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Latest Valuentum Commentary
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 25, 2020
All I Want for Christmas Are Dividend Aristocrats
Image Source: 5 Furlongs. It may not be as catchy as Mariah Carey's Christmas hit, "All I Want For Christmas Is You," but if you ask a dividend growth investor what they might want for Christmas as it relates to an investment, they might start singing about a long list of Dividend Aristocrats--a list of companies that have increased their dividends in each of the past 20-25+ years. Therefore, we wanted to do something special this Christmas for members. We've aggregated a list of every non-financial Dividend Aristocrat in our 16-page stock report coverage universe and made a list conveniently available, including some key data and links directly to their 16-page stock reports (pdf). To access the 16-page stock report of any company on this list, just click on its name, and you'll be prompted to download that particular company's 16-page stock report pdf file. Remember, we provide separate Dividend Reports for stocks, too. For example, the 16-page stock report pdf file that is linked to a company's name in this article is only a portion of the research, commentary, ratings and data on that particular company. Let's take Emerson Electric as an example. Not only does it have a 16-page Stock Report and additional Valuentum commentary via articles and notes, but it also has a Dividend Report. Both pdf reports can be downloaded on its stock web page (the pdf icons are to the right of the stock chart). We hope you enjoy the vast amount of research connected to the download links on this list. Each company's fair value estimate, Dividend Cushion ratio, Economic Castle rating and much more is backed by our three-stage discounted cash flow process with fully populated financial statements, available by request from Gold and Platinum members. Please download away! What's your favorite Dividend Aristocrat? Comments welcome.
Dec 21, 2020
Our Reports on Stocks in the Telecom Services Industry
Image Source: Mike Mozart. Our reports on stocks in the Telecom Services industry can be found in this article. Reports include CMCSA, LUMN, DISH, T, TMUS, VZ, SBAC, AMT, CCI, VIAC. The telecom industry is characterized by rapid technological change, intense competition and pricing pressures. The mature wireline segment remains under attack from cable/wireless products. Mobile technology enhancements such as the iPhone continue to attract new wireless subscribers in less saturated markets, but this has not lessened the intensity of competition. Industry constituents continue to pursue acquisitions in order to reduce bloated cost structures and achieve synergies. Average revenue per subscriber and churn rates should be monitored closely. We’re neutral on the structure of the group.
Dec 11, 2020
AT&T’s Outlook Is Getting Brighter
Image Shown: An overview of AT&T Inc’s capital allocation priorities over the coming years and a snapshot of its financial position at the end of September 2020. Image Source: AT&T Inc – Third Quarter of 2020 IR Earnings Presentation. The rollout of 5G wireless packages in the US combined with expected growth at its video streaming business has significantly improved AT&T’s outlook during the past few months. We include shares of AT&T in the High Yield Dividend Newsletter portfolio, and as of this writing, shares of T yield ~6.6%. Headwinds caused by the ongoing coronavirus (‘COVID-19’) pandemic weighed negatively on AT&T’s financial and operational performance in 2020, though the company remains on track to generate enormous amounts of free cash flow this year. AT&T currently expects to generate $26.0 billion or more in free cash flow in 2020, a forecast that the firm reiterated on December 8. The company has guided its dividend cash-flow payout ratio (dividend obligations divided by free cash flow) to come in near the high 50s% area this year. Please note that back in April 2020, AT&T expected its dividend cash-flow payout ratio in 2020 would be in the 60s% range, but its outlook was negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Things are starting to turn around in part due to the recent successes AT&T has had at its video streaming business after things got off to a slow start.
