Warren Buffett Quotes

Saturday, January 31, 2015

BASICS FOR BEGINNERS .....

Strategies for Investing in Stocks

 Courtesy : MassResources.org

 Below are ten guidelines that are smart and often necessary to follow in order to be successful at long term investing in stocks.

1. "Buy low and sell high."

This is a very obvious bit of advice but achieving this goal can be more difficult than it might seem and this simple rule can be easy to forget. An obvious key to successfully investing in stocks is to pick investments to buy that will increase in value over time and then eventually sell the stock at a higher price. Some of the recommendations and guidelines that follow may be helpful in following this first principle.
It is important to understand that it is impossible to time the market precisely. Even very skilled investors make mistakes, but they learn from them and gradually make fewer bad investment decisions over time. No investor buys and then sells at exactly the right price. But good stock investors have the strategies, knowledge, and discipline to, much more often than not, buy shares of stock at lower prices than what they sell them at.
In order to "buy low" and "sell high" it is sometime necessary to do the opposite of what the majority of investors seem to be doing. This is called being a contrarian. When everyone else is pessimistic about a company they have likely acted on their negative opinions and sold shares of its stock. On the other hand, when investors are very optimistic about the prospects of a company, they have likely already acted on their hopefulness and purchased the stock. An investor who can buy at an extreme moment when others have been selling and sell when others have been aggressively buying may be able to accomplish the goal of "buying low/selling high" more often than those who follow the general consensus.
Unfortunately, this strategy doesn't always work! Sometimes there are good reasons for investors' pessimism and a company is headed from bad to worse. Someone who buys when everyone else is selling may end up owning stock in a company with grim long term prospects. Alternatively, selling shares of a great company with wonderful long term potential (e.g., Microsoft in the early 1990s; Apple in the early 2000s) too soon can be very frustrating as well. Needless to say, successfully investing in stocks is never easy.


2. Understand what you are buying.

It is a good idea to have an understanding of the company you are purchasing shares of its stock and be able to list solid reasons for why you think the company’s earnings will increase over time. Many investors rely on the advice of investment professionals and investment services for recommendations on stocks to purchase (or sell). Seeking out multiple sources of advice and opinion is a good idea in order to more fully appreciate the pros and the cons of buying a particular stock. Pay attention to who provides good versus bad advice so that, over time, you can learn whose opinions to better trust. If you are making your own investment decisions, it is not a good idea to put all of your trust in any one individual or one investment services' advice. Consider multiple opinions and do your own thinking as well.
Some investors meet with success by investing in companies for which they already have a very good understanding (or hold a good opinion of) because they like what the company makes or the service they provide. This is a perfectly valid and, often, useful strategy. At the same time, it is a good idea to do some research about the past financial performance of a company and projections for its future earnings. Personal experience can help, but there are many reasons why it will not always lead to accurate predictions about the future stock price of a company.

3. Patience is a virtue.

Sometimes an investor can be right about the stock he or she has purchased but wrong on the timing as to when it was bought. A stock might go down after it is purchased, but ultimately go way up in price thereby creating a nice profit. In the long run, a company's stock price will likely go up if the earnings of the company increases. In the short term, it can be very hard to predict what causes the price of a stock to go up or down. More often than not, patience is a virtue when it comes to successful stock investing. If history is a guide, in the long run the stock market goes up and many established companies will do well as the broader national and world economies grow.


4. "Growth at a reasonable price" investing.

