Tag: value investing

Is GameStop The Next Blockbuster?

In my latest article for Seeking Alpha, I look at how two companies handled industry disruption between 2000-2010 and analyze whether GameStop (GME) meets the profile of a survivor. This was a fun article to research, as Blockbuster was a comically mismanaged company, and one of its competitors, Family Video, remains a model for resilience to both disruption and recession.

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Book Review: Security Analysis

security analysisDavid Abrams sums up Security Analysis the best in his introduction to Part VII of the 6th edition, where he calls it “the value investors’ equivalent to Deuteronomy” . SA is an extremely thorough explanation of how to evaluate stocks and bonds, primarily focusing on a company’s income statement and balance sheet. It is not an ideal starting point for young investors, but it is essential reading for any serious investor.

Graham and Dodd discuss the philosophy of value investing eloquently. They provide detailed analysis of dozens of companies’ finance statements to support their arguments about how investors should analyze securities. It is an excellent reality check for anyone who thinks he knows a thing or two about investing.

The examples given by Graham and Dodd are a bit dated (1930s), but most of the principles are still relevant today. The organization of the book is a bit awkward, but I don’t presume that I could organize such a massive quantity and variety of material any better.

It took me a long time to get through this, and I will probably explore many parts of it again over the next few years. It is a valuable addition to any business library and a resource that you can use for a lifetime of investing.

Robinhood to the Rescue

An app that let’s you quickly and easily trade stocks with no transaction fees? It sounds too good to be true. There has to be a catch, right?

robinhood iconThis was my reaction when I heard about Robinhood, the app you can download for free and use to start trading stocks with no transaction fees. At the time, most of my retirement savings was in a 403(b) and a state pension. These accounts have limited options, mostly made up of index funds. I am not crazy about index fund investing for several reasons, which I will elaborate on at another time. I had finally opened a Roth IRA with an online broker to invest in individual stocks, but I was frustrated with the fee situation. I investigated Robinhood as an alternative, and here is what happened. Continue reading “Robinhood to the Rescue”

New Articles Posted This Week

Have you been to the Gaking Finance resources page yet? It has sections for articles, books, links, and videos. I have been adding new content almost every day. For example, I have added some fantastic investing resources to the articles page this week:

  • 3 Country ETFs to Consider
  • Beware of Concentration Risk in Country ETFs
  • Busting the Frontier-Market Myths
  • Chart: Where Is Global Growth Happening?
  • Creating Alpha With Smart Beta in the US: Focus on Quality
  • Emerging Markets Are Not All Created Equal
  • Owner Earnings: Warren Buffett’s Favorite Formula

This library will keep growing, so keep checking back for more.

Book Review: Buffettology & The New Buffettology

BuffetologyBuffettology: The Previously Unexplained Techniques That Have Made Warren Buffett the World’s Most Famous Investor

There are plenty of books about Warren Buffett available at any bookstore or library. What makes this one unique is that it is not written from the perspective of Warren Buffett’s cult following. After her divorce with Warren Buffett’s son, Mary Buffett capitalized on a rare opportunity to publish insider information about one of the richest people in the world and his investment strategies.

Rather than quote Warren Buffett’s shareholder letters to death like most authors, Mary sticks to the details of Warren’s investments, how he made each choice and how it worked out. She provides a lot of quantitative data that is useful for reverse-engineering Warren Buffett’s portfolio.

Information from this book definitely helped me refine a few aspects of my investing philosophy and my screening process. Mary is concise and unemotional, making this a quick and productive read.

The New BuffettologyThe New Buffettology

This sequel to Buffettology updates Mary Buffett’s analysis of Warren Buffett’s investing strategies from the first book. It is a fine addition to the library of materials available about Warren Buffett, adding new investment decisions from his history that I had not previously read about. It also brings readers of the 1997 Buffettology up to speed on developments getting into the 21st century, when the bubble of the 1990s burst, hurting many portfolios, but creating new opportunities for patient value investors.

How I Estimate Intrinsic Value

Value investing is based on the premise that the market is irrational, and that stock prices therefore do not always match the actual value, or intrinsic value, of the security they represent. Value investors like Warren Buffett try to calculate a company’s intrinsic value to see if its stock is currently selling at a discount or a premium, and by how much. Continue reading “How I Estimate Intrinsic Value”

This Whole Country Is a Value Investing Opportunity

JapanSeeing some recent chatter about Japanese equities being undervalued, I spent some time today looking into it. There is an interesting value opportunity on the Pacific coast if you are willing to take on some risk.

A simple indicator of an company’s value is its stock’s P/E ratio (price-to-earnings). It is the price that you are paying for the company’s earnings. A very general benchmark for value is a P/E ratio below 20, which means you are paying less than 20 times the company’s earnings. I believe I read that figure in Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham. As you can see on the chart below, the US markets, currently around record highs, are somewhat overvalued.

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 10.15.19 PM

I used iShares ETFs for the above comparison so that the methods of calculating the P/E ratio would be consistent from one to the other. P/E ratios for ETFs do not necessarily reflect the P/Es of their underlying indices exactly (though there is debate about that), but nothing in these appeared out of the ordinary, and I checked 2 sources. The US markets, hovering around record highs over the last few months, have a P/E ratio around 21.42, while the global markets are around 17.04. The Pacific region, excluding Japan, is at 16.64. And Japan is down at 14.92.

The question of course is, why are investors not willing to pay as much for earnings from Japanese companies right now? A hedge fund analyst who contributes to Seeking Alpha shares some ideas in an article today:

Purely from a macroeconomic perspective, Japan’s economy is not in the best shape due to slow growth and a massive debt load. But the Bank of Japan’s (“BOJ”) benchmark policy rate of minus 10 bps and $60 billion equivalent worth of asset purchases per month have created a relatively sound environment for the country’s stock market, especially as economic data have returned higher-than-expected growth and inflation levels.

So growth and debt are the concerns.

Jesper Koll, Head of Japan for WisdomTree, reported yesterday that Japan’s GDP grew by 2.2% (annualized) in the 1st quarter of 2017, beating expectations of 1.7%. That should assuage growth concerns, at least in the short term.

As for debt, there is some concern here. Japan has been running budget deficits each year, building up debt that is 250% of GDP. However, their budget deficits have declined steadily from 9.5% in 2013 to 4.5% in 2016. Progress is being made.

There are a lot of alarmists saying Japan’s debt will collapse its economy. I share their concern, but perhaps not their urgency. People are always saying that about the U.S., which has seen its share of recessions, but keeps chugging along and growing in the long term. Japan is the world’s 3rd largest economy, and it has a culture that has created some fantastic companies. The Japanese deficit may hurt their currency, but a weak Yen can be good for exports, which are the big driver of Japan’s GDP. With the rest of the developed world’s economies doing so well, and with the 11 members of the TTP pursuing their trade deal without the U.S. at an upcoming forum, exports should continue to benefit. Japan has some struggles ahead, but I’m not about to bet a “big short” against it.

I am not advocating going all-in on Japan right now. However, in a business cycle where values are getting harder and harder to find, an index with a P/E below 15 looks very attractive right now. If my 403(b) to IRA rollover goes through in a timely manner, I am considering putting a small percentage of it into one of Charles Schwab’s commission-free Japan ETFs, DXJS, JHDG, or HFXJ, or maybe even eat the transaction fee and invest in DXJ, EWJ, or JPMV. The growing ETF market offers many options for investors to explore opportunities like this one. On summer break and waiting around 2 weeks for this account rollover, I have plenty of time to research and compare them.