I have always argued that stocks cannot be summarised into one statement for a newbie, until recently when a friend told me that it could.
“Simply put, buying stocks can be likened to relationships,” he said.
I did not immediately agree, but over the next few minutes, he explained to me what he meant, and drew several analogies to back his claims.
While he is no expert, I understand that he has drawn his conclusion from his experience buying stocks for himself over the past 5 years, so I took his points seriously. These points have been summarised in this article.
When it crashes, there is no telling how far it can go
My friend mentioned of some company’s stock he bought in 2016 in the hope of selling short-term. At the time he bought, there was a dip and he expected things to pick up within some months so he could sell-off.
Two years later, the stock price had plummeted 50% down from the price at which he bought. Without saying, he became a long-term investor because he was not ready to sell off at a loss.
How does this liken to being in a bad relationship?
As the value plummets, you keep hoping it will rise again and then before you know it you are stuck for the long haul. Same thing can happen with a wrong partner. You remain there hoping things will be better but it gets worse.
It could happen sometimes that a company’s stock market price comes crashing and it never goes back to where it was again. The factors which triggered its fall, may not even be able to return it to its starting price.
The stock price is not indicative of the company’s profitability
For some reason, there are company stocks market prices that remain low year after year despite the billions declared in profits, and the dividends paid out to shareholders.
Sometimes, the stock market price could still slump even when the company has positive records in its financials. Market experts are not always able to explain this, but it remains true. Some of the most profitable stocks are undervalued.
You can never take stocks at face value
That a stock has been on an upward trend in the last few months does not mean it will remain so. One must always consider several other factors before purchasing a stock.
While it is important to look at past performance, there are other things that could point to the likely future of such stocks.
Say, for instance, the company has just announced a new board chairman who was implicated in some fraud cases in the past. It doesn’t matter how well the stocks have performed in the last 365 days, or the chairman’s competence, the stock prices are most likely to slump due to loss of investor confidence.
There was a recent case where the CEO of an internet service provider company was alleged to have been involved in sexual harassment, and was eventually pressured by shareholders to resign. The pressure came not necessarily because they thought he was guilty, but because of the implications on the company.
You have to probe to discover the real qualities.
The most expensive stocks are not necessarily the best.
If you ever heard a stock described as under-priced or over-valued, then you should understand that the price you pay is not necessarily suggestive of the value.
Some great stocks, with good potentials, high liquidity, good company profile and adherence to corporate governance ethics, are not as expensive as they should be. While some other stocks are ridiculously overpriced, even when they do not have as much promise. Some of these overpriced stocks could still be basking in past glory or just positive media hype.
This explains why investors must conduct due diligence before putting in their hard-earned money. Sometimes the media hype around a company’s stock might not be giving you all the information you need to make a decision, so you necessarily have to go the extra mile.
Subscribe to newsletters from financial news websites if you need to, take courses if you have to, but ensure to learn all you can.
Remember price is what you pay for the stock, but value is what it is really worth, and there is no law stating that one must justify the other.
When you get the wrong stocks, you get stuck!
You know that feeling when you are sure that you have made the wrong choice, but also know that there is no way out? That’s the feeling you get when you marry the wrong partner, as my friend said. And that’s the same feeling you get when you get the wrong stocks.
You simply get stuck.
No returns. No dividends. Probably, no way to sell either because no one else is interested in buying from you. And if you do succeed in selling off at this point, you would most likely be doing so at a loss.
If you study trends in the stock market, you will see some dormant stocks that have remained stagnant for long periods of time. No rise in share price, no fall in share price, and no share is being traded either.
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It is not a nice position to be in, and that is why you want to be sure of the company, its management, and board members who take the decisions before you decide to buy or not, even more so when you are a long-term investor.
And even then, with the wrong stocks, you could suddenly find that your proposed short term investment of 6 months will run into years because you keep waiting for things to pick up before you sell.
Payback and Return on Investments
To calculate payback, the cash flow or return from the investment needs to be known.
In previous articles, we have explored various methods of fundamental analysis, including cash flow and earning. Two key questions every investor asks are — How much will I make from this investment? How soon can I get returns? These questions are broadly Return on Investment (ROI) questions and there are lots of ways to calculate it, including Breakeven Analysis and Internal Rate of Return. Let us look at their ROI tools in detail starting with Payback
Payback is how long it takes for an investment or business to recoup its initial investment. With Payback, the shorter the number, the better. Look at it this way, if you got an offer to build a railway from Lagos to Ibadan and you will get payback in 5 or 8 years, which would you prefer? 5 of course.
Payback analysis is useful where the investor wants to know if the project is work the time and investment capital it is also easy to calculate. A shorter payback also means the project has a shorter time to be exposed to volatility and risk however this does not mean it eliminates risk, it just determines time frame during which the investment is subject to higher volatility without a full return of invested principal. Payback is like Breakeven calculation, but payback is focused on time while breakeven is focuses on time as a unit.
To calculate payback, the cash flow or return from the investment needs to be known. For instance, A company wants to set up an online platform to receive online orders. It estimates the project will cost N5m in total and will increase sales by N1.5m every year. The company projects that the equipment will be depreciated at 20% meaning it will last 5 years. What is the payback for this project?
