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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mutual Fund Review: DSPBR Top 100 Equity



A LARGE-CAP bias, consistency of returns and good downside protection makes the fund a good pick for a core holding of any portfolio.

With a strategy to invest in the top 100 companies by market capitalisation, the fund has outperformed its peers in a consistent fashion and is the best performing fund over the longrun among its peers set.

Launched in February 2003, it has turned in returns ahead of its peers every year and in the market downturn in 2008, it shed just 45.54 per cent against category's 52.32 per cent.

The fund manager is not hesitant of taking aggressive sectoral bets and at the same time making quick in and out of sectors in case of opportunities or lack of it.

The fund looks fairly diversified with around 38 stocks in the portfolio over the past one year and the top five holdings accounting for close to 25 per cent of the portfolio.

Although, the allocation to a particular stock has exceeded eight per cent on quite a few occasions, investors don't have to worry about this because with a large-cap bias, the portfolio is high on liquidity.

There are stocks which have appeared for a considerable number of months in the fund's portfolio, showing the buy and hold strategy of the fund but the fund manager is seen investing intermittently in such kind of stocks.

This high degree of churning is also reflected in the high turnover ratio, as the fund has the second highest portfolio turnover ratio of 316 per cent among funds of DSPBR Mutual Fund. a The impressive performance of the m fund in all market conditions makes it a good pick for the core holding of any mutual fund portfolio.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010



This tiny fund packs quite a punch. After an absolutely dismal 2006, it shot to prominence in the bull run of 2007 and 2009. Its fall in 2008 was in-line with the category average.

Fund's philosophy is to buy stocks with asecular growth story. It focuses on longterm growth opportunities in India and not market direction.

In December 2008, when the fund's exposure to cash and debt was high amongst equity funds, it was exposed 83 per cent to equity, which rose to 88 per cent over the next two months. By March 2009, it was at 90 per cent and by May, it was fully invested (96 per cent). This put the fund in an enviable position.

Despite the agility a small fund offers, this fund opts for a large-cap bent, refrains from frequent churning and tilts towards a buy-and-hold approach.

There has been a tilt in the fund's portfolio from asset creators to asset owners. The fund manager is cautious on infrastructure as it is a very long-term growth story and the sector is richly valued. Hence, stocks like L&T are out but GAIL and Mundra Port are in.

The corpus being small, the fund goes with a portfolio of around 35 stocks, which are fairly diversified relative to size. The allocation of 58 per cent to the top 3 sectors is in-line with the category average.

Franklin India International Fund is shut down



Recently, Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund came out with the proposal to shut down one of its funds - Franklin India International Fund (FIIF) - a fund that invested in foreign debt.


Launched at the start of 2003, FIIF was essentially a feeder fund, the parent fund being Franklin US Government Fund. The mandate of Franklin US Government Fund is to invest solely in government-backed Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA) pass-through securities popularly known as Ginnie Mae with provisions for also going into cash.


Unlike the mortgage backed securities of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the security issued by Ginnie Mae was not severely hit by the downturn in the U.S. housing crisis of 2008. So the question that begs to be answered is: Why is the fund house shutting down the fund?


The reason cited is "the strengthening rupee against US dollar which has resulted in a sharp reduction for demand of the fund."Fair enough. But after the rupee appreciated by 11.93 per cent against the dollar in 2007, why did the fund house not pull the plug then?


In the past six years of its existence, FIIF has given a negative return in as many as three years. Being a debt fund, investors have not taken to this kindly. In fact, it added to the risk in their debt portfolio. It started with Rs 8.25 crore in assets but by 2006, its size was in the range of Rs 1-2 crore. It posted -4.70 per cent in 2007, while its assets touched a new low of Rs 54 lakh (December 2007). Though it delivered a scorching return of 23.73 per cent (2008), investors had lost confidence in the fund. With a negative return in 2009 and historic low size of Rs 47 lakh in March 2010, the fund house decided to call it quits. Franklin US Government Fund, with assets over $9 billion, delivered a 5-year annualised return of 5.30 per cent (in dollars), while FIIF delivered 3.90 per cent (as on April 21, 2010).


Monday, June 28, 2010

How to choose a mutual fund?



When a mutual fund advertises high returns on a particular equity scheme, investors get lured. If the actual returns disappoint, they stay on, hoping for luck to turn, or move to another top-ranked (as they believe) scheme. The fundamental question is whether returns should be the sole or crucial differentiator to pick an MF scheme.

Returns are one of the most important aspects, but you shouldn't ignore other factors. Returns Demystified : First, let us understand the concept of "returns". Take the case of an equity growth scheme. For simplicity, assume the NAVs are as given below :

In this case, we have different absolute returns for different periods. The simple average annual return since inception is 16 per cent. The absolute return for the first six months is 20 per cent, whereas for the first year it is only 10 per cent. If you calculate the return from June 30, 2008, to June 30, 2009, it is zero. The above example makes it clear that a return by itself may not give a clear indication of the scheme's features. By using different time periods, a fund house may give you a misleading picture.

Opting for right performance evaluation period: Each type of scheme has a different investment objective and time horizon of investment for risk-adjusted return expectation. An equity fund should be evaluated over the medium to long term (i.e. two to three years).

The other factors to be considered are as below:

Investment objective:

Each fund scheme is based on an investment philosophy, predefined in the funds' objectives. An investor has to find the right scheme which matches his investment needs with the funds' objectives and invest accordingly. For instance, some funds invest in mid-caps to give better than index returns, some invest in companies in the infrastructure sector only, etc.


You will get a clear picture of the investment style of a fund if you look at the portfolio of the scheme. For example, take diversified equity funds. Among the top performers, the portfolio would reveal that a particular scheme or schemes have only top quality stocks, whereas another has a large exposure to midcap companies. In a rising market, the scheme with large mid-caps may outperform the other, but when the market is in a bad shape, the mid-caps can also take asevere beating. So, ensure your objective matches with the fund's strategy.

The portfolio is constructed depending on the risk/return profile, as well as the liquidity needs of the with the scheme objective.

