Close ended Equity NFO – should you invest in HDFC Housing fund?

Over the last few years and especially in 2017 many of the Fund houses have come up with a slew of close ended NFO’s. These come with a variety of themes and associated terminology. For example ICICI calls them Value Fund series, Sundaram calls them Micro cap series and Axis calls them Equity advantage series. In this post let us look at why these are in vogue now, what are the pros and cons and finally whether it is a good idea to invest in them.

The first issue is relatively simple to answer : new products get developed based on the likelihood of their success. With a lot of retail and institutional buyers pumping in money, there is always a demand for newer types of funds to invest in. For fund houses, it is an opportunity to have a specific charter which may not be possible to fulfil through their regular funds. For example, one of the ICICI value series funds only wanted to invest in Pharma and IT sectors as these were beaten down significantly over the last six months or so. Now this could be done in one of their existing funds too but for a fund manager to churn the portfolio by selling stocks that are doing well is not always an easy decision to take. Using fresh money in taking such calls is relatively simple. The trend started by end 2014 or so with ICICI and has now percolated to several others.

What are the pros and cons of such funds? Well, for one the mandates here have a lot more clarity compared to a vanilla large cap or mid cap fund. The fact that it is close ended, normally for 3 years, means that the fund manager has time at his disposal to take the calls he wants to take. On the flip side you will not have access to your money for 3 years and this is a problem unless you can definitely do without it for this time. A greater problem may be your inability to shift in case you are not happy with the performance. From my viewpoint, I do not see both these issues as a serious one. Firstly, you should be investing in equity for a much longer term than 3 years. Secondly, the Fund manager is way more qualified to deal with short term performance issues.

Let me now give some details of an investment that I made in one such fund. While the experience may not be repeated for all funds, it does offer certain insights:-

  • I purchased ICICI Prudential Value Fund series 2 on 6/12/2013. Invested amount was 2 lacs in the Dividend option.
  • The idea was to get some regular income as I planned to go for my consultancy practice sometime in 2014.
  • Though it was a 3 year fund, it has now been rolled over and will mature on 31/12/2018.
  • So far total dividends have amounted to 1.6 lacs
  • Current value of the fund is nearly 2.5 lacs

I think it can be said quite safely that this worked out quite well. In fact, I have invested in several follow up NFO from ICICI. Apart from ICICI I have also tried out Axis, Birla Sunlife, Sundaram and UTI for close ended funds. From a personal perspective it works well for me as I get tax free income and also growth from it.

You should be investing in these funds under the following situations:-

  • You have some income requirement every year. Instead of doing FD you can go for close ended funds with dividend option. Note that the dividend is not guaranteed.
  • You have a goal after 3-4 years. This is ideal for such situations. However, in such a case choose the Growth option.
  • You have come into some money and do not want to decide on allocation for 2-3 years as you may need the money then. Go for the growth option here too.
  • Make sure you understand the mandate and therefore the associated risk profile. A micro cap series from Sundaram will obviously be more risky as compared to the Value fund series of ICICI. However, the rewards will vary in a similar trend too.

If you are interested in these funds after reading this post, do consider the HDFC Housing fund which closes for subscription today. It is in an area where there will be definite growth and the industries they are investing in will be likely to do well for the next 10-15 years and maybe even longer. The 3 year close ended NFO may just be the right vehicle for any medium term goal you have. For example, I feel of you want 5 lacs after 3 years, you can just invest 3 lacs in this and wait for 3 years. It is very likely that you will be able to realise an amount close to your goals.

People having surplus money and waiting to invest in some suitable avenue should take hold of this opportunity.

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Financial plan for the retired – A guest post

This is the first guest post in my blog and I am happy that my friend Biswanath Sengupta has penned down his experiences and thoughts on how he is going to manage his financial life in retirement. Biswanath and I were college mates while doing BE in Computer Science & Engineering at Jadavpur university.

Without further ado, here is Biswanath in his own words :-

My Financial Take – For Retired and Retired hurt People Only.

This is my first tryst with the financial instruments. I formally retired from the corporate services at an age of 55 yrs. Obviously I will be active and earning in the startup world, but at present it’s minuscule compared to the corporate earnings and the future is unknown. I have my set of liabilities as well. With high competition and automation and fast change in business scenarios we are having a significant number of retired hurt cases post 50 yrs in the service industry.
I have consulted many financial experts and did my studies as well . I am a conservative risk averse investor and as per normal life cycle would expect to live for another 25 years. Here are my few takes and learnings.

