Tag - investing

Short-Term Performance is Everything

Two years ago value investing was dead, now it is the obvious approach to adopt in the current environment. What has changed? Short-term performance. There are more captivating rationales but underlying it all is shifting performance patterns. These random and unpredictable movements in financial markets drive investors’ behavior and are the lifeblood of the asset management industry; but they are also a poison for investors, destroying long-term returns.

Narratives + extrapolation

Short-term performance in financial markets is chaotic and meaningless (insofar as investors can profitably trade based on it), but they don’t see this; instead, they construct stories of cause and effect.  Furthermore, because the stories are so compelling, investors are certain that they will go on forever. This is why when performance is strong absolutely anything goes. Extreme valuations, unsustainably high returns, and made-up currencies cannot be questioned – haven’t you seen the performance, surely that’s telling you something? Of course, what it is telling is not particularly useful. It is just that investors struggle to accept or acknowledge it. There must always be a justification.

Performance is not a process

Financial markets do not provide short-term rewards for efforts and hard work. Nor can any investment approach consistently outperform the market except by chance (unless someone can predict the near future). Many investors seem to accept this. If performance is good a fund manager can say almost anything and it will be accepted as credible. If performance is bad then everything said will be disregarded. The problem with lauding short-term performance as evidence of skill poses the question of what happens when conditions change. If the process leads to consistently good short-term outcomes, what does one say when short-term outcomes are consistently bad? When performance is strong it is because of ‘process’, when it’s weak it is because of ‘markets’.

Sustaining the industry

Not only do the uncertainties of markets give investors something to talk about, but they also give them something to sell. The sheer number of funds and indices available to investors is a direct result of the randomness of short-term performance. There will always be a new story or trend to exploit tomorrow. Judgments made based on short-term performance will make everyone look skillful some of the time.

Misaligned incentives

The obsession with short-term performance is a vicious circle. Everyone must care about it because everyone cares about it. This creates a harmful misalignment problem where professional investors aren’t incentivized to make prudent long-term decisions; they are incentivized to survive a succession of short-time periods. Irrespective of whether this leads to good long-term results.

Source: ‘Short-Term Performance is Everything’, by Joe Wiggins published on www.behaviouralinvestment.com

Asset Multiplier Comments:

  • If investors are concentrated on short-term success, long-term returns may be unsatisfactory.
  • Investors can avoid the chances of capital erosion and damaging outcomes by choosing to stay focused on their long-term investing approaches.
  • They should refrain from trying to make sense of short-term market fluctuations because doing so can be mentally taxing and lead to poor choices.
  • Long-term investing decisions can make one look foolish in the short term, but they are sustainable ways of achieving capital gains over the long run.

Disclaimer: “The views expressed are for information purposes only. The information provided herein should not be considered as investment advice or research recommendation. The users should rely on their own research and analysis and should consult their own investment advisors to determine the merit, risks, and suitability of the information provided.”

Beginners’ guide to investing…

“Bro, suggest me some good stocks please.”

“Hey, I heard stock X is going to go up, should I buy it?”

“I want to start an SIP, how to do it?”

“So, like can you double my money?”

As a 20 somethings guy working in the financial advisory industry, I have had my fair share of interactions mentioned above. Somehow you become the de-facto person in your circle whom people confer for financial advice. In this series of articles, I’ll be sharing some of the very basics of Investing for any beginner who has very little information about how the system works. Be advised that this is a very generalised heavily simplified version and the actual actions may differ on a case-by-case basis. Let’s take a dive into the world of bulls and bears, shall we?

