How to buy multi bagger stocks? Rakesh Jhunjhunwala & Others Guidelines To You

For any investor, buying stocks which can be multibaggers are the most attractive option. Raamdeo Agrawal, Director, Motilal Oswal Financial Services owned over 10 multibagger stocks, while Sanjoy Bhattacharyya, Partner, Fortuna Capital owned over 100 baggers. And we all know about the success story of Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, legendary investor in Indian stock market.

But how does one identify a multibagger? Valuation, a company's fundamentals, a business that promises growth over time, management's integrity, rational allocation of capital etc decide if a stock is of the multibagger variety.

Explains Raamdeo Agrawal, "If you want a multi bagger, it has to be bought literally free of cost...the purchase price is insignificant to whatever is the expected value in the next 4-5-6 years." There is also another plot to this story--the market. Agrawal says a multibagger gets irrational quote from the market in three steps. It goes from being undervalued to fairly valued to being irrationally valued.

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Partner, Rare Enterprises, advice is that one needs to check what opportunity the business has, who are the entrepreneurs, how much capital is needed, is the business scalable, and what is the company’s valuation.

Here is a verbatim transcript of the exclusive interview with Raamdeo Agrawal and Rakesh Jhunjhunwala on CNBC-TV18. Also see the accompanying video.

Q: You had more than 10 multi-bagger stocks, what are the characteristics? How does one find 10 multi-bagger stocks? How does one start the process of thinking that the stock is going to be a 10 bagger?

Agrawal: You don’t pay anything to have multi-baggers. If you want a multi-bagger literally you have to buy free of cost, your purchase price decides your rate of return. That is a simple method.

Jhunjhunwala: That doesn’t mean that if Infosys has Rs 30 crore market capitalization, then at Rs 90 crore I should not buy it. We don’t buy it just because it has doubled. You have to see value when you buy.

Agrawal: The first fundamental thing is that you have got to buy extremely cheap and it is non-negotiable. If you want a multi bagger, it has to be bought literally free of cost. Like I could have bought Bharti Telecom around Rs 4,000-5,000 kind of valuation, today it commands a valuation of Rs 1,50,000 crore in just five years. So, when you buy these kind of things at those prices literally, the purchase price is insignificant to whatever is the expected value in the next 4-5-6 years. That is a non-negotiable kind of a trade for finding a multi bagger. Now, the market must become irrational about that stock. So, from under valuation it goes to a fair valuation and from fair valuation it goes to irrational valuation.

Q: You are too modest to say this but I know you have had 700 baggers. Where have you looked for your 100 baggers, give us intellectual hypothesis?

Bhattacharyya: Between being smart and being lucky, I know it will hurt your ego like hell because all you guys are IIM-A always ought to be lucky not smart. It seems that there are two things, which are very important. Agrawal spoke the need to buy cheap, so valuation is very much in your favour.

But two other things you must buy a business, which is of very high quality. What do I mean by high quality business is that a business which is capable of growing over time. I think in the modern lingua franca it is called scalable. I hate words like that. But I think that is what they teach you here, so scalable and the scalability doesn’t require linear inputs of capital.

In a really high quality business, which is disproportionate and where you don’t need to have equal amounts of money to finance incremental growth, that is a wonderful business. The cigarette business, the biscuit business are also highly predictable. What destroys most people is their inability to foresee change. Most of us are not as smart as we think and change can be very rapid and very destructive. So, you have got to be able to figure out change.

Unless you are Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, you are usually a minority holder.

Then, it is very important to understand, what is the agenda and the interest of the majority holder or management usually. If it’s a private equity firm which has the majority stake in the company, what is their agenda? What do they want and how well do they allocate capital? You can never have a multi-bagger if capital is irrationally allocated by the people who run the company. If they have this wild ambition that I am going to spend and earn lots of money, but I will spend even more in terms of capital expenditure and financing growth, you will have very high reported profit but zero cash flow or negative cash flow. You can never get a multi-bagger out of that situation. But you have obviously got to search for a management which has competence and then make sure that you sort of super-impose a huge dose of integrity on that and rational capital allocation. The minute that is missing you will be at risk. Your 10 baggers could reduce back to being a 2 baggers because you could wipe out 80% of your gains.

Q: Are Titan, Praj, Nagarjuna some of the great multi-baggers?

Jhunjhunwala: Titan was a retailer, it was a brand company, it always had a great business. That was a reality. So, it was a great business. In a moment of crisis and when they went into Europe, they lost money. That was a crisis primarily. To my mind what is most important for Titan is India’s prosperity. I envisaged the future and I thought Indians are going to buy far many watches, so that is how he said that the business should be great. So, in a moment of crisis you get great valuations and you envisage the future where the product could have great demand and great growth and that business doesn’t need money.

In MBA language, price is equal to EPS multiplies by P/E, so circumstance should arise where the P/E should grow and the EPS should grow. Suppose I buy a stock, which earns Rs 5. At 5 P/E and I pay Rs 25, if the earnings becomes Rs 15 and the P/E becomes Rs 20, that Rs 25 goes to Rs 300. So, the basic methodology is that can this EPS grow year-upon-year and will the P/E expand. P/E expansion is function of so many items. It is a function of size. So, many of my companies I don’t sell because I feel that P/E will expand, as their size increases and liquidity increases.

Q: Your favourite multi-bagger in your career?

Agrawal: Vysya Bank that was a very first one, second one was Hero Honda, and third one was Bharti.

Q: What has been your multi-bagger historically?

Jhunjhunwala: For me anything that gives me money is my favourite one. There is no emotion. But I think as I judge myself some of the finest investment decisions which I have taken in my life is the decision to invest in Titan, decision to invest in Crisil, decision to invest and retain my holding of Karur Vysya Bank. Now, it is14-15 years since I have bought them. But I think some investment of Rs 2,000 is worth sum I don’t know how many crores today.

Bhattacharyya: The important thing is to identifying the opportunity and then as Jhunjhunwala said is acting on it, being decisive, not getting stuck in a trap where you are perpetually seeking extra information. If you are looking to identify great opportunities, one other thing that all of you will do well is to make friends or associates with people who are called in the language of Dalal Street smart money. You have three of the smartest guys sitting here. But to say this if you have guys, who are really smart serious, thinking investors, one of the ways you will find 100 baggers is by talking to them frequently. I am not joking.

Jhunjhunwala: One important trade of any 10 bagger is there should not be any institutional ownership, it should be under research, nobody should know about it. Today also I was asking Mr. Bhattacharyya that have you researched Titan. Even if the stock have gone up 30 times, Mr. Bhattacharyya has not researched it, which is very good for Titan. I have not researched Bharti, which is very good for Bharti. The stock has appreciated so much but the amount of interest remains in the stock remains at low level. So, it should not be one of the popular not by rule but generally it is not a popular stocks and there should be deep scepticism.

Bhattacharyya: In fact one of the good test to follow is go and tell it to someone else who has experience and has been around in the market for a long time. He will laugh at you. The fact that he is laughing at you should be like a tremendous source of encouragement.

Jhunjhunwala: There are no rules. If two agree, it doesn’t mean that you don’t buy.

Agrawal: What Mr. Bhattacharyya said is a truest thing, when I like something very deeply and when he disagrees ‑ because he is my friend, I go and test with him – and when he disagrees that is going to be a multi bagger.

Q: When you look at buying stake in a company, what is the most important factor or criteria that you look at?

Jhunjhunwala: I cannot say whether the leg or head is more important or the brain is more important or the heart is more important. There are equally important factors, and any successful business is a combination of factors.

When I look at any investment or any business, I look at three-four factors. First, the external opportunity which is demand. For instance in Praj maybe because of the need of alternative fuels the demand for ethanol plants went through the roof. So, I look at the opportunity the business has.

Then I look at the entrepreneurs, I look at the capital needed, and I want to judge scalability. We could make money in Pantaloon because Kishore Biyani could scale the business. Then, it is important what you buy, it is important at what price you buy. So, I look at the valuation. I have no analysis paralysis. I judge very fast.

Q: Which are the sectors that one should invest in say for a period of one year given the current market level and fluctuations?

Bhattacharyya: My answer is not going to be a happy answer. First, you don’t buy a sector, you buy an individual company. Secondly, I don’t think one year is necessarily the ultimate timeframe because you have no idea 12 months later what the world will look like.

You are buying a business with specific players, a cast. You are buying the people who run that business; you are buying the assets and liabilities of that business, you are buying the balance sheet of the company. Within the same sector, different people have different opportunities.

