Sunday, April 26

Month 106 - A-rated Value Stocks in the S&P 100 Index - April 2020

Situation: Growth at a reasonable price (GARP) is often mentioned as an investing goal because value underlies the decision to buy. Warren Buffett is the king of value investing and has over $80 Billion in cash (his “elephant gun”) that he’d like to spend. We’re in a Bear Market fueled by the adverse economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, he’ll soon spend that cash pile to buy a large company. Let’s look at his options, considering the ways he has prioritized purchases in the past. Firstly, he likes large and long-established companies. Why large companies? Because those have multiple product lines, one of which is usually designed to help the company maintain a stream of revenue during a recession. In addition, those companies are large enough to have the marketing power needed to maintain and grow their brands. 

Mission: Let’s see which choices look attractive among A-rated “haven stocks” in the S&P 100 Index (see Month 104). Remember: These companies reliably pay an above-market dividend, so they’re found in the Vanguard High Dividend Yield Index (VYM), and they’re also listed in the iShares Russell Top 200 Value ETF (IWX). Warren Buffett places high store in companies that don’t overuse debt and also retain Tangible Book Value, so we’ll exclude companies with negative Tangible Book Value that also have a total debt load greater than 2.5 times EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation & Amortization) or have sold long-term bonds to build more than 50% of their market capitalization. Finally, the company's stock price has to meet both of our two value criteria: 1) Share price isn't more than twice the Graham Number; 2) share price isn't more than 25 times average 7-yr earnings per share. 

Execution: (see Table).

Administration: These 9 companies include 4 from the two most deeply cyclical industries: banks and semiconductor manufacturers. Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio already includes the 3 banks on the list, i.e., JPMorgan Chase (JPM), U.S. Bancorp (USB), and Wells Fargo (WFC) but doesn’t include the semiconductor manufacturer, Intel (INTC). Berkshire Hathaway is at heart an insurance company, so Warren Buffett always needs to diversify away from the Financial Services industry. There are only 4 non-financial companies on the list: Intel (INTC), Cisco Systems (CSCO), Pfizer (PFE), and Target (TGT), and only TGT is within the price range that Mr. Buffett is looking to spend ($80 to $100 Billion). 

Bottom Line: Target (TGT) appears to be the most attractive company to add to Berkshire’s stable, given that it is priced right and Mr. Buffett already has experience owning companies in the Consumer Discretionary industry.. 

Risk Rating: 7 (where 10-yr U.S. Treasury Notes = 1, S&P 500 Index = 5, and gold = 10).

Full Disclosure: I dollar-average into INTC and JPM, and also own shares of PFE, CSCO, TGT, USB, BLK and WFC.

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

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