The rupee’s appreciation against the dollar may provide some breathing space for domestic policymakers to address the currency woes and twin deficits, believes Harsha Upadhyaya, head, equity, Kotak Mutual Fund. In an interview with Ashley Coutinho, he says this is a good time to make staggered equity investments, given that valuations are below long-term averages. Excerpts:
What is your outlook for the equity market in the year ahead?
After the recent sharp upmove, the market is now trading close to long-term average valuation levels. Volatility has been caused by patchy macroeconomic situation and global issues. From here on, the re-rating of equities is expected to be gradual, in line with the expected gradual improvement in domestic economic outlook. Otherwise, the market is expected to move in line with expected earnings growth over FY14 and FY15, which is around double digits in CAGR terms.
What is your earnings outlook for the coming quarters?
There was another round of downgrade in consensus earnings for FY14 after the first quarter results. We believe that we are close to the bottom of the earnings downgrade cycle. Although the earnings growth expectations for FY14 are modest at about 6% year-on-year, we expect that to improve moderately to double digits in FY15.
What are the key triggers for the market going forward?
Clearly, all eyes were on the US Fed policy. Contrary to expectations, the US Fed has decided to defer the plan on tapering of QE (quantitative easing) in its latest policy meeting. While the market is likely to exhibit short-term positivity, the focus will now probably shift towards the debt-ceiling issue in the US and uncertainty about eventual tapering, provided the data is supportive. While there is all-round relief that there is no tapering, the risk of future tapering remains. The pace and timing of QE tapering is likely to be critical for emerging market equities in general and more so for Indian equities due to the patchy macroeconomic environment and high dependence on foreign inflows owing to the large current account deficit. It is expected that the domestic monetary policy slated for this