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SANKARAN NAREN Image Credit: Outlook Business
SANKARAN NAREN Image Credit: Outlook Business

Sankaran Naren

NTPC is a good example of how a relative bet made in a bubble phase can end up destroying value

Khushboo Balani
One of my most memorable — and profitable — investments in the past decade is a leading Indian pharmaceutical manufacturer of generic drugs, Cadila Healthcare. Being a contrarian value investor, scouting for good investment bets during an euphoric 2007 was a daunting task. While most sectors, in tandem with the boom period, were scaling new heights (infrastructure being a favourite), the pharmaceutical and the IT sector seemed relatively unattractive to a majority of investors. For instance, during those days, the market capitalisation of India’s largest real estate player was greater than the market cap of the entire healthcare sector put together.

Against this backdrop we took a call to invest in Cadila. The stock was an under performer in 2007 given the general disinterest in the pharma sector and more importantly the company was manufacturing a product that faced a threat of premature generic launches. The company’s joint venture manufactured the key starting material (KSM) for a patented product, Pantoprazole, which accounted for approximately 20% of the company’s profit. As a result, there were concerns surrounding the outlook for the stock. Rupee appreciation was also another factor which majorly impacted the company. Barring these two factors, the company was so


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