EMI Calculation– An Example

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I wrote about how EMI is calculated and how to calculate EMI using MS Excel. It is not a big surprise to me that these are often the most viewed posts on my blog. Some of the readers commented on giving an example along with the posts, so here is the post explaining EMI with an example:

Example 1:  Assume that you take a loan of Rs 100,000 at 8.75% per annum rate for a tenure of 10 years. How to calculate the EMI?
image  Open the excel sheet and click on fx.

Choose the Financial category and select the PMT function.

In the function arguments, enter the values. In our example, our interest rate is 8.75%, so enter “8.75%/12” The Nper is the tenure in terms of months, in our example it will be 120 months, the Pv is the Loan amount and keep Fv & Type to 0. Press OK.

When you press OK, you will see the result in the selected cell as shown. The EMI is Rs 1253.27 for our example.

What is the interest component of say 10th EMI?
Proceed as in above, but choose the IPMT function rather than the PMT function. The following inputs are required:
The only new input is the Per, which is the EMI for which you want to know interest component. In our example, we want to know the interest component for the 10th EMI, so input as 10. The result is Rs 693.75.
So, when you will pay the 10th EMI of Rs 1253.27, you are paying Rs 693.75 as interest component and remaining for reducing the principal.
What is the principal component of 10th EMI?
It works same as above except that you need to choose the PPMT function rather than PMT function.
If you want to know the principal and interest amount for each of your EMIs, then there are many calculators (excel sheets) available on internet. I like this advanced excel calculator since it takes into account any additional payment made.

Digital Data - an Asset

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Our lives are definitely becoming more virtual and hence it is no surprise that when you think of making a will, you also need to consider your digital data as an asset. In simple terms, your will should answer the questions like “Who gets your email id after your death?
With most of our lives going online, it is important to consider the data accumulated over our life-time as a data which should be either passed on to your legal heirs or totally destroyed. Digital data includes email accounts, social networking accounts, internet banking accounts, online photo albums, blogs and any data residing on your computer.

Why the heck would anyone want any access to your digital data? Why you should care? The reason is exactly the same with respect to your off-line assets like a house. You create a will since you do not want your legal heirs to fight over your assets and there is a good chance that they will fight over your digital data as well. I can easily think of legal fights over getting a dead writer’s un-published work or a ace photographer’s digital album or access to a extremely popular blog (which can be a revenue stream) in the event of a death.
The on-line assets are definitely more complex to come under a single umbrella of legal laws since each on-line website have different policies related to this issue. For example, gmail terms and conditions allows a legal heir to access the account if proof of death is furnished.
I reckon that in future digital data succession will become as crucial as any other offline asset succession and hence making a digital will become absolutely necessary.

When to make your Will?

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This is a most difficult topic for most Indian households and oft ignored. I yesterday went to a friend’s place and he had called up a LIC agent to his home. I distinctly recollect that they talked in a very hush’ed tone, because he was discussing about how much money his family will get post his death. It was obvious that discussing death and money together is still taboo in Indian society and hence the same goes with making a will.
I think most people know what is will and it’s importance but still probably I reckon that 90% of Indian household never discuss this topic. I believe majority of Indians die without making any will, causing major dispute among legal heirs post any death.
It is so simple to make a will in India and so important especially with legal recourse taking many years that everyone should definitely have gone through this process. It is important to note that  assigning nominations alone does not help and a will is very important.
So when should a person make a will?

The question is never answered appropriately. As per the Indian Law, any person above 21 years of age can make a legally valid will. But the key point before deciding on making a will is to think about :
  1. A sudden death is more probable in today’s fast paced life. So don’t think that you will not die till 80 years of age.
  2. If you die intestate (without making will), your legal heirs are not only your spouse/children. Check out this Hindu Succession Act and you would know who all can be your legal heirs.
  3. It is foolish to think that your legal heirs love each other and will never fight over your property. This has been found untrue in so many cases.
  4. There is no threshold asset value, only above which legal heirs will consider it substantial for fighting.
  5. The distribution of assets are done equally by the court of law without considering who is more needy amongst your legal heirs.
I would recommend that you should start thinking of making a will as soon as you get married. You can start with making a will on a simple white paper and asking your friends to act as witnesses. As you grow financially and acquire assets, you could add codicils to your will. If the number of codicils are more than five, then re-write a new will. You can think of registering your will once your assets have reached a substantial amount (you can decide what is substantial).  Where there is a WILL there is a way!!

AMFI plugs hole for Third Party scam

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When investing in mutual fund schemes, it is very common to call up a broker and issue a cheque to him in the name of fund schemes. The cheque does not necessary be from you, so it could be from your spouse or your friend or as a matter of fact from anybody. The regulatory bodies wouldn’t have thought that this simple flexibility could actually lead to various scams.

Hence, to plug this seemingly innocuous hole in the mutual fund investment mode, AMFI has come up with guide lines to not allow any Third Party cheques[PDF] when investing in mutual fund schemes.

As per guidelines issued by the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI), mutual funds are required to put in place strong processes by November 15, 2010 to ensure that Third-Party payment instruments are not used for mutual fund subscriptions.

So from 15th Nov, you will have to issue cheque from your account when investing in mutual fund in your name. The few exceptions are like parent investing on behalf of minor child or employer on behalf of employee.

But what is the Third Party Scam? It is simply a common case of trusting a middle-man and not doing due diligence. Here is how it works: You ask a broker to suggest a mutual fund scheme, and issues a cheque against that mutual fund scheme. He will fill a form and get your signature, but the problem is not in filling the form or not reading it properly, the actual problem is of trusting the broker. The broker can simply go home, shred the form you filled, then fill another form in his own name and submit the cheque along with the form issues by you. Since mutual fund accepts Third Party cheques, your money is being used by the broker to have scheme in his name. He simply needs to forge the receipt and give it back to you. The broker could simply redeem the money without you noticing anything.

The interesting aspect is that SEBI dis-allowed third party cheque in stock investment few years ago, but it is continued in mutual funds. I believe that AMFI has taken the right step in this direction, thus blocking these Third Party scams.

How to obtain your credit rating?

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Every wondered why sometimes a bank refuses to provide you with that loan despite the fact that you satisfy all their criterion or why sometimes the credit card company refuses to increase your credit limit?

The answer typically lies in the fact that you may have a poor credit rating. CIBIL is India’s first credit information bureau. The CIBIL shareholding pattern is like this :

The CIBIL agency gets the information from its members about any individual person and creates a rating system. In simple words, whenever you go to any bank for taking a loan (car/house/personal), the respective bank contacts the CIBIL agency to verify your credit rating, which is based on your own history of borrowings and payments.

How does the credit report looks like?

The credit report typically looks like this [PDF]. It contains your personal details (like name, phone number, account number, address etc). It also contains the history of your accounts and your borrowing history and the way you have repaid your loans. It also contains the history of banks/institutions that requested for your credit report.

How can you obtain your credit report?

