Fairval

Notes on Indian equities, sectors and economy

Posts Tagged ‘India Business Reports’

Spurious RTI data – 40% vacancy in Mum-Ahd trains

Posted by fairval on November 1, 2017

Today one amazing bit of data has come out, it seems out of an RTI query. Says a news item –

Modi government obviously did not do its homework on the Rs 1 lakh crore project.

According to an RTI query filed by Mumbai activist Anil Galgali on seat occupancy, in the past one quarter alone, the Western Railway is facing staggering losses worth Rs 30 crore in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad sector – this translates to a loss of around Rs 10 crore per month. The WR revealed that in the past three months, 40 percent seats have been vacant on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route while 44 per cent seats were left unoccupied in the Ahmedabad-Mumbai route.

This was widely reported in all papers, and was today being debated on NDTV. As can be expected, the slant was – So how can a bullet train come on this route?

Amazed at the stupidity of it all – this data is SO OBVIOUSLY incorrect. It appears no one in the media or their expert commentators travel in Indian trains anymore. 40% vacancy? What are they smoking?

I travel on this route often, and I know from personal experience, it is very hard to get tickets if not booked in advance. If this data was correct, I should be able to book a ticket say 4 hours in advance.

So I checked just now. According to the RTI data, there are 32 trains (IRCTC lists 30); of which, quite a few are only for this route (as in, Ahmedabad is the last stop). Some of these –

  • Shatabdi Express
  • Ahmedabad Passenger (twice a day)
  • Suryanagari Express
  • Karnavati Express
  • ADI Double decker
  • Ahmedabad Duronto

Total seats as per RTI data are around 8000 per day

I checked availability for tomorrow. Only ONE out of 30 trains has any tickets. Many are not even accepting booking for Waiting List ticket. The only train which has tickets – 179 – is ADI Double Decker. This again I have noticed from personal experience. This does have tickets often till the last moment. Why so? I guess 2 reasons – it has lot of tickets to offer, being a double decker – one bogie has ~140 tickets, this single train must have 2000 tickets to offer; also the seats are extremely uncomfortable, so maybe people don’t like this train.

But then, 179 out of 8000; that’s 2%. And this is not season. In Diwali season, there was no tickets for atleast a 20 day period. For tomorrow (2nd November), even the twice a day Ahmedabad Passenger has no tickets. And it takes 15 hours 45 minutes, a lifetime!! In contrast, fast trains like Shatabdi or Duronto take 6 hours 20 minutes.

So where the hell does the 40% vacancy come from? And in which Indian train sector is that even possible? Let alone Mumbai Ahmedabad.

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RBI’ Revenge

Posted by fairval on October 28, 2017

India’s real interest rates are at rates rarely, if even, seen in its history. Why does RBI not lower rates? Revenge for getting screwed on Demo?

When demonetisation (DeMo) was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi (NaMo) in a dramatic press conference on 8th November 2016; several commentators said it was a bad move. The subsequent shoddy implementation and its inability to reveal any immediate black money – notes came back into the banking system – heightened the criticisms. Today, almost one year down the line, it is almost universally acknowledged that DeMowas a failure.

While the NDA government has faced flak for it, the central bank Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has faced even more criticism. When DeMo was announced, RBI had just passed under a new leader. The resignation was the previous governor – posterboy Raghuran Rajan (RR) – was mourned by many. Experts said NaMo had let RR go because he wanted a pliable chief. RR had crossed the line by making political observations; he was giving indications of being anti-NaMo.

When DeMo was announced, the experts immediate said ‘RR wouldn’t have done it’. The new RBI governor immediately became painted as a sinner; someone who sort of lowered the independence of the RBI. The ‘experts’ were also clear – from now on, RBI would dance to the tunes of the government.

Well, a year since DeMo, nothing of that sort has happened. RBI refuses to dance. Despite a slowing economy, and hugely comfortable inflation situation, RBI refuses to lower interest rates. The result – India’s real interest rates are at levels perhaps never seen before in Indian history.

Remember India has always been a high inflation country, and for most parts, we have operated in zone of negative real rates. But now, our real rates are above 4.5%. While one has not seen history of real rates since last few decades it is likely these levels could be all time high. When economy has clearly slowed, should they be so high? This level is also much higher than other countries (see chart below)

RBI.png

The Economic Survey (vol 2) released in Aug’17 by Ministry of Finance has a detailed section explaining the situation on real interest rates and suggesting how much should interest rates go down. Says the Survey – Cyclical conditions, then, suggest that the policy rate should actually be below—not 50-100 basis points or so above—the neutral rate. The conclusion is inescapable that the scope for monetary easing is considerable, more than that suggested by comparison with neutral interest rates.

So why is RBI not listening? Is it the RBI trying to leave no doubt in anyone’s mind about its independence? Or worse, is it trying put the government down for destroying its reputation with Demo? RBI’s revenge?