Corpus Size:

Certain schemes from fund houses like Sahara Mutual Fund, Taurus Mutual Fund, ING Mutual Fund, etc.

may be in the top five or 10 rankings on performance. However, their corpus size is very low (e.g. that of Sahara Power & Natural Resources Fund is just Rs 6 crore, of Taurus Infra Fund is Rs 28 crore, ING Contra Fund is Rs 16 crore, etc. Usually, schemes with low corpus have higher volatility and standard deviation. Investors should prefer a scheme with sizeable corpus.

Benchmark Performance:

It is important to compare the returns of funds vis-à-vis the respective benchmark across various time frames. The benchmark is usually the S&P CNX Nifty, BSE Sensex, BSE 100, BSE 500, etc. The trademark of a good fund is its ability to deliver superior performance year after year. The objective of any active investment strategy is to outperform the benchmark and this excess return is what is called the 'alpha'. An investor should also ensure consistency in returns over different periods of time before investing.

Business practices:

The most important aspect is how the fund houses conduct themselves. How much transparency is there in their operations? If the fund house doesn't have high ethical standards and good corporate governance, the best performance can turn into a nightmare in no time (e.g. Schemes of JM Mutual Fund such as Hi Fi Fund, Small and Midcap Fund, etc.). It is necessary that you don't overlook what yielded that performance. For example, a fund can take a huge risk and book exceptional profits. However, if the strategy boomerangs, there will be heavy losses. In case you knew you were taking a huge risk for high rewards, it is a different case. However, if you are caught unawares by a sudden change of tactics of the fund, then it hurts.

Expense Ratio:

Usually, schemes disclose their expense ratios. The expense ratios affect the fund's performance. Higher expenses charged to a scheme can alter its performance. The impact is more in case of debt funds, as the returns are lesser than that of equity funds.

Peer return comparison:

This information is usually available with investment advisory teams. It shows how a particular scheme has performed in comparison to schemes of other fund houses. Peer return comparison is a must to understand if the fund manager is able to outperform the other schemes.


The mutual fund industry in India has prospered due to transparency and disclosures. Most fund houses come out with a fund fact sheet for each scheme every month. They provide information about the investment particulars of the corpus (company and sectorwise), credit ratings, market value of investments, NAVs, returns, repurchase and sale price of the schemes.

A fund house normally comes out with various publications which contain the scheme's objectives, fund manager's commentary on the portfolio, market outlook, etc. The aim is to help an investor take an informed decision to invest, stay invested or redeem out of the fund. It is upto the investor i.e. you, to make the best use of it.

An equity fund should be evaluated over the medium- to long-term, that is, two to three years

Each scheme is based on an investment philosophy, pre-defined in the funds objectives

Fund houses should conduct themselves in a transparent manner

Peer return comparison is a must to evaluate the fund manager's strategies

The aim of an active investment strategy is to outperform the benchmark

It is up to the investor to make the best use of information available

Mortality charge and insurance premium


How it makes sense to go in for life insurance at an early age as the amount of premium to be paid is lower

   There are some charges besides the premium that one pays on a life insurance plan. These include commission paid to the insurance agent, administration charges towards your policy, mortality charges etc. The major argument for taking a life insurance policy at an early age is that you can get it at a very low premium. The premium for a traditional term plan increases with age. Whenever you buy a life insurance policy the company will levy a charge for the life cover and to cover certain other expenses.

   Mortality charge is a part of a life insurance premium. This is the actual cost of insurance in a life policy. In most policies, the bulk of the premium goes towards investing in a savings fund which is returned to the policyholder when the policy matures. Mortality charge is deducted from the policy's account value.

   Most companies go by a table of charges prepared by the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) based on historical data on life expectancy. The rates are based on life expectancy in India. Private insurance companies have their own tables to calculate mortality charges.

   Usually, there are three factors that are taken into consideration while determining the mortality charge - the net amount at risk under the policy, the risk classification of the policyholder, and the attained age of the policyholder. Thus, you get the benefit of a reduced mortality charge if you buy life insurance at a young age. The life expectancy of a 20-year-old will be higher than that of a 60-year-old. As such, the 20-year-old will stand to benefit in terms of lower charges while buying insurance.

   Some time ago, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) had asked life insurance companies to stop levying a charge if a policy is surrendered from the fifth year, besides withdrawing the mortality charge from the overall cap on charges levied by unit-linked insurance plans (ULIPs). As a result, a policyholder will benefit if he wishes to take a higher life cover while buying ULIPs. Insurance companies stand to gain too as this would give more freedom to increase administration charges.

   In future, since life expectancy of the average person has gone up, it is likely that one will have to incur a higher cost when it comes to buying whole life annuities. Those who invest in pension plans will have to use at least two-thirds of the accumulated sum to buy annuities.

   In case of annuities, the investor gets a regular income for a specified period in return for a lump sum payment. The savings under a pension plan have to be invested in annuities to avoid them being taxed. One-third of a pension fund value at maturity is made available to the insured free of tax. The balance has to be used to purchase annuities from any insurer.


ULIP offers some flexibility to investors

This article outlines the benefits of investing in a ULIP that is both an insurance and investment

   Insurance has long been an instrument of risk mitigation, an investment avenue, and tax-saving option. Insurance companies offer investment plans that give investors the option of choosing the risk exposure in the insurance policy. This affects the returns offered by the policy. This sort of a plan is called a unit-linked insurance plan ULIP).

   ULIPs are dynamic plans and flexible by nature. Hence, they allow changes and offer a high degree of customisation, as opposed to most of the financial plans that once purchased cannot be modified. It is because of the embedded characteristics of transparency, flexibility, liquidity and goal-based savings that ULIPs have emerged as a preferred investment option.

   These plans offer:

• Flexibility

• Transparency

• Tax benefits

• Savings

• Capital appreciation

Insurance and risk cover    

The premiums paid by investors are divided into two elements: One is pportioned towards the insurance premium or the risk cover. The balance goes into the investment part. The investment portion of the insurance premium is not 100 percent. In case of death, the nominee gets the sum assured or the net asset value (NAV) of the fund, whichever is higher. Thus, the investment plan gives complete protection to the investor.