It is simple process.  You need following documents as mentioned on the website ;


It is important to note that there are no authorised agents for CIBIL who can get you the credit report. Check out the message indicated by CIBIL


Why it is necessary for you to get your credit report?

The reason you would want the report may simply be for informational purpose, but typically it will help you in understanding why a certain bank refused loan to you. Also there could be a possibility of your credit information being incorrectly stored in CIBIL data-base. In such case, you could actually contact the respective bank and ask them to make corrections and inform CIBIL of the correction as well.

Is there a security issue since all your information is with CIBIL?

Not really. The information is accessible only to you and the member banks (who already have your personal information). Also the RTI Act does not apply to CIBIL, since it is not a Public Authority.  Also the information is kept securely using state-of-the-art technology.

Check out the information about credit bureau in other countries.

0% EMI–An excellent mechanism and a good trap

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There’s no such thing as free lunch. But marketers are promising exactly that with the 0% EMI schemes. You must have come across such deals especially while buying consumer electronics. The main claim of such schemes is to offer you an EMI scheme which will have


  no interest charges. This seems too good to be true, but in reality there are some really 0% Interest schemes. So what is the trap and how to know which schemes are really delivering a fully interest free EMI scheme.

Some few years back this was the most popular schemes for selling consumer electronics products especially with banks supporting and providing the finance. But RBI regulations advising banks to not indulge in such schemes have helped. The reason why the central bank decided to give a directive is because the scheme being promoted in a false manner. The problem with these schemes is mostly related to hidden charges. The way the charges are mentioned/categorised gives a false impression to the customer and making it difficult for the customer to have an informed choice.

Here are some hidden costs in the 0% EMI schemes:

1) Processing Fees: Such schemes typically asks for one-time processing fees for the loan. These are variable depending on the dealer/bank/purchase amount you are dealing with.

2) No Cash Discount: If you avail such scheme, any other discount provided by the dealer is not applicable. This is a real catch, since most of these 0% EMI schemes are promoted during festival period, when the dealers are willing to give lot of discounts to increase their sales.

3) Advance EMI/Down-Payment: These types of schemes typically asks for some part of the payment done in advance. In essence, you are not entitled for the entire amount of purchase to be converted into EMI.

4) Documentation Fees: Some offers ask your salary and if it does not meet a required parameter, they ask for certain documents. In such cases, an extra charge for document processing may be applied.

5) Availability on select models only: Sometimes the schemes are available only on select models/products. If this is the case, it surely indicates that the dealer wants to empty his inventory for these models which are probably old or not selling well.

6) Shipping charges/Installation charges: Sometimes dealers apply shipping/installation charges if you buy the product on 0% EMI scheme but no such fee if bought through cash.

7) Hidden conditions: Sometimes there are hidden conditions/restrictions while buying through 0% EMI scheme, which should be understood properly before signing the dotted line.

It is important to understand and calculate the real charges for such 0% EMI schemes before getting into one. As an example, if your purchase bill is Rs 36K, and availing 0% EMI scheme for eight months, with processing fees of Rs 1000 and forfeiting the cash discount of Rs 2000, the interest rate effectively turns out to be around 18.75%, definitely much higher than availing personal loans.

These schemes are not all that bad given the fact that the effective interest rate is still much less than using a credit card. Hence such schemes can be utilized by a consumer after carefully calculating the real rate of interest.

There are also some “real” 0% EMI schemes, where the manufacturer or the dealer absorbs the interest charges in favour of higher sales (may be for that specific period). So having an awareness is much better and wiser while availing such schemes.

Chasing the Sensex is useless

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With BSE Sensex closing at spectacular high during the Diwali season, it made a big news all around. But chasing the Sensex has become an addiction to not only the media but the retail investors as well. The problem is that the euphoria corrupts the minds of retail investors and they start thinking of investing because Sensex is going up and not based on their understanding of the fundamentals of company. The question that came to my mind is that does it really matter to chase the index and to try to time the investment at lowest index to gain spectacular returns?

The answer comes out as a resounding “No”, and it is based on the historical data. I started digging at the BSE Sensex index history for the last decade starting from 2000 onwards. Let us assume that your investment exactly reflect the BSE Sensex performance. So let us compare the compounded gains when you invest at

1) Lowest Index each year

2) Highest Index each year

3) At a fixed date (say 1 Aug) each year

So if we look at the BSE Sensex for the past decade (2000 – 2010), it turns out that the index gave a CAGR return of 16.187% at lowest value investment, 13.125% return at highest value investment. The surprise is that when looking at historical data at a fixed date every year (1 Aug), the return is actually 15.501%, very close to investing at the lowest levels.

This is significant in the fact that instead of timing the market to find the lowest value, if a person invest every year at the fixed date in a steady manner, the returns are almost similar.

The key learning is to ignore the short-term sentiments of the market. If  you make steady and consistent investments, you would get decent returns without fretting over timing the markets.

Reverse Mortgage–It doesn’t work in India

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Reverse Mortgage is not a very oft heard and used term in India, despite the fact that there are millions of old age people in the country. Just taking a peek at the Age Transition graph for India [Source PDF], it is clear that the population of old age group folks are going to increase many-fold from this year onwards. It is obvious that the entire old population is not going to be financially stable with the rising inflation & increasing imagehealth care costs and they would not have much means to earning in old age since the working age population will be growing as well.

The concept of Reverse Mortgage is very simple as shown below, where any senior citizen who owns a house can go to a bank. The person can avail the reverse mortgage loan from the bank by mortgaging the house to the bank. This loan ensures that the senior citizens can get a decent monthly income(based on the valuation of the house) till the senior citizen is alive and can stay in the house as well. It helps the “house-rich-but-cash-poor” people.


The whole idea is to ensure a financial monthly cash flow to allow senior citizens to live freely and independently. Upon the death of the person, the bank may return the house to legal heirs if the loan is paid back or else the house is sold and loan recovered, with the remaining amount paid back to legal heirs. An excellent post on what is reverse mortgage is here.

The concept is simple and on the paper it sounds to be a super-hit with the ever increasing population above 65 years in India, especially with the family support system breaking very fast. In my apartment complex itself, I have seen hundreds of old age people, who are staying alone with their kids settled out of country. But to the surprise of financial institutions, the scheme has seen a very damp response in India.

Let us ponder over why this superb scheme doesn’t seem to attract enough investors.

