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Annual Reports/Financial Statement data

Discussion in 'Trading/Investing Resources' started by luutzu, May 5, 2014.

  1. luutzu

    luutzu

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    Was wondering if you guys know if ThomsonReuters, Bloomberg, ASX etc... provide raw annual reports data.

    I looked it up a few years back it doesn't seem like they do then, not sure if that has changed.

    Just the raw fstatements figures in csv or excel or a fixed format.
    Not the ratios they've calculated.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. switesh

    switesh

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    ASX provides links to company reports but no financial data.

    Google finance provides last 4 yrs of statements for US companies but not AUS companies.

    I use the financial data from Morningstar. Most local libraries have free access to it.

    I know Factset provides data, but is limited to institutional investors.

    GuruFocus has 10yrs for financials for US companies for free, but Ocenia is available on a subscription basis. I might use it at some point because it helps visualize the numbers a bit better.
     
  3. luutzu

    luutzu

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    Thanks Switesh, much appreciated.

    Do you happen to also know how much morningstar charge for a datafeed to their raw database?
    I saw some figures but they're from Europe.

    Just curious if there's something i'm missing... say you like a company on MorningStar and want to dig a bit deeper, visualise the figures... what you do you use to do that?

    Do you just export them to excel and start charting etc?
    ---

    Yea got myself free access to these databases through a uni library account.

    thanks
     
  4. switesh

    switesh

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    Not sure what Morningstar charges. Yes you can download the financial data spreadsheet from Morningstar and and chart it manually in excel. GuruFocus has graphs for every line item for all financial statements.

    At the moment though, my approach is quite simple and manual. I'll give you a brief idea of my approach.

    Most of the time I'm not really looking for opportunities, I just like studying different businesses, by various characteristics. I keep a watch list of businesses with different characteristics so I can recognise them immediately by various attributes.

    For e.g. here are a few:
    • Size (Market Cap): I will study companies with 100k to 1 mil in market cap (companies so small that almost no one looks at them because they're illiquid, but I'm simply trying to understand their business motive)
    • Working Capital: Companies that operate on negative working capital (like Woolworths) can gain an edge in their supply chain management over their competitors.
    • Takeover Targets: Takeover announcements @ AFR to try and understand the business characteristics (such as Profitability, Size, or Economic Moat) that make a good takeover target. This is also a good exercise for me to understand Valuation, and see if the predator is going to overpay for the target acquisition. If so, by how much, and with what (Debt, or mix of debt & predator's common stock, or cash, or a mix of these)?
    • Changes in Common Stock issued: Companies that either issue additional stock, or engage in buybacks. Understanding changes in the capital shift of common stock helps me understand if the company is creating value for existing owners or if it's diluting value, or if it's stealing value from existing owners by issuing employee options at discount.
    I usually start by glancing over their PL Statement, Cashflow Statement & Balance Sheet in Morningstar.
    I then run over items from my checklist that ask the right questions about the business and try to answer them myself (for e.g. Who controls the Pricing Power in the game? What sort of moat does the business have, or is it likely to create one over time? Does it have to continually re-plough retained earnings into Capital Expenditures? etc.).

    I turn to Google Finance to compare how their operating metrics stack up against their competitors.

    I use various tools and websites to get basic info and then spend time sitting quietly thinking about the businesses myself.

    And lastly, I continually read and learn. I read 10k reports from SEC fillings for US companies. (ASIC could take a lesson from SEC and be a bit strict with AUS companies in their fillings). AUS company reports are painful to read with pretty pictures and big bold letters. I'd much rather have the black & white reports from SEC - very informative and concise.
     
  5. luutzu

    luutzu

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    I like your approach. Maybe that's because I follow a similar one myself.
    Though I've done it a bit more haphazardly so didn't get as much out of it as i think a person with a more structured approach like yourself could.

    Yea i find reading about businesses quite fascinating, helps me a lot in running my own business too. So reading the annual reports, do some calculations and could possibly make good profit... some people are actually being paid for that :)

    Haven't read the SEC's filings but done a few detailed readings of the Aussie's. With the benefit of hindsight and some detailed research on the bad ones, i wonder if some Chairman and CEO could be sue for what they say in the reports.


    Micro cap companies could be good for people who really get to know its operations. Though I took a punt on this tiny company in Perth, I generally stay away from small upstarts, mainly because its business/operational risk is too high, and haven't yet have time to get to know them well enough. That and i think the Australian economy tend to have 2 or 3 big players that pretty much control their entire industry... that and I bought this tiny one with two operations, one of them literally burnt down after being built, haha.. wasn't that funny when i got the final cheque back.

