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Latest Valuentum Commentary
Jan 19, 2021
Chipotle, Domino's Continue to Deliver for Shareholders
Image Shown: Domino’s Pizza Inc aims to grow its market share in the US by leaning heavily on its delivery and digital operations, a realm the firm has significant competitive advantages in, as compared to leaning on carryout operations at physical stores. Image Source: Domino’s Pizza Inc – January 2021 IR Presentation. In the restaurant industry, one thing the coronavirus (‘COVID-19’) pandemic has made clear is that having drive thru operations, a strong online presence and respectable delivery services will be key to meeting consumer demand going forward. Physical restaurant locations that rely on indoor dinning will become relevant once again when the pandemic is contained, something the ongoing distribution of COVID-19 vaccines should help accomplish, but the use of food/beverage delivery services in a post-pandemic world will likely be greater than that in the pre-pandemic world (both in terms of number of households and the number of times households that use such services in any given period). Omni-channel selling capabilities are essential not just for the retail space but for restaurants as well, particularly fast-causal operations. Placing a greater emphasis on digital marketing campaigns will be essential, too, given the highly targeted nature of these offerings and the wide reach such campaigns generally have. With that in mind, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc and Domino’s Pizza are two restaurants with stellar omni-channel selling capabilities that have made considerable upgrades to their digital operations during the past few years.
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.
Nov 30, 2020
Analyzing Valuentum’s Economic Castle Index: A Walk Forward Case Study
There are two things generally wrong with a pure economic moat assessment, or economic “moat factor.” First, it is much easier to assess outsize economic returns in the near-term than it is to assess outsize economic returns over the long haul. Quite simply, nobody can predict what will happen tomorrow, and they certainly don’t know what will happen 20 or 30 years from now. Second, a rational investor should generally prefer expected near-term outsize economic returns than expected long-term ones given the uncertainty of the latter--somewhat related to our first point, a bird in the hand (or large economic returns in the near term) is worth two in the bush (or large economic returns in the long run that may not materialize). The time value of money reinforces this notion. Near-term economic returns are generally worth more than long-term ones in real terms, even if they may be smaller nominally. This is where our Economic Castle rating comes in. The goal of the Economic Castle rating is to identify those companies that are likely to generate a lot (or not so much) shareholder value over the foreseeable future. Instead of pondering a guess as to how the landscape will look 20 or 30 years from now, something not even the Oracle of Omaha can do with any sort of certainty (e.g. IBM, KHC), the Economic Castle rating ranks companies based on near-term expected economic returns, or returns that are more likely to be realized as opposed to those that may be built on “castles in the air” over 20-30 time horizons. By evaluating companies on the basis of the spread between their forecasted future return on invested capital (‘ROIC’) excluding goodwill less their estimated weighted-average cost of capital (‘WACC’), we measure a company’s ability to generate an “economic profit” over the foreseeable future, which we define as the next five fiscal years. Companies that generate a forecasted spread of 50 percentage points or more are given a “Very Attractive” Economic Castle rating and firms that are forecasted to generate a spread of 150 percentage points or higher are considered “Highest-Rated”. Firms that carry an Unattractive Economic Castle rating are those that are forecasted to generate a forward ROIC (ex-goodwill) less estimated WACC spread that’s meaningfully below zero (firms near economic parity can receive a Neutral Economic Castle rating, assigned by the Valuentum team).
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 10, 2020
McDonald’s: Holding Up Well During the Pandemic
McDonald’s is without a doubt a fantastic enterprise with a storied history and moaty characteristics. The firm is holding up quite well and has managed to drive innovation to overcome almost every obstacle it has faced in the past. Though there are long-term risks to the dividend payout based on the Dividend Cushion ratio, the company’s credit marks and free cash flow generation are enough for us to be confident in a growing payout for the foreseeable future. Shares are fairly valued at the moment, but dividend growth investors might want to take a hard look at this fast-food behemoth for their portfolios.
