Strategy

Companies create value. I invest directly in quality companies that I intend to hold onto for decades. I don’t look for quick-flip opportunities.

Investment Strategies

I focus on three investment strategies: value, growth at a reasonable price, and growth. Each strategy has implications on portfolio characteristics such as the stability, predictability, volatility, dividend income, and expected returns, amongst others. These strategies are often combined to construct a portfolio tailored to the client’s needs.

Value

Value investing is the art of finding stocks that are undervalued. Valuation is a tricky topic on its own. Intrinsic value can be estimated through relative comparison or discounted cash flow analysis. I primarily seek out companies where the valuation has extended to the downside and there is a likelihood that the valuation will revert to the mean.

Because of the implicit uncertainty, I typically focus on mature, well-established companies. Stalwarts and blue chip have a long and proven track record, providing the assurance and confidence to hold through rough patches. Some names that fall into this category include Pepsi, Johnson & Johnson, AT&T, Cisco, Pfizer, and Walgreens.

After a few hard-learned lessons, I typically try to stay away from deep value opportunities.

Notable value investors: Warren Buffet, Benjamin Graham, Seth Klarman, Joel Greenblatt

Growth at reasonable price

Growth at a reasonable price, or GARP, can be thought of as the intersection of value and growth. The focus is on companies that have consistently demonstrated earnings growth above the broader market and trade at reasonable valuations given that growth.

Similar to value investing, GARP focuses on proven, well-established companies. Think of companies like Visa, UnitedHealth, Apple, and Facebook.

Notable GARP investors: Peter Lynch

Growth

Growth, in a sense, is more akin to venture capital. The growth strategy targets companies that have not yet reached maturity; rather, they continue to reinvest in their own business. I look for category leaders that are disrupting and innovating. While these companies may have low earnings or even losses, they typically demonstrate strong revenue growth and often times positive cashflow.

Given my position as an engineering leader at a high growth start-up in San Francisco, I have a unique perspective on up-and-coming technology companies. I tend to focus on growth efforts in that light. Names that fall into growth investing include CrowdStrike, Cloudflare, Okta, Slack, and Workday.

Notable growth investors: Philip Fisher, Thomas Rowe Price Jr, Julian Robertson, Chase Coleman

Analysis

I look for high-quality companies; companies that have demonstrated strong performance and have a compelling narrative for the future.

Regardless of the investment strategy, I gauge the quality of a company through two primary lenses: fundamental and qualitative analysis.

Fundamental

Fundamental analysis covers the company’s metrics – primarily their operations and balance sheet. Some data points I focus on include:

  • Earnings – adjusted (EBITDA) and GAAP earnings, at the company level and per share
  • Cash flow – operating and free cashflow, at the company level and per share
  • Revenue – particularly revenue growth, historical and projected
  • Margins – gross and net profit margins, particularly the stability and direction, historical
  • Net cash/debt – some debt is typically healthy; particularly viewed in comparison to equity, expenses, and market capitalization
  • Shares outstanding – increasing (raising capital) or decreasing (share buy-backs); interpretation of this signal depends on the strategy
  • Dividends – particularly dividend yield, payment record, payout ratio, and dividend growth rates

Qualitative

Qualitative assessment can provide unique insights into the future prospects of the company. Given the inherent nature of it, this analysis is the most subjective. I look for:

  • Management team – track record, past experiences, understanding their story
  • Purpose – mission-driven, clarity in their objectives
  • Culture – employee reviews on glassdoor.com, values, recruiting marketing material
  • Moat – unique, durable competitive advantage
  • Opportunity – size of their total addressable market, favorable industry trends, adoption of their offerings
  • Downside risk – what could go wrong and what would be the impact