Thursday, 21 January 2016

Experts reveal their investment tips for volatile times

'Don't panic': Experts reveal their investment tips for volatile times
January 21, 2016 - 9:53AM

China fears! Billions of dollars lost! Unprecedented volatility!

With investment markets in full blown panic mode, two listed investment company stalwarts are advising investors to keep cool heads as they wade through some of the most volatile times on record.

Tom Millner, chief executive of the $900 million BKI Investment Company, urges investors not to see red despite nearly $120 billion wiped off the Australian share market since the start of this year.

Around $120 billion has been wiped off local shares in 2016.

Ross Barker, managing director of the $6.2 billion Australian Foundation Investment Company (AFIC), believes now is a great time for investors to cherry pick where to put their funds.

These are their investment tips for navigating through the volatility in 2016:

1. Don't jump

"It's about buying good, quality companies that have strong businesses through cycles," Ross Barker, managing director of AFIC, said.

As the markets yo-yo with gains and losses throughout the trading day, Mr Barker has this to say to investors: "Don't panic."

Herd or mob mentality often permeates the market when investors dump stock in a state of panic, resulting in the overselling of companies.

Australian shares tumbled to a 2 1/2-year low on Wednesday as investors worry about China's growth prospects and slowing global commodity markets.

China's sharemarkets are as volatile as ever, but AFIC managing director Ross Barker believes the country's growth prospects are still strong.

"People get caught up in the mentality of the moment and they can often sell good things when they shouldn't be selling," Mr Barker said.

"There's concerns about China but we're still confident about the growth prospects of the economy."

2. Take your time

Blue-chip stocks such as BHP and Rio have been two of the biggest market casualites, shedding 40 per cent and 24 per cent respectively since last year.

"Be patient."

That is Mr Millner's response to the panicked selling since the start of this year that has spared few companies on the ASX.

Casualties such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, two of the largest resources stock on the sharemarket, have shed 40 per cent and 24 per cent respectively since last year.

But Mr Millner remains confident major Australian resources companies exposed to commodities such as oil, coal and copper in particular will bounce back as the imbalance between supply and demand is adjusted and the Australian dollar continues its descent.

He believes large resources companies may rebound over the next 12 to 18 months.

"It's just short term noise - so be patient," he said.

3. Buy quality

If a company is temptingly cheap but there's little basis for future growth, don't buy it.

"Stick with quality is my advice," Mr Barker said about picking stocks amid the market downturn.

Healthcare and diversified financial stocks are AFIC's picks thanks to an ageing population, while companies that source their revenue from overseas markets are also attractive.

The LIC has bought stakes in companies such as annuities giant Challenger and Macquarie Group.

"It's about buying good, quality companies that have strong businesses through cycles," he said.

4. Stay for the long haul

"We tend to try and hold a stock for at least 10 years," Mr Millner said.

While the thought of clinging to a company for a decade might not be every retail investor's cup of tea, holding a stock for a few years rather than dumping them at the first sign of trouble could yield strong growth potential.

Investors who bide their time and reap the dividends from blue chip companies or businesses with strong fundamentals will benefit through the volatility.

"We're in this for this for the long haul, and we do like the thematics of healthcare in particular with an ageing population."

BKI has been buying stock in Ramsay Healthcare and Sonic Healthcare as part of their long term investment strategy.

The company returned 10.9 per cent for the year to December, beating the S&P/ASX300 Index's 2.8 per cent over the same period.

Read more:

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

When to Buy? FIVE powerful forces having extremely powerful influence on the general level of stock prices either by influencing mass psychology or by direct economic operation..

All types of common stock investors might well keep one basic thought in mind; otherwise, the financial community's constant worry about and preoccupation with the danger of downswings in the business cycle will paralyze much worthwhile investment action.

This thought is the current phase of the business cycle is but one of at least five powerful forces.  

All of these forces, either by influencing mass psychology or by a direct economic operation, can have an extremely powerful influence on the general level of stock prices.

The other four influences are:

  1. the trend of interest rates,
  2. the overall governmental attitude toward investment and private enterprise,
  3. the long-range trend to more and more inflation, and 
  4. possibly most powerful of all - new inventions and techniques as they affect old industries.

These forces are seldom all pulling stock prices in the same direction at the same time.

Nor is any one of them necessarily going to be of vastly greater importance than any other for long periods of time.

#  So complex and diverse are these influences that the safest course to follow will be the one that at first glance appears to be the most risky or riskiest.

#  This is to take investment action when matters you know about a specific company appear to warrant such action.

#  Be undeterred by fears or hopes based on conjectures, or conclusions based on surmises.

When to buy? You have some money to invest. Should you completely ignore the future trend of the business cycle?


# Does this mean that if a person has some money to invest he should completely ignore what the future trend of the business cycle may be and invest 100% of this fund the moment he has found the right stocks and located a good buying point, as indicated above?

A depression might strike right after he has made his investment.

Since a decline of 40 to 50% from its peak is not at all uncommon for even the best stock in a normal business depression, is not completely ignoring the business cycle rather a risky policy?

1.   For those in the happy position of having a backlog of well-chosen investments bought comfortably below present prices.


This risk may be taken in stride by the investor who, for a considerable period of time, has already had the bulk of his stocks placed in well-chosen situations.

If properly chosen, these should by now have already shown him some fairly substantial capital gains.

But now, either because he believes one of his securities should be sold or because some new funds have come his way, such an investor has funds to purchase something new.

UNLESS it is one of those rare years when speculative buying is running riot in the stock market and major economic storm signals are virtually screaming their warnings (as happened in 1928 and 1929), this class of investor should ignore any guesses on the coming trend of general business or the stock market.

# Instead, he should invest the appropriate funds as soon as the suitable buying opportunity arises.

2.  For those NOT in the happy position of having a backlog of well-chosen investments bought comfortably below present prices.


Perhaps this maybe the first time they have funds to invest.

