Valuable Questions

By | 2017-08-28T07:19:34+00:00 August 28th, 2017|Global Market Update|

Are stocks overvalued? Shiller PE. Source: Multipl.com A cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. That’s what I keep reminding myself when folks trot out historical PE charts like Shiller’s calculation, which averages corporate earnings over the last decade and then compares the stock market’s total market capitalization to that average. And by that measure, stocks are now valued at almost 30-times their decade-long average earnings. That’s a figure that gives pause. It’s only exceeded by the levels of 1929 [...]

Valuation, Cashflow, and Cash

By | 2017-07-27T07:44:50+00:00 July 27th, 2017|Global Market Update|

Cash is king. Image: Glitch. Source: Open clip art Cashflow determines what a business is worth. When investors put money into a company – whether it’s private, public, high tech, or old school, they want a return on their capital. That returns comes from cash the business can sustainably generate from their ongoing operations. When I was first learning how to “read” financial statements, there was no clearly defined way to identify cashflow. Some folks included net working capital, some didn’t. We had to [...]

Rationally Exuberant?

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:18+00:00 June 2nd, 2017|Global Market Update|

How are company earnings doing? Photo Ryan McGuire. Source: Gratisography Among market watchers, it’s common to lament that everything seems overvalued. Whether it’s price-earnings ratios or index funds garnering two billion dollars a day or the market reaching record levels, folks are worried that if they buy now, we could be replaying 1999 or 2007 – the boom before the bust. No one wants to go through those gut-wrenching declines again. But what if the market deserves its high valuation? What if it lives [...]

Risk, Reward, and Valuations

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:18+00:00 May 22nd, 2017|Global Market Update|

Risks, Rewards, and Valuation Is the stock market risky? Photo Rhett Sutphin. Source: Wikipedia Of course it is. Anyone who went through the Financial Crisis or dot-com crash or Long Term Capital crisis or ’87 crash has experienced the gut-wrenching feeling of having significanlty less in savings than they had just a few months before. Nobody likes that feeling. And the longer you hold onto stocks, the more likely you are to experience a bear market. These can be caused by wars, recessions, panics, [...]

The Merchants of Venice

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:20+00:00 April 27th, 2017|Global Market Update|

How do we know what a company is worth? Photo: X. Source: Pixabay We want to base our investments on facts, not feelings. One reason Apple is worth more than GM, even though GM has twice as many employees, is that Apple earns more – five times more – than the car giant. Both companies have iconic brands with global scale. But Apple is far more profitable . But how do we know this? We know it because of double-entry accounting: debits, credits, income, [...]

Homeward Bound

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:23+00:00 April 6th, 2017|Global Market Update|

Is now a good time to start international investing? Photo: Victor Hancek. Source: Picjumbo Most investors have a home-bias in their portfolio. That is, they own a higher percentage of domestic stocks than a globally diversified portfolio would indicate. This is true for folks who tout indexing as well as for active managers who pick stocks. US-based investors prefer US stocks; UK investors prefer shares listed in London; Japan-based investors prefer Japanese stocks, and so on. There are several reasons behind this. Familiarity bias [...]

Public Values, Private Values

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:27+00:00 March 17th, 2017|Global Market Update|

How much is a stock worth? Chicago Board of Trade. Source: Wikipedia The short answer is, whatever someone else will pay for it. But what if there isn’t much of a market? What if the shares trade “by appointment,” only changing hands when there are motivated buyers and sellers? If you don’t have access to a private valuation consultant, what do you do? Other markets deal with infrequent trading and illiquidity all the time. Bonds and real estate are both idiosyncratic – no bond [...]

Luxury Goods

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:29+00:00 February 14th, 2017|Global Market Update|

Is the market expensive now? Superyacht “Eclipse.” Photo: Moshi Anahory. Source: Wikipedia The stock market has been on a run. Since October of this year the stock market has hit a succession of new highs. A lot of folks look at this market and say that that the market is pricey. When you divide the market’s valuation by the last 12 months’ worth of earnings, the aggregate price-earnings ratio – currently 23 times earnings – is higher right now than it has been 87% [...]

How Big?

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:32+00:00 January 6th, 2017|Global Market Update|

How big is the market? S&P 500 Market Cap. Source: Bloomberg That depends on what you mean by the market. The US stock market is worth about $20 trillion. That’s the value if you add up all the shares traded times their market price – the market cap of the S&P 500. When you divide the market’s total value by the total earnings (and losses) produced by those companies, you get the market’s PE ratio—a basic measure of valuation. A lot of folks are [...]

Limits to (Revenue) Growth

By | 2017-07-17T12:21:36+00:00 December 6th, 2016|Global Market Update|

Do businesses always have to grow? Business life cycle. Source: Aswath Damodoran The short answer of course is no. There’s lots of businesses that have falling revenues. In fact, one classic way to turn around an unprofitable enterprise is to shrink it to profitability. There’s a life-cycle to most companies and industries: start-up, growth, maturity, and decline. It’s happened in technology (PCs), newspapers, transportation (trains), and other areas. It may be happening to brick-and-mortar retailers today. But we don’t like to think about shrinking [...]