Monday, May 26, 2014

Buying Google Inc. (GOOG, GOOGL) for the next 5 years?

As 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of Google Inc's IPO, let's take a look at what the company has delivered so far and see what the stock might have for investors in the next 5 years.

For those unfamiliar with the company, more information can be found on their investors relations webpage.

Google Inc . Logo

Here is a brief description provided by Reuters:
Google Inc. (Google), incorporated on October 22, 2002, is a global technology company. The Company’s business is primarily focused around key areas, such as search, advertising, operating systems and platforms, enterprise and hardware products. The Company generates revenue primarily by delivering online advertising. The Company also generates revenues from Motorola by selling hardware products. The Company provides its products and services in more than 100 languages and in more than 50 countries, regions, and territories. 

Considering the stocks lowest P/E ratio over the past 5 years of 21.73, the present price of the stock assumes that the earnings of Google Inc. will grow by roughly 5.8% over the next 5 years, giving us a 2019 price of $552. However, public information tells us that earnings have been growing at and annual rate of 61% over the past 10 years and 26% a year over the past 5 years. Using a more realistic number of 24%, the company is now worth $1,256 per share for a 5 year holding period.

That is a more extreme example but using 4 different valuation methods and relatively conservative assumptions regarding the future growth of the earnings of the company, we got an average price of $847 per share.

The two models that are based on the earnings tend to provide a higher estimate than the ones based solely on free cash flows. This point might prove to be a cause for concern in the long term. Even if it's not a screaming Buy, the company however seems to present a discount based on it's current price. Only time will tell which valuations method is right.

Disclosure: The author has no position in GOOG or GOOGL.

How much do you think Google Inc. is worth?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Ridley Inc: Why Value Investing Requires Patience RCL.TO FFH

Back in 2010, I made a quick showcase about an obscure canadian company that was purchased by FairFax Financial Holdings called Ridley Inc.

The stock has experience a huge surge since then but unfortunately I sold for very short term gains after the share price climbed from $7 to $10. Now it stands at an astonishing $25.89 after market close on May 7th 2014 as can be seen on the chart below. On top of it all the company paid $5.5 in dividends over the same period.

Did you miss out on it as well?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Going Concern Value of Herbalife (HLF)

For active participants in the financial markets, the saga of events surrounding Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) since the end of 2012 has been quite a rollercoaster ride. Small investors involved with the stock have been drawn to pick a side in an epic battle opposing on one side legendary investor Carl Icahn of Icahn Associates Corporation and on the other side hedge fund manager Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management.

For those unfamiliar with the company, it's description can be found here on Reuters website:
Herbalife Ltd., incorporated on April 04, 2002, is a global nutrition company. The Company sells weight management, healthy meals and snacks, sports and fitness, energy and targeted nutritional products as well as personal care products. It distributes and sells its products through a network of independent distributors, using the direct selling channel. The Company categorizes its science-based products into four principal groups: weight management, targeted nutrition, energy, sports & fitness and Outer Nutrition.
As of December 31, 2012, it sold its products in 88 countries to and through a network of approximately 3.2 million independent distributors. In China, in order to comply with local laws and regulations, it sells its products through, sales representatives, sales officers, independent service providers and in retail stores. On December 31, 2012, the Company acquired a manufacturing facility in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The Company’s operating segments are based on geographical operations in six regions: North America, Mexico, South & Central America, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Asia Pacific and China. As of December 31, 2012, we marketed and sold 140 products encompassing over 4,900 stock keeping units (SKUs).

For my part, I have been tempted to take Bill Ackman's side by taking a short position in medium term out of the money options after going through the Pershing Square presentations. Even if the stock has not moved so much, I am betting on an increase in volatility as investors fight to determine who is right or wrong. To estimate the downside risk of my position I conducted a fundamental analysis of the company in order to put myself in the shoes of investors like Carl Icahn who are on the long side of Herbalife Ltd and here are the findings.

Considering the current P/E ratio of 11.74, the present price of the stock assumes that the earnings of Herbalife Ltd. will grow by roughly 5% over the next 5 years, giving us a 2017 price of $. However, public information tells us that earnings have been growing at a little over 30.5% a year over the past 10 years. 

Using a rate of 2/3 of the recent years growth of about 20% we find ourselves with a 2017 price of 132$ per share with a P/E Ratio of 8.36, the lowest it has been over the last 5 years for the company. The earnings trend of the past 10 years can be seen here:

Also, Herbalife has managed to grow it's book value per share over the past 10 years at an average rate of slightly over 8% per year. Assuming the pace slows down to 5%, once again 2/3 of the 8.8% 10 year average, we end up with a book value of nearly 7.60$ per share in 2019. The current P/B Ratio stands at 10.6 so assuming it's stays flat, we get a stock price of 81$ in 2019. Here is how EPS and Book Value per Share have evolved over the past 10 years:

The previously raised assumptions are very optimistic, it seems at a first glance that the market has a biased bearish view on the long term prospects of Herbalife. The data displayed shows that Herbalife is undervalued based on fundamental grounds. The only drawback of this narrow point of view if that even if the company looks cheap, it doesn't keep the business model from being called into question. In time, the results of the investigations by the FTC and the FBI will confirm if the company stays in business or not. In the meantime, the stock of Herbalife Ltd. will keep behaving like a binary option, displaying high volatility until the allegations are invalidated or confirmed. This shall be beneficial for out of the money options until then.

If you chose a long position with Carl Icahn on this trade, the stock of Herbalife Ltd. will be worth somewhere between $81 and $142 by 2019, providing a 7% to 20% compounded annual return to investors. If you decide to side on a short position with Bill Ackman, the stock is going to 0$ as the company gets shut down by regulators.

Which side did you pick?

Disclosure: The author has a short position in HLF.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Investing Performance for 2013

2013 can be described as the year of the comeback after two very lean and very poor years, it is mostly due to the high concentration of almost 30% of my holdings in one specific company. It is also a year when I decided to get back to the basics, finding undervalued companies that have attractive growth characteristics.

As I look back at the year, the broad rally experienced by stocks in 2013 is fundamentally attributable to the quantitative easing measures by the Federal Reserve in the US and a slight improvement of the global economic environment.

My biggest position was certainly Skystar Bio-Pharmaceutical Company. At the end of 2010, an accounting scandal of incredible proportions was affecting the sphere of chinese reverse merger companies. Investors were relentlessly dumping their share holdings on the market and all companies related to china saw their share prices prices fall over 70%. I was lucky enough to have found this falling knife right before it hit the ground. Nothing much happened until the end of August when the stock started posting incredible gains. I decided that taking some profits off the able was warranted and sold 75% of my position on October 10th 2013 after the stock had gained over 200% for the year. This proved to be a wise decision because prices came back down to more reasonable levels.

There are also a few blunders to mention. As the price of gold was rising and mounting fears of inflation, I decided to take a long position in shares of Osisko Mining Corp, this proved to be a poor decision because gold prices have only kept coming down since then. Even the recent opportunistic bid by Goldcorp does nothing to get the price back up to my original entry price.

Here are my positions for the year:


Taking those positions into account, my performance in 2013 was an incredible 114.4%, and the S&P/TSX did 9.6%, so it makes it that I over-performed it by 104.8%. This is very encouraging but I remain cautious, this performance might be due a great deal to chance and it is very improbable that I will be able to replicate it in the future. The downside is that even if I showcased a better performance than this index, it will get harder in the coming year to find such attractive opportunities and repeat a relative performance of this magnitude.