Valuations

  • 24 Jul
    Trade war fears are driving WHR down to REALLY interesting value levels

    Trade war fears are driving WHR down to REALLY interesting value levels

    Since the beginning of the month, the stock market has shown some positive momentum, with the S&P 500 driving from around 2,700 to a little above 2,800 as of this writing. That boost seems to come in spite of trade tensions, which always seem to be lurking close by and ready to start grabbing headlines and investor’s attention all over again. Today another wrinkle seems to be making its way into the storyline, as the Trump administration appears ready to make about $30 billion in emergency aid available to U.S. farmers that have been negatively impacted by tariffs. That certainly seems like a tacit acknowledgement that a trade war is really hurting Americans, and that more pain could be coming in the near future since the administration doesn’t seem to be changing its tone or approach in any meaningful way.

    The truth is that any actual impact of tariffs – from the U.S. on another nation, or vice versa – isn’t likely to be seen on an immediate basis. The markets, however are emotional by nature, which means that they usually react as much, if not more, to the perception of news more than to its reality. That’s why the entire semiconductor sector, with massive exposure to China has seen its practically uninterrupted momentum of nearly nine years fade over the last few months and even turn bearish since early June. The same is true of industrial stocks, where steel and aluminum tariffs have muted enthusiasm for stocks in that sector despite recent, generally positive earnings growth.



    It is also true that increased globalization, facilitated by technological advancement in practically every economic sector means that most companies that have been successful at growing revenues and profits over the last two decades or more have done so by extending their reach far beyond their own national borders. That means that almost no matter what business you look at, how well-established it may be, or what its perception as a “national icon” may be, if you dive deeper into its business you’ll find that tariffs between any, or all of the nations embroiled in trade tensions is exposed to a heightened risk of increased costs from tariffs. As investors, that means it can be hard to figure out how to invest actively, but conservatively by limiting your own exposure. 

    The concern over tariffs is an important element to consider when you’re thinking about Whirlpool Corp. (WHR), which is a stock that anybody should be able to recognize easily; there is, after all an excellent chance that you have one or more Whirlpool or Maytag appliances in your own home. The company reported earnings this morning that missed most analyst’s expectations; management also lowered their profit outlook for the rest of the year and cited increased costs of steel and resin as well as freight. One of the factors that the company cited for those increased costs included tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on steel imports (although the implication from the conference call was that they were just one contributor, and not the biggest one). The news sent the stock plunging more than 14% below yesterday’s closing price. 

    The company also faces intense competition from South Korean companies like Samsung and LG, but still remains one of the largest home appliance (large or small) manufacturers and markets in the world. How does WHR shield you from trade risk, especially when they are citing tariffs as an element that is increasing their costs? While the company operates globally, it also localizes its manufacturing operations, which means that products sold in the U.S. are manufactured in the U.S., products sold in Europe are manufactured in Europe, and so on. Despite its global footprint, North America remains its largest market, with more than 54% of all sales in 2017 coming locally. By comparison, 23% came from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, 16% came from Latin America, and only about 7% from Asia. WHR’s CEO also indicated that because the company negotiates annual contracts for the steel they buy, they hadn’t been strongly affected in the last quarter by steel tariffs; however it does raise some concern that the longer the tariffs persist, the more direct the impact will be, which appears to be a reason for the lowered profit forecast. Even so, the company remains profitable, with strong, positive cash flow, continued market leadership and a dividend yield far above the S&P 500 average, but that remains conservative from a payout ratio perspective. The bonus for a value-oriented investor is that the stock’s overnight drop really puts its price at a deeply discounted level that is attractive for those willing to work with a long-term perspective.



