Book Review: The Art of Execution

The Book ‘The Art of Execution’ is written by Lee Freeman-Shor who is a Manager running a fund which allocates capital to different investors with instructions to invest only in their best ideas.

As such, the author had the opportunity to examine 1,866 investments made by 45 of the leading investors of UK and the book is the outcome of this study.

Two interesting observations of this study:

1.Only 49% of the very best investment ideas made money

2. Some of these legendary investors were successful only 30% of the time

So how can a top investor make money if he is wrong most of the time?The answer lies in “execution, execution, execution”

As George Soros famously said “It’s not whether you’re right or wrong that’s important, but how much money you make when you’re right and how much money you lose when you’re wrong.”

The key finding of the Book is that making lots of money or not losing pots of money comes down to the actions you take after you have invested in an idea and find yourself winning/losing.

The First Part of the Book deals with losing and the Second Part deals with winning.

One of my biggest grouses about investment literature is that not enough is written on selling. This Book does a great job of filling that gap.

The author does a fantastic job of walking through various thought processes when a stock price is going down and why people get “frozen” into their positions leading to permanent loss of capital.

The are lots of case studies from the UK stock market and that add lots of colour and practicality.

I would strongly recommend this Book to all investors.


Book Review : The Indigo Story

The Book ‘The Indigo Story’ is written by Shelley Vishwajeet , a well-known journalist.

When I bought the Book, I thought the Book would be an insider’s account into the rise and rise of Indigo.But it becomes clear that the Book is nothing of the sort.

The author relies on publicly available information such as newspapers, periodicals, annual reports etc to write his story.

Having said that, the author does a fairly competent job of analysing Indian Aviation which has acquired the reputation of being the ‘graveyard for private airlines’

The author chronicles the opening of Indian aviation, the entry of various airlines and how one by one, they all died.

The author explains also why Indigo succeeded why others failed and why it is unlikely to lose its leadership position in the future.

The author also sheds light on the background of Indigo’s promoters- Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal- which I found interesting.

Rahul Bhatia’s Inter Globe Group has varied large business interests-including being one of India’s largest hospitality provider.

Rakesh Gangwal, thanks to his Indigo holdings, is now the richest Indian-American in the US

The author shies away from some of the controversy surrounding Indigo such as its political links, its ability to get key Delhi/Mumbai slots, its placing of plane orders even without having a flying license, issues with Enforcement Directorate etc

The Book contains lots of data and charts which make it very interesting for those following the aviation sector.

The Book also has material on each of the different competitors of Indigo.

After reading the Book I was finally able to understand, why Jet was not able to capitalise on the demise of Kingfisher Airlines and it was Indigo which rose to be the domestic market leader.

At the end of the Book , there is an interview with Mark Martin , a highly respected aviation expert.I found his views on aviation stocks very illuminating:

“Aviation is one business that can be extremely ruthless; and all it it takes is one emergency landing, crash or hull to wipe off 50% of your stock.That is because the common investor,except knowing best how to interpret an airline’s P&L, has no earthly clue of how the airline business runs.”

I would recommend this Book only for those interested in India’s aviation sector.

Book Review: There’s No Such Thing as a Self Made Man

The Book ‘There’s No Such Thing a a Self Made Man’ is written by the late Pralhad P Chhabria, former Chairman of the Finolex Group.

I am a huge fan of Indian Business Biographies as they can teach us more about how to succeed in our own country.

Pralhad Chhabria hailed from a Sindhi family from Shikarpur. His family was very wealthy but things took a turn for the worse when his father died when he was only 12.

As a result, he began work at a tender age of 12 as a shopkeeper’s assistant helping with menial tasks , cleaning utensils etc

The author describes with rare candour the trials and tribulations he had to go through and it makes for a gripping read.

When Partition happened, like other Sindhi families, they had to flee their ancestral homeland with nothing on their backs.

The Chhabrias rebuilt their lives in Pune and the story of how he built the multi-Billion $ Finolex group is truly awe inspiring,

The author explains how he got into the cable business going from shop to shop in Pune. He describes how hard he had to work to get the Defence orders and finally his efforts in setting up his own manufacturing unit.

