Can Fin Homes and Gruh Finance

Some time during the last few days have been spent in looking up housing finance companies that lend to the growing lower income urban population of India. According to a report by the Technical Group (11th Five Year Plan) on Estimation of Urban Housing Shortage, there is a whopping 99.9% shortage of affordable housing for the economically weaker sections of India. The folks who maybe just have one bank account, are aware of insurance but mostly aren’t insured, aren’t required to pay taxes and may not be very educated are the customers of this industry. Gruh, CanFin, Repco, LIC Housing, Dewan, Sahara etc are names that come to mind. First the names that were discarded:

  • LIC Housing Finance – the recent scam related newsprint is yet to dry so dropped.
  • Repco – still cheap but risky given their higher gross NPAs as compared to some of the other companies here
  • Dewan Housing – Ok, so DLF sells its stake in its insurance jv with Prudential since its not core to the real estate company. How come insurance becomes core to low income urban housing finance? The fact that the Big Bull bought a big chunk of Dewan doesn’t change my view, whatever the opportunity cost turns out to be. Also Dewan’s NPAs have been cyclical whereas those of Gruh have smartly trended down with time. And then once upon a time there was a tale of two brothers
  • Sahara – full page ads don’t swing it for me…
  • others – Indiabulls housing, GIC etc: didn’t bother.

The two that slipped through and have managed to wedge into my consciousness:

  • Gruh Finance: story is sterling silver; pedigree is great; performance has been stellar. expanding at a very measured pace. have systematically reduced gross NPAs and increased net interest margins. Their apparently clinical risk management discipline is borne by the fact that their current gross NPAs are around 50 basis points of their outstanding loan assets – clearly showing the benefit from the risk modeling experience of HDFC. What amazes me is that they have just c 517 employees across their 134 odd retail offices – unless of course I got that wrong. Question is – is this is a good price to buy? Maybe I will buy a very small quantity to ensure I continue tracking it and will take it on from there in terms of deciding a larger commitment.
  • Can Fin Homes – I like this tiny South Indian company. Promoted by Canara Bank, it may perhaps have an image of a slow moving, non-aggressive, sarkari company. Their price by book is around 0.8 (as compared to around 1 for Dewan and a nice 8 – 9 for Gruh).

Chartistically speaking, while Gruh seems to have broken out of its resistance that was established at the start of 2013, Can Fin is getting close to it’s resistance level of 180. So I wouldn’t bite unless the prices come down. The problem is the high opportunity cost of sitting out of these opportunities if the expected corrections don’t happen. I think I am being greedy for no reason…

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About Kaushal
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