Non-GAAP company performance measures are growing in prominence. Is this a good thing for investors who rely so strongly on accounting numbers for evaluating performance and valuing businesses? A recent CFA Institute webinar explored the issue.
Investors and advisers need to broaden and deepen their levels of analysis to get a better handle on liquidity risks. They may be drawn to the apparent certainty of putting funds into a small number of boxes, buckets, or categories, but this may prove to be a false comfort.
Central bankers in the US have long fixated on the equilibrium real interest rate (ERIR) as their lodestar, an obsession that GMO’s James Montier, in The Idolatry of Interest Rates, bemoans as “a massive exercise in navel gazing.” According to Montier, the broad acceptance of the theoretically dubious ERIR — the real interest rate consistent with full employment of labor and capital resources—is not an example of the wisdom of crowds, but rather “groupthink extraordinaire.” Further, investors’ collective preoccupation with interest rates as an economic “cure-all” and their “deification of central bankers” are equally misguided, says Montier.
The ongoing shifts in US and global equity valuations are something worth watching until the world calms down, because global military tensions could easily get much worse than they currently are. If and when this occurs, global equities could become compellingly cheaper in short order, presenting a potential strategic opportunity, at least if you believe in the global instability premium.
When it comes to valuing stocks, the most reliable valuations come from imaginative number crunchers and disciplined storytellers, says Aswath Damodaran. And too often pure “numbers” people drift off into what he calls “spreadsheet nirvana.” Similarly, investors who focus purely on the narrative of a potential investment run the risk of quickly “veering from reality to fantasy.” Damodaran urged investment managers to bridge the gap between numbers and narratives, insisting that the best valuations are not just “a collection of numbers, but a story connected to numbers.”
The NYU professor applies a common-sense, mathematical approach to challenge general “rules of thumb” of valuation while still using accepted methodologies, such as the discounted cash flow model.
Timing the sale of a security is arguably the most important aspect of any successful investment strategy, and the only true, unbiased indicator of where a security should be trading is information itself. That said, there is still value in using price targets.
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