 

  • The Difference Between Saving and Investing: A common misconception amongst first-time investors is that both are the same. However, there’s a critical difference between the two. Savings, in essence, are any money that you don’t spend from your earnings. For eg. On a salary of Rs. 50,000/- per month, a person is left with around Rs. 20,000/- every month, those are their savings. Investing is when you allocate these savings with the expectation of generating income and wealth. An example, of the Rs. 20,000/- saved the person buys Mutual Funds of Rs 10,000/- and Rs. 10,000 in a bank FD, only then can it be considered investments.
  • Set Goals: It might feel like a boring and tedious task, but a lot of investment decisions are based on the person’s financial goals, their risk appetite. The first step before investing is asking questions, why am I doing this? when/how will I be using this money? To appropriately assess investment options.
  • Safety Cover: A critical aspect before starting the investment journey is deciding on an adequate safety cover. It is generally advised to have at least 6 months of your expenses stored away in a rainy-day fund; any unexpected setbacks should not deter an investor from their investing goals. Unexpected illnesses/ accidents or death are the biggest threats to an investor’s long-term investing goals as they can cause wealth erosion pretty quickly. Investors should adequately Insure themselves before investing.
  • Discipline: Investing has very little to do with markets and everything to do with behavioural impulses. It’s easy to start investing, it’s difficult to keep investing and it’s hardest to stay invested. Many first-time investors lack the discipline to consistently keep investing, but persistence is the only thing that generates wealth in the long term. Another trap most first-time investors fall for is consistently checking their portfolio for gains and losses, which is as unpredictable as the wind blowing and are tempted to cash in on their investments for short-term gains or stop investing altogether because of losses. Discipline wins in the end.
  • Uncertainty: Like all things in life, Investing too is unpredictable and difficult to understand at times. Not every investment will give an investor their desired returns, nor does an average investor have the time and skills to analyse their investments periodically to take corrective actions. In order to mitigate the risks, it is recommended that investors confer with SEBI registered Investment Advisors to guide them through their investing journey.

This is the 1st Part of the Introduction to Investing Series, which will discuss critical aspects of investing aimed at first time investors. Stay tuned for more.

Disclaimer: “The views expressed are for information purposes only. The information provided herein should not be considered as investment advice or research recommendation. The users should rely on their own research and analysis and should consult their own investment advisors to determine the merit, risks, and suitability of the information provided.”

What We Should Remember About Bear Markets: Part I

The following article is taken from ‘What We Should Remember About Bear Markets’ by Joe Wiggins.

Bear markets are an inescapable feature of equity investing. They are also the greatest challenge that investors will face. This is not because of the (hopefully temporary) losses that will be suffered, but the poor choices investors are liable to make during them. Bear markets change the decision-making dynamic entirely. In a bear market, smart long-term decisions often look foolish in the short-term; whereas in a bull market foolish long-term decisions often look smart in the short term.

If investors are to enjoy long-run investment success, they need to be able to navigate such exacting periods. There are certain features of bear markets that it pays to remember:

They are inevitable: Bear markets are an ingrained aspect of equity investing. Investors know that they will happen; they just cannot know when or why. Their occurrence should not be a surprise. The long-run return from owning equities would be significantly lower if it were not for bear markets.

It will feel predictable: As share prices fall, hindsight bias will go haywire. It will seem obvious that this environment was coming – the warning signs were everywhere. Investors will heedlessly ignore all the other periods where red flags were abundant and no such market decline occurred.

Nobody can call the bottom: Market timing is impossible, and this fact does not change during a bear market. The only difference is the attraction of attempting it when falling portfolio values can become overwhelming, and the damage it inflicts will likely be greater than usual.

Economic and market news will be conflated: The temptation to interlace economic developments with the prospects for stock market returns can become irresistible during a bear market. Weak economic news will make investors increasingly fearful about markets, despite this relationship being (at best) incredibly hazy.

Time horizons will contract: Bear markets induce panic, which shortens time horizons dramatically. Investors stop worrying about the value of their portfolio in thirty years and start thinking about the next thirty minutes. Being a long-term investor gets even more difficult during a bear market.

Investors don’t consider what a bear market really means: In the near-term, bear markets are about painful and worry-inducing portfolio losses, but what they really are is a repricing of the long-run cash flows generated by a business / the market. The core worth of those companies does not fluctuate nearly as much as short-term market pricing does.

