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Latest Valuentum Commentary
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).
Apr 6, 2021
Our Equity Component Is Hard to Pass Up
The average monthly returns and standard deviation of returns for the simulated Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio relative to its declared benchmark, the S&P 500 (SPY), on an apples-to-apples basis, from inception, May 11, 2011, through December 15, 2017, with dividends collected but not reinvested for both the newsletter portfolio and the SPY. Returns are hypothetical. Past performance is not an indication of future performance. The hypothetical returns do not represent returns that any investor actually attained and do not include management or trading fees. Valuentum is a financial publisher.
Mar 29, 2021
Nothing May Derail the U.S. Economy In the Long Run
Image Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. U.S. gross domestic product is back on the upswing, and we fully expect the U.S. economy to recover, and then continue its expansion in coming years. U.S. GDP, January 1947 through October 2020. Warren Buffett may have said it best in Berkshire Hathaway’s 2020 Annual Report: “Never bet against America.”
Feb 19, 2021
PayPal Expects to Double Its Annual Free Cash Flows By 2025
Image Shown: PayPal Holdings Inc views its total addressable market across the payment processing and solutions sitting at approximately $110 trillion, an enormous opportunity that the firm is well-positioned to capitalize on. Image Source: PayPal Holdings Inc – 2021 Investor Day Presentation. We continue to be huge fans of PayPal and include shares of PYPL as a top-weighted idea in the Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio. As of this writing, shares of PYPL have surged higher by ~140% over the past year as the company’s business model has proven to be incredibly resilient in the face of the coronavirus (‘COVID-19’) pandemic. PayPal’s ability to generate meaningful free cash flows in almost any environment is supported by its relatively low capital expenditure requirements to maintain a certain level of revenues. The company’s position in the e-commerce realm is stellar given its ability to offer both consumers and merchants a comprehensive slate of financial services, with PayPal being a ubiquitous payment option on the digital checkout page across retailers and other businesses worldwide. PayPal’s mobile app allows its users to pay via a Quick Response code (‘QR code’) in physical store locations that are equipped to do so, providing its users with an easy-to-use contactless payment option. On February 11, PayPal hosted its 2021 Investor Day event and provided promising financial and operational guidance through 2025. PayPal expects to roughly double its annual free cash flows by 2025 from 2020 levels. In our view, this update further reinforces our optimistic view towards PayPal. When we update our free cash flow model of PayPal for the new year, we expect to increase our estimate of the company’s fair value.
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 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.
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.
Nov 19, 2020
Normalizing our Fair Value Estimates for the Money Center Banks
Image Source: Mike Cohen. During the past few weeks, positive news surrounding the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines means that, while times will still be tough for banks as bad loans pile up, losses and defaults perhaps won’t be as bad as we had originally predicted at the onset of the outbreak of COVID-19. The unemployment rate has steadily crept lower from the 14.7% rate it hit in April 2020 (it stands at 6.9% as of October), and businesses have been battling hard through the worst of times with help from the Paycheck Protection Program, among other stimulus efforts. There have still been many business failures, however. Several banks’ net interest margins have faced pressure, too, but 30-year rates have managed to ease a bit higher from the sub-1% mark on March 9, 2020, to 1.62% at the time of this writing (November 18). The widely-watched 10-year/3-month Treasury yield spread has also advanced to 79 basis points, representing a meaningful improvement from most of February and early March when the 10-year/3-month Treasury yield spread was negative. The probability of an adverse tail-event is also substantially reduced (if not, eliminated), given the laser-focus of the Fed/Treasury to do whatever it takes to get to the other side the COVID-19 crisis. With all of this in mind, we expect to raise our fair value estimates for the money center banks upon their next update, effective November 21. That said, we’re not changing our general views on the banking and financials sector. Banks are being used more and more these days as extensions of government fiscal intervention/policy via myriad stimulus programs (which makes them more like “utilities”), while regulatory oversight has put a limit on just how much capital they can return to shareholders. This adds a degree of unnecessary complexity for dividend growth and income investors. Returns on equity remain relatively unattractive for many banks when compared to some of the strongest Economic Castles on the market that put up ROICs north of 100%, for example, some even higher. Systemic risk remains present, too, with most lending books opaque and intertwined within a global financial system that remains far from healthy due to COVID-19.
Nov 3, 2020
We’re Reiterating Our $200 Fair Value Estimate for PayPal
Image Shown: Short-term headwinds aside, PayPal’s latest earnings report reinforced our optimistic view on its long-term growth outlook which in turn is why we are maintaining our fair value estimate of $200 per share. We continue to be big fans of PayPal. The company has a pristine balance sheet, high quality cash flow profile, impressive growth outlook, and is trading well below its fair value estimate as of this writing. Though investors initially sold off shares of PYPL following its third-quarter report November 2 due to its expected growth trajectory slowing down in the near term, we're reiterating our fair value estimate of $200 per share as PayPal continues to deliver impressive fundamental performance. PayPal’s medium- and long-term growth outlooks remain stellar. Venmo could be a source of significant upside in the medium-term, and we are monitoring events closely.
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.