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Coming up: fridge delivery in 10 minutes

Also in today’s edition: Air India’s solution for the pilot crisis; LIC may sell iconic landmarks

Good morning! Analysts at Kotak Institutional Equities have hit it out of the park in their latest report, comparing the Indian stock market to a jungle, which houses four kinds of animals (investors): frogs, pigs, vultures, and apes. Apes are unregulated stock advisors who're into "a new form of monkey business", while foreign investors returning to the Indian market from China are labelled vultures. Frogs and pigs are those who're having a great time in the jungle, but one is too confident about making money, while the other has made its peace with the market's rise and fall and repeat. Now you guess: which one is a frog and which one a pig?

🎧 Unpacking the NEET controversy. Also in today’s episode: Air India takes matters into its own hands. Tune in to Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Dinesh Narayanan and Anup Semwal also contributed to today’s edition.

The Market Signal*

Stocks & Economy: The crown of the most valuable company in the world passed on to Nvidia, the newest sensation in the tech universe. The artificial intelligence chipmaker’s shares rose 3.5%, boosting its market capitalisation to $3.34 trillion, which was more than that of the previous toppers Microsoft and Apple, the only others in the three-trillion club. 

Bloomberg reports that $2 trillion of Nvidia’s market cap was added this year and the company's value has risen 591,078% since it first sold shares to the public in 1999.  

Asian shares rose in early trade, taking cues from US counterparts, which continued their bull run despite chances of an early interest rate cut fading. Indian equities too are setting new record highs. Vodafone Plc is expected to sell an ~10% stake in Indus Towers, raking in an estimated $1.1 billion. The GIFT Nifty indicates a flat opening.

AVIATION

Clearing Runway For Pilot Pipeline

While more and more Indians are hopping on planes and business is growing, Indian airlines are still as anxious as ever over pilot shortages. So much so that one of them has now decided to take matters into its own hands. Tata-owned Air India is setting up a new flying school in Maharashtra’s Amravati. 

What’s the endgame?: The school will secure the airline first dibs on 180 fresh pilots annually. At present, about 400-500 commercial pilots graduate from India’s flight training institutes, while demand is for 1,000 new pilots every year. 

Besides, existing flying schools have got themselves a bad name. Marred by frequent crashes, the DGCA had last year suspended operations at Redbird Flight Training Academy, one of India’s largest flight schools. 

Meanwhile: A whistleblower has alleged that Boeing may have installed faulty parts on new 737 Max planes.

CORPORATE

Premium Property For Sale

Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), India’s third-largest landlord after the defence services and Railways, is planning to put some of its prime real estate on the block. 

The insurer, which went public about two years ago, hopes to raise about $7 billion, Mint reports. The company has properties in the heart of India’s major metros and several other cities. The report quoted officials as saying that it would start with Mumbai, where LIC is headquartered in the semi-circular Yogakshema building off the bay.

Valuing LIC’s massive real estate portfolio was one of the biggest obstacles for its initial public offer in 2022. Sales realisations could now be paid out as dividends, which will benefit the majority shareholder, the Indian government. In fact, the centre has a comprehensive plan to monetise the real estate assets of its various entities, including defence and railway land.

QUICK COMMERCE

Groceries Out, Home Appliances In

To clarify, staples aren’t getting the boot, but they’ve become less of a priority for Zepto, Blinkit, Swiggy Instamart, and BigBasket’s BBNow. According to The Economic Times, quick delivery platforms may offer smartphones and white goods by Diwali this year. Flipkart’s blow-hot, blow-cold relationship with quick commerce may also change. Mint reports that it will launch rapid delivery of electronics, appliances, and staples in metros “within weeks”.

Ticket (size) please: Never mind the turnaround in Blinkit’s financials, quick commerce continues to be a high burn model. Which is why the apps offer a lot more than staples now (see: smartwatches, Bluetooth accessories, kitchen appliances, water purifiers, fans, gaming consoles, etc.), and continue to eye other avenues for increasing average order value and stickiness.

The Signal

There are only so many washing machines and refrigerators you can fit in a hub, leave alone a dark store. For this reason, quick commerce apps will stock limited ranges of “top-selling models”.

There’s also the question of how these platforms will replicate the buying experience offered by electronics retail chains (Croma, Vijay Sales, etc.) and e-commerce platforms (Flipkart, Amazon). This includes interest-free EMIs, exchange offers, free installations, and extended warranties. E-commerce majors have cracked that especially with smartphones and laptops.

Flipkart and BigBasket — which is tying up with fellow Tata Group brand Croma to source electronics — have advantages in this context that others don’t. That said, there’s a use case for quick buying a smartphone if you lose an existing device. We’ve all been there.

FYI

Swelling coffers: Direct tax collections this fiscal year up to June 17 rose 21% to Rs 4.62 lakh crore (~$55 billion). 

Gone bust: US electric car maker Fisker, founded by vehicle designer Henrik Fisker, has filed for bankruptcy. 

Annihilation assured: China now has 500 nuclear warheads, three times more than India’s 172 warheads, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. That’s no match to Russia’s 4,380 and the US’s 3,708 bombs, though.

Besties’ meet: Russian President Vladimir Putin is on his first visit to North Korea where the two countries are expected to sign a strategic agreement.

Welcome to America: In an election-year move to counter rival Donald Trump’s anti-immigration stance, President Joe Biden has unveiled a plan to naturalise illegal immigrants married to US citizens.

THE DAILY DIGIT

2,74,580

The number of vacant posts in the Indian Railways as of June 2023. Of these, 1,77,924 are in the safety category. The numbers were revealed in response to an RTI query by Madhya Pradesh-based activist Chandra Shekhar Gaur. (The Hindu)

FWIW

Don't suppress that yawn: How to deal with boredom at work? A new study suggests keeping your head down and powering through boring tasks might not be the key. If you're bored with one thing, you'll likely get distracted during meaningful work as well, killing productivity. The solution? The lead researcher suggests it helps to alternate between dull and exciting tasks, so you don't end up draining energy on boring stuff nonstop. What say, shall we all skip morning emails hereon?

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