R Balakrishnan
A Vote Against

Tata Motors and Jagatjit Industries have introduced non-voting shares. Stay away from them

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Cool Profits
Blue Star, the leader in air-conditioning, has ended the year 2007-08 with a sales growth of 40% and 116% growth in operating profit. This is the result of a wide network (24 offices, five manufacturing facilities, 650 dealers), the current boom in construction and investment in infrastructure development which is fetching huge business for suppliers of central air-conditioning. An extension of this economic growth is the expansion of medium-sized corporate and commercial establishments which are likely to support growth in the packaged air-conditioning products.

Where Blue Star scores is in its focused and segmented approach. Here are some examples. One of the fastest-growing sectors today is software and other outsourcing services. Blue Star is a leader in air-conditioning the new IT parks. Another fast-growing sector is telecommunications. Blue Star supplies air-conditioning for the telecom shelter segment. This will grow as telecom companies continue to expand. Blue Star has positioned itself as a specialist in commercial refrigeration for foods as well.

It also offers specialised solutions for banks, builders, hotels and hospitals. In the hospital segment, it has executed one of the largest healthcare projects for supplying air-conditioning to the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital (earlier Mandke Hospital) in Mumbai. During 2007-08, Blue Star bagged its second project in healthcare, a Rs25 crore order from Dr Naresh Trehan’s MediCity, Gurgoan. During the year, Blue Star bagged a Rs38 crore project for air-conditioning India’s first locally designed fast-breeder reactor of Nuclear Power Corporation’s Kalpakkam project. Blue Star will air-condition the entire Kalpakkam project, including supply of water-cooled centrifugal chillers.

Blue Star estimates that 300 million sq ft of space for the IT/ITES and 370,000 cell sites for telecom companies, coupled with a planned investment of Rs269,000 crore in pharma, bio-tech, healthcare and electronic hardware, over the next five years, are likely to translate into a market of Rs14,100 crore for companies in the air-conditioning business. If you add to this another Rs23,500 crore opportunity likely to be thrown up by hospitality industry and infrastructure projects like airports, metro, retail and SEZ development, the future of Blue Star as a market leader that appears obviously bright. According to the company, the next five years look much better compared to the past five years when the total air-conditioning market in non-residential space was just Rs12,000 crore. Apart from orders flowing in from specific high-growth sectors, Blue Star hopes that another significant growth will come from revamp and upgrades of existing installations. But if the economy slows down, as is likely now, new projects will be implemented but upgrades will be postponed.

While implementing large air-conditioning projects, Blue Star noticed that many customers have not been able to get reliable mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) services. It spotted opportunities there, especially since many customers have requested it to provide MEP services. It expects the integrated MEP contracting business to form 30% of its revenues from the current 10% over the next five years. To quickly enter this business, Blue Star has acquired the business of Naseer Electricals Private Limited, a leading electrical contracting firm with a strong presence in southern India, for Rs42 crore. Naseer Electricals enjoys an exceptional reputation as a leading player among software, infrastructure and retail segments having executed large electrical projects for several customers in these business verticals. Blue Star also has a successful record of delivering projects in Iraq, Syria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Libya, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Russia and Mauritius. The stock has had an excellent record and, at its current price of Rs412.95, is valued at 17.11 times its March quarter operating profit and 1.67 times its sales.

Small and Fast-moving
AurionPro is growing fast through acquisitions

AurionPro Solutions (formerly Value Added Information Distribution Services) is an eight-year-old technology products and solutions company, headquartered in Mumbai, with a subsidiary in Singapore and a joint venture company in the US. It has products like iCashPro, a full-fledged integrated suite for cash management comprising PayPro, CollectPro, AMLPro, ECS, DivPro, PDCPro, etc. Cash management is a banking service that allows corporate customers to manage their receivables and payables efficiently. iCashPro is a web-based system with Internet banking on the front-end and banking operations on the back-end which can function independently. In 2007, it was recognised as one of the fastest-growing technology companies (ranked number five in India) in the Technology Fast 50 India 2007 Program conducted by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Asia Pacific.

AurionPro’s treasury management products are called Guava and DealPro. Guava provides integrated solution that integrates the full spectrum of treasury requirements – from the front office through to the middle office and back office. Banks also need to increase efficiency and reduce delays in execution of transactions between the treasury and the branches and DealPro helps in that process by offering a seamless straight-through processing. AurionPro also has products for risk management and wealth management. Its SmartLender product helps banks manage business and retail loan portfolios. Apart from these products, AurionPro provides various services such as application development and maintenance, business process outsourcing, consulting, etc. Development Credit Bank and ING Vysya Bank recently chose iCashPro over competing products.