    Thanks for the insight and links. I might be able to repay the favour one day.
     
  6. DeepState

    DeepState Multi-Strategy, Quant and Fundamental

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    Switesh, this is truly awesome and I would not mind hearing about more of what you are doing. You are on the right path and looking at the major things although some others that are important are not mentioned. You will enjoy the path to developing these skills. It's a real pleasure to hear about what you've been up to.

    1. When reading the 10-Ks, are you focused on smaller companies? What have you learned from reading them that you could not from reading Australian accounts? What is special about FASB vs IFRS to you? Or is it just the hyped up presentation that matters to you?

    2. Given the information you are gathering, you will know about the financials and general shape of the business...in the absence of fraud. Are you converting this information to a valuation even if you might not be actively trading? If you obtain a valuation, have you got some sort of investment/trading strategy in mind?

    Cheers
     
  7. switesh

    switesh

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    Thanks for your comments luutzu and DeepState.
    DeepState - I will discuss the 10-k reports a bit later. At the moment I'm going through the 900 pgs of BRK shareholder letters from 1965-2013 (which will take me a few weeks to read and digest).

    To expand on my Investment approach, here goes:

    My Investment Philosophy:
    I truly believe in it. If I cannot value a business, I have no business investing in it. If I cannot know about it, or understand it - I simply forget it and move on.

    The only other important thing is understanding my own Psychology, (mental frame of mind, or temperament). My short-term trading experience in the past has helped me over-come this barrier. I fully accept market volatility and am very comfortable sitting on a large paper loss as long as the underlying business fundamentals haven't deteriorated. I believe in Ben Graham's concept of 'Mr. Market' who is here to serve me, not instruct me.

    My approach to Valuation:
    Valuation as I think of it is a 'Range' rather than a precise number. For the most part I do very rough and loose calculations in my head which can easily be 15-20% off on either side.
    No one formula, or number can be used for valuing a business. Here are few broad techniques I use:

    Multiple of Earnings : 2 to 5 x average earnings (e.g. a business earning 50k pre-tax could be worth around 250k if Debt:Equity is well below < 0.5). A good business is only worth what it will throw off in earnings over time.

    Book Value : though less than perfect, it is a simple, easy, and close proxy to the net worth of a business. (some investors use Enterprise Value but I am less inclined. I NEVER use Market Cap.)

    Net Tangible Assets (+ resale value of Brand, Patents, or intangibles if applicable) : This helps me answer the question: If the business ceased to be a going concern and was liquidated what would it be worth?

    Capitalization Structure : though it many not directly help in valuation, it helps me understand if the business can service its financial obligations (especially if heavily leveraged).

    I then overlay business specific characteristics (e.g. for Retail I focus on Inventory management and Working capital; for Manufacturing I focus on Depreciation, Interest expense, and Commodity prices; for Utilities I focus on Regulation and Pricing Power; for Pharma I focus on Patent Life, R&D expenses, and pending lawsuits; for Insurance I focus on adequate Reserves, and Combined ratio; for Business Services I focus on hidden financial disclosers).

    Side Note: Even though I learn and read about various industries & businesses I rarely invest in most of them. They're merely a learning exercise for me, they don't get any of my capital.


    My idea of a 'Good' business:
    I maintain a watch list of 'good businesses' at all times. 'Good' meaning they have favorable qualities like above average Operating

    Margin, much better Operational Efficiency than competitors, lowest cost producer with big distribution power, high Free CashFlow, value in intangibles like patents or brands, monopoly-like characteristics, can price itself ahead of inflation, operates in a regulation industry with uncapped pricing power, excellent people that are self-drive, honest and diligent (though I admit I not good at judging people).

    Some characteristics are quantitative, but quite a few are qualitative, and these are the ones that will not show up in financial statements but are the sort of 'good business characteristics' I try to find out for myself. For e.g. I think of Brand as Reputation, it doesn't come over night, it takes time to build. Reputation can't be liquidated or redeemed for cash, but if used wisely under the right circumstances can be used to increase earnings potential (by raising prices, or gaining favorable contracts).

    All of these business will have met my 'Quality', and quite possibly 'Growth' requirement.

    My Purchase Criteria:
    It goes without saying that Return on Investment is a direct factor of Purchase Price. The cheaper I buy the better my returns will be, and also the better my loss cushion will be.
    Of all the businesses in my watchlist that have met my 'Quality', and possibly 'Growth' pre-requisite, the last hurdle is the 'Value' requirement. Value simply is some discount to my valuation criteria outlined above.

    A 'good business' is not necissarily a 'good investment' when bought at the wrong price. I find it very easy to walk away from a 'good business' if it doesn't not accept my offered price.

