Value Investing – Key Performance Indicators (Lesson 11)
All of us use indicators everyday to help us manage our lives. These indicators assist us with making good decisions. This same concept exists with stock investments. There are several different indicators related to stock. Most of them are financial in nature and often summed up via business ratios. However, many of the top companies provide additional indicators. One of these additional groups of indicators are ‘key performance’ markers. In effect, they are production based bits of information that assist value investors in developing and validating a good buy/sell model for that particular company.
Performance indicators are different for each industry. For the value investor, understanding the respective industry along with their systems, processes and critical points are essential when evaluating the current stock price along with market reactions. It is important for the value investor to understand not only the quantitative results of performance, but the standard of performance to measure the actual outcome against. In most cases, performance indicators exist with sales, production, and marketing/advertising. The key to success is to incorporate all these different data points and create an impact factor with the company’s stock price.
The end goal of monitoring performance is to determine if the buy/sell model requires any update. It is a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ decision. When creating a trend line of data, it is best to look at as much history as possible, the author suggests no less than five years; preferably the trend line should be greater than seven years. Analytical standards place more emphasis on recent outcomes in comparison against the more historical results. Value investors take a more conservative approach and use the average of the trend line to determine the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ model update. The reasoning is simple, short-term results or near-term expectations should have little bearing on overall historical performance and the corresponding buy and sell triggers for a particular stock. Just because the recent performance is either elevated or depressed doesn’t indicate an ongoing trend. Recent performance may have been hampered or enhanced due to environmental or unusual conditions. Basing one’s decision on the most recent results is speculative and not a sound investment concept. Using the overall average is superior as it eliminates speculation.