  • The scheme targets the senior citizens, but who are currently the senior citizens? The folks who are above 60-65 years. These are the people who were born when India attained independence. These are the people who saw liberalization, when they were already past their youth. These are the people who had very less opportunities for earning money and with too many social taboos and rituals. These people never knew consumerism and did not know how to spend the money. They just know how to save money and make assets and that is why these people built houses sometimes more than one. The whole thinking of the current senior citizens is “What will I do with the extra monthly income, for which I need to sell my house?”, rather when I die, I will give these houses as assets to my children and my grandchildren.The scheme would make sense for people who are currently in their 40s-50s, and hence the banks should actually make these schemes available to people above 40s (definitely lot of varieties/conditions can be included for different age-brackets)
  • The scheme is not marketed very well and very few people actually understands it. I feel that most financial institutions feel that dealing with senior citizen is very risky. The risk arises from multiple factors especially from the fact that they have not much alternate source of income (and exactly the reason they enter into reverse mortgage in the first place) and hence these people can not be pulled into other schemes of the bank. It is also important to note that the value of a house over a period of time will be sustainable when it is maintained properly, but with senior citizens having health issues and not much available cash, it would be difficult to do so. This may cause a deterioration of the house value over long periods of time. Also it is very difficult for marketing/sales people to deal with their idiosyncrasies and the paranoia. The fact that a banking institution while giving loan typically prefers a longer duration (in normal loans they have pre-payment penalty for early loan closure), but for senior citizen the risk of the scheme getting closed early is high and hence their is less chance to earn profits. Then their may be multiple issues of dealing with legal heirs in case of a death. So, all in all, senior citizens are not worth looking forward for in terms of making a customer base and hence banks have very little in marketing these products. In fact, I see very few schemes targeting the senior citizens and even if their are, they are not marketed enough.
  • The legal framework is not very strong in India and which makes this scheme much more risky. There are moral issues related to these schemes, for example, if an old widowed lady is not able to maintain the house causing deterioration of the value of the house, would a bank take a legal recourse for ensuring say the roof be made leak-proof or to paint the entire house etc. It is very difficult to handle legal issues related to old people where the legal heirs are all settled outside the country especially when either the legal heirs are not interested or when the residual amount to be gained by them is miniscule. Also there may be issues of corruption when a broker/legal heir/bank employee may seek money outside the agreement (under-hand dealing) and sell the house at a very low-price, thus making a loss for the bank but a personal monetary gain. There could be issues where an elderly person discovers a major health hazard (not everything is covered by medical insurance) and which may require them to sell the house for treatment (or may be to move to a smaller house and use some money for treatment). In such a case, both the bank and the borrower may set to loose the benefit. Then their are multiple legal issues with priority of liens (
    It is a legal claim by one person on the property of another as security for payment of a debt.), in terms of taxes on the sale of the house and to prove the legal heir claims. The laws are not clear when a person or household declares bankruptcy, the issues of  senior citizens mortgaging the ‘other’ house and also putting it on rent (so essentially gaining money through rent as well as selling the part equity till they are alive).
  • The upfront charges are typically high and these loans are rising debt loans. A typical loan, when repaid through EMI is a decreasing debt loans. So if you carefully understand how EMI is calculated, you would notice that some part of EMI goes towards lowering the principal as well, but with reverse-mortgage, the interest paid out get added to the principal and hence the debt keeps rising. The psychological barrier to this scheme is the loss of house equity as time progresses. Also since the ownership still remains with the borrower, the wealth tax, insurance, water charges etc have to be borne by the owner itself thus lowering the cash flow.

If I consider all the above scenarios, I would advice that this scheme is helpful only for those who do not have any legal heirs to pass-on the assets or to those who are desperate for some cash-flow (may be because their kids are no longer looking after them). This should not be considered as a means to fill the retirement goal corpus. Also it will take some time for the schemes to become more customer friendly.

Real Estate - Real Returns

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                  Buy Land, They’re Not Making it Anymore – Mark Twain

Investing in real estate is crucial to Indians, especially owning the first house/apartment. In India, it is common to call it as investment but not to think of it as investment. Note this difference, since most people who “invests” in real-estate do not think about real return on investment (ROI) on real-estate investments.

I would be really wary of putting my hard-earned money in buying a house, unless I get a decent ROI especially when it needs so much efforts and also it may induce emotional trauma.

So what exactly is a ROI for a house and how to calculate it for real-estate investment?

If you are buying a house for purely emotional reason and if this will provide you satisfaction, then calculating ROI is useless. So if you are happy being a owner of a house, then you wouldn’t think of “returns” and ROI is immaterial. But, it is important to distinguish between owning a house for “satisfaction/being happy” Vs “showing-off/rat-race competition”.

But if you are the one who thinks buying a house will make you rich or it will make you financially stable, then you seriously need to calculate a real ROI on the investment.

Almost everyone must have heard about their lucky friends who bought an apartment for Rs 15 Lakhs almost a decade ago which is now quoting at Rs 50 Lakhs. This sounds like an amazing deal, isn’t it? Well not actually, since the CAGR return is just 12.79% which is not a great deal. So if the same 15 Lakhs would have been invested in BSE Sensex stocks, it would have ballooned to Rs 65 Lakhs, definitely better than real-estate.

Note that this is a simplistic view not considering multiple factors like efforts required for investment, overhead costs and risk factors. If these factors are taken into consideration real-estate investment will not sound attractive anymore. The graph below indicates that CAGR return of various asset class over past 10 year period. As indicated, stocks and gold image out-perform the real-estate easily.

Some argue the virtue of real-estate investment by giving the leveraging logic. The idea is that if you buy a house, you would just give a 15-20% of cost as a down-payment (e.g. 2Lakh) and then see the real-estate price going up (say Rs 50 Lakh) and calculating the CAGR to be much higher (~45%). This is foolishness and simply twisting the truth to show-case an amazing returns. It is a fact that borrowing money is always costly (how would banks otherwise make money) and more risky. It is important to remember that the loan amount is owned by you, along with the interest to be paid to the bank. Also any decrease in the price of your house will in-fact be a huge loss rather than any gain at all. 

Let us compare some points while investing in Stocks Vs Real-Estate.

1) Performance: We already saw that the returns from stock are higher compared to Real-Estate investments.

2) Leverage Advantage: We discussed the leverage logic in real-estate. The same kind of leveraging can be done in Stocks as well.

3) Overhead Costs: The real-estate overhead cost is huge (10-15%) which consists of Stamp Duty, Brokerage Charges, Loan Processing Fees, Legal Fees, Utility Connection charges etc etc. The costs for buying stocks is much less.

4) Taxes: Stocks score over here since you just have the long-term gain (if held over more than a year) but in case of real-estate one has to pay property tax apart from long-term gain tax on selling the house.

5) Transparency: The biggest advantage while buying shares is that you can use the web to determine the fundamentals of stock easily. The same doesn’t apply to real-estate investment. It is so difficult to determine a handsome bargain with so many variables that investing is more dependent on luck than a logical analysis.

6) Efforts: The real-estate investments really gets killed in this parameter. There is not only enormous efforts to find a good house, but once you own it, a lot of effort is needed to keep it in good condition.

7) Diversification: If you invest in stocks, it is so easy to put your money spread across industries/companies/funds to give it protection. This can not be applied to real-estate investment at all.

I feel that the real-estate prices in India are not at all justified and the hype is driven by the artificial demand. Also most people can afford to get into this thanks to easy loans from banks. I hope the bubble does burst early enough to save lot of people who are not in the trap yet.

IPO Investment – Myth Busted By Statistics

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IPO investments are definitely a hype. I don’t like IPOs as a investment due to the excessive marketing which makes it much tougher to find the fundamental value of the company and makes a retail investor more gullible.