Lower prices are good for long-term savers: For younger investors saving for the long-term, lower market prices are attractive and beneficial to long-run outcomes (it just won’t feel like it).

Source: ‘What We Should Remember About Bear Markets’ by Joe Wiggins published on behaviouralinvestment.com

Asset Multiplier Comments:

  • Losing investment plans during bear markets is inevitable. Although difficult, long-term investors should sit through such exacting periods patiently and stick to their investment approaches.
  • Investors can use bear markets to their advantage by accumulating quality stocks at cheaper valuations and profiting from long-term gains.
  • Investors should avoid getting consumed by noise and immediacy and focus on building wealth over the long term.

Disclaimer: “The views expressed are for information purposes only. The information provided herein should not be considered as investment advice or research recommendation. The users should rely on their own research and analysis and should consult their own investment advisors to determine the merit, risks, and suitability of the information provided.”

Discipline and Investing!


Discipline and Investing!

An investment philosophy contains the core beliefs that guide an investor’s actions and decisions.  How many times have people heard people say “Meditation has changed my life” or “Running has changed my life”.

Is it true that meditation, running, cycling, or going to a gym can change a person’s life? Well, it is the whole process that helps – not just the act itself. Let us say someone starts meditating 3 times a day for 10 minutes each. Once at 7 am, once at 1 pm, and once at 7 pm. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner? In the first week, they do 4 days and miss 3 days. Next week they do 5, then 6 and in 3 months they are meditating for 15 minutes at each session. Now, this ensures that they go to bed at say 11 pm at least – so that they can get up at 6 am and do their meditation at 7. This means no late-night parties – no drinking binges, etc.

So the activity of meditation has brought a lot of discipline to their life. That helps as much as the meditation itself! Ditto for running, cycling – the process helps. After 6 months or 1 year, they go around saying “meditation helps”. True, but partially.

When it comes to investing, again the first step is discipline – to start saving money. That is the toughest part. Once a person learns to save, doing a SIP is not so tough. The discipline of saving says 20% of a person’s salary is a good target to start with. Doing a SIP in an index fund is ideally recommended till one starts learning about investing.

So doing a SIP is about the discipline of taking money away from an investor as soon as it comes. It is one of the best ways of investing for a young person just starting to invest. It works just as well for a seasoned investor who does not want the need to think every day about where and what to invest.

Like meditating, once someone decides to think of saving and tell themselves that Rs. 10,000 per month should be the SIP amount – it can happen. Investors need not fret over missing one or two installments as it takes time to build in the discipline.

Creating wealth is a long-term, multi-year, multi-decade, multi-generational process. Somebody needs to make a start. The ideal age of course is 22, but it is even better if an investor’s father or grandfather had started the process. If they have not, anyone could. We hear such stories very often. Of SIPs started in 1999, 2008, …and continuing. The amount of wealth created is amazing.

On the other hand, we regularly read about celebrities who earned Millions of Dollars going bankrupt. Being driven to suicide. Yes, discipline is boring – especially when investors are young. However, at a later date, the same discipline gives you Financial freedom. Ironic is it not? Discipline leads to freedom!

Source: subramoney by P V Subramanyam

Asset Multiplier Comments:

  • Investing has very little to do with finance and a lot to do with human behaviour. Sticking to an investment strategy in a disciplined manner ignoring other temptations is the easiest way to build wealth over time.
  • Disciplined investing also gives the added benefit of staying invested over the long term ignoring the short-term fluctuations and volatility in the market. Acting during volatility is one of the most prominent reasons for wealth erosion for investors.

Disclaimer: “The views expressed are for information purposes only. The information provided herein should not be considered as investment advice or research recommendation. The users should rely on their own research and analysis and should consult their own investment advisors to determine the merit, risks, and suitability of the information provided.”