Perhaps they may have a portfolio of bonds or relatively static non-growth stocks which at long last they desire to convert into shares that in the future will show them more worthwhile gains.

If such investors get possession of new funds or develop a desire to convert to growth stocks after a prolonged period of prosperity and many years of rising stock prices, should they, too, ignore the hazards of a possible business depression?

Such an investor would not be in a very happy position if, later on, he realized he had committed all or most of his assets near the top of a long rise or just prior to a major decline.

This does create a problem.  However, the solution to this problem is not especially difficult - as in so many other things connected with the stock market, it just requires an extra bit of patience.

# This group should start buying the appropriate type of common stocks just as they feel sure they have located one or more of them.

# However, having made a start in this type of purchasing, they should stagger the timing of further buying.

# They should plan to allow several years before the final part of their available funds will have become invested.

By so doing, if the market has a severe decline somewhere in this period, they will still have purchasing power available to take advantage of such a decline.  

If no decline occurs and they have properly selected their earlier purchases, they should have at least a few substantial gains on such holdings.

This would provide a cushion so that if a severe decline happened to occur at the worst possible time for them - which would be just after the final part of their funds had become fully invested - the gains on the earlier purchases should largely, if not entirely, offset the declines on the more recent ones.

No severe loss of original capital would, therefore, be involved.

Additional notes:

There is an equally important reason why investors who have not already obtained a record of satisfactory investments, and who have enough funds to be able to stagger their purchases should do so.

#  This is that such investors will have had a practical demonstration, prior to using up all their funds, that they or their advisors are sufficient masters of investment technique to operate with reasonable efficiency.

In the event that such a record had not been attained, at least, all of an investor's assets would not be committed before he had had a warning signal to revive his investment technique or to get someone else to handle such matters for him.

When to buy? Great companies that ran into temporary corporate troubles and those with yet to be recognised worthwhile improvement in earnings, maybe buying opportunities.

1.  Great companies that ran into temporary corporate troubles maybe buying opportunities.

In short, the company into which the investor should be buying is the company which is doing things under the guidance of exceptionally able management.

A few of these things are bound to fail.

Others will from time to time produce unexpected troubles before they succeed.

The investor should be thoroughly sure in his own mind that these troubles are temporary rather than permanent.

# Then if these troubles have produced a significant decline in the price of the affected stock and give promise of being solved in a matter of months rather than years, he will probably be on a pretty safe ground in considering that this is a time when the stock may be bought.

2.  Buying the right sort of company with a worthwhile improving  in earnings that has not yet produced an upward move in its price.

All buying points do not arise out of corporate troubles.

Another type of opportunity sometimes occurs.

What is the common denominator?

# It is that a worthwhile improvement in earnings coming in the right sort of company, but that this particular increase in earnings has not yet produced an upward move in the price of that company's shares.

Whenever this situation occurs the right sort of investment may be considered to be in a buying range.

Conversely, when it does not occur, an investor will still in the long  run make money if he buys into outstanding companies.

However, he had then better have a somewhat greater degree of patience for it will take him longer to make this money and percentage-wise it will be a considerably smaller profit on his original investment.


Additional notes:


Does this mean that if a person has some money to invest he should completely ignore what the future trend of the business cycle may be and invest 100% of this fund the moment he has found the right stocks and located a good buying point, as indicated above?

A depression might strike right after he has made his investment.

Since a decline of 40 to 50% from its peak is not at all uncommon for even the best stock in a normal business depression, is not completely ignoring the business cycle rather a risky policy?

When to Buy? When to Sell? Learning from Philip Fisher describing a fund's investment into American Cyanamid share.

When to Buy?

Philip Fisher wrote:

"Immediately prior to the 1954 congressional elections, certain investment funds took advantage of this type of situation.  For several years before this time, American Cyanamid shares had sold in the market at a considerably lower price-earnings ratio than most of the other major chemical companies.  I believe this was because the general feeling in the financial community was that, while the Lederle division represented one of the world's most outstanding pharmaceutical organizations, the relatively larger industrial and agricultural chemical activities constituted a hodge-podge of expensive and inefficient plants flung together in the typical "stock market" merger period of the  booming 1920's.  These properties were generally considered anything but a desirable investment."

"Largely unnoticed was the fact that a new management was steadily but without fanfare cutting production costs, eliminating dead wood, and streamlining the organization.  What was noticed was that this company was'making a huge bet' - making a major capital expenditure, for a company its size, in a giant new organic chemical plant at Fortier, Louisiana.  So much complex engineering was designed into this plant that it should have surprised no one when the plant lagged many months behind schedule in reaching the break-even point.  As the problems at Fortier continued, however, the situation added to the generally unfavourable light in which American Cyanamid shares were then being regarded.  At this stage, in the believe a buying point was at hand, the funds to which I have already referred acquired their holdings at an average price of 45 3/4.  This would be 22 7/8 on the present shares as a result of a 2 for 1 stock split which occurred in 1957."

"What has happened since?  Sufficient time has elapsed for the company to begin getting the benefits of some of the management activities that were creating abnormal costs in 1954.  Fortier is now profitable.  Earnings have increased from $1.48 per (present) common share in 1954 to $2.10 per share in 1956 and promise to be slightly higher in 1957, a year in which most chemical (though not pharmaceutical) profits have run behind those of the year before.  At least as important, 'Wall Street; has come to realize that American Cyanamid's industrial and agricultural chemical activities are worthy of institutional investment.  As a result, the price-earnings ratio of these shares has changed noticeably.  A 37 percent increase in earnings that has taken place in somewhat under 3 years has produced a gain in market value of approximately 85 percent."

Since writing these words, the financial community's steady upgrading of the status of American Cyanamid appears to have continued.  With earnings for 1959 promising to top the previous all-time peak of $2.42 in 1957, the market price of these shares has steadily advance.  It now is about 60, representing a gain of about 70 percent in earning power and 163 percent in market value in the five years since the shares referred to were acquired.

