Kenneth Andrade, during his long and illustrious career as a fund manager with IDFC MF, was known by the sobriquet “Mid-Cap Mogul” owing to his sheer mastery in picking winning stocks like Page Industries, Blue Dart, VaTech Vabag, Poddar Developers etc.
Kenneth Andrade’s successor is Punam Sharma, who was earlier his deputy/ colleague and was being groomed to take over the top job on Kenneth’s departure.
Punam Sharma is a MBA with rich experience in funds management. She learnt the ropes of investing at Kotak Mutual Fund. She joined IDFC MF in 2001 and worked in the research team.
In her linkedin profile, Punam states that her expertise lies in “analyzing and identifying potential sectoral or stock specific opportunities across market capitalization to find long term value opportunities”. She points out that in the last 10 years she has had more than 5000 meetings across 500 corporate managements. She also states that she “extensively uses self-developed financial models to deliver high quality performance oriented results”. She adds that the results of her efforts are to be seen in the “award winning performance and consistent outperformance” of the IDFC Premier Equity Fund and IDFC Small and Midcap Fund.
At first glance, Punam Sharma appears to be a chip of the old block. She is very articulate in her speech and clear headed in her thinking. In an interview at the time of launch of the IDFC Equity Opportunity – Series 2 Fund Manager Punam explained that the endeavor of investors should be to capture companies which have the drivers to enhance productivity and efficiency without having to resort to incremental balance sheet growth. She explained that while inefficient players get marginalised, capital efficient companies (across sectors) with balance sheet strength and operating matrix strength (pricing power, cost structure, business franchise) will be successfully able to navigate this transitory period. She also advised investors to look for companies where there is lot of capacity sitting idle in the system and the companies have already announced a sharp reduction in capex. She argued that such companies would see better profitability and better RoEs going forward and explained that the improvement may come from better utilization of assets (brand , distribution, capacity, manpower), a better product mix, consolidation, market share gains and cost optimization.
Punam Sharma’s logic is quite convincing. She does appear to be a worthy successor to the Kenneth Andrade. Now, we have to keep a hawk eye for her stock picks.