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Latest Valuentum Commentary
Jan 11, 2021
Energy Sector In Shambles, Looks to Recover But Headwinds Persist
Image Source: ConocoPhillips – November 2019 Analyst and Investor Meeting IR Presentation. Though raw energy resource pricing is on the rebound, the outlook for the oil and gas industry remains stressed. Global demand for oil and related refined petroleum products remains subdued due to headwinds generated by the ongoing coronavirus (‘COVID-19’) pandemic. The OPEC+ oil cartel has responded by pledging to keep a significant amount of oil output off the market for an extended time. However, raw energy resource prices need to go much higher and be sustained at elevated levels before the space could become attractive from a longer-term perspective. In our view, the US upstream industry (specifically those in the shale patch) need WTI to move and stay north of $60 per barrel to be in a position to generate meaningful free cash flow while also investing enough to maintain their production bases. We think the dividends at the oil majors may be at risk, even Exxon’s, and we include two high-risk midstream stocks in the High Yield Dividend Newsletter portfolio to capture a relatively benign risk-reward scenario when it comes to their respective yields. We maintain a cautious view on the MLP business model, more generally, however. For now, we are keeping a close eye on the energy sector considering things are slowly moving in the right direction. However, given the collapse in raw energy resources pricing witnessed during the first half of 2020, the industry still has a long way to go before it is out of the woods, so to speak.
Nov 4, 2020
Our Thoughts on Magellan Midstream’s Latest Earnings
Image Shown: Keeping the many headwinds facing the energy infrastructure space in mind, Magellan Midstream Partners LP remains one of our favorite midstream master limited partnerships. Image Source: Magellan Midstream Partners LP – October 2020 IR Presentation. On October 30, Magellan Midstream Partners reported third quarter 2020 earnings that beat both top- and bottom-line consensus estimates. The midstream master limited partnership (‘MLP’) space has faced enormous headwinds due to the ongoing coronavirus (‘COVID-19’) pandemic, though the firm was still able to generate sizable free cash flows during the first nine months of 2020. Magellan Midstream is a modestly-weighted holding in the High Yield Dividend Newsletter portfolio, and as of this writing, units of MMP yield ~11.1%. Though that yield is quite high, given that the firm’s free cash flows should grow significantly going forward, we are optimistic the firm will be able to continue making good on its payout obligations for the time being.
Nov 2, 2020
ICYMI -- Dividend Growth Strategies Struggle
Image: A large cap growth ETF (orange) has significantly outperformed an ETF tied to a dividend growth strategy, the SPDR S&P Dividend ETF (SDY), which mirrors the total return performance of the S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrats Index. To no surprise to many members, several dividend growth strategies have faced tremendous pressure during 2020. The Journal recently wrote a piece on the topic, but from our perspective, the problem with many dividend growth strategies is that they tend to be balance-sheet agnostic and pay little attention to traditional free cash flow expectations, focusing only on the yield itself, sometimes dismissing future fundamentals in favor of historical growth trends and the inferior EPS-based dividend payout ratio. In many dividend-targeted ETFs, for example, it may not matter to the index creator whether a firm has $10 billion in net debt or $10 billion in net cash; as long as management has a track record of raising the dividend in the past, it is included. To us, however, there is a world of difference between a company that has a huge net cash position and a huge net debt position. The more excess cash on the balance sheet a dividend payer has, for example, the more secure its payout. In some cases, entities held in high-yielding ETFs don't even cover their dividends or distributions with traditional free cash flow generation, despite having ominous net debt loads. A look at the high-yielding ALPS Alerian MLP ETF, for example, shows a number of entities that are buried under a mountain of debt and are generating meager free cash flow relative to expected distributions. The lofty yield on that ETF should therefore be viewed with a very cautious eye. If the yield weren't at risk for a big cut, the market would bid up the stock, and down the yield would go. In no way should you believe that you can sleep well at night holding stocks yielding north of 10% when the current 10-year Treasury is well below 1%. The market is just not that inefficient. A dividend growth strategy can never be a passive one either. Only through constant attention to the balance sheet (net cash) and future free cash flow expectations can investors truly sleep well at night. At Valuentum, we do the balance sheet and cash flow work and summarize it succinctly in a key ratio called the Dividend Cushion ratio.