    Whirlpool Corp. (WHR)

    Current Price: $129.96

      • Earnings and Sales Growth: Earnings decreased from $3.35 a year ago to $3.20 in the most recent quarter. The market was expecting to see a year-over-year increase to $3.69 per share. Revenues also missed the mark, dropping to $5.14 billion versus $5.35 billion a year ago. While the market is reacting negatively to the fact that the numbers missed analysts expectations, I think it’s constructive to put the year-over-year decline in perspective; the earnings drop is about 4.4%, while revenues dropped by about 3.9%. That isn’t insignificant, especially if you think about it on an annualized basis and consider that the global economy has generally been healthy. Don’t make the mistake, however of attributing the drop just to trade war concerns. Other factors that had an impact, for example was a trucker strike in Brazil that impacted WHR’s business in Latin America and could continue to show softness until its general elections in October are settled, as well as sales declines in the EMEA portion of their business.
      • Free Cash Flow: WHR’s Free Cash Flow is healthy, and their balance sheet indicates they have good liquidity, with more than $1 billion in cash and liquid assets to supplement healthy operating margins.



    • Debt to Equity: WHR has a debt/equity ratio of .80 as of the quarter prior. Long-term debt has increased since the end of 2017 by about 10%, and so I expect this number is going to go up somewhat. Their balance sheet however implies that operating margins remain healthy and more than adequate to service their debt, with good cash and liquid assets to provide additional flexibility.
    • Dividend: WHR pays an annual dividend of $4.60 per share, which at its current price translates to a dividend yield of about 3.54%, well above the S&P 500 average of 2%. Its dividend offers an attractive yield for patient investors who would be willing to hold the stock and wait for its trend to shift back to the upside.
    • Recent Price Action: The stock has been trending lower for the past year, hitting a high in July of last year at about $200 before tapering lower from that point. Its current price marks a 23% decline from its 52-week high, and therein lies the opportunity. The stock hit a trend low point in late June at around $142 before rebounding a bit. The stock plunged overnight due to the pre-market earnings call to its current level as the market is reacting in an extreme way to the earnings miss and the lowered forecast. The acknowledgement that tariffs are playing a role seems to simply be adding fuel to that fire for now, but from a value standpoint it’s really just creating an even better value proposition. Given the company’s strong fundamental profile, its current price could be considered a good value. It is now trading only about 1.7 times above its latest Book Value, while its historical average is about 2.6. That puts a long-term price at around $191 – near to its 52-week highs. Adding to its value argument is the fact that at its current price, it is trading at less than ten times forward-looking earnings, while the average for stocks in the S&P 500 Index right now is 17.1.


  • 26 Jun
    EMN dipped below $100 today. Is it a good buy?

    EMN dipped below $100 today. Is it a good buy?

    Trade tensions seem to have finally caught up to the market, as the last week has prompted investors to start selling. Despite today’s rally, the S&P 500 is off about 2.2% from a high point around 2,788 earlier this month. Those tensions have particularly followed U.S. stocks that do a significant portion of business overseas, and even more specifically those with major exposure in China. EMN fits that description; as of March of this year, the company estimated that 28% of its business came from the Asia/Pacific region, with the lion’s share of that business in China. That has pushed the stock off of its all-time highs around $110 in the last couple of weeks to its current price. A drop of about 10% in price marks a significant retracement and correction of the stock’s long-term trend, which is still more than 50% higher than it started a year ago. The stock is approaching an important support level that could mark a major turning point for investors.

    I think that despite the stock’s getting solid fundamental profile, and recovery to the stock’s previous highs is anything but a given, especially given the preference shown so far by both the U.S. and its trading partners to escalate trade tariffs. The market abhors any kind of conflict that could impact trade, and so I think the near-term risk for stocks like EMN is that the absence of satisfactory resolutions is going to limit their upside. The larger risk is that those tensions could force prices even lower and push these stocks into longer-term downward trends. EMN is very close to what I think it is an important signal point that investors can use to plan their strategy in either direction.



