For the benefit of my readers, first of all what is QE3? QE3 stands for the third round of quantitative easing from the US Federal Reserve. Under the programme the Fed will purchase $40 billion (£25 billion) of mortgage debt, known as mortgage-backed securities (MBS), every month. Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve, said the purchasing plan is open-ended and will be run until the job market improves ‘substantially’. And what does this mean? This means that the US Fed has effectively opened up the cash spigot and would inject billions of dollar bills into its economy over the next few months. Needless to say, some of this money would find its way into India, thus boosting its stocks.
Second are the reforms by the UPA government path breaking and game changing? Hardly so and here is why. FDI in multi brand retail has a million clauses and sub clauses attached to it. For eg. the retail stores can only be setup in big towns and cities, 30% of the goods have to sourced locally form small and medium enterprises and the biggest deal killer - the State Government has to grant permission to allow a foreign chain to open their store in that state! And about FDI in airlines - sadly barring one or two, most airlines hardly make a good case for anyone wanting to invest their money. For example, why would someone want to invest money into Kingfisher airlines? Anyhow the stocks of all airline companies have risen substantially and would keep rising in the next few days!
What should an investor do?
Just as a rising tide lifts all boats so will a flush of liquidity try to lift stocks of all kinds. In other words, chances are that not just the fundamentally good stocks will go up. But even companies with bad business models and leveraged balance sheets will tend to find a lot of takers. This is not all. There will be a tendency for even good quality stocks to run way ahead of its fundamentals. Thus, now more than any time before, utmost caution has to be exercised while investing in stocks. The virtues of a strong track record, existence of some form of competitive advantage and good quality management, need to be present in every stock that you are considering for an investment. And not just that, one will have to ensure that the stock is available at attractive enough valuations.
With QE3 now out in the open, gold is also likely to go higher in the medium term as it is the only safe currency round and unlike paper currencies, cannot be printed at will. Thus, the more printing is done, the higher the value of gold goes. Along with gold several commodities will also start start going up.
Conclusion: The markets are going to rise without doubt. But with a sudden flush of good news, there is always irrational exuberance. If you had lagging stocks that you wanted to get exit from, this is the time to exit. If you were unsure about the prospects of a certain sector (like retail), this maybe a time to invest if you are comfortable with the valuations. But don't get carried away by all the activity in the market. I, for instance, am going to use this time to sell some poorly performing stocks that I have & then just wait and watch to see as to what happens.