IPOs just make gullible investors get excited by creating excessive hype, especially with the promise of making the investor super-rich in a shorted period of time. I have read The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham and remember that  he also recommends that investors should stay clear of IPOs. The simple reason is that IPO is raised to get capital which results in a premium price and offers a very little choice to buy the stock at a discount.

So just to validate this I decided to look at all the IPOs from 1 Jan 2010 till now and to check out the issue price Vs current price of the stock and here is the table:

                      image image

If you look carefully, all the red-lines are the ones which are giving negative returns (essentially in loss), while all the orange-lines are the ones giving less than 10% returns. So this actually validates what Benjamin Graham has been preaching for so long:

1) Out of 57 IPOs only 21 IPOs are actually providing gains of more than 10%. So essentially only 36% of IPOs are giving decent returns

2) Out of 57 IPOs only 4 IPOs actually make returns more than double. So essentially 7% of IPOs are giving exceptional returns

3) Out of 30 IPOs in losses only 7 IPOs actually gives loss in single digits (i.e. < 10%). In essence, 77% of loss making IPOs are giving losses more than 10%

This definitely busts the myth that IPOs are a source of short term quick gains. Some of these IPOs can actually go above their issue price after certain years, but that again indicates that prices during IPOs are at higher premium.

The “get rich quick” hype generated during the IPOs are typically by the marketing companies and promoters of IPO companies to raise the premium price for mopping up more cash, but for the retail investor it is much better to wait for few days after listing, before investing in the IPOs and that too after the value study of the company.

The only people who possibly gain from IPOs are definitely other than retail investors.

Guarantor Liability

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While learning about the nomination rules for various investment avenues, I got into thinking about the rules related to being a guarantor. The term is typically confused with a reference required sometimes. It is very common to see friends asking their office colleagues or family friends to become a loan guarantor.

I am sure that most people would be very willing to help the needy friend by readily becoming a guarantor without understanding the full implication. The most common mistake happens because a guarantor is thought of as a reference. The problem is that, in the ambit of law, a guarantor is much more than just a friendly reference.

The definition itself tells a lot

A guarantor for bank loans means a person who promises to provide payment on the loan, or other liability in the event of default.”

It is pretty obvious why banking institutions asks for a guarantor, since lending money is always a risky business with lot of chances of default by the person taking loan. So guarantor is like another chance for the bank to recover the loan money. But with a huge liability, why would anyone want to be a guarantor? A father would readily be a guarantor for his son’s education loan due to emotional reason, but others are gullible enough to not understand the liability of a guarantor and the legal implications.

What happens on a loan default?

If you are guarantor to your friend’s loan and he defaults (essentially not paying the EMI), what do you think will happen? You would think that the bank will chase your friend for the payment. Also if he is unable to pay, bank may pursue a legal course against your friend for recovering the loan amount.

Well here is the shocker!! The bank can actually issue a legal notice to you as a loan guarantor along with chasing your friend for recovery. Supreme Court indicates:

"The legal position is clear that liability of the guarantor and principal debtor are co-extensive and not in alternative," said a Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and H L Dattu bursting the myth that the principal debtor had the primary liability to pay up a defaulted loan.

In plain language, the bank (or who-ever lends the money) has full right to pursue both the primary debtor (who took the loan) as well as the guarantor at the same time.

            Liability of guarantor is exactly same as that of person taking the loan.

It is important to note that a guarantor involved in a defaulting case would have a negative impact on guarantor's credit history as well. Also once a default has happened, there is very little a guarantor can do except to talk to lender and borrower and try to make a settlement.

So be very careful when providing a guarantee, since being a guarantor is akin to taking the loan yourself without getting the money.

Nomination and weird rules

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I am regular reader of JagoInvestor and recently came across this awesome post on nomination by Manish. I thought, I was well versed by the nomination rules and understood the concept about the difference between nominee and legal heirs. Well, to my surprise, I did find some shockers and it left me amazed by the absurdity of the old rules which probably needs some change.

I would suggest you go through the entire post, but here are the two shockers that hit me:

1) Nomination in Shares: In the basic sense, a nominee is just entitled to receive the money disbursed by the company and is responsible for distributing it to the legal heirs. But in case of shares, the nominee is the one who is the owner of the shares unless you have left a will. Here is what Manish writes

It means that if you have not written a will, anyone who has been nominated by you for your shares will be the ultimate owner of those stocks, The succession laws on inheritance will not be applicable but in case, you have made a will, that will be the source of truth.

2)  Nomination in PPF: I am just quoting Manish verbatim:

Let me give you some shock first. If you have Rs 10 lakh in your public provident fund (PPF) account and you have not nominated anyone for your PPF account, your legal heirs will get maximum of Rs1 lakh only! Yes, it’s so important to have a nominee, now you get it . You can nominate one or more persons as nominee in PPF. Form F can be used to change or cancel a nomination for PPF. Also note that you cannot nominate anyone if you open an account for a minor.

This is a real shocker, since in both cases, it becomes absolutely mandatory to have nominee assigned as well as a death-will clearly mentioning whom you want the money to go after your death. The conclusion is that you have be absolutely careful while filling nomination forms and you should plan for leaving a will. Thank you Manish for the wonderful post.

UPDATE: One of the interesting aspect about, not having a nomination for the saving account and when you try to claim that money as a legal heir, is that the banks fix a threshold limit of the money lying in the saving account, within which bank only expect a letter of indemnity for any claim. But if the money lying in the saving account is more than the threshold limit, then banks needs multiple documents (Letter of Indemnity from all claimants, Claim Form signed by all claimants etc), and it will try to make enquiries that there are no other claimants to the money lying in the saving account. Another thing which banks needs in this case is “Surety”. A surety is a guarantee to assume responsibility arising out of any future claimant for the money in the saving account.

The threshold limit can vary from bank to bank (for e.g. State Bank of Mysore has a threshold limit of Rs 50K[PDF]). So say if you want access to the money in saving account of your deceased parents in State Bank of Mysore, if the balance is < Rs 50K  you just need to furnish letter of indemnity, but if the balance is more than that (say 2 Lakh), apart from multiple documents that you need to submit, you may have to submit a surety of amount much larger than the balance (may be  say Rs 5Lakh) depending on the bank.

Future of Credit Cards

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Remember Aamir Khan in Ghajini giving credit card to the chaat-wala? Well, the credit cards have almost become ubiquitous at-least in the urban India and I think it wont be long before it would engulf the far-reaching rural areas including the chaat-walas. Although I do hate credit card, but there is no doubt that this is going to be the default mode of payment in future.

