Back in 2014, a TV commercial showed a man ignoring his wife’s order to step back into the house. Instead, he prefers to sit out and read the weather report. As luck would have it, the weather prediction for the day shows temperature soaring, low-pressure resulting in a hurricane followed by torrential rain and dust storm. Subjected to such harsh weather conditions, the man is left covered in grime and muck. However, his house continues to look as bright as new, thanks to an all-weather paint from Asian Paints. The ad, in a way, points to Atul Bhole, vice president, DSP Mutual Fund’s (DSPMF) stock buys — quality that does not crack, come harsh sun or rain.
A man of few words, he makes each one count. Quality remains the cornerstone of all his bets, he says, regardless of the valuation or macro-economic factors. For this, he does not mind paying a premium if it will help him in the long term. “I strongly believe in what veteran American investor and fund manager Peter Lynch said, that good companies always surprise you positively,” says the fund manager.
This approach has clearly augured well for this connoisseur of ‘expensive’ stocks, who handles three funds at DSPMF — Equity Fund, Equity & Bond and Dynamic Asset Allocation Fund. The first, which he started managing four years ago, is well-diversified, has an AUM of Rs.30.20 billion and has delivered 9.38% CAGR return over the past five years. All three have been consistent outperformers, managing to beat the benchmark Index return, and consequently, catapulted Bhole into the league of India’s Best Fund Managers.
Coming from a working-class background, Bhole did not plan to enter the high-stakes game of investing. As a student in Jalgaon, a district in Maharashtra, all he wanted to do was pursue commerce. He moved to Mumbai in 1995 and began his foundation course for chartered accountancy while pursuing B.Com. But during his articleship, he realised that accounting alone could get monotonous and decided to pursue the more exciting MBA in Finance from the prestigious Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies.