Linkfest:Oct 17, 2012

Some stuff I am reading today morning:

How the politician builder nexus really works (FirstPost)

Karnataka Bank denies reports of ICICI bid (FE)

Change of land use mystifies DLF SEZ case (BS)

Investing to be rich (ValueInvestorIndia)

You can’t be half a gangster (TRB)

Fund Managers see opportunity in special situations (InstitutionalInvestor)

19 Crazy things that happen only in China (BusinessInsider)

Site Review:Screener.in

Was requested to try out a new site Screener.in by Pratyush Mittal

The site enables the users to create stock screens and research stocks.

You can use any of the existing screens or create your own one (One needs to be logged in for this…registration is free)

I love the wide range of stock screens available here.Some great ones include cash bargains,quarterly growers,quick cash flow, turnarounds etc.The best part is that the screens are sortable and the columns are customizable

Another great feature of the site is that it allows an easy comparison with other companies in the same industry. This especially helps when one is looking at valuations- a low P/E for a stock doesn’t mean anything if the entire sector is suffering from low P/Es.

The site design is very clean and uncluttered.I hope it remains that way.

On the negative side, there is a “create financial ratio” functionality which is difficult to use.Maybe dropdowns etc can help users better use this functionality.

I would strongly recommend readers to check this site out and I congratulate the makers of this site for creating such a beautiful product.

Are research reports dead?

Came across an interesting post on research reports by Tom Brakke.

Lots of the points raised by him are true for the Indian context as well:

Lack of credibility : Nearly all the research reports out there are put out by sell side brokerages and investment houses.These reports fail utterly in terms of recommendations, targets etc.Not surprising considering the “Risk On, Risk Off” environment that we live in.When I used to put up research reports on the site, I used to get a lot of abuse from my readers.One memorable comment went “Why are you putting puddu reports by puddu brokers ?!!”

Lack of expertise: The smartest guys don’t make their research reports public.The ones that do have often very little expertise in the industry/company that they track.Very often, they have a complete lack of understanding of the broader economic forces at work.Pick up the reports of any of the power companies in the last one year and you will know what I mean.Many times the recommendations follow the stock price instead of the other way around.

Whats the point?: In the US, there are many boutique research houses famed for their independent research.Some of their analysts are almost like rock stars.Here, one would be hard pressed to name even one good one.Does anyone know a good analyst who is the go-to guy on Reliance or Coal India or any other big cap?Indians seem to take Ace Greenberg’s advice to heart “Who needs a research analyst?In a bull market, you don’t need them and in a bear market, following their advice will kill you !”

Used as a marketing gimmick Most of the business channels faithfully report any upgrade/downgrade of stocks by brokerages, especially the foreign ones.But the market impact of these is minimal.The only use of these announcements seem to be increasing the brand awareness of the brokerages themselves.

Well, so what is an average investor to do?The answer is provided by Charlie Munger “Read, Read, Read”