If you study the life stories of the great investors, you will find that the one common quality is all of them is that of utmost humility and simplicity.
Warren Buffett, the World’s greatest investor, leads from the front. Despite his mind-boggling fortune of $66 Billion (Rs. 396,000 crore), he retains the demeanour of the friendly-uncle-next-door.
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Radhakishan Damani, Ramesh Damani and the other great investors are of the same mould. They have a down-to-earth and straightforward attitude. In fact, if you meet these people somewhere and are unaware of who they are, you would be hard-pressed to guess that they really have billions under their belt.
Kalparaj Dharamshi is a chip of the same block. In his latest interview with Ramesh Damani for the “Wizards of Dalal Street” series, Kalparaj credited Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and Radhakishan Damani for being a “tremendous influence” in his life. He pointed out that being with these two stalwarts is a “tremendous learning experience”. “Reading about it is one thing, but to see it being practiced on a large scale, your horizons broaden, your risk taking ability goes up, you are able to scale up your trades, you are able to scale up your investments, you are able to size up opportunities better and to apply that theoretical knowledge, that is what helped” Kalparaj said.
One interesting fact that emerged from the interview is that the stock wizards frequently hunt for stocks together. They meet and brainstorm on the opportunities available. When the stock markets collapsed in the wake of the terror attacks of 9/11, Ramesh Damani and Kalparaj Dharamshi were chatting together at Rotunda. When the news broke out, the duo rushed to consult Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and to take stock of the situation and decide what to do.
Kalparaj pointed out that though he suffered a loss of Rs. 1 crore the next day, he knew (based on the feedback he got at the meeting with Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and Ramesh Damani) that the markets would bottom out fast and so he aggressively bought stocks (by borrowing heavily) to take advantage of the crises. “I knew valuation wise, I could not go wrong. It was only a question of timing and thankfully, I got it right.” Kalparaj said with a big smile on his lips.
Kalpraj also cited an example of the time that he and Ramesh Damani concluded that the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector presented a great opportunity and they went together to the office of Citicorp Securities (later known as e-Serve) to talk to the CEO. The duo decided that the company was a no-brainer buy because it was available at a throwaway valuation of Rs. 120 crore even though it was addressing a market opportunity of $10 Billion. Kalpraj recollected how he and Ramesh came out of the meeting and stood on the footpath, scratching their heads and wondering why the stock is so cheap. “Maybe it is because God wants us to become rich” the duo concluded. E-Serve later got merged with TCS and the rest is history.
Kalparaj Dharamshi was very candid in admitting that his success is because he cloned the techniques of the great investors like Warren Buffett and the others. “What we did – me and Arvind – was study how the richest people had made money through the market – how they did it, their methods”. He also emphasized that the “three ways of learning are reading, observing and committing mistakes yourself”. “I have had my fair share of mistakes. I also read and I also observed and observing firsthand at that close quarters, I was privy to Rakeshji’s thinking, I was privy to Radhakishanji’s thinking” Kalpraj said.