1. Practical inflation rate is 8 percent plus , irrespective of whatever the govt of the day claims.
2. The cost of living does not decrease significantly after retirement.
3. Cost of healthcare increases at the rate of 12 percent. With high pollution and global warming and junk food, incidence of lifestyle , tropical and cancer increases alarmingly.
4. Except for the Pension Schemes of the Central and State Govt employees , all other pension schemes are useless as they only give an annuity of @6-7 percent which post tax is around 5 – 6 percent.
5. As the economy grows and become global the Fixed deposits rates will come down significantly and likely to settle around 4 – 5 percent per annum meaning post tax rate will be 2 – 3 percent.
6. Most of the investment consultants are fresh or junior MBA’s with no experience of economy and life and are busy selling their products. They are useless. Experienced financial advisers are rare and pricey.
7. For many non pensioned retirees the standard of living deteriorates after 10 years of retirement and they struggle for existence after 15 years.

My learnings on how to live happily for most of your life post retirement.

1. We have to move out from risk averse FD zone unless we are ready for an effective yield taxed at your taxed rate for around 3 – 4 percent.

2. PPF, Post office schemes , Sr citizen FD limit can be exhausted.

3. Have only emergency money in FD .

4. Move 50 percent into debt or MIS schemes . Any standard advisory can support you on the same. You only have to check your portfolio once in three months. The effective post tax yield will be around 7 – 8 percent with low risk and better tax treatment as they come under LTCG after 3 years.

5. You have no choice other than to move 30 – 40 percent of your corpus into equity market to generate return and wealth. You can do this via a good equity mutual fund or thru an experienced portfolio advisory. Please do not venture on your own untill you are an expert. I trusted a portfolio advisory got a CAGR of 30 percent irrespective of the market conditions. This is the only steam of my survival. These days there are good portfolio advisories which starts from an investment of as small as Rs. 5 lakhs.

6. Have a medical insurance ASAP. If your medical insurance is less than 5 lakhs then create a seperate corpus to meet your additional need via debt MF.
7. There is nothing like minimum corpus required . They are all myths. Start courageously with what you have. Let the destiny prevails.

8. You are lucky if you have more than one house as that generates income in terms of rent and reverse mortgages in your winter days.

Enjoy retired life.

Portfolio Management Services – are they good for you?

Over the past few years my equity portfolio has been at a reasonable level. Thanks to my friends, acquaintances, bank people and readers of the blog this is a fairly well known fact too. I have consequently been approached by several individuals as well as Fund Houses with the offer of managing my portfolio for me. Even though I have not gone for any PMS so far, these interactions and my own reading has helped me to get a fairly good idea of this.

So to start with, a PMS is not all that different from a MF at a basic level. In an MF scheme the Fund manager gets money from multiple individuals and creates a portfolio out of those funds. He then runs that portfolio for certain fees and people can continue to invest in the scheme. Returns from the scheme are in terms of dividends and also capital gains from the portfolio. In a PMS most of these are also true, except that the amounts are larger and it is being done for a single individual. Let us review this in a little more depth. I will take a specific example of one PMS I was offered recently, without naming it.

The salient features of the PMS proposed to me is as follows:-

  • Minimum ticket size is 25 lacs. This could be in cash or also in terms of a 25 lac stock portfolio at current market prices.
  • In either case a new Demat account will be opened and all transactions will be in that account after the initial transfer of the shares.
  • You are giving a mandate to the PMS manger to execute trades on your behalf in this portfolio. While you can be involved if you want, that really defeats the whole purpose of having a PMS in the first place.
  • Typical charges are 2-3 % and they are normally upfront. However, there is a lot of scope for discounts and some PMS work primarily on a profit sharing model.
  • Returns on the PMS are obviously not guaranteed but over long term most have managed to give 20 % and above after deducting the PMS expenses.
  • The chances that the PMS will be successful are reasonably high as the manager is dealing with a concentrated portfolio and can take the right kind of calls based on the research available at his disposal.
  • More importantly, the PMS manager is not emotionally invested in the portfolio and therefore is in a better position to take sell and buy calls compared to the investor.

The last point is the most important one. As investors we suffer from an endowment bias working on both the buy and sell sides. For example, I bought Maruti years back and it has grown manifold after that. While that gives me great pleasure, I am not very likely to sell it, even if I realise that in the next year that money can be utilised better elsewhere. A PMS manager will probably sell it at 8000, use the money on a beaten down stock like Yes Bank for a year and then buy it back if needed. This helps him to make more returns than I would. Similarly, I have stocks such as NDTV and RCOM which have gone nowhere and I still have issues about selling them. This is because I want to avoid the pain of loss and admission of a mistake. The PMS manager will have no such considerations.

