Upbeat on India despite high valuations; see FIIs returning
Jonathan Schiessl, Investment director and head of Equities, Ashburton
Mar 31, 2017 | Source: CNBC-TV18
Outlook for Indian market as we start the next financial year: Clearly, the markets have rallied quite strongly. Particularly when you are looking at it from dollar returns, India has been a massive outperformer because obviously we have seen strength in the rupee as well which has certainly aided foreign investors getting a domestic equity market return plus a rupee return. So, the reality is over the last year and half, India had underperformed. We saw a lot of foreign money being pushed into other more commodity related emerging markets. They did incredibly well over that period and we are beginning to see a little bit of foreign attention shifting back to India again. I guess the only slight concern is people look at headline valuations and clearly we are pushing to the upper end of the range, but that is something we can talk through.
IT Sector: we decided to push up weighting after we saw Cognizant when an activist investor entered the register of Cognizant and then the company did respond with better cash management initiatives. Obviously that has now spread to the Indian IT sector within India itself. So, that was one of the reasons. We were looking for better cash management initiatives out of Indian IT stocks. But also, the reality is if we are seeing this global improvement in macro data, then certainly, some of the businesses, the headwinds that Indian IT has been facing over the last few years, if not couple of quarters, certainly are pushing into more tailwinds. And I think the demand environment is improving, better cash management and thirdly, obviously from a valuation perspective, there was no doubt that some of the worries over the Trump policy, protectionism, etc. to our mind was priced into current share prices.
From an opportunity perspective, there is no doubt that with more of the population getting pushed into the financial, or the real economy or formal economy, the push of this government into various housing initiatives is something which we see as just adding to the overall medium to longer term story falling on financial companies that are focused on mortgages and housing markets. So, there is a great long-term or even medium-term structural story around the spaces where these businesses operate.
Midcap / smallcap stocks: We are still very much active and looking in the mid to smallcap space for new names and real times because I think there are so many interesting, wellmanaged companies that are currently in the mid and smallcap range which most of which foreign investors do not bother looking at and those are the names that we find particularly attractive.
Textiles: Interestingly enough, the whole textile space, garmenting is clearly a space of focus for the government. Obviously, this is an area which India, with the breakdown of TransPacific Partnership (TPP) where India can take global market share from some of the other players globally, and clearly from an employment perspective, the garmenting and the whole textile space is an area which can suck up huge numbers of low-skilled employees..