According to Dan Ferris, editor of Extreme Value, intrinsic value has never changed throughout history. How you go about analyzing it is another story and it has changed much over time. Whereas, we used to use book value, asset value and other objective measures, now we look more to future events. The idea of reducing the value to book value or p/e no longer makes sense to Dan. The numbers are all history and they’re the result of actions taken by management in the past. This type of analysis can easily miss the boat. You look at what management did and ask if they can keep doing it or do it even better? Are there hidden assets that could be put to better use? Hidden assets tend to find you. Dan looks for optionality. The ability to grow over time even if it’s a wasting asset. Dan gives an example of finding companies that are rolling up their industry and consolidating it. Insurance and waste management are examples. You never know when a deal will come along that will transform the company. Dan is is industry agnostic and will examine any and all industries. Right now he’s avoiding commercial real estate and retail for obvious reasons. He’s North America focused but could go outside the US should the opportunity arise, but Dan is reluctant. And why should he, he’s found amazing success right here at home.
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