The author also speaksĀ  aboutĀ  his family.The author’s daughter died at a very young age of leukemia and the sadness seeps through the pages

There are many things to learn from the author’s incredible life story.

One anecdote which left an imprint on my mind was when the author meets a former servant of his. Now the servant has become his own master and the author has become someone else’s servant ! The author mulls the following thoughts:

“I realised, as never before, that unplanned events would occur without any warning, and life would keep changing.I understood that I should never be complacent about any situation I was in.And similarly, I understood that though my position at present seemed so hopeless, I must not despair because it would continue to change. No one could tell what tomorrow could bring !”

In another instance, he mentions the importance of networking.

“As a businessman, I also saw the need to have a circle of well-placed acquaintances. Every person who has something to sell knows the importance of being a member of a wealthy, influential circle and of having access to people who can buy or who can connect you with those who will buy”

Another very interesting aspect of the Book is where the author describes his relation with his Guru – Swami Ram Baba.

Swami Ram Baba preached :

“If you are poor- work !

If you are rich- continue working !

If you are burdened, with seemingly unfair responsibilities – work !

If you are happy – well, just continue to work !

Idleness gives room for doubt and fear.

If disappointment comes, please just work !

If your health is threatened – work !

When your faith and hope falters- work !

When your dreams are shattered and your hope seems dead- work !

Work, as if your life was in peril.

The truth is, your life really is in peril. So work !

No matter what ails you – work !

Continue to work – faithfully, dedicatedly and devotedly.

Work with Love, Faith and Patience.

Work is the greatest remedy

For every mental and physical affliction !”

This Book was a late revelation to me and I wish I read it earlier when it was first printed (In 2012)

Pralhadji passed away in 2016 and undoubtedly would have been saddened to see his family fight over his legacy

I would strongly recommend this Book to those interested in Indian Business.

Book Review: Ben-Gurion

The Book ‘Ben-Gurion’ is a biography on David Ben-Gurion written by well known Israeli writer Michael Bar-Zohar.

David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) is regarded as the ‘Father of the modern state of Israel’ and Tel-Aviv Airport is named in his honor.

His story is a very remarkable one and in a way parallels that of Israel.

Born in Poland, Ben-Gurion possesses one fervent and fanatical desire – The survival of his Jewish people and the establishment of the Israeli State.

He devoted his life to this goal and employed all means necessary to achieve it.

The Book chronicles his life as a student in Poland to his migration to Israel to his political career and his ideals and principles which shape the state of Israel to this day.

There are many lessons in the Book for the modern Indian:

1.Don’t just talk, do something. In Kannada, there is a phrase ‘Bai Muchko, Kelsa Hechko’…i.e. shut up and work. Ben Gurion lived his life by this motto…he simply went ahead and did actions which were impossible to reverse….for example, shifting of the capital of Israel to Jerusalem in the face of global opposition

2.Convert adversity into opportunity. When the Israel was formed, it was immediately attacked by the armies of 5 Arab countries.It converted this crisis into an opportunity by defeating these armies and expanding the frontiers of Israel by conquering enemy territory

3.Keep your aim in mind.Your policies can change, your methods can change, your team can change-but they all have to serve the original goal you have in mind.

4.Make a coalition of allies.But at the same time, don’t expect any external power to come to your aid…each country is guided by its own interests.

I would recommend this Book only for serious history buffs.


Book Review: Special Situations in Securities

The Book ‘Special Situations in Securities’ is written by Maurece Schiller who used to work on Wall Street in the 1950s and 1960s

This book was originally published in 1961 and hence can be considered as a classic

In my personal investing journey, special situations have always held a special place and I have found it to be a profitable area of the market.

What is a special situation?It is basically where a corporate event is occurring and it’s possible to get profits independent of the general trends of the stock market.

Some of the events are spinoffs, mergers, acquisitions,special dividends,rights, ofs, buybacks, delistings, warrants etc

Another characteristic of a Special Situation is that the Exit is inbuilt into the operation.So you sell when the Corporate Action is completed.This is unlike ordinary stock purchases where the sell signal is not pre-determined.

The Book does a decent job of introducing the reader to the world of Special Situations but nothing more.

I would recommend this Book only to the Beginner Investor.