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6 agri & cement stocksRahul Shah is betting on

June 18, 2021 - 8:45pm
I do not think there will be a major selloff in the markets. There may be a maximum 2-3% move, says Rahul Shah, V-P-Equity Advisory, Motilal Oswal Financial Services. What is the outlook on the equity markets in light of the Fed announcements and the kind of nosedive that we are seeing in metal prices globally. After a steady runup, we are now circling around the 15,630 mark?It is very relevant for the markets from the India perspective. Obviously the number of Covid cases and the vaccination drive which is taking place across the country are the two most positive trends for the country. The momentum which was built up this month was backed by the metal stocks. A lot of stocks have given 40-50% returns in the large cap space as well. So considering all the factors globally, one trend is very clear that we are here for the cyclicals like metals and cement. I do not see any major selloff coming in this sector and as long as the prices are sustained, I do not feel that there could be a selloff in the entire commodities basket. Last quarter, we saw the results from the metal and cement companies. All the companies were in sync with the fact that the prices are going to remain firm for the next couple of quarters at least. So my view is that commodities and especially metals are in a clear super cycle. We should be looking at metal stocks, followed by cement stocks. Thirdly, come the financials. These are the key preferences for investing in markets today. Do you think the present pause in the momentum is going to be a mild aberration, a correction on the way or is a far steeper fall likely?I do not think there will be a major correction in the markets. We are just going towards expiry and on the back of it, we are seeing some profit booking. That is expected and post Fed meet, we also saw global markets sliding a little bit. On the back of it, we have seen the selloff and sector rotation. From July, the earning seasons will be coming back into focus. I do not think there will be a major selloff in the markets. There may be a maximum 2-3% move. CLSA has a sell rating on Nazara. The stock price has borne the brunt of that but how are you looking at the journey that Nazara had so far?I have not been tracking this stock so closely but what I gather is that in terms of the overall company’s market cap and the size of the industry, you are getting a single listed company right now. And the opportunity is huge. Maybe on the back of it, the valuations are not justified in terms of buying. But the stock has a first mover advantage in the sector and will remain expensive as it is one of a kind stock in the Indian listed space. My view is the valuation remains a challenge but the sector looks good.Why are liquor stocks moving up?There are no specific reasons but if we look at it from the open up trade angle, a lot of stocks have been doing quite well including liquor stocks. In the last six to eight months they have been underperformers. This is the time to catch up for these stocks, Where do you think the entire privatisation process is headed? In the last 20-25 days, we have seen a lot of interest in the PSU basket and a spectacular runup in most of the stocks. Some of the new stocks are up 15% and maybe one should have a few of them in the portfolio. I think there is deep value in the stocks and in a lot of PSUs. BPCL is a top pick here. There could be some more upsides in the stock. Secondly, a lot of PSUs have been underrated in the last three to four years. As companies with good visibility of the businesses and compelling valuations, those stocks have been rerated. How are you looking at the entire agri space? Rather than betting on the stocks of agri companies, we have been very positive on the fertilisers and agro chemical space as a whole. We are in for good monsoon for the third year running. The last two seasons were quite good and on the back of it, we saw some of the agro chemical related stocks having done quite well. Coromandel is one which we have been quite bullish on and there could be more upside into it. The second one is UPL. We have been quite bullish on in terms of valuations. These two stocks remain my top picks. Among mid and smallcaps, Dhanuka Agri is one of the stocks that has deep value. These could be our top ideas. One should look at all of them for playing the theme in good monsoons going forward. What about the cement space? The numbers from some of the midcap as well as large cap companies have been quite encouraging in Q4?Commodity as a whole and cement as a sector has been leading in the last couple of months. In that space, the large caps will lead the rally which they have been doing in for quite some time and UltraTech remains the top bet in the large cap space. In the midcap space, there could be some more room for investors to make money. In that, the valuations are very cheap and very discounted to the large caps. Birla Corp is one which we like from the current levels. We also like JK Cement and JK Lakshmi. These two bets remain quite convincing.
Categories: Business News

How India is changing vaccine plan amid shortages

June 18, 2021 - 8:45pm
Starting Monday, every adult in India will be eligible for a free vaccine paid for by the federal government. The new policy, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, ends a complex system introduced just last month of buying and distributing vaccines that overburdened states and led to inequities in how the shots were handed out. India is a key supplier of vaccines around the world, and its missteps at home have led it to stop exports of shots, leaving millions of people around the world waiting unprotected. Only about 3.5% of Indians are fully vaccinated and while supporters hope the policy change will make vaccine distribution more equitable, poor planning means shortages will continue. Here's a look at the changes to India's vaccine policy and what they mean. THE EARLIER POLICYIndia has vast experience in running large immunization programs, and each year it distributes 300 million shots to infants and mothers for free. For these programs, the federal government is in charge of buying the vaccines and then works with the states to figure out how best to distribute them. But the scale of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign is unprecedented. And a massive surge in March pushed India's health system to the breaking point. As hundreds of thousands of people became infected each day and hospitals overflowed with patients gasping for air, the states complained they weren't getting enough shots from the federal government and clamored for more control over how the vaccines were distributed. So, starting in May, the federal government agreed to buy just half of all vaccines produced for use in India and continued to give them out for free to health care and frontline workers and those over 45. The other half became available for states and private hospitals to buy directly. These vaccines were destined for people between 18 and 45; they were free if obtained from the states, but cost money if obtained privately. WHY IT DIDN'T WORKThe states had never bought vaccines before and a limited supply meant they were competing with one another as well as with private hospitals. They were forced to pay higher prices than the federal government could have negotiated, said Dr. Chandrakant Lahariya, a health policy expert. "That essentially makes it inefficient," he said. Private hospitals passed that cost on to people, and amid shortages at government centers, people had to either pay for a vaccine, or not get a shot. The change in policy also expanded eligibility to all adults. Expanding the criteria despite shortages meant shots weren't always going to the groups the federal government initially said it would prioritize: those with essential jobs and the elderly. Since May, more people younger than 45 have received their first shot than those older than 60. More than 74 million people over 60 remain unvaccinated. Modi said these decisions were taken to satisfy the states' demands, but the fractured response may have cost lives, said Dr. Vineeta Bal, who studies immune systems at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Pune city. WHAT HAS CHANGED NOW?The federal government has now decided to buy a larger portion of vaccines - but it's still not returning fully to its original policy. It will buy 75% of all vaccines made for use in India and likely renegotiate prices. These shots will be given to states and will continue to be distributed for free. Private hospitals can buy the remaining 25% at prices that have been capped and can charge for them. States will receive vaccines based on their populations, disease burdens and how many people have been vaccinated. They will be penalized for wasting doses. But supply remains a challenge. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: "Where will the vaccines come from is a big question." India has placed orders for vaccines still in development, but for the moment it will continue to rely on existing, overstretched suppliers like the Serum Institute of India.
Categories: Business News