    My Capital Allocation Guideline:
    Of all the business that make it in my watchlist of 'good businesses' and meet my purchase criteria make it into the 'best businesses at bargains' watchlist. I only allow the top 5 ideas to compete for my capital. My 5th best idea looses to the top 4, and 4th competes with top 3. Capital is only given to the best 3 or 4 deserving ideas.
    This approach works for me because I'm dealing with very small sums of capital, and until the sums step into double digit million I won't change my capital allocation approach.

    I don't subscribe to the 10% here and 10% there approach. I understand what I'm doing and I do it with confidence. Few bets, big bets, infrequent bets.

    My understanding of Stock Prices:
    Stock prices in the long run (not days, but years) are driven by 2 factors; Earnings Growth (EPS without stock dilution), and Changes in Valuation (P/E multiple).

    The first factor, Earnings power, is the most stable element in the true reflection of business and hence in its stock price.

    The second factor, Change in Valuation (or P/E multiple), for the most part is sentimentally driven and void of clear rational thought process to business valuation. This in turn creates Volatility in stock prices. This in turn favors the rational investor.

    The stock price can also be easily manipulated by issuing additional stock (diluting value), or by stock-splits (creating the perception of "cheap" price), or by stock buybacks (which can be favoralbe if done at discount). All of these can distort stock price without any change in the underlying fundamentals of the business.

    My Habits and Beliefs:
    Reading and continually learning about businesses is what keeps me honest toward my investments. And the more I do with frequency the more of a daily habit it becomes. Investing to me is a skill, and practising it correctly a necessity. The best part is that it's all cumulative, and can only lead to an improvement in my thought process with each passing time.
     
  8. luutzu

    luutzu

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    Awesome Mozart.
    I like your thinking and approach to investing.

    With regards to valuation though, not sure if i understand you correctly, but it could be that that approach could lead you to being too conservative and might miss out on great opportunities that might rarely be sold at such levels.

    I agree with your pricing ranges, or as Graham put it - range of approximate value;

    PE Multiple of 2 to 5:

    This 2 to 5 ratio is equivalent of 50 to 20% required return. So it's a nice return there... but if you were to demand a margin of safety, say selling at 1/2 your valuation, it's also nice but the price offered might never be at that level.

    I know you'll wait until it is or look elsewhere, but if you are using average Pre-tax Earnings [I'd preferred the Net Earnings because as Buffett or Munger said somewhere, in real life there's taxes and depreciation]... and if I took your average earnings to mean a mathematical average of, say, last 5 or 10 years - including the most recent year or two... then a good company, with no immediate/current/forecast troubles [i.e. its earnings are still growing or stable]... it would unlikely to be sold at such low multiples [or required rate of return].

    And if not, at what price are you willing to pay for it?

    Also, if the company is in trouble and its recent earnings are included in the average, it would distort the end result. Say if it has averaged $50K until and the past two years, with each earning $30 then $25K.. The 30 and 25 might be the new normal, or the beginning of a decline... it might be a blip and next year or so business is expected to be above 50K.

    But yea, I think being conservative is never a bad thing.

    ---
    I recently watch Roger Montgomery on youtube discussing how he value a business and he say Buffett use a formula of price = (ROE/Required Return) * Equity.

    I went to BRK's 1981 letter as recommended but couldn't find this discussion there... but if it's true, it's simply P= C/i where C is the Net Earnings and i the required return [you decompose the ROE and bring that equation down to its simplest].

    This, as Retired Young points out [and disagree with] is ultimately a simple P/E multiple.

    But i find it makes more sense to me to start at Earnings estimates and return, and although the PE, as it turns out, could be 5, I can see clearer that the price is around 5 times earnings, but the value is 10, say.


    Book Value:
    I think Buffett has moved away from pricing at Book Value. From his User's Manual, I think he talk about Book Value as a good tracker of Intrinsic Value over time, but I'm pretty sure he meant tracking as in grow with (at similar rate) to whatever the intrinsic value happen to be in the first place, not as Book Value = IE;


    Capitalization Structure :
    Haven't thought much on how this could be helpful in valuation, but one indication could be that if a company has shown good return on equity/capital, have all the quality that you'd define as a good business... then if it were to take on more debt, it could be a good thing as we can assume that able management in a financially strong company would only borrow money to invest at a higher rate of return than the interests.

    Some managers just borrow and ride the tide to acquire, and i've seen this company just couldn't afford to pay its interests from operating cash but kept on expanding.


    ----
    Re Diversification:
    I like your approach to diversification.
    Might be a silly question, but how do we know when to get out of a stock? When the price is higher than what we value it at, or when its earning power no longer meet our requirement?