In 1954 Cyanamid stock was purchased by "certain funds" referred to by Philip Fisher in his original edition.  These funds are no longer retaining the shares, which were sold in the spring of 1959 at an average price of about 49.  This was of course significantly below the current market (60) but still represented a profit of about 110 percent.

When to Sell?

The size of the profit had nothing whatsoever to do with the decision to sell.

There were two motives behind the decision.

1.  One was that the long-range outlook for another company appeared even better.  While not enough time has yet passed to give conclusive proof one way or the other, so far comparative market quotations for both stocks appear to have warranted this move.

2.  There was a second motive behind this switch of investments which hindsight may prove to be less credible.  This was concern that in relation to the most outstanding of competitive companies, American Cyanamid's chemical (in contrast to its pharmaceutical) business was not making as much progress in broadening profit margins and establishing profitable new lines as had been hoped.  Concern over these factors was accentuated by uncertainty over the possible costs of the company's attempt to establish itself in the acrylic fiber business in the highly competitive textile industry.  This reasoning may prove to be correct and still could turn out to have been the wrong investment decision, because of bright prospects in the Lederle, or pharmaceutical division.  These prospects have become more apparent since the shares were sold.  The possibilities for a further sharp jump in Lederle earning power in the medium-term future center around (1) a new and quite promising antibiotic, and (2) in time a sizable market for an oral "live" polio vaccine, a field in which this company has been a leader.  These developments make it problematic and a matter that only the future will decide as to whether this decision to dispose of Cyanamid shares may not have been an investment mistake.  


Additional Notes:


Contrary to Buffett, Fisher is looking for companies that "will have spectacular growth in their per-share earnings." (Buffett is primarily concerned with consistent and handsome returns on equity.) Buffett and Fisher do agree on the worthlessness of macroeconomic forecasting. Fisher writes, "The conventional method of timing when to buy stocks is, I believe, just as silly as it appears on the surface to be sensible. This method is to marshal a vast mass of economic data…I believe that the economics which deal with the forecasting business trends may be considered to be about as far along as was the science of chemistry during the days of alchemy in the Middle Ages." Fisher prefers to buy into outstanding companies when their earnings are temporarily depressed, and so consequently is the share price, because of a new product or process launch. "In contrast to guessing which way general business or the stock market may go, he should be able to judge with only a small probability of error what the company into which he wants to buy is going to do in relation to business in general."

Stock monitoring and when to sell
• Use a three-year rule for judging results if a stock is
underperforming but no fundamental changes have
• Hold stock until there is a fundamental change in its
nature or it has grown to a point where it will no longer
be growing faster than the overall economy.
• Don’t sell for short-term reasons.
• Sell mistakes quickly, once they are recognized.
• Don’t overdiversify—10 or 12 larger companies is
sufficient, investing in a variety of industries with different

When to Buy? Economic forecasting business trends cannot be safely used as a basis for your investing action. Stay with superbly selected growth stocks.

The heart of successful investing is knowing how to find the minority of stocks that in the years ahead will have spectacular growth in their per-share earnings.

Is there any reason to divert time or mental effort from this main issue?

Does not the matter of when to buy become of relatively minor importance?

Once the investor is sure he has definitely found an outstanding stock, isn't any time at all a good time to buy it?

The answer to this depends somewhat on the investor's objective.

It also depends on his temperament.

The consequence of buying just before a big stock market crash.

An example of this would be the purchase of several superbly selected enterprises in the summer of 1929 or just before the greatest stock market crash of American history.

In time, such a purchase would have turned out well.

But 25 years later, it would provide a much smaller percentage gain than would have been the case if, having done the hardest part of the job in selecting his companies properly, an investor had made the small extra effort needed to understand a few simple principles about the timing of growth stocks.

In other words:

  • if the right stocks are bought and held long enough they will always produce some profit.
  • usually, they will produce a handsome profit.
  •  however, to produce close to the maximum profit, the kind of spectacular profit one hoped for, some consideration must be given to timing.

The conventional method of timing when to buy stocks.

This is just as silly as it appears on the surface to be sensible.

This method is to marshal a vast mass of economic data.  From these data conclusions are reached as to the near- and medium-term course of general business.

More sophisticated investors will usually form opinions about the future course of money rates as well as business activity.

Then, if their forecasts for all these matters indicate no major worsening of background conditions, the conclusion is that the desired stock may be bought.   

It sometimes appears that dark clouds are forming on the horizon.  Then those who use this generally accepted method will postpone or cancel purchases they otherwise would make.

The objection to this conventional approach.

The conventional approach is not unreasonable in theory.  

The objection is that in the current state of human knowledge about the economics which deal with forecasting future business trends, it is impossible to apply this method in practice.

The chances of being right are not good enough to warrant such methods being used as a basis for risking the investment of savings.

This may not always be the case.

Economic forecasting business trends cannot be safely used as a basis for your investing action.

It might not even be the case five or ten years from now.  At present, able men are attempting to harness electronic computers to establish "input-output" series of sufficient intricacy that perhaps at some future date it may be possible to know with a fair degree of precision what the coming business trend will be.

When, if ever, such developments occur, the art of common stock investment may have to be radically revised.  Until they occur, however, the economics which deal with forecasting business trends may be considered to be about as far along as was the science of chemistry during the days of alchemy in the Middle Ages.

In chemistry then, as in business forecasting now, basic principles were just beginning to emerge from a mysterious mass of mumbo-jumbo.  However, chemistry had not reached a point where such principles could be safely used as a basis for choosing a course of action.

Rarely, economic forecasting is useful or safe.

Occasionally, as in 1929, the economy gets so out of line that speculative enthusiasm for the future runs to unprecedented proportions.

Even in our present state of economic ignorance, it is possible to make a pretty accurate guess as to what will occur.

However, it is doubtful if the years when it is safe to do this have averaged much more than one out of ten.

They may be even rarer in the future.

