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Can a Crane lift itself out of a mire?

Can a Crane lift itself out of a mire?

While chatting with Nina May on her Sky News program Your Money Your Call, a viewer called in to ask about Crane Group (ASX: CRG).

My curiosity was piqued because somewhere back in 2006 I owned the shares, but shortly after I changed my mind and never looked at them again. When my valuation model spat out the numbers I could immediately see why it hadn’t come up on my radar again.

Ten years ago the business was generating 10.4% returns on its equity – nothing to write home about. In 2012 it is forecast to earn the same, up from about 7.5% today.

For anyone reading my Roger Montgomery Insights blog for the first time, an ROE of 7.5% is not much better than you can get in the bank, and given the risks associated with owning a business and the fact that there are businesses we can invest in that are generating 20%, 30% even 40% and trading at small multiples of their equity (and without vast amounts of debt or accounting goodwill), it makes no sense to sell something in my portfolio that is first grade for something that is not.

CRG was worth about $6.00 ten years ago and today its worth about $5.00. If the analysts are right with their earnings forecasts, my value of the business will not rise much more than 7.5% in 30 months time to just under $5.40.

With the price today at almost $9.00, there is no incentive to buy the shares.

For new visitors to my blog, a caveat and a little background: My valuation is not a price prediction. I do not know what the price is going to do. Whilst I can tell you the value of a share with a high degree of confidence, I cannot accurately predict the future price. The price could rise or fall substantially and I simply cannot know.

My objective instead is to buy high quality businesses – those with little or no debt, high returns on equity and sustainable competitive advantages – at prices well below their intrinsic values. If, after buying the price falls and I still have confidence in my valuation, then the fall represents an opportunity rather than a reason to be fearful and sell.

For the year to June 30, the funds I founded and ran (I have since sold and resigned from these businesses) returned 3% to 11% in a year that the market fell about 21%. Since June 30, my portfolios (you can track them in Alan Kohler’s Eureka Report and Money Magazine) have risen 26% and 31% respectively, whilst the market is up 19%.

Posted by Roger Montgomery, 30 November 2009

This post was contributed by a representative of Montgomery Investment Management Pty Limited (AFSL No. 354564). The principal purpose of this post is to provide factual information and not provide financial product advice. Additionally, the information provided is not intended to provide any recommendation or opinion about any financial product. Any commentary and statements of opinion however may contain general advice only that is prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial circumstances or needs. Because of this, before acting on any of the information provided, you should always consider its appropriateness in light of your personal objectives, financial circumstances and needs and should consider seeking independent advice from a financial advisor if necessary before making any decisions. This post specifically excludes personal advice.

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