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Latest Valuentum Commentary
Jan 12, 2021
ALERT: We’re Still Bullish! Some Portfolio Tweaks
Trust you’re doing great, and hope you are enjoying your membership to Valuentum! We’ve received a number of questions from members during the past several weeks, and we’d like to address them briefly in this note. We will write a follow-up note in the coming days that goes into our broader outlook for 2021 and beyond. However, we want to get these takeaways to you as soon as possible, as our inboxes have been overflowing. If you haven’t read our market/analysis recap for the year 2020, please do so.
Dec 31, 2020
2020 Won’t Soon Be Forgotten
2020 won’t soon be forgotten. The tumultuous year brought with it the greatest shock to the U.S. economy in modern history, ushering in the largest-ever decline in U.S. real annualized gross domestic product of 31.4% in the second quarter of the year (surpassing the prior record of a 28.6% collapse in the second quarter of 1921). Strict lockdowns to help contain the outbreak of COVID-19 created the biggest global health emergency in a century, driving a self-inflicted economic collapse worse than the Great Recession, the Great Depression, and any other recession before it (the Depression of 1873-1879, the Panic of 1893, etc.). Millions were put out of work. During the month of April alone, the economy lost a record 20.8 million jobs, with some estimating that the “real” unemployment rate during the depths of the COVID-19 crisis reached nearly 23%. The official 14.7% unemployment rate in April would obliterate prior post-World War II era records, and while it fell short of the peak Great Depression unemployment rate estimated at 24.9%, the pain of many families and households was no less severe as they battled both a financial and health crisis that materialized in a matter of weeks, with little lead time to prepare for what was to come. Pantry stuffing and panic buying of consumer goods became a sign of the times, and a great debate about the efficacy of wearing masks raged across mediums.
Dec 17, 2020
Congress Seeks to Strike a Deal
Image Shown: The S&P 500 is trading near all-time highs as of December 16, but political risk could cause some choppiness in the near term. The potential for yet another government shutdown is upon us, but according to key leaders on both sides of the aisle, a deal appears to be within reach. Certain provisions may be left out in order to reach an accord sooner rather than later, however. In any case, we remain bullish long term, as the world continues to work to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind it. Funding for most US federal government agencies may run out by the end of this week (December 18) if both sides of the aisle in Congress do not reach an agreement over a potential omnibus bill. In light of the tremendous efforts by the Fed/Treasury to support both the economy and the financial markets since the initial outbreak of COVID-19 to date, we don’t think Congress will do harm by not stepping up to the plate during the biggest global health crisis in the past 100 years. Still, we wanted to keep this news in front of you, as a prolonged shutdown presents a “fat-tail (low probability) risk” to the equity markets, particularly with respect to sentiment and momentum and especially with respect to any legal delays related to President Donald Trump leaving office in the coming weeks. We’re not making any changes to the newsletter portfolios at this time, however.
Dec 10, 2020
FTC Attacks Facebook, Win-Win Scenario for Investors
Image Shown: Facebook Inc has a large digital advertising business with global reach, but it does not have a monopoly on digital advertising or social media by any means. Image Source: Facebook Inc – Third Quarter of 2020 IR Earnings Presentation. Facebook is being sued by the FTC for allegedly engaging in monopolistic activities via its acquisition program. It's important to note that the government is not seizing Facebook's assets and that Facebook investors own the future free cash flow stream of the entire entity under any and every scenario--whether Facebook is retained in current form or whether it is broken into different parts through a potential IPO/spin-off of its Instagram and WhatsApp properties. Under a status quo scenario, we believe Facebook's shares are worth $413 each, an estimate that is backed by the company's vast net cash position and future expected free cash flow stream. In such a scenario, the company would remain one of our favorite ideas, retain its material competitive advantages (i.e. the network effect) and continue to build upon its very healthy financial profile. Further, in light of the FTC news, we believe the market will look to price Facebook more and more on a sum-of-the-parts basis, which could help to accelerate price-to-estimated fair value convergence relative to our intrinsic value estimate. In a highly improbable break-up scenario, Facebook investors could receive more than our status-quo intrinsic value estimate. The IPO market is very, very healthy at the moment, with investor interest in new issues at historic highs and many recent IPOs soaring on their first day of trading. If Facebook is forced to IPO Instagram or WhatsApp, the very, very healthy IPO market could generate proceeds for Facebook investors far in excess of what the implied value of Instagram and WhatsApp contribute to our current $413 per share fair value estimate of the combined company. Further, the cash proceeds of an IPO of Instagram or WhatsApp would stuff the coffers of Facebook's balance sheet with even more excess cash that could be used for material share buybacks or a vast one-time cash dividend--or for other value-generating opportunities. In an IPO or spin-off of Facebook's Instagram or WhatsApp properties, please note that investors are merely capturing the present value of these properties' future free cash flows sooner (not losing them)--and the market may price them at a substantial premium above our implied valuation within Facebook. The FTC news, which was largely expected, will generate headline risk for Facebook's shares, and it will undoubtedly be a source of continued share-price volatility and confusion for investors. In many respects, however, the FTC's attack on Facebook may turn out to be a win-win for Facebook investors. At the very least, if investors start to look at Facebook more and more on a sum-of-the-parts basis (pricing Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp separately with consideration of current market conditions/relative prices, which are undoubtedly healthy for new issues), it may only accelerate status-quo-scenario price-to-fair value convergence. Facebook remains a top-weighted holding in the Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio, and we will continue to follow developments related to the FTC news.
