By Kshitij Anand, ECONOMICTIMES.COM | Aug 10, 2016, 01.51 PM IST
The unique challenges to growth of developed markets make emerging markets, especially India, look attractive. However, a strong upside from current level looks challenging at this point in time, says Nimesh Shah, MD & CEO, ICICI Prudential AMC . In an interview with Kshitij Anand of ETMarkets.com, he shared his views on markets, GST and the behaviour of retail investors. Excerpt-
ETMarkets.com: How significant is GST reform for the economy? It looks like the market has already factored in most of the upside from the reforms? What is your take on the whole equation?
Nimesh Shah: Over the years, the goods and services tax (GST) has become a symbol of reforms in the country for both Indian as well as foreign institutional investors (FIIs). With the passage of the GST bill, sentiments have surely improved, but it is imperative to understand that the GST is unlikely to change things overnight.
As a country, we will be reaping the benefits of this reform over the next five to seven years, and not in next five months. Now the size of the organised sector in several industries is bound to go up, thanks to the improved compliance of taxation because of the nature of GST and its benefits for the economy.
At current valuation, the market seems to have fully factored in the positives of the bill. One must take cognisance of the fact that a rerating of the Indian market is likely to happen over the long run. However, if there is an immediate re-rating, solely based on the expected positives, the market is likely to see some correction.
ETMarkets.com: The domestic market is already trading at valuations that are above historic highs. Is there potential for more upside or should investors brace for a sharp fall? Some experts even call this a new normal. What is your take?
Nimesh Shah: It is premature to say high valuation is the new normal for the Indian equity market. There is a plethora of factors in the form of good monsoon, repressed oil price, bottoming of earnings de-growth, which are currently supporting market valuations.
Adding to this is the unique growth challenges of the developed markets, which make emerging markets, especially India, look attractive. However, a sharp upside from current level looks challenging at this point of time.
At the same time, one cannot completely turn a blind eye to the possibility of volatile times arising due to negative global news flow.
Historically, it has been observed that negatives on the global front have managed to trump the positives on the local front. But prudent action in times of volatility would be to use that as an opportunity.
ETMarkets.com: Has the retail investor matured in the way he invests in equities now?
Nimesh Shah: There has been a remarkable improvement over the past few years in the way retail investors invest in equities. Over the past couple of years, retail investors have preferred to approach stock market via the mutual fund route, rather than investing directly in stocks.
We see this as an acknowledgement of mutual fund industry’s robust track record, well designed and very well regulated product line and transparency.
Within the mutual fund route, the heartening feature is that increasingly funds are coming through the SIP route. As an industry, we have witnessed the SIP book swell from Rs 1,800 crore in March 2015 to nearly Rs 3,000 crore per month and growing. Other than this, the other major positive is the change in investment behaviour.
There was a time when investors used to enter at market highs and would sell in case of a correction, leading to negative investor experience. However, this has changed now, thanks to the relentless investor education initiatives by the media, distributors and fund houses. Now, the mantra is to stay invested and not be swayed by market swings.
ETMarkets.com: Can a retail investor become a crorepati by just following the SIP approach? If yes, on an average how much he needs to set aside every month to achieve that goal?
Nimesh Shah: Yes, if a retail investor invests in a diversified equity fund through a systematic investment plan over the long term, she/he can become a crorepati. For example, Rs 20,000 invested through a monthly SIP for about 15 years can grow to over Rs 1 crore, if you assume a rate of return of 12 per cent.
ETMarkets.com: Is the big bull run intact in in the domestic market? The Indian market is already up 20 per cent from its 52-week low. Do you think the current bull run is driven by liquidity rather than fundamentals? If yes, are we staring at a big slide as soon as the liquidity tap dries up?
Nimesh Shah: The current rally is fuelled by both domestic as well as global factors. One has to take into account that the current rally in emerging markets is happening after 3-4 years of underperformance vis-a-vis developed markets.
At a time when almost all the developed nations of the world are facing a zero or sub-zero interest rates coupled with muted growth, India is emerging as an oasis of growth.
Going forward, gradual improvement in demand and strong operating leverage will drive earnings in the upcoming quarters, rendering the much-required earnings support.
All these factors are likely to support the equity markets, even at a time when liquidity starts to taper down.
ETMarkets.com: What is your call on the bond market? Should investors go for debt funds?
Nimesh Shah: The Indian bond market has been an attractive bet for global investors thus far. The four factors that have worked in favour of India are a) a well-managed current account deficit (CAD), b) benign global commodity prices, c) favourable credit growth trajectory and d) non-inflationary Government policies.
Thanks to the prevailing interest rate scenario in global markets, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to maintain an accommodative policy stance given the uncertainties on account of international factors.
We are of the view that yields will head lower in the days ahead. Therefore, we would recommend short to medium duration or accrual funds for incremental allocation.
ETMarkets.com: Fitch said the global bond market is at risk of losing $3.8 trillion. How are we placed in the global equation?
Nimesh Shah: India is far better placed in the context of international fixed income markets. In the developed markets, interest rates are at a historic low while in the case of India, interest rates are still elevated. The focus of monetary policy now is more towards managing inflation and globally it is on renewing growth.
Over the last three years, GOI and the RBI have managed to get current account deficit and domestic inflation under control, along with moderate growth and political stability. As long as this equation is not juggled with, India is well placed in the global equation.
ETMarkets.com: Can you name five stocks that you think could fetch multibagger return over the next 2-3 years. And why?
Nimesh Shah: In the current market, construction, auto ancillaries, pharma and healthcare services are the pockets that are in a position to generate attractive returns in the medium term.
ETMarkets.com: ICICI Prudential AMC has become the largest asset management company in the country. What are your five key takeaways from your journey so far?
Nimesh Shah: Our journey to the top (as the largest asset management company) has been accompanied by much learning. Primarily, as an industry, we realise when a product is transparent and is beneficial to the investor, the industry is bound to multiply several folds, with time.
Our experience shows that a fund house with a proven track record of managing investor money is bound to attract more investments.
As for investment experience, it is a noted phenomenon that investors shy away from investing in equities when valuations are cheap. Therefore, we have products like balanced, dynamic asset allocation funds that aim to benefit out of volatility and provide a better investment experience.
Lastly, one of the inherent challenges has always been simplifying the process of investing. As of now, the inflows into mutual fund schemes are limited through banking channels, thereby missing on the cash payment channel.
Once Sebi’s uniform KYC regulation is implemented, these processes are likely to be simpler, thereby aiding larger participation across financial class.