    Fundamental and Value Profile

    Eastman Chemical Company (Eastman) is an advanced materials and specialty additives company. The Company’s segments include Additives & Functional Products (AFP), Advanced Materials (AM), Chemical Intermediates (CI), and Fibers. In the AFP segment, it manufactures chemicals for products in the coatings, tires, consumables, building and construction, industrial applications, including solar energy markets, animal nutrition, care chemicals, crop protection, and energy markets. In the AM segment, it produces and markets its polymers, films, and plastics with differentiated performance properties for end uses in transportation, consumables, building and construction, durable goods, and health and wellness products. The CI segment leverages large scale and vertical integration from the cellulose and acetyl, olefins, and alkylamines streams to support its specialty operating segments. Its product lines in Fibers segment include Acetate Tow, Acetate Yarn and Acetyl Chemical Products. EMN has a current market cap of $142.6 billion.

    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings grew almost 22% while sales grew about 13%. Growing earnings faster than sales isn’t easy, and over time isn’t really sustainable, but it is also a positive mark of management’s ability to maximize their business operations.
    • Free Cash Flow: EMN has generally healthy free cash flow of $939 million over the last twelve months. This number has improved markedly since June of last year, when free cash flow was a little over $650 million.
      Debt to Equity: the company’s debt to equity ratio is 1.12, which is a little high; levels at 1 or below are preferred. However, the company’s balance sheet indicates operating profits are more than adequate to service the debt they have.
      Dividend: EMN pays an annual dividend of $2.24 per share, which translates to an annual yield of 2.22% at the stock’s current price.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for EMN is $39.40 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of 2.55. Ratios closer to 1 are usually preferred from a value-oriented standpoint, however higher multiples aren’t that unusual, especially in certain industries. The average for the Chemicals industry is 2.8, and the historical average for EMN is 3.0. That translates to about 15% upside in the stock right now, which would push its price a little above its 52-week highs.



    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.

    • Current Price Action/Trends and Pivots: Since early March, the stock has operating within a range between about $100 on the low side and $110 on the top end. The chart above uses the red diagonal line to trace the stock’s upward trend from August of last year to its peak in March, and then calculate Fibonacci retracement levels. Today’s movement has the stock possibly breaking the first level of Fib support. That’s interesting, but the real signal is at the next level, shown as the 50% retracement level (technically not a Fibonacci number, but still often an important level of emotional price activity) at around $97 per share. That range also coincides with the stock’s long-term trend line as calculated by a 200-day moving average and which is taken by technical traders as an important indicator of the stock’s long-term trend. The stock could use that level as support anywhere between its current price and $97, which would generally confirm the long-term trend. On the other hand, a break below $97 could mark a critical reversal point where the long-term trend shifts from up to down.
    • Near-term Keys: Watch the stock’s activity between $100 and $97 per share. A pivot back to the upside, with a push above $101, would certainly suggest the stock should at least push back into the $110 range and could offer a good short-term bullish trade by buying the stock or using call options. A break below $97 would probably not see any kind of pause in downward momentum until about $93 per share, or in more extreme cases, possible as low as the $85 to $86 range. If you don’t mind working with downward price patterns and trends, that could be an opportunity to short the stock or to work with put options.


  • 08 Jun
    Is DIS undervalued? I think so

    Is DIS undervalued? I think so

    We’re moving fully into summer, and that means kids are home from school and families are planning vacations. Growing up as a kid, and then again as a parent, it seemed like Walt Disney theme parks always found their way into my family’s vacation plans. More →

  • 25 Apr
    Here’s Why You Should Worry About What Happened In The Market Yesterday

    Here’s Why You Should Worry About What Happened In The Market Yesterday

    The thing with the stock market is that it gives you signals way ahead of time, but nobody wants to listen. The things I’ve been blabbering about over the past two years are the following:

    1. Higher interest rates will come just as the FED told us they would.
    2. Higher interest rates will squeeze valuations.
    3. Higher interest rates will slow down economic growth.
    4. Higher interest rates will slow down earnings growth.

    So, let’s start by discussing these.



    The 10-Year Treasury Passes 3%

    When the 10-year Treasury was below 3%, nobody seemed to care except a few crazy analysts like this scribe. However, when it crossed 3%, the market suddenly looked at what had been going on for nearly the last two years. More →

  • 05 Mar
    Stocks Are Crazy Risky Now – We’ll Reveal The Perfect Hedge

    Stocks Are Crazy Risky Now – We’ll Reveal The Perfect Hedge

    There’s some volatility in the markets that we haven’t seen for a long time.

