Saturday, March 2, 2013

Which stocks should you pick in current fall?

We have witnessed midcap carnage in last one month or so, with concerns looming over some companies having pledged shareholding and margin calls getting triggered. A non-event making Union budget and FIIs having concerns over TRC issue did not help the sentiment, and we may lose further stream on the way down. Rather than dwelling over the macro direction, it’s better to focus on the actionable for an individual investor in any given situation. Most midcaps and small caps are beginning to look attractive. Decision point for an individual investor therefore is what to buy, if at all.
I would divide the stock universe at present juncture into three categories:
1.      Quality stuff– Most blue chip stocks with formidable market position have not seen much price action. Their financials and business dynamics are what they were. To give you a flavor I’m referring to strong companies across market caps like ITC, Nestle, HDFC twins, Pidilite, Colgate, Asian Paints, Titan Industries etc. which have remained relatively stable. Argument for buying these stocks as a portfolio choice at this stage can turn out to be a good decision, in case indices drop another 10% from here, these stocks are not likely to suffer as much. The counter-argument for these stocks being a bad decision is that they are already quoting at very high valuations and upside here will not be much when market rebounds.
2.      Beaten down – Here I’m referring to stocks that are damaged price-wise in the last few weeks. There may be concerns over pledged shareholding of these stocks and sometimes of margin calls over these holdings. In few of them there could be issues of corporate governance and suspicion over some of the actions or transactions. As an indicator of this category, we have names like Arshiya International, Opto Circuits, Core Education, Alok Industries, ABG Shipyard, Zylog Systems, Onmobile Global, PC Jewellers, IRB Infra, GMR Infra etc. Market does not give benefit of doubt in many cases and price action has been pretty severe.
3.      Down but not out – These are stocks where price decline in the last few weeks has been significant but the fundamental strength and standing of the businesses are intact. In other words, these companies stocks have also fallen but more in solidarity with the markets and their midcap peers, rather than any specific negatives on part of their business, promoters or management. One of the beneficiary themes could be exporters who are benefited by a weakening rupee. Domestic consumption themes with strong earnings visibility and robust cash flows are the others that look attractive.

If you have been following posts on this forum for sometime, you would be able to make out stocks in which one of the above three categories I’m going to recommend to buy at the moment.  Yes, it’s the third “Down but not out” since I believe the positive surprise would be the maximum in this category over the next 1-2 quarters. There is a good likelihood that Q4 results would be favourable for companies where business quality has not deteriorated and bounce-back could be swift. It is this category that can beat the consensus estimates in a decisive manner, if not in the next few months certainly over the next few quarters. This is a good time to invest in equities, let’s not miss out on the opportunity.

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