So is PMS a good idea for you? Well, if your stock portfolio is more than 50 lacs or so then you can look at it. Separate out the stocks which are not doing well and give it to the PMS. Review the performance after a year and check if it makes sense to continue. Remember to really negotiate hard on all costs as the standard costs are quite high, but they are negotiable too. Try to get into the profit sharing model to the extent possible.

Why is the PMS always likely to give better returns than an MF scheme? Well, for one it is a concentrated portfolio with a finite value. This enables the PMS manager to take quick calls, unlike the MF manager who has to deal with much larger amounts. Secondly, in a PMS there are no redemption pressures within the year. Thirdly, constant inflows through SIP forces the MF manager to keep investing, even if the time is not right. This is not the case in a PMS. Fourthly, an MF manager will mostly buy standard company stocks unless there is a very specific mandate to do otherwise. A PMS manager has far more flexibility in this regard and can really create value for the investor. Fifthly, if the markets crash the PMS manager can sell off quickly to limit the damages. This is not really feasible for a MF fund manager having a large AUM.

Remember that your equity journey should start with Mutual funds, then get into stocks and finally graduate to a PMS only after you have a substantial stock portfolio. If you start with putting your first 25 lacs into a PMS, your experience may be a bad one and scar you so badly that you distrust any equity investment thereafter.

Finally, then is the PMS a good idea? On the whole, I will be inclined to agree though I am still trying to make up my mind as to if I should go for it. In case I finalise the PMS, I will do a future post on it.

Should you be selling equity now?

The liquidity driven rally in the indices and several stocks has been the flavor of this festive season. In the beginning of this financial year the opinion of most analysts were that there can be a possible range bound movement and the Nifty would probably settle in the range of 9500 to 9800 over the next few months. Thereafter things would be taken care by the last quarter results. Indeed when the markets started to rally and crossed the 10000 levels with relative ease, the consensus was that the corporate earning would justify the rise.

Now that several companies have declared their results for the second quarter, it can be safely said that the results have been a mixed bag and there is nothing really in them to indicate strongly that the lacklustre showing of corporate results are a thing of the past. In fact while the Auto companies and several banks have shown encouraging results many other sectors have been clearly disappointing – IT, Engineering and Pharma to name a few. So what does this portend for our markets, the Nifty in particular? 

For starters, there are really no immediate triggers left for the markets. Both the GST and the good monsoons have largely been factored in the rally which we have witnessed in the past few months. In any event, the actual impact of these are not being felt in the Q2 results. Given this situation it is kind of tough to see Nifty getting a serious lift from the present levels. Yes, the liquidity factor along with some other good news can push it to near 10500 levels but it will be very difficult for it to sustain it there. In simple terms, I think that there is a far greater case for a Nifty downside to 9500 and below in the next 2 months as opposed to an up move to 11000 levels. In this context, does it make sense for an investor to sell off his equity holdings partially and enter later at lower levels? 

People who are holding a direct stocks portfolio will be familiar with this simple mechanism. You can move out of a stock at a level where you feel there is unlikely to be any more upside in the short run. Over a period of time you can decide at what level would you like to re-enter the stock. At the very least you would try to add to the stock at certain lower levels, even if you do not book profits. Of course, this requires a deeper understanding than just looking at Nifty levels but the rewards can really be stupendous. There are people who sold Maruti at 4600 last year and then bought it back around 3500, to now see it climb back to 4700 again. If you owned even 100 shares of Maruti, this strategy would have given you a cool tax free profit of 1.2 lacs.

What about MF in that case? Most investors who are into SIP are led to believe that they should adopt the Hero Honda strategy of, “fill it, shut it, forget it”. But in reality is this a good idea? Like in the case of Maruti stock, will you be leaving a lot of money in the table if the Nifty really goes down rapidly from here and your MF scheme NAV declines alarmingly. At some level, your fund manager is taking care of this but it will do no harm to take an active stance in this as well. Many investors have investments of 3-5 lacs in an MF scheme. Even a 10 % drop in the Nifty levels will mean significant amounts of money. Remember, this is clearly like a tax free bonanza that you can use for many of your discretionary expenses and even for additional expenses if you so desire.

More importantly, many of us have collected stocks and MF schemes over a long period of time. These do not fit into our current plans very well but we may have been too lazy to sell them or have not found it worthwhile. With the market levels being where they are for all types of indices, it may be a pretty good idea to sell some of these. You can channelise the money into your current portfolio depending on the right market levels. Also, if you are stuck with a long standing SIP in a fund which you do not like any more, this will be the perfect opportunity to get out of it lock, stock and barrel.

