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Tata Motors’ Tale of Two Shares

Tata Motors’ Tale of Two Shares

ABHEEK BHATTACHARYABy

Updated June 20, 2014 8:25 a.m. ET

Tata Motors 500570.BY -0.13% ‘ once-lonely Class A shares are getting some overdue respect. There’s reason to think the love fest could continue.

India’s most valuable car maker gives investors the choice between two stock listings. There are regular shares. And then there are Class A shares, which carry a tenth of the main stock’s voting rights, though pay a higher dividend.

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Over the past five years the Class A shares have languished at an average 39% discount to the main shares, an unjustifiably large gap. It got as wide as 52% in March. The ordinary shares are more liquid, though not meaningfully so. Another factor is that the ordinary shares are traded in both Mumbai and as American Depositary Receipts in New York. The Class A shares trade only in Mumbai, reducing investor interest in them.

Lately, though, the gap has narrowed rapidly. Class A shares have raced 69% higher over the past three months, leaving the ordinary shares, up 15%, in the dust. That’s closed the distance between them to just 27%, with a chunk of that narrowing in recent days.

There are several factors at work. One is an Indian media report that Tata may issue American Depositary Receipts of the Class A shares, which would give investors equal access to the two share classes. The company didn’t confirm the report, but said it will “share the details once finalized at an appropriate time.”

Also closing the spread is simply that the Class A shares, which weren’t well-known earlier, are gaining popularity. Seth Fischer of Oasis Management promoted the trade at Hong Kong’s Sohn hedge fund conference earlier this month. A rush of liquidity into Indian stocks along with the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also played a role. The last time the spread between the two Tata shares was so narrow was in the fall of 2010, when the U.S. Federal Reserve’s bond purchases sent a wave of capital toward emerging markets, especially India.

The spread could continue to narrow, given that the benefits of owning the two are so similar. Yet even if it doesn’t, the Class A shares should at least rise in step with the regular stock. The company’s Jaguar Land Rover division continues to grow sales, especially in China. And at home, Tata’s truck business stands to benefit hugely should Mr. Modi push hard on infrastructure investment. Tata has more than half of India’s truck market.

Tata’s two shares have been like the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise remains the one to bet on.

 

 

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About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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