Two major strategies for choosing stocks to buy are "growth-oriented" and "value-oriented" approaches. Investors who favor growth stocks look to buy companies which have earnings that are rapidly growing each year (or expect to have significant earnings growth in future years once they become more established). Investors who like to purchase value stocks look for companies that are selling at a very cheap share price in relation to the earnings per share (i.e., they have low P/E ratios). Value investors are less focused on looking for companies with rapidly growing earnings and more interested in buying what appear to be "bargains." Both types of strategies can be effective. Growth investors can meet with success by identifying companies early on that will continue to grow their earnings for many years to come, with the share price rising as well. Value investors can meet with success by identifying companies that have experienced temporary setbacks and purchase shares of stock at discounted prices (i.e., when they get oversold by other investors who are overly pessimistic about a company's situation).
The major risk that growth investors run into with their approach is that they will pay a very rich price for a company with seemingly good long term prospects. Even a small disappointment in the earnings of a company with an expensive stock price (i.e., high P/E ratio) can result in a big drop in the share price as investors reconsider how fast the company will grow its earnings and sell the stock. A major setback in a company with a high P/E ratio can devastate its share price (e.g., the price of a stock could drop 25% or more on bad earnings news). Alternatively, with a value-oriented investment approach, the risk in owning what appears to be a cheap stock is that what seems like a temporary setback is actually much more serious or permanent in nature. A low share price, which looks like a bargain, may be well justified and the price could head much lower as more investors sell the stock after they come to recognize the long term nature of the company's problems.
Another investment strategy that attempts to blend the best of the growth and value-oriented strategies is called "growth-at-a-reasonable price" (GARP). Investors who follow this approach pay particular attention to a stock's PEG ratio. This is the P/E of a stock divided by its annual earnings growth rate. PEG ratios under 1.0 indicate that a company's P/E ratio is less than its growth rate. The lower the PEG ratio the more it suggests that the stock is reasonably valued (or even undervalued). Alternatively, the greater the PEG ratio, the more expensive the share price would seem to be.

A GARP investment strategy can offer protection against the problematic risks of both growth and value-style approaches. Investors who follow a GARP approach in a disciplined manner will draw a limit on what they are willing to pay for a stock with fast growing earnings. GARP investors like companies with fast growing earnings (the denominator in the PEG ratio) but, at the same time, will insist that this growth rate be high enough to justify a stock with a high P/E ratio. Likewise, GARP investors will not purchase a stock simply because it has a very low P/E ratio. If the company's earnings are not also increasing at a decent rate, they will avoid buying the stock for fear that the company's earnings have stopped growing (or worse have begun to decline).

5. Some of the "secrets" to Warren Buffett's success as an investor.

Many people consider Warren Buffett to be the most successful stock investor of all time. Beginning with a relatively small sum of money to invest in the 1950s, Buffett's investment company, Berkshire Hathaway, now has a market capitalization of over $250 billion and Buffett, himself, is currently one of the wealthiest individuals in the world. Buffett's success is due to a very disciplined and shrewd approach to buying the right stocks and holding on to them for long periods of time, only to sell them if the reasons for his initial investment have changed significantly.
Buffett is a great illustration of an investor who has followed the above listed guidelines virtually to perfection. He has a keen knack for "buying low, then selling high." He is very patient in his approach, both in terms of waiting until the right opportunity comes along before making a stock purchase and then owning shares of stock in a company for a long period of time to allow his investment thesis (i.e, the reasons why he likes the company and purchased the stock) to be borne out. Buffett tends to stick to investments where he can understand the business the company is in well enough to make thoughtful and independent decisions. For example, he personally is uncomfortable owning technology-oriented companies as he does not feel he understands the products these companies make (nor trends in the broader industry) well enough to make smart investment decisions. Buffett's investment approach is probably best categorized as a "growth-at-a-reasonable-price" strategy. Some people consider Buffett to be a value-oriented investor, given his tendency to buy shares of stock in companies when they appear to be "bargains" but Buffett is careful to avoid companies that do not appear to have bright prospects for their future earnings.