   The investment portion of the premium is invested in different financial market instruments - debt, equity etc. The risk and returns on these depend on the risk and returns of the underlying instruments into which the investment goes. These underlying options give the advantage of being able to shift money from high risk funds to low risk funds based on the market conditions and the investor's risk appetite. However, switching between options has some limitations and charges, and reduces the returns to the investor.


Underlying funds may be either equity or debt, or a combination of these. Accordingly, the risk exposure as well as the returns from the plan tends to vary. Insurance companies provide different underlying fund options to investors. These may include debt, equity, government securities or money market instruments. The investor can switch between fund options any time during the policy years. The exposure can vary from zero to hundred percent in equity or debt, with and without various combinations of debt, cash or bonds.

Custom-made options    

Some plans give the option to create customised asset allocation by investing in any combination of underlying options. Others may offer funds which are completely focused on money or bond markets. Some plans also give a top-up option in which an investor can put additional amounts into the policy. The investor can also withdraw some amount from the plan any time during the course of the policy.

   There is always a difference between the NAV at which one buys and the NAV at which one sells. Thus, when one switches from one fund to another or in case of buying a fund, the bid-offer spread needs to be taken into account. Investors should also consider the withdrawal charges involved and the benefit derived out of such transactions.

   An additional fee is associated with the management of the various fund options. The fund management expense can vary from fund to fund. Investors can track the value of the underlying fund at the end of the day based on the NAV of the fund.

   These plans tend to be better than the pure vanilla insurance plans because they are more flexible, transparent and easy to understand. They give the investors more flexibility to choose investment options. Investors can shift money between fund options any time. An investor may initially choose a debt fund and later switch to an equity fund or vice versa (at a switchover charge). Some free switchovers may also be allowed.

   So, the funds are not blocked in one particular avenue and one can take advantage of the ups and downs of the various underlying financial instruments.

   Some factors to keep in mind while choosing a plan:

Requirements and risk profile    

Identify a plan that is best suited to your requirements of money, keeping in mind your risk appetite.

Check costs    

These would include all the charges levied on the product over its tenure and not just the initial charges - fixed administrative charges, fund management charges and mortality charges. Mortality charges are charges for the cost of insurance coverage and depend on a number of factors such as age, amount of cover, state of health etc.

Evaluate performance    

Compare the performance of the plan with benchmark indices like BSE Sensex or Nifty over the past two or three years to get an idea about the performance vis-avis these indices.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Right Insurance cover is must for your house


With global warming leading to more natural disasters, need for house insurance is greater


DO YOU really need home insurance? Victims of the Mumbai or Andhra Pradesh floods or those hit by the earthquake in Gujarat and Uttarkhand will say you definitely do. Most Indians do not bother to take a home insurance policy, even though the rates for a basic home and contents cover are very low. So how much cover do you require and what do you need from your home insurance cover? Here are a few pointers:

Cover against fire: If you are a homeowner, then the structure of your home itself is highly important and needs to be covered against fire.

Cover against natural calamities: Make sure that the home insurance product you choose gives you adequate cover against unforeseeable risks and natural calamities such as earthquake, flood and cyclone. With global warming leading to more frequent natural disasters the need for such insurance is even greater now. Terrorist activities: This is one of the biggest threats today and can cause wide-scale damage to property, especially if you live in areas that have been targeted in the past such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Delhi and Coimbatore. Riots are also a big cause for concern. Regions such as Andhra Pradesh (Telengana issue), Gujarat, Mumbai and Rajasthan have seen wide-scale destruction due to riots. Burglary and Theft: Safety is a big concern and we need more protection due to lack of an appropriate security infrastructure.

   There are additional but invaluable benefits that you should consider as for protecting your home:

Home Contents: When looking for home insurance, you will have to decide on the critical assets that you need to cover. You would have invested your life savings in your home and would probably be dedicating a considerable portion of your salary towards loan repayments etc. Hence it is essential that you protect this investment from imminent dangers.

   You would also have spent a significant sum on furnishing your home with electronic goods, furniture etc. and may be housing jewellery and other valuables, all of which you will need to secure from the ever-increasing threat of burglary or theft. Your home insurance policy will also protect your electronic items from sudden electrical breakdown which could result from erratic power supply to your home.

Personal Accident: Some home insurance policies are more comprehensive in extending coverage not only to your home, but also to the residents of the home against fire and other natural perils. The other aspect that may prove worrisome is the possibility of an accident affecting your capacity to earn, leading to your inability to pay back the home loan. A personal accident cover is ideal for protecting you and your family members since it provides compensation in case of accidental injuries. So instead of taking a separate policy to cover accidents, one can reduce the hassle by investing in a package product that covers home along with providing an accident cover.

Pet Insurance: If you have pets at home, you probably want to secure their safety as well. A pet insurance policy is not quite common and taking such a policy can be quite cumbersome. Some home insurance policies provide pedigree pet insurance as a part of the package.

Rent Cover: In case your home is affected by a natural disaster, you would also have other incidental expenses and losses to worry about. You may need to find alternative accommodation and may incur rent expenses as a result. If you have rented out your home to tenants and there is a fire in your home, you may end up losing the rent that you normally get. A home insurance policy can cover these aspects as well.


TAX PLANNING: The tax benefits of living in rented house


House rent allowance is one of the most important components of one's salary, and gets taxed if not claimed for

   HOUSE rent allowance, or HRA, is a major component of your salary. This is given by an employer to an employee to meet the cost of renting a home. As a salaried employee you can claim a tax exemption on such an amount. But there are certain conditions that you need to understand to claim such exemptions.

How is the exemption on HRA calculated?

The tax exemption on HRA is computed as the minimum of following three conditions:

i)                    Actual HRA as per you pay slip;

ii)                  40%/ 50% of your basic salary;

iii)                 The rent amount minus 10% of the salary

   If you stay in a metro —Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi or Chennai — your HRA would be 50% of your salary. In other cities/towns, it would be 40% of salary. For example, if your salary is Rs 40,000 and you live in Mumbai, HRA would be Rs 20,000 (50% of the salary). Let's assume that you a pay a rent of Rs 15,000. The amount of rent paid minus 10% of the salary is Rs 6,000. The least of these is Rs 6,000, which would be taken as the HRA exemption. Hence the balance (i.e. rent minus HRA exemption) Rs 9,000 will be taxed.

