The impact of negative compounding can easily be underestimated; we are mindful that a portfolio losing 50% of its value will need to work twice as hard (i.e. grow by 100%) to recover its original value. We are always “risk-aware” and, when we can, “risk-adjusted”. Either way, risk assessment is an important variable to us. Methodologically, we are keen to make a clear distinction between fundamental risk (the risk to the economic rent or the reinvestment rate) and market, or “behavioural” risk (the risk of a change in market trends or risk appetite). ValuAnalysis has a long experience in using various methodologies to address and minimise both.
To mitigate fundamental risks, we systematically exclude opaque business models from our investment universe. The replacement value of the economic capital may be too uncertain or leverage may be applied to an uncontrollable degree. We rank our investable universe on a battery of objective economic measures. We perform in-depth micro economic analysis on companies to understand the economic characteristics of a business with a focus on the sustainability of economic rent, hidden or explicit balance sheet risks, capital consumption and the growth rate.
We think that the best way to avoid taking too much risk is not to overpay. We focus on the ratio of Enterprise Value to sustainable Free Cash-flow as the most reliable value ratio. We are likely to shun businesses valued above a certain level of this multiple, regardless of their level of economic rent. To us, valuing a stock in a “risk aware” manner is about making sure that the market price of a company is not discounting above its sustainable return. Combined, these risk mitigation factors help to build portfolios with attractive characteristics.
As for market risk, there is evidence that the behavioural risk properties of stocks can be analysed and somewhat predicted. This allows us to design optimal portfolios by filtering for essential stock characteristics such as decorrelation, overall lower volatility and reduced tail risk. Integrating potential risk reduction is at the core of our investment decision-making process.
We also offer the possibility to reduce risk further through well-established techniques known to banks, insurance companies and pension funds. These include linear solutions which do not require derivative instruments: dynamic capital protection, continuous capital and return safeguarding techniques, and low volatility targeting to name a few.