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Latest Valuentum Commentary
May 12, 2021
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).
May 11, 2021
Stock Markets Still Healthy, Big Cap Tech and Large Cap Growth Safe Havens
Image Shown: Facebook’s shares are trading below the low end of our fair value estimate range at the time of this writing. The social media giant registers a 10 on the Valuentum Buying Index as it boasts a tremendous financial position with respect to net cash on the balance sheet and future expected free cash flows. Image Source: Valuentum. It’s easy to get spooked sometimes by the market’s volatility, but what we’ve witnessed the past few days is nothing compared to the volatility during the COVID-19 crisis and the Great Financial Crisis before it—and what we eventually expect the proliferation of price-agnostic trading to do to the markets in the years ahead. We continue to like the areas of big cap tech and large cap growth thanks to their strong competitive positions, solid net cash profiles, and robust and growing future expected free cash flow. Facebook remains our top idea for capital appreciation potential. Newmont Mining is our favorite “inflation hedge” within the metals and mining arena, and investors that would like greater exposure to energy and financials may look to more diversified ETFs to gain access to the broader themes of rising energy resource prices and net interest margins. AT&T is a top equity consideration for the high-yield dividend crowd. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be looking to put some of the dry powder that we raised in January 2021 “to work” in some of the areas we outlined in this article. In the meantime, we’re going to continue to watch this orderly sell-off that’s being driven by valuation model adjustments (to factor in higher inflation expectations) and modest deleveraging from cryptocurrency volatility. All is well.
Apr 22, 2021
Good News from High Yielding AT&T
Image Source: AT&T. We liked AT&T’s first-quarter results and outlook for 2021 that calls for free cash flow generation to be well in excess of expected cash dividends paid for the year. Investors should be aware of its hefty net debt position, but with a ~7% dividend yield, the company may be hard to pass up for high yield dividend focused investors. We plan to make some tweaks to our valuation model following this report, but our fair value estimate of $34 per share remains unchanged at this time.
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."
Mar 24, 2021
ViacomCBS Makes Big Bet on Streaming
Image Source: ViacomCBS Inc – Fourth Quarter of 2020 IR Earnings Presentation. After Viacom and CBS were reunited in December 2019, the new entity ViacomCBS Inc has finally started to gain some traction on the video streaming front. The service CBS All Access, which has since been rebranded as Paramount+, was largely a dud and did not gain the level of attention that Walt Disney Company’s Disney+ service, AT&T Inc’s HBO Max service, or Netflix's namesake service were able to generate. For background, ViacomCBS’s operations include various TV network and cable TV assets, TV and movie studios, various streaming services, and a book publisher. That includes various CBS networks (CBS, CBS Sports, CBS News), CBS studios, MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount, Nickelodeon, Pluto TV (another video streaming service that is free and ad-supported), BET, CMT, POP TV, half of CW (AT&T owns the remaining 50%), COLORS (focused on India), telefe (focused on Spanish-speaking content), SHOWTIME, and the book publisher Simon & Schuster. However, with ViacomCBS launching Paramount+ this month in the US and various Latin American markets, the service now has a larger slate of content than CBS All Access and is supported by ViacomCBS’ vast library (and most importantly, ViacomCBS has plans to produce dozens of original series for Paramount+ going forward). Paramount+ is leaning on properties such as Star Trek and SpongeBob SquarePants along with reboots of shows like iCarly to create engaging original content. Content is king. The combination of Viacom and CBS helped address that issue and provided the new entity with the scale required to be competitive in this business.
Mar 15, 2021
AT&T’s Video Streaming Growth Story Is Starting to Take Flight
Image Source: AT&T Inc – 2021 Investor & Analyst Day Presentation. On March 12, AT&T hosted its 2021 Analyst & Investor Day event. In conjunction with the event, AT&T issued long-term financial and operational guidance which included a substantial upward revision in its expected HBO/HBO Max subscriber growth over the coming years. We continue to be big fans of AT&T as a high yielding opportunity and include AT&T as an idea in the High Yield Dividend Newsletter portfolio. As of this writing, shares of AT&T yield ~7.0%.
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 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.
Jan 22, 2021
We Expect Netflix to Turn Into a Free Cash Flow Generating Machine
Image Shown: Netflix Inc’s global paid subscriber base is expected to keep growing at a decent clip going forward, though at a slower pace than in the recent past. Image Source: Netflix Inc – Shareholder Letter covering its fourth quarter and full-year earnings in 2020. The video streaming services industry will continue to experience strong subscriber growth in 2021, and we see room for a number of winners in the space. Original content and scale are essential to remaining relevant, and competitive headwinds are growing as companies seek to replicate the success of Netflix. We think Netflix will eventually turn into a free-cash-flow generating machine, but at the moment, we're big fans of "new" streaming rival Disney and include the latter in the Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio. Disney is the top competitive threat to Netflix, in our view.
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.
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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.