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Which stocks should you invest in?

Last updated on: April 27, 2011 13:52 IST

Which stocks should you invest in?

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Neha Pandey in Mumbai

Twenty eight-year-old Ashish Puri is confused between the infrastructure and the consumption theme.

He has been looking for investment guidance, but the more he reads, the more confused he gets.

"Some recommend consumption-related stocks, while others support the infrastructure ones. I am unable to decide," says the Allahabad resident.

According to Ajay Parmar, head-institution, Emkay Global Financial Services, infrastructure has a lesser returns ratio than consumption. And, with markets expected to be rangebound for the next three-six months, the India consumption story will serve investors better.


Image: Markets are expected to be rangebound for three-six months.

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For novices such as Puri looking to invest in the consumption basket, largecap stocks are safer bets. Maruti Suzuki and State Bank of India are the common suggestions.

In the last one year, SBI has given 29 per cent returns, while Maruti hasn't had a great run, with a negative two per cent return.

But the outlook on Maruti is good, despite concerns on rising input costs on the back of high commodity prices, which will affect margins.

Add to it the rise in fuel prices and a steady increase in interest rates. Lalit Thakkar, managing director-institution, Angel Stock Broking, says these are short-term blips, as the large middle class population is increasingly moving from two-wheelers to four-wheelers, and the small car maker is gaining.

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Image: In the last one year, SBI has given 29 per cent returns.
Photographs: Reuters
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On SBI, he says the country's largest bank has a very good Casa (current account-saving account), credit and deposit growth.

And, credit and deposit have enough room to grow another seven-eight per cent. Not to forget both these companies are market leaders.

The key risk for SBI is its higher pension liability (analysts peg it at Rs. 8,000-10,000 crore), and maintaining the net interest margin at 3.6 per cent (as that in the third quarter) is a big challenge.

The good part is that the banking regulator has relaxed the provision coverage ratio for the bank.

Thakkar favours the tyre market as these companies are investing huge amounts for a new design of radial tyres.

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Image: Tyre companies are a better bet, says an analyst.
Photographs: Reuters
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With this, sellers can limit buyers' bargaining power. He likes MRF among the tyre companies (annual returns = 4.2 per cent).

"Investors who do not need the money in the short term can invest up to 70 per cent of their holding in these stocks," adds Thakkar.

You need an investment horizon of at least one year for an average of 12-15 per cent returns annually.

Experienced investors could buy a small portion of midcap stocks. Among fast-moving consumer goods, the real consumption stocks, Parmar recommends Jubilant Foodworks, Marico and Nestle.

Till now, only Nestle has declared its fourth quarter results and the big positive is that the company has maintained its profitability.

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Image: Nestle has maintained profitability.
Photographs: Reuters
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Even Marico is expected to maintain its margin. In the last one year, both stocks have returned 43 and 24 per cent, respectively.

"Companies across the industry have increased prices to manage escalating raw material costs, but the price rise has been passed on in a very measured manner," adds Parmar.

High inflation and commodity prices are the biggest concerns here. He advises you to take up to 10 per cent exposure to these stocks.

Parmar favours Jubilant Foodworks, on the back of a whopping 97 per cent return in the last year.

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Image: FMCGs are projected to give good returns.
Photographs: Reuters
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Ambareesh Baliga, chief operating officer, Way2Wealth, is bullish on United Spirits, as it is a market leader in the liquor space, where year-on-year sales are moving up and is expected to rise further.

You can take two-three per cent exposure for two years. He expects the stock price to increase by 40 per cent in another two years to Rs 1,450, compared to Rs 1,011 today.

But Baliga's favourite is ITC.

"The company is across various businesses from FMCG to agriculture. Importantly, it is sitting on a lot of cash," he says.

The concerns are dwindling sales, but that is priced in. Also, cigarettes are expected to boost the growth.

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Image: ITC is sitting on a lot of cash.
Photographs: Reuters
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Baliga recommends a horizon of two years and three-four per cent holding in the stock. He expects ITC to be at Rs 260 (36 per cent growth) in two years, as against Rs 191 today.

Analysts are also positive on the investment theme, but only if you have five-seven years horizon.

They are bullish on infrastructure and Larsen & Toubro (annual returns = six per cent) is the top pick.

A word of caution: When investing in stocks, retail investors should stick to the largecaps, as these are less volatile and safer as compared to smaller stocks.


Image: Analysts are bullish on L and T.
Photographs: Reuters
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