Posted in Indian Economy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Indian handicraft exports are booming

Posted by fairval on May 17, 2017

Our research arm India Business Reports (IBR for short) recently did a note on handicrafts and handloom exports out of India. Good to see that this segment is booming.

Handicrafts exports touched USD 3.66B in 2016-17, a growth of 11% over FY16 in USD terms. In Re terms exports grew 13.8% to Rs245B in FY17, as compared to Rs216B in FY16. These figures does not include export of carpets, which is another sizeable market by itself.

Handicrafts2

(Source: EPCH)

Over and above the handicraft exports, India exported around USD1.8B of carpets an floor coverings. A major portion of this is handmade.

Growth rates for both – handicrafts and carpets – are healthy. Over FY10-17, handicraft exports have grown at ~15% in USD terms. Over FY97-17, a 20 year period, handicraft exports have grown at 10.2% CAGR in Re terms. Growth rate of carpets is slower, but impressive nonetheless. Exports of carpets have grown at 5% in USD terms over the last 5 years, and 13% in INR terms.

In the last 1-2 years, growth rates have slowed down for all sectors, in both domestic markets and exports. In light of that, this growth in exports in handicrafts is commendable, and makes it a ‘growth sector’.

For the full report, you can write to reports@indiabusinessreports.com; also available on Slideshare at  https://www.slideshare.net/IndiaBusinessReports/handicrafts-market?qid=c91002da-202a-47a6-bce5-9592f319fa73&v=&b=&from_search=1

 

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India tops JBIC FDI survey for 2016

Posted by fairval on January 14, 2017

For the third year in a row, India has emerged as the most promising country for overseas business, in the annual survey ‘Outlook for Japanese Foreign Direct Investment’ by Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). 

India replaced Indonesia as the top investment destination in 2014; and has held the position ever since. The table belows shows the result of of the 2016 survey. The survey is published in December. The 2016 survey was the 28th survey.

This is very significant. China held the no 1 position for more than a decades before Indonesia emerged on top for 2 years, and was then displaced by India.

This should result in increased activity by Japanese companies in India. Out of the 230 companies citing India as a promising, 60% (142 companies) do not have a local production base. They survey asks another key question – do you have a real business plan to go to India? In 2016, 40% of the 230 companies which named India also said they are actively working on India entry. In 2015, this figure was 36% (of 168). So there is a clear increase in in active interest in entering India.

jbic-survey

More on India Business Reports (www.indiabusinessreports.com)

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VC/PE deal space continues to see slowdown

Posted by fairval on December 14, 2016

Amount of investment in Indian VC/PE (and angel) space continues to see slowdown. This is from data for Jan-Nov’16 (Source: http://www.indiabusinessreports.com)

vcdealsnov16

YTD amount is just over USD8B, down 38% over last year, while deal count is down as well.

The decline is sharpest in internet based businesses, where investment is this year is just about a third of last year.

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Article in The HinduBusinessline – Unit Economics explained

Posted by fairval on September 23, 2016

Lately, have been writing a monthly piece for The Hindu Business Like. The latest article was on key metrics an investor should check when evaluating an ecommerce startup.

6 questions for e-com start-ups

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‘Delivery food tech’ is not happening, but other food tech may work

Posted by fairval on February 25, 2016

The Economic Times carries an article today carrying an article referring to Mahesh Murthy’s (a seed investor) where he talks about how food tech companies will never make money.

First, one needs to clarify this word ‘Food Tech’ – which has become a much abused one. This word is getting applied indiscriminately to a lot of businesses. We can see a few distinct slivers within this segment:

  1. Delivery logistics businesses – these are companies like Food Panda, Tiny Owl, Swiggy etc. This is largely a logistics business, though they also generate demand. The consumer says ‘I want to order food, lets go to foodpanda site, order etc..’. These sites list restaurants from where they will deliver food, within a certain radius. They have offered freebies to consumers to attract demand. Zomato is slightly different, since it started largely as a advertising platform, not really food delivery business, though. When Zomato entered food delivery in Mar’15, it may have been an afterthought, though it has structured the business differently. It does not deliver on its own. It seems to simply take order for a local restaurant (choices based on the customer’s address) and the local restaurant delivers. Will it be big for Zomato? Don’t think so. Zomato is largely about fine dining listings, not your average neighbourhood place. People are not going to order home delivery from fine dining.

 

  1. Delivery only restaurant businesses – these are companies like iTiffin, of iChef, Holachef, which make their own food, but don’t offer dine in. These are actually somewhat like Domino’s, except ordering process is via an app, not over a phone which one normally uses for Domino’s. The difference from Dominos is that these guys typically have 1 or more central kitchens, which a customer does not see. Dominos on the other hand has retail outlets, where it does not quite encourage you to eat, but they serve as local spokes from where delivery occurs. Box8 appears to be doing this to some extent. Saw 1-2 Box8 outlets in Mumbai, which don’t appear to be dine ins, more like local delivery spokes.