 

Performance Chasing and Outcome Bias

“Money flows into most funds after a good performance and goes out when bad performance follows.” (John Bogle)

We have all seen the wording discretely appended to mutual fund marketing stating that ‘past performance is no guide to future results’. Despite the ubiquity of this message, we struggle to heed its warning. This leads to the damaging behaviour of performance chasing, where we sell our holdings in laggard fund managers and reinvest in recent winners.

The tendency of mutual fund returns to experience mean reversion shows that our propensity to sell strugglers and buy recent winners is not just pointless; it is often the exact opposite of what we should be doing.

This damaging behaviour is driven by outcome bias.  Attempting to mitigate outcome bias and prevent performance chasing behaviour means overriding our instincts and also having a willingness to fail unconventionally.  Neither of these is simple, but that does not mean there is nothing we can do.

How Can We Prevent Performance Chasing?

Outcome bias cannot be switched off.  Whilst awareness is a starting point, it is evident from our continued performance chasing behaviour that it alone is insufficient.  We need to make clear and focused interventions to change our behaviour:

Stop Using Performance Screens: Mutual fund performance screens are ubiquitous across the investment industry. Everyone uses some form of historic performance screen to rank funds. Outcome bias and the performance chasing behaviour that follows are difficult enough to avoid even if you are not actively employing tools that encourage it. So, it is best avoided.

Create decision rules: A simple step to avoid performance chasing behaviour is to create fixed decision rules that strictly prohibit it. On average, it should be an effective means of avoiding the cost of purchasing active managers with a high potential for severe mean reversion.

Go Passive: The best behavioural interventions are the simple ones. Anything that requires behavioural discipline or continued effort raises the prospect of failure. Given this, what is the best way to avoid performance chasing in active mutual funds?  We can restrict ourselves to buying only passive market trackers.

Specify the activity in which you believe skill exists: When investing with an active manager, we are taking the view that the underlying manager has some form of skill. We tend, however, to be very vague about what we mean by this.

Extend your time horizons: Our susceptibility to outcome bias is greatly influenced by the time horizons involved. If we assess investment performance over one day it can be considered to be pure luck, but as we extend the period skill can exert more of an influence.

Performance chasing behaviour is, of course, not isolated to our selection of active fund managers.  It is also not entirely driven by outcome bias. This is not to say that outcomes do not matter.  Of course, all investors are seeking better long-term results for their clients. If we want to invest in active managers, we need to think far more about decision quality and process, and far less about yesterday’s performance.

Source: Why Do We Chase Past Performance and What Can We Do About It? By Joe Wiggins

Asset Multiplier Comments:

  • Selecting funds based on past performance is like driving a car by looking in the rear-view mirror. There’s very little correlation between past performance and future returns.
  • The best way to overcome outcome bias is to focus on passive index-linked funds, which remove the variability of performance chasing.
  • If investing in actively managed funds focus on investment thesis and stock selection process rather than past performance.

Disclaimer: “The views expressed are for information purposes only. The information provided herein should not be considered as investment advice or research recommendation. The users should rely on their own research and analysis and should consult their own investment advisors to determine the merit, risks, and suitability of the information provided.”

 

 

#Truths about investing 103- Think differently

This is taken from a presentation by Howard Marks Co-Founder of Oaktree Capital. This is the third article in a series. Mr. Marks makes concise and incisive comments about the art of investing that can help amateur and professional investors alike.

You have to think in a way that departs from the consensus; you have to think differently and better. The price of a security at a given point in time reflects the consensus of investors regarding its value. The big gains arise when the consensus turns out to have underestimated reality. To be able to take advantage of such divergences, you have to think in a way that departs from the consensus; you have to think differently and better. Any time you think you know something others don’t, you should examine the basis for that belief. Ask Questions like- “Does everyone know that?” or “Why should I be privy to exceptional information or insight?”