When can you claim exemption on HRA?

You can claim exemption on rent given to parents. For example, you live with your parents and pay them rent. This would technically make your parents the landlords. In such an case, one of your parents should declare the rent paid by you in his/her personal income tax return to prevent litigation in future. However, you cannot claim exemption on rent paid to your spouse. Tax experts say that the relationship between a husband and wife is not commercial in nature and they are supposed to stay together.

   You should provide your employer with accurate rent information so that the company can credit you with the eligible amount of relief before deducting tax at source. Another alternative is that you can also claim such exemption when you file the tax return and seek a refund.

   If you receive HRA for the period during which you were not occupying a rental accommodation, then you can't claim any tax exemption. In all cases it is advisable for you to maintain rent receipts as they are the only proof for rent payments.

Is your landlord an NRI?

According to Section 195, all Indian income of an NRI is subject to TDS. This rule applies to rent too. Any resident Indian is subjected to TDS for rents of over Rs 1.20 lakh per annum. But if you have rented a house from an NRI landlord, the onus is on you to deduct tax at source and pay it to the government. The TDS is a flat 30.9%.

When can you enjoy the twin benefits of home loan and HRA?

If you have taken a home loan to buy a house, say, in Mumbai, but you reside in another city, you can get tax benefits on your housing loan.

   If you have bought a house but stay in a rental accommodation in the same city because your house is not ready for possession, you are entitled to tax benefits on HRA. You can claim tax benefits on the home loan only if your home is ready to live in during that financial year. Once the construction on your home is complete for possession, the HRA benefit stops.

   However, if you have bought a house by taking a home loan and stay in a rented accommodation after giving you house on rent, you will be entitled to all the tax benefits mentioned above.

Rent-free accommodation vs HRA

The government had announced the new perquisite rules in December 2009, which are effective retrospectively from April 1, 2009. The value of the perquisite determined in case of furnished accommodation is 10% per annum of the cost of furniture if owned by the employer. In case of hotel accommodation, the perquisite value is to be determined as 24% of the salary paid or payable or actual hotel charges paid by the employer, whichever is lower, for the period during which such accommodation is provided to the employee.

   So under the new rules, should one opt for rent free accommodation or claim exemption on HRA? You should take a decision keeping in view your requirements, salary level, perquisite value and the tax impact.


Mutual Fund Review: HDFC Top 200



WE LIKE this fund for its solid long-term record and skilled management. Its historical performance has been impressive.

But its performance in recent years has kept investors worried.

In 2006, it was a very average performer due to high exposure to defensives.

In 2007, its category underperformance was a result of wrong sector moves. Energy was offloaded even when the going was good.

"The portfolio moves were, in my opinion, consistent with our investment approach. The criteria that go into selecting stocks/sectors are quality, our understanding, growth prospects, valuation of businesses and the composition of the benchmark — BSE 200," says fund manager Prashant Jain.

So why do we continue to think highly of this offering? Ever since Jain took over in early 2002, the fund shed less than the category average in all declining quarters, barring June 2004 when the fall was in line with the average.

The fund's success in standing upright in a bear market, such as 2008, without resorting to debt or high cash levels, is testimony to the manager's skill.

Here it was the large-cap bias and exposure to FMCG and healthcare that restricted the fall to 45 per cent (category average: -53%).

In the recent rally (March 9, 2009-May 31, 2010), it gained a striking 111 per cent (category average: 82%).

Since Jain took over, the fund has a large-cap orientation and greater diversification.

Earlier, a single sector accounted for nearly 40 per cent and a single stock 17 per cent, but in the past three years, no sector and stock has crossed the 27 per cent or 10 per cent threshold, respectively.

The number of stocks also rose to touch a high of 65 (April 2009). Those comfortable with a well-diversified, large-cap oriented portfolio that contains the downside should consider this fund.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mutual Fund Review: Franklin India Taxshield



LOOKING for a consistent and steady offering, and value a good night's sleep? This one is for you.

An average performer in rising markets, it has made its mark in downturns. But its longterm track record will keep its investors happy. Its 3-year annualised return of 14 per cent (April 30, 2010), is ahead of the category average of 10 per cent.

The fund manager will not chase performance at any cost.

So sectors riding on a momentum, as was the case in 2007 with metals and construction, will not lead him to bite the bullet. Even if he has to compromise with lower returns.

It 2008 it was the third best performing fund among its category. Instead of resorting to aggressive cash calls (averaged at just 5 per cent), it increased exposure to FMCG and healthcare.

Dabur India, United Spirits, Lupin and Dr Reddy's Laboratories were added to the portfolio and more purchases were made in HUL, Marico and Nestle.

Apart from this, the distinct large-cap bias of the fund came to its rescue. Majority of the fund's portfolio is held over the long term and some of its favourite picks have appeared for a considerable length of time —Infosys, L&T, Grasim Industries, RIL, Cummins India and Marico. The fund manager also takes small positions in large number of stocks which it churns frequently. At present, of the portfolio of 50 stocks, 14 have an allocation of less than 1 per cent each (totalling 8.54% of the portfolio).

Magma Fincorp to get into insurance




VEHICLE financing firm Magma Fincorp expects regulatory clearance for its general insurance venture with a Germany-based company during this year.

"We have applied to Irda for approval and expects its nod during the year," Magma Fincorp chief financial officer V Lakshmi Narasimhan said.

The joint venture with HDI-Gerling International Holding is expecting R1 (initial approval) clearance soon as the process is almost complete, he said.

Asked if the proposed company can start its operation in the present financial year, Narasimhan said that it will depend on the clearance from the regulator Irda as well as product s approval which also takes e about 2-3 months.

The proposed joint venture, where foreign partner a will have 26 per cent stake, s will leverage on the " strengths of the two companies to offer general insurance products through the existing strong distribution and service network l of the Kolkata-based Magma with deep penetration in rural India, he said.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mutual Fund Review: UTI Dividend Yield



URI Dividend Yield has shown its worthiness by successfully navigated through good and bad times

The mandate demands an investment of at least 65 per cent of the portfolio in equity shares that have a high dividend yield at the time of investment. A look at the track record makes one wonder whether the fund manager follows this principle diligently. Its impressive performance in 2007 was because Kulkarni hopped on to the Energy and Metals bandwagon by re-entering Tata Power and adding RIL, SAIL and Tata Steel. That year, the BSE Power, BSE Oil & Gas, and BSE Metals all delivered handsomely. But Kulkarni says that she has never deviated from the mandate. "Almost always 70 per cent of the portfolio will be in stocks qualifying as high dividend yield," she says. "Even in the peak of the bull run in January 2008 we were within these limits and never deviated from our mandate."


