On Float The 60 Page Book Released

On Float The 60 Page Book Released

Over the last seven months I’ve detailed investment float a lot here.  All the nuances, and both the positives and negatives of float.

The hope being we’ll have a huge advantage over other investors by knowing the immense power float holds.  How to evaluate it.  And how it affects a company’s value among many other things.

Over the last seven months, seven parts, 12,000 words, and 60 pages of content I explain all the following in detail.

  • What float is.
  • Why it’s important.
  • How companies can use float as positive leverage.
  • How Buffett got so rich using float.
  • How to find float on a balance sheet.
  • How to evaluate float.
  • How float affects a company and its margins.
  • Maybe the most important thing why float affects a company and its margins.
  • How float affects a company’s value.
  • And answered the question is float ever bad?

I released the last part of the On Float series on the blog last week so why am I writing this post?

Because I’ve compiled all the information above and put the content into a 60 page PDF book that’s releasing free today.

And by free I mean free.

You don’t have to pay me a cent.  Don’t have to pass this along on Twitter or Facebook.  And don’t even have to give me your email address to gain access to this book.

All you have to do to download this book is click on the link below.  That’s it.

On Float The 60 Page Book

Feel free to share this with anyone you’d like and as many people as you’d like.  No restrictions and no hassles.

The only things changed from the blog posts to the transition into book were I deleted some redundancy from the blog posts and changed/fixed some formatting issues that popped up in the transition.

All other content to my knowledge is the same.

I hope you enjoy and learn as much from this information as I have.

Conclusion and Further Recommended Reading – On Float Part 7

Conclusion and Further Recommended Reading – On Float Part 7

This post is the last one in the On Float series started way back on February 2nd 2016.  Yes that date is correct.  I posted the first article in this series Charlie Munger On Deferred Tax Liabilities and Intrinsic Value – On Float Part 1 seven months ago.

If I’ve done my job well in the seven parts, more than 12,000 words, and 60 pages of content including this post we all should know the following now.

  • What float is.
  • Why it’s important.
  • How companies can use float as positive leverage.
  • How Buffett got so rich using float.
  • How to find float on a balance sheet.
  • How to evaluate float.
  • How float affects a company and its margins.
  • Maybe the most important thing why float affects a company and its margins.
  • How float affects a company’s value.
  • And answered the question is float ever bad?

But as with any great thing in life and investing there’s always more to learn and improve on.  Knowing this I’ve included the things I’ve learned the bulk about investment float from below.

Also make sure to read the comments sections of any of the following as well as there is usually great commentary there on the specifics of float.

All the following are in no particular order.  Have been added to the Recommended Reading and Viewing page.  And are designated as MUST READS!!! on the Recommended Reading and Viewing page.

My posts about float.

I specifically want to thank Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, Professor Sanjay Bakshi, and The Brooklyn Investor for sharing their knowledge on float.  Without their knowledge none of my posts would have happened.

Reading the above things and taking notes where necessary will help you further understand the nuances of float.

But if you really want to continue learning about float make sure to read company filings, take notes, analyze the company fully, analyze its float, and value the company.

Doing this over and over – like with almost everything in value investing – not only ingrains these concepts in your thought processes.  But the more you do it the more nuances you’ll spot.  And the more intimate knowledge you’ll have of investment float and its immense power.

If I’ve done my job well over the last 60 pages we should now have a huge advantage over other investors who either don’t know what investment float is.  Don’t know how to value and evaluate it.  Or won’t take the time to learn how to do these things.

But as always there’s always more to learn and improve on so on to the next one…

Please leave any comments, questions, or concerns you have about float in the comments section below.

***

Remember if you want access to my exclusive notes and preliminary analysis you need to subscribe for free to Value Investing Journey.  And this isn’t all you’ll get when you subscribe either.

You also gain access to three gifts.  And a 50% discount on a year-long Press On Research subscription.  Where my exclusive stock picks are evaluated and have crushed the market over the last four years.

Is Float Ever Bad? On Float Part 6

Is Float Ever Bad? On Float Part 6

The goal of this blog is to help us all improve as investors and thinkers so we’re a little wiser every day.  The hope being that our knowledge will compound over time so we’ll have huge advantages over other investors in the future.

The aim of today’s post is to continue this process by talking about a topic few investors know about.  And even fewer understand.

Most people overlook float when evaluating companies because they either don’t know what it is.  Don’t know the power it can have within a business.  Or don’t know how to evaluate it.

This won’t be an issue here.

Press On Research subscribers already know this as I talk a lot about float in many of the issues I’ve written.  But I want to begin talking about it more here because float is one of the most powerful and least understood concepts of business analysis.

Today’s post is a continuation of the earlier posts:

Today we’re going to answer the question “Is Float Ever Bad?

Is Float Ever Bad?

I’m a guy who likes to live by the above quote.  If I can make things simpler I always do.  Not only does this make things easier to understand but it also can save a ton of time.

When analyzing investments and dealing with complex topics like investment float this isn’t always possible.

Understanding the good things about investment float is definitely one of those things you can make only so simple.  The concept is simple to understand but the there are a ton of different nuances to understand which leads to complexity.  You can likely tell since it’s taken me 51 pages thus far in the five earlier posts to explain the good things about investment float.

Luckily the answer to the titled question is a simple one.  And also involves simple and easy to understand concepts as well.

