A striking indicator as to why India today is where China was in 1990

Sep 27, 2014

In this issue:
» What is special about China's 'grey hair' industry?
» Huge unfunded liabilities of US pension funds
» What do CEO salaries tell us about the companies?
» Roundup on global markets
» ...and more!

 Chart of the day
"Aren't the markets currently too frothy to invest in? Shouldn't we rather wait for it to correct than invest now?"

These have sort-of become the regular queries that we receive from our subscribers these days. Many even point out to the fact that India has come close to becoming the most expensive amongst emerging markets.

Now, it is really heartening to see that investors are keeping a close eye on valuations rather than being in a buying frenzy, with advice from brokers and pink papers. However, it is important to put India's economic fundamentals and valuations in perspective. For only then can you fairly asses whether Indian markets are too expensive for a global investor looking at emerging markets.

Let us look at the inward flow of foreign direct investment (FDI). Like we have said many times earlier, for a developing economy like India sustained inflow of FDI is extremely critical to achieve high growth rate. Investment from the government and private sector need the boost of foreign capital and intellectual know how so as to help GDP growth rate reach the inflection point. Take the case of China in the early 1990s. One would recall that this was the time when China started investing heavily in its infrastructure and industries. And it relied that much more on FDI. The fact that the economy put in reforms and incentives to attract foreign capital helped it sustain strong FDI inflows for nearly two decades.

India today looks strikingly similar to China in early 1990s. Assuming that India is to embark on a similar investment phase in both infrastructure and industries attracting such FDI is inevitable. Not only will it reduce the pressure banks and financial institutions for long term funding. But also allow companies to focus on their growth plans rather than constantly worry about funding requirements.

The fact that initiatives by the government to bridge deficits and attract foreign capital will also enhance India's sovereign rating will be yet another positive. In fact the S&P has already upgraded India's rating from negative to stable. Going forward such rating upgrades will up India's appeal on the FDI radar.

Thus there are enough reasons why India's growth rate in the the coming decade could look far more appealing than that of other emerging markets. And going by the key signs of the Megatrend that India could be witnessing, several companies here could offer more attractive investment opportunities than in any other markets.

Hence we believe that retail investors should not try to time the markets and wait to invest at the most attractive valuations. Instead they should be very selective in the company they wish to invest in and invest small amounts consistently over a period of time. Besides giving the opportunity to take advantage of valuations whenever there is a temporary hiccup, this will also help ensure that you do not 'miss the bus'!

Will India's net FDI inflows look similar to China's in early 1990s?

Which are the other similarities according to you between India today and China in the 1990s? Let us know your comments or share your views in the Equitymaster Club.

--- Advertisement ---
The Success Stories of Hidden Small Caps...

There are many small companies which are not much talked about in media. Broking houses are not aware of them. And most investors might not even know about them.

But the reality is that such small companies are giving double and even triple digit returns.

And there are a few more such stocks that hold the potential of doing the same for YOU, if you grab them right away.

So click here to discover how you too could profit from hidden small caps with high potential...

A lot has been written about China's ageing population and how it is poised to take the fire out of the dragon nation over the longer term. There is one group of Chinese capitalists however that is smiling from ear to ear. China's so called 'silver hair' industry - the market of goods and services for the elderly - is expecting to reach US$ 652 bn in size this year. This would be a whopping 8% of its GDP! To give you a perspective on this, consider that the whole of the manufacturing industry here in India contributes to just about 15% of our GDP.

Further, this Chinese industry centered around the elderly is looking to a bright future indeed. The industry is expected to rise to US$17 trillion by 2050, amounting to a third of the economy by the time. A Bloomberg report indicates that future opportunities in this area will revolve around four main fields - appliances, services, assisted living centers and financial services for the geriatric. With such an industry back home here in India being almost non-existent, Indian entrepreneurs would do well to take a page out of China's book. While the population of India's elderly may not be slated to see a rise as rapid, surely there is enough unmet demand to sustain a thriving industry.

All of us put aside some money for retirement, don't we? However, what if few years down the line we realize that the corpus we are going to get at the end of retirement is going to fall way short? Well, we will have to start setting aside more sum by cutting our current expenses or work more hours. A similar predicament is facing 25 of the largest US public pension systems. If a leading financial portal is to be believed, these pension systems together face unfunded liabilities to the tune of US$ 2 trillion! In other words what the pension systems have set aside for retirement is about US$ 2 trillion less than what they will have to eventually pay out to employees. If this is not bad enough, these liabilities are actually forcing some states to cut down on spending in areas like services, roads and schools. The irony being these are the areas which can allow states to grow more prosperous in the future. Unfortunately there does not seem to be any easy solution in sight as things like raising taxes will make the economic slowdown even worse.

