Price to earnings ratios tells you whether stocks are cheap or expensive.
P/E ratios are easy to find. Just about every newspaper, magazine and stock report publishes P/E ratios. Everybody seems to talk about them when discussing stocks. So P/E ratios must be a great way to compare stocks.
What investors need is a Value to Price ratio. With a Value to Price ratio, investors would know immediately whether a stock was cheap, expensive or fairly priced. But this means we have to have a way of computing value. Of course there are theories and formulas for computing intrinsic value. But they are complex, and some sophisticated investors even say they are unfathomable. Consequently, most investors, even the pros, don’t begin to look at stock’s intrinsic value! They resort to trivial devices like comparing P/E ratios.
You must assume high risks to make good money in the stock market.
The perception of high risk in stock investing is not totally without merit. Many investors have lost substantial sums of money in the market. Visions of investors jumping out of windows back in 1929 are graphic reminders of the risk inherent in stock investing.
Stocks with consistent, predictable earnings growth are the safest stocks you can buy. They represent the best managed companies. A stock portfolio with an average earnings growth rate of at least 14%/yr. has a high probability of doubling in five years. In twenty years it will have increased by 1,500 percent.
If you bought 10 stocks, and limited your loss on any single stock to 10% by using Stop-Sell orders, your total portfolio risk is only 10%. Your risk on any single stock is only 1% of your total portfolio. How many investments can you think of that have the upside potential of stocks with such limited risk exposure?
Buy stocks on the way down and sell on the way up.
For many years stockbrokers and mutual fund salesmen have been saying that stocks are a hedge against inflation. Well, they are and they aren’t. It depends on how you look at it.
A true inflation hedge is one that goes up in value with higher inflation…like a house, or gold, or collectibles. But, the fact is, inflation is the stock market’s number one enemy. When inflation goes up, interest rates go up and two things happen. For one thing, investors say, “Golly, I can make all that money on high interest rate bonds so why should I invest in stocks.” So they take their money out of the stock market, and stock prices go down. The second thing that happens is that the cost of doing business goes up. So corporate earnings go down, and stock prices go down.
So why in the world would anybody say that stocks are a hedge against inflation? It’s because they can make money in stocks faster than inflation will eat it up. All they have to do is invest in stocks which have earnings growth rates higher than the sum of inflation and long-term interest rates. When they do that, the price of the stock will go up faster than inflation. And they will be whipping inflation by staying ahead of it.
Young people can afford to take high risk.
Of all the myths in the market, this may be the cruelest and the most foolish. Everyone knows that the elderly are not supposed to take risks. They must be very conservative because their earnings power is limited. They can’t afford to lose their money! Well, who decided that young people could afford to lose their money?
If any group needed to watch every penny, it’s the young. They need money to start a family, buy a house, buy furniture, save for the future and on and on. Furthermore, young people usually are at the low end of the earnings scale. They have precious little disposable income.
Young people have an invaluable asset on their side, however. Time. They don’t need to take risk. They can invest in tried and true companies that make money year in and year out. At 10%/year growth, their investments will double every seven years. By the time baby is off to college, that initial safe investment has increased by a factor of eight.
When you have time, you can afford patience. Patience pays off in the market.