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Sixth bi monthly RBI Monetary Policy FY17

The RBI monetary policy committee ( MPC ) reiterated what it has indicated in its last meeting in December – concerns around core inflation continue to remain with seasonal impacts on currently low inflation on items like vegetables likely to go away over a period of time, a strong global recovery that could create inflationary risks though higher prices of commodities including oil, volatility in global currencies on the back of rate hikes in some developed economies and some pass through of the HRA component of the 7th pay commission implementation.

Whilst none of this was really new, there continues to be a view that what the MPC says and what they will do are different from each other. With two consecutive policies that have reiterated the same thing, we believe that markets will finally believe that the MPC means what they say, and their actions will be consistent with the same.

It is therefore critical to continue to remember that managing inflation in the 4-5% pa range continues to be the number one priority of the RBI , and therefore decisions are likely to be taken keeping this in mind, more than other data points.

Your investments

The RBI also moved its policy stance to ‘ neutral ‘ from ‘accommodative ‘ which possibly means that the interest rate cuts from its side are probably coming to an end. This may mean that investment strategies that were driven around interest rate cuts need to be pared down. However, we need to remember that a neutral policy does not mean that interest rates are going to go up on bonds and fixed income instruments, so there is no need for a complete change in investment strategy on fixed income side. A strong global recovery as indicated in the policy statement ,is actually excellent news for the Indian economy, as a global growth environment has traditionally been positive for Indian companies, and therefore one should expect corporate earnings to get better going forward. The MPC has also indicated that they expect the economy to start showing a recovery going forward, so investments in equities could be enhanced for longer term investors. One also needs to remember that even thought RBI has probably stopped cutting interest rates, banks would possibly continue to cut loan rates as the transmission of the 1.75% rate cuts have only been about 0.85% to 0.9%, meaning that corporate India could continue to see lower loan rates going forward, helping their bottomline.

Your loans

With the banking sector flush with funds, and transmission only partially done, you can expect to see loan rates continue to drop for individual borrowers as well. It is a good time to refinance your loans, especially your home loan, in case you have not done so already. Be choosy about the loan provider that you use, as different variants of loans available could mean that you need to pick what works best for you.

April 6 is the next date to watch for the MPC meeting – expect some volatility in bond and currency markets till then, as they react to this shift to a neutral stance as well as other global events.

 

 

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  1. Budget focussed on job creation, transfer of benefits of demonetisation, good fiscal management & risks to the economy
  2. Structural changes in budget- merger of rail budget, movement of date to February 1, merger of plan & non plan expenditure, certainly different
  3. India largely a tax non compliant nation, as can be seen by the number of tax payers. Not very good news.
  4. Tax rates cut in tax slab of Rs 2.5 lakhs to 5 lakhs by 5%. Benefits of upto Rs 12500 as a result. Income of 50lakhs+ hit by 10% surcharge. Positive for many, negative for some.
  5. Corporate tax rates cut for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises with turnover up to Rs 50 crores to 25%. Huge benefits to corporatize for smaller businesses. No changes in corporate tax rates.
  6. Innovative political funding options – electoral bonds announced. Big step towards poll funding reform.
  7. Capital gains on immovable property – long term reduced to 2 years holding instead of 3 years. Base year for indexation also changes to 2001.
  8. New web based system for defence pensioners
  9. Draft bill to curtail illegal deposit schemes could boost flows to other financial assets
  10. High speed fibre connectivity to be available in more gram panchayats – augurs well for the new digital India
  11. To simplify labour laws – would this increase India’s ranking in ease of doing business
  12. Desire to move from an informal to a formal economy, bodes well for listed companies longer term. GST 1st step.
  13. Higher oil & commodity prices, deglobulisation/protectionism & higher US interest rates risk to India
  14. Inflation management & lower current account deficit bodes well for the rupee & Indian bonds. Will stable oil prices allow it to continue?
  15. Lower interest rates driven by transmission of rate cuts are a short term positive of demonetisation. Time to refinance your home loan.
  16. Cash transactions limit now at Rs 3 Lakhs. Penal provisions for transactions above that value equivalent to the value of the transaction.
  17. 133 Kilometres per day of road construction and use of technology to better target social spending / MNREGA excellent news
  18. 100% electrification for villages by 2018 has huge multiplier benefits for the economy combined with enhanced road construction
  19. Affordable housing gets infrastructural status & additional benefits. Step towards boosting employment, possibly India’s biggest challenge?
  20. E-learning platform Swayam could change the way Indian youth learns going forward. Testing &certification will need to be combined
  21. Focus on creativity and innovation most welcome in skilling and reskilling – new solutions a must to tackle old challenges.
  22. Aadhar based medical records for senior citizen – great news.
  23. LIC to issue guaranteed 8% pa for 10 years product operationalising PM year end speech
  24. Digital Money gets significant attention – Aadhar pay, BHIM, changes in negotiable instrument act, payment regulatory board.
  25. Airport redevelopment was one of the most visible successes on infra. Railways follow in its footsteps- station upgrades on way
  26. Multimodal transport focus goes back to Keynesian theory in spurring job creation. Execution done right is critical
  27. Consolidation and merger benefits of CPSEs to leverage synergies is a great idea. Starting with a large oil company model?
  28. CPSEs divestment to continue, IRCTC, IRCON to be listed , will continue to use ETF, propose a new ETF on same lines
  29. Another CPSE in offering! Needs to be truly diversified so that commodity related & concentration risks are adequately addressed
  30. New laws to confiscate assets of economic offenders could help – details will be closely awaited
  31. Fiscal deficit at 3.2% of GDP with 3% next year a relief, with the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management committee flexibility to be addressed in the future.
  32. Low Tax to GDP ratios- very low profits for companies of different sizes. Individual data no different. Use of data mining could change it.
  33. Foreign Investment Promotion Board abolishment sends a strong message of liberalization. Look out for details. Automatic route needs to be truly automatic.
  34. Theme = Transform, energise and clean India

