Posts filed under “Analysts”
I mentioned earlier that corporate cash has been piling up since 1982. The number that is being bandied about (via the Fed) is that the 500 largest non-financial firms have $1.8 trillions dollars in cash.
I wasn’t sure how the Fed came up with their number, and I wanted to look at the data in greater detail. So enlisting our staff to help, we decided to do the math ourselves. On our Bloomberg terminal, we pulled up all of the “Cash & Equivalents.” Then, we eliminated 1) all banks stocks; 2) all financial firms. We wanted to show only corporate cash, and not client accounts.
What this generated was a somewhat different set of numbers than those of the Fed (See excel spreadsheet below). We found that 3,000 non-financial firms have $1.641 trillion dollars in cash and equivalents.
-The top 50 firms are over half of this dollar amount, accounting for $823.642 billion dollars.
-The top 20 firms, ranging from Berkshire to United Health Group account for most of this — $635.386 billion dollars.
-The automakers are another anomaly — Ford (at #3) is showing $46.67 billion dollars in cash — but its against $66.668 billion in liabilities. Even GM’s bankrupt stub Liquidation Motors (# 17) is showing $14.194 billion in cash against $73.934 billion in debt.
-I’m not sure if we should exclude Berkshire Hathaway or GE as financials, but they accounted for $146.644 and $111.176 billion dollars respectively.
Lastly, this data only includes publicly traded companies, and excludes private or closely held firm. It also excludes private equity firms, VCs, and hedge funds (public or private).
Top 20 Cash Holdings
Spreadsheet: Cash and equiv
UPDATE: December 22, 2010 3:49pm
Jim Bianco reports corporate cash is 7.3% — exactly what the historical median has been.
Tim du Toit is the editor and founder of Eurosharelab. He has more than 20 year of institutional and personal investing experience in emerging and developed markets. Tim is based in Hamburg, Germany. More of his articles can be found at Eurosharelab (www.eurosharelab.com).
Republished here with permission.
I met James Montier at a value investment seminar in Italy in 2007 where he presented. We had long discussions later the day and into the evening on value investing and investment strategy.
James was kind enough to put me on his distribution list and I really looked forward to each of his articles as they always taught me something.
Unfortunately James decreased his writings since taking a position with the asset manager GMO in 2010.
I decided to put this resource page together so Eurosharelab visitors can also benefit from James’s investment wisdom.
James Montier’s Amazon Page shows all the books he has authored as well as the following short biography:
James Montier is a member of GMO’s asset allocation team.
Prior to that, he was the co-Head of Global Strategy at Société Générale and has been the top-rated strategist in the annual Thomson Extel survey for most of the last decade.
Montier is the author of four market-leading books:
• The Little Book of Behavioral Investing: How not to be your own worst enemy (Little Book, Big Profits)
He is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Durham and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
In this May 2010 article called I Want to Break Free, or, Strategic Asset Allocation does not equal Static Asset Allocation James Montier talks about in the beginning investing was a simpler and happier.
The essence of investment was to seek out value; to buy what was cheap with a margin of safety. Investors could move up and down the capital structure (from bonds to equities) as they saw fit. If nothing fit the criteria for investing, then cash was the default option.
But that changed with the rise of modern portfolio theory and, not coincidentally, the rise of “professional investment managers” and consultants.
In March 2010 Miguel Barbosa in his Simolean Sense blog interviewed James Montier about his book Value Investing: Tools & Techniques For Intelligent Investing.
In the second part of the interview Miguel talks to James about his other book The Little Book of Behavioral Investing – How Not To Be Your Own Worst Enemy.
In this February 2010 article, the first since joining GMO, James Montier asks Was It All Just A Bad Dream? Or, Ten Lessons Not Learnt from the financial crisis.
In November 2009 article titled Only White Swans on the Road to Revulsion James Montier makes the argument that that the housing bubble and the crisis following its collapse was not an unforeseen event but rather the result of over optimism and the illusion of control, two classic human behavioural mistakes.
This article is the text of a speech called Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, or how EMH has damaged our industry which James Montier delivered at the at the August 2009 CFA UK conference on “What ever happened to EMH”. Dedicated to Peter Bernstein (EMH = Efficient Market Hypothesis)
Here is the video recording of the above mentioned speech by James Montier: Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast. The video is 42 minutes long, but well worth watching.
The financial times in this 24 June 2009 article EMH, AMH: Edwards and Montier ride again motions James Montier leaving Societe Generale to join US investment manager Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo & Co, just after he and Albert Edwards won the Thomson Extel European analysts award in May 2009 as the top global strategy team.
In this 2 June 2009 research paper Forever blowing bubbles: moral hazard and melt-up James Montier explored the bubble phenomenon and what happens in the future after a bubble pops. He explores the possibility that all the government rescue packages initiated in 2008 have the possibility to again inflate a substantial bubble.
In this 24 June 2009 Financial Times article called Insight: Efficient markets theory is dead. James Montier explains why the efficient markets theory is dead but still lives because of academic inertia.
In June 2009 James Montier’s published this list of his Favorite Investment Books as well as a Summer reading list of more recent titles.
In May 2009 shortly after the market started its recovery from its March 9 2009 lows James Montier in this article titled Sucker’s rally or the birth of a bull? asks if this is a suckers rally and if so what investors could do to protect themselves. He also gives a few short ideas from his shorting screen.
In this 27 January 2009 article Clear and present danger: the trinity of risk, James Montier writes about the three primary and interrelated sources of investment risk; Valuation risk, business or earnings risk and balance sheet or financial risk.
