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A Lion’s eye on the Bulls and Bears

“In India, companies may fall sick, but promoters rarely do!”

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June 2009

You must Read Richard Branson’s “SCREW IT ,LET’S DO IT”

Two Years ago,I read Richard Branson’s Quick Read and Lessons in Life “Screw It,Let’s Do It”

You Must read it too !..The Quick Read version is just Rs 150…ask your bookstore for a discount…the extended version a little more

I was floored…I have to admit that I changed my opinion of him…from an eccentric,lady killer,unethical go-getter and a carpetbagger to one who has a conscience and is a big and exciting risk taker by choice…and one who lives Life to the Full

I actually bought several copies and distributed it to clients and friends and relatives…It has been reprinted seven times in 2006 and thrice in  2007 to meet the demand !

Recently I again rewarded some participants ,for their interaction in my workshops, with it.

What also got me was that Richard and I have something in Common…we’ve both cheated Death Thrice !…Difference being he did so out of Choice…a Powerboat race across the Atlantic and two hot air balloon adventures across the Atlantic and the Pacific….. and me out of Tragic Chance…Bomb Blast at the BSE,trapped in the Worst Sandstorm in the Sahara Desert in Egypt and a near tragic Car Accident !

But this is about Richard Branson……

Richard Branson tried Crossing the Atlantic to Ireland to win the ‘Blue Riband’ on the Virgin Atlantic Challenger while Joan was delivering their first son…The son was born,but Richard’s Powerboat died on him with the hull splitting in a fierce storm and all of the crew being rescued of the raft after radioing out “Mayday ! Mayday! Mayday!”…he came back six years later in Virgin Atlantic Challenger II….but with sea water entering their fuel tanks and the engines stalling it looked like they had lost again….Richard Branson motivated his crew for one last try and somehow got the engines working and they won…Keep Trying and Never Give Up was his Big Lesson from this Adventure

Immediately he was challenged to cross the Atlantic yet again by a Swede, Per Lindstrand…but this time together in a Hot Air Balloon…He accepted after learning Per had two kids too !….He took lessons in Flying the Hot Air Balloon in Spain….They actually crossed the Atlantic to Ireland…but had serious landing Issues..When they flew into a thick Fog and missed the Beach,Per panicked and jumped into the ice cold waters…with only Richard’s weight to tackle,the ballon simply flew away higher..Fuel was low,Radio was not working and Richard weighed his options…he could parachute out into the ice cold ocean or stay put and while he was alive work out something…he chose the latter and was saved by a rescue helicopter…They pulled out Per from the Sea just before he would have froze to death…..Lessons learnt were several….Never Give Up….If you want to do something,just do it…prepare well…. have faith in yourself…help each other….Whatever your Goal,you’ll never succeed unless you let go of your fears and fly…Love your Family….Richard knew that he could die on this Adventure…so before he took it,he wrote a letter to his children saying “Live Life to the Full.Enjoy every minute of it.Love and look after Mum.” read more

Two of my Favourite Entertainers,Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson pass away…They Live on !

It’s a doubly sad day for me today…I’m in Mourning …..Two of my favourite entertainers died yesterday…Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson…..both American…and both falling prey to the dreaded ‘Cs’…the former to Cancer and the latter to Cardiac Arrest

I grew up on both….From School to College,when I was 15, on the then 28 year old, vivacious , voluptous and sensual American Actress and ‘Charlie’s Angels’, Farrah Fawcett with her trademark Blond Tousled Hair and her Fantastic Smile…and from College to later on the ‘Moonwalker’ ,King of Pop and ‘Thriller’,Michael Jackson


62 year Old Farrah Fawcett lost her famous Blonde Hair to Chemotherapy and yesterday her battle with Cancer.She became famous in the 1970s TV Series Charlies Angels in which she played one of the three Detective Angels…the character of Jill Munroe

I remember I was in transition between school and college and so besotted by Farrah Fawcett that I had pinned up her famous Red Swimsuit Poster (It had sold Millions)…out of respect to my parents and my grandfather,I had pinned it on the inside of my cupboard door…my Dad was cool but everytime my Grandfather saw it he would grimace a bit…”Come On Pappaji!” I used to tell him…” it’s just an infatuation and a part of growing up ! “…uncannily,quite often when I opened the cupboard,my ‘Pappaji’ used to appear from nowhere ! Wonder Why !? 