Yes, certain investment float is bad.  And no, not all float is equal.

The heuristic or mental model I use when evaluating float is that if the company isn’t profitable – or near profitability – its float is useless.  And can even be a negative burden for a company.

Why?

Remember, float are liabilities that can become positive leverage if used well by management and the company is profitable.  But always remember leverage can go both ways as well.

If a company isn’t profitable and hasn’t produced profits in several years float turns into negative leverage.  This is because in the long run float are liabilities the company will have to pay at some point.

The longer a company goes without earning profits the longer it will take a company to pay its liabilities because it’s not earning enough money.  This also makes it harder to fund operations and grow in a healthy way without taking on a ton of debt or even more liabilities.

Let’s go through a quick example to show this.

Let’s say we have two insurance companies.  Company A has an average combined ratio of 90% over the last five years and Company B has an average combined ratio of 110% over the last five years.

Not only does this mean Company A’s profits are 20 percentage points better on average than Company B.  But it also likely means that Company B has continued racking up liabilities it can’t afford to pay when due or when a catastrophe strikes.

This is because Company B hasn’t earned a profit on average over the last five years.  And of course all else remaining equal a company earning 20 percentage points better profit’s on average is the higher quality company.

The same general rule goes for non insurance companies as well.  If they aren’t, haven’t been, and show no signs of becoming profitable float should be viewed as negative leverage for a company.

I use the following rules when evaluating all companies float…

  • To view float as a giant positive for any company I like to see consistent profitability in the last five years.  And/or seven of the last 10 years.
  • If a company has off and on profitability I view float as neutral.
  • And if the company is consistently unprofitable I view float as a huge negative for the company.

I consider profitability of operating margin, ROIC, ROCE, and FCF/Sales.  The company doesn’t have to produce huge excess profitability in each category.  I look for consistency and trend of profits more than anything when evaluating float.

This idea is a lot simpler to understand than the concept of what float is and makes it potentially great for companies and investors.

One last thing to remember when evaluating float is that whether the company has positive or negative acting float doesn’t matter if the company doesn’t allocate capital well.  And the management doesn’t know what float is or how to use it.

To evaluate these potentials see the previous five posts on this topic.

Summary

If I’ve explained everything well enough in the series so far we should understand –

  • What float is.
  • Why it’s important.
  • How companies can use float as positive leverage.
  • How Buffett got so rich using float.
  • How to find float on a balance sheet.
  • How to evaluate float.
  • How float affects a company and its margins.
  • Maybe the most important thing why float affects a company and its margins.
  • How float affects a company’s value.
  • And answered the question is float ever bad?

In the next and final seventh chapter of this series I’ll share the best resources I’ve learned from about float with you.

Knowing what we know now we should have a gigantic advantage over other investors who either don’t know about float.  Or aren’t willing to put in the time to learn what it is and what it can do for a company and investment.

If you have any questions, concerns, or comments on float up to this point please let me know in the comments section below.

***

Remember if you want access to my exclusive notes and preliminary analysis you need to subscribe for free to Value Investing Journey.  And this isn’t all you’ll get when you subscribe either.

You also gain access to three gifts.  And a 50% discount on a year-long Press On Research subscription.  Where my exclusive stock picks are evaluated and have crushed the market over the last four years.

How Does Float Affect Valuation? On Float Part 5

How Does Float Affect Valuation? On Float Part 5

The goal of this blog is to help us all improve as investors and thinkers so we’re a little wiser every day.  The hope being that our knowledge will compound over time so we’ll have huge advantages over other investors in the future.

The aim of today’s post is to continue this process by talking about a topic few investors know about.  And even fewer understand.

Most people overlook float when evaluating companies because they either don’t know what it is.  Don’t know the power it can have within a business.  Or don’t know how to evaluate it.

This won’t be an issue here.

Press On Research subscribers already know this as I talk a lot about float in many of the issues I’ve written.  But I want to begin talking about it more here because float is one of the most powerful and least understood concepts of business analysis.

Today’s post is a continuation of the earlier posts:

Today we’re going to talk about how float affects valuation.  The issue brought up way back in part 1 of this series linked above.  But before we get to this let’s go back to On Float Part 4 to continue this talk about valuation with those companies.

Insurance Company Float and Valuation

Below is the unedited float analysis I did on an insurance company I wrote about in the April 2016 Press On Research issue.

All numbers below are in USD $ millions unless noted.

Assets

  • Financial Assets: Fixed maturity securities of 94.3 + equity securities of 4.9 + trading securities of 0.1 + loans of 1.9 + cash and cash equivalents of 6.8 + accrued investment income of 0.8 + premiums and other receivables of 11.3 + deferred income tax assets of 3.8 = 123.9
  • Operating Assets: Deferred policy acquisition costs of 8.5 + PP&E net of 2 + other assets of 13.9 = 24.4
  • Total Assets = 148.3

Liabilities

  • Equity of 44.9
  • Short-term debt of 0.9 and long-term debt of 17.4 = 18.3
  • Float: Future policy benefits of 35.2 + policyholder funds of 1.6 + unearned premiums of 29.9 + taxes payable of 0.1 + other liabilities of 18.3 = 85.1

Total liabilities are 103.4

Float/operating assets 85.1/24.4 = 3.49.

Float supports operating assets 3.49 times.

