India’s small and mid-cap stocks are set for big gains – here are three to buy now

Each week, a professional investor tells us where he’d put his money. This week: David Cornell of the India Capital Growth Fund highlights three favourite stocks to buy now.

History tells us that markets swing from colossal optimism to great pessimism. There is no better current example of this than India. Economically speaking Modi has gone from hero to zero and several mega-cap Indian stocks have been battered to multi-year lows. Our strategy of investing in small and mid-cap stocks found us caught in the centre of the crisis, which we have weathered thanks partly to our closed-end structure shielding investors from the worst price fluctuations.

It is too early to sound the economic “all-clear”, but the market has found its feet since the government’s decision to slash corporate tax rates. Other recent measures to restore growth and optimism include a sale of public-sector assets, aggressive interest-rate cuts and measures to tackle corruption. We believe the nation’s small- to mid-cap stocks will have the most to gain from these structural changes; we single out three favourites below. Note, however, that buying stocks in India can be a very bureaucratic process; sticking with a fund is easier. 

India imbibes

Investors would be wise to recognise a shift in drinking habits across India. Traditionally, “men of a certain age” have underpinned a market dominated by whisky and beer as consumption was considered taboo for broader sections of society. However, a major shift is under way as society becomes more accepting, increasing the size of the pie as well expanding the product range. We manage our exposure to this theme through Radico Khaitan (Mumbai: RDCK), the third-largest spirits company in India. Profits have grown at a compound annual rate of around 20% over the last five years. Consumers’ tastes are evolving towards their products, especially vodka, which enjoys a 50% market share. Looking ahead, we expect revenue growth of 12% and earnings growth of 20% with years to go before the market matures.

Fast-growing profits in hair oil

We’ve recently bought into Bajaj Consumer Care (BCC) (Mumbai: BAJAJCON), the leading manufacturer of almond oil, routinely used as a hair tonic by the male population. This specialist market segment enjoys consistent volume growth of 18% and BCC owns Almond Drops, the leading brand. The investment case is based on demand growth for hair oil remaining steady combined with “premiumisation” as wealthier consumers shift from unbranded to branded products. A modest re-rating of the valuation to 18 times forward earnings combined with conservative growth assumptions implies share-price upside
of 20%.

A solid lender to small companies

Beyond the consumer sphere, we have City Union Bank (Mumbai: CUBK), a high-quality private-sector bank with a strong lending business meeting small and medium-sized companies’ requirements for working capital. Thanks to a strong, independent board of directors and a well-respected management team, City Union Bank has weathered India’s banking crisis comfortably. The bank is winning market share and expanding loans at a rate of 17%-18%, focusing on quality and keeping in line with deposit growth. On a price-to-book ratio of 2.3 the stock is not cheap, but consistent growth and excellent management make up for it.

Recommended

Why the cost of living crisis could be a boon for this cheap retailer
Retail stocks

Why the cost of living crisis could be a boon for this cheap retailer

Like many retailers, B&M is facing the dual headwinds of lower sales and higher costs as inflation bites. But its business model has proved hugely suc…
29 Jun 2022
The ten highest dividend yields on Aim
Income investing

The ten highest dividend yields on Aim

Rupert Hargreaves picks the highest-paying dividend stocks on Aim, London’s junior market for small and medium-sized growth companies.
29 Jun 2022
A UK-listed multinational engineer with strong growth and rising dividends
Share tips

A UK-listed multinational engineer with strong growth and rising dividends

Spirax-Sarco is a world-leading engineer making consistent progress in three niche markets, with an order book at an all-time high.
29 Jun 2022
How to find the best dividend stocks
Income investing

How to find the best dividend stocks

Stocks that pay dividends tend to outperform the market over the long run - as well as providing an income. Here, Rupert Hargreaves explains the best …
28 Jun 2022

Most Popular

Market crash: have we hit bottom or is there worse to come?
Stockmarkets

Market crash: have we hit bottom or is there worse to come?

For a little while, markets looked like they were about to embark on a full-on crash. And that could still happen, says Dominic Frisby. Today, he look…
27 Jun 2022
Prepare your portfolio for recession
Investment strategy

Prepare your portfolio for recession

A recession is looking increasingly likely. Add in a bear market and soaring inflation, and things are going to get very complicated for investors, sa…
27 Jun 2022
Interest rates are rising, here are the best savings accounts on the market
Savings

Interest rates are rising, here are the best savings accounts on the market

With inflation at more than 9%, your savings are not going to keep pace with the rising cost of living. But you can at least slow the rate at which yo…
24 Jun 2022