(Read:  Year 2008 - Buffett Calls The Market Again...And He's Never Been Wrong

If, then, conventional studies of the near-term economic prospect do not provide the right method of approach to the proper timing of buying, what does provide it?

The answer lies in the very nature of growth stocks themselves.

Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits
Philip Fisher

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Philip Fisher’s Approach in Brief

It’s Quality That Counts: The Fisher Approach to Stock Investing

Philosophy and style

Investment in “outstanding” companies that over the
years can grow in sales and profits more than industry
as a whole. The key features of “outstanding” companies
are: strong management that has a disciplined approach
designed to achieve dramatic long-term growth in profits,
with products or services that have the potential for
sizable sales long term, and with other inherent qualities
that would make it difficult for competitors and newcomers
to share in that potential growth.

Universe of stocks

No restrictions on universe of stocks from which to
select. Over-the-counter stocks should not be overlooked,
but “outstanding” companies are not necessarily
young and small.

Criteria for initial consideration

Prospective companies should pass most of the following
15 points, which can be divided into three main

Functional factors:
• Products or services with sufficient market potential for
sizable increase in sales for several years. Major sales
growth, judged over series of years.
• Superiority in production—lowest-cost production (for
manufacturing firms) or lowest-cost operation (for
service firms or retailers).
• Strong marketing organization—efficiency of sales, advertising,
and distributive organizations.
• Outstanding research and development efforts—amount
expended relative to its size, effectiveness of effort as
indicated by ability to bring research ideas to production
and to market and by how much research contributed
to net profits.
• Effectiveness of company’s cost analysis and accounting
controls, and choice of capital investments that will
bring the highest return.
• Financial strength or cash position—sufficient capital
to take care of needs to exploit prospects for next
several years without the need to raise equity capital.

Excellence in Management
• Attitude of management to continue to develop products
or services that will further increase sales.
• Development of good in-house management and teamwork.
• Management depth.
• Good labor and personnel relations: Affiliation with an
international union may be an indication of bad relations;
labor turnover relative to competitors.
• Long-range outlook by management even at the expense
of short-term profits.
• Good investor relations, and willingness to talk freely
about problems.
• Management of unquestionable integrity—salaries and
perks in line with those of other managers.

Business characteristics
• Above-average profitability: Compare profit margins
per dollar of sales—compare within industry and examine
for several years, not just single years. Older and
larger firms are usually the best in their industry.
Younger firms may elect to speed up growth by spending
all or a large part of profits on research or sales; for
these, make sure a narrow profit margin is due to
spending in these areas alone.
• Ability to maintain good profit margins: Good position
relative to competition—for instance, skill in a particular
line of business, or patent protection for a small

Secondary factors
Once an “outstanding” company is found, purchase
stock when it is out-of-favor either because the market
has temporarily misjudged the true value of the company,
or because of general market conditions. “Outstanding”
companies can also be purchased at fair value, but
investor should expect a lower (but respectable) return.

Stock monitoring and when to sell
• Use a three-year rule for judging results if a stock is
underperforming but no fundamental changes have
• Hold stock until there is a fundamental change in its
nature or it has grown to a point where it will no longer
be growing faster than the overall economy.
• Don’t sell for short-term reasons.
• Sell mistakes quickly, once they are recognized.
• Don’t overdiversify—10 or 12 larger companies is
sufficient, investing in a variety of industries with different

The Danger of getting out of stocks during the Bear Market.

Reactions to turbulent and bear markets vary by investor. 

Some are unfazed by large drops in stock prices, and even view them as buying opportunities (“Buffett-like investors”). 

Others curtail their stock holdings when the market incurs a steep drop, but don’t completely pull out of stocks (“nervous investors”). 

There also are many who get out of stocks completely during a bear market (“panic investors”) out of fear of incurring further losses.

Given wide variances in how each investor reacts to bear markets— the aggregate data does imply, however, that Buffett-like investors are likely a comparatively small group. More people probably fall into the nervous and panic investor groups. This is not surprising, given the human inclination to be risk-averse. 

As Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky demonstrated with “prospect theory,” we feel the pain of losses much more than we derive pleasure from gains. 

Compounding matters, we humans commonly engage in hyperbolic discounting, which means we place greater value on rewards received sooner rather than later. 

When the market falls and stocks are sold, we see the immediate value of avoiding further losses. 

What isn’t considered are the potential future gains forfeited by not continuing to stick with stocks or, better yet, by rebalancing and allocating more money into stocks.

Rebalancing: A Better Method

If panicking is a big problem, a strategy that helps an investor to maintain a constant exposure to stocks should logically produce benefits. While some may view the best advice as simply being “don’t panic and stay allocated to stocks,” such guidance only works well for Buffett-like investors. All other investors need a strategy that gives them a sense of control. This is where rebalancing comes into play.
Rebalancing is the process of adjusting your portfolio back to your targeted allocation. For example, say your allocation calls for a 70% allocation to stocks and a 30% allocation to bonds. After a bad year for equities, your portfolio’s allocation changes to 60% stocks and 40% bonds. Rebalancing would prompt you to shift 10% of portfolio dollars out your bond holdings and into stocks, bringing your portfolio back in line with your targets.
Rebalancing is a buy low/sell high strategy—the opposite of what many investors actually do. It prompts you to buy assets after they have fallen in price. This may sound counterintuitive and may even be difficult to do the first time you try to employ it. Yet its bear market benefits may convince you of its value. Rebalancing lessens the blow of bear markets, making it easier to stick with stocks. In addition, rebalancing restores a sense of control. Rather than being left wondering what the best decision is for your portfolio based on what the pundits are saying about market direction, you have a strategy that prompts you to act and gives direction on how to do it.

