Fundamental data is updated weekly, as of the prior weekend. Please download the Full Report and Dividend Report for any changes.
Latest Valuentum Commentary
Apr 20, 2021
Banks Holding Up Well, Some Feel Pain from Archegos Capital Collapse
Image Shown: Bank of America Corporation has an optimistic view towards the ongoing US economic recovery. Image Source: Bank of America Corporation – First Quarter of 2021 IR Earnings Presentation. Earnings season is now underway! In this article, we cover the performance of two large US banks and the problems facing one major European bank in light of losses stemming from Archegos Capital Management blowing up. Large reserve releases last quarter--due to the US economy holding up better than expected during the coronavirus (‘COVID-19’) pandemic--played an outsized role in bolstering the financial performance of key US banks after these institutions recorded large reserve builds in 2020. Net interest margins (‘NIM’) continue to face headwinds from the low interest rate environment, though noninterest related income (such as income generated from wealth management, investing banking, and other activities) at several banks has come in strong (aided by favorable capital market conditions).
Apr 8, 2021
The Best Years Are Ahead
The wind is at our backs. The Federal Reserve, Treasury, and regulatory bodies of the U.S. may have no choice but to keep U.S. markets moving higher. The likelihood of the S&P 500 reaching 2,000 ever again seems remote, and I would not be surprised to see 5,000 on the S&P 500 before we see 2,500-3,000, if the latter may be in the cards. The S&P 500 is trading at ~4,100 at the time of this writing. The high end of our fair value range on the S&P 500 remains just shy of 4,000, but I foresee a massive shift in long-term capital out of traditional bonds into equities this decade (and markets to remain overpriced for some time). Bond yields are paltry and will likely stay that way for some time, requiring advisors to rethink their asset mixes. The stock market looks to be the place to be long term, as it has always been. With all the tools at the disposal of government officials, economic collapse (as in the Great Depression) may no longer be even a minor probability in the decades to come--unlike in the past with the capitalistic mindset that governed the Federal Reserve before the “Lehman collapse."
Feb 8, 2021
Stock Market Outlook for 2021
2020 was one from the history books and a year that will live on in infamy. That said, we are excited for the future as global health authorities are steadily putting an end to the public health crisis created by COVID-19, aided by the quick discovery of safe and viable vaccines. Tech, fintech, and payment processing firms were all big winners in 2020, and we expect that to continue being the case in 2021. Digital advertising, cloud-computing, and e-commerce activities are set to continue dominating their respective fields. Cybersecurity demand is moving higher and the constant threats posed by both governments (usually nations that are hostile to Western interests) and non-state actors highlights how crucial these services are. Retailers with omni-channel selling capabilities are well-positioned to ride the global economic recovery upwards. Green energy firms will continue to grow at a brisk pace in 2021, though the oil & gas industry appears ready for a comeback. The adoption of 5G wireless technologies and smartphones will create immense growth opportunities for smartphone makers, semiconductor players and telecommunications giants. Video streaming services have become ubiquitous over the past decade with room to continue growing as households “cut the cord” and instead opt for several video streaming packages. We’re not too big of fans of old industrial names given their capital-intensive nature relative to capital-light technology or fintech, but there are select names that have appeal. Cryptocurrencies have taken the market by storm as we turn the calendar into 2021, but the traditional banking system remains healthy enough to withstand another shock should it be on the horizon. Our fair value estimate of the S&P 500 remains $3,530-$3,920, but we may still be on a roller coaster ride for the year. Here’s to a great 2021!
Jan 28, 2021
Fourth Quarter Bank Earnings Roundup: MS, GS, BAC, C, WFC, JPM
Image Source: JP Morgan’s fourth-quarter earnings press release. Though we’re generally cautious on banking business models due to the arbitrary nature of cash-flow generation within the banking system and the difficulty in valuing such entities on the basis of a free-cash-flow-to-the firm framework, we like Morgan Stanley--and its return on tangible equity of 17.7% during the fourth quarter of 2020 speaks to solid economic-value creation. Goldman’s annualized return on total equity (ROTE) was an impressive 22.5% during its fourth quarter, helping drive the full-year measure to 11.1% for 2020. Bank of America had been an idea in the Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio in the past, but we removed the company June 11, 2020. We continue to view the banking system more as utility-like serving as an extension of the federal government, and as such, we generally don’t think they’ll be able to muster above-average returns in the longer-run. We still include diversified exposure to the financial sector in the Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio via the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF), but only for diversification purposes. Citigroup remains among our least favorite banking entities. Wells Fargo used to be a well-run bank, but consumer perception has certainly changed with its “fake account scandal” that cost it $3 billion to settle criminal and civil charges. JP Morgan's return metrics were solid like Morgan Stanley’s and Goldman’s, with return on equity (ROE) coming in at 19% and return on total common equity (ROTCE) coming in at 24% in the quarter. The banking system remains on stable ground.
