Sunday, August 12

Week 371 - Know What You’re Buying: Graham Numbers for “The 2 and 8 Club”

Situation: Stock prices are a function of 3 variables: book value, earnings, and market sentiment. The first two numbers come from the company’s most recent quarterly report. Market sentiment drives the movement in buy and sell orders for a particular block of shares on a public exchange. In the days before electronic trading systems took over, traders would get together after work and make back-of-the-envelope calculations of future book values and earnings for stocks that interested them. This would give them an idea about the price at which the company’s stock would open the next morning. Benjamin Graham gave traders a starting point for those discussions on page 349, Chapter 14, of his book The Intelligent Investor (cf. the Revised Edition of 2003, annotated by Jason Zweig). There he makes clear that a rational price is the square root of 15 times earnings/share (EPS) and 1.5 times book value/share (BVPS), which is the square root of 22.5 X EPS x BVPS. For example, on June 18, 2018, JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) closed at $108.17, with EPS of $6.35 and BVPS of $72.00. The Graham Number equals the square root of (22.5 X 6.35 X 72 = 10,287) or $101.42. Conclusion: JPM is 6.66% overvalued ($108.17/$101.42 = 1.0666).  

Mission: Run our Standard Spreadsheet for the 22 companies in “The 2 and 8 Club” to include Graham Numbers.

Execution: see Columns Z and AA in this week’s Table.

Bottom Line: The average company on this list is overvalued by a factor of three (see Column AA), reflecting the end-of-times for the second longest Bull Market since the Great Depression. You have to ask yourself why you still own shares of a stock that is priced more than 3 times its fundamental value. Those reasons will always reflect market sentiment unless you know of a specific reason why earnings and book value are going increase above trend, and you’re almost certain it will play out that way.

Risk Rating: 7 (where US Treasury Notes = 1, S&P 500 Index = 5, and gold bullion = 10)

Full Disclosure: I dollar-average into MSFT, NEE, JPM, CAT and IBM and also own shares of TRV, MMM, CSCO and CMI.

"The 2 and 8 Club" (CR) 2017 Invest Tune All rights reserved.

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