And Float is “free money” because (NAME REMOVED) earns consistent underwriting profits as it’s earned underwriting profits in six of the last nine years.

Pretax profits have changed to underwriting profit below because normal pretax profits mean nothing for insurance companies.

(NAME REMOVED) had an underwriting profit – profit from operations before taxes here – for the full 2015 year of 6.4.

Underwriting profit/total assets = ROA

  • 6.4/148.3 = 4.3%
  • Compared to a Morningstar ROA of 3.2%

Underwriting Profit/(total assets – float) = levered ROA

  • 6.4/63.2 = 10.1%

If I were to rely only on Morningstar to get estimates for margins (NAME REMOVED)looks below average at only 3.2%.

Yes I know this isn’t an apples to apples comparison.  But normal profit metrics mean nothing for insurance companies.

When considering underwriting profit.  Its ROA is a still below average 4.3%.

But (NAME REMOVED) float magnifies its ROA higher.

When considering float, its levered ROA goes up to 10.1%.  Or 43% higher than what I calculate it’s normal ROA as.

Having a levered ROA of 10.1% isn’t great compared to normal companies I invest in… But for an insurance company this is a great margin.

One of my investment icons the great insurance investor Shelby Davis looked for insurance companies having an ROA above 10% so this meets his threshold.

Another important metric for insurance companies is ROE.  Most great insurance companies fall in the 10 – 15% ROE range.

I calculate (NAME REMOVED) ROE – underwriting profits/shareholders equity – as 14.3% not levered by any float.  Compared to Morningstar’s ROE estimate of 10.7.  This puts (NAME REMOVED) into the great insurance company category.  And there’s still more.

***

I continue on from here detailing this great small insurance company but now let’s get back to talking about how float affects valuation.

The unedited valuations below are from the April 2016 Press On Research issue except for the removal of the company name and ticker.

My notes talking about float now are bolded and capitalized.

How Does Float Affect Valuation?

As Warren Buffett once said, “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.”

The price of a company is what the market says it is. But how do I establish value?

When I recommend a stock, I try to find its “intrinsic value.” Intrinsic value measures a company’s true value considering tangible and intangible assets and the company’s operations.

Think of intrinsic value this way: What would this company be worth if we were to buy it outright? It’s like appraising the value of a house or car.

If I find the intrinsic value of a company to be higher than its market price, that’s a good sign of an undervalued stock.

I valued (NAME REMOVED) four ways.

The first is by assuming 1% interest rates for the long-term.  And that (NAME REMOVED) float won’t grow over time.

The second is an asset reproduction valuation.

The third is adding the reproduction value of (NAME REMOVED) to 1/5th of its float and then dividing by its number of shares.

And the fourth is adding (NAME REMOVED) float and equity together then dividing this by its number of shares.

Valuations done using (NAME REMOVED) 2016 10K. All numbers are in millions of US$, except per share information, unless otherwise noted.

(NAME REMOVED) current market cap is (REMOVED; BELOW $100 MILLION) and its current share price is $15.20 per share.

Float X 1% Interest Rate + Equity Valuation

This valuation is expecting 1% interest rates for the long-term and no growth in float over time.

  • (float X 10%) + Equity = estimated value/number of shares.
  • (84.9 X 10%) + 44.9 = 53.4/2.5 = $21.36 per share.

This valuation is the minimum (NAME REMOVED) should sell for because interest rates won’t stay as low as they are forever.  And it still shows (NAME REMOVED) is selling at a 28.8% discount.

(NAME REMOVED) has consistent underwriting profits and conservative managers so float should grow over time as well.

JUST THIS COMPANIES FLOAT EQUALS $33.96 A SHARE.  OR 223% HIGHER THAN ITS THEN TOTAL SHARE PRICE.  REMEMBER THOUGH THIS NEEDS TO BE DISCOUNTED IN MOST CASES BECAUSE OF THE LONG TERM NATURE OF MOST FLOAT AND BECAUSE THEY’RE LIABILITIES.  WE’LL TALK ABOUT THIS FURTHER BELOW.

Next up is the asset reproduction valuation.

Asset Reproduction Valuation

Assets Book Value Reproduction Value Notes
Fixed Maturity Securities 94.3 84.9
Equity Securities 4.9 3.9
Trading Securities 0.1 0
Loans 1.9 1
Cash and Cash Equivalents 6.8 6.8
Accrued Investment Income 0.8 0
Premiums and Other Receivables 11.3 6.9
Deferred Policy Acquisition Costs 8.5 5.1
Deferred Income Tax Assets 3.8 2
PP&E Net 2 1
Other Assets 13.9 8.3
Total Assets 148.3 119.9
Minus
Future Policy Benefits 35.2 21.1
Policyholder Funds 1.6 0
Unearned Premiums 29.9 17.9
ST Debt 0.9 0
LT Debt 17.4 10.4 I could have discounted this even further since its not necessary for insurance companies to carry debt.  This would have made reproduction value even higher below.
Taxes Payable 0.1 0
Other Liabilities 18.3 11
Total Liabilities 103.4 60.4
Equals 44.9 59.5 The note above also explains why reproduction value is higher than net asset value.  This is rare when I find this.
Divided By Shares 2.5 2.5
Equals $17.96 $23.80
Current share price = $15.20 $15.20
Discount to current share price = 15.40% 36%

This valuation does not take into account any of (NAME REMOVED) float.  This is an asset – at least in the short-term – because of (NAME REMOVED) long sustained history of underwriting profits.