To calculate payback, we divide the total cash sum by the cash returns for the project. In this case, 5,000,000/1,500,000 that equals to 3.33. Note the company estimated the project equipment will last 5 years
Payback does not talk about profitability, rate of return or if the company investing will remain as a going concern. The calculations are simply focused on when the initial investment is repaid. From the example above, the N1.5 the earned from new project 1.5m is not profit, its cash received because of the new online ordering system. Payback does not also consider Time Value of money, thus again from our example, the Present Value of N1.5M received is not considered. This Payback is often used as a gateway analysis tool to determine if a project should be considered.
To enhance Payback calculations, many analysts will integrate time value calculation with discount rates to match the future cash flows to today’s cash outlay. This is known as Net Present Value (NPV) which is the present value of the cash flows at a discount rate compared to your initial investment. Thus, NPV compares future cash to today’s cash outlay to determine If project is viable. Eg you discount all future dividends from stock using a discount rate back to today and compare it with a market price to determine if you should buy the stock. If NPV is positive, then the project or investment is good, a negative NPV means the future cash flows are worthless, thus not a good investment. The main problem with NPV in my estimation is the assumption of the discount rate to use. A discount rate that too high or low will skew the results of the NPV and render the output false.
The last ROI calculation I want to review is the Internal Rate of Return (IRR). Technically the IRR is the rate of return that makes all cashflows rates of return equal to zero, in other words, it is the rate of growth investment is expected to generate annually. The more positive the better. IRR integrates the elements of payback and NPV and is also use in comparing different options and picking the option with the highest value.
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Today, all these formulas are available on Excel sheets and financial calculators on our mobile devices you do not have to be a math’s geek to implement ROI, but I remain a useful tool in comparing projects.
If you had $100,000 in cash, where would you invest it in US markets?
What an American investor would do if he had to invest $100,000.
America is a nation of options. Take water for example, you can buy bottled water, water with mineral salts, water without salts, carbonated water, fruit-flavored water, or even water that is infused with oxygen. This example holds true when it comes to investing.
You may walk into your financial adviser’s office with a clear idea of what you want to do. Let’s say you want to save for retirement, and then you are presented with options — do you want long-term investment options? Should you buy bonds? Okay… what kind of bond; interest-paying or non-interest paying? Inflation-indexed? Real Estate backed bonds? Convertible bond? 100-year bonds? The options are endless.
How would an American invest $100,000?
Let us start from a plain vanilla bank savings account. I got Fig 1 below from a J. P. Morgan Asset Management (JPMAM) presentation, and it tracks savings account return from 1994 to 2020. If that investor had put $100,000 into a savings account in 2000, those funds would have earned 6%. Today, however, those same funds put in the same account will only return 0.28% per annum. Keep in mind that inflation in the United States is currently at 0.3%. So, the investors are just barely hanging on in terms of earning a yield.
More questions to consider…
- What if the investor decides to earn a return that is higher than US inflation?
- How can the investor beat inflation?
- What about bonds?
Well, the US Treasury Bonds are quite safe. The US dollar is also very strong. Can a dollar bond beat inflation? The simple answer is no. Take the 10-year bond yield in Figure 2; the yield has fallen from a high of nearly 5.5% in 2007 to just about 0.74 in 2020. Bond yields move in the opposite direction as interest rates. So, as interest rates in the US fall, bond prices rise, thus yields fall.
Investing in bonds does get the US investor a real rate, but certainly no daylight. How else can the US investor boost his returns to real gains? Keep in mind this desire for yields will necessitate having to expose the portfolio to more volatility (risk). What about equities?
Investing in US equities
In 2020, the US stock market has been essentially flat, as Figure 3 shows. However, 2020 is an outlier and can be attributed to the economic malaise caused by the COVID-19 shutdown. The annualized return of the S&P 500 index between 1919 and 2019 is 10.47% (dividends included). So, whilst we cannot predict future earning, we can use the average returns as a guide.
So, if that investor was looking at a fixed guaranteed return, with lower risk, the US Treasury Bonds will be the way to go. If, however, the investor wanted to take more risk and potentially grow his capital, investing in the capital market is the way to.
Figure 4. shows the relationship in terms of yield between both asset classes. From 1901 to 1958, the dividend yield earned on US equities exceeds that paid by US bonds. From 1959 to 2008 however, the dividend yield on US Government bonds surpassed that from Equities.
What is happening is simple —as stock prices rise, their dividend yield falls. This is because there is an inverse relationship between the two. Thus, in the earlier part of the century, bonds did not pay a lot in terms of coupons. Therefore, dividend yield from equities outperformed bonds. However, as America raised interest rates in the 1970s to combat inflation, bond yields rose and overtook stock yields. Fast-forward to the year 2007 when the Federal Reserve dropped rates to combat the global financial crises, equity yields again started to do better than bonds.
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The lesson from this analysis is clear, and that is the need for investors to know what exactly they seek: returns or yields. While stocks may have outperformed bonds by returns, bonds have beaten stocks in terms of yield earned.