The credit card companies make a load-full of money sometimes not by ethical means but they are also spending a lot of money in the future technology of credit card which may be more secure and more useful for the end consumer. So what’s the future of credit card? Here are some glimpses:

1) Multi Account Credit Card

image The Multi Account Credit Card has two buttons on its face each with an indicator light. So you can essentially have two accounts in the same card. You can also have a credit and a debit card rolled into one. The card contains a lithium-polymer battery inside can last four years under high usage. They're also fully waterproof,


2) The Hidden Credit Card

This card does not display all the digits of your account number and some digits are hidden. This credit card has a keypad and black-and-white display for six of the digits in the card's unique number. Once the correct PIN is entered on the card's four buttons, the missing digits are filled in and the card's magnetic strip is populated with data. Both the digits and the strip become blank again after a short time. If the card is lost, no-one can use it.

3) Contact Less Credit Card

These are essentially chip-cards that works on the RFID mechanism. The idea is that you do not need to swipe and you can just wave the card in front of a special RFID scanner who can charge your card quickly. The RFID chip can transmit a lot more information without having to dial in to a network. American Express says its ExpressPay transactions are 63 percent faster than using cash. I guess, if this technology works out, then the chip may be implanted in other devices like watches or cell phones (already available e.g. Nokia 6131 NFC) and who knows may be in the human body itself.

4) Citibank’s 2G Cards

The Citibank 2G cards are special cards that allow users press the request-rewards button before swiping the card for paying with their card points. The action of pressing the buttons changes the data imprinted on the magnetic stripe.

Check out the video for the demo of some of these cards

There are definitely lot of issues with the new technology that should be sorted before these become the de-facto credit cards. The key point for getting these technologically advanced cards relies in the adoption strategy by the millions of vendors who have already spent money for the infrastructure of today’s simple credit card. So they definitely would need some incentive to switch to advanced technology. Also the security is going to be utmost significance especially for contact less credit cards. I hope we see these soon in India, since I expect that these advance cards will bring more security to the end consumer.

Infrastructure bonds not really tax-free

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In my office there was a lot of hype over investment in the IDFC Infrastructure bonds which were recently issued. These were considered as a great investment vehicle by most of the websites/media channels, goading the retail public to take part in the issue.

I felt that the biggest mis-information regarding these infrastructure bonds is the notion of it being tax-free. Also the problem is compounded by the introduction of section 80CCF in the IT Act by the government which allowed additional window of tax deduction of investments upto Rs 20,000.

But as I mentioned earlier that there are lot of caveats to investing in these infrastructure bonds.  The biggest confusion most retail investors have is that the bonds are tax-free, but they are not. The interest received from these bonds are actually taxable and it has been mentioned in the prospectus of the IDFC Infrastructure bond[PDF] as well (check page 29). The current IT Act does not exempt the interest earned through these infrastructure bonds although the tax at source (TDS) is NOT deducted. 

The 20,000 Rs additional tax deduction window is too small for any significant benefit. So if you fall in the highest bracket you save at the most Rs 6K a year. The interest earned by you at the rate of 7.5% to 8% will get lower after you include the interest in your taxable income and pay tax on it.

Also most investor think that investment in these bonds is as secure as a fixed deposit, but in-fact these are not as secure. The investors should visit the Risk Factors (Page 46) in the PDF to become aware of the risk in these investments.

I suggested in my earlier post to wait before investment and now I would suggest to invest only if you want to diversify your portfolio to include these bonds, otherwise I would suggest an equivalent investment in mutual funds (higher risk appetite) or in gold (higher gains with lower risks) since these avenues are much better than infrastructure bonds in the current form.

UPDATE: The tax-free bonds typically signify that the investment amount can be used against tax reduction, but I feel that it creates a confusion and should only be applied to EEE type of investments.

NOTE: Dhirendra Kumar, Value Research have similar thoughts.

why I don’t like IPO investment ?

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COAL India, a navratna company is set to launch its Initial Public Offering (IPO) tomorrow. The Government has fixed the Coal India Ltd initial public offer (IPO) price between Rs 225 and Rs 245 a share. At this price band, government expects to mop up between Rs 14,211 crore and Rs 15,475 crore from the issue that will open for subscription on October 18.

In last few months, I have seen IPO advertisements for so many companies(Coal India, Eros International, Career Point, Prestige Builders, Cantabil Retail, Jaypee Infratech etc just to name a few), that it looks like an IPO surge has hit the Indian Stock Markets.

The basic reason why such an IPO deluge is coming in the Sep-Oct month this year, is the bullish secondary market. The stock market is typically driven by sentiments which are currently extremely positive due to the large influx of FII money being pumped into Indian Stock Market.  And this is the reason I hate IPO investments.

The IPO route is great for the promoters who can mop a good amount of cash riding on the bullish stock market and most investors look at it as a mechanism to make quick bucks.

The problem is the IPO hype created by companies and underwriters (who are essentially salesman for the IPO) by creating a huge amount of excitement and pro-claiming it as a once in a life-time opportunity. The side-effect of this over-hype is that retail investors jump-in the IPO bandwagon regardless of fundamentals of the company. And this is the reason I consider it as an extremely risky way to invest my hard-earned money. 
The price of an IPO is something you can not control while buying and the promoters/underwriters would like to have the IPO price as high as possible. One of the glaring example is the Reliance Power IPO, where most retail investors have lost money.

So I have decided not to put my money into any IPO, but that is just my opinion. If someone does due diligence before investing in IPO, then it may be a good bargain.

So what should be looked at in the IPO before investing? Here are some basic points:

1) Promoter Background: Check the promoter credibility, previous ventures and if any legal cases pending on the promoter.
 2) Historical Performance:  The same due diligence is required to buy IPO as you would look for stocks in secondary markets. Check at least the last five year performance. 
3) Valuation: Check out the industry peers valuation along with the company’s valuation. 
4) Purpose of IPO: Check the reasons for the promoters to look for more money through IPO route. 
5) Risk Factors: Check various analyst reports, IPO prospectus and other ways to identify the risks involved.

If you have done your research and are confident about the IPO, go ahead and best luck for making good money!!

Investment technique - Ladder strategy

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My father advised me to stay away from risky investments like stocks and to make Fixed Deposits as sole investment way. But times have changed and stocks/mutual funds are the ‘in’ thing, but Fixed Deposits still remains one of the most important mechanism to lock your money.

Fixed Deposit provides you a method to lock you money for a specific period ensuring a fixed interest rate. The problem with FD is that your money is locked for the specific period and if you break it between tenure, banks impose a heavy penalty. Also a shorter term FD gets you lower interest than a higher tenure FD. I just took a look at the HDFC bank website for interest rates and realized that 1-2 years FD interest rate is very close to interest rates for 5 years or more FD, while significantly less interest rate for tenures less than a year.

This leads to a dilemma of choosing between liquidity and higher interest rates, when investing in Fixed Deposits.

FD laddering comes to rescue. The concept is very similar to rupee-cost averaging.  The idea is to stagger the FD maturity over a period to get higher interest rates as well as access to partial amount of your investment at regular intervals.

