[1940] Ch. 41 LOW-PRICED COMMON STOCKS. ANALYSIS OF THE SOURCE OF INCOME
7 months ago

Summary:

Low-priced common stocks possess certain advantages, primarily their capacity to appreciate more readily than they depreciate. Research conducted on industrial stocks between 1926 and 1935 demonstrated that these low-priced stocks tend to vary more than their high-priced counterparts. During bull markets, these stocks typically increase more and, interestingly, they do not surrender these gains during recessions. As such, low-priced industrial stocks provide greater speculative profit opportunities compared to high-priced stocks.

However, it's essential to acknowledge that a majority of investors in low-priced stocks end up incurring losses. This is frequently due to misguided selections of low-priced stocks, typically from companies with weak financial health or those that seem inexpensive but actually require substantial investment given the size of the company. While the public's inclination towards inexpensive stocks is logical, often these purchases benefit the sellers more than the buyers.

Before investing in low-priced stocks, it's crucial to ascertain whether the stock's low price is genuine or artificially driven by a high share count. True low-priced stocks generally have a relatively small total value in relation to the company's assets, sales, and past or prospective earnings.

Moreover, it's key to understand that not all low-priced stocks are speculative attractions. Stocks on the verge of receivership may be more volatile, but they often lack the potential for gains. Conversely, speculatively capitalized businesses, having significant senior securities and a relatively small common stock issue, could possess potential, regardless of whether the common stock is low-priced.

In summary, while low-priced stocks present speculative profit opportunities, careful analysis is needed to prevent investing in the wrong kind. It's crucial to ensure the stock is genuinely low-priced and bears the potential for growth.

The discourse then moves into a comparison between the financials of two department store giants, Mandel Brothers, Inc. and Gimbel Brothers, Inc., as of September 1939. Despite Mandel Brothers having much lower capitalization than Gimbel Brothers, their sales figures are similar. Nonetheless, Mandel Brothers' earnings per share and higher rental charges are weaker compared to Gimbel Brothers.

There's also an exploration of the relationship between production costs and profit per unit, exemplified by three hypothetical copper producers. As production costs rise, profits per unit decrease and vice versa. The discourse suggests that when a commodity's price increases, shares of high-cost producers typically appreciate more compared to those of low-cost producers.

Significantly, the article emphasizes the necessity to examine the income source in relation to specific assets owned by a company. For instance, the Northern Pipe Line Company, where a substantial part of the income is derived from investment holdings, serves as a good example. The company's earnings and dividend history are shared to illustrate this point.

The article concludes with the importance of consistency and logical arrangements in a company's capital structure. It underscores the need for an in-depth security analysis approach that goes beyond initial reactions and stock market valuations. By studying both income account and balance sheet data, analysts can identify undervalued opportunities and advocate for necessary corrections to benefit the stockholders.