Major fire at Noida Metro office, none hurt

June 18, 2021 - 8:45pm
A major fire broke out at the corporate office of the Noida Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) located in the Ganga shopping complex in Sector 29 here on Friday afternoon, prompting evacuation of scores of people from the building, officials said.Nobody was hurt in the blaze that was reported from the NMRC office located on the third floor of the complex around 1.30 pm, Chief Fire Officer Arun Kumar Singh said.NMRC Managing Director Ritu Maheshwari said the fire was triggered at 1.15 pm due to an electrical short circuit. No documents were damaged in the incident and a departmental investigation was launched, she added."Thirteen fire tenders in total were rushed to the spot where local police were also deployed and the blaze brought under control within three hours," CFO Singh told reporters, adding that he personally oversaw the relief and rescue operation.The fire caused damage to the office of the managing director and a large conference room within the NMRC premises, the senior fire-fighter said, adding that the blaze spread quickly due to the presence of a false ceiling."With false ceiling, it became difficult to ascertain the extent of the area the fire had spread into. The fire has been controlled except for some small patches on the false ceiling, which are being doused," Singh said at 4 pm.He said around 60 to 70 people were working inside the office when the fire broke out and all of them were evacuated to safety immediately and added that no one was injured.He said the fire-fighters had to break open some glass windows in the NMRC to make way for the smoke out of the premises in order to douse the fire.Asked if safety measures installed in the building functioned properly, the CFO said, "In events of a major fire, power supply in the buildings are discontinued. Here also the power supply was discontinued and we relied on our fire tenders for the operation.”The Ganga Shopping Complex in the posh Sector 29 of Noida houses several daily utility shops, commercial officers, restaurants and fast-food outlets besides the Noida Media Club.In a statement, the NMRC said the fire was triggered due to an electrical short circuit."Immediately the area got evacuated and necessary preventive actions by staff have been taken. Police and fire department were informed,” NMRC's Maheshwari said."There is no loss of life or injury reported and none of the documents got damaged due to this incident. ED (Executive Director) of the NMRC has been instructed to carry out a detailed investigation to assess loss and reasons for incident through technical team," the IAS officer added.Several purported videos of the major blaze also surfaced on social media.
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Railways approves operation of 660 more trains

June 18, 2021 - 8:45pm
With the flattening of the coronavirus curve, the Indian Railways has added 660 more trains in June to facilitate the movement of migrant labourers and clear the waiting list in various origin-destination clusters, it said in a statement.During the pre-Covid times, about 1,768 mail and express trains were operating daily on average.As on Friday, about 983 mail and express trains are being operated daily, which is about 56 per cent of the pre-Covid level. The number of trains is being enhanced gradually in accordance with the demand and commercial justification, the railways said.As on June 1, about 800 mail and express trains were in operation."During the period from June 1 to June 18, approval for operating 660 additional mail/express trains has been given to the zonal railways," it said.These include 552 mail and express trains and 108 holiday special trains.The zonal railways have been advised to restore trains in a graded manner, keeping in view the local conditions, the demand for tickets and the Covid situation in the region.
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NMDC's export contracts with Japan and Korea come to a halt, Co awaits for GoI to renew the agreement

June 18, 2021 - 8:45pm
State-owned NMDC’s long-term agreement (LTA) to supply high-grade iron ore to Japanese steel mills and the South Korean steelmaker Posco, which ended on March 31, has not been renewed by the Union commerce ministry for this financial year.The reason, according to an NMDC executive, is the shortage and supply disruption of iron ore in India.“We are awaiting government orders on renewing the contract. This could be temporary as there is a shortage of iron ore in India, and some mines auctioned in Odisha are yet to start production,” said the executive, who did not wish to be identified.Steel research and analysis firm SteelMint reported on Thursday that the Centre has withdrawn the two sops it had provided NMDC in offering these LTAs – a reduced 10% export duty, as against the normal 30% paid by private iron ore exporters, and some railway freight concessions compared to the rate charged to private players.Queries sent to Posco and Japanese steelmaker JFE Steel did not elicit a response till press time. In April 2018, the Union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had approved the renewal of LTAs for the supply of iron ore (lumps and fines) of grade +64% Fe content to Japanese Steel Mills and Posco for another three years through state-owned trading company MMTC Limited. As per the contract, NMDC was to supply Japanese steel mills with 3-4.3 million tonnes of iron ore per annum and Posco with 0.8-1.2 mt per annum.NMDC produced about 34.1 mt of iron ore in 2020-2021 and exported about 2.292 mt, according to people aware of the matter. “NMDC, being the biggest iron ore producer in India, has planned to produce around 42 mt for the upcoming year. While this contract would have helped the company achieve better margins, the prices and demand in the domestic markets are equally higher,” another person privy to the information said on condition of anonymity. Analysts viewed this development positively for NMDC as the margins and demand in the domestic market are equally competitive. The company supplies about 10% of its production via this agreement. The move is least likely to impact the company financially. “These LTAs with the present level of iron ore prices were profitable but generally these LTAs are not profitable for NMDC. Now that the contract isn’t there, they will sell the same ore and their margins will only improve,” said Amit Dixit, research analyst, Edelweiss Financial Services.Global steel prices have been high in the first four months of this year and producers were struggling to supply as there was a huge shortage of raw material, iron ore. As per data from the government officials, iron ore exports from India increased 66% to 22.42 mt in 2020-21.Iron ore production in India fell almost 44 mt to 202 mt in 2020-21. In June, NMDC fixed the lump ore prices at Rs 7,650 per tonne and fines at Rs 6,560 per tonne. Prices have jumped more than three times year-on-year, from Rs 2,250 per tonne for lump ore and Rs 1,960 per tonne for fines.
Categories: Business News

Reliance Jio adds over 79 lakh mobile subscribers in March: TRAI data

June 18, 2021 - 8:45pm
India's largest telecom operator Reliance Jio gained over 79 lakh, mobile users, in March, surpassing the combined net adds by rivals Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea during the month, according to data released by TRAI on Friday.While Bharti Airtel added 40.5 lakh, wireless users, Vodafone Idea gained 10.8 lakh customers during March (as compared to the previous month).Reliance Jio added 79.18 lakh, wireless subscribers, in March, taking its customer base to about 42.29 crore.Airtel's user base swelled to 35.23 crore as of March 2021.Notably, Vodafone Idea added 10.8 lakh subscribers in March, as its customer base jumped to 28.37 crore.According to the monthly subscriber data by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the total number of telephone subscribers in India increased to 120.1 crore at the end of March 2021, a monthly growth rate of 1.12 per cent."The monthly growth rates of urban and rural telephone subscription were 0.92 per cent and 1.37 per cent respectively during the month of March-21," TRAI said in a statement.
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Why Vodafone Idea stock jumped nearly 10% today

