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Our popular course Introduction to QuantLib Development will be taking place June 18-20th, 2018.


Musings on Markets's Blog

Walmart's India (Flipkart) Gambit: Growth Rebirth or Costly Facelift?

July 5, 2018 Comments (0)

On May 9, 2018, Walmart confirmed officially what had been rumored for weeks, and announced that it would pay $16 billion to acquire a 77% stake in Flipkart, an Indian online retail firm, translating into a valuation of more than $21 billion for a firm founded just over ten years ago, with about $10,000 in capital. Investors are debating the what, why and what next on this transaction, with their reactions showing up in a drop in Walmart’s market capitalization of approximately $8 billion....

Twists and Turns in the Tesla Story : A Boring, Boneheaded Update!

July 5, 2018 Comments (0)

There are lots of complaints that you can have about Tesla, but being boring is not one of them. It helps to have a CEO who seems to find new ways to make himself newsworthy, in good and bad ways. In fact, if Tesla were a reality show, the twists and turns in its fate would give it sky-high ratings and put the Kardashians to shame. Consequently, it should comes as no surprise that there is no other company where investors disagree more about the future than Tesla, with bulls finding new...

Amazon: Glimpses of Shoeless Joe?

July 5, 2018 Comments (0)

It was just over two weeks ago that I started my posts on the FANG stocks, starting with Facebook, which I decided to buy, because I felt that notwithstanding its current pariah status, its user base was too valuable to pass by, at the prevailing market price. I then looked at Netflix, a company that has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to the challenges thrown at it, while changing the entertainment business, but is, at least in my view, in a content cost/user cycle that will be difficult...

User and Subscriber Businesses: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

July 5, 2018 Comments (0)

In a series of posts over the course of the last year, I argued that you can value users and subscribers at businesses, using first principles in valuation, and have used the approach to value Uber riders, Amazon Prime members and Spotify & Netflix subscribers. With each iteration, I have learned a few things about user value and ways of distinguishing between user bases that can create substantial value from user bases that not only are incapable of creating...

Damodaran Online: There is an App for that!

July 5, 2018 Comments (0)

My posts over the last two months have been heavy, dealing first with my data update from January 2018, and with the market and its volatility in the last few weeks. I felt like taking a break and talking about something lighter and more personal, and giving you an update on my teaching, writing and data plans for this year, with news about an app for the iPhone or iPad that you might (or might not) find useful. I won't fault you if you are not in the least bit interested in what I am doing,...

Stream On: An IPO Valuation of Spotify!

July 5, 2018 Comments (0)

In the last few weeks, we have seen two high profile unicorns file for initial public offerings. The first out of the gate was Dropbox, a storage solution for a world where gigabyte files are the rule rather than the exception, with a filing on February 23. Following close after, on February 28, Spotify, positioning itself as the music streaming analog to Netflix, filed its prospectus. With it's larger potential market capitalization and unusual IPO structure, Spotify has attracted more...

Come easy, go easy: The Tech Takedown!

July 5, 2018 Comments (0)

If there is one thing that I have learned about markets over the years, it is that they have a way of leveling egos and cutting companies and investors down to size. The last three weeks have been humbling ones for tech companies, especially the big four (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet or FANG) which seemed unstoppable in their pursuit of revenues and ever-rising market capitalizations, and for tech investors, many of whom seem to have mistaken luck for skill. Not surprisingly, some...

January 2018 Data Update 10: The Price is Right!

July 5, 2018 Comments (0)

In my first nine posts on my data update for 2018, I focused on the costs that companies face in raising equity and debt, and their investment, financing and dividend decisions. In assessing those decisions, though, I looked at their actions through the lens of value creation, arguing that investing in projects that earn less than their cost of capital is not a good use of shareholder capital. While this may seem like a reasonable conclusion, it is built on the implicit assumption that...

January 2018 Data Update 9: Dividends, Stock Buybacks and Cash Holdings

July 5, 2018 Comments (0)

If success for a farmer is measured by his or her harvest, success in a business, from an investors' standpoint, should be measured by its capacity to return cash flows for its owners. That is not belittling the intermediate steps needed to get there, since to be able to generate these cash flows, businesses have to find ways to treat employees well, satisfy customers and leave society at ease with their existence, but the end game does not change. That is why I find it surprising that when...

January 2018 Data Update 8: Debt and Taxes

July 5, 2018 Comments (0)

In the United States, as in much of the rest of the world, and as has been true for most of the last century, the tax code has been tilted towards debt, rewarding firms that borrow money with tax savings, relative to those that use equity to fund their operations. While the original rationale for this debt bias was to allow the large infrastructure companies of the equity markets (railroads, followed by phone and natural resource companies) to raise financing to fund their growth, that reason...