The objective is best suited to those who want decent returns with good downside protection, both of which the fund has given. Its fall in 2008 was less than that of the Sensex as well as the category averages of the multi cap and dividend yield categories. Of course, allocation to debt and cash also contributed to cushioning the fall. Come 2009 and the fund faltered because Kulkarni began to seriously up the equity allocation only from June 2009 onwards. "I was investing but between March and May the rally was substantial and there was an event risk ahead with the Elections, the results of which caught us by surprise. In hindsight, I can say that we were slow in deploying cash and our cash holding was a drag on portfolio performance for a while," she says.


But what has always worked for this fund is smart bottom up stock picking and sector allocation. And by doing that Kulkarni managed to marginally outperform the Sensex and the other two categories in 2009 as well. Her overweight calls in IT, Auto and Fertilisers helped. She also gives credit to "some good stock picking in IT, Consumer, Engineering and Metal sectors".


The intrinsic nature of this portfolio is to pick up good dividend yield stocks which bring support on the downside. Besides scouting for companies which have sustainable cash flows, Kulkarni also looks at capital appreciation potential as the next filter. Using a multi cap strategy she has put to rest the notion that dividend yield funds can only impress during market downturns.

ICICI Prudential MF Launches Index Fund - NFO



ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund has launched a new fund, ICICI Prudential Nifty Junior Index Fund. It is India's first open-ended index fund that will track the CNX Nifty Junior. The new issue closes on 21 June, 2010.

The scheme will allocate 90 to 95 per cent of its assets to equity and equity-related securities of companies constituting the CNX Nifty Junior and exchange traded derivatives on the CNX Nifty Junior Index. It will further allocate 5 to 10 per cent of assets to debt and money market instruments (including securitised debt).


CNX Nifty Junior represents about 12 per cent of the free float market capitalisation (as on December 31, 2009) of the National Stock Exchange. The index has a combination of mid-caps and large-caps and is more volatile than the S&P CNX Nifty. CNX Nifty Junior is made up of 27 industries, with the top five industries contributing 46.6 per cent of the index's total weight.


Presently, two options are available under the scheme -- growth and dividend. The minimum application amount is Rs 5,000. An exit load of 0.25 per cent will be charged up to seven days from the date of allotment if an investor seeks to redeem or switch his investment. Thereafter no exit load will be charged.


Mutual Fund Review: RELIANCE GROWTH


This ones huge and one of the best. Reliance Growth is the largest fund in its category. Yet, this big size hasnt stopped fund manager Sunil Singhania from earning it the top performers position as well. The funds five-year annualised returns are its categorys highest. Since 2001, it has beaten the category average every single year. The fund manager has managed to achieve all this by chasing growthoriented companies. He likes to stay invested for longer periods and doesnt adhere to quick exits. Some of his all-time favourites have been Jindal Steel & Power, Reliance Industries Ltd, Divis Laboratory and State Bank of India. On sectors, his top picks are financial Services, metals and energy. This preference for metals, along with aggressive cash calls, exposure to derivatives and a high amount of diversification, is what helped the fund stay afloat in 2008. Big ships can sink fast, but Reliance Growth didnt. Its able captain managed to restrict its fall to 54 per cent (category average, minus 60 per cent). No sector, apart from metals, accounted for more than 10 per cent of the portfolio in 2008.Between April and December 2009, large-caps accounted an average of 43 per cent (category average, 22 per cent). Despite the cautious approach, the fund did earn 12 per cent more than the category in 2009. The funds big asset base has been managed well by Singhania. Allocation to a single stock has rarely crossed five per cent. All said and done, the fund has enough credentials to be the core holding of any portfolio.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010



Credit cards have become a part of life for most individuals. Obviously, they come with benefits. However, if used wrongly, the cardholder can also land up in trouble. Huge number of cards is one reason why most cardholders face problems. People keep adding cards as getting a card is very easy, especially for those with a regular income and a good record. This is one stage where an individual has to be alert: they need to be selective in their choice of a bank, as well as the total number of cards. With six to 10 cards, even managing the details becomes a problem. Here are a few areas that need attention: a little care can make a big difference.


There are several benefits touted for using multiple cards. One of the biggest is the credit period for repayment. This can be done by using the card that has just started its credit period. For example, if the billing cycle for one card is from the 1st to the 30th of the month, with the payment due date on the 15th of the next month, and for the other it is 11th of one month to 10th of the next, with the payment due on the 25th, then an expense on the 12th should be routed to the second card, where the payment will be due after 45 days.

The problem, as the number of cards multiply, is a wave of dates when the payments have to be made. Remembering the card used and then the due date is difficult, especially when there is no specific method in this usage. If there are five cards on which payments come up, say, on the 15th, 17th, 20th, 23rd and 25th of the month, making the payments is going to be more troublesome than completing the expense. There is danger of a missed payment too. If this happens, the charges in terms of the late payment and even interest could wipe out the entire benefit that might have been generated through the use of different cards. You might be potentially saving Rs 100 on getting the largest credit period but one misstep can set you back by Rs 500-700.


Multiple cards could destroy benefits that are linked to usage of available credit line. If there was a certain limit, which qualifies for additional benefits in terms of points or other preferential service from the card issuing bank, it could disappear when spread across various cards. An expense of Rs 75,000 on a card during six months can put you in a preferential category, but the same expense distributed among five cards would leave you nowhere. A small savings by using multiple credit cards could be offset by the fact that the spreading of the amount will lead to a situation where the person is not able to redeem his card points anywhere. So, if a card holder was getting 1,500 points for expense on a single card, spreading this across four cards could result in 500, 400, 300 and 300 points, respectively, which might not be enough to get any meaningful redemption gift, as most of these could be starting at 650-700 points and above. This angle has to be taken care of.