June 18, 2021 - 8:45pm
KOLKATA: Vodafone Idea (Vi) shares closed nearly 10 per cent higher on the BSE Friday, amid unconfirmed speculation that the cash-strapped telco may finally be close to concluding at least a part of its much-delayed fundraising, market players said.On Friday, the stock closed 9.86 per cent higher at Rs10.36 after scaling an 11.24 per cent intra-day high, amid unconfirmed buzz that the telecom JV between UK’s Vodafone Plc and the Aditya Birla Group might be close to wrapping up an initial funding of around $1 billion, via a potential qualified institutional placements (QIP) route. The Vi scrip has jumped over 21 per cent since the start of this month – from Rs 8.53 on June 1 to Rs 10.36 on June 18.“Markets these days largely run on expectations and euphoria and any near-term positive perceptions about Vi likely overcoming its immediate funding challenges could have triggered the sharp spurt in the company stock price today,” Deven Choksey, promoter of KRChoksey Wealth Managers told ET.Spokespersons for Vi, Vodafone Plc and the Aditya Birla Group did not reply to ET queries till press time. The telco is yet to report its fiscal fourth quarter results, which is expected at the end of June.Concerns over Vi’s Rs 25,000 crore fundraising plans, first announced last September, have been rising, given that the telco hasn’t been able to conclude any deals after talking to potential global investors such as an Oak Hill-led consortium, a host of US private equity firms including KKR, besides Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec and Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global. The talks were mostly around investments via convertible instruments.Industry executives, bankers and fund managers say Vi’s leadership is still in talks with US private equity players, and that financial due diligence is still underway.“Vodafone Idea needs to raise the stated Rs 25,000 crore funding in the short-term to refinance its upcoming NCD redemption, clear its sizeable AGR dues repayments and also invest in 4G networks to compete effectively with Reliance and Bharti Airtel, failing which it could face significant financial challenges,” Nitin Soni, senior director, at global ratings agency, Fitch, told ET.The telco has been unable to increase tariffs meaningfully due to competitive pressures, even as it faces big payment obligations upwards of Rs 13,500 crore in the current fiscal itself. The telco is staring at a Rs 6,000-crore payout towards redemption of non-convertible debentures (NCDs) -- starting December 2021 -- and the first instalment of its Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) -linked repayments pegged at around Rs 7,500 crore, due by March 31, 2022.Further, its annual spectrum payment instalments of about Rs 15,500 crore would start from FY23, once the two-year moratorium ends.Industry analysts have maintained that fundraising has been a challenge for Vi, given its weak financial performance and rapid loss of users. Prospective global investors also want its co-promoters – UK’s Vodafone Plc and the Aditya Birla Group – to infuse some capital. However, both promoters have so far stuck to their stance not to put in fresh equity in the loss-making telco.
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S&P revises ICICI Bank outlook to stable from negative

June 18, 2021 - 8:45pm
NEW DELHI: S&P Global Ratings on Friday said it has revised the rating outlook on ICICI Bank Ltd to stable from negative on grounds that the lender will benefit from the sale of stake in subsidiaries.The rating agency affirmed its 'BBB-' long-term and 'A-3' short-term issuer credit ratings on ICICI Bank."We revised the rating outlook to reflect our view that ICICI Bank will maintain its strong capital position over the next 24 months. The bank will benefit from the sale of a stake in subsidiaries and gradual normalization of earnings, which should reduce risks associated with its capital position," it said.In a statement, S&P forecast that ICICI Bank will maintain a risk-adjusted capital (RAC) ratio of more than 10 per cent over the next 24 months."Our expectation factors in 13-14 per cent credit growth for the bank, an improvement in earnings, and sale of stake in insurance subsidiaries over the period," it said.ICICI Bank's stressed loans (non-performing loans and restructured loans) are likely to remain high when compared to that of international peers.The bank's stressed loans are expected to peak at 6 per cent of total loans in the fiscal year ending March 2022, lower than the estimate of 11-12 per cent for the Indian banking industry."The bank's new non-performing loans (NPLs) are likely to stay elevated in fiscal 2022 owing to the impact of the second wave of COVID-19 infections. In our view, localized lockdowns will hit small and midsize enterprise (SME) borrowers the most," it said.Retail loans, especially unsecured personal loans and credit card debt, are also vulnerable.For ICICI Bank, SME loans (accounting for 4.2 per cent of total loans), personal loans (6.7 per cent), credit cards (2.4 per cent) and rural loans (10 per cent) could contribute to the increase in NPLs.ICICI Bank has made COVID-19 related provisions to the tune of 1 per cent of advances.This, S&P said, should help smoothen the hit from pandemic-related losses."The bank's better customer profile and underwriting relative to the Indian banking system should limit losses," it added.ICICI Bank's lower credit costs than in the past should enhance its profitability, it said estimated core earnings at 1.3-1.6 per cent of assets over the next two years, with further upside possible from the sale of stake in subsidiaries."The stable outlook reflects our view that ICICI Bank's capitalization will remain strong over the next 24 months, aided by better earnings and profit from the sale of a stake in subsidiaries. We factor in a slight deterioration in the bank's asset quality and performance due to COVID-19," it said.In its base case, ICICI Bank will maintain its strong market position, strong capital, better-than-system asset quality, and good funding and liquidity over the next 24 months."An upgrade of ICICI Bank is unlikely in the next one to two years because that would require an improvement in the bank's financial profile as well as the sovereign credit rating on India."Our assessment of ICICI Bank's financial profile may improve if the bank's asset quality strengthens to levels in line with international peers, and it maintains its capitalization at a strong level," it said.
Categories: Business News

MSMEx raises $1 mn from Razorpay, others

June 18, 2021 - 5:44pm
MUMBAI: Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) EdTech company MSMEx has raised $1 million in a Pre-Series A funding round co-led by Razorpay and the international investment firm TNF Investments. The comapny had earlier raised angel funding from a clutch of leading angel investors including Badri Pillapakkam (Partner at Omidyar Network), Krishna Kumar (Founder of SimpliLearn), Manoj Sharma (CTO of Cleartrip), and Heetesh Veera (Partner at E&Y), among others.MSMEx said that it will use this funding to develop new intuitive technologies, including a deep learning-based recommender system, a live chat system, an AI-based behaviour analytics system, and scale its operations to serve more users. MSMEx was founded by Amit Kumar in 2019 and was joined at an early stage by Vishal Kumar, Dilip Kumar, Khushboo Arora and Kumar Sambhav.In a statement, Amit Kumar said “Only 0.5% of micro businesses are able to scale up and graduate to the next level in India, while the comparative figures for China and the USA are at 25% and 45% respectively. Not every micro business owner gets access to world-class business education or mentors and advisors, as 90% of them are located outside metro cities. MSMEx is taking structured business education and advisory services to every corner of India, to create future leaders of Indian economy.”MSMEx offers live business sessions for micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) owners and connects them with curated business experts for online interactions and hand holding support. “We all agree that India has been making significant strides in the SME and MSME segment, more so during the last few months, owing to businesses realising the impact of digitisation on their business, economic growth, job creation and overall productivity. While this situation has forced the MSME segment to adopt everything new and leverage this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, there’s been a need for small business owners to be well-enabled to make informed decisions and move in the right direction,” said Shashank Kumar, CTO and Co-Founder, Razorpay, in a statement.In a statement, Samir Khosla, Managing Partner at TNF Investments said, “Micro and small enterprises in India and other developing economies are demonstrating growth, in their numbers and ambitions. This investment is the first step of a larger vision and partnership, which will become a catalyst for best breed MSME entrepreneurs, supporting them by applying our intellectual, network, and financial resources.”The last 15 months have changed the way business is done in India. While large corporations and technology companies have managed to adapt to the new reality of remote work, having already undergone digital transformation, India’s 63 million micro businesses with their limited resources have found business transformation and online interaction challenging. MSMEx bridges the gap by enabling access to digital transformation and business best practises for these smaller, geographically dispersed businesses in a cost effective and efficient manner.Currently, the MSMEx platform has over half a million users representing micro and small businesses from over 1,200 cities across India.
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Standard Chartered launches new digital solution