    The increased volatility is a sign of nervousness and the market is looking for direction.

    No one knows where things will go in the short term as that’s impossible to know. Even Warren Buffett never fails to mention how he has absolutely no idea about where markets will go in the short to medium term.

    If we look at things from a macro perspective, the economy is at its limits and we’ve seen the actual GDP finally reach the potential GDP. More →

  • 23 Nov
    The Stock Market Will Crash In 2018 – Here’s What Could Trigger It

    The Stock Market Will Crash In 2018 – Here’s What Could Trigger It

    • All indicators show a stock market crash is imminent, but what will the trigger be?
    • I’ll discuss what can happen and how bad it could get.
    • As for the timing of it, the best thing is to be prepared for anything.



    Introduction

    To see whether the stock market will crash in 2018 or not, we have to first see what makes a stock market crash and the best way to do that is to look at the 2001 and 2008 market crashes because the financial environment prior to those crashes resembles the current market environment. More →

  • 24 Aug
    Gold Miners Vs. Gold Steaming Companies – There’s A Clear Winner When It Comes To The Better Investment Now

    Gold Miners Vs. Gold Steaming Companies – There’s A Clear Winner When It Comes To The Better Investment Now

    • I’ll compare current operating assets, future potential assets, valuations, costs, and cash flows for Barrick Gold and gold streaming company Franco Nevada.
    • Gold royalty companies have a lean business model and the appeal of constant positive cash flows, no matter the price of gold, is on their side.
    • Gold miners have a history that’s better to forget after terrible investments were made in 2012 when gold prices were high, but are you investing in the past or for the future?

    Introduction

    Two days ago, I described gold royalty, or streaming, companies and how they have outperformed gold and gold miners in the past.

    Today, I want to compare the largest gold royalty company, Franco Nevada Corporation (NYSE: FNV), with the largest gold miner, Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE: ABX), to determine which is a better investment at this point in time, a gold miner or a gold royalty company. More →

  • 11 Aug
    Is Value Investing Dead?

    Is Value Investing Dead?

    • The last 10 years have been terrible for value investors as it has seemed like fundamentals don’t matter at all anymore.
    • There are limited options to be a value investor as the Russell 1000 value index has a price to book ratio above 2.
    • I’ll discuss three options for what a value investor can do and the historical results of such approaches.

    Introduction

    If you’re a value investor or have been invested in a value fund, you probably aren’t the happiest investor in the world right now. More →

  • 02 May
    The Art Of Business Valuation – Three Valuable Valuation Methods

    The Art Of Business Valuation – Three Valuable Valuation Methods

    • Don’t expect precision from business valuation, but accuracy helps a lot.
    • Calculating net present values, liquidation values, and stock market values are the best methods to use according to Klarman.

    Introduction

    Today, we’re really digging into the essence of Seth Klarman’s book Margin of Safety.

    Some think the market, being efficient, will tell you the exact value of a business, but history has shown that in the short term it often happens that the market values businesses extremely irrationally, either on the upside or on the downside. Knowing how to properly value a business gives an investor the perfect investing edge as it allows them to disregard what the market thinks and turn that into their own advantage by exploiting market mispricings.

    Let’s see what Klarman has to say about business valuation by going through chapter 8 of his book. More →

  • 01 May
    What You Can Learn From Under Armour

    What You Can Learn From Under Armour

    • There’s a divergence between Under Armour’s fundamentals and its stock price.
    • Every growth story is bound to end or at least slow down at some point, and at that point the stock usually gets hammered.
    • However, sentiment must not be underestimated as an $0.03 earnings beat can send the stock up 10%.

    Crazy Stock Movement

    Under Armour’s (NYSE: UAA, UA) stock has had a wild ride in the last four years. It went from $12 in 2013 to highs above $50 in 2015 only to fall to the current lows around $19. More →