In closing, the asset class with the best return in the US for the last decade has been Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS).
5 things you can do to attract equity funding for your business
Equity financing is a reliable funding option.
One challenge that is peculiar to all Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) is that of funding. Of course, the level of challenge depends on the size of the business and the plan that needs to be executed. It is even more so for start-ups looking for funds to bring their business ideas to life.
To solve this challenge, entrepreneurs and business managers explore several sources including applying for loans, grants, partnerships and so on.
Equity financing is a reliable funding option. It basically involves giving out some equity or ownership in your business, in exchange for capital. This could come from friends, family members or potential business partners, and it is often aimed at raising money to pay short-term bills or financing long-term expansion plans.
Recently on the weekly Nairametrics “Business Half Hour” with Ugodre, Tokunboh Ishmael, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Alitheia Capital, discussed the topic “Private Equity Funding for SMEs” in detail.
Among other things, Tokunbo gave some pointers as to how business owners could attract the right equity financing for their business options. The points summarized below tell you what potential equity finance partners (individuals or partners) look out for.
Management (Who is the manager?)
Any company or individual who puts up money for your business, in exchange for equity, is definitely concerned about the management.
They want to know if the manager of the business has had any experience managing a similar business before. This is considered a form of apprenticeship and it is expected that whatever knowledge gained would help make you more efficient in dealing with issues that may arise in the course of the business.
Does he have the requisite educational background? It does not always take someone with a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) to grow a successful business. But that MBA degree could suffice, especially when you do not possess any other relevant experience.
Do you have the relevant track record? What happens if you have overseen a business which eventually went bankrupt or crashed due to management problems? Does this make the Equity fund partner more or less willing to put money into the business? Obviously not!
Some people can wake up and be successful entrepreneurs at first try, but this is not usually the case. Most will go through years of rising and falling, or working under others to gain the relevant experience of running a business.
Management is a critical point that any company or individual will look at, when you approach them with the offer of equity in exchange for funding.
Opportunities (What opportunities does it bring to the investor?)
Every business idea is an attempt to solve a problem. But what separates successful business ideas from others is that there is something unique about your solution.
First identify and understand the problem you want to solve, and from there work out a sustainable business solution. Every equity investor will be concerned with the uniqueness of your solution. Is it peculiar to you? Or is it something that everyone else is doing?
If your business idea has an easy entry point, meaning your idea is not unique to you, it would be difficult to get equity funding. Why? The potential investors already understand that you would soon have to deal with serious competitors who might end up doing what you do even better.
If your business idea shows a potential to make investors part of something big and unique, then you are more likely to get the funds you need. No company or individual wants to invest money in a business idea that will soon be drowned by competition.
You may get some sympathy funds from family members and maybe friends, but not any significant sum that will take you far.
ROI (How soon can investors get returns?)
Returns on Investment (ROI) are a key consideration for any investor (except perhaps charity organisations).
An investor’s concern with returns can best be likened to a retiree’s concern with pension. It is a most sacred topic and in fact, one of the first things they want to find out before putting in their money.
Based on your business idea and model, do I have to wait a year, two or three years before getting any returns?
A quarter may be too short to expect returns, but maybe three years would also be too long to wait. It all depends on your business venture, and of course, the investor’s plans. If he has plans to start channeling the returns into other ventures within six months, then a two-year wait would not be for that investor.
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Returns are not always financial, they could also be social. If the equity company is one that is more disposed towards a certain sector of the economy, say tech or agriculture, then the success of the company brings not only financial returns, but social returns to the company.
This is something you should also look out for before approaching any company for equity funding. You do not want to approach a company with an agricultural business idea, when the company is more disposed towards technology or education.
Ability to scale (Is the business expandable and replicable?)
A private equity partner is also concerned about how soon your business can expand, and how replicable your strategy is. Can it scale up?
Do you have a business idea that is so built around you, that it cannot function without you? Do you have a business idea or structure that will likely crumble if you die? Do you have a process that can be replicated?
The investor wants to know for sure that there are growth and expansion potentials. There is a need to be sure that the business idea you have is not one that can only remain confined to your bedroom. They want to know that you can move from offering your services in one state to serving several states and even the global community.
Why is this even necessary?
Because, it affects how attractive the business will become to the next level of investors who will take over from the private equity investors. This leads us to the next point they consider.
Exit potential (How can they sell out their equity and exit the company?)
Private equity investors are often not interested in taking over your business from you. Their aim is to bring in money for you when you are starting up, provide you advice and partnership, and sell out when it grows. They are not interested in having investments in different sectors of the economy. This explains why they are often concerned about the exit potential in your business.
Is there the likelihood that we can exit sometime in the future? Or do we just invest and get stuck? How attractive can this business become for the next level of investors – the institutional investors who will come in to own the business with you and stick to the end?
One of the most frightening possibilities to the private equity investor is that when he is ready to exit, there is no one to buy in and take over. So you need to answer the question – how attractive is your business idea to investors, and what is the exit potential?
If all five questions are dealt with satisfactorily, then you are well on your way to getting a good private equity partners to provide you financing for your business.