Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Growth or the lack of it, is integral to a valuation exercise

The value of a business, a share of stock or any other productive asset is the present value of its future cash flows.

However, value is easier to define than to measure (easier said than done).

Valuing a business (or any productive asset) requires estimating its future performance and discounting the results to present value.  The probable future performance includes whatever GROWTH (or SHRINKAGE) is ASSUMED.


This supports the point that the phrase value investing is redundant.  Investing is the deliberate determination that one pays a price lower than the value being obtained.  Only speculators pay a price hoping that through growth the value  rises above it.

Growth doesn't equate directly with value either.  

Growing earnings can mean growing value.  But growing earnings can also mean growing expenses, and sometimes expenses growing faster than revenues.  Growth adds value only when the payoff from growth is greater than the cost of growth.

A company reinvesting a dollar of earnings to grow by 99 cents is not helping its shareholders and is not a value stock, though it may be a growth stock.

Value investing is conventionally defined as buying companies bearing low ratios of price-to-earnings, price-to-book value, or high dividend yields.  But these metrics do not by themselves make a company a value investment.  It isn't that simple.  Nor does the absence of such metrics prevent an investment from bearing a sufficient margin of safety and qualitative virtues to justify its inclusion in a value investor's portfolio.

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