Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Stock Markets and the History Chart of the End of the World (With Presidential Cycles) - 28th Aug 20
2.Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook... AI Tech Stocks Buying Levels and Valuations Q3 2020 - 31st Aug 20
3.The Inflation Mega-trend is Going Hyper! - 11th Sep 20
4.Is this the End of Capitalism? - 13th Sep 20
5.What's Driving Gold, Silver and What's Next? - 3rd Sep 20
6.QE4EVER! - 9th Sep 20
7.Gold Price Trend Forecast Analysis - Part1 - 7th Sep 20
8.The Fed May “Cause” The Next Stock Market Crash - 3rd Sep 20
9.Bitcoin Price Crash - You Will be Suprised What Happens Next - 7th Sep 20
10.NVIDIA Stock Price Soars on RTX 3000 Cornering the GPU Market for next 2 years! - 3rd Sep 20
Last 7 days
US Presidential Election Forecast Matrix, Stock Market Uncertainty - 29th Oct 20
Stock Market Turning? Look For These Support Levels - 29th Oct 20
Silver: A Conceivable Dead-Cat-Bounce on the Cards - 29th Oct 20
Stocks are Strong but be Aware of this Continuing Pattern - 29th Oct 20
The Most Profitable Way To Play The Gold Boom - 29th Oct 20
Why You Should Hire An Accountant To Complete Your Tax Return - 29th Oct 20
Global Banking: Some Sectors Look as "Precarious as Ever" - 28th Oct 20
Silver Price Minor Dip Possible Before 2nd Major Upleg Starts - 28th Oct 20
�� How to Carve a Simple and Scary Pumpkin Face for Covid Halloween 2020 �� - 28th Oct 20
Gold Price One Last Dip Likely Then Major Upleg to New Highs - 28th Oct 20
Smart Money Is Going All-In On This New Gold Frontier - 28th Oct 20
Gold Stocks Still Correcting - 27th Oct 20
Gold and Crypto: Is This How Charts Look Before A Monetary Collapse? - 27th Oct 20
Silver's Coming Double Trigger Shotgun Price Explosion - 27th Oct 20
The $126 Billion Gold Opportunity in Australia - 27th Oct 20
Tips to Breeze through Your Spanish Classes Online - 27th Oct 20
Try The “Compounding Capital Gains” Strategy Today - 26th Oct 20
UK Coronavirus Broken Test and Trace System, 5 Days for Covid-19 Results! - 26th Oct 20
How the Coronavirus is Exacerbating Global Inequality, Hunger - 26th Oct 20
The Top Gold Stock for 2021 - 26th Oct 20
Corporate Earnings Season: Here's What Stock Investors Need to Know - 25th Oct 20
�� Halloween 2020 TESCO Supermarkes Shoppers Covid Panic Buying! �� - 25th Oct 20
Three Unstoppable Forces Set to Drive Silver Prices - 25th Oct 20
Car Insurance And Insurance Claims and Options - 25th Oct 20
Best Pressure Washer Review - Karcher K7 Full Control Unboxing - 25th Oct 20
Further Gold Price Pressure as the USDX Is About to Rally - 23rd Oct 20
Nasdaq Retests 11,735 Support - 23rd Oct 20
America’s Political and Financial Institutions Are Broken - 23rd Oct 20
Sayonara U.S.A. - 23rd Oct 20
Economic Contractions Overshadow ASEAN-6 Recovery - 23rd Oct 20
Doji Clusters Show Clear Support Ranges for Stock Market S&P500 Index - 23rd Oct 20
Silver Market - 22nd Oct 20
Goldman Sachs Likes Silver; Trump Wants Even More Stimulus - 22nd Oct 20
Hacking Wall Street to Close the Wealth Gap - 22nd Oct 20
