Software bellwether Infosys has been through a rough ride for the past couple of years and many an investor has deserted and fled. A handful of investors, however, seem to be sticking through times good and bad. Megh Manseta is among them. He first bought into Infosys in November 1995 and again turned bargain hunter during the turbulence of the past 18 months. In November 1995, Manseta was no tech whiz but a part-time newcomer in the market.
So, how did he end up buying into a tech firm whose IPO had devolved a couple of years earlier, in February 1993? “I first read about Infosys in a magazine. I was impressed by the quality and transparency of its management. I acted somewhat impetuously I felt, in converting many other holdings to Infosys in 1996-97, even while booking a loss in some names,” he says. “Luckily, it turned out okay.” Manseta’s loyalty continues to pay off, with the stock having bounced back after the Q1FY14 numbers were announced. This ‘buy and hold’ approach has served him well as he has gone about allocating surplus cash from the family’s copper wire manufacturing and leather exports business.
While Infosys is an important holding, the portfolio that he manages for his family members today has a diverse mix of stocks accumulated over the past nearly two decades. “While FMCG has traditionally been a value investor’s hunting ground, Manseta had the discipline to hold onto HUL, Nestle and Marico for a long time. He also bought Shriram Transport Finance and Godrej Consumer when a lot of investors were skeptical about their ability to deliver,” says Karthikeyan Muthuswamy of Trident Capital Advisors, an investment advisor to Elliott Management.
Earn and learn
When Manseta returned to Mumbai after completing his MBA degree at Dartmouth, the avenues available to him placed him at a crossroads. He had the option of continuing with the family business, opt to work for somebody else or become a full-time investor. Given that he had dabbled in investing before his MBA, Manseta chose to continue with it. Justifying his choice, Manseta says, “I like understanding what makes businesses tick — why one succeeds and another fails — and wh