Thinkpad: The Justice League
It was a week littered with heroes — some soaring; some stumbling. It was also a week when familiar villains lurked. Call it the Justice League.
The superhero of the week, going by the headlines, was undoubtedly Nykaa, its stellar listing, and its refreshingly normal founder Falguni Nayar. She may be antithetical to the imagery of Wonder Woman engrained in our heads but on the markets, she was no less than the lasso-wielding superhero.
The stock debuted on the exchanges, gaining nearly 90% on its first trading day, protests from profit-seeking old-world investors, notwithstanding. Nayar, who owns about half of Nykaa, in turn, moved into the league of the wealthiest self-made women billionaires. In interviews after the listing, Nayar shunned all quotable quotes about women, glass ceilings, and the likes, choosing instead to focus on the fact that startups are not just for under 30-year olds. She started out at 50 after a long career as a banker and here she is now. Sort of like Wonder Woman, who, Justice League fans will recall, is the oldest superhero in the league and left her world of the Amazons (read bankers) for the real world (read business).
No, we aren't getting away with the romanticism of the moment. We know Nykaa still needs to prove its profit-making chops and we'll see if it does.
If Nykaa and Nayar stole the show this week, then Paytm and Vijay Shekhar Sharma were more like Ben Affleck's Batman — a hero but a little spent.
The Paytm IPO opened this week. It was the largest-to-date, it was pricey and it was in a sector where disrupters can quickly become the disrupted. No surprise then that the issue crawled towards the finish line, although it was oversubscribed by the time it closed.
In conversations ahead of the IPO, the always-passionate Vijay Shekhar Sharma had made a case for merchant payments and the credit that Paytm is going to push through its vast network. But Paytm isn't the only one playing that game. It also isn't the only one with deep pockets here. The question many fence-sitters were probably left asking was whether the largely unprofitable payments business can build out into something more than that. Just like Batman. We've seen what he can do but can he do it this time?
Incidentally, a candidate for the role of Flash in Justice League may have emerged late in the week. A Rs 600 crore-public offering by data analytics company Latent Analytics drew in subscriptions at 290 times its IPO size.
No superhero movie is complete without a villain. This week it was the villain everyone loves to hate — Yes, inflation.
U.S. inflation soared to a three-decade high, knocking the air out of central bankers' lungs. The probability of any two economists agreeing is low in general; it is even lower when they are talking inflation. So the debate over transitory or not continues but the data left everyone scrambling. Economists are adjusting forecasts fearing that inflation will get worse before it gets better, others are just reviewing trading strategies across asset classes.
This will be sacrilege to superhero fans but if we were to transport you from the DC universe to the Marvel universe, Thanos, like inflation, would probably sign off by saying — I am inevitable.
Finally, for anyone interested in how to think about growth, inflation and markets, spare half an hour to watch this conversation with Credit Suisse' Neelkanth Mishra.
But first, go catch a movie. The theaters are finally open!
Till next week.