Let me explain using a simple example. Consider an example that you plan to have around Rs 50,000 over 5 years of period say for your children’s education or down-payment of your house. But you may also fear that locking such amount for longer duration may not be prudent due to emergency needs. So instead of saving the money in 5 years fixed deposits, the strategy should be :

 Invest 10,000 Rs in FD with tenure 1 Year
Invest 10,000 Rs in FD with tenure 2 Year
Invest 10,000 Rs in FD with tenure 3 Year
Invest 10,000 Rs in FD with tenure 4 Year
Invest 10,000 Rs in FD with tenure 5 Year

So essentially you staggered the investment across 5 years in different tenure. The advantage is that you get higher returns but also access to partial amount of your money at regular interval.

As the FD matures, you may decide to roll-over the FD into next 5 year FD.

In essence the advantages of laddering are

1) Lower holding period risk
2) Reduce interest rate fluctuations
3) Creates Liquidity
4) Provides regular income
5) Avoid pre-mature withdrawal penalty 

Why you should NOT buy gold coins?

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[Picture courtesy Nii Noi]

Gold prices are hitting the roof as indicated by the current prices of INR 1909.71 per gram. The www.goldprice.org indicates the movement of the gold.


This may be a decade of increasing gold prices and an amazing CAGR of ~17%. The website accurately describes gold as

Gold has been called a "barometer of fear." When people are anxious about the economy - they turn to gold and bid the price up. Gold has the remarkable ability to store value in both deflationary and inflationary times.

In India, most people invest in gold through jewellery since that has been a traditional and safe method perceived by many households. But in recent times there have been many different means through which you can buy the gold, like gold coins, gold bars, gold ETFs, stocks of gold mining companies etc. As a consumer buying physical gold either in the form of jewellery or in the form of coins/bars is still prevalent over the EFT/Stock route, especially given the household trust over the local jewellers.

I have realized over the period is that buying gold coins is not a profitable proposition compared to buying jewellery or investing in ETFs. The most common mechanism to buy gold coins is either through local jeweller, but apart from that a lot of Indian banks sell gold coins. The Indian post office also sells gold coins and some of the nationwide sellers like Tanishq too sells gold coins.

The problem in buying gold coins are manifold, especially not in terms of buying process but if we look from an investment perspective.

  • Buying gold coins from non-reputed jewellers often pose the problem of gold purity. Typically in India you get 24 as well as 22 Carat Gold coins.

  • Buying gold coins from reputed banks and post-office incur a premium over the price you may get from local jeweller. The premium reduces your overall investment gain.

  • The biggest issue with gold coins is that banks/post-office does not buy back the gold coins and you have to sell it to local jeweller if you wish to en-cash it. The local jeweller will happily buy back your gold coin but with a significant reduction in selling price and sometimes also incurring a “melting” charges which could be totally random depending on jeweller. I have given 1.5-2% as melting charges.

  • Another issue is that if you buy gold coins at one local jeweller and try to sell at another (think of re-location) you again will get significantly lower charges. The local jeweller is willing to buy their own gold coins at current selling rate, but impose some or the other charge when the same purity coin is from other jeweller.

  • I have also faced the issue that most local jeweller will agree to exchange of gold coins if you are buying some jewellery from their shops, thereby deducting the coin value, but if you want cash, they simply refuse it. Also if some jeweller is willing to pay back in cash, there you have to accept a lower selling price compared to current market price.

  • It is also important to be aware of many cheats (including reputed jewellers) who can con you without you even knowing it. Here is a technique, some jeweller provide you with a nice packing of the gold coin (of the size of credit card), mentioning all the relevant details on the packaging. Since you would trust the jeweller and also since you are in a hurry (especially during festival seasons) you would not ask him to remove the gold coin from the packing and weigh it. I had the experience that when I wanted to sell it the jeweller opened the packaging and found it less in weight than what is mentioned.

  • So if you are looking for investment in gold, I recommend either buying a jeweller (some of the big jewellers are now coming up with no making charges) or to invest in Gold ETF, which are hassle free and more liquid compared to gold coins.

PRAJ Industries – Long Term Analysis

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PRAJ Industries Ltd. - Innovative solutions, Bio-ethanol, Bioethanol plants, Biodiesel plants, Alcohol plants, Distillery plants, Fermentation plants, Distillation column, Molsieve plants, Fuel Ethanol, Bionutrients, Brewery plants, Bioprocesses, Engineering, Customized Engineering, Customized Manufacturing, Zero-pollution system, Vinasse Treatment, Effluent Treatment

Q1. What is the business of PRAJ Industries?

PRAJ Industries provides plants and equipments to the alcohol/fuel ethanol manufacturers, bio-diesel, brewery manufacturers. It also provides Industrial water and waste water treatment solutions. Apart from this, PRAJ provides bio-nutrients for e.g. Fermentation Performance Enhancers to boost ethanol production. Also, it provides Agro Energy consultation.

Q2. Does PRAJ Industries has identifiable durable competitive advantage?

PRAJ Industries addresses the need of the entire value chain for alcohol, ethanol and beer production. The company focuses on clean energy solutions, which has great future potential since the entire world is favouring the alternate energy security. The technical expertise and knowledge gained by PRAJ over the last 25 years along with significant investment in R&D will provide the necessary moat for the company. Also government policies all over world are favourable to the PRAJ business.

Q3. Does the company have high demand growth? Will it obsolete in next 20 years?

The alternate energy resources are being sought after by the entire world especially bio-fuels & ethanol based energy resources. The demand for energy is every rising and the traditional sources of fossil fuels are feared to be depleting very fast. PRAJ Industries get 50% revenues from domestic and remaining from world markets. Apart from the existing products, if PRAJ is successful in producing ethanol from non-food materials, that would make it a significant player in alternate energy resources. Hence from a product perspective the company should not only be existing but rising rapidly in the next two decades.

Q4. Does the company allocate capital exclusively in the realm of its expertise?

If we look at the milestones achieved by PRAJ Industries since its inception, it has judiciously utilized to acquire companies related to its business and to forge partnerships to gain market leadership in various countries. This is a good observation in terms of management focus on the primary business of the company.

Q5. What does the quantitative analysis of the company indicates?

Net Sales have been growing at more than 22% for the past 10 years except in last two years. The last two years were tough due to global recession and the issue existed with entire industry. The CAGR growth of Net Sales over past ten years has been more than 30%. It is a positive trend.

Earnings per Share have been positively growing within acceptable limits. Although last two years have been terrible with negative growth rate for EPS. The CAGR growth of EPS over past ten years has been closer to 50%. I am bit dis-appointed by this strange volatility. It is a negative trend but not alarming.

Return on Invested Capital have extremely positive trend with year on year growth of 15% or more. It is a positive trend.

Profit After Tax has good positive trend over the last ten years. It is a positive trend.

Debt/Net Profit Ratio has been almost NIL. It is extremely positive trend.

Dividends payouts have not been very exceptional, but they have been regular and consistent. This indicates the management willingness to share the profits but ploughing back the majority of earnings back into business. It is extremely positive trend for long term value.

My Fair Value Calculation has been :


Q6. What are the current or potential risks for the company?

Risks for the company involves the following:

  • The bio-fuel/ethanol business is mostly controlled by government in many countries and government laws may become hindrance.