 

 

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Plan Ahead has won the Outlook Money Best Investment Advisor of the year 2016

 

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Plan Ahead would like to express our heart felt gratitude to our clients for the unstinting support, basis which we continue to strive to be the best advisor in the country. 

Thank you and we look forward to your continued support and encouragement.

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Whilst there was a consensus view of RBI cutting repo rates today, with only the extent of the rate cut being questioned (would it be 0.25% or 0.5%?), Urjit Patel or rather the monetary policy committee (MPC) sprung a surprise by keeping rates unchanged. Both equity and bond markets reacted negatively to this as they were pricing in at least a 0.25% cut.

RBI was probably concerned by multiple factors – volatility in global financial markets that could be caused by a Fed rate hike, issues in the Eurozone, oil price rises, and the potential stickiness of consumer inflation around non food components.

One needs to remember that inflation targeting continues to be the core role of the RBI moving forward, and any risks to inflation are likely to result in a more conservative approach, tilted towards managing inflation in the inflation growth trade off.  In addition, the focus towards management by data is a significant positive, as markets can sometimes allow emotions to override incoming data, that may be to the contrary.

MPC pic

Your investments

The demonetisation impact on the Indian economy continues to be rather speculative in our opinion, with a very wide range of possible outcomes,. and data around the same is likely to continue to throw up surprises. For example, we have seen over the last few weeks, the quantum of cash deposits that have come back to the banking system have been significantly larger than originally anticipated. In light of the need to take portfolio investment decisions basis data, it may be prudent to look for broader trends to capture through your investment strategy for example fixed income products continue to offer a real rate of return in the region of close to 2%, continuing to make fixed income investments an attractive option. With liquidity continuing to be significant, it would be prudent to look at locking into current interest rates, through a combination of accrual oriented short term and medium term funds, tax free bonds and to also cover reinvestment risk. A portion of the fixed income allocations can continue to be allocated to taking the benefits of falling interest rates, by investing into dynamic bond funds where the fund manager has the flexibility to move portfolio durations driven by incoming data. Equity investors may need to enhance exposures gradually through a combination of rupee averaging and value averaging strategies, as the potential slowdown on the back of a US rate hike and a consumption slowdown driven by demonetisation, is balanced by possible liquidity flows from Japan and the EU, as well as equity prices, especially of large cap indices, now at levels much closer to fair value after the recent correction.

Your loans

With the expectation of cost of funds for banks coming down post demonetisation, banks’ lending rates are likely to continue to slide further down. Since April 1, 2016, when the MCLR was introduced, most banks have been reducing it gradually as their cost of funds came down. The huge inflow of funds post demonetisation could make them cut MCLR  further. Thus one can expect loan rates to continue to head downwards, creating some additional consumption or investing surpluses for families with loans.

Way Ahead

The RBI is clearly aware of the danger to the GDP growth rate and possible liquidity outflows, driven by the twin impact of demonetization and higher interest rates in the US. Thus a wait and watch policy may actually be a great idea. Whilst everyone will await the next policy on Feb 8th, one needs to remember that action by the RBI can also be done prior to that if necessary, and therefore should not be ruled out. After all, surprises and the independent nature of the RBI are back in fashion.

PNB  Housing Finance is the 5th largest Housing Finance Company by loan portfolio as of 30 Sep 2016. They offer loans for purchase, construction, extension or improvement of residential properties or plots, Non housing loans in the form of Loan Against Property (LAP), loan for construction of Non Residential premises and general purpose loans to developers for on-going projects.

