S Krishnakumar’s interest in equities began during his college days in the mid-80s. His uncle was a banker and in the evening he and his friends who would discuss stocks and the market in general. Krishnakumar would hear about how much money they had made. IPOs were the flavour of the season then. Krishnakumar’s first few investments were IPOs since they were considered cheap and information about them were readily available.
After completing his engineering in 1988, he joined Lucas TVS, a TVS Group company that manufactures automotive electrical systems. While working, as he pursued a part-time MBA in finance and portfolio management, his interest in investing kept growing every passing day. So, the next natural move after completing his MBA was to quit Lucas to join Anush Shares & Securities as a research analyst in 1995. His engineering background and several years of experience with the auto component manufacturer gave Krishnakumar a natural edge in analysing the auto and auto components industry. It was here that he made his first secondary market investment. “There was a company called SRF Nippon Denso which competed with Lucas-TVS. They were strong in technology thanks to the Japanese partner Nippon Denso, but were operationally very weak. They were not able to scale up but the product and the technology was very good,” says Krishnakumar. It was a loss-making company and the stock was available at Rs.7. “I believed a turnaround could create huge value. The idea was to buy and hold on till somebody bought out the domestic promoter,” adds Krishnakumar. Denso finally bought over the Indian promoter and the company became its wholly-owned subsidiary, Krishnakumar sold the stock post the takeover, making almost a 10x return.
While Krishnakumar developed competence around the automobile business, working in a three-member analyst team meant he had very little option but to track multiple sectors. “Even if a person went on leave or someone put in their papers which happened often, I ended up taking up more sectors. But I enjoyed doing that since I was developing a diverse knowledge base,” says Krishnakumar. It paved the way for a bigger role for him, as he was later promoted as the head of research at Anush. “We were closely tracking small and midsize comp