  • Research into newer and viable technology to produce ethanol from non-food materials is an essential requirement. This Forbes article indicates the challenges ahead for PRAJ Industries although the article is very pessimistic about success of PRAJ Industries.

  • Competing with other companies in global arena will not be easy without significant research breakthrough.

Summary: I feel that PRAJ Industry is a good investment for next 2-3 years, but it needs to be seen whether PRAJ Industries can provide significant breakthrough in the research in these coming years. This will decide the fate of the company. The current stock is under-valued. The management has been prudent and focussed entirely on the primary business of the company. The management is capable and focussed towards optimal capital usage with organic growth. The business diversifications are also based on the current expertise of the company.

Disclosure: I have small position in PRAJ Industries at the time of writing.

Standard Disclaimer: The information contained herein is based on my analysis and up on sources that I consider reliable. I, however, do not vouch for the accuracy or the completeness thereof. This material is for personal information and I am not responsible for any loss incurred based upon it.

How to start investing in stocks?

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Starting investments in stocks is not easy, especially with recent market crash, it would seem more like gambling than investment. It is well known that the greatest stock market myth is that stock investing is a form of gambling.

This can not be more untrue.

Photo courtsety J Kelley

If you want to start investing in stock market, there is a great trepidation, because it looks extremely complex. There are so many terminologies like P/E ratio, dividend yield, bull and bear market etc which imply lots of learning new things. But still you want to start quickly, because everyone seems to be making good money from stock market, except you. You do not want to be left behind right!!

So how do you start? The first thing to ensure is that you have the temperament (essentially patience and hard-work) for direct stock investing, since not everyone is cut out for it and if your are not made for it, then it is not necessarily a bad thing. You can invest in other avenues like mutual fund which can give you exposure to stock investment.

Okay, so you still want to directly invest in stocks! Great, so let us get started step-by-step on how to start investing in stock market.

Trader Vs Investor

I discussed about this in my earlier post comparing with the analogy of trader, with housing agents and investor, with end-user of a house. In short,

Trader: A trader will buy stock and sell it within a very short time to make quick profit. A day-trader tries to do this with-in a single day, while a swing trader tries to do it across several days predicting the “swing” of the stock market.

Investor: On the other hand an investor puts his money for buying a business rather than looking for short term profits. The short term for a investor typically ranges from 2-3 years with an eye on 5-10 years of investment. As Value investment guru, Warren Buffet says

Our favourite holding period is forever.

I assume that you chose to be an investor rather than a trader. So how to start investing in a stock for long term investment?

The first key principle to keep in mind is that you should equate investing in stocks to buying a house property. The stock investments need similar amount of hard work and patience that you would do for buying that near perfect house in a near perfect locality at a reasonable price with a reasonable expected growth of the price of the house. So when you invest in stocks, it takes hard-work and patience to find a near perfect stock at a reasonable discounted price with a reasonable expected growth of the price of the stock.

Step-by-Step guide to start investing in stock market

Step 1: Get yourself a demat account. The simplest way is to call up your bank, who would surely help you in getting you a demat account. You can also visit your bank website to get details. For example, ICICI bank provides the demat services.

Some more details:

Demat account can be thought of similar to your saving bank account but instead you can keep your stock shares into the demat account. There are only two depositories in India (NSDL and CDSL), but to make it easy for you, they have many depository participants (similar to bank branches) across India. Also most probably your bank will be one of them and hence visiting your bank is the simplest way to open a demat account.

With a saving bank account, you take the pain of deposit/withdrawal of your money, but with demat account you need a broker (who is member of the stock exchange) who can buy/sell shares on your behalf. Almost all banks who offer demat services would have mechanism of assigning brokers (most would open a brokerage account as well). When you visit a bank for demat account, they will by default also open a brokerage account for you with the bank so that you can buy/sell the stocks. Keep in mind that brokerage services are not free and every broker will charge you some amount for brokerage.

There are hundreds of companies/banks offering demat/brokerage services, and it is very difficult to choose the best. The choice is typically based on brokerage fees and how frequently you intend to transact in stocks. If you search Google, you will find lot of people comparing brokers in India, for example, check this link for one such site.

My recommendation: As a long term investor, the actual brokerage charges can be recovered over a period of time and hence you should choose your bank (where you have saving account) for the demat account, since they can link your bank account, demat account and brokerage account all in one. Once you learn more, you can change your broker.

Step 2: It is important that you find yourself a mentor, be it a friend, relative or even an online blogger whom you have read consistently for a long period. Tipguy is one such person. A mentor typically is a great resource who can act as a springboard for you to enter the chaotic world of investing.

Step 3: Learn through the help/demo, about placing orders from your stock broker. It is important to learn the various terminologies used while buying stocks before you start your investment journey. As an example, the long term investor is looking for “delivery based” option, which imply that the shares needs to be delivered to the demat account. Also whether you want to place a “market” order (implying using whatever market price of the stock at buying time) or a “limit” order (transaction happens only if the market price satisfies the given limit). Here is how ICICI order page looks like:image

It will take some time to understand these various terminologies and you have to be patient and get help from your mentor to learn these things.

Step 4: Now that you are all set to start your journey, you need to find the right stock to buy. This step is the biggest step since it involves:

  • Understanding your goals of investment
  • Understanding and accepting the risks involved and potential gain
  • Learning to short-list the types of business you want to invest
  • Learning to analyze the business to find potential winners as per your goals and risk profile
  • Putting your money into the near perfect business stock
  • Reviewing and re-analyzing your investment over a period of time.

The problem in executing Step 4 is at multiple levels including the chaotic environment created by millions of stock related websites, newspapers, magazines and the media channels. Some tips to execute Step 4 are listed below:

  • Read, Read and Read the excellent investment books. For e.g. The Little Book (Rs 189 only), The Dhando Investor, The Intelligent Investor (Rs 509), The New Buffetology. Also read excellent blogs like Tipguy, Jago Investor, SubraMoney, Value Investor, InvestingValues.

  • Learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. Learn to skip the various emotions generated by the media related to market crashes, specific company issues etc. It is important to be aware of the latest happenings but also important to not get carried away by it.

  • For at-least two years, invest only that much amount which you are willing to loose entirely. Think of this money as a course fee you are giving for learning stock investing.

  • Invest only in minor amount, never with big amount in single shot. Although most value investor talk about “big bets in small number of stocks”, to begin with you should invest “small bets in small number of stocks”. I recommend not investing more than Rs 10K for the first two years and not more than 4 stocks. In the meantime you should read, read more and understand and review your investments.

  • As Warren Buffet says “Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing”, so keep in mind, not to invest in more than 4-5 stocks while you are still learning and as your confidence and understanding grows you can devise your own mechanism of investing and you may remove this restriction.

  • Also learn not only to buy, but when to sell as well.

  • Keep in mind that similar to buying a house, there is no need to time the market for buying stocks. It entirely depends on available cash with you, the goal you have in mind, your risk profile and available stock at appropriate price that you are willing to pay.