When Buffett discusses his investment philosophy he will highlight several things he is looking for in a company that he wants to invest in. The following include some of the most important things he looks for:
a) "A durable, competitive advantage." By this Buffett means that he wants a company that is relatively difficult to compete against; hence it will likely be able to sustain a high profit margin over time. Companies which have strong brand-name products (e.g., Coca Cola, Proctor & Gamble), or have patent protections on their products (pharmaceutical companies), or have very strong customer loyalty and high customer retention rates tend to have a "durable competitive advantage" over their competitors.
b) A competent and honest management. For obvious reasons, Buffett is only interested in investing in companies for which he respects and trusts the key managers of that company. An incompetent, and especially a dishonest, management team at a company can spell big problems and Buffett wants nothing to do with investing in a company where he has reason to doubt the abilities, strategies, or ethics of the managers of the company.
c) Pay a "reasonable" price for a stock. An indication of Warren Buffett's patience as an investor is that he refuses to overpay for a company's stock. While he may love the company, if the price is not right, he will not like the stock and seek out alternative investment opportunities or wait until the stock price becomes more attractively priced. Nevertheless, Buffett is not a cheapskate. A well known quote of his is that "it is far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price." This is spoken like a true GARP investor: Buffett is willing to pay a reasonable price for a company with great future prospects and would choose to invest in such a business over a company that has a cheap stock but only modest potential for improved future earnings.
Another key to Buffet's success is his temperament. He seems much better than most investors at staying calm when others are panicking over short term concerns about the stock market or a particular company. In fact, Buffet welcomes it when other investors are very worried, as it may create potential to buy companies that others have hastily sold. Another famous quote of his is as follows: "You pay a very high price in the stock market for a cheery consensus. Uncertainty is actually the friend of the buyer of long-term values."

6. Don't take a big loss.

Another piece of important advice from Warren Buffet, considered the greatest investor in modern times, it to make sure to avoid taking a big loss. If an investor loses half of his money on a bad investment decision he must then double his remaining money to get back to even. In other words, a loss of 50% requires a 100% gain on what remains in order to return to the original amount. The best way to avoid taking a big loss is to avoid investments that hold great risk. If you do invest in something risky, it may be advisable to sell the stock if it begins to drop significantly in value in order to better preserve one's investment capital.
Warren Buffet's first rule of investment is "Don't take a big loss." His second rule of investment is: "Don't forget Rule #1!"
A corollary to Buffet's rule is a piece of advice offered by Jim Cramer of the CNBC show "Mad Money": "Ring the register; no one ever lost money taking a profit." In particular, he directs this advice to investors who have seen shares of stock they own go up significantly in value. It may not be necessary to sell all shares, but it is a good idea to sell some shares in order to ensure that you realize a profit. For instance, if a stock doubles in price, some investors will sell half the shares they own, thereby recovering their initial investment and knowing that the remaining shares they own represent pure profit. Such a disciplined approach in taking profits helps to protect investment gains. However, it is a good idea not to reinvest the proceeds of such sales in companies within the same industry (e.g., selling stock in one energy company, then buying another company in the energy industry) in case the entire industry runs into difficulty and the stock price of all companies in that industry go down.

7. Be aware of your emotional tolerance for losses

Typically, the stock market goes down in value a lot faster than it goes up. Months of gains in the stock market can be wiped out in the span of several trading days if there is significant new developments that cause investors to rethink their investment strategies. For most people, the agony of losing money through investing is worse than the pleasure gained from making money. Understand your ability to withstand temporary investment setbacks and do not exceed your tolerance for volatility and risk. If a person does exceed his or her tolerance, he or she will be much more likely to sell at the first moment of panic when smart investors are "averaging down" (accumulating more shares of stock in a company at a lower price).
The stock market swings between extremes of human greed and fear. The best investors recognize these extremes and try to take advantage of them. Always set aside some of your investment money in the form of "cash" for extreme events that cause the stock market to significantly sell off. Such a cash cushion allows investors to better weather a market downturn and to take advantage of companies that suddenly see their stock price drop for no good reason due to widespread investor panic. Taking advantage of a good buying opportunity when many other investors are fearful is only possible if you yourself are not also in a panic. Be aware of the extreme emotions of greed and fear in yourself. Succumbing to either these emotions (selling due to fear and buying due to over optimism and greed) is the cause of a lot of investment mistakes.

