Son of an income tax officer, he started dabbling in stocks while in Sydenham college and plunged into investing as a full time profession soon after completing his education. He started his career with $100 in 1985 when the BSE Sensex was at 150. He made his first big profit of Rs 0.5 million in 1986 when he sold 5,000 shares of Tata Tea at a price of Rs 143 which he had purchased for Rs 43 a share just 3 months prior. Between 1986 and 1989 he earned Rs 20-25 lakhs. His first major successful bet was iron ore mining company Sesa Goa. He bought 4 lakh shares of Sesa Goa in forward trading, worth Rs 1 crore and sold about 2-2.5 lakh shares at Rs 60-65 and another 1 lakh at Rs 150-175. The prices then went up to Rs 2200 and he sold some shares.
But he credits Madhu Dandavate's Union budget of 1990 as the inflection point for his investing career which quintupled his net worth. His privately owned stock trading firm Rare Enterprises, derives its name from the first two initials of his name and wife Rekha's name.
Under the guidance of Mr Radhakrishna Damani, he made a lot of money shorting stocks at the time of Harshad Mehta scam post 1992.
"My decision to aggressively invest in the asset class of Indian equities at the right time was a very important determinant of my success,” said Rakesh Jhunjhunwala.
Although he claims to put only a minuscule of his networth on the table for trading activity, he has often leveraged his own capital and managed to make a fortune from his calls, more often than not. His stock picking strategy is influenced by the lessons from Mr George Soros's trading strategies and Dr Marc Faber's analysis of economic history. He endorses the thumb rule of 'trend is my best friend'.
He is the poster boy of the Indian bull run but admits to have been a bear in the Harshad Mehta days and believes that a person in the market should be like a chameleon. He calls the markets as temples of capitalism and believes that they are the ultimate arbitrators.
Much like Mr Warren Buffet, he buys into the business model of a company and for judging the longevity and growth potential, he gives top priority to 'competitive ability', 'scalability' and 'management quality' of the enterprise. The 'entrepreneur', according to Mr Jhunjhunwala is what makes an invaluable difference to his expected investment returns. According to Mr Jhunjhunwala, believing in the vision and the beliefs of the entrepreneur and validating the risks that may not be perceived by the entrepreneur are the key success factors for an investor.
Mr Jhunjhunwala has managed to identify numerous multi-baggers in the past decade, notable being Karur Vysya Bank, Praj Industries, Crisil, Titan, Nagarjuna, HOEL and PSUs like BEML and Bharat Electronics, among others. The typical traits to look for while identifying potential multi-baggers, according to Mr Jhunjhunwala are - low institutional holding, under-researched and general pessimism about the stock.