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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.
Jul 19, 2021
Bank Earnings Solid During Second Quarter 2021
Image Source: Bank of America Corporation – Second Quarter of 2021 IR Earnings Presentation. After reviewing the second quarter earnings reports of several major US banking institutions, the domestic economy continues to stage an impressive though uneven economic recovery. Net credit write-offs have been trending aggressively lower of late, a welcome sign. Banks are taking advantage of their improving financial outlook and have been aggressively rewarding shareholders via dividend increases and/or large share buyback programs.
Jul 8, 2021
Still Bullish -- Stocks for the Long Run!
Image shown: The 10-year Treasury rate has fallen quite a bit since March of this year, suggesting that inflation expectations have come down in recent months. Image source: CNBC. The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq continue to hover near all-time highs, and all appears well. We maintain our bullish take on the markets and believe that we are in the early innings of a long bull market that started following the washout March 2020 during the depths of the COVID-19 meltdown. Stock bull markets tend to average about 4.4 years in duration, with the last one enduring ~11 years, while bear markets are very abrupt, lasting only 11.3 months on average, the last one a very short 1.1 months, according to data from First Trust. We’re about 15 months into this new stock bull market, and we continue to believe increased equity exposure may better serve investors of all types going forward, through both the best of times and the worst of times.
Jun 1, 2021
ICYMI -- Video: Exclusive 2020 -- Furthering the Financial Discipline
In this 40+ minute video jam-packed with must-watch content, Valuentum's President Brian Nelson talks about the Theory of Universal Valuation and how his work is furthering the financial discipline. Learn the pitfalls of factor investing and modern portfolio theory and how the efficient markets hypothesis holds little substance in the wake of COVID-19. He'll talk about what companies Valuentum likes and why, and which areas he's avoiding. This and more in Valuentum's 2020 Exclusive conference call.
May 10, 2021
Inflation! How to Think About Value Duration
Image Shown: Longer-duration free cash flow stocks are more impacted by changes in inflationary expectations and interest rates (up or down) than stable and/or stable and growing free cash flow generators. This example shows the impact of falling interest rates (10%-->5%) on stable versus longer-duration hypothetical future free cash flow streams, all else equal (the opposite would directionally be applicable in a rising interest rate environment). There's nothing 'all else equal' in the real world though. In the event of rising inflationary expectations, we would still expect speculative technology stocks to take the biggest hit. On the other hand, we would expect strong and growing free cash flow powerhouses that can price ahead of inflation such as big cap tech to handle the environment well. Though banks, energy, and the metals and mining sectors may lead the market for some time, we still like large cap growth and big cap tech for the long run. What many may be overlooking is that, for those with pricing power, higher inflationary expectations translate into higher product and service prices, too. Big cap tech (and their pricing power) is well-positioned to handle such an environment. We’re not overreacting in any respect, and we’re not going to chase commodity prices or commodity producers higher. Commodity prices are simply too difficult to predict in almost all cases, and banking entities are far too susceptible to boom-and-bust shocks for us to get comfortable with their long-term investment profiles. All in, we’re sticking with companies with strong net cash positions and future expected free cash flows (and solid dividend health, where applicable). Some of the strongest companies that have these characteristics can be found in large cap growth and big cap tech. Facebook remains our top idea for long-term capital appreciation potential. In the meantime, we’re comfortable watching the market chase a rotation into more speculative areas.
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).
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.
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.
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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.