Sunday, January 3, 2021

2020 - Letter to Clients

 



2020 is a year which all of us who have lived through it will remember for a very long time. At the start of the year, ‘pandemic’ was a term that to the vast majority of us was a word restricted to the dictionary. But by the end of the year, that changed drastically as it became a household syllable. All of us can righty claim to have lived through a pandemic now. The Covid19 pandemic affected every aspect of every one’s lives all around the world. This virus originated in Wuhan in China in late 2019 and just three months later it had spread around the entire world. So rapid was the spread of this virus that governments worldwide had to resort to complete lockdowns of various durations in order to stop it from spreading and multiplying further. City after city around the world started resembling ghost towns due to lockdowns, and entire economies worldwide came to a grinding halt. In this scenario, investors resorted to safety and flocked towards Gold. Consequently Gold became the star performer for the second year in a row. Here is how various asset classes performed during 2020 in India.

Asset class

2020 return

Gold

27.00

PPF

7.10

NSC

6.80

Debt ultra short

5.13

Post office 3-year deposit

6.90

Debt Liquid

3.96

Fixed deposit (1-3 years)

5.30

Nifty 50

14.90

Nifty Midcap 100

21.87

Nifty Smallcap 100

21.47

 

 

icAdvisor average

39.71


That Gold gave the best return amongst the above asset classes during the pandemic was not that much a surprise. The bigger surprise was that the Nifty managed to give a positive return at all. The pandemic had so scarred investor sentiment during March and April that the turnaround during the rest of the year was nothing short of sensational.  In the midst of all of this, I am happy to report that the average performance of all icAdvisor managed portfolios during the year clocked in at just short of 40%. This was almost thrice as much as the Nifty and about twice as much as the Midcap and Smallcap indices. Here is how many of our client portfolios outperformed these three indices in percentage terms during the year

Index

% folios outperforming the index

Nifty

88.46

Nifty Midcap 100

80.77

Nifty Smallcap 100

80.77


The Nifty saw two trends during the year – a big downtrend at the start of the year followed by an even bigger uptrend for the rest of the year. The quantum and duration of these trends were as follows:

Trend

Quantum%

Period

Downtrend

-38.6

Jan to Mar

Uptrend

80.4

Apr to Dec


These two trends can be easily seen in the daily chart of the Nifty during 2020 below.



Nifty ended the year at a PE of 38.45, very close to its lifetime high of 38.55 reached the very next day! At these dangerously high PE levels Nifty stocks have only two possibilities – either deliver increased earnings to justify the stratospheric PE or face a price correction. The December quarter results which are starting later this week will be interesting to watch from this point of view. 

On the economic front there was bad news all around. Annual GDP growth went into negative territory for the first time in decades. GDP growth slumped to -23.9% for the April-Jun quarter and then improved slightly to -7.5% for the July-September quarter. Two quarters of consecutive negative growth implies that technically we are in a recession. It is in this context that the GDP numbers for the October-December quarter are keenly awaited. Unemployment continued to be high and GST collections also slipped during the year. These and other indicators have put the Governments target of $5tn economy by 2024 at serious risk, to the point that no one is even talking about it anymore. The focus at the moment seems to be to stop the spread of the pandemic so that the economy can recover back to normal. The problem created by the pandemic was compounded by China’s military expansionist activities in the Ladakh region. This forced the Government to move military resources heavily into that region, putting further stress on the finances of the Government. The upcoming annual budget will be interesting from this context. 

What can be look forward to in 2021? Here is Nomura’s GDP forecast for leading economies in Asia for the next two years

Nomura predicts that India will be the best performing economy in Asia in 2021, growing at 9.9% which will be even faster than China’s 9.0%. The stock markets have run up already in anticipation of this forecast and Nifty has hit a lifetime high at the end of the year. Quality Midcap and Smallcap stocks have run up even more than the Nifty. Hence the entire market is very costly at the moment in anticipation of this high growth. The December quarter results will give us a glimpse of which stocks will be at the forefront of this growth.

At the end of this difficult year, it is a good idea to take a moment and review the fundamentals of long term investing. We enumerate them here for quick reference:
  1. Asset allocation – Diversify your financial assets across Debt, Equity, Real Estate, gold, International Equity, etc. depending on your risk profile and age. Real Estate and Gold assets should ideally be used to satisfy consumption needs only. One simple rule of thumb to do this quickly is to subtract your age from 100. The number you get should be the percentage of your assets that you should allocate to equity - the rest should be allocated to Debt and other assets.
  2. Financial planning - Identify your financial goals and classify them by time horizon – short term, medium term and long term. Use Debt assets to achieve short term goals, mix of Debt and Equity assets to achieve medium term goals and Equity assets for achieving long term goals. This will be the basis of your financial plan.
  3. Reviewing your plan - Review your financial plan yourself or with the help of your advisor at least once a year and make adjustments to your asset allocation depending on the prevailing market situation.
  4. Invest right - When it comes to equity, invest in quality businesses and then have the patience to allow markets to give you returns. This calls for having patience even in the face of volatility. Speak to your financial advisor whenever you are in doubt and need a second opinion.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for putting your faith in our investment thesis and in our icAdvisor service with your hard earned money. Your continued trust makes us stay committed to the vision encapsulated in our tagline – ‘Growth through Knowledge’. I am available to address client queries at all times and am approachable via email or whatsapp. 

Finally 2021 will also be the year where the focus will shift from the pandemic to vaccinating the population. It is in this context that I wish you and your family a very healthy, happy and prosperous Happy New Year in the hope that our relationship will continue to strengthen and grow in the years ahead! 


Abhijit Talukdar
Founder, Attainix Consulting
SEBI Registered Investment Adviser - INA000006703

No comments:

Post a Comment