8. Dividends are important.

Dividends can play an important role in terms of one's success investing in stocks. Companies that pay dividends tend to be more established and have stable earnings than companies that do not pay a dividend. If you select stocks to invest in that pay dividends, you will find yourself gravitating toward safer, stronger companies. In addition, dividends provide current income to an investor. Dividends can add to one's overall gains (the profit from an appreciation in the price of a stock from what you paid for it) or offset losses. Another important quality to dividends is that they can grow over time and can come to represent a very significant component of the benefit of having invested in a particular stock. For instance, if a company increases its dividend each year and one owns the stock for a long period of time, the dividend yield (the amount paid in dividend each year divided by the stock price) can grow to be quite significant, particularly with regard to the original price paid for the stock. Finally, most dividends are taxed by the federal government at a rate of 15%, which is lower than the tax rate on earned income for many tax payers.

9. "Don’t confuse a bull market for genius."

When things are going well in the stock market it is a good idea for investors to stay modest about their stock picking abilities. A bull market lifts the stock price of most companies. The general trend of the market may be more behind an investor's current success than his or her skill at picking stocks. Conversely, an investor should not be too hard on him or herself in a bear market when most stocks are going down in price.

10. Adapt to changing circumstances.

If you come to learn about something new about a company which you have invested in and it causes you to wonder if you have made a mistake to purchase its stock, try to differentiate between temporary problems that can be corrected and more serious developments that may permanently reduce a company’s earnings. If a problem seems temporary in nature, it may be smart to hold on to the stock or even to buy more shares if other investors have been too quick to sell it. If the problem is most likely permanent, probably the best thing to do is to sell the stock and reduce your loss (or preserve your gain).
An easy "mistake" to make is to invest in a company that make products (or provides services) that can be made obsolete by newer technologies which come along. When a new technology develops or something else changes in a significant way that will harm the future earnings of a company, it may be wise to see the "writing on the wall" and sell the stock. Circumstances change and developments emerge that were not easily foreseen. All good investors take in new information and reassess their investment decisions based on new facts. Good investors force themselves to "listen to what they don't want to hear." In other words, if there is bad news about a company, it should be acknowledged and one must then think about the long term implications such news has for the earnings potential of the business.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

SKM EGG PRODUCTS - RESULT UPDATE




SKM EGG PRODUCTS - reported its December quarter numbers today .Link HERE .Company reported a turnover of Rs.205 Cr v/s Rs.169 Cr and an EBIT  of  Rs.22.65 Cr v/s Rs.11.14 Cr . On one side company's other income increased and  on the other side it make higher provisioning for taxes including deferred tax. In nut shell , company already surpassed its full year targets in 9 months itself and expected to close this year with  Rs.23-Rs.25  Cr profit. Normally company's other income figures includes the income earned from sale of Egg Shells and other by products and export subsidy . We can't count it as a one off -event and almost repeatable in each year , though the quarter of accounting the same may different.Most importantly , company's finance cost reduced substantially in this quarter compared with last year and let us hope SKM will be debt free earlier than we anticipated .In short, Company is growing ahead of expectation and I believe one can surely hold it for long term . Considering its promoter quality and clear vision of management working with pre-fixed targets and swiftly beating the same ,If there is any correction due to over leveraged position near to result days , that should be an opportunity for genuine long investor's with bit higher risk appetite.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

BASICS FOR BEGINNERS ......



