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Friday, Apr 09, 2004

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Cautions against `manufactured research reports'

Nilanjan Dey

Kolkata , April 8

UTI Mutual Fund, the country's No. 1 asset management company, has spoken out sharply against what Mr M. Damodaran, its Chairman-cum-Managing Director, labels as "manufactured research reports", a phenomenon that seems to flourish in certain pockets of the securities market.

His observations are aimed at stopping the practices meant to sway buy and sell decisions of influential sections, especially those who thrive on price manipulations.

The fund house, which claims to have firmly skirted such practices, hopes to generate support from its peers in the asset management industry and the public at large on this issue.

"It is not difficult to work out reports based on manufactured information and sometimes it is actually possible to make a killing in the market based on such material," Mr Damodaran said.

While specific examples were not cited, he referred to sections that try to convince large, professional investors with their versions of the truth.

"Mutual funds like ours should exercise extreme caution when it comes to accepting the research that is commonly available," he added.

UTI MF's latest view comes at a time when it has just completed one year of operations.

As the current industry numbers suggest, it is the largest player in its domain and the gap between it and the nearest rivals has widened in recent days.

It is felt that research reports released to the public play a major role every now and then in building sentiments among investors. This is the reason why some market men frequently seek them out — an approach that is said to go against UTI MF's intention of becoming the preferred choice for ordinary Indian investors.

Mr Damodaran, who insisted that these investors deserve to be served in a transparent manner, said that fund management and marketing should be conducted as completely separate functions.

"Marketing of research material is an earning proposition for some. Investors need to be aware of fund managers who also do a bit of marketing," he added.

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