The past two years have witnessed rapid expansion and growth, mainly through a series of acquisitions. In early 2007, it acquired E2E Infotech, headquartered in London, which specialises in developing components for market making, proprietary trading and brokerage for equity and equity derivatives trading. E2E has worked with over 40 financial institutions across Europe, the US and Asia. Late last year, it invested in Denver-based PaySimple which is a provider of payment management solutions for businesses across the US. As a part of the partnership, AurionPro has signed a long-term offshore development contract to develop PaySimple solutions. Immediately thereafter, it bought 100% control in Integro Technologies (Integro), a banking products company, headquartered in Singapore, whose portfolio includes products in the areas of loan origination, collateral management for Basel II compliance and Internet banking. Integro has development centres in Singapore and Malaysia and marketing offices in Thailand. Integro has a product development and implementation team of over 110 people and over 20 customers across multiple countries across Asia, including Standard Chartered, ABN AMRO, Citi and regional banks.

In March this year, AurionPro entered into an agreement to acquire SENA Systems Inc, headquartered in the US with offshore delivery centre in Pune. SENA is focused on identity and access management (I&AM), catering mainly to the security needs of banking, finance and insurance sectors. SENA provides the full spectrum of services to enable its customers to plan, assess, select, implement and integrate the complete I&AM programme and has a team of over 80 people mainly in the US and India. Also, in March 2008, AurionPro acquired a strategic stake in Maryland-based XTS, an innovator of enterprise management analytics software. In 2006, it acquired two US-based companies – Coban Corporation and SPS Corporation. AurionPro has had a superb March quarter when its operating profit grew by 229% and revenues by 223%. For the year as a whole, operating profit was up by 122% and revenues by 115%. The stock is currently trading at around Rs398 which means a market-cap that is 20.45 times its operating profit and 9.23 times its sales, based on the March 2008 quarter results. The stock is expensive but we do not know too many software companies enjoying these kinds of growth numbers and focused acquisition-driven growth.

Combo Deal
Telecom products, ethanol and PV cells make a great portfolio for XL Telecom. The stock is cheap too

XL Telecom is a misnomer. It, of course, manufactures telecom products but is into two other products that should keep the stock buzzing – photovoltaic (PV) cells and ethanol. Telecom accounts for just about 15% of its turnover, while energy (PV cells and ethanol which can be used as bio-fuel) contributes the lion’s share. XL Telecom’s manufacturing plant is located at Cherlapally on the outskirts of Hyderabad with a capacity of assembling and testing 10,000 Kyocera CDMA mobile phones per day. Other telecom equipment that it can manufacture include fixed wireless phones, fixed wireless terminals, broadband EV DO modems, 3G broadband gateways, switch-mode power supply systems, fusion splicers and cable joining kits. The buyers for these products are telecom service providers like Tata Teleservices, Reliance, BSNL, MTNL and international telecom companies like MTML and Telelinks as well as network integrators like Nortel and Ericsson. But the businesses that should give XL the status of a hot stock are alternative energy products – PV cells and ethanol.

XL can make PV cells with a capacity ranging from 75watts to 280watts with a total capacity of 25MW solar modules (expanding to 65MW). XL initially entered this segment to largely cater to BSNL’s rural public telephones. These telephones are often installed in areas which have erratic electricity supply but adequate sunlight during the day. To keep the telephone equipment on, PV cells are the answer. XL received an order valued over Rs30 crore in the first year and executed it on time and as per the required quality standards. Its PV cells are now marketed to MTNL, Indian Railways, Department of Defence, Telecommunications Consultants of India Limited, nodal agencies of the Ministry of Non-conventional Energy in various states and private sector companies. XL makes 150,000 litres of ethanol from molasses and de-natured spirit at Nanded, Maharashtra drawing its raw material from the sugar belt of south-western Maharashtra. XL has an order book of over Rs200 crore in the ethanol division for supplies to be effected till 2010 March and Rs575 crore in the PV cells division for export of modules. Financial numbers are great for now. XL reported revenues of Rs172.68 crore for the year ending March 2008 of which the telecom segment contributed Rs20.05 crore while the energy segment contributed the rest. Revenue growth for 2007-08 was up 58% and operating profit growth was 93%. XL has plans to invest Rs1,100 crore over the next five years in its solar division which includes setting up a 120MW solar cell manufacturing facility of Rs265 crore and augmenting capacity at its 100% export-oriented solar photovoltaic module plant from 25MW to 65MW, with an investment of Rs40 crore. The project will start commercial production by July 2008. On completion, it will become the largest producer of solar cells in the country catering to the European market and the US. The company has also entered the Spanish power generation sector through Saptashva Solar Ltd, its wholly-owned subsidiary and is set to start power generation from September 2008. The target capacity for the first year is 28MW and the project will have a 25-year power purchase agreement with a local utility company.

