P/E remains one of the most used metrics to value stocks. It is very easy to compute. But it’s not always easy to interpret. « Most investors fail to have a clear sense of what a particular multiple implies about a company’s future financial performance and don’t understand how multiples change over time », according to Michael Mauboussin and Dan Callahan in a report published in 2014 by Credit Suisse (this article is mainly based on their note which you can read here).
Short answer: Not Many.
Facts: Cash & cash equivalents at Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) reached $116 billion at the end of 2017, compared with $86.4 billion at the start of the year. Per Morningstar’s Gregg Warren estimates, Buffett finds himself with « around $90 billion in dry powder that could be committed to investments, acquisitions, share repurchases and dividends. » Continuer la lecture de « What Options for Buffett Who Has $90 Billion To Invest? »
Numbers are staggering. Berkshire Hathaway, the holding chaired by Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, earned $44.94 billion last year vs $24.07 billion in 2016, in large part thanks to tax cuts decided by the Trump administration. Operating earnings actually declined to $14.46 billion from 17.58 billion a year ago, mainly because the insurance business lost money. Tax cut contributed $29.11 billion to results, which « derives from a reduction of net deferred income tax liabilities that arose as a result of the reduction in the U.S. corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21%. »
A more meaningful number for understanding the valuation of BRK is the evolution of the net asset per share or book value per share. Last year, the number grew 23% to $211,750, outperforming S&P 500 by 1.2%. CAGR return for book value per share over 1965-2017 is 19.1% vs 9.9% for S&P 500. Patience, discipline, opportunistic approach, great deal of focus on price and knowing his circle of competence explain such an amazing performance.
The most important part of BRK release of its annual report is Buffett’s letter to shareholder. This year, Buffett covers the following topics :
Valeo share price reaction to 2017 results and 2018 forecast seems to rely on an apparent decoupling : orders intake are booming but return on capital and cash conversion don’t keep up.
Ingenico hast lost its mojo. A 7% miss on market expectations on EBITDA for both 2018e and 2020e has been severely sanctioned by investors. Shares of the payment terminal manufacturer lost 16% of their value on Feb 22, leaving the market cap of the company at €4.8 billion. At first glance, the fall looks excessive. But it’s probably deserved.
Merrill issued its latest Fund Manager Survey last week, right after the sell-off in equity markets. The message to take out is: don’t buy on dips (well my view is that you always have to think long term, understand the fundamentals of any asset class and have a view on valuation, otherwise, don’t invest at all – but that’s not the point here, I think this survey is useful to gauge market sentiment).