Holding Great Growth Stocks—Practicing Patience: How to Be a Better Investor


Courtesy :Cabot Investing Advice

The toughest thing for many investors to do is nothing. That’s right, nothing! Once you buy a stock and watch it move up, down and all around for a few weeks, there is an urge to take action. Since you bought the stock, you’ve probably read numerous investment news stories on the market in general and your stock in particular. And even if you are only watching your stock (as we advise), you’ve taken in many days of price, volume and relative performance (RP) action. With so much input, it’s easy to have your thinking swayed, which creates temptation to take action.
Another way to say it is that most investors lack patience. That’s a shame, because almost every successful investor we’ve ever met or read about has an abundance of patience. After all, if you’re correct on a stock, what’s the point of rushing things?
So the focus of this lesson,  dedicated to holding great growth stocks, is on practicing patience. Many times, the stocks you purchase don’t do an awful lot for many weeks after your initial purchase. But if you have the guts to stick with those stocks, some can turn out to be huge wonders. And in the end, those big winners are what make all the difference.
Making Money the Easy Way—By Doing Nothing!
Here’s a quick tidbit that most investors forget from time to time. The way you make money in the stock market is by holding stocks, not buying or selling them. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? That’s just the how the stock market works. The value of your portfolio rises when a stock you own rises. So you have to be holding on to a stock if you’re going to take advantage of its appreciation.
The following excerpt is from Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, a fictional biography about the investing life of Jesse Livermore. In it, his character, Larry Livingston, expresses the principle of practicing patience as eloquently as we’ve ever heard:
“And right here let me say one thing: After spending many years in Wall Street and after making and losing millions of dollars I want to tell you this: It never was my thinking that made the big money for me. It was my sitting. Got that? My sitting tight! Men who can both be right and sit tight are uncommon. I found it one of the hardest things to learn. But it is only after a stock operator has firmly grasped this that he can make big money.”
Through our conversations with readers  over the phone and e-mail, we know that many are slowly becoming more short-term oriented. But we urge you to have patience once you’ve committed money to great growth stocks. Often times, a stock will start moving ahead just after most investors have thrown in the towel. Don’t be one of them!
The message is simple: Practice patience and give your investments a chance to grow into mighty oaks.
What’s Your Goal?
When buying great growth stocks, your goal for every purchase should be to develop a huge winner. By huge, we’re not talking about 30%, 50% or even 100% profits. Instead, you should set your sights much higher—300%, 500%, 1000% profits and higher. All you need is a couple of these big winners every year or two to produce spectacular portfolio returns.
That last point is an important one: All you need is a couple of these big winners every few years to produce spectacular portfolio returns. Knowing this, you shouldn’t agonize over a few small losses, or worry if your last few purchases haven’t turned out the way you had hoped. Instead, by shooting for big profits, you put yourself in a position of power, only needing to find a couple of good stocks to produce great returns. Contrast that with the investor who’s eager to take any profit he can get his hands on. He must find perhaps ten stocks each year that show him good (but not great) profits to garner the same returns you’ll attain by getting only one or two huge winners.
This is why I never use target prices for growth stocks. When you set a price target, you’re automatically limiting the profits you’ll take out of any one stock. And that’s something we will never do!
Finally, remember that if your goal isn’t to develop huge profits, you’ll never attain them. So aim high!
How Practicing Patience Leads to Huge Winners
Clearly, you cannot develop wonders without practicing plenty of patience. Developing big winners often takes months or even years. It seems like a daunting task. But our Profit Curve shows us that it’s easier to get 1000%+ profits than you might think.
Profit Curve
The main idea behind the Profit Curve is compound growth, sometimes referred to as the eighth wonder of the world. Compound growth is the reason that the Profit Curve is, well, a curve, as opposed to a line. It means that the growth of your profit in any stock increases each time the stock moves higher.For example, let’s say you buy a stock and watch it double. Great! You now have a 100% profit. Now assume your stock works its way still higher, doubling again. After your second double, your profit expands, not to 200%, but to 300%. A third doubling would yield a 700% profit. And a fourth would give you a whopping 1500% profit.It’s not impossible to attain these huge profits. Believe it or not, dozens of stocks have grown many-fold in just the past two years. Whether or not that type of growth will happen again is anyone’s guess. But the fact is, the market provides a never-ending stream of opportunities for  investors like you. You just have to have the guts to stick with your winners.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

