The Valuation Game

Value is a magic word. 

Ears stand up. 

Where is value?

Big, big question. 

Medium term investors look for growth. 

Long-termers invariably look for value. 

How do you value a stock?

There are many ways to do that. 

Here, we are just going to talk about basics today.

For example, price divided by earnings allows us to compare Company A to Company B, irrespective of their pricing.

Why isn’t the price enough for such a comparison?

Meaning, why can’t you just compare the price of an Infosys to that of a Geometric and conclude whatever you have to conclude?

Nope. 

That would be like comparing an apple with an orange. 

Reason is, that the number of shares outstanding for each company are different. Thus, the value of anything per share is gotten by dividing the grand total of this anything-entity by the number of outstanding shares that the company has issued. For example, one talks of earnings per share in the markets. One divides the total earnings of a company by the total number of outstanding shares to arrive at earnings per share, or EPS. 

Now, we get investor perception and discovery into the game. How does the public perceive the prospects of the company? How high or low do they bid it? How much have they discovered it? Or not discovered it? This information is contained in the price. 

So, we take all this information contained in the price, and divide it by the earnings per share, and we arrive at the price to earnings ratio, or P/E, or just PE. 

Yeah, we now have a scale to judge the value of stocks. 

Is this scale flawed?

Yeah. 

A stock with a high PE could have massive discovery and investor confidence behind it, or, it could just have very low earnings. When the denominator of a fraction is low, the value of the fraction is “high”. You have to use your common-sense and see what is applying. 

A stock with a low PE could have low price, high earnings, or both. It could have a high price and high earnings.  The low PE could also just be a result of lack of discovery, reflected in a low price despite healthy earnings. Or, the low PE could be because of a low price due to rejection. What is applying? That’s for you to know. 

At best, the PE is ambiguous. Your senses have to be sharp. You have to dig deeper to gauge value. The PE alone is not enough. 

Now let’s add a technical consideration. One sees strong fundamental value in a company, let’s say. For whatever reason. How does one gauge discovery, rejection or what have you in one snapshot? Look at the 5-year chart of the stock, for heaven’s sake. 

You’ll see rejection, if it is there. You’ll understand when it is not rejection, because rejection goes with sell-offs. Lack of discovery means low volumes and less pumping up of the price despite strong fundamentals. You’ll see buying pressure in the chart. That’s smart money making the inroads. Selling pressure means rejection. You’ll be able to gauge all this from the chart. 

Here are some avenues to look for value :

 

– price divided by earnings per share,

– price divided by book-value per share,

– price divided by cash-flow per share,

– price divided by dividend-yield per share,

– in today’s world, accomplishment along with low-debt is a high-value commodity, so look for a low debt to equity ratio,

– look for high return on equity coupled with low debt – one wants a company that performs well without needing to borrow, that’s high value,

– absence of red-flags are high value, so you’re looking for the absence of factors like pledging by the promoters, creative accounting, flambuoyance, 

– you are looking for value in the 5-year chart, by gauging the chart-structure for lack of discovery in the face of strong fundamentals. 

 

We can go on, but then we won’t remain basic any more. Basically, look for margin of safety in any form. 

Yeah, you don’t buy a stock just like that for the long-term. There’s lots that goes with your purchase. Ample and diligent research is one thing. 

Patience to see the chart correct so that you have your proper valuations is another. 

Here’s wishing you both!

🙂

 

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Dealing with Noise…the Old-Fashioned Way

There’s a sure-shot way to deal with noise…

…just shut your ears. 

Yeah, the best ideas in the world are – simple. 

Let’s not complicate things, ok?

So, what kinda noise are we talking about here?

We’re not talking about audio, you got that right…!

The concept is related, though. 

If you’re charting, you’ve dealt with noise. 

Yeah, we’re talking about minute to minute, hour to hour or day to day fluctuations in a chart of any underlying.

Markets fluctuate. 

While discussing noise, we are pointing towards relatively small fluctuations which generally don’t affect the long-term trend. 

However, noise has the capability of deceiving our minds into believing that the long-term trend is turning, or is over. 

Don’t let noise fool you.

When has the long-term trend changed?

When the chart proves it to you through pre-defined fashion. That’s it. You don’t let noise to get you to believe that the long-term trend has changed, or is changing. Ever. 

You believe your chart. 

Moving averages crossing over? Support broken? Resistance pierced? Trend-line shattered? ADX below 15? Fine, fine, FINE.

Take your pick. You have many avenues giving decent signals that the long-term trend has changed or is changing. 

How about eyeballing? Works for some. Like I said, let’s keep this simple. 

So let’s get noise out of the way. 

Random numbers generate trends – you knew that, right?

You don’t need more. 

Once you’ve identified a trend, that’s your cue to latch on to it. 

We’re not talking about predicting here. We don’t need to predict. We just need to identify a trend, and latch on. That’s all. No predictions. Not required. 

From this point on, two things can happen.

Further random numbers deepen the trend you’ve latched on to. You make money. Good. 

Or, the next set of random numbers make your trade go against you, and your stop gets hit. 

If your stop is getting hit, please let it get hit. Even that qualifies as a good trade. 

You move on to the next trade setup, without even blinking. 

What you’re not doing is letting noise throw you out of the trade by deceiving your mind. 

So, here’s what you do. 

You’ve id’d your trend. You’ve latched on. Your stop is in place. Now, don’t look at your trade. 

