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Latest Valuentum Commentary
Mar 9, 2020
Oil Markets Get Decimated
Image Shown: Oil prices have been decimated year-to-date. The outlook for independent upstream names has become dire. In an industry that’s generated little to no free cash flow since 2010, and instead has relied heavily on capital markets to stay afloat; for all the hype surrounding surging US production of raw energy resources there hasn’t been much shareholder value creation to show for it. Consumers and certain US states have been big winners, sure, but equity holders and now potentially credit holders have largely taken it on the chin. We will continue following the space for our members going forward, and please note there’s a very good reason we removed the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF from our newsletter portfolios back in August 2019 (link here), the outlook for the energy space (particularly oil & gas) was lackluster at the time and has since become dire.
Mar 9, 2020
Oil Prices Collapse, Reiterating 2,350-2,750 S&P 500 Target Range; Credit Crunch Looming?
From Value Trap: “The banking sector was not the only sector that faced considerable selling pressure during the Financial Crisis of the late 2000s, of course. Other companies that required funding to maintain their business operations faced severe liquidity risk, or a situation where refinancing, or rolling over debt, might be difficult to do on fair terms, making such financing prohibitive in some cases. Those that faced outsize debt maturities during the most severe months of the credit crunch faced a real threat of Chapter 11 restructuring had the lending environment completely seized. In thinking about share prices as a range of probable fair value outcomes, equity prices tend to face pressure as downside probabilities such as a liquidity event are baked into the market price and at a higher probability. Because debtholders are higher up on the capital structure than equity holders, shareholders can sometimes get nothing in the event of a bankruptcy filing. Entities that are extremely capital-market dependent, or those that require ongoing access to new capital to fund operations, often face the greatest risk of the worst equity price declines during deteriorating credit market conditions.” Value Trap: Theory of Universal Valuation, published 2018
Mar 5, 2020
2,350-2,750 on the S&P? Could the Coronavirus Catalyze a Financial Crisis?
Image: We think a rather modest sell-off in the market to the target range of 2,350-2,750 on the S&P 500 is rather reasonable in the wake of one of the biggest economic shocks since the Global Financial Crisis. The chart above shows how far markets have advanced since 2011, and an adjustment lower to the target range of 2,350-2,750 is rather modest in such a context and would only bring markets to late 2018 levels (note red box as the target range). The range reflects ~16x S&P 500 12-month forward earnings estimates, as of February 14, adjusted down 10% due to COVID-19. When companies like Visa talk about a couple percentage points taken off of growth rates, one knows that the decrease in spending is very real, and we’ve yet to see the brunt of the impact yet. We have written extensively about our valuation expectations and target on the S&P 500 in the past, so please don’t mistake this reference as the extent of our thinking. We do not think a sell-off on the S&P 500 to the range is 2350-2750 is too far-fetched, as it really only gets the broader markets back to late 2018 levels (a mere year ago or so), and reflects a reasonable 16x forward expected earnings, as of February 14, hair cut by 10% as a result of the impact of COVID-19. The Fed put may not matter much anymore in the wake of this “biological” crisis, and increased fiscal spending may not be enough to offset what could be sustained weakness across the global economy.
Mar 4, 2020
A ~0.1% Probability Since 1896
Image Source: Wikipedia Commons. "The market crash in the past two weeks has been truly historic: its probability of occurrence is ~0.1% since 1896; the velocity of the plunge and of the VIX surge is the fastest on record; and the 10-year [Treasury yield] is at all-time low. (Hao Hong, BOCOM International, a subsidiary of Bank of Communications, March 1)" -- Howard Marks' memo, Nobody Knows II
Mar 3, 2020
Covering Oil Markets Ahead of the Upcoming OPEC/OPEC+ Meetings
Image Source: Exxon Mobil Corporation – 2019 IR Presentation. On March 5, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (‘OPEC’) is holding an “extraordinary” meeting in Vienna, Austria, which will be followed up by a ministerial meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC members the next day. The group had already agreed to cut oil supplies by an additional 0.5 million barrels of per day (‘bpd’) back in December 2019 through an agreement that would last through March 2020 (that was on top of an existing deal to keep 1.2 million bpd off of the market which runs through the end of March 2020 as well). As part of that deal, Saudi Arabia offered to “voluntarily” reduce supplies by an additional 0.4 million bpd; however, that hasn’t been enough to prop up oil prices (even though ~1.7-2.1 million bpd of oil supplies are effectively removing removed from the market at 100% compliance). As of this writing, the internationally-oriented May 2020 Brent contracts are trading near $52 per barrel, down from the high $60s level seen at the end of 2019. The US-oriented WTI contracts haven’t fared any better, and April 2020 deliveries are trading near $47 per barrel as of this writing.