June 18, 2021 - 5:44pm
Standard Chartered Bank has announced the launch of Softex solution - aimed at supporting clients in their software export processes that run through the bank’s digital platform Straight2Bank.The aim of Softex solution is to simplify the filing process for software exporters and simultaneously ensure regulatory compliance. The process begins with Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) filing and concludes with the Export Data Processing & Monitoring System (EDPMS) reconciliation with the bank and collection of export proceeds thereby automating the end to end process and reducing the manual touch points.The solution includes creating files in requisite formats, data upload and reconciliation tools, integration to the bank’s internal tool to provide an end-to-end digital package encompassing all stages of documentation and forex execution on inward remittances received.Commenting on this initiative, Zarin Daruwala, Cluster CEO, India and South Asia, Standard Chartered Bank, said, “With most of the clients managing their work from a home office and the growing digital adoption rate, the need for innovative digital solutions offering greater accuracy and efficiency, has become stronger. This initiative by the bank will support our software exporter clients by helping them automate the erstwhile manual process. This solution will not only help clients meet their regulatory requirements for software, but also result in significant time saving and ease of operations by reducing a lot of manual work.”The Bank already has a Trade GoDigital Solution, an integrated solution giving clients visibility of their export transactions so that they can digitally manage the entire life cycle of an export bill, backed by the regulatory portal EDPMS.
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A second salary hike for Wipro employees this year

June 18, 2021 - 5:44pm
Bengaluru: Wipro has announced salary hike for 80% of its eligible staff in September, its second such exercise this year to retain key employees amid a talent war in India’s IT sector. “On average, the increments will be in the high single digits for offshore employees while it will be in the mid-single digits for onsite employees. The company will reward top performers with substantially higher increases,” Wipro said in a statement on Friday.The company said that it will initiate its merit salary increases, offering hikes to all eligible employees below the level of assistant manager. It had announced a similar hike for employees in this band in January this year as well. For employees at the level of manager and above, the company said pay hikes would be effective from June 1.Wipro saw attrition rates jump to 12% in the quarter to March, prompting it to offer skill-based bonuses, salary hikes for senior leaders in June and promotions across the organisation. Wipro closed the year with 197,712 professionals, adding over 7,700 people in the quarter to March. The company expects to hire over 18,000 freshers during the yearWipro’s larger rival Tata Consultancy Services rolled out salary increments in April, the second in six months to its 4.89 lakh workforce and Infosys will begin its second employee performance review beginning July 1, the second since it gave a salary increase to its employees in January. HCL gave a salary increase to employees in October last year, while Tech Mahindra increased salaries in January.The top five companies combined employ over 1.24 million people, over a fourth of India’s 4.6 million technology workforce.
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NRI investments: The balance between local & global

June 18, 2021 - 5:44pm
As an NRI, Amit has been working abroad for the past 5 years. He doesn’t yet have a robust financial plan but recently mapped his financial goals and is yet to decide whether he will return to India post-retirement. While abroad, he invests regularly in an employee retirement plan wherein a percentage of his pre-tax salary goes towards it. For other savings, he usually dabbles in the stock market following funds his friends and colleagues suggest. So what would be the apt way for Amit to invest his hard-earned money?NRIs often ask investment advisors this pertinent question, Where should I invest my savings?My home country, an emerging market with excellent future prospects, orGlobal opportunities for a share in the pie of established organizations with superior competitive advantagesThere is no straightforward answer to this question; in fact, one can answer this question only by raising numerous other questions; the most vital one being, what are your long-term financial goals?Also Read: Financial pitfalls NRIs should avoid while investing in IndiaNRIs lead an international lifestyle and (in most cases) are dollar dependent for expenses like children’s education, medical treatment, and travel. Therefore, a robust post-retirement plan will better position them to decide their global or home-country savings allocation. For example, let’s consider Amit plans for a post-retirement life in India. This would require him to invest in a Rupee denominated long-term investment for post-retirement. However, for other expenses, short-term goals like children’s education, travel, and medical expenses will require investments in his work-country’s (preferably dollar) denomination. Ideally, for an NRI with a substantial investible surplus, the right strategy is to invest not merely in domestic economies but also across major economies. This spread gives your portfolio superior diversification while simultaneously offering compelling avenues to invest and gain. Staying LocalWhy invest in India? India is a growing economy; the financial markets have proven their resilience even in these testing times of volatility and lockdowns. With funds outperforming benchmarks and the markets hitting record highs, investors have made gains and booked profits while remaining invested, even during volatility, knowing there is more potential for growth. Yes, volatility exists, and funds have underperformed global peers due to spikes during the second wave; mere market corrections are expected year on year, which should not deter investors from staying invested. Over the past few years, large caps led market growth, while today, mid-caps and small-caps are taking over the lead. Attractive valuation and post-Covid tailwinds are opening several opportunities in sectors like pharma, digitization, and e-commerce dominated by mid-caps. During intermittent periods of volatility, picking up quality growth stocks in small-caps at very attractive valuations and including these mid-cap categories of funds in one's portfolio at this current stage could prove beneficial in the long run.As India continues on its growth trajectory, the combination of Indian Inc. being significantly deleveraged (yet strong on balance sheets) and the Government’s aim and estimates of the vaccination drive to cover approximately 40% of the population by Sep 2021, these are signs of a robust comeback to normalcy shortly. With RBIs continued support to maintain liquidity in the markets and the Government’s continued expansionary approach, demand will soon rise, and business will likely be back as usual.Going GlobalOver the last decade, Indian markets and U.S. markets have offered similar returns to their investors. The DJI has generated a compounded annual return of 9.75%, whereas the Sensex has generated a return of 9.70% in the last ten years. Every market globally has a unique opportunity to offer; for instance, the U.S. is a technology hub with a $20.8 Trillion GDP and $45.8 Trillion market cap, while China is a manufacturing hub with $14.8 Trillion GDP and a $11.7 Trillion market cap. Capitalizing on opportunities by investing in future-ready businesses in these countries can benefit investors in the long run. Suppose Amit allocates 10% of his investible surplus in global markets, wherein 7% of this weightage is in developed markets like the U.S. and 3% in emerging Asia-Pacific. In that case, he is more likely to earn better gains while keeping his portfolio balanced even through volatility. From a wealth creation point of view, safety comes first while investing, which is why diversification in non-correlated assets across geographies is the key to maintaining a healthy and balanced portfolio that offers risk-adjusted returns. Unfortunately, most NRIs invest solely in Indian assets due to home bias. This tunnel vision leaves their portfolio open to economic risks like political instability, currency rate risks, government policy shifts, and more. Some NRIs may choose to invest solely in the location of their current stay or work, which could be due to familiarity bias. Either way, the risks involved while investing considerable sums in a single market are akin to all your eggs in a single geographical basket. Benefits of global investing:Super diversification across non-correlated asset classesAccess to unique market opportunitiesHedge against economic and currency depreciation risksAs investors, it is essential to remember that neither a single asset class nor a specific market can consistently outperform. In addition, the financial markets are cyclical; hence, diversification ensures that your portfolio remains stable through all the ups and downs during these cycles.
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Entertainers find creative ways to dispel Covid blues