  • Stock buying is a very subjective matter and depends on the requirements of the person buying, so never put your money just because someone else has done. It is much better to donate the money to a charity than buying stocks based on hot tips.

Failed to file Income Tax by the deadline, so what!

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Income Tax by Jeremy Brooks.These are taxing times, especially since the Income Tax filing deadline is so near. In case you don’t know the IT-return filing date has been extended till 4th Aug 2010. So there is still hope that if you could not file the Income Tax return by 31st July, you have few more days to go.

It is said that “There are only two things in life which are inevitable : Death and Income Tax”. If death comes calling there is no escape, but fortunately there is some breather if you fail to file your income tax by the deadline.

Picture courtsey Jeremy Brooks

So what really happens if you fail to file the IT-return by the due date (4th Aug this year)? So IT sleuths are not coming to your house, nor you will be put in the jail or be asked to pay heavy penalty. Actually, nothing significant happens if you fail to meet the deadline, so do not panic at all.

When it comes to filing your Income Tax returns, the tax laws are not so stringent. Let’s first understand the terminology:

Income Year: The year in which you earn income. This year’s income you are liable for tax.

Assessment Year: The year in which you need to file the return or assess your income. The assessment year is next year of the Income Year.

Case 1: No Net Taxable Payable

Net Taxable Payable is any tax after the TDS/Advance Tax paid. In such case, there is no penalty for filing tax return till the end of assessment year.

For example: Income Year: 2009-2010 Assessment Year: 2010-2011. So if you fail to file IT return by 31st July 2010, you can still file it by 31st March 2011 without any penalty. Anytime, after that you need to pay a penalty of Rs 5000

Case 2: You have some Net Taxable Payable

If you have some Net Taxable Payable, the only difference with case 1 is to pay an additional 1% per month penalty on the Net Taxable Payable.

For example: Income Year: 2009-2010 Assessment Year: 2010-2011 Net Taxable Payable = Rs 1000. So if you fail to file IT return by 31st July 2010, you can still file it by 31st March 2011 with penalty of 1% per month on Rs 1000. Anytime, after that you need to pay a penalty of Rs 5000 + 1% per month on Rs 1000

In case you have any losses to carry forward, you can not if you do not file your IT return on the due date. The only exception is the losses due to “Income from house property”, which can be carry forward irrespective of whether you filed your return on due date or not.

It is known that IT department has started some random check on taxpayers (computer randomly selecting a taxpayer). The IT department can ask the taxpayer for proof of various income through investment, fixed deposits, stocks etc.

Consequences of not declaring miniscule income

So what happens if you “forget” to declare those small miniscule income like Fixed Deposit Interest or Bank Interest? For e.g. you accumulated an interest through FD/Saving account interest and fail to declare it to the IT department, with Rs 1000 as tax payable pending. In that case:

1) You are liable to pay a penalty of Rs 1000 – Rs 3000 (100% – 300%) of the tax not declared.

2) The interest on Rs 1000 @ 1.5% per month simple interest from the due date of tax filing to the date it is discovered that you missed declaring the income tax

3) If by adding this undisclosed income, you change the tax bracket (e.g. if your declared income falls on the border of 20% bracket and when adding this new undisclosed income you fall in 30% bracket), then additional penalty is applicable.

The interesting aspect is that most people file through CAs or Online tax websites or tax consultants. But when the above case happens with you, then you can not blame any of these agents. You and only you are entirely liable for such missing from IT return.

So don’t consider IT return filing as just another formality, take extra care to ensure it is error free.

Value Investing!! What's the secret?

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The term “Value Investing” has been used and abused to such an extent that it confuses a lot of people. I have realized that “Investing” itself bring so many emotions and thoughts varying from gambling to luck to fear of losses and greed to earn quick money.

The amount of money involved is directly proportional to the seriousness of your emotion. The core principle of “Value Investing” requires emotion-less behaviour from an investor. But with so much of chaos surrounding us and TV/newspaper screaming at an extreme pitch about the “sensex” that emotions are bound to arise. If you ponder a little bit, you will realize the similarity of emotions generated by sex and sensex, the UPs and DOWNs, the fear and greed are similar, along with bringing similar sensational news in the media.

I have understood that most people who invest in stocks and looking for quick bucks rather than sustained growth over a long long period. This single biggest greed makes the stock investment risky and volatile despite the millions of theories and re-search in understanding the stock phenomenon. It needs to be repeated in our mind that “nothing in this world is free” and applies to stock investments as well.

It is important to distinguish between “investing” and “trading”, since although both involve buying/selling company stocks, but the key difference is your intention of getting involved. I would rather think of it as a difference between “buying a house for living” Vs “brokering a housing deal”. In both the aspects you would investigate a house property, buy/sell it but the intention is different. When you brokerage a housing deal, your intention lies in pocketing the brokerage amount rather than finding an ideal place to live for your customer. This is exactly similar to “stock trading”, where you are not interested in whether the company is worth investing based on it’s potential as a “lambi race ka ghoda” (long term value). As a trader you would not even care whether the company would exist even after a month. As a housing broker, would you care if the house you sell gets destroyed after one month of your deal? Surely not, with the brokerage you earned, you would be using that money to do more such sweet deals. Same with stock traders.

So what about stock investment? You would agree “buying a house for living” is a different ballgame than just being a broker. When you think of buying a house, you would spend so much time visiting the builders, visiting the sites, reading reviews, acquiring knowledge about buying (what is super built up area, how much is stamp duty etc etc). When you want to buy such a house, you would really care about the quality of the house, how much appreciation it will provide in long long time (not few months/1-2 years) and you would certainly wont invest if you get to know that the building will not exist after 10 years.

How many housing brokers you know compared to people who bought their own houses? The ratio will definitely be skewed towards people who own their houses. So it is for sure that handling a brokerage business is not everyone’s cup of tea, but this same principle people forgets when investing in stocks.

It is extremely hard to understand that the very same people who will spend so much of energy and time in buying a house for living into it, do not spend even half of that time in thinking of investments in stocks. They would rarely hesitate to put their hard-earned money into that “hot-tip” they received from friend or a magazine.

The simple reason for such behaviour is that most people do not think of stock investments as “investment for life” which they think about house investment.

The similarity between buying a house and stock investment is hard to ignore since have you seen people investing in 10 or 20 houses in a single shot, but they would not hesitate to invest in more than 20 stocks at one time.

The biggest point to keep in mind when investing in stocks is to think of “buying a business'” (similar to buying a house) and to think of stocks as an “asset building” activity (similar to buying a house) rather than a mechanism to make quick bucks. It is a myth to think that any retail investor can earn astronomical returns in a short period of time. So instead of wasting time/energy in pursuing those hot tips, read-read and understand the stock market and the philosophy you want to pursue to get decent returns. Warren Buffet has said this ”Read everything you can. Read, and then on small scale do some of it yourself.

If you want to be a value investor, stop watching CNBC/Bloomberg on a daily basis.