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Geoff Gannon August 29, 2017

The Market is Overpriced: These 3 Stocks Aren’t

Most stocks are now overpriced. Historically, a normal price for a stock has been about a P/E of 15. And historically, stocks have outperformed other assets. Therefore, it makes sense to buy above average businesses when their shares trade at a P/E of 15. Right now, I see 3 above average businesses trading at about a P/E of 15: Cheesecake Factory (CAKE) Omnicom (OMC) Howden Joinery I’m not buying any of these stocks personally right now. However, if you asked me right now whether or...

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Geoff Gannon August 29, 2017

The Market is Overpriced: These 3 Stocks Aren’t

Most stocks are now overpriced.

Historically, a normal price for a stock has been about a P/E of 15.

And historically, stocks have outperformed other assets.

Therefore, it makes sense to buy above average businesses when their shares trade at a P/E of 15.

Right now, I see 3 above average businesses trading at about a P/E of 15:

  • Cheesecake Factory (CAKE)
  • Omnicom (OMC)
  • Howden Joinery

I’m not buying any of these stocks personally right now.

However, if you asked me right now whether or not I think you should buy a certain stock, I’d say “no” to 99% of the stocks you can name.

Those 3 belong to the 1% of stocks I’d say “yes” to.

I’ve never seen a time when it’s as difficult to find a good stock to buy without overpaying as what I see right now.

But, I don’t think that means you should be 100% in cash. I think it means you should be in stocks like:

  • Cheesecake Factory (at $41 as I write this)
  • Omnicom (at $73 as I write this)
  • And Howden Joinery (at 412 pence as I write this)

If the market as a whole is overpriced, it will fall. And when it does fall: it will take stocks like Cheesecake, Omnicom, and Howden with it.

In time, they will recover.

And you will be able to look back – 5 years or more down the road – and say that buying stocks like these at today’s “not overpriced” levels and holding them wasn’t a mistake.

You don’t need to get out of the market.

But, you do need to be more selective than ever now that the market is more expensive than ever.…

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Geoff Gannon August 22, 2017

My Investing Goal

Someone emailed me this question:

“For the past months I’ve dug into your posts on Gurufocus…in this article you write about Warren Buffett’s early years:

‘Warren Buffett was thinking about compounding wealth. He was interested in getting rich.’ 

This sentence piqued my curiosity a little. What (are) your goals and objectives in the stock market? Is it getting rich, saving for retirement, or something not money related?”

I have zero interest in getting rich. Investing is a purely intellectual exercise for me. I love writing and I love investing. My only financial goal is to make enough money so I never have to do any work that isn’t either writing or investing.

A lot of people email me asking if I’d ever be interested in managing money.

The answer is no.

If I was interested in getting rich, the answer would be yes. The way to get rich in the stock market is to manage other people’s money and manage it well. That’s what Buffett did.

For myself, I’d be really happy if I could:

  • Save some money every year
  • Put all the money I saved that year into just one new stock
  • Keep that stock for the rest of my life
  • Repeat annually till dead

I can do the likely compound math and see that would ensure an adequate result in my case. I’d like the intellectual challenge of picking one and only one stock a year and never being able to reverse that decision. But what I’d really love would be never being troubled by the constant irritation of active portfolio management.

The only thing I like about investing is picking stocks. Nothing else about it appeals to me.

So, those bullet points are the routine I’d follow if I was just investing for myself and not having to write about it for anyone else.…

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Geoff Gannon August 21, 2017

Did You Invest in Weight Watchers (WTW)? Call for Quotes/Comments: Weight Watchers Re-Visit

I planned to do a quick re-visit of my own experience investing in Weight Watchers (WTW). However, since announcing my plan to do that, I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people telling me about their own experience either investing in that stock on their own or following me into it.

So, I’ve decided to do a post that includes those experiences. If you owned Weight Watchers stock – or even considered buying the stock but ultimately deiced to pass – at any time between 2013 and 2017, please send me an email detailing your experience.

