Value Investing

What is Value Investing?

Value investing is a type of investing that focuses mainly on trading shares that are priced consistently less than their actual or intrinsic value. These types of investors focus on the fundamentals of a company, using financial analysis to determine its real or intrinsic value.

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Although a company’s intrinsic value is relative, an educated estimate can be made as to which shares largely seem undervalued. This can be done by thoroughly investigating the company’s earnings, strategy, consumer base, cash flow, business model, and more.

Key Metrics for Evaluating Company or Stock Value

Several metrics can be used to determine the value of a company or stock however, the below three are the most popular.

Key Metrics for Evaluating Company or Stock Value

Price-to-Earnings Ratio

The price-to-earnings ratio measures the amount of earnings per share in comparison to the price of the share. It can be calculated with the below formula:

Price to earnings ratio = Share Price/Earnings per Share

Typically, the lower the price-to-earnings, the more undervalued a company is likely to be. However, it can also mean that a company is currently doing better than it had done in the past.

Free cash flow

These are the funds, or cash flow, that a company retains after settling operating expenses and whatever is required to maintain assets and other capital expenses. The amount of free cash flow a company has is crucial in determining how much it may be able to reinvest in the company, as well as whether it will be able to continue to get rid of debt and pay dividends. Free cash flow can be calculated as below:

Free cash flow (FCF) = Net Operating Profit After Taxes – Investment in the said period

Price-to-Book Ratio

The price-to-book ratio compares the book value of a stock to its actual market value currently. Most value investors consider price-to-book ratios below 1.0 as a good indicator of an undervalued stock; however, some may leave room for up to 3.0. The ratio is calculated as below:

Price-to-Book Ratio= Market Capitalization/ Book Value of Equity (BVE)

Example of Value Investing

Value investing is a long-term investing strategy and mentality and requires investors to be patient throughout their research, as well as remain calm in times of turbulence.

Examples of value investing usually arise following a major market, geopolitical, social, weather, or other such event.

These events usually rattle stock markets and may prompt herd mentality, in the sense that most people may veer towards only a few stocks or sectors, as well as safe-haven assets such as gold. During times like these, investors’ faith in certain value companies may also be shaken.

Other cases, such as recent scandals, clashing management styles, or an unexpected period of low earnings and weakened growth, may also spook investors away from some value companies.

However, it is especially during times like these that value investors take charge by scooping up discounted shares and other assets. This was particularly seen during times of real estate slumps following COVID-19 when a number of investors snatched up heavily discounted properties at very attractive rates.

Even though the real estate market at the time was dismal, value investors kept the belief that things would eventually turn around due to real estate being essentially a prime commodity.

In a more stock-specific case, this is regularly seen when investors choose to consistently go for companies such as IBM, Apple, and Fitbit, despite short-term earnings misses, rumors, or lower dividends at times.

Value Investing vs. Growth Investing

Aspect Value Investing Growth Investing
Focus Focuses on the present or current value of a stock to determine whether it is undervalued at the moment. Mainly revolves around whether a stock is believed to have the potential to earn outsized future returns and is very much speculative, albeit also based on research and current earnings.
Stock Evaluation Undervalued at the moment Often overpriced, banking on future potential
Dividends Typically offer higher dividends Offer low to no dividends. This is usually due to growth companies wanting to invest most profits back into the company to help support future revenue.
Company Characteristics Larger, older, and more well-established companies Typically younger, smaller, and newer ones, but they are currently one of the top performers in their segment.
Risk vs. Return Lower risk but also offer fewer returns Higher volatility, the potential for larger rewards
Financial Indicators Lower price-to-earnings ratios Higher earnings
Performance Outlook Stable but lower growth Volatile with potential for substantial growth
Potential Drawbacks Potential for missed growth opportunities Risk of purchasing at peak prices. This means that quite often, the price sinks from there on, opening up the investor to the possibility of losses.

Value Investing Stocks

Value investing stocks are stocks that are consistently undervalued and, as such, underpriced by the market, making them ideal to be scooped up by savvy investors.

Most value stocks are considered based on their low price/earnings ratio, as well as their earnings growth over the last few years. Investors also look at other factors, such as whether the company is financially healthy or not, as well as how diluted its shareholders are.

Below are a few examples of value stocks.

Berkshire Hathaway

One of the most well-known value stocks is Berkshire Hathaway. This company is founded by Warren Buffet, one of the most well-known and vocal advocates of value investing. Berkshire Hathaway is a conglomerate operating across rail transportation, manufacturing, energy, insurance, retail, distribution and more. 

With about $157.2 billion of cash reserves as of November 2023, the company is considered to be a safe haven, especially in times of recession, since it has outperformed the S&P 500 index by an average of 4.41% during six recessions since 1980. 

T-Mobile US

Another one is T-Mobile US, owned primarily by Deutsche Telekom. As of 27 December 2023, T-Mobile US has a market capitalization of about $182.78 billion.

The stock is estimated to clock in about $80.57 billion of revenue in 2024, while its earnings per share is expected to come in somewhere around $9.96 in the next year. According to T-Mobile, as of May 2023, they had 40% market share in the top 100 markets or areas in the US.

Webster Financial

Webster Financial is also another value stock dealing with banking services, wealth management, and investment advisory services.

It has a significantly low price-to-earnings ratio of 9.88 and a robust 3.1% dividend yield as of 27 December 2023. It had a relatively low price-to-book ratio of about 1.12 as of December 2023.  