Jan 27, 2021
ALERT: Raising Cash in the Newsletter Portfolios
Our research has been absolutely fantastic for a long time, but 2020 may have been our best year yet. With the S&P 500 trading within our fair value estimate range of 3,530-3,920 (and the markets rolling over while showing signs of abnormal behavior), we're raising the cash position in the Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio and Dividend Growth Newsletter portfolio to 10%-20%. For more conservative investors, the high end of this range may even be larger, especially considering the vast "gains" from the March 2020 bottom and the increased systemic risks arising from price-agnostic trading (read Value Trap). The individual holdings will be reduced in proportion to arrive at the new targeted cash weighting in the respective simulated newsletter portfolios. The High Yield Dividend Newsletter and Dividend Growth Newsletter are scheduled for release February 1. We'll have more to say soon.
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 8, 2020
Visa Is a Great Company
Image Shown: Visa Inc’s operations are on the rebound, though meaningful headwinds remain. Image Source: Visa Inc – Fourth Quarter and Full-Year Earnings for Fiscal 2020 IR Presentation. We recently took a fresh look at our valuation of Visa, and we raised the company’s fair value estimate to $219 per share. The high end of Visa’s current fair value estimate range sits at $263 per share, indicating there is room for substantial capital appreciation upside under a more bullish/upside scenario (note that upside and and downside scenarios help inform each company's fair value estimate range). We continue to be big fans of Visa, and the firm is not only one of our top ideas in the financial-technology/payment-processing space that includes innovators in blockchain and cryptocurrency, but it is also one of our top ideas in our entire coverage universe.
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 19, 2020
Normalizing our Fair Value Estimates for the Money Center Banks
Image Source: Mike Cohen. During the past few weeks, positive news surrounding the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines means that, while times will still be tough for banks as bad loans pile up, losses and defaults perhaps won’t be as bad as we had originally predicted at the onset of the outbreak of COVID-19. The unemployment rate has steadily crept lower from the 14.7% rate it hit in April 2020 (it stands at 6.9% as of October), and businesses have been battling hard through the worst of times with help from the Paycheck Protection Program, among other stimulus efforts. There have still been many business failures, however. Several banks’ net interest margins have faced pressure, too, but 30-year rates have managed to ease a bit higher from the sub-1% mark on March 9, 2020, to 1.62% at the time of this writing (November 18). The widely-watched 10-year/3-month Treasury yield spread has also advanced to 79 basis points, representing a meaningful improvement from most of February and early March when the 10-year/3-month Treasury yield spread was negative. The probability of an adverse tail-event is also substantially reduced (if not, eliminated), given the laser-focus of the Fed/Treasury to do whatever it takes to get to the other side the COVID-19 crisis. With all of this in mind, we expect to raise our fair value estimates for the money center banks upon their next update, effective November 21. That said, we’re not changing our general views on the banking and financials sector. Banks are being used more and more these days as extensions of government fiscal intervention/policy via myriad stimulus programs (which makes them more like “utilities”), while regulatory oversight has put a limit on just how much capital they can return to shareholders. This adds a degree of unnecessary complexity for dividend growth and income investors. Returns on equity remain relatively unattractive for many banks when compared to some of the strongest Economic Castles on the market that put up ROICs north of 100%, for example, some even higher. Systemic risk remains present, too, with most lending books opaque and intertwined within a global financial system that remains far from healthy due to COVID-19.
Oct 13, 2020
JPMorgan, Citigroup Third Quarters Not Terrible, But Still No Reason to Own Financials
Image: Banks and financials were among the most aggressively beaten down groups during the COVID-19 crash, and the sector failed to participate meaningfully in the bounce back. The leveraged and arbitrary nature of banking business models makes them much less attractive than entities with strong net cash positions on the balance sheet and solid expected future free cash flows. Source: Kastner, David, Charles Schwab. “Schwab Sector Views: Changes Are Coming.” 18 June 2020. https://www.schwab.com/resource-center/insights/content/sector-views. Better-than-feared third-quarter reports are not going to change our minds on the banking and financials sector. The group has been among the worst performing sectors amid the COVID-19 market crash and failed to bounce back meaningfully since the March bottom. Banks are being used as extensions of government fiscal intervention via myriad stimulus programs, while oversight puts a limit on just how much capital they can return to shareholders. Returns on equity remain subpar for many, and systemic risk remains present with most books opaque and intertwined within the global financial system. Cash flows for the group are largely arbitrary, and most remain leveraged by the very nature of their business models. We see no reason to own most banks and financials and point to fintech via PayPal and credit card processor Visa as our favorite ideas for indirect exposure to the global financial system.
Latest Press Releases
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.