple ratio: Price To Book Value Per Share (P/BV), can we find some trend which can actually help us in knowing whether it is a good time to invest in ONGC’s stock or not? Let’s first look at the graph below:
ongc book value
Price/Book Value Ratio: Lowest, Highest, Average – An indicator of when to enter the stock
The blue line is a plot of P/BV ratios of ONGC’s stock over the years. As we can see, the lowest which it has ever reached is P/BV=1.62. The highest it ever went was in late 2007 when it hit 4.14. The average in last nine years has remained at 2.51. So, when the stock was trading in the band 1.6-1.7 in late 2012, it was one of the cheapest multiple (P/BV) at which the stock could have been possibly bought!! Nevertheless, government’s deregulation news pimped up the stock and now you can see the abrupt rise in blue line near the end of graph. The stock is headed towards its mean. And this is a historical pattern. Any stock cannot remain far off from its historical averages for long durations. There is always a regression towards the mean. As far as our personal portfolio is concerned, we bought a few ONGCs near Dec 2012, when it was available at one of its cheapest valuations ever. J So is this the right method to decide whether to buy a stock like ONGC or not?
Because there are many other factors which play an important role in deciding whether to purchase a stock or not. We look at a few which are relevant in this context.
Why the above approach should be taken with a pinch of salt? What are the possible loopholes in this approach?
A few immediate ones are as follows:
  • The above approach relies entirely on the stated book value of the share. And book values can be inaccurate because they do not always reflect the true networth of a company. This can be attributed to use of different accounting methods for items like depreciation, which can significantly affect the book value.
  • Oil exploration companies like ONGC offer a unique problem of valuation due to their large value based on oil reserves. There is also a large uncertainty in many of the assumptions, such as value and quality of their reserves. So, unless and until this data is taken into account, a comprehensive analysis of oil stocks cannot be done.
  • Other oil and gas specific metrics includes valuation based on barrel of oil produced per day, etc.
  • The above book value based approach does not give any weightage to the management team (appointed by Govt. of India in this case). Experience is crucial and ONGC has loads of it. But with ageing oilfields and increasing complexity of newer projects like ones taken up by ONGC Videsh (& its Imperial Energy fiasco), this aspect should be given its due importance.
  • Another issue with this approach is that it does not evaluate alternatives available within the sector. For example, there are other explorers like Oil India Limited and Cairn (India), which sometimes offer higher growth potential due to better reserve quality.
  • Its common knowledge that most of ONGC’s oil fields are ageing and in no position to increase their output. Such questions on future growth potential, in wake of lack of new oil finds, can also be attributed to lower P/BV multiple being assigned to this stock in last year and a half.


Last thoughts…

Oil & Gas companies are generally complex to value because of above mentioned limitations. But they offer solid investment vehicles for safety of principle, long term growth and consistent dividend payments. The above approach uses just one parameter P/BV to evaluate the stock. You as a reader, should remember that this is just a case study. Real life is much different from case studies. One should never invest based on just one parameter. This case should not be taken as an investment recommendation. Do your own due diligence before deciding about where to invest your hard earned money.
Disclosure: Long term positions in Cairn India & ONGC.

Buying On Dips – Adding to Core Portfolio

Some time back, we did a post on power of doing nothing in stocks markets. We still stand by our view that when investing for long term, Doing Nothing can actually work in favor of investors. 

But wouldn’t it be nice if you could give booster shots to your portfolio every couple of years? Wouldn’t it be great if you got an opportunity to buy shares of some great companies at reduced prices?

booster shots
Market Corrections can be used to give booster shots to your portfolio

We think it would be. 🙂

If you are an investor, you should understand that stock markets are volatile. You can either fear it and commit the most foolish but most common mistake of buying high and selling low OR use this volatility to your advantage.
Whenever stock markets correct (sharply or otherwise), its like markets are putting stocks up on a sale. For example, those who remember 2009 would agree that it was once in a life time sale of bluest of blue chips. It was like a distress sale where shares of good companies were being sold at throwaway prices. For example, shares of Tata Motors were available at around Rs 26 in March 2009. And within no time, i.e. by December 2009, the share prices moved up to Rs 160, and by end of 2010, it had skyrocketed to Rs 270!! 

tata motors multibagger
Tata Motors – From Rs 26 to Rs 270 in just 20 months!!!

If we were aware that markets available at PE multiples of 12 are grossly undervalued, we could have made a lot of money. 🙁 But past cannot be changed and future is still not here. So what should one do when markets correct? The first step would be to reassess your investment horizon. If you are among those who still prefer long term investing and are focused (like us) on safety of capital + dividend + atleast market matching returns, then it makes sense to buy stocks of companies that already exist in core of your portfolio (Check our ‘strangely named long term portfolio). This is assuming that you are sure that reason for which you bought these companies are still valid. And who wouldn’t like to buy cash-generating companies like ONGCs, Clariants & Balmer Lawries, etc at low prices?

stock portfolio
Portfolio structure & which type of stocks to buy on dips
When we buy stocks at reduced prices, we end up doing rupee cost averaging. We buy more for every rupee spent. This is a proactive way of strengthening the core of our portfolio. And once we are committed to our chosen investment philosophy, uncertainty and market corrections are waiting for being taken advantage of.

Disclosures: Long term positions in Clariant India, Balmer Lawrie, ONGC. No positions in Tata Motors


You cannot become a Successful Investor!

Let’s get this straight. Someone has rightly said:

(Successful) Investing is simple. But tough.

And once you have gone through this flowchart, having answered a few questions about your very own self, you would know why most people fail to become successful investors.

how to become a successful investor
Click to enlarge
In case that does not work, Save the image on you computer and then zoom it.
Feel free to share this with your friends. You would be surprised to see how ill-prepared some of them are when it comes to successful stock market investing.

In the next post, we will share some really simple tips (seriously!), to force you become a successful investor. 😉