June 18, 2021 - 5:44pm
Every day at 7 pm, psychological illusionist Karan Singh is all set to present a lineup of tricks that leave his audience on Zoom wondering with awe. Performing for a group of friends in one of his shows in May, he breaks the ice with some light-hearted chatter before asking one participant to name any card from the hidden deck. Nonchalantly, Singh reveals the same card — Jack of Spades — that had been placed on the top of the deck before the start of the show itself. The enthusiastic bunch of friends can’t stop giggling at this exact match and wonder how he did it. What follows is a 15-20 minute virtual interactive session replete with card tricks, mind reading and magic which makes the group gasp in disbelief as the tricks accurately reflect their thoughts.During Covid’s lethal second wave, Singh’s direct messages on social media were flooded with requests from those frantically looking for oxygen, hospital beds, medicines and other essentials. Feeling the sheer helplessness, he sent out a message asking everyone to donate to a charity of their choice for Covid relief.In return, Singh would do a show for them after receiving a screenshot of the amount donated for the cause. “Within the first hour itself, we received around 600-700 mails from those who had donated. Out of them, I picked a list of 20 mails randomly and did one show every day for families or groups of friends in May. It has just been very heartening to hear people’s stories - everyone is going through a lot. I decided I would make people smile via such shows, while also raising amounts for Covid relief,” highlights Singh, who goes by the stage name ‘Karan Singh Magic,’ and has done shows for celebrities like Virat Kohli, Hrithik Roshan and Aamir Khan in the past.Like him, a bunch of entertainers have come forward this time to dispel the gloom and doom in the wake of the infectious second wave. Think stand-up comedians, dancers, singers, beatboxers et al — a slew of artists have been performing tirelessly for Covid patients, frontline workers and the public with an effort to raise funds amid one of the deadliest outbreaks in the country.Laughter to the rescueWhen stand-up comedian Vir Das first announced in April that he would do online shows on the weekend to raise money for Covid relief charities, tickets sold out in the first nine minutes. While his first show was intended to help the NGO Doctors for You supply medicines, beds and oxygen, the second show raised money for Mumbai’s dabbawalas affected by the pandemic. “I promise you a full show, a wonderful laugh and that your money will be put to good use. We will also be giving free access to any healthcare worker who feels like a laugh,” Das had stated in his Instagram post in April.He followed this up with more such stand up gigs for various charities in the weeks that went by and ended up raising Rs 30 lakh for Covid relief. 83532046Stand-up comedian Amit Tandon also sent a post out on social media in April asking those who had been Covid positive and stuck alone to reach out. Seeing the overwhelming response, Tandon ended up doing 20 such ‘talk positive sessions’ of 45 minutes each for Covid patients and doctors. “I received 2000 emails in the first 4-5 days, which left us wondering how we should space it out. So the first few weeks were fairly challenging. In a lot of sessions, I hardly spoke as people wanted to talk their heart out and were just so happy to have a two-way communication going,” he recalls.The sessions, with 25-30 people each, saw many joining in from hospitals, homes and even some who found themselves stuck in Maldives after catching the virus. Tandon admits that though the sessions made him feel happy, it was also an emotionally exhausting experience. “My focus has been to keep it light. But sometimes it would get tough to create a lighter moment in situations where people joined in from hospitals and weren’t keeping very well. I switched off for three days in between and then got back to it again later,” he candidly states.With Shridhar Venkataramana, the decision to do a stand-up event to raise funds came up in May when he was approached by Happiness Coach Pooja Khera for Hemkunt Foundation. Venkataramana, who cracked up the audience with jokes on Work from Home, CoWIN and cryptocurrency fluctuations, saw this as a way to make more people fight the pandemic. “One way to deal with adversity is to laugh at it. With so much negativity going on, I thought it would be great to offer people some respite and make them laugh. Moreover, the severity of the situation was much bigger this time when even basics such as oxygen became scarce. This made me feel like contributing in a greater way than what I did last year,” he explains.Dance therapyHis thoughts are reflected in the way choreographer Kalpita Kachroo felt after seeing the immense suffering all around. Kachroo, a classically trained Kathak dancer, conducted two fundraising workshops with 100-150 students each in April. She saw a host of new and older students join in this time, including those who had never joined such dance classes earlier. “I have done a lot of beginner classes during this time. Earlier I was only focused on the specific aspects of choreography, but now I have learnt the importance of slowing down. In the two hour classes, 30-45 minutes would be dedicated to relaxation and improvisation techniques. I chose a lot of slow and healing numbers for the workshops and could feel the energy build up even on Zoom,” she reminisces. Kachroo plans to take her learning forward by pursuing dance movement therapy as a Master’s course in London, for which she applied in January this year. “The pandemic and the impact it had really affected me. I have seen a lot of my relatives and friends suffer during this time. This course will teach me more about movements in dance for healing purposes,” she adds. 83531240Other professional dancers such as Ram Pradeep, whose stage name is ‘Donny’, gauged the interest of the audience first by doing an Instagram Live free class and putting the word out. Following this, he received a lot of messages from foundations to raise funds for children affected during Covid. “It just took off from that point and we raised around Rs 50,000-Rs 60,000 for the cause. I will do more such dance workshops in June,” highlights the artist who saw a lot of fellow dancers affected by Covid, fallout of cash flows and dance studios being shut in this period.Pradeep fondly recalls that the sessions also saw many people come forward who weren’t dancers. “Some just wanted to sit and watch everyone dance. I kept it casual and everyone enjoyed the music. These were 1.5 hour sessions which became a mix of therapy, taking a breather and adding smiles and goofy conversations to their day,” he says.All in it togetherSome organisations that were started during the lockdown in 2020 such as beatboxing community BeatsForRelief raised Rs 40,000 last year by hosting a crowdfunding campaign to help arrange food kits for the underprivileged. The community has planned a large-scale event from June to July this year as well to contribute towards minimising the oxygen shortage crisis in the country. “We aim to keep supporting nonprofit organisations in Covid-relief efforts and will organise beatboxing tournaments that will be of help in these times. Such efforts are the need of the hour,” says Krish Rai, Founder, BeatsForRelief. The quest to do something that could help in the current environment also got individuals such as Pooja Khera, a happiness coach and tarot reader, to start ‘The Togetherness Project’ which collaborated with various comedians and musicians to raise funds. The 15 day project started on May 15 and saw a host of artists come forward who performed pro bono. All proceeds would be used by Hemkunt Foundation for supplying oxygen cylinders and concentrators to Covid patients. “The biggest scarcity was the lack of oxygen supply this time. I wanted our efforts to help in lessening this acute shortage. I think a lot of us have realised at this point that unless humanity comes together, this won't get any better. This initiative was an effort to give people the opportunity to forget the gloom and smile,” says Khera, whose project ended up raising Rs 1 lakh in the first week itself.Bismil, a singer who performed for the initiative, says that he liked the idea of helping people by virtue of one’s talent. Though he did shows last year as well for the purpose, he says the situation this time felt ‘heavier’ in many ways. “I saw a lot of helplessness among people and was very depressed to see the situation. It hit me hard, and I wanted to do whatever was possible for me to help,” he says reflectively.The singer chose soothing songs and Sufi numbers which struck a chord among the audience. “Music can heal everything. More artists should come forward and help heal people,” he avers. 83531383Entertainers and artists may be going through a resource crunch themselves because of the pandemic, but they are leaving no stone unturned in offering succour to those in dire need of it. Such continual efforts have played a dual role in lifting people’s spirits as well as creating hope and happiness among Covid infected patients and families. And the one aspect that is clear enough in this time is how we are all interconnected. “If we have to soothe the environment, everyone has to come together to make it possible. My efforts are just a drop in the ocean and the only way things will get better is if everyone joins in to make that a reality. The world needs more magic right now,” quips Singh.
Categories: Business News