The problem with XL is its margins. Average operating margin over the past five quarters has been 9%. For the March quarter, though, OPM jumped to 15%. Even if the scorching growth slows down a bit and if the margins remain at the same level, the stock looks amazingly cheap. At the current price of Rs250.60, it is just five times the annualised operating profit for the March quarter.

User

Funny Rules
I have come across some cases of banks and insurance companies asking customers to do some ridiculous things. I wish to point them out here because many of your readers may be encountering similar demands.

1. Can a receipt for payment be dated 15 days after the date of payment with no payment details being mentioned on the receipt?

2. If the date of an ECS mandate is prior to the due date, such a mandate cannot be accepted, but if you pay before the due date by cheque, it is fine!

3. If you pay before 31st March but the debit in your account is in April, you can still claim tax benefit for such payment, even though the law requires you to make payment before 31st March. What happens if such a cheque bounces? You may still get credit in tax! Some people may be using this loophole deliberately.

4. State Bank of India says that signature verification can be done only by the branch manager. It says, even their existing customers must furnish a photocopy of their passbook for past one year while applying for a loan. When I pointed out that the branch is on core banking mode and they can see the whole account at their end, I was told this is the procedure and must be followed.

5. A private sector bank says that a company is not an entity in law! If you want a car loan on a company’s name, then the MD must be a co-borrower because that is the policy. Also, you must get your signature verification on four different forms; one form will not do because that is their procedure.

6. Salary accounts cannot be in joint names of husband and wife. Some banks allow this and some don’t. So what is the real position? If you want to protect the salary-earner, then the operating authority could be given to the first-holder only. Why not have the account in joint names?
Anil Agashe, Pune by email

PRO-INVESTOR REFORMS NEEDED
The last issue of MoneyLIFE was very good. The stocks selected for analysis are all quality stocks. Nava Bharat is showing good strength. About Shree Cement, all we can say is that in a bearish market, people forget values and in a bull market they chase euphoria. Thanks for your piece on Genus with its unique features. About the unusual re-listing price of KGN and Sylph Technologies, the regulators stand exposed once again. Also, in Shyam Telecom and SVPCL, investors will be the only losers. There is a lot of work to be done for our market to be fair. Events like KGN, Sylph or English Indian Clays make a lot of investors lose confidence in the market. They believe realty and gold are much safer investments, even if they are more expensive. These incidents should be seen as trust-breakers rather than just a single act of over-speculation. I remember one incident of 1995-96. I bought shares of Gujarat Fun and Water Park after reading an article in The Economic Times and looking at its financial results. The stock was hitting upper circuits. Just a week after my buying, trading stopped and remains so until today. I don’t know why. That was my first step in the market. It was a lesson to study stocks, before purchasing any. I also believe that, in general, all IPOs need to be regulated and IPOs from government companies should be banned. People invested in these companies and lost 40%-80% of their capital in just a few months. Even without the crude oil price factor, how can a company valued at Rs5,000-Rs10,000 crore during its IPO trade at just Rs2,000-Rs4,000 market-cap after few months?
Santosh Mhamunkar, by email

UNWANTED DEPOSITORS
Please refer to Crosshairs under the heading “Not Wanted” (MoneyLIFE, 8th May). It is true, that when organisations are small, they run after new customers to prove their customer-friendliness. When they become bigger, they have scant regard for the same customers on whose shoulders they rode. ICICI Bank is no exception. They were keen to welcome people to open an account when they came out with the new concept of ‘Quantum Flexi Account’. Many, like me, opened such accounts. Things went very well for a few years. Now, they indirectly dissuade customers from continuing their Quantum Flexi accounts. To harass customers, they started deducting TDS on interest for every swipe from FD - despite customers submitting their TDS exemption form (15G or 15H, as applicable). Their contention is one must submit the TDS exemption form for every withdrawal where tax becomes applicable on the interest. They categorically confirmed that we need to submit 12 forms for each month!

