President Obama’s long-term plan to cut the budget deficit pushed the US markets higher on Wednesday while markets in Asia were lower in early trade today on a strengthening yen
While the Indian bourses are closed today on account of a local holiday, here is a brief view of the global markets. Economic concerns continue to weigh on markets worldwide. The US markets closed marginally higher on Wednesday amid a volatile session following president Barack Obama’s budget speech, which called for a reduction in the budget deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years. Markets in Asia were soft in early trade on Thursday on the strengthening yen and easing of metal prices.
Yesterday the market opened soft on lacklustre global cues, following easing of oil prices and concerns about the pace of the global recovery. The Sensex fell 76 points to 19,187 and the Nifty opened lower by 38 points at 5,748. The market immediately touched the day's lows with the Sensex erasing 161 points at 19,102 and the Nifty falling 50 points to 5,736. February industrial output figures, which were released yesterday, also dampened sentiment.
However, across-the-board buying after the decline in the market over the last few days turned the tide and the indices jumped into positive territory in the first half hour itself, pushing all sectoral gauges into the green. The gains continued through the session with the market scaling the day's high in the late session. At their intra-day highs, the benchmarks touched at 19,737 and 5,924.
The market closed slightly below these levels, as the Sensex surged 434 points to close at 19,697 and the Nifty gained 126 points to settle at 5,911, erasing the losses of the last five sessions.
Wall Street closed with marginal gains on Wednesday in a choppy session following president Barack Obama’s budget speech, which called for a reduction in the budget deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years. While JP Morgan Chase reported a 67% jump in quarterly profit, financial stocks were a let-down as sanction regulators ordered 14 largest US mortgage servicers to pay back homeowners for losses from foreclosures or loans that were mishandled in the wake of the housing collapse. JP Morgan fell 0.8% and Bank of America tumbled 1.5%, to 13.27.
Presenting his long-term plan for closing the federal budget shortfall, president Obama set a target of reducing the annual US deficit to 2.5% of gross domestic product by 2015, compared with 10.9% of GDP projected for this year.
The Dow rose 7.41 points (0.06%) to 12,270.99, the S&P 500 added 0.25 of a point (0.02%) to 1,314.41 and the Nasdaq gained 16.73 points (0.61%) to 2,761.52.
Markets in Asia were lower in early trade on Thursday as a stronger yen pushed export-related companies lower. Besides, lower metal prices dragged commodity stocks lower. The London Metal Exchange Index of prices for six industrial metals including copper and aluminium fell 1.2% on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s first quarter GDP rose 8.5% from the year-ago figure, exceeding analysts’ estimates for a 6% rise. The central bank also said inflation in the city-state this year will likely come in at the upper half of its 3%-4% forecast range.
The Shanghai Composite fell 0.08%, the Hang Seng declined 0.83%, the Jakarta Composite was down 0.53%, the KLSE Composite shed 0.23%, the Nikkei 225 declined 0.59%, the Straits Times contracted 0.35% and the Seoul Composite was down 0.21%. On the other hand, the Taiwan Weighted gained 0.09%.
Back home, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended that telecom infrastructure be considered as general infrastructure and make tax benefits available to the sector. The regulator has recommended bringing telecom infra companies (Infrastructure Provider-1) under Unified Licences, a suggestion which was opposed by participants at roundtable conference held by the telecom ministry in early March.
For private equity firms trying to make a quick buck from their investments in stock broking firms, the horror show seems endless. The first of a three-part series
On Wednesday, Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services reported an 8% decline in revenue and 65% crash in net profit, for the quarter ended March 2011, over the corresponding previous quarter. Other broking companies haven't reported results so far, but nobody is expecting them to do wonders. What does this mean for a set of private equity firms, which lemming-like, had been clamouring for a piece of the business of stock broking firm in 2007? Very simply, the horror show continues.
Look at the stock performance of these companies from their lifetime highs of 2008. Emkay Global Financial has crashed by 84%, Edelweiss Capital has collapsed by 78%, India Infoline has fallen by 80%, Indiabulls Securities is down by 87%, JM Financial by 84%, Motilal Oswal Securities by 70% and Networth Stock Broking has slumped by 77%. Over this period, the Sensex is down by only about 5%.
This is not what the smart private equity investors who had jumped into the broking companies were hoping for. It was the pre-crisis period of 2007-08, when PE firms were investing in well-established broking companies which were on the path of huge expansion. The idea of course was to offload them within a couple of years to an eager public. What could be easier? After all, they have played the game many times before. Citigroup Venture Capital bought an 85% stake in Sharekhan, India Capital Growth Fund and Caledonia Investments took a stake in Rajkot-based Marwadi Shares, Barings bought a 45% stake in JRG Securities, Gaja Capital a stake in Bonanza and IFC Washington a stake in Angel, among others.
But their timing couldn't have been worse. Within a few months of their investment, financial turmoil rocked the world, deep crises hitting Western economies particularly hard. Brokerage income collapsed. And even though the overall market revived and real businesses are doing well, private equity firms find that they are still badly stuck with their investments in Indian broking firms. So, what went wrong?
