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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  •  23-Jun-2021

The Impact of Intangibles on Base Rates 

Michael Mauboussin, Dan Callahan
The shift in investments from tangible to intangible assets has important implications for how investors should think about corporate growth rates. Companies with more intangible assets can grow faster, but they can also become irrelevant and shrink faster. Our analysis of historical sales growth rates for U.S. companies reveals both of these results: higher growth and more dispersion, on average, for companies and industries with the highest intangible asset intensity. Skillful investors may be able to identify the companies that will grow faster than expected, hence providing the potential for attractive returns.

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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  •  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  •  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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