Another year is coming to a close for ‘Portfolio’, and we look back at our work with both a sense of accomplishment as well as humility. Needless to say, 2020 has been an unprecedented year in many ways. We put our best foot forward in guiding investors through these challenging times.
Lest covid ruin finances
The pandemic brought to light lacunae in planning our finances for a rainy day – be it having contingency funds to tide over pay cuts and job losses, ensuring adequate insurance cover, borrowing judiciously or investing so as to optimise returns, without taking on too much risk. A lot also happened in terms of EMI moratorium announcements, introduction of Covid-specific insurance covers, allowing withdrawals from EPF or in terms of the impact of various sops for industry, on listed stocks.
Issues such failure of private banks (YES Bank, Lakshmi Vilas Bank) and co-operative banks as also closing down of six debt schemes of Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund came as a shocker for investors.
At ‘Portfolio’, we ensured that we wrote on all these developments as they unfurled and continued to take twists and turns, striving to give readers a sense of direction at each blind spot.
Stocks and mutual funds
Stocks ideas have been the cornerstone of ‘Portfolio’ since the ‘Investment World’ days. Among our stock picks since July 2019, our buy calls in the defensive IT and pharma space, that investors flocked to, amid the uncertainty created by the pandemic have worked well. ‘Buy’ calls on Granules India (up 112 per cent), Dr Reddy’s Labs (up 82 per cent) , Alkem Labs up (65 per cent), Infosys (up 57 per cent) and HCL Technologies (up 67 per cent) are instances. The returns of these stocks have outperformed the Nifty 50 as well as Nifty 500 indices for the same time period since the ‘Buy’ call. Other market outperformers include Amber Enterprises (up 153 per cent) and India Energy Exchange (up 75 per cent).
IPO calls such as the one to invest in Route Mobile and CAMS or to avoid Spandhana Sphoorthy, CSB Bank and Chemcon Speciality Chemicals, have also worked well so far.
Where we could have done better is by probably sticking our neck out more (never easy!) in the early days of the market rally.
In hindsight, more calls on fundamentally sound stocks that had corrected sharply during the market fall in February – March 2020 might probably have helped identify some good bets. In future, we will also strive to give more ‘Sell’ or ‘Book Profit’ calls, wherever warranted. A call to sell Punjab National Bank in June 2020 has worked well, with the stock losing 15 per cent since.
In mutual funds, catering to the rising interest in international funds as well as passive investing, we covered these segments more discerningly in our fund calls section, in the ‘Your Money’ and ‘Big story’ pages as well as through the ‘Your Fund Portfolio’ (now ‘Fund Query’) column.
Given the many novel themes in NFOs this year, we also extensively gave our take on the strategies of new funds and suitability for investment.
Fixed income and gold
Our forecast for gold in the January 6, 2020, wherein we expected the yellow metal to touch ₹50,000 per 10 gm over the long-term, came true much earlier, thanks to gold’s safe haven status in the Covid-induced global slowdown. In 2020, we have actively covered gold, writing every week for traders in the derivatives segment, analysing sovereign gold bond issues in both the primary and secondary markets as well as recommending gold ETFs for investors. We wrote on digital gold and jewellers’ schemes too, presenting their pros and cons.
Even as interest rates were on a downward slope, we consciously identified investment ideas offering reasonably good fixed returns, for risk averse investors. We recommended investing in the RBI Floating rate savings bonds when it was launched in July this year. The product stands out even today in terms of offering attractive interest rates with maximum safety.
In March 2020, we urged readers to make haste and lock into higher rates offered by small post office savings schemes. As expected, rates were slashed in April. Our calls earlier this year to invest in the 1-2 year deposits of Sundaram Finance and Equitas Small Finance Bank, for instance, worked out well, with both entities slashing rates since our call. Their financials also remain relatively less impacted due to the pandemic, ensuring stability to investors.
This year, we furthered our multimedia presence by adding videos and podcasts to many of our stories. We also launched our exclusive ‘Portfolio Podcasts’ recently, wherein, as a first in the series, analysts in the Research Bureau busted tax jargons. Aired twice a week, 15 episodes of ‘Tax Jargon Busters’ over seven to eight weeks received an encouraging response.
On December 6, 2020, we relaunched ‘Portfolio’, overhauling the content, design and colour scheme. Most importantly, we shifted the edition to Sundays to give readers enough time to absorb the ideas and strategies laid out in our pages. Reader engagement through query corners on various aspects of finance, sections for first time investors, columns on ‘Do-it-yourself’ investing, a dedicated page on derivatives, and various useful market data tables are some of the key features of the relaunched edition.
Among the plans for the New Year is regular coverage of international markets/investing and wider offering in the ‘Fund Insight’ page to include NPS products. We also plan to take ‘Portfolio Podcasts’ ahead in 2021.
Keep reading and writing to us, on what you think of Portfolio and how we can help you manage your finances better. Happy New Year!