Men of steel ✊

96%

What is it? This year’s southwest monsoon rainfall estimate as a percentage of the Long Period Average (LPA), or IMD’s long-term rainfall-tracking benchmark.

Why is it important? The first-stage forecast is for normal southwest monsoons, alleviating worries about a dry season, for now. The monsoon’s distribution and timely arrival would determine if there would be a positive impact on GDP or not. In 2016, the same was for 106% of the LPA (which is 89 cm for 1951-2000). But in the drought-ridden year of 2015, the initial forecast was 93%, only three percentage points less than this year’s estimate.

Tell me more: The forecast would get updated in June, when the weather phenomenon of El Nino would have evolved further to paint a more accurate picture.

 

Rs 64,562 crore

What is it? The investment by the public steel manufacturer, Steel Authority of India Ltd (Sail) till December, 2016.

Why is it important? Sail is spending on modernisation and expansion of its integrated and special steel plants when India is set to leapfrog Japan in steel output in a few years. While the Indian Steel Association has said production would increase from 101.3 million tonne in 2016 to 240 million tonne by 2031, the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has predicted India would overtake Japan as the third-largest producer by 2019 with 118 million tonne. Sail’s expansion would raise its capacity from 12.8 million tonne a year to 21.4 million tonne (67%).

Tell me more: The steel major is in the last leg of its Rs 70,000-crore planned investment to raise capacity by 60-70%.

 

4.95 million

What is it? The net subscribers added by Netflix, the Internet video-streaming service, in the first quarter of 2017 (Jan-Mar).

Why is it important? The measure of new customers for Netflix went down both sequentially (30%) and year-on-year (27%) due to the lack of a blockbuster original production, and the tepid response to its new releases such as the latest Marvel-backed superhero series (Iron Fist). Instead, its profitability improved. In India, it finds itself competing for audience with Amazon Prime and homegrown popular apps such as Star India’s Hotstar, even before it got a chance to consolidate a lead.

Tell me more: Netflix’s net income/profit rose to $178 million in the quarter, a 166% rise sequentially and 536% rise year-on-year. In India, it plans to double its investments with an office in Mumbai, rather than operate the business out of Singapore which it had been doing so far.

 

51,000 kms

What is it? The length of roads to be developed as expressways under Indian government’s Bharatmala scheme.

Why is it important? Mega road projects have both short term and long term benefits, generating jobs immediately and boosting growth over time, and Bharatmala is one of the most ambitious and expensive projects of the NDA government. The total investments is pegged around Rs 10 trillion. The National Highways Development kickstarted by Vajpayee government will be subsumed under Bharatmala going forward.

Tell me more: A more specific and formal outlay and plan is likely to be a part of the next budget.

 

Rs 2.35 lakh crore

What is it? Market capitalisation of State Bank of India, end of Tuesday.

Why is it important? State Bank is now the most valued public sector unit, surpassing Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, which has a market cap about about Rs 2.29 lakh crore. State Bank shares rose by 16% this year. Interestingly, this came on the day when Vijay Mallya was arrested and then let go on a bail after a few hours in London. A consortium of banks led by State Bank of India had sued Mallya’ Kingfisher Airlines for defaulting on loans. State Bank’s gross non performing assets (or bad loans) stood at 7.23% end of December.

Tell me more: State Bank stands fifth in the list of top Indian companies by market capitalisation. Tata Consultancy leads the list, followed by Reliance Industries and HDFC Bank.

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News in Numbers, Feb 28, 2017: Airports still in the red ✈

51.11%

What is it? The percentage of stake in Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL) that will be transferred to the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) by the central government.

Why is it important? This will create an integrated oil company bringing together India’s largest oil producer, ONGC with HPCL, third largest refiner and retailer. This was one of the announcements made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the budget speech.

Tell me more: The transfer will have to be followed by an open offer for another 26% shares from the open market.

 

200 million

What is it? The number of wallet users (transacting users) with Paytm, a mobile wallet and payments operator.

Why is it important? The largest mobile wallet service by reach has reaped the benefits of the cash ban. Its subscriber base increased by 50 million post November 8th last year, when demonetisation was announced. By the end of November, Paytm, like its competitors, had increased their advertising spends, by 300%, to tap an audience looking for ways around the cash crunch.

Tell me more: Paytm’s immediate competitor, Freecharge, has had a rougher ride, with its parent Snapdeal struggling to raise funding for it. Its CEO quit last week.