Natural Gas/UNG Stepping GAP Patterns Suggest Pending Upside Breakout - 22nd Oct 20 -
NVIDIA CANCELS RTX 3070 16b RTX 3080 20gb GPU's Due to GDDR6X Memory Supply Issues - 22nd Oct 20
Zafira B Leaking Water Under Car - 22nd Oct 20
The Copper/Gold Ratio Would Change the Macro - 21st Oct 20
Are We Entering Stagflation That Will Boost Gold Price - 21st Oct 20
Crude Oil Price Stalls In Resistance Zone - 21st Oct 20
High-Profile Billionaire Gives Urgent Message to Stock Investors - 21st Oct 20
What's it Like to be a Budgie - Unique in a Cage 4K VR 360 - 21st Oct 20
Auto Trading: A Beginner Guide to Automation in Forex - 21st Oct 20
Gold Price Trend Forecast into 2021, Is Intel Dying?, Can Trump Win 2020? - 20th Oct 20
Gold Asks Where Is The Inflation - 20th Oct 20
Last Chance for this FREE Online Trading Course Worth $129 value - 20th Oct 20
More Short-term Stock Market Weakness Ahead - 20th Oct 20
Dell S3220DGF 32 Inch Curved Gaming Monitor Unboxing and Stand Assembly and Range of Movement - 20th Oct 20
Best Retail POS Software In Australia - 20th Oct 20
From Recession to an Ever-Deeper One - 19th Oct 20
Wales Closes Border With England, Stranded Motorists on Severn Bridge? Covid-19 Police Road Blocks - 19th Oct 20
Commodity Bull Market Cycle Starts with Euro and Dollar Trend Changes - 19th Oct 20
Stock Market Melt-Up Triggered a Short Squeeze In The NASDAQ and a Utilities Breakout - 19th Oct 20
Silver is Like Gold on Steroids - 19th Oct 20
Countdown to Election Mediocrity: Why Gold and Silver Can Protect Your Wealth - 19th Oct 20
“Hypergrowth” Is Spilling Into the Stock Market Like Never Before - 19th Oct 20
Is Oculus Quest 2 Good Upgrade for Samsung Gear VR Users? - 19th Oct 20
Low US Dollar Risky for Gold - 17th Oct 20
US 2020 Election: Are American's ready for Trump 2nd Term Twilight Zone Presidency? - 17th Oct 20
Custom Ryzen 5950x, 5900x, 5800x , RTX 3080, 3070 64gb DDR4 Gaming PC System Build Specs - 17th Oct 20
Gold Jumps above $1,900 Again - 16th Oct 20
US Economic Recovery Is in Need of Some Rescue - 16th Oct 20
Why You Should Focus on Growth Stocks Today - 16th Oct 20
Why Now is BEST Time to Upgrade Your PC System for Years - Ryzen 5000 CPUs, Nvidia RTX 3000 GPU's - 16th Oct 20
Beware of Trump’s October (November?) Election Surprise - 15th Oct 20
Stock Market SPY Retesting Critical Resistance From Fibonacci Price Amplitude Arc - 15th Oct 20
Fed Chairman Begs Congress to Stimulate Beleaguered US Economy - 15th Oct 20
Is Gold Market Going Back Into the 1970s? - 15th Oct 20
Things you Should know before Trade Cryptos - 15th Oct 20
Gold and Silver Price Ready For Another Rally Attempt - 14th Oct 20
Do Low Interest Rates Mean Higher Stocks? Not so Fast… - 14th Oct 20
US Debt Is Going Up but Leaving GDP Behind - 14th Oct 20
Dell S3220DGF 31.5 Inch VA Gaming Monitor Amazon Prime Day Bargain Price! But WIll it Get Delivered? - 14th Oct 20
Karcher K7 Pressure Washer Amazon Prime Day Bargain 51% Discount! - 14th Oct 20
Top Strategies Day Traders Adopt - 14th Oct 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Get Rich Investing in Stocks by Riding the Electron Wave