Dec 10, 2020
Alphabet Continues to Move Higher, Supported By Its Promising Long-Term Growth Runway
Image Shown: Alphabet Inc Class C shares have surged higher year-to-date as of this writing. We see room for additional capital appreciation upside. Alphabet is one of our favorite companies, and we include Alphabet Class C shares as a top weighting in the Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio. Shares of GOOG have staged an impressive recovery since March 2020, when the coronavirus (‘COVID-19’) pandemic sent equity markets spiraling lower, and we still see room for significant capital appreciation upside. Our favorite companies are firms with pristine balance sheets (Alphabet had ~$118.7 billion in net cash, inclusive of short-term debt and not including long-term ‘non-marketable investments,’ at the end of September 2020), high-quality cash flow profiles (Alphabet generated over $25.6 billion in free cash flow during the first nine months of 2020), and impressive long-term growth runways (ideally) supported by secular growth tailwinds (allowing for multiple “winners” in the space). We continue to be big fans of Alphabet as the firm checks all three boxes!
Nov 25, 2020
Thinking Slow: 3 Research Blind Spots That Changed the Investment World
Image Source: EpicTop10.com. We have to be on high alert about how our minds work. PBS is premiering a four-part series examining about how easily our minds are being hacked, and why it is so important to "think slow." Tune in (5). When it comes to the active versus passive debate, does the analysis suffer from parameter risk? With respect to empirical, evidence-based analysis, does the analysis have the entire construct wrong? When it comes to short-cut multiples, are we falling into the behavioral trap of thinking on autopilot?
Nov 24, 2020
Sonos Showing Signs of Life
Image Shown: Shares of Sonos Inc are showing signs of life in 2020 after its poor showing in the quarters that followed its initial public offering back in August 2018. After treading water over the past two years, shares of Sonos are showing signs of life as its long-term strategy is starting to pay off. Though we caution that Sonos does not appear to have much of a moat in any of the industries it operates in, its financials have been impressive of late and its near-term outlook is improving--two key factors that have caught our attention. Meaningful downside risks remain, but if Sonos delivers on its guidance for fiscal 2021, the company’s long-term outlook may now be significantly brighter than it was back in February 2019. On a final note, Sonos recently partnered up with Disney in an attempt to improve its marketing strategy. It will be interesting to see how that partnership plays out. We are keeping an eye on Sonos.
Nov 24, 2020
Brain Teaser - Reflexive versus Reflective
Image: Amy Leonard. Valuation multiples tend to trigger the reflexive side of our brain, and we process the multiples through anchoring, in most cases. On the other hand, enterprise valuation, or the process required to answer the second set of questions in this article correctly, shows that our reflexive process can be quite incorrect at times. In fact, cognitive biases such as anchoring can completely trip us up into missing out on truly undervalued companies while baiting us into value traps.
Nov 4, 2020
Best Ideas Newsletter Portfolio Holdings Are Surging!
Image: The holdings in the Best Ideas Newsletter during the trading session November 4. We continue to pound the table on our best ideas. If you were like me, you stayed up as long as you could last night watching the U.S. election coverage before it became too difficult to keep your eyes open. When I went to sleep, it seemed as though Donald Trump would be re-elected. The only state that appeared to flip to the Democrats from the 2016 election was Arizona, meaning Trump would still retain greater than the 270 electoral votes required to gain re-election. Well, that was last night, and this is today. As more and more votes came in last night and into the morning, it became evident that the races in Wisconsin and Michigan were much tighter than the news coverage last night led to believe. In fact, with just a small percentage of the votes left outstanding to count in those states, Joe Biden appears to be running ahead of Donald Trump in those states, if only ever so slightly (~20,000-30,000 votes). Donald Trump’s huge gap in Pennsylvania--about 8.7 percentage points at the time of this writing--may also narrow when it is all said and done. The bottom line is that this election is just too early to call!
Oct 30, 2020
Earnings Brief: Facebook and Alphabet
Image: Facebook (orange) and Alphabet (blue) have advanced 26% and 20%, respectively, thus far in 2020 versus roughly flat performance of the S&P 500. We continue to like both names as the highest-weighted constituents in the Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio. We’re not making any changes to our fair value estimates of Facebook and Alphabet following their respective third-quarter reports, released October 29. Both Facebook and Alphabet are the highest-weighted positions in the Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio, and they have been for some time now. Collectively 26% of the newsletter portfolio at the high end of their respective weighting ranges, shares of Facebook and Alphabet have advanced more than 20% this year, while the S&P 500 has been roughly flat. The outperformance of these two outsize-weighted names has been a huge contributor to alpha.
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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.