Photo by Anderson Mancini

Photo by Anderson Mancini

“Many stock commentators are saying that stocks are cheap, dividend yield is high, time to buy.”

“A value investor should not be obsessed about short term fluctuation. Long term value is more important. Now is the time to ferret out the wheat from the chaff.”

“If it is because of a short term bull market that commentators recommend/ investors buy stocks, it is speculation. Those commentators need to be fired and those investors need to be educated.”

The above are some comments on my earlier posting titled “Short term bull, long term bear”. All the things mentioned by stock commentators and stock articles found in various media channels (newspapers, websites, magazines) contain some truth in it. In reality, most people just accept things at face value. But as value investors, we must be discerning on what we buy. Some stock commentators are sell-side analyst themselves, and one must be prepared to take what they say with a pinch of salt, as they need to sound optimistic so that their clients will continue to trade.

Stocks are cheap. They are cheap on what basis? Cheap because P/E is low and dividend yield is high? If you are just using the above 2 metrics to conclude that stocks are cheap, then I would say you are missing the point. Metrics are not to be used in isolation. It can give you a distorted view of the truth. For example, many China textile stocks in SGX are trading at P/E of 2-3. On this basis alone, some would consider them cheap. However, the P/E will tell you nothing about the state of the textile industry in china, which is now on the brink of collapse. Many companies have folded (including China Printing and Dye) and things are not expected to return back to normal in this year.

What value investors should buy in times of panic are quality companies with a widely recognizable brand name, consistent positive cash flows, low debt and having a business model which serves a niche market. Textile companies in the commodities trade certainly do not fit into the above description. More often than not, the dividend yield that you see are based on historical payout, which indicates nothing on the amount and stability of future earnings of that particular company. Read more…