No political crisis at all in K'taka: Yediyurappa

June 18, 2021 - 5:44pm
Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Friday ruled out any political crisis, even as the rumblings within the ruling BJP have come out in the open during the visit of its national General Secretary in-charge of the State Arun Singh, amid speculations in some quarters about his replacement. The Chief Minister said that the BJP high command will decide on action against party MLC A H Vishwanath for his recent "open statements," as he rubbished as "baseless" his allegations against his younger son and party vice-president B Y Vijayendra of interference in administration and "kickbacks" in an irrigation project. "There is no political crisis at all...what is happening is just because one or two people (legislators) are saying something in the media, it is creating misunderstanding...these one or two people speaking against me is not new, they have been doing it since the beginning and it is getting highlighted," Yediyurappa said. Speaking to reporters here, he said, about 60 legislators have met national General Secretary Arun Singh on Thursday, but these one or two people who are making statements were not even allowed to meet him. "There is no confusion or crisis, we are all together and united, and are focusing on the development work. None of my cabinet colleagues are disturbed by any of these things... we will try and talk to one or two people who are involved in such activities, and try to resolve things," he added. Speculations have been rife for some time now that a section of the ruling BJP is trying to push for unseating Yediyurappa, despite Singh ruling out replacing the Chief Minister and asserting that the 78-year old Lingayat strong man will continue in the top post. MLA from Hubli-Dharwad West Arvind Bellad and Vijayapura MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal who are said to be from the faction seeking Yediyurappa's replacement did not meet Singh on Thursday. However, Tourism Minister C P Yogeshwar, who is also reportedly disgruntled, held discussions with him. Not willing to comment on Vishwanath's statements, Yediyurappa said, the high command will decide on what action should be taken against him. Regarding his allegation against his son and kickbacks in an irrigation project, the CM said, "these are all baseless allegations and the Irrigation Department Secretary will clarify everything...unnecessarily such allegations are being made, there is no basis for it. It is being done for political reasons." Vishwanath has openly demanded Yediyurappa's ouster, and levelled allegations of corruption and interference in administration against Vijayendra. This has resulted in a slugfest, as it elicited sharp reactions from the faction supporting the CM, especially his political secretaries M P Renukacharya and S R Vishwanath. To add to this, allegations of phone-tapping and conspiracy to fix him by Bellad, had caused further embarrassment to the party and the government. Amid speculations about replacing him, Yediyurappa had earlier said that he will continue in the top post as long as the BJP high command has confidence in him, but had subsequently asserted that there was no confusion on the issue of leadership and that he will work for the development of the state during the remaining two years of the term.
Categories: Business News

2021 a golden year for IT services cos: Gartner

June 18, 2021 - 5:44pm
DD Mishra, Senior Director Analysts, Gartner, says vertical specific solutions will become more in demand in future and that is where there is greater traction. Covid has accelerated digital adoption and transition to cloud, Gartner says that Covid-19 has driven the development of new products and services as well. What according to you are the key mega trends that you observed post Covid which will continue in the coming years?In the last one year, there has been a lot of uptick in cloud. We have seen a lot of digitalisation which has happened and that has led to a lot of growth in Indian IT companies. They have got a significant pipeline now and it looks lucrative. The overall IT services sector at this point is going through golden times that we have not seen in the past. In the next few years, IT services individual spending is going to grow between 8% and 9% compared to 4-6% in pre Covid era. It is going to be very lucrative for IT services companies as Covid has created a new kind of opportunities for these companies and they have leveraged it. Growth is going to happen more towards digital services which individuals have expedited and where we have a phenomenal uptick. AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language) capabilities are also in big demand. All the cloud enabled services as well as analytics growth can be seen. So all round, there are significant changes and transformations which are leading to the kind of growth which Covid has created and this is going to continue for the next three to four years. I would say 2021 is going to be a golden year because the growth this year is going to be around 9%. It is going to slow down a little bit in the next few years but will revolve around 8% to 9% growth.Are these opportunities quantifiable for the next two to three years or is it only on paper that things are looking up?The analysis is based on the data which we collect. It is quantifiable data and we have seen that even though the IT Budget remains under pressure, there is a great traction for growth, for cost optimisation and operational efficiency. So long as the initiatives revolve around all these things, the money will not be a challenge for the IT companies. The budget in other areas and functions like marketing, administration or HR might shrink going ahead and that money could get diverted into technology enabled growth and that is where the opportunity is even more. So the data and the forecast are quantifiable. This forecast depends on a number of factors and variables and that is why we update this forecast every quarter to bring it in sync with reality. There are many unknowns and that is where the forecast may change. But at this point in time, looking at whatever is unfolding, we can say that we are staring at a very good future but it also reconciles with the kind of pipeline which the providers are also reporting. If we compare the two, we understand that things are looking more lucrative for IT services. As per the Gartner report, the majority of technology products and services will be built by professionals outside of IT by 2024. Can you elaborate on that?In the last several years, we have seen a shift. The control of technology spending is shifting towards the business and when it becomes digital, the boundaries between technology and business gets blurred. A lot of technology related decisions will be taken outside of IT and this is going to grow. This is not something new but that trend will accelerate. As more and more digitalisation is happening, many CEOs as well as business leaders will be taking the call on how to actually drive this particular growth and if it is product centric growth, the technology decisions will shift from the IT departments to the business function. They will take a call but that does not mean that IT will not play any role. IT has a significant role to play over there but having said so, the decision making will be done by business rather than IT. ET Now: Going forward what is the new category of business that will get a larger share of the overall IT market? Would we see the demand spanning across the industry verticals?DD Mishra: Yes, of course and demand will span across industry verticals and we see that there are certain sectors which will continue to grow much faster than others and depending on situation to situation, there are new opportunities which will evolve from one sector to another. At this point in time it is hard to say which sector will evolve in what way. It all depends on what sort of opportunities come into consideration. But having said so, I would say that digital cuts across the verticals. Providers are focussing on specific verticals and some of them have built very specific capabilities across a few verticals and that is where they can differentiate and that is where they can become more valuable to many of the industries. Vertical specific solutions will become more in demand in future and that is where there is greater traction. The providers are able to convince their customers that they understand the vertical, understand their requirements and the market. That is where they are able to drive further growth for themselves while trying to help their customers to become more successful in the market. Recently you said that the TCS CEO Rajesh Gopinathan had talked about the start of a multiyear tech upgradation cycle. Is a double digit growth feasible for both the mid as well as the large cap IT players over the next two years?I would say that the dream run which we used to see earlier is no longer there and it will be harder to have a double digit growth because there is greater competitiveness. A lot of factors are impacting the growth. One is that cannibalisation of revenue is creating a lot of challenges for the companies. In order to drive creative destruction, one has to accept that some amount of growth has to be compromised and that is why it will be very difficult to have double digit growth. I would not say that it is impossible but it will take some time to reach that particular level because we are going through a lot of transformation and changes at this point in time. Some can make it but most of them will struggle to have a double digit growth. But having said so, I am optimistic that some of them will be able to set the narrative and will be able to make it. It is a very interesting time for the IT industry. The kind of changes which we see and the emergence of tier-2 players are also giving a tough competition to the tier-1 players. Cloud, AI and other technologies like Blockchain, Edge Computing, IoT, containerisation and virtual reality will become more and more relevant for the end customers as they try to spend more on those technologies. Cyber security also will become very important and one of the things which I would also like to bring in here and which is often ignored is sustainability. Sustainability is becoming a key theme across the industry. There has been significant growth in importance of sustainability in our CEO surveys and it is going to continue to increase. One of the reports which I published last year indicated that by 2025, sustainability will become one of the top three priorities for the industry. So there are a number of factors which will tell us how the industry is going to shape up, which new technologies are going to come up and what new trends are going to evolve. Those who are able to align with those trends, will be able to attain double digit growth and those who lag behind, will continue to struggle.
Categories: Business News