Try to include:

1.       How did you first find out about the stock? (Was it my blog, my newsletter, someone else’s write-up online, a news report, your own experience trying to lose weight, Oprah’s investment, etc.)

2.       When did you buy the stock? (what date, at what price, etc. – to the best of your memory)

3.       What factors drove your buy decision?

4.       When did you sell the stock? (what date, at what price, etc. – to the best of your memory)

5.       What factors drove your sell decision?

6.       And most importantly: How did holding this stock make you FEEL? (what emotions did you cycle through and what influence did these emotions have on your decision to buy, hold, or sell?)

7.       Do you think you learned anything from this experience?

I will quote from the emails sent to me. I will edit only for clarity and brevity.

Please rest assured: I will anonymize all quotes. Your name will not appear anywhere in the post.

I’m in the midst of summer vacation. So, you have till the end of August to send in your personal history investing in Weight Watchers stock. I will post this at the start of September regardless of how much feedback I get. I don’t want to hold off any longer than that. So, if you want to submit – submit now.

If you invested in Weight Watchers, please do consider submitting your thoughts.

I think you’ll find the experience of summarizing your experience and sending it off to me to be cathartic.…

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Jayden Preston August 7, 2017

RLI Corp (NYSE:RLI) – Just Wait for the Price

Introduction   Founded in 1965, RLI Corp. is a specialty insurance company with a niche focus. Initially, the company was called Replacement Lens Inc.*, as the company started out as an insurer for contact lens. They were once the largest insurer of this product in the world. In 1976, RLI expanded beyond contact lens insurance into property and casualty insurance.   Fast forward to the present, they now offer insurance coverages in both the specialty admitted and excess and surplus markets. Through 3 subsidiaries, they...

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Geoff Gannon August 2, 2017

The Two Things Every Stock Picker Needs to Learn: Independence and Arrogance

I get a lot of emails from people asking how to become a better investor. They usually have very specific ideas about what would help them improve. For example, they think they need to get better at reading 10-Ks and that would fix their problem. Or they think they need to get better at deciding which stock to research in the first place. The truth is that most of the people I’ve talked with and tried to help improve as investors suffer from the same mental block.

They think there is a right way and a wrong way to analyze a stock. They have – whether they realize it or not, and I think usually they do not – a kind of moralistic view of how investing ought to be done. They believe that if you do what you’re supposed to do, work hard, etc. you will get a good outcome. Investing doesn’t work like that. Stock analysis doesn’t work like that. It really doesn’t matter whether you are a very hard working, diligent researcher of stocks or a lazy but brilliant one. There are no points for effort. Nor is there any degree of difficulty modifiers. Often, the best ideas are easy to come up with. They don’t take much time to research. They are 99% inspiration and 1% perspiration type ideas.

So, what do you need to be a good stock analyst? What is the key to hunting for and finding the right ideas to bet big on?

You need a different, better way of seeing the stock than most investors do. I’ve talked about the importance of “framing” an investment problem before. In my discussions with readers, I’ve realized they really underestimate the importance of this. Yes, I read the footnotes to financial statements, and I take notes on the 10-K, and I put together Excel spreadsheets. But there’s really nothing in any investment thesis that’s going to flip the correct answer of whether to buy a certain stock from a “no” to a “yes” or vice versa depending on whether the P/E is 14 or 18, the projected future growth rate is 4% or 6%, the Net Debt / EBITDA ratio is 1.5 or 2.5. If something as small as that can change your decision to invest – this stock probably isn’t worth your time.

The investment ideas really worth having are all “framing” problems. You have to find a stock where the way you frame the entire problem of analysis and appraisal is different from the way other people frame that same problem.

Let’s start with two examples from my own portfolio. Right now, I have 40% of my portfolio in Frost (CFR) and 25% of my portfolio BWX Technologies (BWXT). No other stock accounts for more than 6% of my portfolio. So, these are really the only two stocks that matter in my portfolio. In both cases, I framed the problem of appraising those stocks differently than most investors probably did.

Let’s start …

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