Value Investing

Benjamin Graham, the Father of Value Investing

The Big Picture Investing

Big Picture Investing - Mr. Harish Krishnan
IFA Galaxy 6th Knowledge Summit 10.10.2015


Big Picture - India is a land of massive opportunities
Asset Allocation Trends - Diversify into financial assets
Time in markets - More important than timing the markets
Businesses don't operate in excel sheets - Don't be greedy
Power of Compounding - Start Young

The Next Trillion Dollar Opportunity

India GDP trend (US$ terms)
FY51-08:  7.3% CAGR
FY08-15:  7.9% CAGR

2008  1st US$ tn  68 years
2015  2nd US$ tn 7 years
2020  3rd US$ tn 6 years
2024  4th US$ tn 4 years

Indian Company Vs Global Giants
Indian companies are smaller.
Growth is faster in some Indian Companies.

Asset Allocation Trends

World private wealth / National Income ratio
varies from 200% to 700%

Factors affecting wealth creation
= Rising income and corresponding savings
= Asset Allocation

India's wealth / national income ratio is in
range of 250% = 300%.

Rough approximations on asset
ownership in India
- Agri land - US$1tn
- Urban land- US$2.5tn
- Gold - US$1tn
- Deposits - US$1tn
- Insurance/PF etc - US$0.5tn
- Equities - US$0.15tn

US Allocation:
- In 1984:
Housing 40%,
Interest-earning assets - 14%,
Equity + Reitrement - 7%

- In 2011:
Housing 20%,
Interest-earning assets - 7%,
Equity + Reitrement - 40%

Time-ing the Market

Facts about Sensex

Sensex has given a compounded return of 15.03% return
from Jan 1, 1991 to Jan 30, 2015 (almost 29 bagger in 24 years)

There are only 21 days when Sensex has hit a Six (more than 6%
daily return).

There are only 90 days when Sensex has hit a Four (more than 4%
daily return)

If you had not invested for just 53 days out of the total of 5812 days
your return from Sensex will become NIL.

Businesses don't operate in Excel Sheet but in Real World

20 Year study of Indian Companies

Out of 1000+ Indian companies (non-financial), what % of companies reported
20 year-revenue CAGR higher than nominal GDP growth rate (14%)?    27% or 290 companies

How many companies managed to grow ahead of nominal GDP growth rate every
year over the last 20 years?   Just 1!!!!

Let's relax it a bit!  How many companies managed to grow ahead of nominal GDP
growth rate in at least 15 out of 20 years?   ONLY 37!

How many Indian companies have had a minimum ROCE of at least 15% in each of
the last 20 years?   ONLY 35!



World Population Growth
From 3 to 70+ Billion (or 700+ Crores)
Approximately 5775 years or 288 generations
Any guesses on CAGR?
Answer:  CAGR of 0.03%

Time is the biggest compounding machine!

Lookout for Outlook!

Once all villagers decided to pray for rain, on the day of prayer all the
perople gathered but only one boy came with an umbrella.  THAT'S FAITH.

When you throw a baby in the air, she laughs because she knows you
will catch her.  THAT/S TRUST.

Every night we go to bed, without any assurance of being alive the next
morning, but we still set the alarms to wake up.  THAT'S HOPE.

We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of limited knowledge of the

We see the world suffereing, but still we get married!  THAT'S OVERCONFIDENCE.

Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Philip Fisher

Warren Buffett in Under 10 minutes

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Philip Fisher, Legendary Growth Investor

Philip Fisher and Walter Schloss

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Philip Fisher and Walter Schloss About Investing

