Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Price/Value ratio

Reading the latest Longleaf Partners Funds report, I was inspired to calculate the Price/Value ratio for my holdings:

Company          P/V
-------          ---
Canon            86¢ 
Select Comfort   36¢ 
Berkshire        82¢ 
Sally Beauty     59¢ 
First Marblehead 23¢ 
I recently sold Oracle for somewhere between 90¢ and $1 to the dollar. Cash is always worth $1 to the dollar and I used the same rate for Alberto-Culver, since I haven't put a value on that company. My composite P/V for the portfolio is roughly 66¢ to the dollar.

Select Comfort and First Marblehead still seem insanely cheap to me even after slashing my value estimate. I expect these will be truly outstanding investments for those who purchase today, but both have been classic value traps for me. (A value trap is an investment that looks cheap, but whose value falls as fast or faster than the price.) First Marblehead in particular has been a head-scratcher, since it operates in a great business that has been abandoned by other companies due to short-term problems. Both companies now include a free option on any future growth.

Of course, the value portion of the ratio is my conservative estimate of the present value of all future earnings. Further, there's no way to know when or if the price will converge on the value, assuming I estimated it correctly.

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