It is a stock picker’s market

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Gold nest eggs with pink, green, and blue nest eggs reflect diversified investment success and growth

By Chockalingam Narayanan
(Head of Equities, BNP Paribas Mutual Fund, India)

Take on the current equity market rally

We have had one of the broader rallies in the market over the last 15 months; and the excess liquidity in the system seems to be supporting the continuation of the same.

With marginal money mainly coming in from retail investors, this seems to be moving more towards initial public offerings (IPO), small caps and midcaps that this set of investors have generally been more active in. While earnings trajectory has been supporting it thus far, the small and midcaps are now actually not offering as much higher growth for the valuation premium that they seem to be commanding vs in the past.

To that extent, one has to be very careful in this stage of the market about what businesses and stocks one owns, follow the investment philosophy that one’s risk appetite and horizon provides comfort for and follow this with discipline.  

Impact of US Fed’s latest statement on Indian     markets

The latest US Fed statement (July 2021) highlighted that a number of FOMC members (Federal Open   Markets Committee) argued that the tapering should start with knocking off the USD 40 billion monthly      purchase of MBS (Mortgage-backed           securities). It is inevitable that the Central Banks will at some point look to taper and that could take some liquidity out of the system. They could also possibly look at raising rates sometime late next year.

While these measures could put some pressure on the markets, the earnings trajectory does seem quite sound. From a valuation perspective though, tightening measures from the central banks is likely to have some impact on the multiples. Hence, as we head towards that change in regime, we could continue to see some volatility.

On the flourishing IPO season in India

The market is reasonably awash with liquidity and retail participation has been at the highest levels. That      historically has led to good IPO markets. The good part is – this will make the market more representative of the economy. A lot of the sectors that were playing a large part in the economy were not represented – be it          e-commerce, fintechs. So from that perspective, this will be good.

However, investors need to tread with caution. Alongside some of these marquee business listings, we are also seeing a whole host of other companies that have proximate peers already listed. Now given this frenzy, we are actually seeing a lot of premiums (in terms of multiples) and money chasing these new unknown names for public markets when actually more credible similar companies with track records being available at much cheaper levels. That dichotomy will at some point in time get bridged.

The sector(s) mentioned in this document do not     constitute any recommendation of the same and BNP Paribas Mutual Fund may or may not have any future position in these sector(s).

Earnings Growth Estimates

The results season has been a mixed one. Given the very benign base from which one is looking at, the growth numbers are looking fairly buoyant. If we look through from a two year CAGR basis, even then growth is clearly visible. Revenue expectations have been largely met but margins have been a tad below        expectations given the steep inflationary pressure that is running across. PAT also consequently seems to be a tad below expectations. The overall Earnings per share (EPS) estimates of the street (as per Bloomberg) for the benchmarks like Nifty/Sensex to that extent have been largely plateauing vs an increasing trend seen in the last two quarters. 

The good part is that leading         businesses across most sectors seem to have taken the pain upfront and hence barring a very bad subsequent wave(s) of Covid-19, we seem to be reasonably well positioned. So from the earnings     perspective, we believe we are reasonably positioned for a mid-teens earnings growth in the next 24 months.

Mantra for Long Term Investing

Following an investment philosophy with discipline is important for any investor. At our end, we follow the BMV (Business, Management, Valuation) philosophy that focusses on businesses that grow at a rate better than the economy and industry a company operates in, that have a sustainable MOAT; the businesses being run by competent management with good execution track record, capital allocation, and corporate            governance. If a company filters through all these, then we focus on valuations, and that too is not just headline numbers but cashflow-driven valuations.

Long-term planning on becoming financially       independent

Starting to invest early in life and also within one’s   capacity are good points one can consider to start with. Like for our health we consult doctors, and teachers for education and lawyers for legal issues, it is good to consult a financial advisor for one’s financial needs.

Like health, financial investing is also very personal – the horizon to invest, the goals one is working towards, the age from which you start off, etc. are very different for each individual and hence the investment approach needs to vary as per their needs. Having the right     allocation and doing a periodic reset with discipline go a long way towards generating returns in the long run.

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