1. “I had made what I believe was one of the more valuable decisions of my business life. This was to confine all efforts solely to making major gains in the long-run…. There are two fundamental approaches to  investment.  There’s the approach Ben Graham pioneered, which is to find  something intrinsically so cheap that there is little chance of it having a big  decline. He’s got financial safeguards to that. It isn’t going to go down much,  and sooner or later value will come into it.  Then there is my approach, which is to find  something so good–if you don’t pay too much for it–that it will have very,  very large growth. The advantage is that a bigger percentage of my stocks is apt  to perform in a smaller period of time–although it has taken several years for  some of these to even start, and you’re bound to make some mistakes at it. [But]  when a stock is really unusual, it makes the bulk of its moves in a relatively  short period of time.”  Phil Fisher understood (1) trying to predict the direction  of a market or stock in the short-term is not a game where one can have an advantage versus the house (especially after fees); and (2) his approach was different from Ben Graham.
2. “I don’t want a lot of good investments; I want a few outstanding ones…. I believe that the greatest long-range investment profits are never obtained by investing in marginal companies.”  Warren Buffett once said: “I’m 15%  Fisher and 85% Benjamin Graham.”  Warren Buffett is much more like Fisher in 2013 than the 15% he once specified, but only he knows how much. It was the influence of Charlie Munger which moved Buffet away from a Benjamin Graham approach and their investment in See’s Candy  was an early example in which Berkshire paid up for a “quality” company.  Part of the reason this shift happened is that the sorts of companies that Benjamin Graham liked no longer existed the further way the time period was from the depression.
3. “The wise investor can profit if he can think independently of the crowd and reach the rich answer when the majority of financial opinion is leaning the other way. This matter of training oneself not to go with the crowd but to  be able to zig when the crowd zags, in my opinion, is one of the most important fundamentals of investment success.” The inevitable math is that you can’t beat the crowd if you are the crowd, especially after fees are deducted.
4. “Usually a very long list of securities is not a sign of the brilliant investor, but of one who is unsure of himself. … Investors have been so oversold on diversification that fear of having too many eggs in one basket has caused  them to put far too little into companies they thoroughly know and far too much in others which they know nothing about.” For the “know-something” active investor like Phil Fisher, wide diversification is a form of closet indexing.  A “know-something”  active investor must focus on a relatively small number of stocks if he or she expects to outperform a market.  By contrast, “know-nothing” investors (i.e., muppets) should buy a low fee index fund.
5. “If the job has been correctly done when a common stock is purchased, the time to sell it is almost never.” Phil Fisher preferred a holding period of almost forever (e.g., Fisher bought Motorola in 1955 and held it until 2004). The word “almost” is important since every company is in danger of losing its moat.
6. “Great stocks are extremely hard to find. If they weren’t, then everyone would own them.  The record is crystal clear that fortune – producing growth stocks can be found. However, they cannot be found without hard work and they  cannot be found every day.” Fisher believed that the “fat pitch” investment opportunity is delivered rarely and only to those investors who are willing to patiently work to find them.
7. “Focus on buying these companies when they are out of favor, that is when, either because of general market conditions or because the financial community at the moment has misconceptions of its true worth, the stock is selling  at prices well under what it will be when it’s true merit is better understood.” Like Howard Marks, Fisher believed that (1) business cycles and (2) changes in Mr. Market’s attitude are inevitable.  By focusing on the value of individual stocks (rather than just price) the  investor can best profit from these inevitable swings.
8. “The successful investor is usually an individual who is inherently interested in business problems.” A stock is a part ownership of a business. If you do not understand the business you do not understand that stock.  If you  do not understand the business you are investing in you are a speculator, not an investor.
9. “The stock market is filled with individuals who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” Price is what you pay and value is what you get.  By focusing on value Fisher was able to outperform as an investor even  though he did not look for cigar butts.
10. “It is not the profit margins of the past but those of the future that are basically important to the investor.” Too often people believe that the best prediction about the future is that it is an extension of the recent past.
11. “There is a complicating factor that makes the handling of investment mistakes more difficult. This is the ego in each of us. None of us likes to admit to himself that he has been wrong. If we have made a mistake in buying a stock  but can sell the stock at a small profit, we have somehow lost any sense of having been foolish. On the other hand, if we sell at a small loss we are quite unhappy about the whole matter. This reaction, while completely natural and normal, is probably one  of the most dangerous in which we can indulge ourselves in the entire investment process. More money has probably been lost by investors holding a stock they really did not want until they could ‘at least come out even’ than from any other single reason. If  to these actual losses are added the profits that might have been made through the proper reinvestment of these funds if such reinvestment had been made when the mistake was first realized, the cost of self-indulgence becomes truly tremendous.”  Fisher  was very aware of the problems that loss aversion bias can cause.
12. “Conservative investors sleep well.”  If you are having trouble sleeping due to worrying about your portfolio, reducing risk is wise. Life is too short to not sleep well, but also fear can result in mistakes.
Walter Schloss
1. “I think investing is an art, and we tried to be as logical and unemotional as possible. Because we understood that investors are usually affected by the market, we could take advantage of the market by being rational. As [Benjamin]  Graham said, ‘The market is there to serve you, not to guide you!’.”  Walter Schloss was the closest possible match to the investing style of Benjamin Graham.  No one else more closely followed the “cigar butt” style of investing of Benjamin Graham.  In  other words, if being like Benjamin Graham was a game of golf, Walter Schloss was “closest to the pin.”  He was a man of his times and those times included the depression which had a profound impact on him.  While his exact style of investing is not possible  today, today’s investor’s still can learn from Walter Schloss.  It is by combining the best of investors like Phil Fisher and Walter Schloss and matching it to their unique skills and personality that investors will find the best results.  Warren  Buffet once wrote in a letter:  “Walter outperforms managers who work in temples filled with paintings, staff and computers… by rummaging among the cigar butts on the floor of capitalism.”   When Walter’s son told him no such cigar butt companies existed any  longer Walter told his son it was time to close the firm.  The other focus of Walter Schloos was low fees and costs. When it came to keeping overhead and investing expenses low, Walter Schloss was a zealot.
2. “I try to establish the value of the company.  Remember that a share of stock represents a part of a business and is not just a piece of paper. … Price is the most important factor to use in relation to value…. I believe stocks  should be evaluated based on intrinsic worth, NOT on whether they are under or over priced in relationship with each other…. The key to the purchase of an undervalued stock is its price COMPARED to its intrinsic worth.”
3.”I like Ben’s analogy that one should buy stocks the way you buy groceries not the way you buy perfume… keep it simple and try not to use higher mathematics in you analysis.”Keeping emotion out of the picture was a key part of  the Schloss style. Like Ben Graham he as first and foremost rational.
4. “If a stock is cheap, I start buying. I never put a stop loss on my holdings because if I like a stock in the first place, I like it more if it goes down. Somehow I find it difficult to buy a stock that has gone up.” 
5. “I don’t like stress and prefer to avoid it, I never focus too much on market news and economic data. They always worry investors!” Like all great investors in this series, the focus of Schloss was on individual companies not  the macro economy.  Simpler systems are orders of magnitude easier to understand for an investor.
6. “The key to successful investing is to relate value to price today.” Not only did Schloss not try to forecast the macro market, he did not really focus forecasting the future prospects of the company.  This was very different  than the Phil Fisher approach which was focused on future earnings.
7. “I like the idea of owning a number of stocks. Warren Buffet is happy owning a few stocks, and he is right if he is Warren….” Schloss was a value investor who also practiced diversification.  Because of his focus on obscure  companies and the period in which he was investing, Walter was able to avoid closet indexing.
8. “We don’t own stocks that we’d never sell.  I guess we are a kind of store that buys goods for inventory (stocks) and we’d like to sell them at a profit within 4 years if possible.”  This is very different from a Phil Fisher  approach where his favorite holding period is almost forever. Schloss once said in a Colombia Business school talk that he owned “some 60-75 stocks”.
9.  “Remember the word compounding.  For example, if you can make 12% a year and reinvest the money back, you will double your money in 6 years, taxes excluded.  Remember the rule of 72.  Your rate of return into 72 will tell you  the number of years to double your money.” Schloss felt that “compounding could offset [any advantage created by] the fellow who was running around visiting managements.”
10.  “The ability to think clearly in the investment field without the emotions that are attached to it is not an easy undertaking. Fear and greed tend to affect one’s judgment.” Schloss was very self-aware and matched his investment  style to his personality. He said once” We try to do what is comfortable for us.”
11. “Don’t buy on tips or for a quick move.”
12.  “In thinking about how one should invest, it is important to look at you strengths and weaknesses. …I’m not very good at judging people. So I found that it was much better to look at the figures rather than people.” Schloss knew  that Warren Buffett was a better judge of people than he was so Walter’s approach was almost completely quantitative.  Schloss knew to stay within his “circle of competence”.  Schloss said once: “Ben Graham didn’t visit management because he thought figure told  the story.”

Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Philip Fisher (Summary)

Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits 
by Philip Fisher 
By Kenneth L. Fisher (Philip Fisher’s Son)
Ken Fisher credits his father for teaching him the "craft" of investing. He writes that, "It’s the difference between learning to play the piano (craft) and then composing (art)." Indeed Ken’s own investment practice—his art— deviates from his father’s preference for growth stocks; Ken prefers value-oriented investments. But the process Ken uses to arrive upon investment decisions is largely based on his father’s tenets of "scuttlebutt" and "the fifteen points." As the son now runs a large investment management company he uses these principles en mass. He also believes his father’s ideas about undue diversification, in particular, influenced Buffett. 
Phil Fisher went to Stanford and started work as a security analyst in San Francisco in 1928. He formed his own firm, Fisher & Co., in 1931. After some years in the game he decided to write this book, "In studying the investment record of both myself and others, two matters were significant influences in causing this book to be written. One, which I mention several times elsewhere, is the need for patience if big profits are to be made from investment. Put another way, it is often easier to tell what will happen to the price of a stock than how much time will elapse before it happens. The other is the inherently deceptive nature of the stock market. Doing what everybody else is doing at the moment, and therefore what you have an almost irresistible urge to do, is often the wrong thing to do at all."   

Fisher summarizes his conclusions from the past in the following paragraph, "Such a study indicates that the greatest investment reward comes to those who by good luck or good sense find the occasional company that over the years can grow in sales and profits far more than industry as a whole. It further shows that when we believe we have found such a company we had better stick with it for a long period of time. It gives us a strong hint that such companies need not necessarily be young and small. Instead, regardless of size, what really counts is a management having both a determination to attain further important growth and an ability to bring its plans to completion…It makes clear to us that a general characteristic of such companies is a management that does not let its preoccupation with long-range planning prevent it from exerting constant vigilance in performing the day-to-day tasks of ordinary business outstandingly well."

Merriam-Webster defines "scuttlebutt" as:
1, a : a cask on shipboard to contain freshwater for a day's use, b : a drinking fountain on a ship or at a naval or marine installation 
Fisher makes use of definition 2 here in the second chapter. "It is amazing what an accurate picture of the relative points of strength and weakness of each company in an industry can be obtained from a representative cross-section of the opinions of those who in one way or another are concerned with any particular company." Though he writes only three pages about scuttlebutt here, Fisher assures us the concept will be discussed in great detail all throughout the book.   

Below you will find "The Fifteen points to look for in a common stock," Fisher’s famous checklist for the inquiring investor.
1. Does the company have products or services with sufficient market potential to make possible a sizable increase in sales for at least several years?
2. Does the management have a determination to continue to develop products or processes that will still further increase total sales potentials when the growth potentials of currently attractive product lines have largely been exploited?
3. How effective are the company’s research and development efforts in relation to its size?
4. Does the company have an above average sales organization?
5. Does the company have a worthwhile profit margin?
6. What is the company doing to maintain or improve profit margins?
7. Does the company have outstanding labor and personnel relations?
8. Does the company have outstanding executive relations?
9. Does the company have depth to its management?
10. How good are the company’s cost analysis and accounting methods?
11. Are there other aspects of the business, somewhat peculiar to the industry involved, which will give the investor important clues as to how outstanding the company may be in relation to its competition?
12. Does the company have a short-range or long-range outlook in regards to profits?
13. In the foreseeable future will the growth of the company require sufficient equity financing so that the large number of shares then outstanding will largely cancel the existing benefit from this anticipated growth?
14. Does the management talk freely to investors about its affairs when things are going well but "clam up" when troubles and disappointments occur?
15. Does the company have a management of unquestionable integrity?   

"The typical investor has usually gathered a good deal of the half-truths, misconceptions, and just plain bunk that the general public has gradually accumulated about successful investing." Fisher posits that the average investor believes only a bookish genius is capable of superior returns. He doesn’t agree with this mean mentality. "The most skilled statistical bargain hunter ends up with a profit which is but a small part of the profit attained by those using reasonable intelligence in appraising the business characteristics of superbly managed growth companies," he further expounds upon his view of apparent expertise, "Even among some of the so-called authorities on investment, there is still enough lack of agreement on the basic principles involved that it is as yet impossible to have schools for training investment experts…"

Contrary to Buffett, Fisher is looking for companies that "will have spectacular growth in their per-share earnings." (Buffett is primarily concerned with consistent and handsome returns on equity.) Buffett and Fisher do agree on the worthlessness of macroeconomic forecasting. Fisher writes, "The conventional method of timing when to buy stocks is, I believe, just as silly as it appears on the surface to be sensible. This method is to marshal a vast mass of economic data…I believe that the economics which deal with the forecasting business trends may be considered to be about as far along as was the science of chemistry during the days of alchemy in the Middle Ages." Fisher prefers to buy into outstanding companies when their earnings are temporarily depressed, and so consequently is the share price, because of a new product or process launch. "In contrast to guessing which way general business or the stock market may go, he should be able to judge with only a small probability of error what the company into which he wants to buy is going to do in relation to business in general."

Fisher is very precise about when to sell. "I believe there are three reasons, and three reasons only, for the sale of any common stock which has been originally selected according to the investment principles already discussed." They are: 
1.) Upon realizing a mistake, 
2.) When a stock no longer meets the 15 points, and
3.) If a substantially attractive investment arises and stock needs to be sold to finance that investment.
Interestingly, Buffett’s commonly told parable about investing in your classmates seems to have originated out of this chapter. Both describe a hypothetical scenario of buying a percentage of the future earnings of a classmate. The point being that we should rationally select people on the basis of their character rather than purely on their intellect. Fisher notes how foolish it would be to sell your lucrative future contract on classmate’s earnings for the sake of buying another, less proven, classmate’s earnings, simply because somebody offered to buy your original classmate investment at a high price.   

