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Consilient Observer  •  15-Jun-2022

New Business Boom and Bust 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
Burgeoning industries often follow the same developmental pattern as a child’s brain, with an overproduction of options followed by a pruning of those that are not useful. This appears wasteful but is in fact an elegant solution. We discuss this pattern for companies, describe why investors should care, and offer some current examples of where this pattern of entry and exit is playing out.

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Consilient Observer  •  10-May-2022

Wealth Transfers 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
The goal of capital allocation is to put resources to their best use to create long-term value per share for ongoing shareholders. The first major part of capital allocation is investing in the business. The second is transacting with mispriced securities, which introduces the potential for wealth transfers between stakeholders. Astute investors appropriately focus on a management's ability to make investments in the business, but they should also pay attention to management actions with regard to buying and selling the company’s stock.

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Consilient Observer  •  12-Apr-2022

Intangibles and Earnings 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
The shift from tangible to intangible investments has complicated the ability to interpret financial statements. One solution is to record intangible investments on the balance sheet and then amortize them over their useful lives. These adjustments recast profitability for some companies and are inconsequential for others. Overall, we estimate that earnings for the S&P 500 would be about 10 percent higher with these changes. This suggests great caution in comparing earnings or valuation multiples over time.

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Consilient Observer  •  16-Mar-2022

Feedback 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
Continuous process improvement is essential to achieving outstanding long-term outcomes. Receiving timely and accurate feedback—information used as a basis for improvement—can enhance the process and make you a better forecaster. We discuss multiple facets of process improvement, including getting the right people and helping them thrive, the role of organizational structure in fostering good decision making, and specific mechanisms to sharpen execution. We draw on principles from other fields but focus primarily on the investment management industry.

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Consilient Observer  •  27-Jan-2022

Underestimating the Red Queen 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
Organisms allocate energy between growth and maintenance and repair. They stop growing when maintenance requires all of the energy. Substitute capital for energy and companies appear to follow a similar trajectory. This is important because you can anticipate a company’s growth only if you understand how much capital it spends on growth versus maintenance. Most executives and investors likely underestimate maintenance spending. Steps toward better understanding include a proper assessment of maintenance capital expenditures and a separation of SG&A into investment and maintenance components.

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Consilient Observer  •  06-Oct-2021

Categorizing for Clarity: Cash Flow Statement Adjustments to Improve Insight 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
Accounting has not kept pace with the changing economics of businesses, which has created a huge gap between what companies report in their financial statements and what an investor needs to understand a business. To better categorize activities, we suggest making adjustments within the statement of cash flows pertaining to stock-based compensation, leases, and intangible investments. We believe these adjustments substantially improve the description of a business. We share a case study of Amazon for 2020 to make the concepts more concrete.

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Consilient Observer  •  08-Sep-2021

Turn and Face the Strange 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
This report examines the barriers to change for organizations. We use sports as the prime example but then apply the lessons to investment management. Organizations can be slow to adopt certain approaches even when they add value due to loss aversion, a preference for the status quo, and the fear of poor outcomes in the short run. Organizations may overcome these challenges by aligning behind a commitment to improvement, learning, transparency, and accountability. Good long-term results require developing and executing strategies that add value.

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Consilient Observer  •  03-Aug-2021

Everything Is a DCF Model 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
We suggest the mantra “everything is a DCF model.” Whenever investors value a stake in a cash-generating asset, they should recognize they are using a discounted cash flow (DCF) model. The topic deserves attention because many market participants don’t think DCF models are relevant, and many use heuristics for value without recognizing the purpose and limitations of the shorthands. The intrinsic value, determined by the present value of future cash flows, attracts the price like a magnetic force. This means it is useful for investors to keep in mind the value drivers of a discounted cash flow model.

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Consilient Observer  •  19-May-2021

The Economics of Customer Businesses 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
This report focuses on the customer as the basic unit of analysis in understanding value. The idea of customer lifetime value has been around for decades, but we believe our discussion is richer and more nuanced than what many companies and analysts present. We discuss a framework called customer-based corporate valuation, which links customer economics to shareholder value and offers a more robust way to forecast revenues. We also show the limitations of common ratios such as customer lifetime value to customer acquisition cost (LTV/CAC), explore how companies can create consumer and supplier surplus, provide a case study, examine trade-offs in the drivers of value, and explore common errors.

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Consilient Observer  •  14-Apr-2021

Market-Expected Return on Investment 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
This report describes market-expected return on investment (MEROI), which measures the return at which the present value of a company’s profits equals the present value of its investments. This allows executives and investors to see how high the bar is set. Measuring returns has become harder as investments have shifted from being mostly tangible to intangible. We gain a clearer view of returns and expectations by separating expenses and investments properly. We break new ground by connecting valuation and accounting.

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Consilient Observer  •  21-Dec-2020

WACC and Vol 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
The weighted average cost of capital (WACC) and volatility (vol) generally move in lockstep, but 2020 is unusual because the cost of capital is well below its historical average and volatility is well above its historical average. The prime beneficiaries of these patterns are companies rich with real options. In this report, we define real options, discuss what businesses are likely to have them, review the valuation implications, and finish with a way to use real options analysis with traditional valuation.

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Consilient Observer  •  15-Sep-2020

One Job 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
The one job of an equity investor is to take advantage of gaps between expectations and fundamentals, which requires an understanding of the magnitude of investment and return on investment in order to properly anticipate free cash flows. With investments shifting more toward intangible assets, this report discusses the measurement and characteristics of intangible assets and reviews the implications of the growth of intangibles for investors.

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Consilient Observer  •  04-Aug-2020

Public to Private Equity in the United States: A Long-Term Look 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
Over the past quarter century there has been a marked shift in U.S. equities from public markets to private markets controlled by buyout and venture capital firms. This change has had reverberations for asset managers, investors, executives, and policy makers.

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Consilient Observer  •  20-May-2020

Myth Busting, Popular Delusions, and the Variant Perception 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
We address four myths or popular delusions in the investment industry.

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Consilient Observer  •  14-Apr-2020

Dispersion and Alpha Conversion 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
An investor’s success requires both skill and opportunity. We look at how investors can express skill and use dispersion to measure the opportunity set.

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Consilient Observer  •  20-Mar-2020

BIN There, Done That 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
To improve your forecasting skills, try decreasing noise. Analyzing superforecasters reveals forecasters can be trained to more effectively update their views, reduce bias, and reduce noise.

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Counterpoint Global
 
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