In 2007, when the private equity players rushed into unlisted broking companies, they expected a continuation of the long bull market that started in 2003. This would mean robust market volumes and increasing brokerage income. It turned out to be quite different. When the Sensex was at 20,000, in December 2007, there was some optimism among a section of retail investors. Mutual funds were drawing net positive inflows from individual investors.
The mood this time is one of caution, with individual investors busy reducing their stock portfolios and redeeming their fund investments. There are specific reasons why broking income has collapsed now, some of which would have been clear even in 2007, but nobody wanted to see. And so, in 2007, at the height of the euphoria, the assumptions used to project income and profits were deeply flawed.
In the situation they find themselves in, how would private equity players recover their investment or even make an exit from their investments? The investment attractiveness of stockbroking firms has turned out to be a trap. The PE firms have no easy exits. Public issues of broking firms are unthinkable and there are no buyers of their stakes. Scope for 'consolidation' is low for fundamental reasons.
The point is, is this likely to change? When will things change for broking firms and how? Can things really improve for the big brokers, who have expanded with PE money, and are saddled with an inherently-flawed business model? That is what we will highlight in the second part of this series when we discuss the model of broking firms.
You may also want to read...
Mangalore-based Vishal Rao creates ‘RuinedMyTrip’, which appears in the top search results for ‘MakeMyTrip’ on Google, to avenge cheating by the travel portal
Feeling cheated by a company, either because of unfair treatment or poor services, many of us would usually end up staying silent. Yes, in the head of the moment, we'd get angry and some of us may even vent the anger on the company's staff. Still fewer would choose to take legal recourse through the consumer court, where the battle could be long. But here's an example of a person who chose to use his skills with the Internet to fight against injustice.
Mangalore-based Vishal Rao was cheated by the online travel agency MakeMyTrip. He had decided to spend Christmas 2010 along with his family in Mysore. So he made the bookings through the online agency well in advance. Imagine his surprise when he was denied accommodation at any hotel in the tourist city.
MakeMyTrip had accepted the necessary payments and even sent him an e-mail confirming the booking, but he found that the agency had not made the hotel reservation. "In fact, in the confirmation voucher which was sent through e-mail, apart from the check-in date and time, it was also stated that 'your booking is confirmed and you are not required to contact the hotel or MakeMyTrip to reconfirm the same'," Mr Rao says.
Aggrieved by this treatment, Mr Rao created a blog, 'Ruined My Trip', to make people aware about his experience and the unfair business practice by the company.
There are hundreds of such blogs highlighting consumer complaints on the Net and most of them are hardly noticed, barely receiving a comment or two. Unfortunately for MakeMyTrip, the blog 'Ruined My Trip' turned out to be different.
Being, an expert in the web business, Mr Rao used his skills in the search engine optimization (SEO) area to push his blog into the top ten Google search results for 'Make My Trip'!
"I could (have) filed a case in court against MakeMyTrip.com and this could have taken years, or write a review on the net. I checked mouthshut.com and was surprised to see that there were hundreds of others with similar experiences. But this made no difference to them (the company), simply because the reviews were not showing up in the results when searching directly for 'Make My Trip' or 'MakeMyTrip.com'," he says.
"I decided to create a dedicated web site documenting my experience and allowing others to share theirs too. I used my SEO experience to make this website (to) show up in the top ten Google results when people searched for 'Make My Trip' or 'MakeMyTrip.com'. So nobody will have to go through the horrifying ordeal I have gone through. This was far more satisfying for me than filing a court case against them."
Mr Rao warns the offending companies: "Don't take your customers for a ride. You never know when one of them will turn out to be smarter than you."
Talking about his Mysore experience, Mr Rao said that when he inquired why no hotel room was booked for him, he found out that MakeMyTrip staff called the manager of the hotel only at noon on the day he was to check in. "I (had) booked the rooms on 15th December and they called the hotel on the day I was to check in, to confirm the booking."
Mr Rao managed to get rooms at another hotel and enjoyed the holiday with his family. A few days later, the company wrote saying, "We are really sorry and you'll get a refund within seven days".
"They (MakeMyTrip.com) have a full-time SEO team to make sure that none of the negative reviews crop up in the top ten results. As you can see, almost all the sites in the top ten results are their own sites, which easily distract people," Mr Rao explained. MakeMyTrip even offered him a gift voucher of Rs10,000, which Mr Rao refused.
Blaming system error for non-booking at the hotel in time for Mr Rao, MakeMyTrip, in an email said,"The customer in question had booked a hotel on our portal. However, the online booking could not get confirmed due to a system error. As a process of reconfirmation, we contacted the hotel on the day of check-in, but the hotel was sold out. Our team tried to reach out to the customer but unfortunately could not connect with him. We did connect with the customer later on and offered a full refund on the booking; we deeply regret the inconvenience caused. Upon checking the customer's blog, we reconnected with him and relooked at all details on our end. The case was further analyzed by higher authorities and as a gesture we offered the customer a MakeMyTrip voucher."
You may also want to read this...