However, as investors, each and every one of us should properly understand one thing; what do we properly understand?! We should know our circle of competence/our comfort zone and invest accordingly. This will ensure not only decent returns, but also a good night's sleep.
This brings us to the topic of the post - a mindblock that 'value' investors face. The value gang typically goes for stocks that are cheap vis-a-vis their future potential and which also offer a decent margin of safety in case things go a bit wrong. Personally, I also look for a 'trigger' which will help the discovery of value in such stocks. Otherwise, such stocks will remain perennially cheap. (Look at Ultramarine Pigments for example).
In this entire exercise of investing, I often face a certain mindblock. Let me tell you about it with an example. Look at the following companies.
The companies I have illustrated are all established, proven and robust businesses. They are not concept stocks like, lets say, Zee Learning or Delta Corp, which have interesting business, but have yet to 'prove' themselves.
Now the question is, will I buy any of the above companies at present market caps? The point is, I just cant!!! Why not? The valuations!! Look at just the PE Ratio to begin with. Such high PE Ratios tell us that Mr.Market expects a lot of growth from these companies in future (As the companies have delivered in the recent past). Mr.Market also likes the business models which could actually deliver the growth expected of them. And yes, these companies really could deliver.
My problem with such stocks is that there is no margin of safety for black-swan/unforseen events. The valuations already discount a high future growth. And as long as the growth comes in, the valuations continue to be high. But what if for some damn reason, the growth does not come in. What would happen to the valuations (and effectively the stock price) then?
Lets take Jubilant Food for example. Personally, I thought that it was expensive at 400 bucks. I thought the same when it became 500, then 600, 700 and now 800!!! Jubilant Food has been nicely growing for the past coupla years. They have recently expanded their products portfolio, which could help sustain and increase future growth. The valuations therefore continue to be high and the stock will give returns as long as the growth sustains.
The question is, what will happen to the valuations of such stocks, if the expected growth does not sustain or some unforeseen event screws up the basic business model? Crash in the stock price is an understatement.
There comes the mindblock:
- Should one buy into such 'high growth' stories, paying through the nose for the growth? Or
- Let them be and suffer opportunity losses (like I suffer all the time). Invest in the 'cheap' cheap stories and stick to what you understand and are comfortable with.