News in Numbers – September 9, 2016

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4,845

What is it? The number of cars and vans sold by Mahindra & Mahindra in the three-month period from April to July.

Why is it important? On Thursday, the automaker stitched a Rs 2,600 crore deal to sell and finance on preferential terms vehicles for 40,000 drivers of Ola, the shared-transportation platform, by 2018. At Mahindra’s current run rate of car and van sales, that’s additional sales of nearly two years.

Tell me more: Mahindra has struggled to establish itself in the cars segment, where it is remembered more for a parting of ways with its joint venture partner Renault and for acquiring Indian electric-car marker Reva.

219

What is it? The film Pink, which hits cinemas next week, will be Amitabh Bachchan’s 219th film, in a decorated career spanning 47 years.

Why is it important? Although not as prolific as he once was—in both 2004 and 2005, he featured in 11 films, against 3 in 2015—the 74-year-old is one of the rare actors in mainstream Hindi cinema still having meaty roles come his way.

Tell me more: It’s an indicator of his enduring appeal that Bachchan has made ‘special appearance’ playing himself in 23 of these 219 films.

1.64 million

What is it? The number of two wheelers sold in August 2016

Why is it important? It’s 26.3% more than the units sold last August, and fastest since November 2011. Two wheeler sales is considered to be a proxy for rural demand. After two years of drought. India is seeing normal monsoon this year. Implementation of the sixth pay commission recommendations, which left more money on the hands of government workers is also likely to have helped push sales.

Tell me more: Four wheeler sales went up 16.7% to 258,000, a 16.7% increase that prompted Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers to increase its growth projections for the year to 11-13% (from 6-8% earlier).

> $5 trillion

What is it? The cost to the global economy from premature deaths and illnesses caused by air pollution in 2013, according to a new study by World Bank.

Why is it important? India, China and other emerging Asian economies bear more than half that burden. India lost 7.69% of its GDP to air pollution, the report said. (The equivalent number for China is nearly 10%). Air pollution is the fourth leading cause of premature deaths globally, after metabolic and dietary factors and tobacco smoke.

Tell me more: The bank arrived at these numbers by the lost work days due to premature death ($225 billion) and the welfare cost (based on what people were prepared to pay to avoid dying from air pollution ($5 trillion). The bank said the costs would be even higher if health costs were included.

$50 million

What is it? The amount online education start-up Byju’s raised in a round led by Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Why is it important? For Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a fund set up by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, this is the first investment in Asia. It will help Byju’s (founded by Byju Raveendran in November 2011 andregistered as Think & Learn Private Limited) expand to more subjects and enter US and UK markets. The startup is reportedly valued at about $470 million, and is an indication that funded startups pool is getting more diversified.

Tell me more: Byju’s has 250,000 subscribers who use the app for an average of 40 minutes a day, Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. In the past, Byju’s has raised funding from Aarin Capital, Sequoia Capital and Sofina.

 

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News in numbers, Dec 15, 2015: November inflation numbers, iPhone sales estimates…

 

5.41%

 

What is it? Increase in consumer price index (or growth retail inflation) in November.

 

Why is it important? This is the highest in 14 months. The increase is mainly due rise in food prices, especially that of pulses, which rose 46.1% in November on a year-on-year basis. High inflation rates suggest the effects of deficient monsoon in two consecutive years have begun to show on the rural economy. This also shows the challenge the Reserve Bank of India in containing retail inflation under 6% in January 2016.

 

Tell me more: Overall wholesale prices fell by 1.99% in November, the 13th consecutive monthly fall and the highest since January. Wholesale food prices increased 5.20% in November compared to 2.44% rise in October.

 

130

 

What is it? India’s rank among 188 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2014 according to the Human Development Report 2015 released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The HDI looks at three factors – longevity, education and income.

 

Why is it important? It has shown a slight improvement from last year – up by one spot. India’s HDI has marginally gone up from 0.604 in 2013 to 0.609 in 2014. This puts India in the “medium human development” category where its HDI is lower than the average HDI of countries (0.630) in this section. India’s poor ranking in the human development index is mainly due to high inequality and low education levels. The index is widely followed, even it’s considered to be a “somewhat crude measure” of human development.

