Thursday, November 26, 2009

Black Friday

Okay! This is interesting

Came across this term, " Black Friday" in the context of Thanksgiving a couple of days ago. Could not understand as to why this phrase was associated with this day. Of course being a finance person, the first thought that occurs on hearing the term is a market collapse (like here).  So, I was confused about the association.

Finally checked the term on wikipedia today. Accoding to the entry, the first known usage of the term is from 1965 Philadelphia

"Black Friday" is the name which the Philadelphia Police Department has given to the Friday following Thanksgiving Day. It is not a term of endearment to them. "Black Friday" officially opens the Christmas shopping season in center city, and it usually brings massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing.

There are other interesting facts. Check them out here

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chidambaram is "Sorry"

The former finance minister and the current home minister, P Chidambaram, is a learned man and he has a sharp, almost acidic wit. Despite that, I have always liked him for his intelligence. He appears to know what he is doing (unlike many others) and has clearly thought through situations. However, in this TV show, hosted by Barkha Dutt, he just took his superiority complex too far.

When one of the survivors of 26/11 made an emotional plea to him that there should have been stronger measures to bring the perpetrators to justice, Chidambaram went out on the offensive and put the poor chap on the hot seat and asked him what he would have done in his place.

It was totally unbecoming of his position although not completely surprising coming from him. It certainly appears that Mr. Chidambaram is still sulking on his loss of the finance portfolio. Even then, this does not mean he can vent his anger on an innocent man, who is so overcome with emotions that he is barely coherent. Of course Chidambaram got no reply.
This, after all Chidambaram could say, on the issue of the Maharashtra Polices’ inability to locate Karkare’s bullet proof vest, was “I Am Sorry”

Shame on you Mr. Chidambaram for doing this! You had no right. Rather than giving a straight answer, you chose to be vitriolic. I am sorry too Chiddu, but if you don’t have an answer then you ought not to be the home minister. Correct me if I am wrong, but you are the home minister and the fact is, that despite the government making tall claims, none of the accused has been brought to justice. Not even one. So it was a fair question and deserved a straight reply.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Devdutt Pattanaik: East vs west -- the myths that mystify

Deeply resonates with my belief on why a lot of economic analysis is flawed as it does not take into account all the dimensions of "My World"

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Poll: Does having the best product make you the market leader?

Well, this is the first poll on this blog. Have a decent number of people reading this blog, so thought that it would not hurt if I could do some primary research on areas that have been intriguing me and may have, at some point, intrigued you. Would be kind of nice to know what you think. Promise to publish the analysis soon

The questions is

"Does having the best product make you a market leader?"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Educomp: Securitization?

Secutization Debate: How Educomp is turning its Financing Cash Flows into Operating Cash Flows? But isn't that a good thing?

India's largest education company by market capitalization, Educomp Solutions, has been the "Darling" of investors since its IPO days. And for good reasons, many would argue. It has consistently maintained an explosive growth, the profit margins have been excellent and growing at an even faster rate and of course, more importantly, has given its investors over 30x returns since its IPO (despite falling over 25% from its high). Educomp has had a near "Dream Run" in the markets ever since it debuted, in fact rallying 100% on day 'One' of its listing.

However since its last results, Educomp has suddently lost favor with the "Investment Experts". To be fair, there were enough people who privately and not so privately expressed doubts about this company from the beginning. However, never have I seen another company being panned like this, and "rather rudely" in public. At least not a company which had a 9000 crore market cap and certainly not in India. I mean they have had had their share of controversies in the past. But which company, growing at an explosive rate, does not?

To be sure, its Q2 FY10 results were just as "stupendous" and the management upped the guidance for FY10 and FY11. So what changed, that a large swathe of investors and analysts suddenly did an about turn and are now calling it "... a very unique and strange company." or "..the only company I would short in the Indian market.."

Almost every one now blames, their newly announced securitization policy. This is what they have done

Educomp "Smart Class" Model

Before Securitization

With a high "upfront" capex model, their operating cash flows have always been low, putting a constraint on their growth. Therefore they have had to constantly borrow or raise equity to maintain the high growth rate. Now, one of the ways to ensure scalability is to securitize your investment/receivables which privide a company with enough liquidity to fuel its growth without the need to dilute equity. Which is what Educomp did, in last quarter.