Beware of the Stock Market Valuations Trap

Stock-Markets / Stock Market Valuations Dec 10, 2008 - 09:56 AM GMT

By: Money_Morning

Stock-Markets

Diamond Rated - Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleLouis Basenese writes: this your warning…

With thousands of stocks down 50% (or more), investors are salivating over the bargains. But for every true deal, there are at least three “value traps” - stocks destined to languish at depressed levels indefinitely. Or worse, get cheaper still.


Think Kmart Corp. here. In late 2001, it became the poster child for value investors. They argued it was dirt cheap based on countless metrics like book value and sales. And it was destined for a historic turnaround.

Sure enough, the stock went from the bargain bin to the trash heap, as the company filed bankruptcy in early 2002.

So, before you go bargain hunting in this market, arm yourself with this list. It could be your only chance to avoid getting snared by the countless “Kmarts” begging for your investment…

10 Questions You Should Be Asking

In theory, a value stock is a beaten-down company that's 1) cheap compared to its earnings, its competitors and/or some other relevant benchmark and 2) poised for a turnaround.

In contrast, a value-trap is simply a beaten-down company that's cheap compared to its earnings, its competitors and/or some other relevant benchmark, but never quite turns it around.

Unfortunately, no formula exists to calculate when, or if, a turnaround will ever occur. But, these 10 questions should help. And ultimately, keep you out of most value traps…

  1. Is there a near-term catalyst?
    First things first, if there's nothing on the horizon - like a new product launch, key marketing arrangement, a shake-up of the executives, the conversion of a massive order backlog, etc. - we shouldn't bother. Companies and stocks need catalysts in order to advance. If none exist in the next 12 to 18 months, chances are the stock will be stuck in neutral, or worse, reverse.
  2. What are insiders doing?
    Nobody knows the company - and its future prospects - better than the insiders. If they're not salivating over the “cheap” prices and backing up the truck, we shouldn't either.
  3. Is the company addicted to debt?
    Too much debt magnifies the impact of tough times. As sales decrease, interest payments take up more and more of the company's earnings. Not to mention, unwinding leverage is a time-consuming process. So, even if the company boasts new, fiscally responsible management, beware. Or as Warren Buffett observes, “When a management with a reputation for brilliance takes on a business with a reputation for bad economics, it's the reputation of the business that remains intact.”
  4. Does the dividend yield seem too good to be true?
    Value investors love to tout they “get paid to wait” for a turnaround. Granted, many stocks do maintain their dividends through a downturn. But countless others don't. They slash or cancel them altogether, just to stay in business. No matter how tempting, tread carefully when the dividend yield hits double-digit levels.
  5. Is the company just as “cheap” based on the future?
    At first glance Eastman Kodak Co. ( EK ) appears dirt cheap, trading at a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 2.96. But don't be fooled. Or get too easily excited. Remember, the P/E ratios cited on most financial websites are historical. And as investors, we don't care what a company was worth… we care about what it will be worth. So before you buy, make sure the stocks forward P/E ratio is similarly attractive. (FYI - Eastman's is not. It trades at 27 times forward earnings. Hardly cheap.)
  6. Which direction is the company's market share headed?
    A general economic slowdown is one thing. But when a company's losing market share, too, that's an indication that a competitor has a better mousetrap. And while economic growth is cyclical, market share is not. Even if the economy or industry turns around, chances are the company's market share won't.
  7. Does the company operate in a highly cyclical or moribund industry?
    If you go hunting in a highly cyclical industry (like semiconductors) you're asking for trouble. Same goes for industries destined for obsolescence (like print media). To win with these stocks, you need both the company's misfortunes and the industry's to reverse course.
  8. How's the free cash flow?
    Earnings can be massaged, manipulated or completely fabricated. But cash cannot. So, make sure free cash flow is stable, or growing. If nothing less, it provides management with a little wiggle room, or margin of error when considering ways to speed up a turnaround.
  9. Is the stock liquid enough?
    Just like insiders provide support to share prices, so do institutions (mutual funds, pension plans, hedge funds, etc). Both groups can move stocks prices quickly and significantly. However, many institutions can't or won't buy stocks trading for less than $10, with a market cap below $1 billion and/or that don't trade several million dollars worth of shares each day. Without the potential for institutional ownership, a quick rebound in prices becomes less likely.
  10. Does the company have a sustainable competitive advantage?
    For a stock to turnaround we need the company to thrive, not survive. That's not possible without a sustainable competitive advantage. So stick to companies like Apple Inc. ( AAPL ) that are light-years ahead of the competition in terms of design, market share, new product offerings and/or technology.

In the end, don't kid yourself. Detecting a value trap is no easy task. Even the best investors occasionally get snared. Think Bill Miller (with Countrywide and Freddie Mac ( FRE )) and Carl Icahn (with Yahoo! Inc. ( YHOO ) and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. ( AMD )).

But at the very least, these 10 questions will ensure you never buy blindly, or on price alone.

[ Editor's Note : For additional insights on value investing, check out Investment Director Keith Fitz-Gerald's recent special investment research report on the same topic: The Five Keys to Value Investing Profits .]

[Editor's Note: Louis Basenese is the Associate Investment Director of The Oxford Club and regular contributor to Investment U . He is one of the top analysts and most sought after speakers on financial topics in the country. The following article first appeared in Investment U . But because of the quality, we wanted to share it with Money Morning readers ]

By Louis Basenese
Contributing Writer
Money Morning

Money Morning/The Money Map Report

©2008 Monument Street Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties. Any reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, including on the world wide web), of content from this website, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of Monument Street Publishing. 105 West Monument Street, Baltimore MD 21201, Email: customerservice@moneymorning.com

Disclaimer: Nothing published by Money Morning should be considered personalized investment advice. Although our employees may answer your general customer service questions, they are not licensed under securities laws to address your particular investment situation. No communication by our employees to you should be deemed as personalized investment advice. We expressly forbid our writers from having a financial interest in any security recommended to our readers. All of our employees and agents must wait 24 hours after on-line publication, or 72 hours after the mailing of printed-only publication prior to following an initial recommendation. Any investments recommended by Money Morning should be made only after consulting with your investment advisor and only after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Money Morning Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules