Monday, June 2, 2008

Why Value Investing Always Wins - Numbers Don't Lie

This morning an article appeared in the London Free Press titled "Value Investing Rewards Patience." This article provides a wonderful perspective on why "value investing" always outperforms. The article attempts to define the parameters of a value stock. Typically, most academic studies have separated businesses via the following:

Low price to book ratio = Value
High price to book ratio = Growth

While the above categorization does make sense, it's far too rigid today to be taken as the definitive method for distinguishing between the two types of stocks. Newer studies now look at various other metrics such as price to cash flow, price to earnings, etc. in trying to separate the two classes of stock for research purposes. According to these studies, the performance of value investing has vastly outperformed a growth oriented approach.

I have always felt that value and growth are merely two sides of the same coin when it comes to investing. Growth is simply a lever that creates value over time. I think the idea behind this article and the many others that prove that value beats growth is that with value investing, the aim is to pay as little as possible for that future growth. Businesses that are selling for close to the value of tangible assets, high cash flow yields, etc. will experience a dramatic expansion in multiples as they begin to demonstrate sound operating results.

I think the best way to see if someone is a value investor is not by the ratios of the stocks they hold, but instead by a wonderful little quote by Warren Buffett:

"To invest successfully over a lifetime does not require a stratospheric IQ, unusual business insights, or inside information. What's needed is a sound intellectual framework for making decisions and the ability to keep emotions from corroding that framework."

Below are excerpts from the article followed by the link to the whole article.

Judging "value" on the basis of a single financial metric such as book-to-market value was criticized for being too parochial. So, the academic community began to incorporate other relative valuation methods, such as price to cash flow, price to earnings, price to tangible book value and others.

Despite the excellent performance of growth stocks in the 1990s, Chan and Lakonishok show that large-cap value stocks actually outperformed large cap growth by 12.2 per cent annually from 1990 until 2001. The same was true from 1969 until 2001, with value outperforming growth by 10.4 per cent per year.

The small-cap numbers were even more impressive. From 1990 until 2001, value outperformed growth by 19.4 per cent annually. The long-term outperformance number from 1969 until 2001 for this group was 16.5 per cent.

This is really important:

Chan and Lakonishok also argue that value stocks are no riskier than growth stocks. They show that even in down markets, value stocks suffered less than growth stocks -- an important litmus test for investors.

At the end of their study, Chan and Lakonishock subtly conclude that the difference in value and growth returns is largely a result of irrational investor behaviour -- a persistent human trait that they argue will continue to reward patient value investors for a long time to come.

Read the full article:

Value Strategies Reward Patience by Neil Murray

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