And as mentioned throughout this issue these act as a cost-free form of positive leverage which boosts (NAME REMOVED) value.

Even in this still ultra conservative valuation (NAME REMOVED) is selling at a 36% discount to its current share price.

Asset Reproduction + 1/5 of Float Valuation

Add float (1/5 of float after reading this discussion in part 1 of the On Float series here) asset reproduction value gets us to:

  • 59.5 + (84.9 X 20% = 16.98) = 76.48/2.5 = $30.59 per share. Or more than a double from its current $15.00 share price.

This also considers no growth in float.  Any rise in interest rates.  Or a turn to a better insurance market.  All which will help (NAME REMOVED) shares explode but this valuation still shows it’s selling at a 50.3% discount.

REMEMBER THE DISCOUNTING TALKED ABOUT ABOVE?  HERE IT IS.

USING ONLY 1/5TH OF THIS COMPANIES FLOAT – OR $6.79 PER SHARE – FLOAT ADDS SUBSTANTIAL VALUE TO THE COMPANY.

IN THE CASE OF THIS VALUATION 22.2% TO THE COMPANIES VALUE.  1/5TH OF FLOAT MAKES UP 45% OF THE COMPANIES THEN CURRENT SHARE PRICE.

AS TALKED ABOUT THROUGHOUT THE APRIL 2016 PRESS ON RESEARCH ISSUE THIS COMPANY IS CONSISTENTLY PROFITABLE AS WELL.  AND THIS VALUATION DOESN’T COUNT ITS VALUABLE OPERATIONS AT ALL.

I DON’T WHEN EVALUATING INSURANCE COMPANIES BUT IF I WERE TO ADD A MULTIPLE OF ITS TTM UNDERWRITING PROFIT TO THIS VALUATION SO THE VALUE OF ITS OPERATIONS ARE CONSIDERED IN THIS VALUATION IT WOULD BE WORTH…

  • 6.4 x 8 + 76.48 = 127.68/2.5 = $51.07

THIS IS A CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATE OF THE COMPANIES REAL INTRINSIC VALUE.  THE VALUE A CONTROL INVESTOR MAY EXPECT THE COMPANY TO BE WORTH WHEN ACQUIRING THE WHOLE COMPANY.

PROFITABLE OPERATIONS COMBINED WITH LOW COST OR COST FREE FLOAT HAS IMMENSE VALUE AS SEEN FROM THIS VALUATION.

AND REMEMBER THIS ALSO ASSUMES NO GROWTH IN FLOAT GOING FORWARD.

AGAIN, THIS IS THE POWER OF FLOAT ILLUSTRATED.  THIS WILL ALL HELP COMPOUND THE VALUE WITHIN THE COMPANY OVER THE LONG-TERM BARRING SUDDEN POOR MANAGEMENT.

Float + Equity Valuation

  • Float + Equity = estimated value/number of shares.
  • 59.5 + 44.9 = 129.8/2.5 = $51.92 per share.

This high end valuation doesn’t discount float at all.  But also doesn’t expect any growth over time.  And still shows (NAME REMOVED) is selling at a 71% discount to its current share price.

So not only is (NAME REMOVED) an ultra conservative and safe to own insurance company.  But it’s also undervalued by as much as 71%.  And we should expect to earn at least 28.8% owning them.

But there’s still more that makes (NAME REMOVED) a safe investment…

***

From here I continue detailing the company in the issue but let’s finish talking about the insurance company above.

All insurance companies have a lot of float that makes up the value of the company.  This is because most of any insurance company’s balance sheet and operations are based on float.

Now let’s go to the non insurance company talked about in On Float Part 4 to see the contrast here.  And also that float can still add substantial value to non insurance companies.

Non Insurance Company Float and Valuation

All numbers below are in millions of dollars unless noted.

  • Financial Assets: Cash and cash equivalents of 2.7 + deferred tax assets of 1.9 = 4.6
  • Operating Assets: Accounts receivable of 39.1 + Inventories of 12.6 + prepaid expenses of 1.1 + other CA of 0.3 + net PP&E of 73.7 + goodwill of 2.4 + other IA of 0.6 = 129.8
  • Total Assets = 134.4

Liabilities

  • Equity of 86.2
  • Debt of 14.4
  • Float = Accounts payable of 13.3 + Taxes Payable of 0.5 + accrued liabilities of 8.9 + other CL of 1.3 + deferred tax liabilities of 1.4 + pensions and other benefits of 8 = 33.1
  • Total liabilities 47.5

Float/operating assets = 33.1/129.8 = 25.5%.  This means (NAME REMOVED) float supports 25.5% of its operating assets.

Pretax profits/total assets=ROA

  • 7/134.4= 13.9%
  • Compared to a Morningstar ROA of 10.1%

Pretax profits/ (total assets-float) = levered ROA

  • 7/101.3 = 18.5%

Now that we remember this let’s continue to show how float affects this companies valuation.

The information below is an unedited excerpt from the January 2016 Press On Research issue except for the removal of the company name and ticker.

***

As Warren Buffett once said, “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.”

The price of a company is what the market says it is. But how do I establish value?