When we analyze a company's management, one of the variables we look at is management compensation. How much is the CEO's salary? How much is it in relation to the company's profits? What has been the trend in the salary increment? How does the CEO's salary compare with industry peers Should shareholders decide CEO salary? - The 5 Minute WrapUp ? These questions can often lead to telling insights about how the management treats the shareholder's money. Is the top management only interested in filling their coffers? Or are they focused on building a rock-solid enterprise and reward all stakeholders? We certainly prefer company managements that belong to the latter category. And yes, one must remember that the annual salary is not the only factor that an investor must look at. In many cases the annual salary figure may not be a big eight-digit figure. But this may often be misleading. So it is important to consider the total compensation that the CEO receives. This would include bonuses, perks, employee stock options, etc.

Global markets ended the week lower on concerns regarding the end of the US Fed's QE program.

Geopolitical concerns in the Middle East also weighed down markets. In the US the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed the week lower by 1%. However, it must be kept in mind that the US markets haven't corrected in any significant manner since the bull market began in March 2009.

In Europe, the relief surrounding the result of the Scottish independence vote was short lived. European indices like the French CAC, British FTSE and the German DAX ended the week lower by 1.5%, 2.7% and 3.1% respectively. European markets remain concerned over the Eurozone slipping back into recession. Also, European nations have begun to join the US in taking military action in the Middle East and this has created fresh uncertainties in the markets.

Along with global indices, the Indian indices too closed lower this week. The BSE-Sensex was down by 1.7%. The Supreme Court's Coalgate verdict as well as the deferral of the decision on gas prices impacted market sentiment. On a positive note, S&P upgraded India's credit outlook to stable from negative while re-affirming the country's BBB- credit rating.

Performance during the week ended Sep 26th, 2014
Data Source: Yahoo Finance, Kitco

 Weekend investing mantra
"A business or stock is not an intelligent purchase simply because it is unpopular; a contrarian approach is just as foolish as a follow-the-crowd strategy. What's required is thinking rather than polling. Unfortunately, Bertrand Russell's observation about life in general applies with unusual force in the financial world: "Most men would rather die than think. Many do." - Warren Buffett

Today's Premium Edition.

Today being a Saturday, there is no Premium edition being published. But you can always read our most recent issue here...

Recent Articles

All Good Things Come to an End... April 8, 2020
Why your favourite e-letter won't reach you every week day.
A Safe Stock to Lockdown Now April 2, 2020
The market crashc has made strong, established brands attractive. Here's a stock to make the most of this opportunity...
One Stock that is All Charged Up for the Post Coronavirus Rebound April 1, 2020
A stock with strong moat is currently trading near 5-year lows.
Sorry Warren Buffett, I'm Following This Man Instead of You in 2020 March 30, 2020
This man warned of an impending market correction while everyone else was celebrating the renewed optimism in early 2020...

Equitymaster requests your view! Post a comment on "A striking indicator as to why India today is where China was in 1990". Click here!

6 Responses to "A striking indicator as to why India today is where China was in 1990"

janak singh

Oct 1, 2014

markets have
scaled new high.
Therefore, we
need a better
analysis rather
than just old
saying that
don't time the
(which ofcourse,
true). But the
article fail to
provide right


Vineet Kumar Gupta

Sep 28, 2014

Since, this article was in comparing india vs china and stock market valuations, the chinese stock market has not touched their previous high (before 2008) and Indian markets have scaled new high. Therefore, we need a better analysis rather than just old saying that don't time the target (which ofcourse, true). But the article fail to provide right perspective



Sep 27, 2014

let us see and wait for result after reading your views after one year



Sep 27, 2014

China was manufacturing on economic base and marketing speady and easiestway. India now manufacturing on quality basis and marketing on economic way.


Balakrishnan R

Sep 27, 2014

May be India is now in the same position of China of 1990. But we should not do the same mistakes of China such as investing too much on road. They realised that very late and started developing rail system. India should start investing and developing on rail system rather than concentrating much road system. Around towns and cities roads should be developed. All railway stations should be developed with good parking facilities. We need not worry about being our consumption of steel and power is lowest in the world. We should take credit for that and try to maintain it.



Sep 27, 2014

It's easy to say then done...looking at the Indian politics where one prevents the other from doing something good. If government at center sets a policy it is either rejected at the parliament or if it goes ahead changes of not been implemented by state government is more likely. This has caused trust factor to be almost zero in minds of Foreign Investors.... China didn't have such problem or issues

Equitymaster requests your view! Post a comment on "A striking indicator as to why India today is where China was in 1990". Click here!