Grofers cofounder Saurabh Kumar exits the egrocery

June 18, 2021 - 5:44pm
Bengaluru: Saurabh Kumar, who cofounded Grofers with Albinder Dhindsa eight years ago, is leaving the online grocery platform, Dhindsa tweeted on Friday.Kumar, SK to those who know him well, will no longer be involved in day-to-day responsibilities of the Gurugram-based firm. “He will continue to be a board member and a shareholder at the company. This is the end of an era for Grofers, and I know all of us will absolutely miss having him around everyday,” Dhindsa wrote in a blog post. “I wish him the absolute best with his new mission and will be cheering for him with love and pride."I've known @skgrofers for 14 years and I've spent the last 8 years building @grofers with him. Today, SK is moving… https://t.co/V0tbLdPvZB— Albinder Dhindsa (@albinder) 1624000317000Kumar told ET that he is looking forward to building more fun and exciting things ahead. “Some things are cooking. We will have to wait for it to take shape…,” he said.Earlier, in a communication to employees, Kumar said, “I haven't known a life outside Grofers for the last 8 years. Most of my learning and growing up has happened here. In my mistakes, I have never felt alone. And every time we made a dent, we shared success the same,” he wrote in an email which was later reposted on Twitter.Sent this letter to my team @Grofers. It has been an amazing 8 years building grofers with @albinder. Forever grate… https://t.co/WwUnSUfHUt— Saurabh Kumar (@skgrofers) 1624000186000Kumar’s exit from Grofers comes at a time when IPO-bound Zomato is close to investing $100 million in the online grocery, ET first reported on May 7. The investment is likely part of a larger financing round and may value Grofers at around $1 billion, sources had previously told ET. Kumar currently owns a 3.5% stake in the firm.Grofers—which was looking to list on the tech-heavy Nasdaq in the US through a Cantor Fitzgerald blank-cheque firm, as reported by ET on February 24—is also expected to scrap the IPO plan and continue to remain private, a person in the know had told ET last month.The development also comes at a time when demand for online grocery has spiked amid the second wave of the pandemic in India. Last month, Tata Digital announced it has purchased 64% of BigBasket, in one of the biggest M&A deals in India’s digital sector. Other large players in the space include Reliance’s JioMart, Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart, all of whom have deep pockets and are ramping up their grocery operations.
Categories: Business News

WTC final: First session rained out

June 18, 2021 - 5:44pm
There will be no play in the first session of the World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand here on Friday owing to incessant rain."Unfortunately there will be no play in the first session on Day 1 of the ICC World Test Championship final," the BCCI posted on Twitter.The match was scheduled to start at 3pm (IST) but the weather ensured that the pitch at the Ageas Bowl was covered and the toss was delayed.The ICC has kept a reserve day to make up for time lost because of inclement weather.Rain has been forecast in Southampton for most part of the inaugural title clash in the longest format.
Categories: Business News

Proliferation of battery-operated medical equipment to boost battery demand: Eveready

June 18, 2021 - 5:44pm
Batteries and flashlights major Eveready Industries India Ltd on Friday said the proliferation of various battery-operated medical equipment is expected to give a fillip to battery demand, while the flashlight segment will remain steady on the back of the revival of rural economy from the adverse impact of COVID-19 pandemic. The company continues to witness steady demand in its categories of batteries and flashlights as there is a "sharp decrease in dumped imports from China and an overall strong demand in expectation of a near-normal monsoon", Eveready Industries India Ltd said in a regulatory filing. In its quarterly update to the stock exchanges, the company said, "The situation in the battery segment should continue to look positive as imports continue to remain low with the BIS standards having come into force - providing a level playing field to domestic manufacturers." Furthermore, it said the "proliferation of various battery-operated medical equipment should add filip to battery demand. The flashlight segment is also likely to remain steady as the rural economy revives from the adverse impact of the pandemic." The increased focus on rechargeable flashlights is also likely to benefit the segment, the company added. With a view to counter the sharp increases in raw material costs, Eveready Industries said it has taken a price increase of around 4-5 per cent in batteries from May 2021. "Similar pricing actions have been taken in the flashlight segment as well. These actions should mitigate any adverse impact on margins," it added. The lighting segment, which was hit by weak demand and supply constraints arising out of the pandemic, could partially recover, it said adding "the situation is likely to improve in the forthcoming quarters as normalcy is restored in demand and as supply sources are stabilised". "Once normalcy is restored in the supply chain, the company would be able to augment its turnover through its various channels of distribution," the company said. However, the turnover in the small home appliances category is yet to reach scale due to overall weak demand, it said adding, "supply constraints have also impacted turnover for some of the key products in the category". The current COVID situation is expected to impact demand for the category in the near term as consumers are likely to curb discretionary spending over essential purchases, the company said. Yet, in the medium to long term, with growing disposable incomes and the government's initiative towards rural electrification, this category is expected to improve, the company said. "Given the outlook, the company is expected to maintain high operating margins in the forthcoming years," it added. Eveready Industries also said it has initiated legal proceedings for recovery of outstanding amounts in respect of inter-corporate deposits and other recoverables, along with interest from certain promoter group companies, Deposits and recoverables amounting to Rs 489.29 crore with an interest of Rs 68.42 crore are lying outstanding as of March 31, 2021, the company said adding it had given time till February 28, 2021, to the borrower companies for repayment of the outstanding, considering the widespread economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lack of liquidity in the market. "On the expiry of the aforesaid timeline, the company has initiated legal proceedings for recovery of the outstanding amounts, in respect of inter-corporate deposits and other recoverables from certain companies, along with accrued interest thereon," the filing said.
Categories: Business News

