While the overall business sentiment continues to remain optimistic, some cautiousness exists on account of high inflation and expected hardening of interest rates
Corporate India is upbeat about the robust growth prospects in the current quarter, with an index measuring business optimism levels rising sharply for the April-June period, though concerns remain over high inflation and a possible rise in interest rates, reports PTI.
“While the overall business sentiment continues to remain optimistic, some cautiousness (exists) on account of high inflation and expected hardening of interest rates,” research firm Dun & Bradstreet said today, while releasing its ‘Composite Business Optimism Index’.
It further said that policy announcements—both on the monetary and fiscal front—to tackle soaring inflation were likely to play a vital role in shaping business sentiment in the April to June quarter.
The monsoon is another crucial factor that will determine the business sentiment in the next quarter.
“While business confidence has continued to rise during Q2, 2010, some signs of cautiousness are visible in the relatively lower resultant optimism for volume of sales, net profits and new orders as compared to Q1, 2010,” Dun & Bradstreet India president and CEO Kaushal Sampat said.
The Business Optimism Index (BOI), which measures the pulse of the business community, increased by 3.8 on a quarter-on-quarter basis to 142.8 points in the April to June period of 2010.
As compared to the second quarter of 2009, the BOI witnessed a substantial increase of 52% from an all-time low of a level of 93.8.
For calculating the composite BOI, six parameters—net sales, net profits, selling prices, new orders, inventories and employee levels, are assigned a weight. The parameter weights are then applied to these ratios and the results aggregated to arrive at the index.
The index is arrived at on the basis of a quarterly survey of various business expectation parameters.
It was observed that all the six optimism indices have increased compared to the previous quarter, the release said.
According to the report, the employment scenario is likely to remain stable in the forthcoming quarter, with 47% of respondents expecting no change in the size of the workforce during the second quarter of 2010.
In comparison, 46% expect an increase in employment levels and another 7% anticipate a decline.
In 2008, the government had modified the definition of ‘mineral oil’ to mean that it does not include production of gas for the seven-year break from income-tax payment
The Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) wants to challenge the government’s decision to withdraw the seven-year tax holiday on production of natural gas in a High Court as the economics of its deep-sea projects will be severely hit because of the decision, reports PTI.
In 2008, erstwhile finance minister P Chidambaram had modified the definition of ‘mineral oil’ to mean that it does not include production of gas for the purpose of grant of the seven-year break from payment of income-tax. The amendment was made applicable retrospectively to all blocks awarded since 1999.
ONGC, which is in the process of firming up investment plans to bring to production gas fields in the Krishna Godavari basin, wanted to appeal against the decision in either the Delhi or Gujarat High Court, a company official said.
The company was, however, vetoed by the Committee on Disputes (COD) in the Cabinet Secretariat, which said as a State-owned firm, ONGC had no business to challenge government decisions.
ONGC, like Gujarat State Petroleum Corp (GSPC) and Niko Resources, wanted to file writ petitions to challenge the constitutional validity of retrospective amendments made to Section 80-IB (9) of the Income-Tax Act.
GSPC and Niko have got interim relief from the Gujarat High Court, which stayed operation of the amendments in respect to their blocks.
ONGC feels that unless tax breaks are restored for gas produced from areas awarded in the past, it stands to incur large monetary loss in terms of enhanced tax liability.
The official said that ONGC had submitted an application seeking approval of the government for filing a writ petition in either the Delhi or Gujarat High Court.
In reply, ONGC was told that it had no business to question the legal validity of any Central enactment. It was also told that if it was aggrieved by any amendment to the Income-Tax Act, the matter should be taken up with the finance minister through the petroleum minister.
The official said that petroleum minister Murli Deora had protested against the move with Mr Chidambaram and then with current finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, saying that the change was against the assurance given to parties who invested in the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) since its advent in 1999.
ONGC has written to the oil ministry saying that the retrospective amendments in the law undermine the confidence of taxpayers in the fairness of tax administration.
“Such retrospective amendments also cause hardships to the taxpayers who have acted according to the pre-amended provisions of the Act,” said ONGC.
In a clear sign that we are in an extended bull market, funds with predominant exposure to growth stocks have outperformed the rest by a huge margin
When mutual funds with a predominant focus on growth stocks like micro, small and mid-cap stocks completely outshine funds with a large-cap bias, one can be certain that the bulls are out in full force in the stock markets.
Moneylife ran a study on the performance of equity-diversified funds between December quarter of last year and March quarter of this year. It is interesting to note that seven out of the top ten performing funds have a bias towards growth stocks, that is, micro, small or mid-cap stocks.
DSP BlackRock Micro Cap Fund emerged the top performer, with absolute returns of 13% compared to its benchmark (BSE Small Cap) returns of 2%. Religare Mid N Small Cap Fund (up 9%) and ICICI Emerging STAR Fund (up 8%) are the next best performers, beating their respective benchmarks (CNX Mid Cap and CNX Nifty Junior), which returned 4% each.
Canara Robeco FORCE Fund is also among the top performers, with returns of 8% over this period, compared to its benchmark’s (S&P Nifty) returns of 1%. The other growth-stock oriented funds in the top ten include IDFC Small and Mid Cap Equity Fund, ICICI Prudential Discovery Fund (up 7% each) and Religare Mid Cap Fund (up 6%).
It is only during an extended rally that small and micro-cap stocks exhibit such stellar performance. The moment the market’s fortunes take a turn for the worse, these very stocks are beaten down the most. The very same funds will then exhibit a different performance altogether. As such, it is important that their current run is not extrapolated too much. Any signs of weakness in the markets should be enough to throw these stocks out of gear.
Among the worst performing funds, JM has taken the cake by throwing up the worst five performing funds in the equity diversified space. All these funds have underperformed their respective benchmarks. These include the JM Emerging Leaders Fund (-6%), JM Core 11 Fund (-5%), JM Small & Mid Cap Fund (-5%), JM Mid Cap Fund (-5%) and JM Multi Strategy Fund (-5%).
These underperformers are followed by the Reliance Natural Resources Fund, which is actually a sector fund, concentrating on companies engaged in discovery, development, production and distribution of natural resources. It has given returns of -3%, compared to its benchmark’s (BSE 200) returns of 1%. Bharti AXA Equity Fund, Taurus Bonanza Fund and Sundaram BNP Paribas SMILE Fund have also witnessed similar underperformance.