 

  1. Food aggregators – there is a slight difference from 1. These don’t aggregate branded restaurants, they aggregate home kitchens, or caterers at best. There seem to be several such startups in each large city, like Mumsmenu.com in Chennai, Cyberchef in Gurgaon,

Much of the discussion has been around category 1, which has also attracted the most money. We agree with Mahesh on that. It is hard to see how a Food Panda or Tiny Owl are going to create business value.

Check their economics. We believe their gross margin is about 10%. From this, they have to manage all their costs – cost of delivery and money collection, demand generation, CRM, and HO costs. When will it work? When the order size is large. Ideally Rs 2000 per order on an average. Is it happening? We don’t know, but we doubt it. Orders more than Rs 2000 or more will be rare. If per person cost is Rs 500 or more, that borders fine dining quality food. For that, people will go out. If it is everyday food – singly guys order dinner for instance, or a family that some day does not want to cook, and is not going out either – those don’t result is expensive orders. Per spend in such cases will be less than Rs 200. Think about it – if you spending more than Rs 500 per head, you would rather step out, enjoy service and let someone else clean the dishes afterwards.

From a Zomato conference call transcript: Our average ticket price is about Rs.600 per order and what I have heard, I mean what I have heard for our competitors is that it is about Rs.225 for them.

Don’t think there would be such a wide disparity, but our point holds – you are not going to get large orders in home delivery. Ergo, there is no business if you try to deliver. Maybe it can work the way Zomato is doing it – just order taking.

Categories 2 and 3, however, make a lot of sense. As we said, category 2 is like Dominos, but does require lot of spends in demand generation. Hence, it needs strongly differentiated product. For ex, we doubt ‘biryani at home’ kind of businesses (a recent deal) are really strong enough to create that differentiation. iTiffin and iChef are both highly differentiated. iChef has also done a transaction with Brand Capital, realising the need for creating demand and building a brand.

Category 3 also has promise, since the available gross margins will be more than what you get in Category 1. So the worst segment has got money, and has tarnished the word ‘food tech’.

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Jan’16 sees USD800m of VC/PE deals

Posted by fairval on February 13, 2016

Better than Dec’15, which say USD667m, but last 2 months (Dec and Jan) are slower than general trend in 2015.

Number of disclosed deals remains robust, at 85.

VCdeals_Jan16

 

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VC/PE investments for 2015 close at ~USD 14B

Posted by fairval on January 12, 2016

VC_PE

Eight years after 2007, when India Inc absorbed ~USD18B of VC/PE investment, the sector once again saw robust activity in the year gone by. Total VC/PE investment hit almost USD14B, the second best year in the history of VC/PE investments in India.

In contrast, in 2014, total reported investment was ~USD9B, from 381 deals. Total reported deals were 556, around 178 did not report amount of investment. In 2015, total deals reported were 881, of which 300 did not disclose amount invested.

These numbers may not necessarily match with figures from some other sources, we have noticed some other numbers which are larger than India Business Reports’ number. The reason could be people are counting within VC/PE  numbers, deals which aren’t exactly what we would call a VC or a PE deal. For example, we don’t see how a strategic investment qualifies as venture capital. Or an investment in a company outside India, even though the source of money could be from India.

 

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What is SEBI doing about Elder Pharma?

Posted by fairval on October 11, 2015

This blog has written earlier about what appears to be a rather large scam afoot at Elder. In Jan’15 we wrote

What is cooking at Elder Pharma?

The basic premise was – Elder got over Rs 1700 crore post tax from slump sale of certain assets to Torrent. But it wrote off Rs 1100 crore of that. WTF? Just before that came out, independent directors started resigning. The CFO resigned soon.

And it is common knowledge that the company has been in a financial mess and has been defaulting.

Now, Mumbai Mirror reports that The Bombay High Court has cleared the prosecution of top Elder Pharmaceuticals Ltd bosses, including TV actor and chief operating officer Anuj Saxena and his brother and chief executive officer Alok Saxena, for the company’s failure to honour fixed deposits worth Rs 155 crore. Full story here —

Elder Pharma bosses face prosecution for not repaying deposits

This is good news. Finally, someone is going after the promoters. But, there are bigger issues ere:

  1. Just who is following up to check if large amounts of money were siphoned off? That is a separate criminal act
  2. What is SEBI doing?
  3. Should auditors etc, who signed the Rs 1000 crore+ write off, be prosecuted as well
  4. Several independent directors resigned. But did they report any of their suspicions to SEBI? Clearly, there was a reason why so many of them resign within a few days of each other

No major paper has followed up this story. So much for quality of journalism here.

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