Till when?

That’s your call. 

Don’t look at your trade till you’ve decided not to look at it. For the day-trader, this could be a couple of hours. For the positional trader, it could be days, or weeks. 

By not looking, you won’t let noise deceive you. 

If the trend doesn’t deepen, or goes against you, you lose the risked small amount. 

Just remember one thing. 

A loss has immense informational value. It teaches you about market behaviour patterns. It also highlights your trading errors. Many times, losses occur without any mistakes made by you. 

That’s the nature of trading. 

Ultimately, if the trend deepens, you’ll have made good money, and can then further manage your trade after the stipulated period of not looking.

This is the sweet spot.

This is where you want to be, again, and again and again.

Sitting on a large profit gives you room to play for more profit by lifting your stop and your target simultaneously.

To reach this sweet spot again, and again and again, you have to position yourself out there and appropriately, again, and again and again. 

This is also the nature of trading.

Wishing you happy and lucrative trading!

🙂

Charting Charting Charting

Why don’t you just…

… trade what you see?

Trade the chart, dammit.

Not the level.

Not the expectancy of a turnaround.

And, although I still do this because it gives me a kick, why do we even trade corrections?

Why can’t we just trade the sheer chart?

Every chart is either going up, down or nowhere.

So it’s pretty obvio, that the first step would be to…

… to what?

… to decide where the chart is going.

Again, it should be pretty obvio, that if a chart is going nowhere, then you are doing… what?

Are you trading such a chart?

NO!

Wait for such a chart to break out in one particular direction.

Wait for the LTT to turn in this direction.

Then trade this chart. Not before.

Yeah, LTT stands for long-term trend.

Yeah, we’ve befriended the LTT so much, that we have an abbreviation going for it…

Once you’ve sorted out the direction, look for an entry setup.

Be patient.

If the entry setup hasn’t formed yet, wait for it. If you can’t stop your twiddling fingers from doing something, feed in a trigger entry in case of a hypothetical setup formation within the next few hours / days, if your trading station allows this.

There’s no up or down anymore, to be honest. You are going where the chart is going, period.

You are also not asking the stooopidest question of them all…

… you guessed it… “Did the sensory index go up, or down?”

Just forget about the sensory index, ok?

I mean, we’re so done with sensory indices in this space.

Why?

DLF could tank 20 bucks on a day the Sensex goes up. Dow Jones could be down 50 points, but Pfizer could just spring into a stellar upwards move. Why should we have lost the short-side opportunity that DLF hypothetically gave, or the long-side opportunity that Pfizer could present, for example? We will do exactly that, i.e. lose the opportunity, if our focus is on the sensory index.

Focus on the underlying.

To be more precise, focus on the chart of the underlying.

Happy trading.

🙂

Am I Taking Bitcoin Seriously?

Yeah.

Bitcoin is a serious new kid on the block.

Am I getting into it? That’s the more important question, isn’t it?

Well, not yet.

First up, I know very little about it. I’m not going to get into something because of the smoke. Gone are the days.

So, I’m educating myself.

The Web tells me that Bitcoin is not alone. Numerous Crypto-currencies have emerged. Confusing.

Many of these have their main servers or their secondary addresses located in ex-Soviet / ex-iron-curtain nations. Intimidating. I’m afraid.

Then I look at the bid-ask spread for Bitcoin. There’s typically a 1% difference between buying and selling price. That is huge. In fact, it’s outrageous.

After that I look at the Bitcoin price vs time chart.  I can see the panic in the chart. I don’t like panic. I generally stay away from panic markets. If I’m entering a long-term market, I like entering on a solid base foundation. The panic dust hasn’t settled yet. Technical bases build after panic settles, and only if the underlying has long-term mettle. They’re visible on the chart as horizontal stretches. Not happening as yet on the Bitcoin price vs time chart. Means I’m not entering yet.

Then there’s this mining stuff. Like, virtual mining. I don’t understand it. Yet. Looks silly, off-hand. Could this be connected to currency-backing? Or, is this just a hype-creating gimmick that doesn’t make economic sense? I’m not sure, I tell myself.

Last point I’m making against current Bitcoin entry – theft and loss. If I store Bitcoin on my computer, it becomes a potential target. I don’t wish to have the 5 million odd extremely sharp ex-Soviet ex-chess wizard brains targeting my computer. Period.

So, where do we stand?

Meaning, why am I taking Bitcoin seriously?

The USD has nothing backing it. The US seems to be following a fiscal policy with high risk of implosion due to escalating debt. They’ve got no reserves left. Savings are nil. The USD will probably maintain its hierarchy till the world has another alternative.

A few years ago, I thought that Gold could be this alternative. Today, I think Bitcoin is a more serious contender.

First, I need to convince myself that Bitcoin is backed. Meanwhile, the noise will even out, and only the most solid crypto-currencies shall live on. I’d like Bitcoin to still be at the top of all crypto-charts once the noise settles. By then, there’ll be someone reliable in my own country offering Bitcoin investment and trading, someone I know, like an HDFC Bank, or a Kotak Securities. Volumes will escalate. Slippage will be down to a bearable 0.1% or less. Bitcoin’s chart will show a base foundation. I’ll have understood the virtual mining stuff, and hopefully it’ll be connected to currency-backing. Banks will store Bitcoin as an e-holding, which will reflect in one’s Netbanking.

That’s when I’ll enter Bitcoin.