So, if I were to say that the pharmaceutical sector is a great opportunity, there are different pharmaceutical companies. Say if you were buying Sun Pharma as opposed to buying Lupin, you are buying it at completely different valuations. Some sectors that are hot right now, I mean the whole world knows they are hot right now. So, the prices at which you are buying that sector reflect the hope and the enthusiasm that people have for that now.

But I don’t think that I understand anything other than what is called bottom-up. That means god lies in the details. There are specific opportunities or companies that I can tend to buy.

Agrawal: I would approach the financial sector, the large banks, which have large bond portfolios like SBI has Rs 2-2.5 lakh crore worth of bond portfolio, mark-to-market. When the yield drops you know what happens to bond prices and that goes directly to the P&L. In any case, you are buying that stock at 1-1.2 times book, insurance free thrown with the SBI stock. So, I would like to buy that for maybe 25-40% case for the next one year.

Secondly, I would say telecom. I think god communicates wirelessly. I think the telecom penetration in India is just about 25%. We are headed for 75% if not 100% in the next 5-6 years. We are going to see more than 10-15% compounded quarterly growth for the next 20-25 quarters in this country. Hence, we have a great opportunity in buying Bharti Telecom.

Q: Is there any sector you like?

Jhunjhunwala: I think that India-centric sectors will do well whether it is banking, retailing, infrastructure, all sectors that are related to India – SBI, Bharti, and Hero Honda.

Q: You were talking about recognising value in a stock. If you look at the power sector in India, there are some stocks like Tata Power and NTPC have significantly high ground assets, or whether some new companies like KSK Energy who have captive coal reserves. How do you compare these and what are the parameters that you use to identify value?

Jhunjhunwala: The first multi-bagger of my life was Tata Power. But after having earned a lot of money in Tata Power, I have promised myself I am not going to buy any power companies because after all it is a fixed return rate of return and the rate of return is 13-14%. It is a capital intensive industry. So god bless NTPC and KSK Energy. But that is not where my interest is, because I can’t think of any industry in the world where the rate of return as fixed, if it is going to give you multiple returns.

Bhattacharyya: In fact, I would like to endorse what Jhunjhunwala said. But I think of your question and I suspect it may be that how do you distinguish between companies that are asset plays, which don’t have at this stage earnings that you can identify with and see and therefore put a multiple to them as opposed to companies that have a stream of earnings.

Jhunjhunwala: But market will value them if within a comprehensible period those assets can return a stream of earnings. If I have a company whose office is worth Rs 5,000 crore, what can I do? I will wait for earnings for one, two, or five years. Nobody is going to buy that company because their office is there. Don’t forget all these coal reserves. You know what is the average value for oil reserves ‑ about USD 10-15 or maybe USD 20. You first have to say in what time period KSK Energy will get the coal reserves. If it gets it 15 years later and you bring it to present value, you come to 3% of the current market price. Then, you have value in the current coal prices. Are these prices going to last? So, therefore they may appear cheap.

Q: In the present market scenario both from an investors’ perspective and a speculators’ perspective, where would you put your money – in real estate, in fixed income, equities, or gold?

Agrawal: To tell you the truth, I don’t know any other trade. I know only stocks. So, I don’t have any other option but to buy stock.

Jhunjhunwala: We never allocate capital. We have money means it is for equities.

Agrawal: Just equities, not even cash and equities, only equities. So, when I wanted to play real estate, I bought hotel shares. I am not going to buy 100 acres here and there. I said let’s go and buy earning real estate, i.e. hotel shares.

Jhunjhunwala: I have allocated some part of my trading portfolio to debt – to buy bonds. Long-dated bonds with good yields are very good.

Q: How do you decide when to sell a multi-bagger?

Jhunjhunwala: I will sell a stock only in two circumstances: when I have limited capital and when I get an opportunity that is better than what I have now. So, if comparatively I need capital, I will sell it.

Secondly, when the perception of earnings peaks and the P/E is unsustainable. I think that is a time to sell. The earning may not peak but the expectations of hope like in 2000 everybody said Infosys’ earnings will double every year for the next 10 years. That was the expectation in the market and its P/E was at the current earnings, it was 100-150 times. So, when the expectation of earnings peaks and the P/E is unsustainable, I think that is a time to sell.

Agrawal: There are two types of stocks. One you buy forever and one you buy for a trade.

Jhunjhunwala: I strongly contest this. There is no stock forever in the world.

Agrawal: I contest that. There are clearly two types of stock. One you buy for selling and one you buy forever.