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Why I Don’t Invest in Banking Stocks

In October 2016, I had written a post about how I let an opportunity to buy HDFC Bank in the middle of 2006 pass by, and why I have never come to regret that decision (the stock has turned into a 10-bagger since then!).

My reasons to miss that stock was my inability to understand the complexities of the banking and finance business, and more importantly that I have never trusted banks to uphold high levels of honesty and integrity in their business operations.

I received a lot of brickbats for that post for castigating an entire sector (and the bank) that has created so much wealth for shareholders in the past, and that constitutes such a big part of India’s stock market capitalization.

Well, I stand by my thoughts which, by the way, are my personal thoughts and are not binding on you to also avoid stocks from the banking and financial services space.

Investing is a personal affair, and what makes me uncomfortable can be comfortable for you, and vice versa.

Anyways, now the question is – Why am I writing a second post on my unwillingness to invest in banking stocks?

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The Ultimate Game of Economics

Have you heard about the ‘ultimate game of economics’? Here’s how it goes.

A person – let’s call him proposer – is given a hundred bucks and asked to split the money with a stranger, called responder. The split doesn’t need to be equal. Proposer could split it 50-50 or he could even keep 90 for himself and offer 10 to the stranger. But the condition is that if the responder rejects the offer, none of them get any money.

If you were the responder, at what split ratio would you accept the offer?

50-50? Most people would consider that fair. But is it rational?

What if you didn’t know about the total sum involved in the deal and you’re told only about the amount that proposer offers you? Isn’t it like a free money, something that you found lying on the street. Why would you reject even 5 bucks that way?

But that’s not how humans think. Right?

The knowledge that someone else got a better deal (at our cost) makes us humans feel cheated.

“Not fair,” we cry. “How dare the proposer offer less than 50 to me?” [Read more…]

Bull Market and Bad Habit of Being Right

Picture this: It is 2019, and you are watching the cricket World Cup finals. India is playing Pakistan. It’s the start of the 42nd over of India’s run chase. Yuvraj Singh has just hit Pakistan’s lead spinner for five sixes in the first five balls of the over.

Yuvraj is on a hot streak. He had hit the same spinner for six sixes in a row in a match on the same ground last year. So, he is going to hit the next one out of the park as well, right?

Keeping aside the patriotism that is much seen in an India-Pakistan match, you, like most Indian cricket fans would unhesitatingly reply, “Yes!”

Well, that assumption doesn’t say as much about Yuvraj’s skills as it does about how our brains work. In fact, it tells a lot about how we humans have evolved.

Anyways, coming back to your assumption (conclusion) that Yuvraj will deliver even the last ball for a six is, well, way off the mark. Statistically, Yuvraj isn’t significantly more likely to hit a six on this last ball than he is to get caught at the boundary, whatever hot streak he may be going through.

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Latticework Of Mental Models: Hedgehog Vs Fox

On June 16, 2015, Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States. Most political forecasters and pundits brushed this news as Trump’s another gimmick for seeking attention and creating sensational news.

Sixteen months later, as November 2016 approached, it became frighteningly clear that Trump was very close to winning the elections.

However, when the experts were shaking their heads in disbelief and talking about all the things that were wrong with Trump, there was a cartoonist in San Francisco who had been writing blogs all through 2015 and 2016, claiming that Trump will win the elections in landslide. He received a lot of flak (even threats) but on November 8, 2016, Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert was proved right.

Not entirely right because Trump’s victory wasn’t exactly a landslide but he did win the elections. But Adams was way ahead than the experts who were sweating over predicting precise numbers by which Trump will lose.

Charlie Munger likes to say, “It’s better to be approximately right than precisely wrong.”

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Analyze a Stock in 60 Minutes (Free Stock Analysis Excel Version 2.0)

A few readers have accused me in the past of being a sadist who wants them to do the dirty work of analyzing companies on their own, instead of simply recommending stocks like so many other blogs do.

But I’d rather give you a compass instead of a map, for you can confuse map with territory and lose your life’s savings walking that path!

In this pursuit of handing you another compass, here is Version 2.0 of my Stock Analysis Excel Sheet that you can download on to your computer, and analyze not just the past performance of a company but also arrive at its approximate intrinsic value.

If you have been into financial modelling in the past, this excel file may seem like a child’s play. But, if my fourteen years of experience as an analyst is anything to go by, this is most of all you require to “quantitatively” analyse stocks…not models running into hundreds of rows and tens of sheets.

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