New "Securitization" arrangement

Where Edu-SPV is an "unrelated" entity, apparently floated by ex-employees of Educomp

Now, "Securitization" is not a bad thing and sure it does turn Financing CF into Operating CF and the management should have been applauded for this, but there are curious angles to this peculiar case and apparently are the source of discomfort for the investors. Can you guess, why?

Mind you, nothing is illegal here, just what some people may call "smart" and "innovative" structuring

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Hidden Cost of 'Free' Online Information

While we like to get information for free, especially when it comes to online sources, one must watch out for biases and hidden motivations of the writers.Now, I am not implying that information carried in other channels is always free of such biases but given the ease of being able to shout out loud over the internet, makes this medium particularly susceptible.

To be fair, information can be flawed for other reasons as well including lack of research or because the writer placed undue reliance on another such information source.

While we do not pay for the these 'biased statements' masquerading as 'expert knowledge', there are hidden agency costs that we can end up being saddled with, aside from the time that we 'spend' browsing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

HDFC Credila: Deal Analysis

HDFC has acquired 41% in education loan provider - Credila Financial Services from DSP Merrill Lynch for $2.2 Mn. The transaction values the Mumbai based company at $ 5 Mn.

Promoters - Anil Bohora and Ajay Bohora hold the remaining 59% in the company.

The deal marks HDFC's entry into Rs 30,000 Cr education loan market, which is expanding at 30% per annum. At present, HDFC Ltd offers very specialized education loan to students in select institutions like ISB, Hyderabad, IIM Ahmedabad and Symbiosis, Pune.

Formed in 2007, Credila has disbursed loan of Rs 16 cr in 2008-09. It currently has offices in Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi and Nashik.

Unlike bank education loans, Credila’s loans are all secured. The company insists on one or more creditworthy co-borrowers for all disbursals. It has also entered into agreement with a students tracking agency abroad.

Before founding Credila, the Bohoras founded a healthcare claims processing company called ClaimsBPO in January 1997 with a US joint venture partner. In 2003, ClaimsBPO was sold to WNS Global Services, a Warburg Pincus-owned company, listed on NYSE.

The promoters are both engineers who have relocated from executive positions in the US. Ajay was earlier with MetLife in its New York office, while Anil had worked in senior positions in AOL Time Warner and Pitney Bowles.

The Education loan space have seen good credit growth in the recent past. Most of the players have reported over 25% growth in the student loan portfolio.

Union Bank of India reported 40% growth for the quarter, while Bank of India and Bank of Baroda reported 24% and 29% growth respectively in their education loan porfolio.

Here's My Analysis

1. Provides HDFC with an excellent platform for expanding into education loans.
2. Enters a high growth market: HDFC needs to create more growth engines to keep its growth momentum
3. Buy vs build approach gives them quicket acess to market. Credila's conservative approach (all loans are secured) to lending, gels well with that of HDFC's
4. Backing a winning team with their skin still in the game.

End Game
Behoras are serial entrepreneurs and would probably be bought out by HDFC over the next couple of years. HDFCs huge reach and brand would give them the leverage to expand, create value and exit.

PVR - DT Deal analysis

Multiplex chain PVR Ltd has announced twin deals. It has acquired the cinema exhibition business of DT Cinemas Ltd, a subsidiary of real estate major DLF, in a cash-cum-stock deal. As per the structure of the deal, PVR will pay a cash component of Rs 20.02 crore and allot 2.55 million shares to DT Cinemas.

Simultaneously, PVR has also raised Rs 42.19 crore through a preferential share allotment of over 2.55 million shares to Major Cineplex Group Plc. of Thailand. The deal involves an overall stake dilution of 18.18% by PVR, with both Major Cineplex and DT Cinemas getting 9.09% stake each

PVR already has a joint venture called PVR bluO Entertainment Ltd with Major Cineplex for setting up bowling alleys, karaoke centres and ice-skating rinks.
Here is my analysis
1. Low risk capacity addition (they know the kind of revenue generation run rate DT has)
2. Gives them virtual monoply in certain regions (Gurgaon for example)
3. Gets closer in size to Adlabs - Gives them greater bargaining power over producers
4. DLF and PVR have also entered into an agreement by which the latter will gain exclusive and unlimited access to the multiplex space in all future mall developments of the DLF group
5. Ties Major Cineplex's interests to growth of PVR and thus increasing coordination for their JV
1. Gets a strong anchor partner for new shopping mall and recreation properties
2. Reduces cash requirement for non core businesses
Currently, DT Cinemas operates 26 screens with three more screens expected to start in the next six months. This will add to PVR's existing 108 screens and further strengthen its position in the National Capital Region (NCR).