When there are many cards held by an individual, keeping track of what is happening with these is also difficult. There are two main areas that will lead to a disadvantage for the individual. Under the first situation, if there are charges or some other details that are to be changed on the cards, it could become a paperwork nightmare. If a person has a changed telephone number, communicating this for fivesix different cards and ensuring this is updated can be tiring.

Also, if one of many cards is lost, it might not come to the notice of the holder. This could lead to time going by during which there might be misuse of the card. This would be less likely if an individual held less. Keeping the number held in check ensures smoother handling.

Mutual Fund Review: Reliance Regular Savings Equity



Despite high churn, Reliance Regular Savings Equity has managed to fetch good returns


In its short history, this one has made its mark. Though its annual and trailing returns are amazing, the fund started off on a lousy note (last two quarters of 2005). It managed to impress in 2006 and was turning out to be pretty average in 2007, till Omprakash Kuckian took over in November 2007 and wasted no time in changing the complexion of the portfolio. Exposure to Construction shot up to 28 per cent with almost 21 per cent cornered by Pratibha Industries and Madhucon Projects. Exposure to Engineering was yanked up (18.50%) while Financial Services lost its prime slot (dropped to 6.69%) and Auto was dumped. That quarter (December 2007), he delivered 54.66 per cent (category average: 25.70%).


When the market collapsed in 2008, thankfully the fund did not plummet abysmally. But even its high cash allocations could not cushion the fall which hovered around the category average.


The fund manager attempts to capitalise on valuation differentials between mid- and large-cap stocks which at times can result in aggressive churning. "If the market gets choppy and I see a lot of opportunity, then I churn my portfolio, but not needlessly," says Omprakash. The direct fallout of such a strategy is that the market cap composition keeps changing. This fund started off as a large cap fund but resembled a pure mid cap offering by the end of 2007. During the last two months that year, exposure to large caps stood at a meagre 20 per cent. Since January 2009, it took on a distinct large cap tilt which it maintains till date. Had Omprakash opted for a greater mid cap exposure, he might have delivered even higher than 102 per cent (2009). "There was more comfort in buying large caps. But we added mid caps wherever we could. The issue is that you need to get mid caps at the requisite quantity and at the right price, which is a problem when volumes are poor," he says. Right now, he is adopting a more cautious approach. "We have a mix of large and mid caps because I do not think the market is cheap and I foresee it to be sluggish in the near future," he says. "I am adopting a wait-and-watch strategy to see how interest rates pan out and how inflation is dealt with."


As assets have risen, so have the number of stocks. And while you may see strong sector bets, he plays it safe with individual stocks: the high allocation to Pratibha Industries was more the exception than the norm.

Mutual Fund Review: Birla Sun Life Advantage



Launched in February 1995, Birla Sun Life Advantage Fund is the oldest diversified equity mutual fund from the Birla Sun Life basket. However, the fund has been overtaken by its newer diversified equity siblings, both in terms of performance as well as growth in assets under management (AUM). Thus, notwithstanding its 15-year long existence, the fund has just about Rs 400 crore of AUM today.


From being one of the top-performers in the late '90s to an average performer since early 2000, Birla Sun Life Advantage Fund has had an eventful record. In fact, in the past five years, the fund's performance has just been more or less at par with its benchmark index - the Sensex.

   In 2005, for instance, the fund returned about 43% against the Sensex gains of about 42% followed by a poor show in 2006 when it returned just about 34% against the Sensex returns of nearly 47% in that year. The fund, however, made a quick come back in 2007 when it outperformed the Sensex returns of about 47% by nearly 10 percentage points. However, despite outperforming the benchmark, it fell short of beating its peers, which, on an average, gave about 59% in 2007. Thus even though Birla Sun Life Advantage Fund has had a decent performance visà-vis its benchmark, the fact that it failed to outperform its peers in one of the most happening years of the decade relatively pushed down its rankings.

   Then again in 2008, the fund was received with yet another blow as it plummeted by more than 58% against the Sensex's decline of about 52%. Here again, at a negative return of 55%, the average decline by the category of diversified equity schemes was less than that of Birla Sun Life Advantage, pushing it down further in rankings and popularity charts.

   The fund, however, has not given up yet and in its attempt to build the blocks in its favour, it managed to return about 87% in the market recovery of last year against 81% returns posted by the Sensex. The diversified equity schemes, on an average, posted 84% gains last year. This year, the fund has so far returned about -5.2% since January against the Sensex returns of -6%.


While the fund is benchmarked to Sensex, it is not an index fund and thus the fund manager has not restricted the portfolio of this fund to Sensex stocks alone. In fact, the fund's latest portfolio composition - as on April 30 2010 - has just about 44% of AUM invested in the Sensex stocks. The fund's beta is thus higher than that of the Sensex. At its current beta of 1.05, Birla Sun Life Advantage's portfolio is 5% more volatile than that of the market. This amply proves the fund's marginal outperformance vis-à-vis the markets in the bullish years and underperformance in the sluggish years.

   As far as the stock composition is concerned, high beta sectors like financial and engineering dominate the fund's portfolio currently while the most popular and in-demand sectors - healthcare and FMCG together account for just about 9% of the fund's equity composition. Within the healthcare sector, the fund has exposure in Dishman Pharma, Cipla and Pfizer. Unfortunately, the portfolio clearly misses out on outperformers such as Lupin and Sun Pharma.

   While most of the fund's current holdings have been invested into in 2009, some like RIL, BHEL and L&T are over four years old. The fund has clearly profited from the advantage of long-term holding in these two stocks, especially, in BHEL and L&T, which have grown multifold since the time they was first acquired by the fund. Its other highly profitable long term investments include - TCS, Infosys, ICICI Bank, United Spirits and Thermax. As such, 82% of the fund's equity portfolio is in the profit zone.


Based on its performance so far, Birla Sun Life Advantage can be rated as an average performer whose returns are more or less aligned with that of the market. Investors of this fund can thus satiate their appetite with returns as good or bad as the market. However, those seeking outstanding returns can consider other large-cap equity schemes like the Frontline Equity from the same fund house which has proven to be far better performer than Advantage.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Peerless MF launches Monthly Income Plan





Peerless Mutual Fund, which has total asset under management (AUM) of Rs 823.38 crore (as on 31 May, 2010), has launched a new fund, Peerless Income Plus Fund. With this launch the fund house now offers three funds. The new entrant registered the highest, 65.9 per cent, growth in AUM in May.


