Thursday, August 18, 2011

India view: Brace for flood of money

I must be sounding ridiculous but that is exactly what I expect to happen in near future. If the developed world investors are keen to retain their wealth, which they are, they will want to move to economies where conventional growth is still possible.

Conventional and unconventional growth
Conventional growth refers to well understood process of growth. In the emerging economies, we know what needs to be done. We need to build infrastructure, power plants etc. That investment will trigger efficiencies which will push EM economies on to a growth path. The history of development of the western world provides the understanding of this process and there is ample evidence as to what works and strategies for growth. This is the opportunities wealth retaining funds will eventually seek as compared to unconventional growth in developed markets.

I have argued previously that growth in developed markets will depend on two forces. The first is renewal and maintenance of infrastructure that already exists and second refers to the new kind of infrastructure and development that is essential. The new kind is uncharted territory and requires patient capital the likes we deploy in R&D. Possible candidates are Water-related infrastructure and forestation related investments. I call them Green and blue options. These investments are more of the Private equity variety than what normal funds would like.

The coming money flood in EM
The money eventually has to move to EMs before EM economies adjust their currency regimes reacting to resultant imported inflation. That implies funds will compete to reach EM shores, in all probability, creating a sharp uptick in EM equity markets.

My strategy
I am going all in as the markets decline. My focus is domestically driven revenues. It means I am avoiding Indian IT companies for strategic reasons. I find Indian consumer goods firms a bit over-valued, though I own telecom stocks as proxy for consumption story for short term. My focus is on infrastructure stocks (GVK, L&T) and banks. I am not very sure about Indian asset valuation story so I am staying away from real estate (except for occasional  short term high risk investments in Unitech which appears to be below its liquidation value). I expect the sector to start turning around when housing deals start happening on ground. I believe that should take 3-5 years at least. However, I do like Indian Hotels which, I believe to be a well managed company with sensible management. I do expect domestic auto firms (Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland and Maruti) to become big players in the coming decades and their current valuation provides a good entry point. In all above cases I am betting on liquid names and large volume stocks only.

It is possible that I am early and will need to hang on to the strategy for a little while. Let us see how things go from here.

My book "Subverting Capitalism & Democracy" is available on Amazon and Kindle.