Pfizer, Moderna COVID-19 vaccines don't lower sperm count, study says

June 18, 2021 - 5:44pm
COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna do not harm male fertility, suggests a study which found the levels of sperm in participants remained at healthy levels after they got two doses of the mRNA preventive. The study, published on Thursday in the journal JAMA, recruited 45 healthy male volunteers aged 18 to 50 years scheduled for mRNA COVID-19 vaccination by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. The participants were pre-screened to ensure they had no underlying fertility issues. Those with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result within 90 days were excluded. The men provided a semen sample after two to seven days of abstinence, prior to receiving the first vaccine dose and approximately 70 days after the second shot. Semen analyses were performed by trained andrologists as per World Health Organization guidelines and included semen volume, sperm concentration, sperm motility, and total motile sperm count (TMSC). "One of the reasons for vaccine hesitancy is the potential negative effect on fertility," the authors of the study from the University of Miami in the US noted. "Because reproductive toxicity was not evaluated in the clinical trials and SARS-CoV-2 has been associated with decreases in sperm parameters, we assessed sperm parameters before and after mRNA vaccine administration," they said. In the study of sperm parameters before and after two doses of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, there were no significant decreases in any sperm parameter among this small cohort of healthy men, the researchers found. Sperm concentration and total motile sperm count at the beginning of the study were 26 million/milliliter (mL) and 36 million, respectively. After the second vaccine dose, the median sperm concentration significantly increased to 30 million/mL and the median TMSC to 44 million. Semen volume and sperm motility also significantly increased, the researchers said. Because the vaccines contain mRNA and not the live virus, it is unlikely that the vaccine would affect sperm parameters, they said. The limitations of the study include the small number of men enrolled, short follow-up, and the lack of a control group. The researchers also noted that while semen analysis is the foundation of male fertility evaluation, it is an imperfect predictor of fertility potential.
Categories: Business News

Why India’s stock markets are decoupled from the economic reality

June 18, 2021 - 5:44pm
Why are India’s stock markets decoupled from its economic reality?’ That’s what the person who commissioned me to write this piece asked. This, then, is my answer. (‘Don’t exceed 850 words,’ he warned.)One, markets by their khaasiyat — their very nature — are decoupled from the economy. They are either forward looking or despondent. The Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index (BSE Sensex) bottomed out a shade below 26,000 a day before the lockdown commenced in March 2020. Thereafter, while we were extrapolating the pain to the economy, the market was doing something else — it subtly began its climb to doubling in less than a year. It was seeing things we never did. Ergo, it was technically decoupled.Greatfully Repaying DebtTwo, a number of companies are restructuring. Immediately after Tata Steel announced its annual results, the next most important theme to come out of the company was a projected Rs 30,000 crore debt reduction. Steel Authority of India (SAIL) announced its annual performance, and immediately told the market that it repaid Rs 16,150 crore in the fourth quarter. These are the kind of numbers the company would have done in five years.I see this phenomenon across a number of my clients. (I write annual reports for a living.) A prominent Delhi-based tyre brand that had become synonymous with ‘high debt-equity ratio’ repaid more than Rs 1,000 crore in one quarter. A mid-sized steel company in Raipur has repaid all its longterm debt two years ahead of schedule. A Kolkata-originated non-banking financial company (NBFC), which was feared to stagnate around Rs 15,000 crore of assets under management (AUM), brought in more than Rs 3,000 crore in net worth that has rewritten its destiny in one stroke.India’s largest interior infrastructure company from Kolkata announced a new plant that will be funded through accruals — so presumably will never take debt to grow. India’s largest bead wire manufacturer from Indore has so much cash on its books that it announced a new manufacturing facility out of earnings (no debt).I see this reality in a number of places: companies are restructuring, debt is going out of balance sheets, and financials are doing a ramp walk. This is being priced into equities in the anticipation that higher margins will start kicking in from the current financial year.Three, some of the decoupling is originating from the government’s long term policy. The National Biofuels Policy is a good instance. Sugar companies with distilleries are being re-priced each time the prime minister whispers the word ‘ethanol’. The rebalancing is still work-in-progress. Some sugar companies will increase their ethanol capacity no earlier than the 2022-23 ethanol year. But the market has convinced itself that this has already happened and the money is lying in a corner waiting to be collected.For all those who feel that this is shamelessly speculative, I present a reverse argument. GoI intends to blend petrol with 20% ethanol by 2025. Which means that the pressure is now on sugar companies to produce as much as possible (as distinct from the pressure on them to find a market). Besides, there is a strain of thought that as sugar manufacturers evolve into agri-based energy companies, they will migrate into environmental, social and governance (ESG)-centric portfolios for the really long term (over 10 years).So, what difference does it make if one has to buy a sugar stock that has more than doubled in just two months because, in the long term, it won’t really matter? Decoupled? Possibly. Coupled? More likely, considering the time horizon of one’s investment.Greased Castors, Anyone?Four, a number of analysts are seeing the ‘decoupling’ as one of the first signs of the world exploring a Plan B to China. The result is a greater interest among global companies to prospect Indian companies for products supply, and probable collaborations. Now, this could be compelling.From the perspective of the next few quarters, the market could appear overpriced based on a historical measure that we have considered sacred for decades. But what if India were to emerge as ‘the next China’, create wealth faster than ever since Independence? And even if that added the next $2.3 trillion in only the next six years (three years beyond what the PM had once predicted), it could still be the fastest quantum accretion to GDP in the country’s existence.Five, GST benefits have begun to become evident for large organised companies. One of the most prominent innerwear companies in India from Kolkata indicated it could get finished products to dealer stores faster than unorganised competitors during the lockdown, a lead it maintained through the rest of the year (and promptly deleveraged). A Delhi laminates client indicated it was the first to be up and running in its sector after the government provided permission, carving away market share over unorganised players.This K-shaped recovery indicates that, perhaps, the organised companies are growing faster. Since the latter are represented on the exchange and indices, their growth is strengthening the indices while those looking at SMEs are likely to ask, ‘Is the economy really buoyant?’That finishes my argument. And I haven’t yet used ammunition like ‘dollar weakness’, ‘retail participation’, ‘bonds buying’, ‘Zerodha impact’, ‘money printing’, ‘interest rates’, ‘digitalisation’ and ‘IPOs’. Some other time.
Categories: Business News

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