It isn’t the inability to see the future that cripples most efforts at investment. More often it’s emotion. Investors swing like a pendulum – between greed and fear, euphoria and depression, credulousness and skepticism, and risk tolerance and risk aversion. Usually, they swing in the wrong direction, warming to things after they rise and shunning them after they fall. Technology now enables them to become distracted by returns daily. Thus, one way to gain an advantage is by ignoring the noise created by the manic swings of others and focusing on the things that matter in the long term.

To be a successful investor, you have to have a philosophy and process you believe in and can stick to, even under pressure.

Since no approach will allow you to profit from all types of opportunities or in all environments, you have to be willing to not participate in everything that goes up, only the things that fit your approach. To be a disciplined investor, you have to be able to stand by and watch as other people make money in things you passed on. Every investment approach – even if skillfully applied – will run into environments for which it is ill-suited. That means even the best of investors will have periods of poor performance. Even if you’re correct in identifying a divergence of popular opinion from eventual reality, it can take a long time for the price to converge with value, and it can require something that serves as a catalyst. To be able to stick with an approach or decision until it proves out, investors have to be able to weather periods when the results are embarrassing.

Source- Truth’s about investing by Howard Marks

Asset Multiplier Comments:

  • Investors with a longer time horizon are less likely to make emotional judgments. A properly allocated portfolio has the appropriate mix of equity and fixed-income asset classes to provide an investor with the highest chance of success. This means retiring comfortably without running out of money.
  • A sound investment philosophy is founded on a thorough knowledge of markets. Determine the return you require, the income you will need for your retirement expenses, and the degree of portfolio appreciation you need to achieve that. Selecting a plan and adhering to it is also part of your investment philosophy. Passive investing might just be your investment philosophy.
  • Adhering to your philosophy entails avoiding emotion-driven buy-and-sell choices and sticking to your intended allocation regardless of market movements. The whole objective of allocating according to a strategy is to prevent hopping in and out of assets on the spur of the moment.

 

Disclaimer: “The views expressed are for information purposes only. The information provided herein should not be considered as investment advice or research recommendation. The users should rely on their own research and analysis and should consult their own investment advisors to determine the merit, risks, and suitability of the information provided.”

 

This Week in a Nutshell (15th – 18th November)

Technical talks

NIFTY opened the week on 15th November at 18,141 and ended the truncated week on 18th November at 17,765. The index made a weekly loss of 2.1%. On the upside, 17,993 could act as resistance while 100DMA of 17,020 could act as a support. RSI (14) of 44 indicates the index is nearing the oversold zone.

Among the indices, AUTO was the only sector that ended the week with gains of 0.4%. METAL (-5.3%), PSU BANK (-3.4%), and REALTY (-3.3%) led the laggards.

Weekly highlights

  • Raring agency Fitch Ratings affirmed India’s long-term foreign currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘BBB’- with a negative outlook. The negative outlook reflects lingering uncertainty around the debt trajectory. The Agency has suggested wider fiscal deficits and government plans for only a gradual narrowing of the deficit, putting a greater onus on India’s ability to return to high levels of economic growth over the medium term to stabilize and bring down the debt ratio.
  • S&P Global Ratings has predicted that the Indian economy will likely grow at 11 percent in FY22 but flagged the ‘substantial’ impact of broader lockdowns on the economy. S&P said the control of Covid-19 remains a key risk for the economy.
  • The Nasdaq Composite Index closed above 16,000 points for the first time, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average had a second successive weekly loss (-1.4%). The S&P 500 ended higher following strong retail earnings and positive signs for holiday shopping.
  • Over 4.4mn Americans left their jobs in September-21, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Incentivized by wage gains and other attractive terms offered by employers desperate for talent, several Americans are leaving their jobs. This has made it challenging for employers to fill positions while driving up compensation and inflation.
  • Crude oil prices fell to a six-week low following news of Australia’s lockdowns and surging Covid-19 cases in Europe threatened to slow down the economic recovery. Investors weighed a potential release of crude oil reserves by major economies for a fall in prices. Crude Oil futures settled at USD 75.7 a barrel while Brent Oil futures closed at USD 78.5 a barrel.
  • India’s wholesale price inflation (WPI) jumped to a five-month high at 12.5% in October. This month’s WPI broke the 5-month downward trend as prices of manufactured items and fuel have increased. High petrol, diesel, and cooking prices drove fuel inflation to 37.2%. high prices of basic metals, textiles, plastics, and edible oil drove inflation for manufactured items to 12%.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the three farm acts would be repealed in the upcoming session of the Parliament. The Prime Minister said a committee would be set up to make the minimum support price mechanism more transparent and effective.
  • Foreign Institutional Investors (FII) continued to be net sellers this week, selling shares worth Rs 44,109 mn. Domestic Institutional Investors (DII) continued to be buyers and invested Rs 39,265mn in Indian equities this week.

