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Latest Valuentum Commentary
Sep 28, 2022
Things Are Bad Out There
The Bank of England’s intervention to stem what might have turned into a “run on the bank” dynamic for pension funds in the country amid a collapsing pound has given rise to the view that the Fed may start to slow its rate of increases amid global uncertainty. We think it’s too early to tell. From our perspective, the Fed remains committed to stomping out inflation, something that it may not truly be able to do, given that interest rate hikes may be too blunt of an instrument to stymie food cost inflation, which remains one of the the biggest inflationary headwinds that is hurting consumer budgets. What is happening on the global stage is quite concerning, and we remain bearish on the equity markets. The bull case may very well be a deep recession in the U.S., where dollar cost averaging in the U.S. markets could be had, followed by sharp interest rate cuts by the Fed, and a return to all-time highs. This is not a time to lose interest, but a time to pay even closer attention to your investments. What you do over the next couple years will have implications on your portfolio 5, 10, and 20 years forward. Let’s keep focused on preserving and building long-term wealth!
Sep 11, 2022
U.S. Housing Market Showing Signs of Weakness
Image Shown: The U.S. housing market is starting to show signs of weakness. Companies involved in the home building business in the U.S. are starting to feel the heat, with the iShares US Home Construction ETF down ~30% year-to-date as of early September 2022 on a price-only basis. The national U.S. housing market has been on fire during the past few years. Sharp increases in U.S. housing prices are now contending with rising mortgage rates, which is prompting the question, are U.S. housing prices heading for a crash? Affordability issues are rampant, with many households now priced out of the market, and signs of weakness are emerging in the U.S. housing market. We think the prospect for rising mortgage interest rates could send housing prices spiraling lower, but nothing like that of the housing crisis of 2007-2009.
Dec 20, 2021
Our Report on the Banks & Money Centers Industry
Image Source: Insomnia Cured Here. Our report on the Banks & Money Centers industry can be found in this article. We’ll talk about how banks make money, and the three most important costs of running a bank. The Great Financial Crisis revealed the tremendous risks of banking equities, and we’ll walk through these risks in depth. We will also cover how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted capital markets and the banking industry, and what to expect going forward. We’ll discuss how to conceptualize where we are in the banking cycle, and how that helps inform our valuation process for banks, which is different than traditional operating entities. The stress tests have helped many of the big banks from pursuing hazardous endeavors during the past decade, and we’ll go into how to think about the yield curve in the context of banks. Investors should expect ongoing the digitalization of banking operations and increased M&A as the competitive environment only intensifies. Our two favorite banks are Bank of America (BAC) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM). These stellar enterprises showcased the resilience of their business models during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oct 8, 2021
Dividend Increases/Decreases for the Week October 8
Let's take a look at companies that raised/lowered their dividend this week.
Aug 14, 2020
Unicredit Struggles to Demonstrate Earnings Power
Image Shown: Summary of Unicredit’s 2Q2020 Results: Image Source: Unicredit 2Q2020 Earnings Presentation. When one looks at individual bank interests and also the national champion nature of many banks that are closely tied to their home countries, it becomes difficult to picture how the overtraded European banking landscape will resolve itself. One scenario is perhaps by smaller banks coming together, though that might not really move the needle that much. We generally dislike the banking industry due to the arbitrary nature of its cash flows, weak economic returns, and highly-regulated nature, and we think Unicredit may be one to avoid, in particular.
Aug 14, 2020
BNP Paribas is One of the Stronger Banks in an Overtraded European Landscape
Image Shown: BNP Paribas’s second quarter results held up better than many global bank peers. Image Source: BNP Paribas 2Q2020 Earnings Presentation. While some of the stronger global banks like BNP Paribas are showing that they can take the economic fallout from COVID-19 on the chin while maintaining some degree of earnings power and protecting strong capital levels, other banks with lesser earnings power and balance sheets are falling prey to this cycle with losses and lower capital levels. From our perspective, it is simply easier to find non-bank operating companies with strong moats, sound balance sheets, and visible free cash flow growth into the future. Be careful investing in banks!
Aug 11, 2020
Santander Working Its Way Through the Pandemic
Image Shown: Santander’s underlying attributable profit is down 53% in the first half of this year compared to last year. Image Source: Santander 2Q2020 Earnings Presentation. The underlying first-half results from Banco Santander are quite reasonable. We are impressed by how well the South American, Corporate & Investment Banking, and Wealth Management & Insurance segments are holding up in such a tough environment. In its large European operations, pressures that come from the whole continent being overbanked were evident, however.
Aug 6, 2020
Deutsche Bank is Muddling Along, Aiming for Self Help
Image Shown: Deutsche Posted Meager Second Quarter Results. Image Source: Deutsche Bank 2Q2020 Earnings Presentation. While Deutsche Bank is working on a five pillar self-help plan with the goal of an 8% return on tangible equity by 2022, and seems to be making some progress on these fronts, the fact that the end goal is so timid shows just how overbanked the German and greater European markets are. The CEO is calling for consolidation in the medium term, but it cannot come fast enough, especially for those banks with very little in the way of earnings power, which must deal with a pandemic and the broad effect on the economy and the client base in the meantime.
May 7, 2020
BNP Paribas’ Shares Could Have Upside Potential
Image Source: BNP Paribas 1Q2010 Earnings Presentation. BNP Paribas’ shares are trading at a fraction of tangible book. If the bank can contain its cost of risk through this cycle and produce double-digit returns on tangible equity on the other side of this crisis, shareholders would do quite well in such a scenario. That said, we point out that Europe is overtraded when it comes to banking, which pressures earnings power at even the stronger banks like BNP Paribas. We’re paying close attention to the key banking players in Europe to assess the likelihood of a global financial contagion that may accompany the global pandemic that has become COVID-19.
May 4, 2020
Lloyds Banking Group Navigates Competitive Markets
Image Source: Lloyds. The UK banking market is highly competitive with too many players, and we think this is the cause for the low returns on capital across the cycle. We’re paying close attention to the key banking players in Europe, including Lloyds Banking Group, to assess the likelihood of a global financial contagion that may accompany the global pandemic that has become COVID-19.
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