Income Plus Fund is an open-ended debt scheme that belongs to the monthly income plan (MIP) category. The fund will invest 80-98 per cent in debt and money-market instruments and 2-20 per cent in equity and equity-related instruments. The scheme seeks to generate regular income through a portfolio of predominantly high-quality fixed-income securities, and capital appreciation with a marginal exposure to equity and equity-related instruments.


As for the investment philosophy of the fund, Akshay Gupta, chief executive officer, Peerless Mutual Fund says: "We will manage this fund conservatively so as to ensure minimum volatility and consistent returns. This is practically possible if we are dynamic in managing the equity component and remain cautious on the maturity of the debt component."


The new fund offer commences on 9 June, 2010 and closes on 8 July, 2010. No entry load will be charged for the fund; however, an exit load of 1 per cent will be applicable if units are redeemed before one year.



IDFC Premier Equitys fund manager, Kenneth Andrade, says it aims to capture shifts in the business environment with regard to new opportunities, technologies and trends. True to his belief, he doesnt hold back from taking bold, contrarian calls. He is one brave manager, but his convictions havent let him down. The fund has the highest three-year annualised return (27 per cent) in its category, as on April 30. If you think thats remarkable, hear this: in 2007, the fund was streets ahead of its category, delivering 110 per cent, 46 per cent more than the category average. The manager achieved this without going overboard on metals. He concentrated on services, his favourite sector.

The fund remains focused on strong sectors and smaller companies. The portfolio is invariably tight. These traits might give it a risky appearance, but it isnt really. No stock ever goes beyond a seven per cent holding and the portfolio shuffles with around 30 stocks. The fund has not only done well in bull runs, but impressed in bear phases, too. A relatively new fund, it has been around for only four years, but bettered the category average in all quarters. The manager likes to keep the corpus small and, periodically, the fund is closed against fresh investments. Overall, its performance is impressive enough to be the mid-cap holding of a portfolio.

Mutual Fund Review: ICICI Prudential Dynamic


When the markets are falling, ICICI Prudential Dynamic is the fund to go with


The very nature of this fund ensures that it will have excellent defending capabilities during market downturns. Its market strategy causes it to reduce exposure to equities when the stock market is high and get fully invested when valuations are low as the risk return trade off is better and opportunity is greater.


The fund manager has the discretion to go fully (100%) into equity or liquidate his holdings to zilch (0%). Over the past few years, his equity holdings dropped to a low of 76 per cent. And, true to mandate, that was not in 2008 when the market collapsed but in July 2009 when the rally began to gain in momentum.


Besides the asset allocation, this portfolio stands out with regard to its defensive nature. "As the valuation of a theme expands and enters into a bubble territory, we tend to be underweight in it which helps the fund mitigate downside risks well," explains Naren. That would explain why he is underweight on Domestic Consumption. He is also underweight on interest rate cyclicals given the interest rate and inflation scenario. But he is betting on Energy, which he finds to be a more conservative avenue than Commodities. The fund manager has tremendous flexibility not only to dynamically shift between asset classes but even between market caps. And this leeway he uses to the hilt. It started as a large-cap fund but joined the mid-cap rally in 2003 to once again take on a large cap tilt from mid-2006 onwards. Despite mid caps rallying, its large cap exposure currently stands at 69 per cent.

Frankly, the fund's performance has not always been impressive. When compared with its benchmark, it has done suitable well for itself by hitting a rough patch in 2007 and being a fairly average performer in 2009. When compared to its category average, its track record is spotty. It has undoubtedly had a few good years, but stood out in 2008 by limiting its fall to just 45 per cent (category average: -54%). But this is exactly what one should expect from such a fund. "Over a five-year period, this conservative fund has a better potential for outperformance than other funds. While it may demonstrate moderate performance during market rallies, due to great downside protection it neither will correct significantly, thereby averaging the returns over the long term," says Naren.

Mutual Fund Review: Tata Equity PE



Scouting for value stocks might make it different, but Tata Equity PE's performance speaks for itselfï


Tata Equity PE got its act together in 2007 when its bold allocations to Metals, Energy and Financials delivered impressive returns.


The fund's strategy is to invest at least 70 per cent of its net assets in stocks that have a trailing P/E less than that of the Sensex at the time of investment. But this does not necessarily imply that the portfolio would naturally be value based. Simply because the fund managers gravitate towards low PE stocks does not translate into them offloading when it goes up. Moreover, they have a free hand with the balance 30 per cent.


The fund's mandate to scout for value will result in a portfolio that is quite different from its peers. In 2008, the fund managers cast their lot with Metals. While the category average allocation to that sector was around 6 per cent that year, there were times when this fund had it at 29 per cent. They also stacked up on Services and Financials. "Our focus is to scout for value. So even within Metals, we had some positions in stocks that were not very highly leveraged and had cash on their books. Similarly, for Financials, we looked for stocks where dividend yield, low price to book etc, could act as a cushion," say the fund managers.

The fund managers' agility in 2009 was remarkable. Cash was lowered, large cap exposure dropped and a timely move to Technology turned out to be beneficial. "We saw a lot of value so exhausted our cash allocation. Exposure to Technology did help, specially in Tier II companies," they said. The moves paid off handsomely. Currently exposure to IT has been brought down substantially because steep undervaluation in the sector no longer exists. "We are positive on IT on a longer term basis, but for the interim we have reduced our overweight position in the sector as it's more fairly priced than what was the case a year ago," they say.

Interestingly, cash exposure of the fund increased to 8 per cent in October 2009, from less than 1 per cent in the previous month and has averaged around 12 per cent in the four months ended February 2010. "We have been receiving regular and robust inflows," they say. "But, in our view, 10 per cent cash is not a cash call but gives us flexibility to pick stocks in distress."


The diverse portfolio won't see much aggression with individual stock bets, though strong sector exposures have been the norm.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Banking Ombudsman


What is the Banking Ombudsman Scheme?