Fisher warns us to be wary of two scenarios when earnings are retained and no dividends are paid. 
The first is when executives pile up liquid assets for a sense of security. 
The second occurs when "substandard managements can get only a subnormal return on the capital already in the business, yet use the retained earnings merely to enlarge the inefficient operation rather than to make it better."
Fisher posits that "regularity or dependability" is the most important characteristic of dividends. He illustrates his claim using the restaurant parable that Buffett so often cites. "There is perhaps a close parallel between setting policy in regard to dividends and setting policy on opening a restaurant. A good restaurant man might build up a splendid business with a high priced venture. He might also build up a splendid business with an attractive place selling the best possible meals at the lowest possible prices. Or he could make a success of Hungarian, Chinese, or Italian cuisine. Each would attract a following. People would come there expecting a certain kind of meal. However, with all his skill, he could not possibly build up a clientele if one day he served the costliest meals, the next day low-priced ones, and then without warning served nothing but exotic dishes. The corporation that keeps shifting its dividend policies becomes as unsuccessful in attracting a permanent shareholder following. Its shares do not make the best long-range investments."   

"1. Don’t buy into promotional companies." 
"When a company is in a promotional stage…all an investor or anyone else can do is look at a blueprint and guess what the problems and strong points may be." 
"There are enough spectacular opportunities among established companies that ordinary individual investors should make it a rule never to buy into a promotional enterprise." 
Fisher wants to see a firm with at least one year of operational profit and two to the three years of business before investing.
"2. Don’t ignore a good stock just because it is traded ‘over the counter.’" 
"3. Don’t buy a stock just because you like the ‘tone’ of its annual report." 
"The annual report may…reflect little more than the skill of the company’s public relations department in creating an impression about the company in the public mind." 
"4. Don’t assume that the high price at which a stock may be selling in relation to earnings is necessarily an indication that further growth in those earnings has largely been discounted already in the price." 
"…why shouldn’t this stock sell five years from now for twice the price-earnings ratio of these more ordinary stocks just as it is doing now and has done for many years past?" 
"5. Don’t quibble over eights and quarters." 
"If the stock seems the right one and the price seems reasonably attractive at current levels, buy ‘at the market.’"   

Given the recent terror and talk of war, we will focus on point two in this chapter.
"2. Don’t be afraid of buying on a war scare." 
"At the conclusion of all actual fighting—regardless of whether it was World War I, World War II, or Korea—most stocks were selling at levels vastly higher than prevailed before there was any thought of war at all. Furthermore, at least ten times in the last twenty-two years, news has come of other international crises which gave threat of major war. In every instance, stocks dipped sharply on the fear of war and rebounded sharply as the war scare subsided." 
"War is always bearish on money. To sell a stock at the threatened or actual outbreak of hostilities so as to get into cash is extreme financial lunacy. Actually just the opposite should be done. If an investor has about decided to buy a particular common stock and the arrival of a full-blown war scare starts knocking down the price, he should ignore the scare psychology of the moment and definitely begin buying." 
The other four points… 
1. Don’t overstress diversification. 
3. Don’t forget your Gilbert and Sullivan. 
4. Don’t fail to consider time as well as price in buying a true growth stock. 
5. Don’t follow the crowd.   

"Possibly one-fifth of my first investigations start from ideas gleaned from friends in industry and four-fifths from culling what I believe are the more attractive selections of a small number of able investment men. These decisions are frankly a fast snap judgment on which companies I should spend my time investigating and which I should ignore. Then after a brief scrutiny of a few key points in an SEC prospectus, I will seek ‘scuttlebutt’ aggressively, constantly working toward how close to our fifteen-point standard the company comes. I will discard one respective investment after another along the way. Some because the evidence piles up that they are just run of the mill. Others because I cannot get enough evidence to be reasonably sure one way or the other. Only in the occasional case when I have a great amount of favorable data do I then go to the final step of contacting the management. Then if after meeting with management I find my prior hopes pretty well confirmed and some of my previous fears eased by answers that to me make sense, at last I am ready to feel I may be rewarded for all my efforts."
Fisher also notes that he’ll invest in one stock out of two hundred fifty that he initially considers. For every two to two and a half visits he’ll buy into the company—this points to the fact that most of his work is done beforehand.   

Chapter eleven concludes the first part of Fisher’s book; it and the chapters leading to it comprise a book within a book. "This book has attempted to show what these basic principles are, what type of stock to buy, when to buy it, and most particularly, never to sell it—as long as the company behind the common stock maintains the characteristics of an unusually successful enterprise."

Here are the points, abbreviated, Fisher gives as his conclusion:
1. Buy into companies that have disciplined plans for achieving dramatic long-range growth in profits and that have inherent qualities making it difficult for newcomers to share in that growth.
2. Focus on buying these companies when they are out of favor.
3. Hold the stock until either (a) there has been a fundamental change in its nature (such as a weakening of management through changed personal), or (b) it has grown to a point where it no longer will be growing faster than the economy as a whole.
4. For those primarily seeking major appreciation of their capital, de-emphasize the importance of dividends.
5. Taking small profits in good investments and letting losses grow in bad ones is a sign of abominable investment judgment. A profit should never be taken just for the satisfaction of taking it.
6. There are a relatively small number of truly outstanding companies. Their shares frequently can’t be bought at attractive prices. Therefore, when favorable prices exist, full advantage should be taken of the situation.
7. A basic ingredient of outstanding common stock management is the ability to neither accept blindly whatever may be the dominant opinion in the financial community at the moment nor to reject the prevailing view just to be contrary for the sake of being contrary.
8. In handling common stocks, as in most other fields of human activity, success depends greatly on a combination of hard work, intelligence, and honesty.