Is there a risk that Nifty can just go up unidirectional and well past 11000? I do not think so and even if it does, it will come down at some point. Remember you will be holding cash and that is also an asset.

In the next post, I will outline how I want to adopt this strategy for my own investments.

Indices at life time highs – good idea to sell your MF ?

Yesterday all of our relevant indices have hit their life time highs. In fact, with the issues in North Korea and the impact on crude oil prices, there is a chance of some correction in the immediate future. This is probably the reason why I have got a lot of messages asking me as to whether it will be a good idea to sell the entire MF portfolio, be in cash and again buy the MFs once the markets seem to have finished the correction.

Is it possible that you will make money in the short run through this approach? The answer to that is “yes”. Is it therefore a good idea? The answer to this is clearly a “no”. in order to understand why this is so, you need to understand how MF works in the first place. The fund manager has a certain amount of money available and he is buying stocks with it. These set of stocks for a particular scheme will keep changing. The fund manager is doing these changes and you pay him for that very reason. Now if the markets are going down the fund manager may selectively sell some stocks and buy others. As such the scheme you sell and the one you buy are fundamentally different. If you are in the scheme as part of your long term goals then it makes absolutely no sense to sell off the schemes when the markets are at highs. For all you know your fund manager is taking the appropriate decisions by selling some stocks at their highs and buying others which still have a lot of value in them. Do not try to second guess a person who is professionally trained and does this for a living. Just because you can play around with spreadsheets and calculators does not make you competent to take such decisions.

Now what if these funds are not part of your long term portfolio? Well, if you are to sell them anyway then you might as well sell when they are at their highest or near it. In that case my recommendation would be to sell NOW. Yes Nifty can still go to 10500 plus this year and maybe even 11000, but those are fraught with uncertainties. You might as well sell off now and wait for a 5 % drop or more to buy funds that you want to be in for the long term. As I said before with the same fund it does not make sense to change but if you are changing your fund you might as well look at a better entry point.

What if your investments are in Regular schemes and you want to shift to Direct schemes? The same logic will hold – sell NOW and buy after a while.

Over the years I have invested in several schemes and have now reduced it to 5 only. The current market gives me a great chance to clean up my portfolio. How do I intend to do it? Read the next post to find out.

My investment advice this Diwali – stick to these basics

I was quite happy to receive several requests as to what investments should be made this Diwali. This has encouraged me to write the current post. Note that, investment is an ongoing process and not for a particular day. It is, therefore, important to have the basic concepts of investment in place first.

Without further ado, here are my 10 commandants of investment life:-

  1. Insurance is not an investment and it is best to steer clear of products that combine the two in some manner such as ULIP. You definitely need insurance, treat it as an expense incurred annually.
  2. Use goal based investing only to have an idea of the overall amounts needed in different times. Once you know this, invest in the 3 portfolios of Debt, MF and stocks. There is absolutely no need to map separate portfolios for each goal, it is a waste and also harmful.
  3. Your endeavor should be to invest as much as possible, after you have taken care of the lifestyle that you desire and can afford. Do not be constrained by your goal amounts, more money is never a problem as you can use it for a variety of good purposes.
  4. You can afford to invest in asset classes such as Real Estate, Commodities, Forex only if you have the requisite knowledge and can handle the required transaction logistics smoothly.
  5. In normal circumstances, PF and PPF should be adequate for Debt, MF portfolio should cater to all goals except retirement ( which it does partly ) and all other surplus amount should go into direct stocks. In case you are uncomfortable about stocks then you can put the money into MF.
  6. Buy your own home to stay in, if you are in a stable job and are likely to be in the same location. If not then renting may be a better option. When you near retirement, it is important to have your own home.
  7. Redemption for a goal – use stocks if you are having windfall gains in them, use MF if your XIRR from them are reasonably good and use Debt if both of these are not true and the market is going through a bad patch when you want to redeem.
  8. Withdrawal in retirement – make sure you use debt first unless equity markets are really on steroids for the year in question. In general, let the equity investments grow as long as possible.
  9. Ideally in retirement, you should have an arrangement for tax free passive income in the first 10 years. This can be achieved through PPF withdrawals, Tax free bonds, Dividend income etc. For next 10 years look at MF redemption or selling stocks depending on the market situation. For the third decade stocks are the best option.
  10. Longevity of life that you plan for depends on several factors and only you can decide for yourself. However, whatever your figure is, your plan should not see your corpus come to zero value at that time. For example, if you plan for 85 years, make sure you still have a reasonable corpus for another 5 years or so, just to be on the safe side.

