Archive for December, 2007

New Poll on Chennai Real Estate!

Posted on December 31, 2007. Filed under: Chennai, Poll, Real Estate |

A new poll has been commissioned today on the real estate scenario in and around Chennai. Please participate and share your views by choosing the area you think which is going to appreciate the most in the year to come!!!

I request all readers to vote as I am not seeing high number of votes in the earlier polls.

The polling booth is on the top right hand corner below the banner.

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Fabulous Discount sale by Gokaldas Images at Chennai!!

Posted on December 31, 2007. Filed under: Chennai |

Great bargain sale by Gokaldas Images (unit of Gokaldas Exports, India’s biggest garment exporter) at Old Nagesh Theatre basement. The prices are very very attractive and they are being sold at throw-away prices, if I may say so. I immediately grabbed a wrinkle-free trouser for Rs250/- and worn it today. It looks nice.

Formal wrinkle-free Trousers (Hagar brand – export surplus or irregulars) are going for Rs250/- per piece. Shirts, including brands like Cherokee, K Life are being sold at Rs270/-. There is a wide range of garments on sale like Jeans (both men and women), denim three-fourths, ladies wear and kidswear. I am not sure about the prices of kidswear and ladies wear, but should not be more than Rs200-250 per piece.

I think it is a good buying opportunity (trying to use the stock market parlance!!!). Please do visit the sale and let me know what you think about it.

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A game of Basketball or Corporate Lessons!!

Posted on December 27, 2007. Filed under: Corporate Lessons, Guest Authors |

The below article is written by Adwait Hebbar, a multi-faceted person. He has varied interests ranging from spirituality, philosophy, social issues and humour. He is a seasoned banker with more than 20 years of experience in wide spectrum of activities in banking. He is currently working in a senior position with a MNC Bank at Chennai. His passion is Basketball and in this article he has compared how the game of Basketball closely resembles real-life corporate world. The article is the first in the series of articles where Basketball was compared to real life situations. It was published in an in-house magazine and reproduced here with the author’s permission. I am sure you will enjoy it and appreciate this!!

A game of Basketball or Corporate Lessons!!
Never hold the ball too long! You are going to loose it!!
On Sunday mornings if I am in Chennai and if it is not raining I can be seen at the Basketball court at Shishya, my daughter’s school. I look forward to the game every Sunday. The game does not remain just the game for me but an outward expression of my inner self! The hidden aggression, the joy of competing, elation on winning, disappointment on loosing, the agility that one has to exhibit on and off the field to be able to stay in the game. It helped me to realize who am I? What I do? Why do I behave in a manner that I do? The game has taught me many lessons and some can be easily applied to our work place. It gave me answer to many a time question that I ask “why did I not get it?” “Why me” “what else can I do?” These are the questions that arise especially when there are expectations and we think one way and our colleagues / peers / bosses think differently. I will share in my columns in GLOMA my experiences.
I am not sure how many are familiar with the game. To put it plainly, the game is about dribbling the ball to the opponent half and shooting the ball in their basket. But this is easier said than done. There is no free lunch! The game does not allow a player to hold the ball more than five seconds! One has to be thus always on the move! The opponent will try blocking or preventing you from dribbling and passing the ball to your teammate and eventually shooting the basket! The nearer you get to the opponent’s basket the tougher it is to dribble and even more difficult to pass to your teammates. There are many obstacles. Opponent may come and block your way or be rough or commit a foul or take away the ball and prevent you from moving ahead. It is very rare event one dribbles all the way and makes the basket all by oneself. Does this sound familiar in our work place as well? How often when we start to do something new that we face obstacles? And how often we still persist to do it alone?
Let us draw a parallel within our environment we work. How often we see a problem and believe that we will be able to solve it ourselves. We take up a project and try doing it ourselves and some other times we look at colleague struggling with an issue and we let it pass as it may not concern us or he hasn’t asked for help! In both the situations, would we ever solve the problem at hand? In basketball parlance, will we ever shoot the basket?
We hold on to our problem and think that sharing the issue with a colleague would either be construed as one’s incapability or someone else may take away the credit. But in the game of basketball, one who behaves self centered and/or indifferently would soon realize that he is on the loosing side. The ball will always be in the opponent’s hand. Our team would never be able to shoot a basket. The very moment that one is confronted with the block, the player has to pass the ball to his team-mates and the team-mates also help by getting into a position where the ball can be easily passed on to. Thus as in the game so do in our work place, when confronted with problem, blocks or not knowing what to do next, pass it on (share) to a colleague who can best handle it and move into a position where you are free to take the ball again as what is true for you will be true for your colleague and he would also face the same resistance, block and would need your help to complete the task.
Thus the Rule No. 1 : If you hold the ball too long, you will loose it !!
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Entry level car – Maruti Wagon R or Hyundai Santro!

Posted on December 26, 2007. Filed under: New Products and Purchases |

The biggest dilemma faced by the first time car buyers in India is to either go for Maruti Wagon R or Hyundai Santro. I too faced it two years ago and I decided to go with Hyundai Santro. The same sort of dilemma was faced by two people I know in the last couple of weeks. As usual lot of discussions, analysis happened before they finally decided on their choice. Incidentally, both of them decided to go for Hyundai Santro GLS compared to Maruti Wagon R VXI.

