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Does Value Investing Work?

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For decades, value investing has been popular with financial luminaries like Ben Graham and Warren Buffett, who is arguably the most famous investor in the world. Buffett is renowned for his investing style which is “value investing”. Many are curious about what value investing is and whether the concept still works in an environment where the Covid-19 pandemic is plaguing the whole world.

Firstly, investors must understand how value investing works. In layman terms, value investing is a strategy for taking advantage of the market at the right moment. It’s based on the idea of “appraising” stocks, with value investing advocating hunting for stocks that are undervalued based on their “intrinsic value”, before buying them, holding them and weathering the volatility of the market. In theory, a company’s stock value should be the same as its market price but in many cases, this doesn’t hold true. It’s possible that stocks could be overvalued and at other times, it’s undervalued.

To carry out this strategy, the investor will be required to analyse the company’s fundamentals and project the future profits that the business is going to generate in its lifetime and with that the investor is able to assess whether the company is underestimated in the market or not. If so, you get to buy its stocks at a bargain in the hopes that the market will turn in their favour over the long run. These value stocks are being sold below their intrinsic value and have huge potential to grow in the future when the price is adjusted accordingly.

Although the concept seems simple, value investing is extremely difficult to implement properly and requires rigorous analysis to determine what the “underlying value” of a stock is. In today’s environment, investors must consider geopolitical factors, fiscal or monetary policies, currency, business model, supply and demand of the company’s services or products, and other underlying factors.

Understanding value investing is vital before making any investments

If you look at the chart above, the red line indicates the company’s potential or intrinsic value. In the beginning, due to its low value, the market misinterpreted the situation and quickly undervalued its stock. Value investors wait for this golden opportunity to buy the shares at a discounted price. They know the company has future growth potential. Then, they sell their stock when the market price is overvalued, earning them a nice, big profit. 

For example, let’s take Microsoft whose product is widely used and accounts for 76.56% share of its industry as of December 2020 according to Statista.com and has about 1.5 billion active users worldwide. On average, its net income margin is about 25% per year and it consistently manages to turn over healthy profits. Despite the Covid-19 outbreak, its products were still massively used but during the pandemic selloff in March 2020, it lost about 25% of its share value. 

Putting the factor of the Covid-19 outbreak aside, this company maintained good, continuous growth, and its share value grew about 23,000% in the last 30 years. Using the value investing strategy, one will see a huge opportunity in this company due to its nature of business, as well as the demand for its service and product continuing even during a pandemic. 

*Note: This should not be taken as financial advice or a buy recommendation.

Like all investment strategies, patience and diligence to stick to the investment philosophy is a requirement. There’ll be days where an investor may want to purchase some stocks because the fundamentals are sound, but he or she may have to wait if it’s overpriced at that time.

If investors are unable to properly carry out this strategy themselves or commit to the time needed to invest themselves, it’s always advisable for them to seek for professional advice or seek a proper licensed financial planner or financial advisor to assist them. These professionals will be able to offer advice according to the investors’ risk appetite, goals and objectives. Other factors will also be used to evaluate the investors’ current financial condition before such advice is given.

Conclusion

Therefore, do buy the stock that is most attractively priced at that moment, and if there is none that meets the criteria, just sit and wait and let the cash sit idle until an opportunity arises. The bottom line, value investing is a long-term strategy, it requires hard, there is no short cut and it works as Warren Buffett is still a devoted advocate of this strategy.

About the author 

Alex Ng Wern Ping is a licensed financial planner that specialises in investment planning. He can be contacted at alexng.alpineadvisory@gmail.com

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