    For guys like me with little capital, it's no problem: i just get out when i find a better opportunity. But for later when I'm very rich, haha, should a person get out when offered a good price even though there are no other immediate opportunity? Depends on price offered and how large is your capital base that you won't find another opportunity soon i guess.


    ----
    Thanks for sharing, hope i didn't put you off the discussion. I think we both learn more this way than just compliments.
     
  9. switesh

    switesh

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    Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders 1965-2013
    From the letter dated March 3, 1983​

    Yes, my approach to Valuation is conservative and quite often market may never accept my offer price, but that's Ok. I can sit and watch hundreds of businesses go by without touching them, after-all I only need 1 good idea (or make 1 good decision) to allocate capital properly.

    Yes, you make a good point about Net earnings (which should be more preferable) as opposed to Pre-Tax earnings. On a side note, Buffett bought See's Candy on a Pre-Tax estimate. He & Charlie were trying to figure out if there really was any Pricing potential present through it's brand, and sure enough they raise their price on the day before Christmas every year.

    I never look at forecasts or analyst earning estimates. I find it best avoided at all times and substituted with my own modest degree of foresight (for which I assume full responsibility, whether wrong or right in outcome). I judge myself based on effort and process, not outcome.

    Ah, the puzzling question - how do you know when to sell or get out?
    Ideally I wouldn't want to sell if I had enough capital (> double digit millions), I'd simply keep buying these wonderful bargains and holding them for their true earning power (purchasing power of capital in excess of inflation).
    But since I have very small sums I have to sell (usually when more than fully priced, or another opportunity comes along that allows me to repeat the process). I realize my selling approach is much imperfect (perhaps slightly amateurish) but I believe I will be able to shape it more thoroughly as my capital base grows.
     
  10. luutzu

    luutzu

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    I think your approach to selling - capital allocation - is a sensible one.
    When I started, I just sell when it got too high too quickly or based on some quick ratios like Price to Book or a simple average return by the company versus what i've gained so far... now that's an amateur for you.

    Though I got lucky on a couple of sells, there's a handful i sold too early and could have made fairly decent gains if I had held on to them. But even with these hindsights, I still now don't know if those decisions were made rationally or not given the situation back then.

    So i'm trying to put together a framework to structure and standardise my decision making processes. It should help to at least not repeat previous mistakes, and maybe learn from others' decision and thought processes too.
    --------

    tbc
     
  11. w4k1ng

    w4k1ng

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    ASXIQ used to sell market data on a 'choose what you pay basis' but lately it seems it is delayed or non-existent.
     
  12. switesh

    switesh

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    I've been using GuruFocus for a while now for AUS companies, and it's great for the most part (because there are few alternatives available for AUS company research), their updates for ASX companies are at times rather slow and out of date.

    I'm currently reading the Standard and Poors 500 Guide 2013 and I find it a neat way to comb through companies.

    I tried to look for something similar for AUS companies but couldn't find anything. If you have come across something similar please let us know. Thanks.
     
  13. loanshark

    loanshark

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    Capital IQ also provide data however it is for institutional clients only
     
  14. switesh

    switesh

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    Yeah, Cap IQ is out of limits for most of us that are flying solo. Initially though I used to think access to information like Cap IQ was crucially important. But the last year of experience has taught me that financial statements from Morningstar and Gurufocus is more than enough (as far as quantitative analysis goes). I don't need any more.

    What's needed more is to develop the qualitative side, and none of the screeners or fancy tools help in that direction.

    I like the IBIS world industry reports (free to read - via local library - I use victoria library), but their Company reports are what I'm really after (I'm really eager to read about private businesses like Visy, Linfox and the like).
    The Company Reports cost a fortune.
    Would anyone be keen on splitting subscription costs with me?

    There's some other material that I would find quite valuable to read as part of my regular reading (AFR for example), so just wondering if there are any investors/readers on this forum that might want to share resources and split costs.

    Also, if there's something you would like to read and share costs please mention it.

    Also, on a final note, I'll be going to the Berkshire Hathaway AGM 2015 (The Woodstock for Capitalists :)
    Is anyone else going, or would like to go - please be in touch.
     
  15. luutzu

    luutzu

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    Is this what you're after?

    Free from a university library account.

    I think uni does allow non-student to sign up for their library access.



    ibisworld.png

    pratt.png
     
  16. luutzu

    luutzu

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    Quality derives (mainly) from the quantitatives. :)
     
  17. switesh

    switesh

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    Yeah, that's exactly what I'm after. Thanks for the info, will approach a few libraries and give it a go.
     