Oct 27, 2020
Energy Transfer’s Dividend Cut Not Enough, Needs to Slash It More
We expect another distribution cut from Energy Transfer in the not-too-distant future. Its traditional free cash flow generation is still too meager to cover its now-reduced distribution level, and the energy markets are simply not cooperating. The energy sector has been among the worst-performing equity sectors for some time now, and investor appetite for new equity and debt issuance is waning as return expectations are ratcheted down in a troubled energy resource environment. We expect more pain to come for Energy Transfer’s stock. Our fair value estimate stands at $4 per share.
Oct 2, 2020
ICYMI: How Big Is Your "Too Hard" Bucket?
Image Source: Christian Schnettelker. In investing, it's okay to admit that there are some things that investors can't know. It's not a poor reflection of one's analytical ability or a possible shortcoming of one's experience, but rather quite the contrary: Understanding and accepting that some things are "unknowable" is a sign of the quality of one's judgment. Quite simply, certain critical components of the equity evaluation process are more "unknowable" than others. The intelligent investor recognizes the variance (fair value estimate ranges) and the magnitude of the "unknowable" between companies and generally tries to identify entities that have the least "unknowable" characteristics as possible or situations where the "unknowable" might actually be weighted in their favor (an asymmetric fair value distribution).
Sep 17, 2020
Maybe Jim Cramer Was Overmatched
Image Source: EpicTop10.com. Have you ever wondered why so many trust the TV for financial advice or stock tips? You guessed it: It comes back to "brain science" or the concept of familiarity. When we see a celebrity or our favorite stock guru on the television, it arouses our emotions and connects us with the idea, making the experience more memorable. The brain tends to treat our favorite newscaster or celebrity as a trusted, familiar friend, and therefore we translate those feelings into expertise and a "valid" endorsement.
Sep 10, 2020
High Yield Dividend Income Investing in a Time of Need
Image: EpicTop10.com. The skills to successfully invest for long-term capital gains or long-term dividend growth are much different than those required for generating high yield dividend income. Income investing is a much different proposition. However, the skills do center on a similar equity evaluation process, but one that requires an acknowledgement and heightened awareness of considerably greater downside risks. Income investing, or high yield dividend income investing, should at times be considered among the riskiest forms of investing, as many high dividend-yielding securities tend to trade closer to the characteristics of junk-rated bonds than they do most net cash rich and free cash flow generating powerhouses that we like so much in the Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio and Dividend Growth Newsletter portfolio.
Sep 8, 2020
Dividend Growth Selection in a Low Yield Environment
Image Source: EpicTop10.com. Management's willingness to pay is critical, so an understanding of how dividend growth has been the past few years is very important, but when we look for fantastic dividend growth ideas for the future, we also want to make sure that the management team has the capacity to keep raising the dividend--meaning there's so much more to dividend growth assessments than backward-looking analysis. For starters, we want our long-term dividend growth ideas to have strong competitively-advantaged business models, solid secular growth trends or recession-resistant characteristics, impressive balance sheets (sometimes and preferably with hefty net cash positions) and growing future expected free cash flows (strong Dividend Cushion ratios).
Aug 31, 2020
Berkshire Hathaway Is Finally Putting Its Enormous Cash Pile to Use
Image Shown: Shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc Class B are recovering from the steep pandemic-induced fall as the company has started to put its enormous cash-pile to work. On August 31, Berkshire Hathaway announced it had “acquired slightly more than 5% of the outstanding shares in five of the leading Japanese trading companies” and that the firm considered these to be “passive stakes.” Those positions were acquired over approximately the past year through purchases made on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Here are the five companies in alphabetical order (by ticker): Itochu Corporation, Marubeni Corporation, Mitsui & Co. Ltd., Mitsubishi Corporation, and Sumitomo Corporation.
Aug 14, 2020
Our Thoughts on Chevron Buying Noble Energy
Image Shown: An overview of Chevron Corporation’s all-stock acquisition of Noble Energy Inc that was announced in July 2020. Image Source: Chevron Corporation – July 2020 Noble Energy Acquisition Presentation. On July 20, Chevron Corp announced it was acquiring Noble Energy through a $5.0 billion all-stock transaction, or $13.0 billion when factoring in net debt and the book value of non-controlling interests. Shareholders of Noble Energy will receive approximately 0.12 share of Chevron for each share of Noble Energy. At the time the deal was announced, shareholders of NBL were receiving a ~12% premium based on the ten-day average closing stock prices. Chevron intends to issue ~58 million shares to cover the deal, keeping in mind the firm had approximately 1.85 billion shares outstanding on a weighted-average diluted basis as of the second quarter of 2020. The deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter of this year and is forecasted to generate $0.3 billion in annualized run-rate cost synergies one year after closing.
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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.