Book Review: A Safari in the Equity World

The Book ‘ A Safari in the Equity World’ is written by Ritesh Dhoot, who is an Investment Professional based in the UAE.

This book was gifted to me by the author and hence I feel a bit obligated to write about it.

One of my biggest grouses is that most of our investment literature is US based and hence does not capture the full flavors of the jungle that is the Indian Equity markets.

This Book takes the analogy further and compares various facets of animal/bird behavior and applies it to the markets.

So you have chapters like Frozen Flamingo (on cyclicals), Kori Bustard (On Special Situations), City Monkeys (On Diversification) etc

The Book has lots of case studies and examples from the Indian markets which make it interesting.

One grouse I have of the Book is that the examples seem to have hindsight bias…it would have been nice if they were current ones.

The Book is written in a very light manner and is an easy read.

I would recommend this book to those starting out in the Indian Equity markets.


Book Review : Markets Never Forget

The Book ‘Markes Never Forget’ is written by Ken Fisher , the Billionaire Fund Manager and Lara Hoffmans.

The basic premise of the Book is that people don’t do enough homework to test their hypothesis or biases.If they go back in history, they would have found that markets would have behaved differently to their assumptions.

Some of the different assumptions he tackles are related to recessions, political biases, bull runs, volatility etc

Nearly all the data etc in the book are related to US markets and hence a bit of a bore.

The key takeway of the Book is “Go back in history and see how the markets behaved in similar conditions”

For example, if a new Govt is sworn in at the Center, go back and test how markets have behaved in the first year/second year etc. Or if you are a fan of a political party, check how the markets have behaved when they were in power . And so on…

I would give this book a miss…you can buy me a beer instead !


Book Review : Modern Monopolies

The Book ‘ Modern Monopolies’ is written by Alex Moazed and Nicholas Johnson who are entrepreneurs and consultants.

The Book is about ‘platforms’ like Google, Amazon etc which are taking over the world.

It contains interesting case studies about Nokia, RIM etc and how these powerful companies collapsed in front of the onslaught of platform cos.

In today’s world , a product ( such as a smartphone) or a software is a commodity. What is valuable are networks – networks of users, transactions or data.

The beautiful thing about platforms is that as networks increase, their utility increases, their marginal cost goes down and they become even more profitable.

Hence it is no surpise that investors love platforms. It is estimated that by 2040, 50% of the S&P 500’s net income will come from platforms.

In India, unfortunately there are hardly any listed companies that are platforms .

I would recommend this book as a good beginners guide to platforms.


Book Review : Savarkar

The Book ‘Savarkar’ is written by Vikram Sampath, a well known author and Founder- Director of the Bangalore Literature Festival.

As the title suggests, the Book covers the life and times of Savarkar from 1883-1924.

Savarkar is one of the intellectual Giants who have died decades back and yet their thoughts and ideas take center stage even today in India’s politics

In the last Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi bitterly criticized Savarkar. In Maharashtra’s state elections, both Shiv Sena and BJP promised Bharat Ratna to Savarkar. As such , Savarkar is still relevant.

My interest in Savarkar came about in this video clip of beloved PM Vajpayeeji praising Savarkar. Please watch the first Ninety seconds…I have never seen such a powerful tribute to any person ever.

After reading the book, I fully endorse each and every tribute given to Savarkar by Vajpayeeji.

The Book is a very serious biography and is backed by meticulous research.

It beautifully captures the British Raj in India and the abysmal and piteous conditions of the Indians under them.

The author does a masterful job in weaving the narrative and ensuring it remains fast paced.

After reading the Book, one can probably understand why Savarkar is probably more popular in Maharashtra than Mahatma Gandhi .

I would strongly recommend this book to very serious students of history.


Book Review : The Reluctant Billionaire

The Book ‘The Reluctant Billionaire- How Dilip Shanghvi became the Richest Self-Made Man’ is written by a business journalist Soma Das

The Book traces the journed of Dilip Shanghvi from a shop assistant in Kolkata to one of the richest men of India as the owner of Sun Pharma.

There are many lessons to be learnt from the remarkable life of Dilip Shanghvi.

Some which I learnt from Dilipbhai are:

  1. Learning Machine: Dilipbhai was a Commerce graduate, yet he could hold his own against scientists. The reason was he continuously learnt from medical journals,publications etc and once had even hired a Chemistry Professor to teach him.
  2. Ambition: Dilipbhai , from Day One, wanted to be bigger than Birla and Tata. When he was taking Sun Pharma public, he told analysts : “Every three years, I want my sales figure to become my profit figure”
  3. Detail Oriented: One of the favorite sayings of Dilipbhai is “Both God and Devil lie in the details”. His super attention to detail even in the minutest of things ensured Sun’s success
  4. Relationship Focused: Because of his MR experience, Dilipbhai realized how difficult it is to create relationships and how important to keep it. He was able to rope in talent and keep their loyalty because of this aspect.
  5. Business Savvy: Dilip Bhai always thought in terms of business growth, revenues, margins , business risk etc. His uncanny grasp on the numbers and ability to look at the big picture led to Sun’s profitable growth. What I especially liked was his business philosophy – he wanted to be in areas where the competition was less either due to size of the market or due to the complexity involved.

The Book does a splendid job of narrating the world of Indian pharma and that of its foot soldiers-the humble Medical Representative (MR). I never knew about the passion, the persistence and hardwork of the MR . It may astonish you to know that the MR, whom we often see waiting at the Doctor’s clinic, usually brings in a business of 1 Cr+ at cos like Sun.

The Book also covers the major acquisitions of Sun including TDPL, Taro, Caraco and Ranbaxy. They make for super interesting reading. I was stuck by how difficult acquiring companies in foreign lands could be and explains why there are so few Indian MNCs out there.

The author is clearly in awe of the subject and the Book can get hagiographic at times which can be irritating.

But otherwise the author tries her best in bringing in different perspectives and add more color via anecdotes etc

The narrative ends in 2017 and hence the subsequent controversies such as the USFDA issues, whistle blower letter etc is not covered.

I would strongly recommend this Book to all those interested in India’s pharmaceutical industry.