  18. switesh

    switesh

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    Have been through a fair amount of Annual Reports (AUS companies) and 10k filings (US companies) - my eyes are burning as hell. I read some of them on my e-ink reader but I can't read much without wanting to make notes and hence back on the computer.

    Anyhow, one thing I found handy is to type the word "risk" in the 'find' searchbox of the browser and skim through each instance of that word on the report/filing to uncover risk areas at a glance. Minor, but handy thing.

    One of the cleanest AR (annual report) I've read was from Vealls Ltd (VEL). Leaving the business matter aside, here was the most impressive line from the AR "No director’s fees are paid to executive directors and no bonus payment or other performance payment or incentive is received by any director. No director is involved in determining his own remuneration."
    The CEO drew a very modest salary (~56k) and has a substantial shareholding in the company, and so do the other managers too. I find this an attractive characteristic (because it shows they eat the same cooking as outside shareholders). Not aware of many companies where this IS the case. If you know any such companies please mention them - I'll be keen to read their AR.

    There were 2 other companies whose AR's that were clean - plain black and white text, no images. I love that. AUS companies can present their shareholders with clearer AR's if they put in the effort to get rid of glossy pictures and other glaring eye candy.

    Currently reading the 10k filing of a company that has some characteristics I find attractive (CEO on a moderate salary, holding substantial shares himself since at the helm - which eliminates the need of an outsider to unlock value long term, issuing small amounts of Debt when stock is low - very smart thing to do rather than issuing stock and giving away value). Good thing is its also priced like a cigar-butt and is down in the dirt despite strong FCF and BS.
    Of course, it has its set of shortcomings too: can't really see a sustainable moat, listed in USA, incorporated in Cayman Islands, and conducts large portion of its business in China - so theoretically not much legal protection for the shareholder, and numbers reported in RMB (so there's the currency risk too) - but nice to have the privilege of the market offer a generous margin of safety.
    It isn't quite the 'screaming opportunity' that Buffett talks about, but the numbers just leapt at me in the face and the price made me salivate. There may be some unpleasant after-taste but that can wait for 3-5 years before I look at the price again.

    BTW, I just picked up the phone an hour ago and called BRK headquarters to arrange for my shareholder credentials to permit entry into the AGM on 2nd May 2015. Phone picked up by a friendly lady in one ring and she kindly gave me Debra Ray's (Buffett's personal assistant) email over the phone to help with the issue. Impressive - how many companies would be that polite and obliging? No layers of bureaucracy!!!
     
  19. switesh

    switesh

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    Just added something else as part of my analysis approach in addition to 10k's and AR's. It's the earnings call transcript from Seeking Alpha (they're free to read and quite handy for smaller less covered companies). I didn't read it so much for earnings update or anything of that sort (I'm long minded about that), but it was more for the blunt, smart, bold, and relevant questions that some of the analysts asked the Management during the call. And this usually aids the investment decision.

    For e.g. here are some interesting questions that were asked (and on my mind) from one of the companies I've recently been studying/considering:
    • If the company is holding 8x Cash then why isn't it doing any buybacks instead of paying dividends especially when the stock is almost below ground level and return on cash is low? (I find dividends less preferable because of frictional loss in distributing them. But by holding onto cash the Management is protecting itself while other companies are shutting down thus building a small moat by eliminating some of the competition and the turn will come when enough companies close, so in a way there will be long-term rewards even if there aren't any short-term buybacks I imagine)
    • Why is it using 20% of the cash pile to build office headquarters downtown? (it isn't going to produce a return on capital employed, or should I say burnt)
    • How much is the inventory build-up at it's distributor & retail level? (this is handy to know because you can mark down inventory by x% from the reported GAAP or AAS Balance Sheet figures - helps with a conservative estimate of assets)

    The fun part about these questions and answers is that it helps shape my thinking a bit more (especially to see a view of the business that I would not have thought about simply by reading 10ks & AR's). So reading the recent / last few earnings call transcripts (mostly the analysts questions & managements response) is a new addition to in my analysis checklist.

    Does anyone know if there's something similar to Seeking Alpha's transcripts for AUS companies (the smaller one's especially)?
     
  20. switesh

    switesh

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    Have just finished reading the annual letters of Francis Chou (Chou Associates Management).
    I find his investing approach (which is similar to Ben Graham's & early Buffett type), attitude, and personality quite attractive. Speaks in plain simple language with an encouraging tone, shares his thoughts and ideas openly, and above all keeps his feet on ground.

    Spent the weekend watching some of his videos from:
    http://www.bengrahaminvesting.ca/Resources/videos.htm

    Highly recommend adding him to your reading list.
     
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