When I recommend a stock, I try to find its “intrinsic value.” Intrinsic value measures a company’s true value considering tangible and intangible assets.  And the company’s operations.

Think of intrinsic value this way: What would this company be worth if we were to buy it outright? It’s like appraising the value of a house or car.

If I find the intrinsic value of a company is higher than its market price, that’s a good sign of an undervalued stock.

I valued (NAME REMOVED) five ways.

The book value per share valuation talked about above.  An asset reproduction valuation.  A float plus equity valuation. A 8 and 11 times EBIT + cash – debt valuation.  And a combined asset reproduction and 8 and 11 times EBIT + cash – debt valuation.

Book Value Per Share Valuation

The first way I valued (NAME REMOVED) from earlier shows (NAME REMOVED) should be worth $11.18 a share.  An 11.5% premium to what its selling at now at $9.90 a share at the time of this writing.

This is the absolute minimum (NAME REMOVED) should be selling for because it doesn’t count any of its valuable and profitable operations at all.  Or any growth.

Next up is the asset reproduction valuation below.

Asset Reproduction Valuation

Assets Book Value Reproduction Value
Cash and Cash Equivalents 2.7 2.7
Accounts Receivable 39.1 33.2
Inventories 12.6 7.6
Deferred Income Taxes 1.9 1
Prepaid Expenses 1 0
Other CA 0.3 0
Net PP&E 73.7 44.2
Goodwill 2.4 1
Intangible Assets 0.6 0
Total Assets 134.3 89.7
Minus
Short Term Debt 4.1 4.1
Accounts Payable 13.3 6.7
Taxes Payable 0.5 0
Accrued Liabilities 8.9 4.5
Other CL 1.3 0
LT Debt 10.5 6
Pensions And Other Benefits 8 6
Total Liabilities 46.6 27.3
Equals 87.7 62.4
Divided By Shares 7.6 7.6
Equals $11.54 $8.21

While (NAME REMOVED) is selling above its reproduction valuation – and it should since it’s a great company – it’s selling below its net asset valuation.  The middle bar above.

This is also an ultra conservative valuation that shows (NAME REMOVED) is undervalued by 14.2% now.

Float Plus Equity Valuation

The third way I valued (NAME REMOVED) was by adding float to equity and then dividing by its numbers of shares.

  • 33.1 + 86.2 = 119.3/7.6 = $15.70 per share.

This again is an ultra conservative valuation because it doesn’t include cash.  Or (NAME REMOVED) valuable and profitable operations.

But this still shows (NAME REMOVED) is undervalued by 37% now.

EBIT Valuation

The fourth way I valued (NAME REMOVED) is by using its TTM EBIT.  Multiplying this by eight and 11.   Adding cash.  Subtracting debt.  Then dividing this by the number of diluted shares outstanding.

  • 8X 19 + cash of 2.7 – 14.6 = 140.1/7.6 = $18.43. This means (NAME REMOVED) is undervalued by 46.3% now.  Almost a double from current share price.
  • 11X 19 + 2.7 – 14.6 = 197.1/7.6 = $25.93. Or undervalued by 61.8% now.  Or more than a double from current prices.

Yet again this doesn’t show the whole story because this valuation doesn’t include its valuable assets.

EBIT Plus Reproduction Valuation

Adding in the net value – after debt – of its estimated reproduction assets gets us values of:

  • 140.1 + 62.4 = 202.5/7.6 = $26.64 per share. Or 2.69 times higher than its current share price.
  • 197.1 + 62.4 = 259.5/7.6 = $34.14 per share. Or 3.45 times higher than its current share price.  Or a 3.45 bagger from current prices.

THIS COMPANIES THEN CURRENT SHARE PRICE WAS $10.  ITS FLOAT EQUALS $4.36 PER SHARE.  THIS MEANS JUST ITS FLOAT MADE UP 43.6% OF ITS THEN CURRENT SHARE PRICE.

IN OTHER WORDS FOR ONLY $5.64 YOU GET THIS COMPANIES CONSISTENTLY PROFITABLE GREAT MARGINS, ASSETS, OPERATIONS AND EVERYTHING ELSE OTHER THAN FLOAT.

WHEN EVALUATING NON INSURANCE COMPANIES I DON’T INCLUDE FLOAT IN THE VALUATIONS MOST OF THE TIME BECAUSE AS ALWAYS I LIKE TO BE AS CONSERVATIVE AS POSSIBLE.

BUT IF I WERE TO ADD 1/5TH OF THIS COMPANIES FLOAT ($6.62 MILLION OR $0.87 PER SHARE) TO THE EBIT PLUS REPRODUCTION VALUATION THIS WOULD GET US VALUES OF $27.51 AND $35.01 RESPECTIVELY ABOVE.

1/5TH OF FLOAT ADDS ~3% TO THIS COMPANIES VALUE.  NOT MUCH IN THE SHORT TERM BUT REMEMBER IF FLOAT IS USED WELL OVER A LONG TIME IT COMPOUNDS AND COMPOUNDS THE VALUE WITHIN THE COMPANY.

MOST PEOPLE DON’T CONSIDER FLOAT AT ALL WHEN EVALUATING NON INSURANCE COMPANIES.

AT THE TIME THE COMPANY WAS A ~$75 MILLION COMPANY.  IF THE COMPANY CONTINUES TO COMPOUND FLOAT AT 3% OVER 10 YEARS THE COMPANIES INTRINSIC VALUE WILL COMPOUND BY ~$26 MILLION TO $101 MILLION.