And Michael Jackson ! What an entertainer ! I grew up on him ! An era has ended ! We had one ending with the death of ‘Elvis Presly’,another with the breaking up of the ‘Beatles’ and now with this untimely demise of Michael Jackson…Apparently he had a fatal cardiac arrest last afternoon

He became a celebrity when he was a child….It cost him a normal  childhood and the pangs of loneliness grew with him into adulthood…he faced serious headline Legal issues  of Child Molestation and Financial Woes….His famous NeverLand Ranch,were he had housed some exotic animals from all over the world, too was put up for sale…he suffered taunts of ‘Whacko Jacko”

I read sometime ago that he had found solace in Islam and had even gone to settle down in Bahrain,a small island country in the Middle East…I have spend three years in the 1980s on this lovely island of Bahrain and I was happy for him that finally maybe he would find peace and contentment…Apparently he moved back to Los Angeles and was planning and rehearsing for his Comeback Tour read more

Monsoon Fears fuel Sensex Fears

Minister of State for Science & Technology,Mr Prithviraj Chavan,just announced the second Forecast for this years Monsoon…the Picture is not good

  • The First Forecast in April had predicted 96 % of Normal Long Term Average Rainfall….This Second Forecast lowers this to 93%  
  • It’s the El Nino effect now playing with our Monsoons
  • North-West India will get only 81% of Normal Rainfall
  • Southern Peninsula will get 93% of the Normal Rainfall
  • Central India will get 99% of Normal Rainfall

These projections are based on sophisticated statistical models and based on Input from Indian and International Monitoring Outfits and the Minister says he is confident of the accuracy of this forecast 

The Economic Implications will be announced by the Agricultural Ministry and other concerned Ministries later on…..Serious Worries are now arising on possibilities of Drought Conditions in certain Areas of India…This will seriously dent the Purchasing Power of Rural India

There is already a escalating crisis on Water Shortage in many States with delayed Monsoons…We are in the last week of June and the rains have just about hit Mumbai and are yet to hit Delhi

65% of the Kharif Crop depends on Monsoons,rather than irrigation….so expect prices of agricultural commodities to move northwards as production falls short….For example,the Ministry of Agriculture has already announced that in FY 10 the Sugar Production will be @17 million tonnes…and because of delayed monsoons,sugarcane would be diverted towards fodder and jaggery

Montek Singh Ahluwalia tells us that Finance Minister,Pranab Mukherjee’s Union Budget on July 6,2009 will be a popular one

Should really be interesting to see how !…given the backdrop of a High Fiscal Deficit,continuing Global Crisis,Declining Exports,Price Volatility in Currencies and Commodities and now a significantly below normal Monsoon forecast for this year !

In FY 09,it was Agricultural Growth that propped up GDP Growth with Manufacturing floundering…In FY 10, we should see both these sectors struggling now…and don’t expect the Services Sector to save the Show  

So for the Union Budget to be popular,it has to be really spectacular…for all…Intent may be there but the circumstances will constraint the ability

So what should we expect from this Budget ?…..Export Sops,Infrastructure Boost,Specific Solutions for Capital Formation,Direct and Indirect Tax Reliefs and Rebates for Individuals and all Business Entities,Disinvestment in specific PSUs and other major reforms……   

Sensex is holding on to +14000 levels pre-budget in expectations of the Budget and continuing high FII Inflows…but ‘El Nino’ is holding our Monsoons to ransom….and thus by consequence even our FM ! read more

Oops ! Monsoons yet to be declared official in Mumbai

I’m not a Technical Guy !

Today’s papers say that unless Rains touch 2’s been in mm so far,Monsoons have not officially arrived in Mumbai…yesterday I had blogged that they have

This is Technical stuff…For me the Romance with the Rains has begun….and the Romance with “Baarish main garam garam Bhutta,butter kay saath ! “ should begin soon !

And yes Gautam! Lovely thought to spare a thought for our Farmers who also grow these “Bhuttas” for us…may their fields be blessed with adequate Rains too  

Real Rains Finally Shower in Mumbai…smell that Corn on the burning coals !

What a relief !…Monsoon is officially now in Mumbai from last evening…It’s cooled down temperatures plenty…Electricity Bills that went through the roof in Summer and prompted protests should now also cool down

I can smell the corn !