Oct 29, 2020
News Brief: We Like Large Cap Growth, Big Cap Tech, and the NASDAQ
Image: Since 2010, a large cap growth ETF has outperformed the S&P 500 by nearly 150 percentage points (15,000 basis points). Since 2010, a large cap growth ETF has outperformed a small cap value ETF by over 275 percentage points, or 27,500 basis points (image not shown). We expect continued outperformance from companies within the large cap growth bucket. The markets have been see-sawing the past couple weeks as the global economy continues to recover and much of the world awaits the outcome of the 2020 US Presidential election. We think the equity markets have largely factored in the forecasted epidemiology curve with respect to COVID-19, including infection spikes across the world, so recent market volatility has largely been driven more by political/election risk than anything else. To nobody’s surprise, we expect continued volatility heading into and during election week, but we’re also maintaining our above market fair value estimate on the S&P 500 of 3,530-3,920 (the S&P 500 stands at about 3,300 at the moment). Once election week passes, we expect one of the best Santa Claus rallies in years as consumer sentiment improves. As a result of COVID-19, e-commerce proliferation will be more evident during the holiday season this year than ever before. Our newsletter portfolios remain well-positioned, and we continue to like the areas of large cap growth, big cap tech, and the NASDAQ. Our favorite names are those with strong net cash positions and solid expected future free cash flows with competitively advantaged business models that are tied to secular growth tailwinds in industries where many players can win. We’ve continued to point to Facebook, Alphabet, and PayPal as a few of our favorite longs in this environment.
Oct 22, 2020
News Brief: Stay at Home Stocks, REITs, Housing, Oracle, and AT&T
Image: Number of COVID-19 cases reported weekly by WHO Region, and global deaths, 30 December 2019 through 18 October 2020. Source: WHO. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on, though the healthcare community has become more adept at reducing the incidence of death given the many treatments now available to battle the disease. We continue to stay the course with the newsletter portfolios. Many of our favorites include Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Alphabet, and PayPal, among other moaty, net-cash-rich, free-cash-flow generating powerhouses tied to secular growth trends. Our focus remains on the long haul. The business models of many stay-at-home stocks are solid as they continue to reap the rewards of the accelerated trends of home office use and e-commerce proliferation. Housing-related names are also benefiting as consumers adjust their lifestyles to accommodate a post-COVID-19 world. Many pockets of the economy still remain ill, and the slow fading of the attractiveness of commercial / office / apartment space may rear its ugly head as this new decade continues. As was the case with the department stores, they may hang around for years (decades) with myriad fits and starts, but it will be an uphill battle for REITs operating in these areas. We see little reason to bottom fish in airlines, cruise lines, or fickle mall-based retail, for example, but there may be select opportunities in the restaurant arena with Chipotle and Domino’s. The financials and energy sectors are two areas we continue to avoid, more generally, and they have continued to underperform.
Oct 8, 2020
Our Reports on Stocks in the Discretionary Spending Industry
Image Source: Mike Mozart. Our reports on stocks in the Discretionary Spending industry can be found in this article: ATVI, BBY, CBRL, CMG, DIS, DG, DLTR, DPZ, DNKN, EL, F, GM, HAS, HD, LOW, MCD, NFLX, NKE, SBUX, TSLA, YUM, DKS, TJX, ROST, WHR, KMX, AZO, RL, ULTA, LEG, GPC, VFC, CTAS, WSM.
Sep 18, 2020
Outperformance of Valuentum's COVID-19 Ideas
Image: Valuentum's COVID-19 ideas. Hypothetical returns are calculated on a price basis. To my amazement, the equal-weighted hypothetical returns of our top 10 COVID-19 ideas not only exceeded the market return over the simulated measurement period by a huge margin, but because of the impeccable timing of their release, they also did better than the returns of a backfilled index from the start of the year that--get this--was filled with stocks that in April were already "outperforming the S&P 500 since the start of 2020." I sincerely hope this provides some perspective of just how awesome our research and idea generation has been this year. If I had a mic, I would drop it!
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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.