 

120 million

What is it? The number of shares of Apple Inc. that Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway bought in 2017.

Why is it important? This makes Apple one of the largest holdings of the investment wizard’s company. Berkshire, fuelled by Buffet’s acumen, is often considered a bellwether of the US stock market. It took its total shares of the iPhone-maker to 133 million. At about $17 billion in value, the stock is now among the top six of Berkshire’s holdings worth $10 billion and above.

Tell me more: In a media interview, Buffet reasoned with “Apple strikes me as having quite a sticky product.”

 

Rs 2 trillion

What is it? Amount of central government procurement each year(excluding defence) proposed under the ‘Buy Indian’ policy.

Why is it important? The policy, if implemented, will boost local manufacturing through price preference, and relaxation in turnover and experience conditions. It might increase cost of buying goods for central government, but has potential to create local jobs given the size of purchase.

Tell me more: The proposed policy will not violate international trade rules. WTO permits governments to have sourcing preference if it’s for own consumption.

 

13

What is it? The number of airports managed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) that are profitable. AAI manages 125 airports in India.

Why is it important? Shows that traffic is not adequate to support the cost incurred, and AAI was not able to monetize non-aero revenues like the ones managed by the private sector in Delhi and Mumbai.

Tell me more: There was no traffic in 30 of the loss making airports managed by AAI.

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News in Numbers, Feb 13, 2017: Nothing to kill or to die for

7

What is it? Number of people killed in a gun-battle in Kashmir on Sunday.

Why is it important? The violence in the state, rekindled in 2016, continues with four terrorists killed in the fight. With two Indian soldiers dead, J&K security forces’ death toll increased. Avalanches had claimed lives earlier this year, which succeeds a year with the highest death count of 82 among the forces since 2008.

Tell me more: A civilian was also killed and three soldiers injured in the incident. In civilian deaths, three road-workers had been killed by militants last month.

 

Rs 385.6 crore

What is it? The first-ever loss reported by India’s third-largest telecom player, Idea Cellular in the third quarter financial year 2017 (Q3 FY17).

Why is it important? While it was expected Idea would report a loss, the amount was more than the forecast. A quarter of free voice and data promotional offers by Reliance Jio has dented financial performance of all the three (including Airtel and Vodafone) major players, with the smallest, Idea, being hit the hardest.

Tell me more: Idea says the sector can hope to recover only when Jio starts charging for its pan-India mobile services. Idea’s income fell from a profit of Rs 764.2 crore in Q3 FY16 and Rs 90 crore in Q2 FY17. The operator waited for the official confirmation of a merger with Vodafone India before sharing its financial results this quarter.

 

~$200 million

What is it? The amount Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC) overseas arm, ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), is said to have overpaid in acquiring Videocon Group’s 10% stake for $2.5 billion, in a large natural gas-field in Africa’s Mozambique in 2013.

Why is it important? If proved, this could mean a big lapse in judgement for the public sector company and India’s largest oil and gas explorer by revenue. What was allegedly on the market for $2.3 billion, was acquired for $2.475 billion by it, and since has faced a write-down in asset value as crude energy prices fell. The payment to Videocon is now being investigated by the oil ministry.

Tell me more: OVL later bought stake in the same area from another energy player, the US Anadarko Corp, for $2.64 billion in 2014 that the latter calculated was a gain of over 62% of the purchase price.

 

310 miles

What is it? The distance travelled by a North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile before it landed in the Sea of Japan on Sunday.

Why is it important? By testing the missile, North Korea has violated United Nation’s restrictions, even as many observers commented that it was to provoke Donald Trump, the newly elected president of United States, a long time ally of Japan. Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, who is on a visit to US, and was with Trump, called it “absolutely intolerable.”

Tell me more: Just a day before the launch, Trump and Abe had urged North Korea not to test ballistic missiles and to drop its nuclear programme. It comes about two weeks ahead of the largest ever joint military exercise between the U.S. and South Korea.

 

43,512

What is it? The number of housing units sold in the quarter ended December 2016 in top nine cities in India, according to a report by PropTiger.

Why is it important? The sales are down 20% from the previous quarter, one of the expected impacts of demonetisation, which took away 96% of currency in circulation. The monthly average sales during November and December when demonetisation was in full flow, dropped by 40% and 49% respectively, PropTiger said in a report.

Tell me more: Gurgaon, Noida and Ahmedabad saw 30-40% decline in sales, while Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai saw 20% drop in sales.

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