The Banking Ombudsman Scheme provides an expeditious and inexpensive forum to bank customers for resolution of complaints relating to certain services rendered by banks.

   The Banking Ombudsman Scheme was introduced under Section 35 A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, by RBI in 1995. The Banking Ombudsman is a senior official appointed by RBI to redress customer complaints against deficiency in certain banking services.

Where can one lodge his/her complaint?

One may lodge his/her complaint at the office of the Banking Ombudsman, under whose jurisdiction, the bank branch complained against is situated. For complaints relating to credit cards and other types of services with centralised operations, complaints may be filed before the Banking Ombudsman within whose territorial jurisdiction, the billing address of the customer is located.

Can compensation be claimed for mental agony and harassment?

The Banking Ombudsman may award compensation not exceeding Rs 1 lakh to the complainant only in case of complaints relating to credit card operations for mental agony and harassment. The Banking Ombudsman will take into account the loss of the complainant's time, expenses incurred by the complainant, harassment and mental anguish suffered by the complainant while passing such award.

What happens after a complaint is received by the Banking Ombudsman?

The Banking Ombudsman attempts to ensure a settlement of the complaint by an agreement between the complaint and the bank named in the complaint. If the terms of settlement (offered by the bank) are acceptable to one in full and final settlement of one's complaint, the Banking Ombudsman will pass an order as per the terms of settlement which becomes binding on the bank and the complainant.

Mutual Fund Review: Magnum Contra



This impressive multi-cap fund boasts of a good long-term track record


Though not particularly true to its calling, it's an impressive multi cap player. The fund's objective is to invest in undervalued scrips which could be out of favour at the time of investing, but are likely to show attractive growth over the long term. So if one invests in such a fund, there would be periods when the fund would underperform the category average simply because of its stock picks. But Magnum Contra has underperformed the category average in just two years, out of the 10 of its existence. And both those periods were in its initial years. That's because the fund has toned down on aggression and transformed into a diversified equity offering that tends to stick more with consensus sectors, which would explain its rally in bull runs.


In its initial years, its contrarian sector moves and concentrated stock allocations made it a bold choice. A case in point were the allocations to Metals and Auto in 2000, when its category of multi cap funds were more focused on Technology and FMCG. Not surprisingly, it underperformed the category average that year. In 2001, when the category was bullish on FMCG it avoided it totally, stayed underweight on Healthcare but remained bullish on Auto. Its stand to avoid Technology over those two years was entirely contrarian.


In all fairness, shades of contrarianism do surface. The fund's higher allocation to Auto in 2007 and lower exposure to Financial Services is a case in point. Currently, the fund manager is betting on Oil & Marketing Companies (OMCs) and Petrochemicals. "We have taken a contra call on OMCs, where a lot of pessimism and under ownership has been built due to concerns on the near term outlook. We are positive over the medium term given a strong asset base and reasonable valuations. We also believe the Petrochemicals/refining cycle is near the bottom and so we have a large exposure in that space," says Gupta.


While underweight on IT, he's overweight on Telecom and is more bullish on Utilities, Cement and Hotels, in comparison to his peers. "Despite near term concerns, the underlying fundamentals are strong, there are positive cash flows and reasonable valuations," he says.

What you will find here is a diversified, multi-cap portfolio with a cautious view on contra bets. Its impressive returns of 2004 and 2005 may no longer be replicated, but its long term track record is good.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Karvy Stock Broking views on Tulip Telecom, Patel Engineering

Karvy on Patel Engineering - Target Rs 529:


Karvy Stock Broking is bullish on Patel Engineering and has recommended buy rating on the stock with a target of Rs 529, in its research report.

"Patel Engineering (PEL)'s Q4FY10 result was below our expectation at operational level due to higher cost recognition against actual revenue booking. During the quarter the company has reported net sales growth of 24.1% to Rs. 11.97bn in Q4FY10 (against our expectation of Rs 10.68bn) from Rs. 9.65bn in Q4FY09. Though the company has largely maintained its EBITDA margins in the range of 16%-18%, since last 6 quarters, this quarter is there has been a dent of 280bps in its EBITDA margin to 12.6%.  We have introduced our earning estimates for FY12 and expect revenue growth of 26% to Rs 45bn based on robust order book position and EPS of Rs 45. PEL is currently trading at PER multiple of 9.3x, EV/ EBIDTA multiple of 6.7x on FY12 earnings."

"We have valued the core business of the company using EV/EBITDA methodology at its historical average multiple of 6x. The company is developing real estate property in Bangalore (prevailing rate of Rs 2500/sq. ft) and Noida (prevailing rate of Rs 3500/sq. ft) which has got a good response. We believe going ahead real estate would speed up the development process of projects and start contributing to bottom-line from FY12 onwards. Real estate division valued at significant discount to NPV and value of raw land. The company's first phase power venture has cleared the preliminary stage and would attain the financial closure in H2FY11. However we have not assigned any value to power projects. We maintain our BUY rating with price target of Rs 529 based on our SOTP valuation."



Karvy on Tulip Telecom - Target Rs 1175


Karvy Stock Broking is bullish on Tulip Telecom and has recommended buy rating on the stock with a target of Rs 1175, in its research report.

"Tulip Telecom is an enterprise data communications provider with a focus on the Multi-Protocol Label Switching Virtual Private Network business (MPLS VPN). We believe the steep correction in the company's stock price and concerns over heightening competition post the Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum auctions in the enterprise data services market where Tulip operates are overdone and believe the company has a strong incumbent position, a vast last-mile network that will take time for competitors to match and is taking initiatives to expand this business on its last mile fibre network, which will further strengthen its incumbency position. We also believe most of the operator roll outs post the BWA auction will be on the consumer side and not on the enterprise side."

"The company's initiatives to expand its suite of services into managed services and value-added services will drive future growth. We forecast revenue and net profit CAGRs of 26% and 21%, respectively over FY10-12E. At the CMP, the stock trades at a P/E of 7.7x FY12E EPS. We Initiate Coverage on the stock with a 'Buy' recommendation and 12-month target price of Rs 1,175, implying a P/E of 10x FY12E EPS," says Karvy Stock Broking research report.

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