Investor insight #15: The bubble is in growth!

Thursday 04 March 2021

Investor insights

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While monitoring the 100 or so stocks on our watchlist this week we noticed something interesting. If you categorise the companies by their business characteristics into the five buckets shown below (adapted from legendary investor Peter Lynch), the high growth companies (‘fast growers’) are trading on forward multiples 4-5x higher than the market.

Clearly the market is favouring high growth above all else. High multiples are sometimes justified if the company’s future earnings are expected to grow rapidly. However, when we look at the implied annual earnings growth of the fast growers relative to the others, the growth does not justify the price.

Is it worth paying 4-5 times more for a stock with a few extra percentage points of earnings growth? As value investors we don’t think so as it removes the margin of safety. In other words, there is no room for these fast growers to miss their earnings projections, which is a real risk.

We believe these high growth stocks do not represent value. That is why we continue to focus on acquiring high quality businesses at discounts to their intrinsic value.

About the Author
Alex Clunies-Ross, CFA

Alex Clunies-Ross, CFA

Senior Investment Analyst

Alex commenced his career with Swell in August 2015 and has developed many of the technical models and quantitative screens used to manage Portfolio investments. He is responsible for investments in the Swell Global Portfolio and directs investment team research projects.

Alex earned the right to use the CFA designation granted by the CFA Institute in 2021. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) from Griffith University and was an inaugural member of the Griffith University Student Investment Fund. He continues his involvement in the Fund as a student mentor.