Dec 1, 2020
Walking Through the Calculation of the Dividend Cushion Ratio
Image shown: An image found on page 2 of Valuentum's Dividend Report on Kimberly-Clark. The 'Dividend Cushion Ratio Deconstruction,' shown in the image, reveals the numerator and denominator of the Dividend Cushion ratio. At the core, the larger the numerator (or the healthier a company's balance sheet and future free cash flow generation) relative to the denominator (or a company's future expected cash dividend obligations), the more durable the dividend. In the context of the Dividend Cushion ratio, KimberlyClark's numerator is larger than its denominator suggesting strong dividend coverage in the future. The 'Dividend Cushion Ratio Deconstruction' image puts sources of free cash flow in the context of financial obligations next to expected cash dividend payments over the next 5 years on a side-by-side comparison. Because the Dividend Cushion ratio and many of its components are forward-looking, our dividend evaluation may change upon subsequent updates as future forecasts are altered to reflect new information.We believe the Dividend Cushion ratio is one of the most helpful tools an income or dividend growth investor can use in conjunction with qualitative dividend analysis. The ratio is one-of-a-kind in that it is both free-cash-flow based, considers balance sheet health, and is forward looking. Since its development in 2012, we estimate its efficacy at ~90% in helping to forewarn readers of impending dividend cuts. For companies where Valuentum reports are available, the Dividend Cushion ratio can be found in a stock's Dividend Report or in the table on the company's stock landing page. We use Kimberly-Clark as an example of how we calculate the Dividend Cushion ratio and how useful it is for investors of all types.
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 13, 2020
Shares of Disney are Now Surging Towards the Top End of Our Fair Value Estimate Range
Image Shown: Shares of The Walt Disney Company are steadily climbing towards the top end of our fair value estimate range, which sits at $153 per share of DIS. After the market closed on November 12, The Walt Disney Company reported its fourth quarter and full-year earnings for fiscal 2020 (period ended October 3, 2020). Its latest results beat both consensus top- and bottom-line estimates. Though Disney’s financials took a big hit from the coronavirus (‘COVID-19’) pandemic, as expected (with an eye towards the enormous headwinds facing its ‘Parks, Experiences and Products’ business segment), the company’s outlook has improved considerably as its various video streaming services continue to outperform. We include shares of Disney in our Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio with a modest weighting. As the top end of our fair value estimate range sits at $153 per share of Disney, there could be room for shares to run higher even after recent share price gains.
Nov 2, 2020
ICYMI -- Dividend Growth Strategies Struggle
Image: A large cap growth ETF (orange) has significantly outperformed an ETF tied to a dividend growth strategy, the SPDR S&P Dividend ETF (SDY), which mirrors the total return performance of the S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrats Index. To no surprise to many members, several dividend growth strategies have faced tremendous pressure during 2020. The Journal recently wrote a piece on the topic, but from our perspective, the problem with many dividend growth strategies is that they tend to be balance-sheet agnostic and pay little attention to traditional free cash flow expectations, focusing only on the yield itself, sometimes dismissing future fundamentals in favor of historical growth trends and the inferior EPS-based dividend payout ratio. In many dividend-targeted ETFs, for example, it may not matter to the index creator whether a firm has $10 billion in net debt or $10 billion in net cash; as long as management has a track record of raising the dividend in the past, it is included. To us, however, there is a world of difference between a company that has a huge net cash position and a huge net debt position. The more excess cash on the balance sheet a dividend payer has, for example, the more secure its payout. In some cases, entities held in high-yielding ETFs don't even cover their dividends or distributions with traditional free cash flow generation, despite having ominous net debt loads. A look at the high-yielding ALPS Alerian MLP ETF, for example, shows a number of entities that are buried under a mountain of debt and are generating meager free cash flow relative to expected distributions. The lofty yield on that ETF should therefore be viewed with a very cautious eye. If the yield weren't at risk for a big cut, the market would bid up the stock, and down the yield would go. In no way should you believe that you can sleep well at night holding stocks yielding north of 10% when the current 10-year Treasury is well below 1%. The market is just not that inefficient. A dividend growth strategy can never be a passive one either. Only through constant attention to the balance sheet (net cash) and future free cash flow expectations can investors truly sleep well at night. At Valuentum, we do the balance sheet and cash flow work and summarize it succinctly in a key ratio called the Dividend Cushion ratio.
Oct 29, 2020
Disney Is One Of Our Favorite Streaming Companies
Image Shown: Shares of The Walt Disney Company continue to recover from the pandemic-induced crash in March 2020. One of our favorite companies with significant exposure to the video streaming arena is the entertainment behemoth The Walt Disney Company. The company’s various streaming services include ESPN+, Disney+, Hulu, among others. On October 12, Disney announced a major restructuring which effectively reorganized several of its business operating segments around supporting its video streaming ambitions, with an eye towards ensuring sizable investments in original content would be put towards good use.
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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.