I have not explained my rationale for some of these investment commandants, if you are interested in understanding that go through my blog for posts relating to all of these points.

Are you following these in your own investments? If not, you need to align yourself to these basic principles so that you are able to build a robust portfolio over time.

Wishing all readers a very happy and successful Diwali and Samvat 2074 where you will make considerable progress in your goal of achieving financial independence.

My current stock portfolio – Top 5 by value

While most investors may be going through the MF route to buy equity as an asset class, there is a lot of interest in the stock portfolios of seemingly successful investors. This is amply demonstrated by the numerous requests I get for stock tips and readers wanting to know about my portfolio. I had written on this earlier but with the passage of time a few things have changed. So here is a list of my top 5 holdings.

The first in the list is Maruti Suzuki and some observations are below.

  • My motivation for buying the stock was it’s prominent place in the Auto sector along with Tata Motors as Indian auto companies.
  • My first purchase was in 2007 June and the last in October 2009.
  • The stock has not seen corporate action in terms of bonus or splits.
  • It has normally been a good dividend paying company and in the last 2 years the dividends have been 500 % and 700 %
  • In terms of potential, this is clearly one of the best examples of an Indian company which has dominated locally and started it’s global journey now. I think it is quite possible for the stock to double over the next 4-5 years.
  • My investment in the stock is now at an average price of 678 Rs and it is about 6% of my portfolio value at CMP.
  • I do not have any real plans to sell the stock, now or in the near future.

The second one in the top 5 list is TVS Motors and some observations are below.

  • My motivation for buying the stock was it’s prominent place in the Two wheeler sector, which is an important one for our economy.
  • My entire purchases for this stock was in the calendar year 2006.
  • The stock declared a bonus in 2010 which doubled my shares held.
  • It has normally been a good dividend paying company at around 60-80 % but last year it increased the dividends to a whopping 250 %.
  • In terms of potential, this is clearly one of the best examples of an Indian company catering to a growing local demand. I think it is quite possible for the stock to double over the next 4-5 years.
  • My investment in the stock is now at an average price of 50 Rs and it is about 6% of my portfolio value at CMP.
  • I do not have any real plans to sell the stock, now or in the near future.

The third in the list is Tata Motors and some observations are below.

  • My motivation for buying the stock was it’s prominent place in the Auto sector along with Maruti as Indian auto companies.
  • My first purchase was in 2007 February and the last in January 2009.
  • The stock has seen a lot of corporate action in terms of bonus earlier but I only witnessed a split in 2011.
  • It has normally been a good dividend paying company at 100 % but in the past 2 years this has come down considerably.
  • In terms of potential, this is clearly one of the best examples of an Indian company which has gone global successfully. I think it is quite possible for the stock to double over the next 2-3 years.
  • My investment in the stock is now at an average price of 109 Rs and it is about 5% of my portfolio value at CMP.
  • I do not have any real plans to sell the stock, now or in the near future.

The fourth one in the top 5 list is Kansai Nerolac and some observations are below.

  • My motivation for buying the stock was it’s prominent place in the paints sector, which is an important one for our economy.
  • My first purchase was in 2008 January and the last in January 2009.
  • The stock has declared a bonus in 2010 which doubled my shares holding.
  • It has normally been a good dividend paying company at around 100 % and in 2017 this was increased to 250 %.
  • In terms of potential, this is clearly one of the best examples of an Indian company catering to a growing local demand. I think it is quite possible for the stock to double over the next 4-5 years.
  • My investment in the stock is now at an average price of 29 Rs and it is about 5% of my portfolio value at CMP.
  • I do not have any real plans to sell the stock, now or in the near future.

The final one in the top 5 list is M & M and some observations are below.

  • My motivation for buying the stock was it’s prominent place in the commercial vehicles sector, which is an important one for our economy.
  • My first purchase was in 2007 March and the last in January 2009.
  • The stock has seen a split in 2010 when the face value was reduced to 5 from 10.
  • It has normally been a good dividend paying company at around 200 % and more.
  • In terms of potential, this is clearly one of the best examples of an Indian company catering to a growing local demand. I think it is quite possible for the stock to double over the next 4-5 years.
  • My investment in the stock is now at an average price of 285 Rs and it is about 4% of my portfolio value at CMP.
  • I do not have any real plans to sell the stock, now or in the near future.

As you will see from here, investing in good companies and holding them for a long period of time has really worked for me here. There are some other holdings I have that may be of interest to my readers. I will share it in a future post.