By Prakarsh Gagdani
It seems, circa 2018 would go down as one of the most unpredictable years in the recent history of Indian markets. It is one of those years, when almost everyone failed to some extent in their views about the market. This proved the often used phrase “market has its own mind” and any amount of understanding and long-term analysis could be demolished at a single stroke. My good friend says, “the market drama this year was written by a Bollywood script writer who knows how to defy logic and produce last minute surprises and just when things go steady, there would be another twist.”
The good thing is that despite the volatility and multiple turns on the road, no one disagrees that Indian equity remains one of the best wealth creation opportunities in the world in the long-run. Indian markets have now become the seventh largest equity market in the world in terms of market capitalisation, which stood at $2.1 trillion and despite a drop of $308 billion in value since last year. India just trumped Germany and could move ahead of France soon.
Indian equity market penetration is just about 2.5% of the population. The numbers in terms of percentage are going go up significantly in the near future as disruptions like high-technology backed discount broking platforms are becoming available and high speed mobile-internet is finding its way to smaller towns and villages.
I would assume we could see 10% of Indians in equity market in the next 3-5 years, making it among the top three stock markets in the world helped by increased entry of the do-it-yourself investor and advancement in robo-advisory and artificial intelligence driven investing platforms. Even today as per my firm’s analysis three-fifth of the new accounts open from Tier-2, Tier- 3 cities or even smaller locations. With platforms offering free mobile stock trading apps with zero percentage brokerage and trading fees as low Rs 10, there is disruption for the good of the investors already. This trend will intensify in 2019.
Now let us try to gaze what the new calendar year holds for the Indian equity markets. All retail, institutional and foreign investors would be tracking elections to make any investment decision next year. However, the situation has become paradoxical for markets watchers. The recent state election debacle by the ruling party at the centre didn’t deter the market for gaining ground, much to the surprise of many.
The sharp fall of crude oil price on the back of multiple geopolitical strategic decisions has been good for Indian markets. However, global risk off could be triggered anytime, if US brings back harsher sanctions on Iran selling oil to countries like India at the beginning of the new financial year and advanced world economy shows sluggish economic growth.
Whatever it may be for a retail investors 2019 would be a good year to remain invested in equities through mutual funds systematic investment plans. While broad market may not be very attractive, there could be significant value in select small and midcap names with strong credentials. The sharp correction in small and mid-cap segments in 2018 has created immense value investing opportunities. Overall, crude oil price drop, satisfactory revenue growth, optimistic capex cycle and likely increased government spending may help many names.
The author is CEO of 5Paisa.com. The views are author’s own.