Analysts estimate that the company is likely to see an earnings growth of about 7.2% next year, with a revenue growth of about 4.5%. Earnings per share are also estimated to rise 8.9% in 2024.

Value Investing Strategies

Value investing strategies can mostly be classified into active and passive strategies.

Active strategies refer to the investors themselves actively carrying out research and due diligence. There are a few different ways to do this, as highlighted below.

Find Winning Investments: Start with What You Know Best

One way to go about value investing is to start with companies that you are already familiar with. This can be either through past work experience, friends, family, or even products that you use often. As such, this greatly decreases the amount of research that needs to be done on those companies, and you are already in a good position to understand the pros and cons.

Analyze Financial Records

Active value investing also requires investors to thoroughly go through a company’s financial records, such as its balance sheet, profit and loss statement, cash flow statement, income statement, and more. This will reveal key details about a company’s price-to-earnings ratio, price-to-book ratio, debt, assets, long-term strategy, and more. In turn, this information will be crucial in determining whether a stock is a good value stock or not.

Discover Value Stocks in Popular Industries: Tech, Health, Finance

Another way to go about it is to target high-demand goods as services, such as Apple, Fitbit, insurance, healthcare, financial services, and so on. Since these products and services will most probably always be in high demand, it is likely that any established company in these fields may be a good candidate for a value stock with more research.

Management and Insiders

Most value investors also keep a close eye on a target company’s management and any other significant stakeholders for cues. This includes any sudden purchases or sales of large quantities of stock. It also includes any announcements, scandals, retirements, firings, or any other significant news or event that could impact the share price of the company.

Ask Your Questions

Value investors can also determine whether a stock is a good pick or not by asking basic questions about cost-cutting, competition, alternate suppliers and clients, price determination, sales, and restructuring, amongst others.

Passive value investing strategies basically refer to investors choosing to go with pre-selected value stocks through mediums such as exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, or similar. This may be a good option for novice investors or those who do not have the time or desire to carry out their own research and prefer to leave it to financial advisors.

Another way of doing this is also to mimic renowned value investors, such as Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett, by attempting to hold the same stocks as them.

Risks of Value Investing

Like all other investment strategies, value investing also comes with its own share of risks, as outlined below:

Risk Description
Low returns One of the most common risks of value investing is that investors have to be reconciled to relatively low but mostly stable returns over the years. This is especially true when compared to higher-risk, potentially higher-return stocks such as growth stocks.
The difficulty of determining intrinsic values As most investors know, estimating intrinsic values for a stock or company is quite relative and can be done in a number of different ways. As such, it can sometimes be quite challenging to reach a conclusive figure, especially if not much public information is available to the investor.
The risk of missing out on opportunities Value investing is one of the more traditional investing styles, focusing on low-risk and mostly stable stocks. This means that sometimes, more “exciting” stocks, or ones that have potentially more growth opportunities, could be passed up, sometimes unknowingly.
Requires a critical mindset This style of investment relies heavily on investors being able to, filter out volatile and knee-jerk reactions, even when markets are unstable, instead keeping faith in the stocks they purchase. Thus, it needs an entirely logical and facts-based investment strategy, which means that investors need to frequently and consciously choose to go against the grain and resist the temptation to go with the herd.
Research and due diligence Value investing requires varied and in-depth research, primarily because undervalued stocks are not so easily found. This may require months of sorting through dozens of companies, as well as deep dives into those short-listed. In several cases, additional information may need to be tracked down, which could take up more time, money, and resources.

Is Value Investing Dead?

Following the Great Financial Crisis (GFC), entire economies were more sluggish, with downbeat outlooks and fewer opportunities. Growth stocks, on the other hand, offered the opposite of what the wider economy offered. They were exciting, fairly novel, and promised fabulous and, more importantly, quicker returns than traditional value stocks.

For investors who had just lost a lot of money in the financial crisis, as well as been thoroughly shaken up by changing economic conditions, growth stocks became a way for them to attempt to recover their lost funds quicker.

Due to this, value investing became less popular, as returns were slower and considerably less. Central bank stimulus measures during this time also exacerbated this, which occurred once again following the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the last couple of years have considerably changed this narrative in favor of value investing. This is largely due to soaring inflation, caused by a variety of geopolitical factors, compelling central banks to sharply hike interest rates over several months.

During and following the pandemic, several governments announced a wave of measures intended to support struggling industries such as construction and energy. These included grants, subsidies, and in some cases, lower interest rate loans for them.

However, these were only meant to be temporary and are now slowly being withdrawn from the market. This has led to investors feeling more jittery and looking for stable dividend-paying stocks to hold for longer terms to ease some of this anxiety and ensure that their money is a little safer.

This could very well bring value investing back to the forefront, especially as value stocks already outperformed the market in 2022. The amount of geopolitical and economic uncertainty being seen at the moment has also fueled this shift in investing strategy. This is due to more people wanting lower-risk stocks, which will yield at least some, if not very high, returns.

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Indrabati Lahiri

Indrabati has 4+ years of experience as a financial reporter and editor, mainly covering equities, investments, commodities, tech, emerging markets and macroeconomics. She has previously worked with Capital.com and IBM, and have recently launched Wealthier Moksha, which looks at stocks and investing, commodities, and emerging markets.