DLF and PVR have also entered into an agreement by which the latter will gain exclusive and unlimited access to the multiplex space in all future mall developments of the DLF group. The deal further re-affirms company's strategy to rapidly grow in the film exhibition space and to be a dominant player in all key markets, it said, in its filing to BSE.

The preferential issue has been made at Rs 165 per share. The shares of PVR Ltd closed at Rs 139.8 today, up by more than 1%. Taking today's closing price, DT Cinemas stands to get another Rs 35.74 crore over its the cash component of Rs 20.02 crore.

DLF, which is looking cut its debt of around Rs 12,000-13,000 crore, has been shedding its non-core assets and plans to raise Rs 4,500 crore through this process.

Random Walk & Mean Reversion

The question of market efficiency has puzzled many experts. There is a group that stands by their belief that market is efficient and takes in to account all information available up to that point of time. Others vehemently oppose this and say that the market is a Random Walk and has a mind of its own.  Yet others believe in the theory of mean reversion and quote Horace (including Buffett)

I believe that market is efficient, but only on average and its displays mean reversion but ends up swinging to the other extreme and for large periods its just appears to be on a random walk in some territory. 

There are others still, who find patterns in this random dance and call it momentum, support, resistance, breakout etc. No expert has a unifying theory of the markets.

Will the real Einstein (of the markets) please stand up!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sh*t his dad says!

This guy has apparently landed a TV deal for his twitter account.

Sample this:

"Son, people will always try and fuck you. Don't waste your life planning for a fucking, just be alert when your pants are down."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Captive M&A

Captive M&A is the current hotspot for deal making activity in India. Some of the recent deals include the following

Cognizant - UBS India - $ 75 Mn
Mphasis - AIG Systems Solutions - NA
Wipro - Citi Technology Services - $ 127 Mn
TCS - Citigroup Global Services - $ 505 Mn
WNS - Aviva Global Services - $ 228 Mn
EXL - American Express Business Travel - $ 30 Mn

EXL American Express Deal Analysis

Nasdaq listed EXL has signed a deal with American Express to acquire the global travel service center operations located in Gurgaon, India, from American Express Business Travel (AEBT) for approximately $30 million. The deal follows the trend of sell off of technology captives by large multinationals. For a seasoned outsourcer like American Express, you would think that this would have happened sooner than now.

Despite being a big outsourcer Amex has always had a strong internal IT department. This department is responsible for outsourcing and vendors get little direct access to business (except IBM)

Now, for EXL, this is certainly a step up, both in terms of deal size and that it gives them a marquee customer in the travel industry as well as ready access to new capabilities that they can put to use in other deals.

However, I am surprised by the fact that we did not hear of IBM vying for this. IBM is a deeply entrenched player in Amex’s technology operations (Credit Cards and Travel). It even provides office supplies, or at least used to a few years ago, to Amex. This effectively shuts out IBM from at least this part of the business for the next 8 years. I would not be surprised if IBM attempts to buy EXL at some point in the near future.

From my time at Amex, I remember that once one of the VPs there had given a contract to a small vendor instead of IBM, to diversify risk and also perhaps to make a point that IBM needs to improve its service. However, by next quarter IBM came back in and took over this small company.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Abu Azmi hit by MNS leader for taking oath in Hindi

WTF... Now I am not commenting on Azmi, but he too, like the FUBAR MNS MLA who hit him, is a democratically elected member and many of those who voted for him knew that he does not speak Marathi and he represents them. The rules allow him to take the oath in Hindi so why the fuss

If proficiency in speaking Marathi language is the only criteria for judging, then lets hold a language exam to elect the assembly. Why the fracas and expense of elections?

Someone needs to put a leash on these MNS guys and stop this nonsense...

Check the out the Video Coverage here: Abu Azmi hit by MNS leader for taking the assembly oath in Hindi

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Deja Moo, Ear Job, Blamestorming and the The Office Life

Could not resist posting these!