Barron’s Alan Abelson points us to a rather intriguing — and sadly, none too surprising — data point: “Week in, week out, Bloomberg taps Street analysts for their prognostications of where they expect the S&P 500 to wind up the year. Despite the turmoil in the markets, those stalwarts—13 of them—have steadfastly held to their…Read More
> Be sure to check out the Goldman research piece on World Cup Soccer World Cup and Economics 2010 It is a surprisingly fun approach to economic research . . . >
> Surprise! Analysts remain too Bullish: “Exceptions to the long pattern of excessively optimistic forecasts are rare, as a progression of consensus earnings estimates for the S&P 500 shows (Exhibit 1). Only in years such as 2003 to 2006, when strong economic growth generated actual earnings that caught up with earlier predictions, do forecasts actually…Read More
When Dave Rosenberg and Jim Grant squared off for a debate — dubbed “Bonds are for Losers” — in late March, the 10-year was sitting at about 3.90 and the 30-year at about 4.75. The room was overwhelmingly on Grant’s side (yields have nowhere to go but up), although Rosie did sway some opinions during…Read More
Q: How did Wall Street manage to convince the rating agencies to slap investment grade ratings on Junk? A: They had cheat codes ! Here is Gretchen Morgenson and Louise Story in today’s NYT: “One of the mysteries of the financial crisis is how mortgage investments that turned out to be so bad earned credit…Read More
The latest bad meme to develop legs is the idea that strategic mortgage defaults are goosing retail sales. We looked at this last week in Are Defaults Really Driving Retail Spending? as an idea driven mostly by anecdote (some quite ugly), but unsupported by any hard data.
To those pushing this idea, I ask this: Are these mortgage mod requests from egregiously irresponsible spendthrifts the exception, or the rule? And, if they are more than an exception, would you please produce actual data supporting this thesis?
After my post on this, I got dozens of emails with anecdotal stories of defaulting homeowners going on spending sprees. Many were so similar that I presumed they were email forwards from the same source. Also, Bill Gates wants to send me to Disneyland.
I started hunting for more info on this. I came across three items that are worth discussing. (if you know of any other data sources in this, feel free to mention in comments)
The first item was a quote from Mark Zandi in Monday’s WSJ:
How much can the world count on the U.S. consumer?
U.S. consumers remain the single largest source of global demand, even if their clout isn’t what it once was. J.P. Morgan estimates U.S. consumer spending will account for one-fourth of the global total in 2010, down from about 35% in 2003. Still, the global recession spread to Latin America and Asia when U.S. buyers put away their credit cards.
In recent months, U.S. consumer spending has turned upward and may continue that way for some time, says Economy.com economist Mark Zandi, who figures pent up demand will boost car and home sales. But the long-term outlook is hardly solid. Part of the reason for Mr. Zandi’s short-term bullishness is that he figures about five million households aren’t making payments on their mortgages, giving them as much as $60 billion to spend—for now. -WSJ
Zandi appears to have come up with his $60 billion figure (as far as I can tell) by taking 5 million delinquent home owners X a ballpark $1000 per month mortgage X 12 months = $60B.
Let’s take a closer look at Zandi’s analysis to see if it holds water.
- The March 2010 NFP report data had 15.0 million unemployed persons; the number of “long-term unemployed” rose to 6.5 million — 44.1% of total unemployed. An additional 9.1 million people working part time because full time work was unavailable.
Its reasonable to surmise that there is a huge overlap between the 24 million people either unemployed or under employed, and the 5 million foreclosures, and 6 million+ late mortgage payers. We can reasonably make a connection between a fall in income and foreclosures and defaults.
-Confusing cause and effect. Most people don’t default to get more money; they default because they have run out of money.
When your income plummets — in 15 million case above, by 100% — you stop spending except for necessities. The majority of hard working Americans who are unemployed (or under employed) and who are delinquent on their mortgages because they have run out of money. Merely failing to pay that liability, does not men you therefore have lots of extra cash burning a hole in your pocket.
- Therefore, Liabilities — what is owed by defaulting homeowners — are not the same as Disposable Income. Not paying that liability is not a windfall — its a sign of economic distress. That $60 billion is a collective measure of how much homeowners owe, not how much they have.
And this is coming from me, the guy who advocated that the economy needs more foreclosures . . .
The second item was from Minyanville’s James Kostohryz. He blamed the idea on Perma-Bears, stating they are “running out of excuses for why retail sales rose so strongly in March of 2010” (Are Mortgage Deadbeats Juicing Up the Economic Numbers?).
But James takes it a step further, crunching the numbers to determine, if true, how much this could be impacting spending. His conclusion? The most that strategic defaults are helping retail sales is about $228 million per month — “~0.026% of monthly Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) which are averaging about $863 billion per month.” Hardly enough to explain the significant uptick in retail sales.
The following was written by an analyst who has long criticized how Wall Street covers itself. It is published anonymously due to his firm’s legal & compliance rules. ~~~ At 9:43 AM ET on CNBC, Dick Bove (Rochdale Securities) said Goldman would pay a fine and this will pass (3:00). He also called the stock…Read More
Every now and again, I see an economic commentary that is so ass backwards, I am compelled to call it out. Today is one of those occasions. The commentary in question comes from the usually astute Housing Wire. Paul Jackson makes the case that voluntary mortgage delinquencies are driving retail sales. I disagree. ~~~ Our…Read More