SUZLON ENERGY - UPDATE

Suzlon is one stock I recommended earlier @ Rs.24 which is currently trading around Rs.17. Today company announced that they signed binding agreement with Centerbridge Partners LP for 100% sale of Senvion SE for Rs.7200 Cr ( Approx.) . Link HERE  . This valuation is almost 40% below what they paid to acquire this asset year's back .Personally I feel , this valuation may not reduce  Suzlon's debt issues as expected .On the other side  company's equity expanded significantly due to conversion of FCCB which it raised to acquire this asset  and the asset itself is now divesting .Suggesting to book loss for the time being and we can re-look at a  later stage when more visibility arise

Saturday, January 17, 2015

SAMKRG PISTONS & RINGS LTD - RACING AHEAD



  

  

The leading sector may change in each and every leg of bull market .Considering the possibility of multiple favorable factors like   fall in Petrol/Diesel prices , decline in interest rate, reduction in raw material cost ..etc ..etc , auto  sector may emerge as a winner in future  . If this sector benefit from the emerging scenario, surely there will be positive  impact on auto component makers too. This week let us look into one such good company-SAMKRG PISTONS & RINGS LTD-  which is still attractively priced .This is one company benefiting  from the sale of  any of the brands like Honda Motors,Bajaj, TVS,Piaggio,Mahindra Two wheelers, Hero Motors, Force Motors..etc.( All these companies are clients of Samkrg Pistons.)

This Hyderabad based company manufacturing Pistons, Piston Pins & Piston Rings for Scooters, Motorcycles, Cars, Tractors, Light Commercial Vehicles, Stationary Engines and other special applications. Company selling its products under the brand ‘Sam Pistons &Rings’ .Manufactured with Japanese and German technology , Samkrg  supplying these products to all major OEM’s . In addition to OEM supply ,  company selling its products in Replacement Market & Exports.Company’s success in exports to developed countries like UK, France, Germany and EU showing the quality of products manufactured by Samkrg .Company succeeded to increase its export share to total sales in past many years and now the same stands around 20 % of total sales.Since majority of my readers are well aware about its products and the business is easy to understand I am not explaining much about that . In nut shell , company is one to benefit with the growth of automobile industry and many of the  top brands in our country are using Samkarg’s products.


In addition to their good relation with top brands ,the major reasons to select Samkrg from many  other auto component makers includes   the strong balance sheet,liberal attitude towards share holders,steady growth over past many years ..etc. Company’s balance sheet is fair with very lower level of debt , good cash flow ..etc and they are distributing their profit with minority share holders as dividends in the range of 25-50 % .In last year  company reported a top line of Rs.206 Cr , EPS of Rs.11 and a CEPS of Rs.21.5 . Traditionally the December quarter is bit muted but I  believe company can report about 40% growth in bottom line in this FY.

 The below table showing  company's last few year's performance ( Rs.in lacs)


It is clear that the performance of company were satisfactory even during the most tough time of auto industry . I hope, it will perform well going forward at a time there are  many positives  for the industry ,as indicated at the beginning. As against last full year's  EPS of Rs.11 and CEPS of Rs.21.50 , company already  reported an EPS of Rs.7.75 and CEPS of Rs.13.30 in the first half itself  of this FY  .This is one preferred pick from auto component industry and I believe there is lot of steam still left in this piston in long term .Stock is currently trading around Rs.163 and listed only in BSE .

Link to Company Website HERE

Link to latest Annual Report HERE

Discl: Holding shares of SPL

Saturday, January 10, 2015

BASICS FOR BEGINNERS ....


Courtesy : Investopedia, Stockopedia

VALUE TRAP 

DEFINITION of 'Value Trap'
  

A stock that appears to be cheap because the stock has been trading at low multiples of earnings, cash flow or book value for an extended time period. Stock traps attract investors who are looking for a bargain because these stocks are inexpensive. The trap springs when investors buy into the company at low prices and the stock never improves. Trading that occurs at low multiples of earnings, cash flow or book value for long periods of time might indicate that the company or the entire sector is in trouble, and that stock prices may not move higher. 

