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How Sukumar Rajah of Franklin Templeton is swinging between golf and markets

Monday, 18 August 2014 - 4:19am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

For the longest time he was familiar with only one kind of swing…that of stock markets. Of late he has learnt a few good things about the other kind – that on a golf course. Luckily both pursuits are bearing fruit for Sukumar Rajah of Franklin Templeton.

Rajah is known in his trade to sense the investment pulse and it's not just his several years in `equities' that make him at Nifty. An engineer from Roorkee who later went to IIM-Bangalore, Rajah uses his fundamental training to carefully select stocks. The question then is how does he view the market with a change in the government and the promises being made for the economy?

As Narendra Modi gets past his first 100 days, his tee off in this government, Rajah suggests it may too soon to expect a big bang."There can be more meaningful progress over the next 12 months in reducing subsidies, increasing speed of government clearances, curtailing wasteful expenditure and improving co-ordination between various ministries."

Having shifted from Chennai to Singapore, Rajah is taking a more holistic view on the India story – one that compares with other markets in the region. And the good news is he is bullish. "The economy will benefit from cyclical recovery in short to medium term and structural reforms in the long term. I expect the cyclical recovery to take the GDP growth to 7% in the next 2 years."

But in the short term he warns getting too euphoric is a bad idea. "A section of the market seems to be having unrealistic expectations about the government doing something magical to improve the growth rate. These expectations are unlikely to be met, but that does not change the India story." 

And that's because companies too have used the downturn to pull up productivity and cut costs and are now ready to see growth pick up again."This is likely to push earnings growth beyond 15% p.a. and so considering these factors I am positive on the market prospects at the current level." Where he is yet being careful is with the infrastructure sector.

Otherwise being touted as the next big rally (the logic being assumed that it didn't participate in the last few years), Rajah cautions the growth can only be gradual and so the profitability of utilities will not rise in a rush.

The former snooker player knows a deft strategy and patience are keys to any goals. He picked up golf because the sport stands for the same assets. "While the cue games helped me relax and improve my concentration, but did not contribute to much of physical activity. I switched to golf to get the additional benefit of exercise along with relaxation, socializing and concentration." And now Rajah tries to make golf a centre piece in holidays. "I have gone on two golf vacations to Scotland in 2007 and 2010 around the time British Open was played. It gave me an opportunity to watch great players from close by. I also enjoyed playing in the Old Course (St. Andrews) immediately after the British Open (was also played in the Old course) in 2010. In 2007 I had a great time playing at the Royal Dornoch among other courses. I have also played in California, Florida, Australia and New Zealand during my family holidays."

After playing for about eight years Rajah has observed the game enough to find things common between Sensex and golf."Being calm, relaxed and focused helps get the better from both."




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