Despite my submitting 15H (being a senior citizen and a high net worth customer from the beginning of April 2007), this is the third year when TDS has been deducted. This compels us to file the IT return just for the TDS refund; otherwise it is not required as income is less than taxable limits. Of course, getting IT refund is the other pain. Many customers have closed their Quantum Flexi accounts. I had it taken up to the highest level but in vain. Even the Income Tax department specifies one TDS exemption form for one financial year. Other banks, like Axis Bank and HDFC Bank, ask for only one form. It is all due to ICICI Bank’s scant regard for small customers. Also, despite reminders, if one does not get the IT refund, then what is the recourse? Is there a way one can approach CBDT or the IT Ombudsman? How effective is the IT Ombudsman? I congratulate MoneyLIFE for taking up issues normally ignored by other publications.
Bipin I Shah, 403, Dimple Heights, Asha Nagar, Thakur Complex, Kandivali (East), Mumbai

LOST MONEY IN FUNDSS
I am enclosing the list of mutual funds in which I have invested as an SIP (systematic investment plan) or a one-time investment. In your recent analysis of fund houses (cover story, MoneyLIFE, 22 May 2008), I did not find any of my mutual funds among the top five. I am worried that I may not have picked the right fund houses and the right schemes. Also, in the past year, I have lost money in whichever fund I invested in as SIP. Although I am in no hurry to withdraw my money and am a long-term investor, please advise me on what I should do?
Commander Samir Gupta, by email

Our ranking of fund houses does not favour those that make too many NFOs. (This is because NFOs are usually planned when the market is bullish. As we have pointed out time and time again, what is a good time for funds to raise money may not be the best time for investors to subscribe.) However, this kind of ranking may not be correlated to short-term fund performance. Unfortunately, we do not offer recommendations on individual portfolios and that too of mutual funds. The problem with your approach of investing in many diversified equity funds is that they have very similar exposures and they fall and rise often at the same time. In short, collectively, they don’t offer any diversification. -- Editor

FINE PROGRAMME
We thank MoneyLIFE for the music concert of Begum Afroz Bano on 1 June 2008. The music was just great and nostalgic, taking us back to the great musical times of yesteryears. Your magazine has done a great service not only to the senior music stalwart but also to listeners and lovers of such music which is hardly heard these days. Pt Birju Maharaj commented very rightly that if the corporate world spent even one-tenth of the amount they spend for cricket, to promote a few cultural activities of our country, they would do a good service to our rich heritage. We hope you continue in this direction to serve the society and provide an inspiration to other corporates. After all, performing arts need patronage to thrive and will not then die, as we all fear.
Drs Rodhan and Rekha Shroff, by email

DUPED BY RELIGARE FRANCHISEE
I have worked for ONGC for 31 years and resigned at the level of executive director, corporate planning. I have joined Reliance Industries in their petroleum division as senior vice president, geosciences. I am an account-holder with Axis Bank and I also hold a joint account with my wife Dr Anjana Sen in the same bank for portfolio management. Sandeep Roy Choudhury is our wealth manager. My wife and I opened a pair of trading accounts with Religare, recommended to me by an old colleague in Nov/Dec 2007 for Rs five lakh each. I am regretting the decision. Supradip Ghosh, who has a franchise with Religare, made great promises. Even as late as April 2008, he stated that all my capital investment would be returned to me by June 2008 with profits. He kept me in the dark about my investment and went about trading recklessly. I was able to get the Excel sheets showing statements of transactions only at the intervention of their corporate office. These clearly indicate how recklessly the investments have been made. Mr Ghosh now callously states that ‘everybody else has suffered like that’ and has no plans to redeem such losses. This is in total contrast to what he had promised when he came for the sales talk.
I am a service-class person and all this money is tax paid. My wife has booked a flat in Faridabad and this money would have come in handy for paying my loan instalments. I had sent mails to Religare but other than their usual form letter and the account statement, they have nothing else to say. I had a discussion with Sandeep (Axis Bank) who suggested that I seek your help. I would like to discuss the matter with a senior person in Religare who could take up the issue seriously, own the responsibility for such erosion of capital and suggest means to redeem the loss. The account needs to be shifted from an incompetent franchisee like Supradip Ghosh to a more conscientious wealth manager. A plan of action to redeem this loss needs to be worked out. I need your personal intervention to take up the matter at the highest level with Religare. Small investors like me need protection and should be made aware of the risks involved before tall claims are made by Religare or their representatives. Kindly also advise if this matter should be brought to the notice of SEBI, unless it is resolved.
Gautam Sen, by email

Help Us to Help You
MoneyLIFE offers its readers a unique service -- of helping redress individual grievances on a best-effort basis. However, we have limited resources to devote to this effort and can only pursue complaints that come to us by email. We request readers to please send us crisp complaints with all the facts on email (not as an attachment) and send us the supporting documents only if we ask for them. We cannot handle physical letters. -- Editor

HOW TO REACH US
Letters to the Editor can be emailed to [email protected] or
can be posted to:
The Editor, MoneyLIFE Magazine, 7 Nagree Terraces, Soonawala
Agiary Lane, Mahim (W), 400 016 or faxed to 022-24442771.
Letters must include the writer’s full name, address and telephone no.
and may be edited for clarity or space.
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Mahim (W) 400 016 or Call 022-24441060 or
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[email protected] or call 022-24441060

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