The major points which were discussed are:

1. Price: The price of Santro GLS is Rs359,000/- compared to Rs380,000 for the Wagon R. The prices are after the dealer discounts. Straight away there is a price differential of Rs21,000/-.

2. Product differentiation: Both Santro GLS and Wagon R VXI are homogenous in the sense that both comes with power steering, power windows, air-conditioning, central locking, floor mats. Therefore, there is no big product differentiation. Hyundai Dealer, DSC Hyundai has agreed to provide further benefits in the form of accessories like car cover, teflon paint coating, steering wheel cover etc.,

3. Mileage: Santro GLS gives you a mileage of 11.5 kms in city driving conditions almost identical to Wagon R. On the highway, Santro gives you a mileage of 14 kms. Both the mileage are when you drive with A/C on.

4. After sales service: I have experienced excellent after sales service from DSC Hyundai. They are very prompt and courteous. They even conduct training sessions for new car buyers. I guess even Maruti dealers would offer the same kind of service, if not more.

5. Looks: Santro wins hands down as far as the looks are concerned. Wagon R’s biggest dis-advantage I guess is its soap-box like look from the top and a plain look from the back. Santro on the other hand looks elegant from all angles.

6. Service network and spare parts: The much touted advantage of Maruti is its wide network and availability of cheaper spare parts. I think the extensive network is not going to be tested with a small car where it is never going to be driven across the country. It is primarily for city driving. The spare parts of Maruti is cheaper but at what frequency you are going to change spare parts in a new car.

7. Space: The clincher in the decision making process is the space. Here again, Santro is unbeatable as far the space in the rear seat. It can comfortably accomodate 3 normal sized adults whereas in Wagon R the third person has to real squeeze in. Now the important question comes up of how many times you are going to travel with 5 persons on board. Yes, it is true that it may not be always but imagine you having a driver to drive you around. Typically a normal middle class household in India is made up of the husband, wife and the parents or in laws. Maruti Wagon R would not be a comfortable option in this scenario.

I have been driving Santro for the last 20 months with no complaints and I would recommend it to other entry level car buyers. Considering the price and the features, Santro GLS is a definitely a good buy!

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Shell petrol pumps stop selling unleaded petrol!!

Posted on December 25, 2007. Filed under: New Products |

I am regular user of Shell Petrol for the last 2 years or so. Shell has a petrol pump at Vadapalani which is closer to my home. Shell provides two variants of Petrol – Unleaded Petrol and Super Unleaded petrol. I normally use unleaded petrol for my car. Today when I went to Shell for filling up the tank, I was told that with effect from 28 Dec 2007, Shell Petrol pump would not be selling unleaded petrol instead would be selling Shell Super Unleaded. What is the big deal? Yes, Shell Super Unleaded petrol costs Rs4.10 paise more than the normal unleaded petrol.

Shell is issuing a pamphlet to all drive-in customers mentioning clearly the reasons for the same:

1. The subsidy scenario not being a level playing field, with only the Public Sector Units (read HPCL, BPCL, IOC) being provided with subsidies;

2. Shell’s inability to keep prices artificially low in the absence of subsidies, while continuing to deliver value.

Note: Words in Red and Italic were added by me and not mentioned in the Shell pamphlet.

India follows the Administered Price Mechanism (APM) for pricing of petro products. The administered price mechanism is applicable to all companies which sells petro products in the retail market. The administered price of petro-products was last changed by the Government of India some 6 months ago, I guess. The international oil prices have moved up since then resulting in oil marketing companies bleeding heavily. Government forces the oil marketing companies including the private players like Reliance, Essar and Shell to sell at the pre-determined prices. Both private and public sector oil marketing companies make sizeable losses on a daily basis but PSU oil marketing companies are compensated by the government in the form of subsidies and oil bonds.
Private retailers cant get any subsidy from the Government even after Reliance using all its might trying to influence the Government in this regard. All this being done by the Government for the benefit of you and me and also helping them to keep the inflation at lower levels artifically during the election year!! Now the Gujarat elections are over and Congress being completely drubbed, I expect a petrol price hike in January 2008.

I have been told by many people that ESSAR and Reliance used to close down their retail outlets for many months in the past due to unfavourable retail prices fixed by the Government. This time, Shell is doing it differently. Rather than closing the shop, it is not selling low price unleaded petrol. It is forcing customers to buy the costly super unleaded petrol. This would help Shell India to cut down on the losses. Shell claims it uses propriety additives that are eveloped by the R&D team at Shell Global Solutions, which helps to clean out deposits which lead to better responsiveness and improved fuel economy.

What should I do now? Switch to other PSU oil marketing companies like HPCL, BPCL etc., I guess not, because my experience tells me that I get more mileage from Shell’s fuel compared to other companies. Adulteration and the cheating in the quantity in most of the other PSU’s retailers deter me from moving to them. The service levels in a Shell Petrol Pump is entirely different from PSU petrol pumps and it is uniform across the city. The customer gets treated properly with due respect and attention. There can be exceptions of one or two PSU petrol pumps selling good quality fuel and better customer service, but overall I rate the quality as poor.