 

Tell me more: India ranks the lowest among BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Norway, Australia and Switzerland rank the top three in the HDI, falling under the “Very High Human Development” category along with 46 other countries.

 

6%

 

What is it? Estimated drop in iPhone unit sales in 2015-16, according to Morgan Stanley.

 

Why is it important? If the estimates turn out to be right, it could well be that the sales of the most successful tech product in the recent years has peaked. Apple earns most of its revenue from iPhones and in the three months ending September this year, iPhone sales accounted for nearly two-thirds of the company’s revenue.

 

Tell me more: Other analysts such as JP Morgan Chase & Co, Drexel Hamilton and Credit Suisse have similar predictions for Apple. For instance, JP Morgan Chase has lowered its Iphone sales’ prediction for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016 – it says sales of iPhone units are likely to come down to 75-77 million, down from an earlier prediction of 75-80 million units.

 

€25.3 million (around Rs.186.7 crore)

 

What is it? The amount Mahindra and Mahindra and affiliate Tech Mahindra would pay to purchase 76.06% stake in Italian car designer Pininfarina SpA, through a special purpose vehicle (SPV).

 

Why is it important? Shows Indian companies’ drive to expand their design capabilities – and their global footprint. Pininfarina has designed cars for Ferrari, Maserati, Rolls-Royce and Cadillac. Mahindra group had acquired controlling stakes in South Korea-based Ssangyong in 2011 and PSA Peugeot Citroen’s motorcycle unit this year. As for Pininfarina, it has been unprofitable for the last decade and struggling with high debt levels.

 

Tell me more: The SPV would make an open offer to public shareholders of Pininfarina for the balance 23.94% stake. Mahindra and Tech Mahindra would fund the acquisition in the ratio of 40% and 60% respectively.

 

10%

What is it? The data point that Maggi noodles removed from its masala noodles package. Prior to the ban, the package cited this number as percentage of recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein that a 70g packet of Maggi noodles had.

Why is it important? Could be seen as an indicator that food regulators are getting increasingly strict about labelling. Or it could be just that Nestle India, which makes Maggi noodles, is trying to be more cautious after the ban. Maggi noodles was banned for a few weeks due to higher than permissible lead content. It’s woes are far from over as the Supreme Court recently issued a notice to the company after the food regulator appealed against the lifting of ban on Maggi Noodles.

Tell me more: The pack now also doesn’t have the following: “Maggi masala noodles is a source of protein and calcium: essential nutrients for you at all stages of life”. And, this has been replaced with “Consume along with fruit and milk”.

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The stress in agricultural incomes, lower prices of agri products and falling rural demand

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com

 

The latest data on two widely considered corporate barometers of rural demand—Mahindra’s tractor sales and Hindustan Unilever’s overall performance—point to stress in agricultural incomes. Wage increases on the farm, and opportunities to earn, are flat or falling. As are prices of agricultural and allied products, both in the domestic and international market.

Lower rural wage increases and opportunities…

Incomes of agricultural labourers are under pressure. The rate of increase in rural wages for all agricultural occupations has dropped steeply from last year’s levels. And the rural employment guarantee scheme, a safety net of sorts for rural labour, appears to be seeing a pullback: between April 2013 and December 2014, our period under study, unmet work demand is the highest and expenditure levels the lowest.

 

WEB_STRESS-IN-AGRI_CHART_1

 

…and lower prices of agri products…

Even the income of farmers is under pressure. The increase in domestic prices of key crops in 2014 was lower than in the previous two years. Realizations are dropping even in the export markets, the effect of which tends to be felt in the minimum prices the government sets for farmers in the domestic market.

 

WEB_STRESS-IN-AGRI_CHART2

 

…are leading to flat consumer demand

Lower farm incomes are putting pressure on sales of products that are closely tied to rural disposable incomes, impacting corporate revenues and profitability.

 

WEB_STRESS-IN-AGRI_CHART_3

 

WEB_STRESS-IN-AGRI_CHART_4

 

Source: Labour Bureau; MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) dashboard; www.eaindustry.nic.in; Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, Kolkata; Mahindra website; Hindustan Unilever quarterly results

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