Its a question I have fielded innumerable times since selling my funds management businesses and leaving them as well as the investment company I listed on the ASX. I am not in a position to answer it – having had 8 months of R&R since leaving, but I will let you know when I am. It occurred to me however that most investors already have an established portfolio. Those who are approaching or have entered retirement may have a large number of stocks too – although sometimes more a ‘museum’ than a portfolio.
When I am asked on air, often without notice -by Paul Turton on the ABC or Ross Greenwood at 2GB or the Peter, Richard or Nina on Sky Business – what I think about a company, I will detail the price, the intrinsic value, the ROE, the debt and whether I believe that the intrinsic value will be rising by a decent clip in coming years. These are the things that I believe are the most important determinants of an investor’s return.
How then do investors with established portfolios respond? What does one do, if for example, I believe a company is trading above its intrinsic value or is of an inferior quality to something else? My concern is that an investor holding the stock may sell. It may come to pass that this was the right decision, but there are many things to consider first. And there is also the possibility that selling would be the wrong decision.
(Most importantly, don’t act without first speaking to an advisor who is familiar with your circumstances and needs. You must not rely on my musings – they could change in a moment and anyway, they relate only to me. My thoughts here are “insights” into the way I think about stocks and they don’t have you in mind.)
By way of example, suppose you purchased the shares of a particular company many years ago at a significantly lower price than today’s price, rendering the yield now irreplaceable. What I mean, is that you bought the Reject Shop back in 2004 at $2.40. The yield today is more than 25% on your purchase price. And, what if the value is expected to rise to the current price in the next two (or three years)? In this scenario, while it might seem a long time to wait for the value to catch up, it may be that the yield (based on the purchase price) is sufficient to warrant the wait. Your personal circumstances are always relevant and on air, or here, I cannot know what your circumstances are.
Of course, what I can do here is take a hypothetical portfolio and detail the quality, the value and the prospects of each company – all of them companies I have received from you multiple requests to value – based on my own approach. It is the same as the detail I provide on my own Valueline portfolio in the Eureka Report for Alan Kohler, which I have now been publishing for eight months. From here, the hypothetical investor could approach his or her financial adviser and have a chat about their circumstances, armed with additional and relevant information about some of the topics covered in that meeting. If the adviser suggests the sale of stocks with losses for example, the investor so armed, can propose a response that involves selling the stocks (after receiving the advisor’s approval) displaying the highest premium to intrinsic value or with the least attractive prospects for intrinsic value. Alternatively of course the advisor may recommend a completely different approach for you to take.
So here is a theoretical portfolio:
Mr XYZ’s Portfolio(intrinsic values can change at any time as more information becomes available)
||Forecast Intrinsic Value
(above current price/above current value)
*If you believe analyst’s forecasts for sale,production and profits
|2yr forecast ROE range
|Uranium Ex. (UXA)
##Read the following comments about the valuations:
We’d all prefer intrinsic values that were cast in stone. Unfortunately, they’re not. The valuation depends on the input so to be safer, I always run my model using two data sets. Importantly, I only run ONE valuation formula. One valuation is based on estimates for next year’s result and the other is based on a continuation of the historical performance of the company. It gives me a ‘max’ and a ‘min’ – a kind of ‘range’ of valuations and that which Buffett has always advocated. The ‘historicals-continuing’ valuation version is useful where previous results have been volatile. The other reason for having this version is that I simply cannot get access to some companies or there are no analysts covering it – they can’t get access either or don’t want to, and so that’s when I have to use some progression or variation of past performance continuing. It’s the only way to get a valuation estimate for some companies. The idea is not to be perfect but to protect capital and do better than the market. For example ANZ’s valuation based on a continuation of historical performance is $17.73, but based on forecasts is $23.68. My preferred method of investing would be to buy at a discount to the most conservative valuation but if I can’t get that and valuations are rising strongly in future years I might invest a smaller proportion of my portfolio in first class business at a substantial discount to the upper valuation.
I would be interested in hearing what you prefer to see. Would you prefer to see 1) the most conservative valuation only, 2) the valuation based on next year’s earnings forecast 3) based on the continuation of the historical performance of the company, or 4) both? Feel free to vote. What I like to use myself may not be what you want to see.
Now, a couple of warnings. Firstly, these valuations can change at any time and I may or may not update them here on the blog. A company, for example, could announce a downgrade and the valuation would drop – potentially precipitously and I will probably busy doing something with my own portfolio(s) so do not under any circumstances rely on or expect these valuations being kept up to date here at all. Second, my forthcoming book contains the information you need to calculate intrinsic value the way I do, so rather than ask me how I arrived at a valuation above, please wait for the book. Third, don’t act on this information (which can and is likely to change without warning and without notifying you) – seek a professional advisor’s recommendation, preferably someone who knows you, your financial circumstances and needs. Finally, valuing a company is not the same as predicting the direction of its shares. Just because a company’s shares are lower than my valuation, does not mean the shares will go up. Conversely, a price that is well above my valuation doesn’t mean the share price is going to fall.
Having said all that, I hope you found the theory and exercise stimulating and thought provoking.
Posted by Roger Montgomery, 12 February 2010.
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