  • Al Desco - Describes any meal eaten at your desk (you have our sympathies if it's dinner).
  • ALAP - As Late As Possible
  • Blamestorming - Meeting to discuss a failure and find a scapegoat
  • Deja moo - The nagging feeling that you've heard this B.S. before
  • Enail - An email sent for the sole purpose of making a point in writing, usually at another person's expense. Most effective when cc'ed to as many senior people as possible
  • Ear candy: Flattery
  • Ear job: The act of passing on some juicy company gossip verbally, and in private. "I'm just running into a meeting, but I'll give you an ear job later."
  • Facipulate - An unfortunate mix of 'facilitate' and 'manipulate', this contrived verb refers to influencing the course of a discussion by indirectly promoting particular lines of thought
  • FUBAR- F***ed Up Beyond All Repair
  • Head shunting - The secret hiring of a head hunter to persuade an ineffectual employee to take a position at another firm. Nicely eliminates the mess of having to fire someone

My favorite is Deja Moo. Perfectly describes what you feel while listening to the "experts" on business channels predicting whether the market is going to go up or down

These are a few samples from the new / interesting jargon at the office life

Tata Nano

It has been two years since it was unveiled and four months since it was launched, I have yet to see a Tata Nano being driven on road in the national capital region. All the talk about the "Peoples' Car" flooding, overwhelming and choking the traffic system seem to have to have come from some over imaginative, fear mongering journalist. It may still happen, but not any time soon.

The Tata Nano has been in production since July, and during that time, Tata Motors has reportedly sold over 7,500 copies of its 100 K car. The Indian automaker has plenty of potential customers for its inexpensive little econo-gem, but production capacity is another matter altogether. Tata is producing the Nano with existing plant floor capacity until its new, reported (as per 250,000-unit/year factory comes online at the end of March 2010.

Tata is also considering licensing the Nano to other automakers, with or without Tata branding. Tata Vice Chairman Ravi Kant reportedly mentioned at an awards function that the company would allow micro-assembly sites to build their own Nano within India, adding, "We call it Nano, they don't have to."

With recent reports of the cars catching spontaneous fire and murmurs or poor build quality, I still have doubts on whether the Nano will be as big a hit as earlier imagined even if capacity constraints are removed.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Double Dip, Echo Bubble, Green Shoots, LUV

I do not know if I am a better investor after this recession, but have certainly learnt some new, fascinating term. The neo-recession dictionary includes the following

Double Dip Recession:
When gross domestic product (GDP) growth slides back to negative after a quarter or two of positive growth. A double-dip recession refers to a recession followed by a short-lived recovery, followed by another recession. (Investopedia)

Echo Bubble:
A post-bubble rally that becomes another, smaller bubble. (Investopedia)
People point to the rally that occurred after the market crash of 1929 as an example of an echo bubble. Just like its more-prominent predecessor, the smaller echo bubble eventually burst. Also, after the technology bubble that occurred at the turn of the 21st century--one of the biggest bubbles of all time--people believed that another echo bubble was on the way.

Green Shoots:
Green shoots is a term used colloquially to indicate signs of economic recovery during an economic downturn.

It was first used in this sense by Norman Lamont, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, during the 1991 Recession.The phrase was used again by Baroness Vadera, former Business Minister of the UK in January, 2009 to refer to signs of economic recovery during the late-2000s recession, again to criticism from the media and opposition politicians. The U.S. media started to use the phrase to describe domestic economic conditions in February 2009 when the New York Times quoted Bruce Kasman, chief economist at JPMorgan Chase as saying, "It's too early to get excited, but I think there are a couple of green shoots that say we're not going down as heavily in the first quarter [of 2009] as we were in the fourth quarter [of 2008]." The Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, made the first public use of the phrase by a Fed official in a March 15, 2009 interview with CBS 60 Minutes (Wikipedia)

Luv hurts... Sir Martin Sorrell has warned of a 'LUV-shaped recession'.
The boss of ad giant WPP, which includes JWT and Ogilvy and Mather, as well as Finsbury PR and TNS market research, is saying the recession is L-shaped in the UK and Western Europe, U-shaped in the US, and V-shaped in Asia and the BRIC countries.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

HSBC Credit Cards

HSBC has fallen to new lows in terms of customer service and ethics. In the last three months my brother and I have separately cancelled our HSBC Platinum Credit Cards. We were good loyal customers with excellent payment record. But HSBC would simply not honor any commitment, fraudulently kept charging membership fees and other charges after promising that the there would be none, again and again. The experience was horrible.

It is a myth that foriegn banks in India offer better customer service and HSBC has been the worst. Its is time these banks were taken to task by RBI and other authorities
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