Things to watch out for next week

  • US markets are waiting for President Biden to nominate who will head the central bank after Jerome Powell’s term finishes in February-2022. The US markets have a truncated week next week as markets will remain shut on Thursday and Friday on account of Thanksgiving.
  • The Indian equity market is likely to see more selling pressure next week amid the rising US dollar, and the beginning of the Fed Reserve’s bond-buying program. Results for September-21 have been announced by most companies. Action is likely to be stock-specific till the end of December.

Disclaimer: “The views expressed are for information purposes only. The information provided herein should not be considered as investment advice or research recommendation. The users should rely on their own research and analysis and should consult their own investment advisors to determine the merit, risks, and suitability of the information provided.”

Luck Vs. Skill in Investing

Jeremy Chia reminds us that investing is a game of probabilities. In any game where probability is a factor, luck undoubtedly plays a role. This leads to the age-old question of how much of our investment performance is impacted by luck?

Is an investor who has outperformed the market a good investor? Similarly, is an investor who has underperformed the market a lousy investor? The answer is surprisingly complex.

Long term stock prices tend to gravitate toward the present value of the company’s expected future cash flow. However, that future cash flow is influenced by so many factors that result in a range of different possible cash flow possibilities. Not to mention that on rare occasions, the market may grossly misprice certain securities. As such, luck invariably plays a role.

Skill is one aspect of investing that is hard to quantify. However, there are a few things Chia looks at. First, we need to analyse a sufficiently long track record. If an investor can outperform his peers for decades rather than just a few years, then the odds of skill playing a factor become significantly higher. Although Warren Buffett may have been lucky in certain investments, no one can deny that his long-term track record is due to being a skilful investor.

Next, focus on the process. Analysing an investment manager’s process is a better way to judge the strategy. One way to see if the manager’s investing insights were correct is to compare his original investment thesis with the eventual outcome of the company. If they matched up, then, the manager may be highly skilled in predicting possibilities and outcomes.

Third, find a larger data set. If your investment strategy is based largely on investing in just a few names, it is difficult to distinguish luck and skill simply because you have only invested in such a few stocks. The sample is too small. But if you build a diversified portfolio and were right on a wide range of different investments, then skill was more likely involved.

Mauboussin wrote: “One of the main reasons we are poor at untangling skill and luck is that we have a natural tendency to assume that success and failure are caused by skill on the one hand and a lack of skill on the other. But in activities where luck plays a role, such thinking is deeply misguided and leads to faulty conclusions.”

Chia concludes that it is important that we understand some of these psychological biases and gravitate toward concrete processes that help us differentiate between luck and skill. That’s the key to understanding our own skills and limitations and forming the right conclusions about our investing ability.

Learn to love momentum

Joachim Clement writes on his blog that the global bull market in equities is seemingly never going to end and investors wonder about what they should do who have missed the boat and only partially invested in the current bull market.

The usual fear is that if they invest now, they might be investing at the top of the market. Another argument is that every asset class seems overvalued. Given extremely low-interest rates, bonds don’t seem a viable option, stocks aren’t cheap either and many alternative asset classes like infrastructure or REITs have become expensive as well. There comes a point when avoiding an asset class on valuation grounds or for fear of an imminent bear market becomes counterproductive. By standing on the sidelines for too long the opportunity costs in terms of foregone returns can become so big that it may take you years and even decades to make up for them.