AND THIS ASSUMES NO GROWTH IN FLOAT.  NO GROWTH FROM ITS VALUABLE OPERATIONS.  AND NO ADDITIONS OF NEW CAPITAL FOR 10 YEARS.  ALL SHOULD CONTINUE TO GROW AT THIS GREAT COMPANY.

THIS COMBINED AFFECT OF COMPOUNDING FLOAT, INTERNAL VALUE, AND OPERATIONAL PROFITABILITY COULD EXPLODE THIS COMPANIES SHARES OVER TIME.

BUT I DON’T COUNT ANY OF THIS POSSIBILITY IN ANY VALUATIONS DUE TO CONSERVATISM.

THIS IS WHY FLOAT IS IMPORTANT EVEN FOR NON INSURANCE COMPANIES.  IT CAN ADD SUBSTANTIAL VALUE TO A COMPANY EVEN IF ITS ONLY ICING ON THE CAKE AS I OFTEN VIEW IT.

The above means that we’re buying (NAME REMOVED) at a massive discount to its true value.

***

Again, from here I continue detailing this great company.  For now let’s sum this all up before moving on to the next part of this now extended series.  Is Float Ever Bad?  On Float Part 6.

Summary

If I’ve explained everything well enough in the series so far we should understand –

  • What float is.
  • Why its important.
  • How companies can use float as positive leverage.
  • How Buffett got so rich using float.
  • How to find float on a balance sheet.
  • How to evaluate float.
  • How float affects a company and its margins.
  • Maybe the most important thing why float affects a company and its margins.
  • And how float affects a company’s value.

In the next and sixth chapter – yes I’ve now added two more parts to this now extended series – I’ll answer the question is float ever bad.

Knowing what we know now we should have a gigantic advantage over other investors who either don’t know about float.  Or aren’t willing to put in the time to learn what it is and what it can do for a company and investment.

If you have any questions, concerns, or comments on float up to this point please let me know in the comments section below.

***

Remember if you want access to my exclusive notes and preliminary analysis you need to subscribe for free to Value Investing Journey.  And this isn’t all you’ll get when you subscribe either.

You also gain access to three gifts.  And a 50% discount on a year-long Press On Research subscription.  Where my exclusive stock picks are evaluated and have crushed the market over the last four years.

How To Find Float On The Balance Sheet – On Float Part 4

How To Find Float On The Balance Sheet – On Float Part 4

The goal of this blog is to help us all improve as investors and thinkers so we’re a little wiser every day.  The hope being that our knowledge will continue to compound over time so we’ll have huge advantages over other investors in the future.

The aim of today’s post is to continue this process by talking about a topic few investors know about.  And even fewer understand.

Most people overlook float when evaluating companies because they either don’t know what it is.  Don’t know the power it can have within a business.  Or don’t know how to evaluate it.

This won’t be an issue here.

Press On Research subscribers already know this as I talk a lot about float in many of the issues I’ve written.  But I want to begin talking about it more here because float is one of the most powerful and least understood concepts of business analysis.

Today’s post is a continuation of the earlier posts:

Today I’m going to illustrate how to find float on the balance sheet.  And show you what float means in terms of the companies margins.

I’m going to do this by showing you float from two different companies I’ve evaluated and written up for Press On Research subscribers.  One is an insurance company.  The other isn’t.

On Float Part 4

How To Find And Evaluate Float

I’ve removed the names from both the companies below.  If you’d like to know which companies they are and see the full write ups on them you need to subscribe to Press On Research.

Insurance Company Float

When most people think of float they think of insurance companies so this is where we’ll start.

Below is the unedited float analysis I did on an insurance company I wrote up for Press On Research subscribers.

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All numbers below are in USD $ millions unless noted.

Assets

  • Financial Assets: Fixed maturity securities of 94.3 + equity securities of 4.9 + trading securities of 0.1 + loans of 1.9 + cash and cash equivalents of 6.8 + accrued investment income of 0.8 + premiums and other receivables of 11.3 + deferred income tax assets of 3.8 = 123.9
  • Operating Assets: Deferred policy acquisition costs of 8.5 + PP&E net of 2 + other assets of 13.9 = 24.4
  • Total Assets = 148.3

Liabilities

  • Equity of 44.9
  • Short-term debt of 0.9 and long-term debt of 17.4 = 18.3
  • Float: Future policy benefits of 35.2 + policyholder funds of 1.6 + unearned premiums of 29.9 + taxes payable of 0.1 + other liabilities of 18.3 = 85.1

Total liabilities are 103.4

Float/operating assets 85.1/24.4 = 3.49.

Float supports operating assets 3.49 times.

And Float is “free money” because (NAME REMOVED) earns consistent underwriting profits as it’s earned underwriting profits in six of the last nine years.

Pretax profits have changed to underwriting profit below because normal pretax profits mean nothing for insurance companies.

(NAME REMOVED) had an underwriting profit – profit from operations before taxes here – for the full 2015 year of 6.4.

Underwriting profit/total assets = ROA

  • 6.4/148.3 = 4.3%
  • Compared to a Morningstar ROA of 3.2%

Underwriting Profit/(total assets – float) = levered ROA

  • 6.4/63.2 = 10.1%

If I were to rely only on Morningstar to get estimates for margins (NAME REMOVED) looks below average at only 3.2%.