I am a loyal customer of Shell and as the Shell ad-lines goes: I swear by Shell. Let me give it a try with Shell Super Unleaded Petrol and see for myself how it helps in better mileage and engine performance.

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Back after a short break!!

Posted on December 24, 2007. Filed under: General |

Writing this column after a short break. Important things which happened in the interim are:

Chennai and all parts of Tamilnadu were battered with rains over the last 10 days. For the last 3 days it has been better with no or little rains. Widespread damage of property and loss of lives reported across Tamilnadu. Once again, the Chennai roads were completed unmotorable during the most part of last week and led to long traffic jams. It took more than an hour for me to reach my office which is 6 kms from my house. Roads definitely need better maintenance.

Stock markets crashed last Monday 17 Dec by more than 750 points and consolidated for the rest of the week. Today, the markets have gained more than 690 points are so, thereby completely erasing the fall.

Seriously looking for buying a piece of land in the Sriperumbudur – Kancheepuram stretch. Visited Kanchipuram three times in the last one month for identifying the suitable property. The primary reason for looking at Kancheepuram now is one it is a temple town and second, the most important thing, the Tamilnadu Government is promoting the Chennai – Bangalore Highway as an Industrial Corridor similar to Mumbai-Delhi Industrial corridor. A separate post on this follows.

Couple of my friends and relatives bought/decided to buy entry level cars and there was interesting comparison between Maruti Wagon R and Hyundai Santro. Finally both of them decided to go for Hyundai Santro. Will write about the points discussed for and against each of them separately.

Merry Christmas!!

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Trading NIFTY Futures for living!

Posted on December 18, 2007. Filed under: Stocks - Quick Bucks |

I came across an article written by Vijay Bhambwani of BSPL on trading in NIFTY Futures to keep your home fires burning. Vijay is a popular stock market analyst and regularly appears in NDTV Profit and CNBC India. Regular watchers of these channels would have seen him.

In this article, he talks about making a daily living (!!) by trading in NIFTY futures. He claims that he has beta tested this strategy and it has worked for him.

It sounds very simple and I am tempted to try out something immediately. But I know for sure trading is much more an emotional battle than anything else. I have traded in the past and the amount of anxiety, pressure and sense of despair you get while trading is unbelievable. May be, if I had done it little more scientifically as mentioned in this article, I may not have very bad memories of day-trading.

Interesting article which would be useful for die-hard traders and above average risk takers.

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Amazon Kindle!!

Posted on December 17, 2007. Filed under: New Products |

My friend was mentioning about a new launch by Amazon.com of their digital storage device for books. I was really curious to know what it is and luckily I came across a news item in a weekly magazine the very next day that Amazon has launched a digital book storage device called “Amazon Kindle”. In India it is priced at Rs15600/- where you can store upto 200 books. You can store additional books under separate memory cards. It is available at USD399 on the Amazon online store. Will it get reduced during Christmas sales!!!??

Interesting electronic stuff. Geeks out there please check and let me know how useful it is. To know more about Amazon Kindle, click here.

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Stocks in my portfolio which has not moved for a long time!!

Posted on December 17, 2007. Filed under: Stocks |

I have a list of stocks which I hold for the last few years without seeing any profit:

1. KG Denim Ltd:
There was a great euphoria about the removal of quotas for textile companies couple of years ago. The expectations were that on removal of quota for textile companies would result in increased business opportunities. But on the contrary, the removal of the quotas didnt help the Indian companies.
As a retail investor started buying the shares of KG Denim Ltd., some two years ago. Today the stock is quoting around Rs21.40 whereas my average cost of holding is around Rs45. The company has expanded its capacity during the last year using the TUF scheme. For your information, the company owns the jeans brand “Trigger”.

2. Rama Newsprint:
I dont exactly recollect the reason why I bought this share some 3 years ago now. The company restructured the capital and for every 100 shares you owned, I have 25 shares. Today it has closed at Rs35.80 against my purchase price of Rs68.00.

Lesson learnt is that be clear with the reasons why you buy the shares.

I am still holding on to these shares. What else to do?!

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Indraprastha Medical and Surya Pharma – making smart moves!

Posted on December 14, 2007. Filed under: Stock Ideas - Long term |

Two scrips I wrote about in this blog over the last 3 months have started moving. I am very happy about it.

Indraprastha Medical:

I have earlier written about Indraprastha Medical here when it was quoting around Rs40. The stock has started moving after a very long consolidation and today it has closed at Rs57 with volumes in excess of 1.5 million shares on both the exchanges. I believe that the stock is getting re-rated and it is possible there is further appreciation. A neat 40% return in 3 months time.

Surya Pharma:

Surya Pharma initially discussed here around Rs90 has also started moving and it has closed today at Rs139.80.

On both the cases thee are positive fundamental reasons which have been listed in the original posts. Added on to the fundamental reasons, there is also a positive feeling about the pharma companies on the bourses now. The market has started responding to the fundamental changes happening and it now all depends on this quarter results.

I continue to remain bullish on both the counters.

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