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Latest Valuentum Commentary
Feb 25, 2022
Update: 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).
Feb 16, 2022
The Castle Trumps the Moat
Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett has popularized the concept of an “economic moat,” perhaps best described in common language as sustainable competitive advantages. Whereas economic moat analysis focuses on the duration of a firm’s economic profit stream, as measured by return on invested capital less the costs of which to attain that capital, economic castle analysis focuses on the magnitude of economic profit creation over the realizable near term. Unlike the substantial duration risk inherent to predicting economic profits 20, 30 or more years into the future, the economic castle framework posits that the strongest performing companies during certain phases of the economic cycle will be those that generate the most economic value over the foreseeable future. The results in this paper showcase the aggregate outperformance of a select number of outsize economic-profit creators within the Valuentum Economic Castle Index relative to both S&P 500 firms and companies with “wide” economic moats.
Sep 16, 2019
Economic Roundtable: Quant Quake, “Quac-cidental Correlation,” and Economic Moats
Image Source: Anders Sandberg. Last week, the markets may have revealed that internals aren’t all that healthy. Major equity markets experienced a “rotation” that reminded many investors of the “quant quake” from August 2007. As Valuentum’s Brian Nelson wrote in Value Trap, “just a few bad days in the market caused a rapid unwinding of many quant long-short strategies (back then). Goldman’s chief financial officer said at the time that the firm was witnessing ‘25-standard deviation moves, several days in a row.’” On the surface, markets last week seemed relatively calm, but as the episode in 2007 revealed the activity last week may just be the calm before the storm. Many are pointing to overcrowded trades in betting against certain factors, while others are saying that many were forced to deleverage. We’re not so sure, and we think it may be the opposite: after years of suffering from lagging “value” returns, we think several quant shops stepped in to take on leverage, betting on a return to “value.” Let's talk about last week's quant quake, spurious correlations (the “guac-cidental correlation, in fact), economic moats and much more.
Oct 25, 2018
Valuentum's ETF Reports
Image Source: Got Credit. Within each ETF report, we provide in-depth analysis and offer insights to help investors stay on top of key trends impacting exchange traded funds and their underlying industries, companies, and commodities. From evaluating the real estate cycle in REIT-focused ETFs to assessing the business dynamics of top holdings within consumer discretionary ETFs, for example, we focus on relevance and leave nothing important to the investment decision-making process out. Our ETF reports and ratings are completely forward-looking and bring the data to life with easy-to-understand analytics.
Sep 1, 2017
Let's Talk Business Analysis
Image Source: Ian. Valuentum's Brian Nelson explains the benefits of combining both economic moat and economic castle analysis in business analysis. An excerpt from part II of Valuentum's four-part investment education workshop.
Nov 14, 2016
Berkshire Hathaway Hits All-Time Highs
Shares of the Oracle of Omaha’s Berkshire Hathaway recently set new highs. Though the conglomerate recently reported a solid third quarter of 2016, the key driver of the most recent breakout comes with a twist of irony.
Oct 27, 2015
Apple Owns the “Sixth Source” of an Economic Moat
Apple delivers yet again, beating fiscal fourth-quarter expectations by a large margin.
Oct 14, 2015
Video: Are Economic Moats Priced Into Stock Prices? -- You Bet They Are
President of Equity Research Brian Nelson debunks the myth that economic moats are not included in stock prices. Length: ~8 minutes.
Sep 21, 2015
FAQ: The Wider the Moat, the Lower the Return, Right?
Yes, that's correct.
Apr 24, 2014
The Real Reason Why Moats Matter
Let’s sit down with President of Equity Research Brian Nelson for his take on economic moats.
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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.