October 30, 2014 Comments

Well, I had to laugh when I checked the markets today and saw Visa up about 10%. Not sure I would want to buy at the new price but its certainly a nice jump in the last couple of weeks. I had noted that I bought some Visa on October 9. As a company it is “monopolicious”, though not at any price and again it does face technology and regulation risks.

This sharp rise in Visa contributed to the S&P 500 rising 0.6%. Toronto fell 0.5%.

Last week I circulated the latest edition of our free newsletter in which I mentioned that it was not surprising that Visa had done well (I did not predict this latest “pop”). Most of you likely received a link to that free newsletter in an email last Thursday evening. If you are not on the list for the free newsletter you can join the list by clicking the link here and entering your email address.

If you are already on the list the system will indicate that.

Most of our Stock picks were up today.

Constellation Software announced earnings that were 44% higher in Q3. I had rated it only a (lower) Buy because I would be reluctant to assume and pay in advance for growth anything close to this 44% level. So I assume a more normal level of growth in my analysis. Possibly I should be upping my earnings growth assumptions for really strong companies like this. There is a tendency to assume a regression to the mean which can tend to under value the best companies. Ideally I would find companies that would be good value even at modest growth rates and then if they happen to grow extremely fast that just becomes a thick layer of icing on the cake.

I notice Barrick Gold was in the news today regarding another 20-year low in their share price. I have mentioned the company before. In my opinion (and I admit I don’t know the full story) and on the face of things it has been an abysmal destroyer of shareholder money. I am not talking about a decline in market price. I am talking about a decline in book value where a dollar is raised from shareholders by selling shares and ultimately turned into less than a dollar over a long period of year. Peter Munk is often lauded as a business leader and yet I understand he has been losing money for shareholders for about 50 years. See Clairtone, Nova Scotia which went broke in 1967. Apparently though destroying other peoples wealth has paid handsomely.

Not only has money been lost in Barrick but it apparently (and again I don’t have al the facts) on the face of it, the company has more or less poured equipment and manpower and all manner of valuable and useful materials down a hole much of it apparently never to emerge. The Gold extracted quite simply has been worth less than what was poured down the hole.

Economies (and people) benefit when manpower and materials and knowledge are combined in such a way that the output is more valuable than the inputs.

Barrick’s apparent destruction of real and tangible goods and labour is reflected in its loss of money. I have not done a thorough analysis but I believe the figures indicate that the sum total of its reported earnings since its inception are a negative number.