SA Interview: Value Investing With Brian Langis

I got the privileged to be interviewed on Seeking Alpha. I believe the article is behind a pay wall at the moment unless you pay $200/month. Should be free after a week I think. It’s a long one, 19 pages. Enjoy!

Here’s a preview:


(Exclusive) SA Interview: Value Investing With Brian Langis

Summary

  • Brian Langis is a Chartered Business Valuator (CBV), investor, and manages Cape May Capital, a private investment company.
  • The first question he wants to answer in the research process, the value in seeing what the credit markets have to say before investing in the equity and the importance of thinking like a business owner are topics discussed.
  • Brian Langis shares long ideas on Intertape Polymer Group, Brookfield Asset Management, Brookfield Property Partners, Alimentation Couche-Tard and Jungfraubahn Holding.

Feature interview

Brian Langis is a Chartered Business Valuator (CBV), investor, and manages Cape May Capital, a private investment company. You can follow him on his blog at BrianLangis.com and on Twitter. We discussed how to evaluate a company’s culture, how to gain an edge from “on the ground” research and what “quality shareholders” are (and why companies need them).

Seeking Alpha: Walk us through your investment decision making process. What area of the market do you focus on and what strategies do you employ?

Brian Langis: First I want to answer the question “will it be around in the next twelve months?” In other words, does the company have a solid balance sheet? Does it have enough cash to pay its bills? To fulfill their obligations? To keep the lights on? To grow? To return money to investors? It’s a snapshot, akin to a quick blood test to prevent pitfalls. It also saves you time. It doesn’t matter how convincing the story is, cash is blood. Happiness is positive cash flow. A bad investing experience when I was a teenager left some scars in my brain. Basically the company was sexy, the product was better than anything on the market, and the CEO was smooth. But the company ran out of cash and creditors took over. If I repeat that mistake again I didn’t learn anything. People are attracted to investing for potential lucrative short-term returns. For me I can’t play that game. I don’t know what is going up today or next month. If you want to do this a long time, you need to survive, and you survive by avoiding losses. We see it today with the pandemic. It reinforces lessons we already knew. Liquidity and survival remains paramount.

Once I get a handle on a company, I look for four main things:

1. Is the company profitable? Do they generate strong free cash flow (FCF)? Good return on capital (ROC)?

2. Is it run by an honest talented management? Is management and shareholder interest aligned?

3. What are the re-investment opportunities? This is the capital allocation portion. What do they do with their cash? Are they a disciplined allocator?

4. Valuation. Can I buy it at a fair price?

You will notice that the first 3 points of the process are intermingling. It’s hard to have one without the others. A solid management team with a disciplined capital allocation process usually leads to excess FCF generation and great returns. Now the main question is can I buy it at a fair price? How much am I willing to pay for it? It’s a highly subjective exercise. It’s the “art” part in valuation. I know price and value and they are two different concepts. In order to know what action to take, you have to look at the asset’s price relative to its value. Assets are only attractive if they are priced right.

You can read the rest here.

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