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Data Source: JM Financial

Post issue the share of PNB will reduce to 39% from 51% at present. In case of Destimoney, which took 49% stake in 2009, the stake will reduce to 38%.

Strengths

  1. Strong distribution network:

Their business is spread across Southern, Western and Northern regions of India. As on31 st March, 2016, 40% of their loan portfolio originated from the Northern region and ~30% each from western and Southern regions.

  1. Stable operating model and centralised operational structure:

Their processing hub is designed to support additional branches which will enable them to deepen penetration. Their branches, processing hubs provide centralised and standardised back end and administrative activities, payments and processing of their business. This enables timely collection of funds, better fund management and proactive alerts to their collection department in the event of an overdue.

  1. Diversified and cost effective funding source:

As on 31 Mar, 2016 their lenders include 22 public and private sector banks, 17 mutual funds, 16 insurance companies, 553 Provident funds and 122 pension funds. This has resulted in an overall low cost of borrowing and allowed them to maintain sufficient interest margins.

  1. Prudent credit underwriting, monitoring and collection process

This has helped them maintain growth in the loan portfolio without compromising on credit quality. They have a credit appraisal team of experienced professionals who perform credit checks to minimise losses. They also have subject matter experts in several areas of underwriting, legal, technical valuation and collections.

Risk factors

  1. If they are unable to manage the growth of their loan portfolio effectively it will impact their business
  2. Interest rate volatility may impact their business performance
  3. They face risk of default and non-payment by customers, in particular self-employed customers, who constitute 23.76% of their total loan portfolio as on 31 Mar 2016 due to factors like change in interest rates, regulations or other factors impacting macroeconomic or global environment.
  4. Due to increased competition and deregulation of interest rates, housing loans are becoming standardised and lower processing fees and monthly reset options are becoming increasingly popular decreasing spreads.

Valuation

Peer Comparison

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The Price to Book ratios look reasonable compared to peers.

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Data Source: DRHP

There have been stable Net Interest Margins, reducing cost to income ratios and decreasing gross NPAs to total loan portfolio which is positive.

Our opinion: Subscribe for the long term

Its reasonable valuations, strong loan growth and strong distribution network are key factors. However, already existing competition could be a challenge. Investors with long investment horizon can subscribe to this issue as projects like ‘smart cities’ and ‘Housing for all by 2020’ may positively contribute to growth of PNB hosing Finance.

In its first Policy the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) headed by newly appointed RBI Governor Urjit Patel cut policy rates by 0.25% taking repo rates down to 6.25%. The way rates are decided is different from what it was before. It is now a 6 member committee which decides rates instead of the Governor alone. The MPC was unanimous in their decision to reduce interest rates by 0.25% today.

MPC pic

Focus on the real rate of return

With interest rates falling, there is a tendency to want to take more risk on the portfolio to achieve a higher absolute rate of return. We think that it is critical that investors focus on real rates of return ie the return after inflation on their portfolios. RBI continues to want to keep real rates of return between 1.25% and 1.5%, which makes fixed income attractive, even if you generate a lower return that what you generated a few years ago. Avoid higher risk strategies in chasing a higher rate of return in the current environment.

Your Investments

The rate cut came largely on the back of improved inflation numbers close to 5% in August compared to close to 6% in the month of July. Whilst food inflation, which was a big driver of inflationary pressures, seems to have come off very sharply, there continue to be risks of higher inflation due to the impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) post the announcement of the GST rates by the GST Council, the Seventh pay commission and the merger of the railway budget and the Union Budget which could impact the fiscal deficit by 0.15 to 0.25%. With an inflation target of of 4% +/-2%, the inflation numbers seem to be well under control at this point. The bond and equity markets had already priced in this 0.25% rate cut and thus they did not react aggressively to this announcement. Thus, whilst there continues to be a 0.25% rate cut possibility from here onwards, the timing of the same will be driven by other data, including what happens globally with interest rates. With growth rates continuing to become healthier in India, equity markets may continue to hold up in spite of their premium valuations at this point, as earnings could continue to be supported by lower interest costs. Therefore, the strategy would be to use a combination of domestic and US equity along with bond funds, with the bond fund exposure being weighted more towards accrual and short term strategies, and less towards duration and dynamic strategies. On the liquidity front RBI policy remains accommodative and nothing has changed on that front.

Your Loans

The loan rates get decided by Marginal Cost of funds based Lending Rate (MCLR). The transmission that has happened is lower than what everyone had expected. Therefore on the loan side you could continue to expect some relief, though it may be lower than what is expected.

Way Forward

The December policy will, to some extent, depend on the data flow and market expectations of the US Federal Reserve decision on hiking interest rates or not. Let us watch for the next RBI policy on 6 December 2016.

Image Credits: www.canstockphoto.com

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