Winning Stocks
Picking good stocks in a bull market is difficult, as most stocks, deserving or not, have been pushed up to their multi-year highs. And, when the market corrects, all stocks suffer a sharp decline. In our Cover Story, we sifted through our database of 1,400-odd stocks to pick nine stocks that reported a substantial, and continuous, growth in earnings over the past four quarters, thanks to some advantage—of strategy, business model, or markets—that they enjoy. These companies operate in a niche market and have a well-diversified geographical presence. All of them have strong export performance which helps to improve even their domestic operations. Turn to page 30 for these nine stocks that appeared on our radar.
 
Controversies surrounding the Indian civil aviation industry continue. Dr Subramanian Swamy, in a letter to the prime minister (PM), alleges that Kalanithi Maran, the former owner of SpiceJet, entered into an ‘unholy agreement’ to transfer his holding to Ajay Singh at an undisclosed price. Surprisingly, the market regulator did not insist on an open offer. Will the PM order an inquiry into the SpiceJet deal, or will it end up in the court like the Jet-Etihad deal? Sucheta raises these and other questions in her Different Strokes section.
 
In her Crosshairs column, Sucheta writes on how the advertising industry, beneficiary of a strong, self-regulatory body, is working at damaging the Advertising Standards Council of India’s (ASCI’s) credibility. This may attract the government’s attention and given the lack of accountability of every statutory regulator, this may adversely affect us. Sucheta also reminisces about Madhusudan Daga, India’s finest gold expert, who led an eventful life and has just passed away.
 
As you would have noticed, we have an extensive new section, Stock Watch. As always, do write in to us with your feedback on what you think of it. Moneylife Foundation will be conducting an exclusive seminar titled ‘Stocks for Building Long Term Wealth’ on 23 May 2015 in Pune. Don’t miss it, if you are there.

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Simple exercises can help control snoring

Snorers can try pushing the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth and sliding the tongue backward

 

If snoring is hampering your partner's sound sleep, simple mouth and tongue exercises can do wonders.
 
Researchers have found that these exercises can reduce frequency of snoring by 36 percent and total power of snoring by 59 percent.
 
"This study demonstrates a promising, non-invasive treatment for large populations suffering from snoring, the snorers and their bed partners, that are largely omitted from research and treatment," said Barbara Phillips, medical director, sleep laboratory at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in the US.
 
Snorers can try pushing the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth and sliding the tongue backward.
 
Sucking the tongue upward against the roof of the mouth, and pressing the entire tongue against the roof of the mouth can also help.
 
Forcing the back of the tongue against the floor of the mouth while keeping the tip of the tongue in contact with the bottom, front teeth and elevating the back of the roof of the mouth and uvula while saying the vowel "A" are other exercises that the researchers suggested.
 
The study was conducted on 39 patients who were randomised for three months of treatment with nasal dilator strips plus respiratory exercises (Control) or daily oropharyngeal exercises (therapy).
 
The participants were evaluated at study entry and end by sleep questionnaires and full polysomnography with objective measurements of snoring.
 
"The exercises significantly reduced snoring in our study group," said study author Geraldo Lorenzi-Filho from University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
 
The study appeared in the journal Chest.
 

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Crop burning: Habits die hard in Punjab, Haryana

The main concern of the authorities, especially the pollution control boards in both the states, is the harm that the crop burning - wheat stubble and paddy straw - causes to the environment

 

They have been warned, threatened with prosecution and even offered inducements. But a number of farmers in Punjab and Haryana seem disinclined to stop their environment-unfriendly bi-annual exercise of burning crop residue, cited by environmentalists as one of the prinicipal causes of dust haze and air pollution in Delhi and northern India.
 
With the wheat harvest in both the states nearly over, authorities are attempting in whatever they can to discourage farmers from burning the crop residue in their fields. The main concern of the authorities, especially the pollution control boards in both the states, is the harm that the crop burning - wheat stubble and paddy straw - causes to the environment.
 
While authorities in Haryana have warned farmers and even pointed out that proceedings will be initiated against them for violating the ban on burning stubble, the Punjab government had recently announced cash rewards to districts and villages which curb the unhealthy practice.
 
"Many farmers want to save time of uprooting the crop residue and resort to burning. This may give them short-term results but is harming the fertility of the soil and the environment in the long run," Kultar Singh, a young, educated farmer and an environmentalist, told IANS.
 
Haryana's environment department has issued a notification under the Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act of 1981 that bans the burning of agriculture waste in open fields.
 
"The Haryana government has issued an advisory to the farmers not to burn wheat stubble as it leads to manifold increase in the air pollution level during the harvesting season. They should try to recover it with the help of machines for use as fodder or convert it into manure," an official of the Haryana State Pollution Control Board told IANS, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
 
Board officials have been asked to keep a strict vigil and file cases against the defaulting farmers.
 
In recent years, the board has filed cases against 32 farmers in the special environment courts at Kurukshetra and Faridabad.
 
"The board has so far approved nine cases in 2015-16," the official added.
 
The Punjab government recently announced a financial grant of Rs.1 crore ($157,000) and Rs.100,000 for each district and village rid of the malaise.
 
"Resorting to punitive measures to end this menace does not yield results; hence it was decided to reward the districts and villages which curbed the practice of straw burning," a Punjab government spokesman told IANS.
 
Punjab contributes over 50 percent of foodgrain - wheat and paddy - to the national kitty despite having just 1.54 percent of the country's geographical area.
 
Haryana's agriculture department is promoting the use of various machines and techniques to discourage farmers from burning crop residue.
 
"Farmers are being given subsidy for purchase of machines like happy-seeder, turbo-seeder, shredder, bailing machine and zero-seed-cum-fertilizer drill to facilitate in-situ management of crop residue," agriculture department official Ashok Kumar told IANS.
 
"The burning leads to manifold increase in air pollution levels during the harvesting season. The soil fertility is also lost due to the burning of essential nutrients," scientist Ranbir Dahiya told IANS.
 
It is estimated that burning of one tonne of rice straw accounts for loss of 5.5 kg of nitrogen, 2.3 kg of phosphorus, 25 kg of potassium and 1.2 kg of sulphur. The heat generated elevates the soil temperature, killing fungi, pests, reptiles and the like that are otherwise beneficial for the crops.
 
"If the crop residue is incorporated or retained in the soil itself, it gets enriched, particularly with organic carbon and nitrogen," Dahiya said.
 
Other hazards of crop burning include the fire spreading to habitations or forests, accidents due to poor visibility caused by the smoke and breathing problems for people. In recent years, both Green Revolution states have seen bumper crops of wheat and paddy, leading to increased burning of crop residue.
 

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