Thoughts – Money Linked Mindlessness, Valuations, False Hopes!

You would be lying if you said that you are not waiting eagerly for the First Full Budget, by the First (Real) Full Majority Government, to have come in power in decades…

Like me and other common men and women, you would be interested most in tax related announcements. Whether you will be able to save more taxes this year? Will you get more deductions for your home loan repayments? Or will there be no change at all? 

But think of it….we focus so much on saving taxes….and so little on correcting our money related common sense.

– We buy insurances to save tax!! And to top it all, we call these insurances as ‘Investments‘ under some section 80C. Ridiculous!!

– We want to Invest for few months. But we Save for years. Ridiculous again!! (Why?)

– Everybody wants to know the name of that next multibagger stock. But nobody is ready to put in the effort to find it. Its just like saying that everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. Ridiculous!!

– We want to double our money overnight. And that does not happen. But we will not understand this simple fact, unless we burn some of our hard earned money. Ridiculous!!

– Currently, Indian markets are trading at almost 24X multiples (Proof in image below). But people are buying stocks like all of them are value investors. Ridiculous!! (Why?)

Nifty P/E Ratio (16-Feb-2015 to 20-Feb-2015) – Source: NSE Website

– I have this strange feeling that number of people calling themselves as Value Investors increases during Bull markets. But theoretically, this number should be more in Bear Markets. But surprisingly, its more in Bull Markets. Ridiculous!!

– Everybody believed that new government had a magic wand and it will change everything in a flash. But its almost a year, and frankly speaking nothing much except talks (some are calling it false hopes) have been delivered. But markets are still making new highs every few days. Ridiculous again!!

Apologize my rants 🙂


Graham’s Number for Indian stocks

They say that profits are made at time of buying and not selling. Now suppose you have shortlisted companies, whose shares you want to buy, i.e. you have a Ready-2-Buy-List with you. (Check our favorite ones here). So would you buy these stocks at any given price or would wait to buy at prices, which are low, atleast by some standards? We assume you belong to the small minority (fortunately) which believes that it is wiser to adhere to some set valuation standards. Though not widely used in Indian markets and having its own sets of shortcomings, we decided to use Graham’s Number as the standard to evaluate our favorite stocks.
Graham’s Number (GN)
Graham’s Number measures a stock’s fundamental value by taking into account the company’s earnings per share and book value per share. The Graham number is the upper bound of the price range that a defensive investor should pay for the stock. According to the theory, any stock price below the Graham number is considered undervalued, and thus worth investing in. The formula is as follows:
But before we share details of Graham’s Number for chosen Indian companies, we would request you to read this article. The article highlights the dangers of using just one parameter like GN for stock buying decisions. For those who don’t want to read the entire article, it would be suffice to say that GN is based on just 2 of the total 7 criterions suggested by Graham. So, just using this number means that you are missing out on other 5 equally important criterions.
So without any further delay, here are the GN’s for some of our chosen stocks-
  • We have calculated two values for Graham’s Number. One is named G (Column 8)and takes into account EPS of last twelve months (TTM) alongwith current book value per share. Second is G* (column 10) and takes into account the 3 year average EPS values and current book value. Taking 3 year average smoothens out any extraordinary earnings of one year and helps in arriving at a more normalized EPS value. Though we would have preferred a 5 year average EPS, we could not find sufficient data for all the stocks.
  • Stocks like Sterlite Industries, BOB, Balmer Lawrie, Graphite India are trading almost 40% lower than their respective GNs. Please be reminded that a price below GN is considered to be a sign of undervaluation.
  • But we, being a lot more risk averse, decided to add a margin of safety of 25%. We found that even if we reduce the values of GN by 25% (in column 12), these stocks are still available 25-30% below their GNs. This is a clear sign that any investment made at current levels, may not be a bad idea at all.
  • You won’t be wrong if you believe that our previous statement (in particular, underlined part) is speculative in nature. All we can say is that with investments, no matter how careful we are, no matter how large the margin of safety we keep, we can never eliminate the risk of being wrong. 🙁
  • On the redder end of spectrum is Clariant Chemicals (India) Ltd. Though we ‘love’ this stock for its simplicity, robustness and dividends (obviously), our calculations show that it is trading 65-120% above its GN. Add to this the fact that it is currently available at a PE > 18, it can be safely deduced that shares of Clariant Chemicals are currently overvalued. (Historically, it has an average PE of 15).
  • We also observed that Banks, as a whole, seemed to be trading at levels much below their GNs (including margins of safety conditions!). To see if this was an exception or a trend, we calculated GNs for all major large cap banks.
  • The above table clearly shows that Public Sector Banks are trading at significant (40-50%) discounts to their GNs. Whereas their private sector counterparts are trading much above the GNs. We are not sure about the real reason for the same. (It may be due to PSU tag or higher growth associated with Private banks).
  • Our favorites BOB and SBI (part of DMP) are almost 48% and 23% below their GNs. But be cautioned that this should not be taken as a buy signal. There are a lot many issues like NPAs, etc which need to be looked into, before taking a call of buying into banking stocks.
  • But considering the growth possibilities (here we go again: read forecasting and speculation) that Indian banking sector has; and the role that large cap banks are about / supposed to play, wouldn’t it be an interesting idea to start accumulating units of a thematic (Banking Sector) mutual fund? We think it can be a good idea if one is ready to take the risk of taking a focused bet.
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PE Ratio of Indian Markets – A Long Term Analysis

Price to Earnings ratio (P/E ratio) is a measure of price paid for a share relative to the profit earned by that share; i.e.

You can read more about P/E Ratios here & here.

They say that it is best to invest when valuations are low.

Sensex is currently (December 2011) trading at a P/E of 16.5. So is this the right time to invest? Is this what experts call a low valuation? We at Stable Investor have decided to answer these questions.

Analysis of Sensex’s last 12 years data (from 1stJan 1999 onwards) reveals a few interesting points –
  • Over any rolling period of 5 years in last 12 years, Sensex has not given negative returns! So if you are ready to stay invested (in this case, in an Indian Index Fund) for a period of 5 years, you won’t lose money. 
  • Returns earned during last 12 years, when segregated on basis of P/E ratios are –
Returns (Over 3 & 5 years) & P/E Ratios

This clearly indicates that at current P/E of 16.5, we have a chance of earning more than 15% per annum for next 3-5 years!

(Caution – This statement is made on basis of historical data. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.)

So after analyzing this interesting relationship between P/E Ratio and Returns, what does a Stable Investor do?
  • Stable Investor is now in a better position to respond to people’s view that it is better to invest in markets of lower multiples (P/E). Our analysis clearly shows that if investor invests in markets of lower multiples, probability of earning high returns is very high. 
  • P/E Ratios are still relevant for judging overall valuations of markets, if not individual stocks. 
  • It is advisable to invest when markets are trading in early teens (i.e. 13<P/E<16). It has also been seen that Indian markets tend to stay between P/E Multiples of 12 and 24 (Read Indian Markets PE 12 to 24 for details) 
  • P/E Ratio is a beautiful indicator of market’s overall valuation. But before making any buy or sell decisions, an investor should also look at a lot of other information/data.
Update – You can check the latest PE-Ratio Analysis of Indian Markets in 2013 or 2012. For constant updates about Indian Markets’ PE, P/BV Ratios, please check the State of Indian Markets.