Yes I know this isn’t an apples to apples comparison.  But normal profit metrics mean nothing for insurance companies.

When considering underwriting profit.  Its ROA is a still below average 4.3%.

But (NAME REMOVED) float magnifies its ROA higher.

When considering float, its levered ROA goes up to 10.1%.  Or 43% higher than what I calculate it’s normal ROA as.

Having a levered ROA of 10.1% isn’t great compared to normal companies I invest in… But for an insurance company this is a great margin.

One of my investment icons the great insurance investor Shelby Davis looked for insurance companies having an ROA above 10% so this meets his threshold.

Another important metric for insurance companies is ROE.  Most great insurance companies fall in the 10 – 15% ROE range.

I calculate (NAME REMOVED) ROE – underwriting profits/shareholders equity – as 14.3% not levered by any float.  Compared to Morningstar’s ROE estimate of 10.7.  This puts (NAME REMOVED) into the great insurance company category.  And there’s still more.

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I continue on from here detailing this great small insurance company but now let’s explain what everything above means.

Why Does Float Magnify Margins?

As talked about in the post Buffett’s Alpha Notes – On Float Part 3 float is positive leverage instead of negative leverage like debt.  The positive leverage – float – boosted ROA 43% higher than its normal I calculated.

This magnification of margins happens at any company with float.  The more float – and profitability – the company operates on and produces the higher margins are magnified.

But why?

Let’s go back to the April 2016 Press On Research issue this to find out what this means over time for a company operating well.

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Float is things like prepaid expenses.  Billings in excess of expected earnings.  Deferred taxes.  Accounts payable.  Unearned premiums.   And other liabilities that don’t require interest payments.

But they are the farthest thing from “normal” liabilities.

With normal liabilities you have to pay an agreed upon amount within a certain period or your customers and suppliers will stop paying you.

Float are things you won’t have to pay back for a while the company uses in the mean time to grow the business.

Instead of paying this money out now like normal liabilities.  Companies can use these “liabilities” to fund current operations.

Float is positive leverage instead of negative leverage like debt and interest payments.

Think of float as the opposite of paying interest on a loan.  Instead of paying the bank for the cash you’ve borrowed.  The bank pays you interest to use the money you borrowed.  And you can use this money to invest.

A nice example is long-term debt versus unpaid premiums.  Both liabilities are listed on the balance sheet.  But each is far different from a real world perspective.

With long-term debt you get money in exchange for agreeing to pay back a loan at an agreed upon rate for an agreed upon period.  If you don’t you can go into bankruptcy and/or go out of business.

With unpaid premiums you get paid a monthly amount from a customer – say for house insurance – and only have to pay back any amount when a disaster occurs.

If your clients don’t make big claims for a long time – or ever over the life of an individual policy – the company keeps using this “liability” to continue investing and growing the business.

Now let’s keep going with this example…

If you own a home with a mortgage you have home insurance in the United States.  The ranges of this vary but let’s say you own a home and pay $300 a month towards home insurance costs.

This $300 a month – $3,600 a year or $36,000 after 10 years – goes to the insurance company every month.  Year after year even if you never claim any insurance.

The insurance company holds this money on the balance sheet as a liability because the assumption – probability – is you’ll make an insurance claim at some point.

In the mean time the insurance company invests this money to grow assets.  This way it makes sure it has enough money to pay claims when it has to.

Now imagine this multiplied by thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of customers.

If the insurance company produces underwriting profits on top of the float it gets and invests this money well over a long period this money compounds exponentially.

This is how Buffett and Munger grew Berkshire to the giant it is today.

***

Remember also from Buffett’s Alpha On Float Part 3 of this series…  The paper found almost all Buffett’s excess performance was due to float and the positive leverage powers it has on a company.

This is why float and the positive leverage it produces for the companies using and growing it well over time is so important.  It magnifies all margins at a company not just the ones mentioned above.  And if a company operates well the internal value of the company compounds exponentially.

If you’re a Warren Buffett/Charlie Munger type value investor this is the exact situation you’re looking for.

Now let’s get to the non insurance company to finish explaining everything.

Non Insurance Company Float

When most people think about float – if they think about it at all – it’s when thinking about insurance companies.  But non insurance companies have float as well.  Remember from the previous post What Is Float? On Float Part 2:

To summarize the above float is anything listed in the liabilities section of its balance sheet you don’t pay interest on.

Interest based liabilities – NOT FLOAT – include capital leases, and short and long-term debt.

Most of the time these are the only interest based liabilities on a company’s balance sheet.  Make sure by checking the off-balance sheet transactions and total obligations notes – if any – in the companies footnotes.

Examples of non interest based liabilities – FLOAT – include prepaid expenses, accounts payable, taxes payable, accrued liabilities, deferred tax liabilities, unearned premiums, etc.

This means any company that has these kinds of liabilities have float.  And since most companies have at least small amounts of these liabilities most companies have float.

How much float a company operates on is what affects their margins.  Higher amounts of float compared to operating assets means a higher leveraging of margins.

Now let’s get to the float analysis of the non insurance company… Again, the following is unedited except for the removal of the company’s name.

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All numbers below are in millions of dollars unless noted.