Mar 3, 2020
Fed Cuts 50 Basis Points, Expect More Market Volatility Ahead
Image Source: FOMC. The emergency 50-basis point Fed rate cut announced March 3 was largely expected by the marketplace in light of growing economic concerns due to COVID-19, but it does nothing to immunize against COVID-19 and little to stabilize the situation. We continue to monitor the situation closely, and we expect ongoing volatility in the coming days and months as the situation with COVID-19 remains fluid. Having moved to defensive positions in both the Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio and Dividend Growth Newsletter portfolio in January and having capitalized on the “crash protection” put, we are preparing for our next move. For now, we’re watching and waiting, and we encourage readers that have not yet picked up their copy of Value Trap to do so.
Mar 1, 2020
COVID-19 Crisis Intensifies
Image Source: CDC. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The world is being challenged today by what some including Bill Gates believe might be a "once-in-a-century pathogen." We do not know the eventual outcome, whether the impact of this illness ends up being as profound as the Spanish Influenza of 1918-1919 (which inflicted a death toll in the tens of millions), but we maintain our view the markets have yet to come to grips with the impact of COVID-19 on economic activity and potential ramifications on the global economy and the banking system. What is currently a "biological" crisis may turn into an all-out global financial crisis, one that could end up worse than the 2008/2009 mortgage meltdown. Instead of toxic mortgages putting a halt to lending activity across the globe as they did over a decade ago, today's crisis stems from an illness that very few of the top health officials in the world know much about--not only in the duration of COVID-19's incubation period, but also in how easily it seems to be spreading, and how deadly it may eventually become, particularly if health systems around the world become overwhelmed.
Feb 27, 2020
Has the Stock Market Crash Begun?
Image: CDC. Transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19, formerly known as 2019-nCoV. The spherical viral particles, colorized blue, contain cross-section through the viral genome, seen as black dots.According to the latest Situation Report from the CDC, dated February 25, there are now more new cases reported from countries outside of China than from China. Globally, there are currently 80,000+ confirmed cases in nearly 40 countries, with China, South Korea, Italy and Iran the major hotspots. Up until now, investors have been anxiously waiting for the other shoe to drop (i.e. community spread in the United States), with the CDC even saying, “It's not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country (United States) will have severe illness.” Well, that “when” is now. The CDC just confirmed February 26, 2020, a possible instance of community spread of COVID-19 in the US.
Feb 25, 2020
Berkshire Reports 2019 Earnings
Berkshire Hathaway reported fourth quarter and full-year results on Saturday February 22, and we appreciate the firm’s performance across most of its business lines, keeping in mind that losses at its insurance-underwriting business during the fourth quarter weakened its company-wide performance. That being said, the insurance business can be volatile at times, which is why we appreciate Berkshire’s large railroad, utility, consumer goods, and other business segments. On the topic of Berkshire’s insurance-related exposure to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic (which has since spread from China to the rest of the world, shutting down economies in South Korea, Italy, and elsewhere), insurance firms fundamentally altered the structure of their policies after the 2002-2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (‘SARS’) outbreak to exclude epidemic coverage from most policies (save for insurance policies that explicitly cover those situations) according to the WSJ. Shares of Berkshire Class B stock are included in our Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio with a top-weighting, and over the past few months shares of BRK.B has begun converging towards our fair value estimate of $229 per share. Berkshire Class B shares could move towards the top end of our fair value range estimate of $275 per share, particularly if the company figures out where to invest its enormous cash pile.
Feb 24, 2020
ALERT: Adding Market Crash 'Protection,' Removing MSFT, BKNG
Image source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We're adding out-of-the-money put options to both the Dividend Growth Newsletter portfolio and Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio. We're removing Microsoft from the Dividend Growth Newsletter portfolio, and we're removing Booking Holdings from the Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio. We reiterate that, had the Dow Jones Industrial Average already swooned a couple thousand points on news of the COVID-19 outbreak, we might have considered some undervalued stocks with strong momentum potential "buying opportunities." However, to this point in time, the markets have largely ignored COVID-19, with major US indices still sitting near all-time highs. We could be in for a wild ride in the coming weeks and months, and an outright market crash is not out of question. For those looking for short-idea considerations, please consider the Exclusive publication here. We remain fully-invested in the High Yield Dividend Newsletter portfolio given its yield and income focus.
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The High Yield Dividend Newsletter, Best Ideas Newsletter, Dividend Growth Newsletter, Nelson Exclusive publication, and any reports, articles and content found on this website are for information purposes only and should not be considered a solicitation to buy or sell any security. The sources of the data used on this website are believed by Valuentum to be reliable, but the data’s accuracy, completeness or interpretation cannot be guaranteed. Valuentum is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for results obtained from the use of its newsletters, reports, commentary, or publications and accepts no liability for how readers may choose to utilize the content. Valuentum is not a money manager, is not a registered investment advisor and does not offer brokerage or investment banking services. Valuentum, its employees, and affiliates may have long, short or derivative positions in the stock or stocks mentioned on this site.