Value investors and long-term investors, in general, tend to look down on traders, but there are a few things that long-term investors can and should learn from them. First of all, they should learn that time in the market is more important than timing the market. One can only make money if one is invested. But being invested comes with the inevitable risk of drawdowns, which can be short-term in nature like in the US at the end of 2018, or a massive global bear market like in 2008. To deal with these risks of decline in share prices it is important to learn from short-term investors to respect and even love momentum. If price momentum goes against your position for too long, you should sell the position and buy it back at a later point in time when price momentum is more favourable again.

The maximum declines between 1998 and 2019 have also been massively reduced, showing that these momentum-driven strategies can help you avoid severe losses. If you are worried today about high valuations or the possible end of the current bull market, then the most important thing for you is to get into the market with a sensible plan to get out when momentum turns. But this is fine-tuning. The most important thing for investors today is not to be afraid of the bull market.

Gold should be viewed as an investment – S Subramaniam, Titan

Update on the Indian Equity Market:

On Thursday, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of RBI decided to keep the policy repo rate unchanged and persevere with the accommodative stance as long as necessary to revive growth, while ensuring that inflation remains within the target.

The broad market index, Nifty50 ended the day marginally high. PSU Bank (+2.6%), Media (+1.6%) and Pharma (+1.3%) were the top gainers while FMCG (-0.6%), IT (-0.4%) and Realty (-0.3%) were the sectoral losers for the day. Amongst the stocks, Eicher Motors (5.4%), IndusInd Bank (+4.6%) and Zee Entertainment Enterprises (+3.9%) were the biggest gainers. Tata Motors (-2.9%), Cipla (-2%) and Titan (-1.6%) ended the day in the red.

Gold should be viewed as an investment – S Subramaniam, Titan

Excerpts of an interview with S Subramaniam, CFO, Titan. The interview was published in Livemint on February 6, 2020:

  • Titan recently released the 3QFY20 result. The numbers were largely in line with the street estimates and margins were better than expected.
  • Although the company is definitely gaining market share, it has been a bumpy ride. The months of October and November were pretty good but December was tough, so the market is a little shaky.
  • The CFO is hopeful of doing well in the coming quarter as well, the initial guidance of 11-13 percent growth in the jewelry segment has been maintained.
  • Growth in the jewelry business was guided at 2.5x by 2023, which may be at risk, considering that kind of growth is not happening. People looking at gold as an investment in addition to it being a jewelry item would help achieve that kind of growth.
  • The industry has been in pretty bad shape for a variety of reasons. The month of December saw a surge in the gold prices, which did not help. A lot of the jewelers are undergoing financial crises with a pretty bad liquidity situation. Those with adequate funds can possibly do better. Else this pain will continue industry-wide for some more time.
  • Moving to other business segments, the watch segment, World of Titan has witnessed 11 percent growth in the quarter. Although the growth was phenomenal, opportunity was missed on the trade channel because of stocking and in the e-commerce channel. 10 percent of the revenues come from the e-commerce segment which has been slowing down.
  • Margins would be an area of concern for the watch segment. It is expected to perform better including in the next quarter (Q4).
  • The expectation is that margin-wise, the company performance would be better in FY20 than FY19.
  • Growth has been challenging for the eyewear segment. The profitability challenges continue, which need to be addressed.

Consensus Estimate: (Source: market screener and investing.com websites)

  • The closing price of Titan was ₹ 1259/- as on 6-February 2020. It traded at 69.6x/ 54.5x/ 45.6x the consensus earnings estimate of ₹ 18.1/ 23.1/ 27.6 for FY20E/ FY21E/ FY22E respectively.
  • Consensus target price of ₹ 1204 /- implies a PE multiple of 44x on FY22E EPS of ₹ 27.6 /-