Tuesday, July 3, 2007

My First Stock

I wasn't planning on buying my first stock until I had paid off my student loans, my second mortgage, and also built up a stable of solid index funds to form the base of my investments, but plans change.

I stumbled across a stock that I really liked, Novartis (NVS), and the more I read, the more I liked, and I decided that all things considered it made sense to enter now. I bought 62 shares out of my Zecco account and it all went smoothly (though in retrospect I should have used a limit order, rather than a market order)

Here's my thoughts on the stock:

  1. I like their business prospects- Its a global pharmaceutical company which stands poised to capitalize on the greying of the baby boomers in developed countries. While it suffers from the threats facing most pharmaceuticals (expired patents, increased competition from generics, increased lawsuits, increasingly regulatory climate) for various reasons it appears to be in a better or equal position vis-a-vis these risks than its competitors.

  2. Analysts like it- It has a 5 star rating from Morningstar and S&P, and the talk on the Motley Fool's website has been pretty positive.

  3. The stock doesn't seem to be overpriced- The PEG is like 1.25 and the P/E ratio and other measures don't seem to make it overpriced. Most analysts fair value of the stock is higher than the current stock price.

  4. No looming problems- It seems to be dedicating a significant portion of its revenues to R&D, and doesn't seem to have a large debt problem.

Of course, this being my first stock purchase, it's very possible I don't know what I'm doing. Only time will tell.


Night Runner said...

Over the next 17 months and 18 days, the NVS stock dropped by 16%...


I find that the best indication of how undervalued a stock is is the price to sales ratio or what is commonly referred to as market cap.

Stock investing can be very profitable if one follows the following Method.

Simply stated. If a company does 1 billion in annual sales but it has a market cap of 100 million dollars than the price to sales ratio is ten to one. In other words the market is valuing a company that does 1 billion dollars in annual sales at just 100 million dollars. But what does this mean. It means everything if you are a classic value investor.

Here is a perfect example of why the price to sales ratio is so very important if you are a value investor in stocks. If our 1 billion dollar company is breaking even that is they are not making a profit nor losing money. Lets say the company has 250 millon dollars in long term debt and 80 million dollars in cash. We will say they are in the food business they make a wide aray of food products. Maybe the company did a buyout of another company a few years ago that did not work out as well as expected. So thats why the company is having trouble making a profit but things now seem to be moving in the right direction. If I purchase shares in the company for say 10 dollars. And over a five year period the company improves their earnings performance to the point where their now earning say 60 million dollars on sales of one billion two hundred million dollars. Thats a profit margain of 5%. If the stock were to now trade at twenty times earnings that would now mean that the price of the stock would be at 120 dollars a share or another way to put it the marketcap is now one billion two hundred million instead of 100 million.

The problem for me is not that this investment method is not effective it works great. I purchased seaboard stock back in 2000. I think it was for 190 dollars a share around that. I following the exact method I describe above. I sold my shares about five years later for 2500 dollars yes thats correct 2500 dollars or more than twelve times what I paid for the shares. Seaboard was profitable when I bought it and profitable when I sold it. The stock was just a great undervalued stock that was overlooked by investors.

Like I was saying before the problem is not with this investment method. Its that stocks like seaboard are very rare indeed theirs just not a whole lot of quality companies out their selling a very low price to sales ratios. Another issue that I have been having is when a company of decent quality trades at a very low price to sales ratio its not long before a private equity firm or the family of a family owned company takes notice and usually makes a low bid for the shares and takes the company private preventing me from realizing the enormous gains that mght have been possible had I not been forced to sell my shares out to a party that was making a very unfairly low offer for the shares of the company.

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to value stocks that have a low price to sales ratio that could give the buyer a tremendous advantage is this.

I mentioned earlier that are food company had 80 million dollars of cash on their balance sheet now if the company choose to they could buy back a large chunk of their stock maybe 30 million dollars worth of the shares outstanding it would only cost them 30 million dollars they still would have 50 million dollars of cash left on their balance sheet. This means that under the positive earnings outlook for the company the stock price could even be much higher than 120 dollars a share. If the company were to retire a large percentage of their exsisting shares in a stock buyback.