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The Valuation Edge is Applied Finance’s newsletter to share updates and our Valuation Driven® insights with the investment community.  Our goal is the 3EEE’s… Entertain, Engage, and Enlighten the investment community through what we consider to be interesting market observations, economic facts, and company expectations, to better frame the current investment environment.

We hope you join and interact with us on what promises to be an interesting long-term journey through buys, sells, and holds. 

View Last Month’s Issue: Price Multiples Have Been Lying to You

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Valuation Beta: Addressing the Inadequacies of Book to Price with Valuation, Stewardship, and Leverage
Asset pricing model research has been dominated by the book to price (HML) factor following its introduction in the Fama French 3 Factor model in 1992. Over the initial study horizon of 1963 to 1991, book to price delivered performance characteristics that essentially absorbed the cross-sectional return information of numerous other factors, including leverage and earnings to price, on an ex-ante basis.  Ongoing refinements to asset pricing models tend to build upon the foundation of this initial three factor research, highlighting the broad acceptance of these specific factors when seeking to explain cross-sectional returns. It has also become commonplace to refer to book to price simultaneously as a valuation factor (cheap vs. expensive, Asness, Frazzini, Israel and Moskowitz, 2015), a style factor (value vs. growth, Zhang, 2015, as well as Russell, S&P, and Morningstar style methodologies), and a leverage factor (high vs. low leverage, Penman, Richardson, and Tuna, 2005).  In this paper, we provide compelling evidence that asset pricing models based on direct measures of intrinsic value, stewardship (which loosely aligns with style based on the reliance on external financing for early-stage growth stocks and the return of capital to shareholders for mature value stocks) and leverage offer substantial improvements in minimizing residual alpha compared to models that conflate book to price as a proxy for these competing themes.

Applied Finance Quantitative Review – Q3 2020
Our Q3 Quantitative Review includes an array of market insights to help understand what is driving the market and how to explain it to others. Topics include Top 5 Market Cap Companies, comparisons of high yield vs. no yield, and “Low Risk” & “High Risk” stocks as well as a Covid-19 consumer update.

Economic Margin Valuation™ – 25 Years Later
Celebrating Applied Finance’s 25th Anniversary, we highlight some of our most impactful research such as our work developing our Economic Margin Valuation Framework, the flaw in the Gordon Growth model that led to our work on Economic Profit Horizons™ as well as an introduction to our latest asset pricing study.

Small Cap Growth: Most Expensive Valuation Since Tech Bubble
The 2020 Covid-19 crisis has caused a spectacular shift in relative Valuations in the value/growth categories within the small-cap Russell 2000. In fact, this is the largest spike in relative Valuation that we’ve seen since the Tech Bubble.

Time to Reconsider Large Cap Value & Growth Allocations
In the current market, we see a difference in Valuation between value and growth names. Value stocks appear to be around their long-term normal range from a relative attractiveness standpoint. Growth companies however, appear to have become overvalued.

Growth Stocks Approaching Valuation Levels Last Observed During Tech Bubble
While we rarely make huge market calls and remain reluctant to do so at this point, its worth noting that growth stocks are trading at below -1.5 StdDev from historical normal levels signaling a significant move outside of normal range. This is especially noteworthy, as the growth relationship in the Russell 1000 is now at levels last observed in the peak of the tech bubble.

The False Bargain of Passive Investing
Today the irony continues, as the intellectual foundations in financial economics that underpinned Bogle’s incredible success are much less robust than they appeared in the early 70’s, yet the push for passive investing is stronger and more fervent than ever. For proactive, process-oriented, intelligent advisors this will create a great opportunity to distinguish yourself from the growing herd of “commodity” advisors who preach little more than fee minimization, rather than alpha generation or negative alpha avoidance.

Emotional Unease Creates Generational Wealth Opportunity
Only in 2008 have valuations been as attractive as now. Today, the market is essentially pricing in 0% sales growth over the next five years, not as harsh as the -15% priced in during the 2008 lows, but very harsh compared to the expected 20% to 30% growth these firms have typically delivered over a five year period. Unlike 2008 there will not be liquidity issues driving economic decisions and panicking investors. This is a confidence crisis similar to 9/11. As medical policy catches and surpasses the virus, confidence will return and economic activity will march forward. Already, in China, restaurants have reopened to crowds, and society is returning to business as usual.

  • The Gross Profitability Trap

    The Gross Profitability Trap “But this time, it’s different!” More foolish words are rarely spoken in the financial industry, but they always seem to find their way back into the stock market lexicon. A firm’s [...more]
  • Intrinsic Value Factor®

    February 4, 2019 Applied Finance

    Valuation Driven™ Investing begins and ends with calculating the intrinsic value of every stock in a benchmark against which a portfolio is constructed, and comparing those values against traded prices. All of Applied Finance’s portfolios are Intrinsic Value Driven™, which differs significantly from a “value” perspective. To gain a better understanding into Applied Finance’s Intrinsic Value Driven™ approach, let’s first review traditional approaches to “Value”.

    The traditional approaches to finding undervalued stocks use a simple ratio such as P/E or P/B, or a mix of them. These common approaches to value come with many shortcomings: […more]

  • Then and Now: Buyers Remorse Versus Sellers Loss

    October 31, 2008 Applied Finance
    Over the past couple months, worsening macro economic conditions, declining corporate profitability and a bottomless stock market have investors longing for the good old days when the economy delivered steady increases in GDP growth with [...more]
  • Economic Margin®

    A corporate performance metric should provide insights into what a firm is worth. Most money managers utilize common earnings-based measures of corporate performance and value, which are suspect and easy to manipulate. Applied Finance developed the Economic Margin (EM) framework to remove the noise inherent in accounting data.

    Traditional accounting-based valuation methods provide an incomplete view of a company’s value by not accounting for the investment needed to generate the earnings, cost of capital, inflation or cash flow. […more]