  • Financial Assets: Cash and cash equivalents of 2.7 + deferred tax assets of 1.9 = 4.6
  • Operating Assets: Accounts receivable of 39.1 + Inventories of 12.6 + prepaid expenses of 1.1 + other CA of 0.3 + net PP&E of 73.7 + goodwill of 2.4 + other IA of 0.6 = 129.8
  • Total Assets = 134.4

Liabilities

  • Equity of 86.2
  • Debt of 14.4
  • Float = Accounts payable of 13.3 + Taxes Payable of 0.5 + accrued liabilities of 8.9 + other CL of 1.3 + deferred tax liabilities of 1.4 + pensions and other benefits of 8 = 33.1
  • Total liabilities 47.5
  • Float/operating assets = 33.1/129.8 = 25.5%.

This means (NAME REMOVED) float supports 25.5% of its operating assets.

  • Pretax profits/total assets=ROA
  • 18.7/134.4= 13.9%

Compared to a Morningstar ROA of 10.1%

  • Pretax profits/ (total assets-float) = levered ROA
  • 18.7/101.3 = 18.5%

When I evaluated (NAME REMOVED) in 2012 I knew what float was. But not how to calculate and quantify what float meant for a company. So when I began looking at (NAME REMOVED)again in recent weeks I was shocked to see a big chunk of float helping operate and grow the company.

Why?

Because I expected a manufacturer to operate more on short and long-term debt than float. But (NAME REMOVED) float is 2.30 times higher than its short and long-term debt.

What this means for you is that (NAME REMOVED) operates and grows in a healthy way.

This is why its book value per share talked about above rose so much in recent years. But this isn’t all operating on float can do for a company… It also magnifies margins as well.

As you can see from the levered ROA calculation above. This is its true ROA when considering float. Float magnifies its ROA by 8.4 percentage points when compared to the “normal” ROA shown on Morningstar.

This will make a gigantic difference in the long-term. How big? Let me show you below using an example…

Let’s say we have one million dollars that compounds at a 10.1% rate every year for 10 years. With no additions the original million dollars will turn into $2.617 million at the end of 10 years. Great of course. But let’s see what an extra 8.4 percentage points every year will do to this same money over time.

Using the same numbers above. Same time frame. But 18.5% compound rate the original one million dollars will turn into $5.460 million at the end of 10 years. The 8.4 percentage point difference over 10 years time means we make an extra $2.843 million. Or more than double what we would earn with only a 10.1% compound rate.

This helps explain why (NAME REMOVED) book value has grown 2.61 times in only six plus years. And this is why I’m not worried about (NAME REMOVED) other “below exceptional” margins talked about above.

Float magnifies all these as well. Not as much as ROA. But by at least a few percentage points each bringing them up to the exceptional level of other Press On Research picks.

***

Now let’s get back to explaining what everything means.  Starting with the things I didn’t mention above.

The first thing to notice is the huge reversal in the amount of financial assets and operating assets the two companies have.  The insurance company had huge amounts of financial assets and few operating assets.  And the non insurance company had the inverse.

An insurance companies balance sheet should always look like this.

Non insurance companies vary more but in general they will have more operating assets than financial assets.

Float supporting operating assets is the amount of float that supports the harder assets of a company.  The ones regular companies – non insurance and financials – earn profits from in most cases.

Everything likely makes sense in its place of either financial assets or operating assets except goodwill and intangible assets.  Why are these included in operating assets and not financial assets?

Intangible assets (IA) is the easier to understand of the two.

Generally IA are things like patents, customers lists, trademarks, and brand names.  These have direct effect on the company operations and is why they’re included in operating assets.

For goodwill its more murky… Goodwill is a form of intangible assets that occur when a company acquires another and pays above book value for the company.  In effect this means the company pays extra in an acquisition for the companies operations so this is why goodwill is included in operating assets.

There are other reasons as well but for simplicity I stuck with the above reasoning.

The amount of float that supports operating assets line is important for all companies.  This is because as mentioned above the more float a company has compared to its operating assets the higher margins are magnified.

For companies having a lot of float and financial assets like insurance companies this number can go well over 100%.  For most normal companies this number will be below 100%.  But as always the higher this number is the better because it magnifies margins the higher it is.

Separating debt and float in the float analysis is a lot easier to do.  Any interest bearing liability – short and long-term debt, capital leases – goes into the debt category.  All other liabilities go into the float category.

Now lets sum this all up and bring it back to the beginning to explain how this all affects a company’s value.

Summary

If I’ve explained everything well enough in the series so far we should understand –

  • What float is.
  • Why its important.
  • How companies can use float as positive leverage.
  • How Buffett got so rich using float.
  • How to find float on a balance sheet.
  • How to evaluate float.
  • How float affects a company and its margins.
  • And maybe the most important thing – why float affects a company and its margins.

In the next and final chapter of this series we’ll go back to the beginning and explain how float affects a company’s value alluded to in On Float Part 1.

If you have any questions, concerns, or comments on float up to this point please let me know in the comments section below.

***

Remember if you want access to my exclusive notes and preliminary analysis you need to subscribe for free to Value Investing Journey.  And this isn’t all you’ll get when you subscribe either.

You also gain access to three gifts.  And a 50% discount on a year-long Press On Research subscription.  Where my exclusive stock picks are evaluated and have crushed the market over the last four years.