If have been a regular AGM attendee of many companies in India, there is no way you could not have come across the firebrand old woman, Ashalata Maheswari. This woman, residing in suburban Mumbai is now past 80 years of age but her knowledge and stock portfolio could put the most learned analyst to shame. She used to be a regular at AGMs and was well known for her quick and tough questions. At AGMs she was also recognized for her shayaris and old film songs. At one AGM of Cairn India, she told the CEO of the company, Rahul Dhir, who she always compared to a moon, to remove the flower vase blocking her clear vision of Dhir. Naturally, Dhir blushed pink but he did remove the vase.
Maheshwari holds stocks of some 1500-odd companies worth around Rs.10 crore. And her criteria for choosing stocks – high dividend paying and she believes in holding stocks for long term. She is just a high school graduate and she started investing when she was 21 years if age when her father-in-law gave her 1000 shares of Grasim as a wedding gift. Once she started getting dividends, her interest was piqued and she soon started investing all her savings in stocks. She and her husband now spend days pouring over financial statements, reading news reports and making their own analysis. She does not invest in mutual funds and does not follow analysts. She rightly believes that balance sheets reveal all. Now that is a story for all of us to follow!