It’s a real treat…Rains Lashing Down and you’re getting really wet at Marine Drive by the Arabian Sea,having left office earlier at 5 pm to beat the traffic and enjoy the corn ! ….Fresh Corn being roasted on Burning Coals under makeshift poly shelters…those hawking keeping a wary eye on cops…trying to cultivate them with a free corn or two…’s illegal to hawk on the seaface

My wife and I got our favourite corn guy…Gorakh…that’s what he calls himself as he’s from Gorakhpur….or should we say we had him…missed him last season…hope he’s back…Guy’s always smiling and he keeps some great corn in the gunny bag for us,lest it get’s spotted and  eaten away by someone else…Proudly displays it to us before putting it on the coals…and I’ll let you on a secret…put the corn without peeling off the leaves…it will take longer to roast…then apply some Amul Butter on it…Gorakh keeps this too besides the normal salt and chili powder and lemon….Heaven !….While the Heavens open out from above,you’ll open out to the Heavens from Below !…Pure Bliss…Heaven does cost a few Rupees more though ! Rs 12 against Rs 10 for the normal big ones 

And there was instant spontaneity and connection between us…his eyes lit up as he spotted our car slowing down for him…and when when we got him some ‘bhelpuri’ or give him one of my shirts,he treated us to a wide grin…bigger than his usual…he encapsulates the gutsy enterprising spirit of Mumbai

Meher Moos,the intrepid Traveller round the Globe, can often be spotted at the Kemps Corner Signal and at the Fountain signal seeking a car lift…two monsoons ago we gave her one at Fountain…we stopped at Gorakh and treated ourselves to the Corn..made Meher Moos have the one with Butter…she loved it !

We do have corn elsewhere too…but somehow “the baarish main garam garm bhutta,butter kay saath !” has always tasted the best with Gorakh !

And if you want roasted corn bhel then there’s this street vendor at Opera House…bang opposite Panchratna….with electronic,medical and car battery stores as his backdrop…..Nobody makes it like he does! Lip smacking stuff  ! great value for money…under Rs 20 read more

Should you invest in the IPO of Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd in the Price Band of Rs 275-Rs 325 ?I don’t think you’re missing any Boat here

13 Years after Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd (MHRIL) set up,it is coming tomorrow to the Public to raise Equity Funds.It’s in the Business of Vacation Ownership and is a leader in this Field having a market share of over 70%.

Members are empowered with a right to stay at any of the Company’s resorts,subject to prior reservation, for a period of One to Seven Days during designated months and for a Period of 10,25 or 33 Years depending on which Plan they have joined.For this Right they have paid an average of Rupees Rs 2.5 lakh with options to spread the Payment over as long as even 5 Years…Recognition of Income is a portion of this Fee in the year of Joining,with the rest apportioned over the plan Period

In these 12 years,the progress has been slow and steady with momentum seen in only the last few years

As of March 31,2009,it has a cumulative of  92825 Members…..Currently It has 27 resorts,some owned,some on long lease and five on short (under Two year Lease) with 1261 Apartment and cottages across them

Financial Performance….In FY 09 It earned Rs 80 crs on an equity of Rs 77 crs giving an EPS of just over Rs 10…It’s networth was just under Rs 196 crs giving a Book Value of @ Rs 25

So do I like the Company ?………Yes

So do I like the IPO ?……..No

So would I rather be a Member of MHRIL than a Shareholder ?……….Neither

Why is that ?……Well,both issues should be evaluated seperately

Let’s take the prospect of being a Shareholder first

The Pedigree is good and the Prospects are fair…..but the IPO Pricing is expensive…At Rs 275-Rs 325 MHRIL is asking us to pay 30 earnings multiples and 13 Book Multiples on recent performance…That’s HIgh…They are justified in doing this only if they see strong and quicker quantum growth ahead in earnings…I don’t.Their Growth will be constrained by the Apartments and cottages thay have available for right of use…The Object for this Issue reveals that Rs 211 crs are to be spend for Five Properties…to expand at Asthamudi in Kerala and Coorg in Karnataka,to renovate an acquired property in Ooty in Tamil Nadu and to build two new properties in Tungi,near Lonavla in Maharashtra and in Theog,near Simla in Himachal Pradesh…Over Rs 150 crs are for the last two new projects…Rs 111 crs are planned for FY 10 and Rs 93 crs for FY 11,rest later…there are no definitive agreements for the capex spend as of yet…each room would cost an average of @ Rs 50 lakhs and capacity is being projected close to 1600 apartments and cottages within a few years read more

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