“Why on earth would I pay an advisor when I can trade for free with Robinhood on my phone?” – 27 year-old meme stock traderI am asked about meme stocks and my opinion of people like Ryan Cohen all the time. Cohen was interesting because while he has amassed a fortune over the last decade (all due credit to him), each move had also resulted in him leaving a lot on the table. He hasn’t really had a Mark Cuban moment yet (Cuban sold Broadcast.com at the top for all stock and immediately hedged the Yahoo shares he received before they crashed) so his loyal cult-like following is interesting. Consider that:Cohen sold Chewy in 2017 for $3 billion in cash, but the buyer (PetSmart) took … [Read More...]
A Look At Pre-2008 Equity Market Valuations
We hear a lot of market commentators refer to long-term average P/E multiples for the U.S. stock market when trying to assess what “fair value” might be. It is interesting to me that oftentimes the time periods they choose to focus on often map right on to the desired conclusion they want to numerically support. For instance, the trailing 10 -year average P/E for the S&P 500 index is about 19.5. As a result, bullish Wall Street strategists can easily, and usually without much pushback, come on TV and pronounce the market cheap (at current prices – 3,735 – and current 2022 profit estimates – $224 – the market P/E is about 16.7x).Of course, over the last 10 years we have had record-low interest rates that some thought would … [Read More...]
Are Financial Markets Getting Even Less Predictable in the Near Term?
Earlier in my investment management career it was not uncommon for me to raise a fair amount of cash, say 10-20%, in client accounts when I thought the equity market was overheated. The idea was that I would have plenty of firepower when prices dropped and bargains were abundant. Over the years the data suggested that such a move was rewarding, at best, half the time. Too many instances, though, resulted in prices rising enough before they fell that the cash positions at best offered no alpha.Don’t get me wrong, I have always been in the camp that market timing in the near term is difficult (hence I would never go to 50, 75, or 100 percent cash), but I learned that mean reversion, while a real thing, could … [Read More...]
While Many SPAC Deals Overload On Speculation, Some Are Worthy Of A Look
It says a lot about where we are in the cycle when sponsors of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) can easily and relatively quickly make tens of millions of dollars merely by taking a shell company public and choosing an acquisition target, before long-term success could ever be determined. But with the free market system we need to take the good with the bad (so long as legalities are considered), so as much as I think the SPAC structure is a strange way to accomplish a goal, it is probably short-sighted to write off the pathway completely and never consider investing in any of the deals.Don’t get me wrong, assigning a multi-billion valuation to a revenue-less, concept company based on rosy hypothetical … [Read More...]
Could Corporate Profits Hold Up Better This Cycle?
If the pandemic has taught us anything I think it is that this economic cycle is unlike any others we can point to in history given the uniqueness of how the entire globe has had to react to Covid-19. The investment community tends to try and predict current trajectories with those of prior cycles, and I am no different. In fact, in my latest quarterly letter to clients I pointed out that during the last four recessions S&P companies saw profits fall between 20% and 40% peak to trough. Coupled with near-certain multiple compression, it is easy to see how and why stock prices get walloped during recessionary periods, even if the drops are relatively short-lived in the grand scheme of things.So here … [Read More...]
Starbucks Buyback Plan Highlights Why Opportunistic Corporate Buying Is Rare
There are a lot of mixed feelings about corporate stock buybacks depending on which group of stakeholders one polls, but one thing is clear; finding instances when management teams choose to buy mostly when their stocks are temporarily and unfairly depressed is a difficult task. When times are good (and share prices reflect this sentiment), buybacks seem like an easy capital allocation decision for ever-optimistic CEOs and CFOs. When the tide turns cash is conserved and debt repayment takes precedent even as the stock price tanks to attractive levels.Coffee giant Starbucks (SBUX) is the latest example. With union pressure coming at them in full force, the company suspended buybacks in early April so they could improve operations and employee morale without taking a political hit … [Read More...]