                                                                        Companies, and even sectors, can be doomed, because of situations such as the inability to survive competition, the inability to generate substantial and consistent profits, the lack of new products or earnings growth, or ineffective management. Often, a value trap appears to be such a good deal that investors become confused when the stock fails to perform. As with any investment decision, thorough research and evaluation is recommended before investing in any company that appears cheap when reviewing its relevant performance metrics.

How to avoid Value Traps...

Of course, it's easy to say with hindsight that a failed investment was a value-trap but are there any ways to flag this in advance? Fundamentally, the key to avoiding value traps is doing your homework and exercising  caution when approaching enticing investment prospects. It's crucial to be as precise as possible about intrinsic value through fundamental bottom-up company analysis. The other issue is that it's important to have an adequate margin of safety since this is the value investor's buffer against errors in the intrinsic value calculation. However, beyond that, there are some common fact-patterns that it's worth watching out for....


Few  Signs that Your Stock May be a Value Trap



1. Is the sector in long-term secular decline?


A company may simply be serving a market that no longer exists in the way it used to. No matter how good the company, it will need a fair wind behind it eventually and and if the sector itself is dying, it's likely to be a huge battle to realize value. From a demand perspective, it's important to distinguish between cyclical and secular declines. In the former case, short-term demand will rebound with an improved economy. In the latter case, demand is in long-term decline (e.g. due to societal and demographic changes), which means that the remaining players are left to fight for a share of an ever-decreasing pie.


2. Is the risk of technological obsolescence high?


Technological progress can radically reshape an industry and its product lines - this can have a major impact on the life cycle and profitability of a firm .One might assume that a stock is cheap enough to compensate for decreasing cash flow but, sometimes, cash flows hits a tipping point and drops off faster than you expect. 


3. Is the company’s business model fundamentally flawed?


Sometimes, a company may simply be serving a market that no longer exists, or at a price-point that is no longer relevant, given competition and/or new substitutes for the product. 


 4. Is there excessive debt on the books? 


More often than not, financial leverage magnifies the pain of a value trap. Limited or no financial leverage gives firms access to the the most precious commodity of all - time! A company with no debt is unlikely to go under, barring a major catastrophe (e.g. a massive legal settlement against it). On the other hand, excessive leverage can destroy even a great company. For a good margin of safety, the debt to equity ratio should be as low as possible  and interest cover should be comfortable

5. Is the accounting flawed or overly aggressive ?



It's best to stay away from companies where aggressive or dubious accounting is employed. You should be “triply careful” whenever management uses some metric that they define, rather than conventional metrics .


6. Are there excessive earnings-estimate revisions? 

Analysts are quite lenient and usually revise their estimates downward before earning releases to allow companies to beat their estimates. Occasional missed earning estimates can provide an opportunity to buy on the dip, but a pattern of missing earning estimates may mean that management are struggling to forecast properly, with a knock-on effect for the analysts, and/or that management doesn’t understand or are not willing to fix problems.


7. Is competition escalating?



Be careful of companies facing increasingly stiff competition. Is there a tendency for the industry to compete on price to squeeze margins? If there are limited barriers to entry and a company is unable to differentiate itself, then it's possible that the market structure has simply moved against it - it may never recover the glory years of the past. One way to test this is to compare the historic profit margin trend over the last 10 years. If the profit margins are decreasing, this may suggests the company is unable to pass increasing costs onto its customers due to increased price competition




8. Is the product a consumer fad?


Another sign of a possible value trap is a product that is subject to consumer fashion or whims. Evolving consumer tastes and demand may mean that the market for the product is just a short-term phenomenon





9.   Are there any worrying corporate governance noises?



It's worth checking for any history or noise that suggests minority shareholders might be getting a raw deal .

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