Quality Value Growth Stock Ideas

A company can be valued in 3 dimensions – quality, value and growth.

It’s highly unlikely that you will be able to find a company deserving 5 stars for all three categories. They are rare but do exist in uncertain markets when people start to sell equities and run to bonds and other safe havens.

Another dimension that people sometimes include is momentum, but I will leave that out in this post.

A great discussion of the QVG model is provided in the book, Active Value Investing, for those interested in learning more.

GameStop (GME)

  • Quality: Yes
  • Value: Yes
  • Growth: Yes

Quality: Yes

GME [[GME]] has been king of the gaming retailers for quite some time. The company has been able to deliver solid FCF through the years. From 2008 to 2010, GME was able to increase FCF from $325m to $480m which is a 47% increase. Very impressive despite difficult times and declines in same store sales of 1.6%. The stock price has dropped quite considerably since the peak and the guidance of lower same stores is also what seems to be keeping the stock price at where it is.

Management has also been equally impressive. Over the past 5 years, the rolling median figures are as follows.

You can see that most of the numbers are higher for the 5 year medians which goes to show that GME has continually improved in all aspects.

Value: Yes

Revisiting the company shows that GME is in value territory. With all the hype and expectation mostly gone since 2007, the current price looks good indeed.

My assumptions were fairly conservative for all three valuation methods. Growth was set to 13% and a discount rate of 12% produced the numbers below. If I lowball the projected FCF figures for the next year, I still get a DCF of $40 which is a 45% margin of safety.

A quick P/E

Growth: Yes

If the market is supposedly forward looking, it clearly looks to be wrong on GME. The company has proven that it can grow both the top and bottom line, and the used game market is consistently generating billions in revenue for the company.

FCF growth has slowed slightly, with the percentage change from 2007 – 2009 period being the lowest at 12.4%, but FCF has easily grown above 10% each year.

GME Stock Valuation Overview

Key Tronic Corp (KTCC)

  • Quality: No
  • Value: Yes
  • Growth: No

KTCC [[KTCC]] is an example of a company that has only one of the three traits but has produced extraordinary returns for investors.

Quality: No

A micro cap with inconsistent operations. FCF is usually negative each year. Management’s ability to generate cash off its investment is usually negative and the company is in a tough, low margin industry.

Value: Yes

KTCC was clearly on a fire sale early last year. The current price of $5.50 may still be attractive as the company looks to be coming off a successful year of profits.

Growth: No

Considering the numbers and history of the company, growth is extremely difficult to predict. It would be best to leave out growth expectations and base opinions on the asset base and operations.

KTCC Stock Valuation Overview

Books-A-Million (BAMM)

  • Quality: Yes
  • Value: Yes
  • Growth: No

Quality: Yes

BAMM [[BAMM]] is a well run company with very solid results. Their margins are rock solid and the reason why I like BAMM is because of the way the business was run over the past 2-3 years in difficult situations.

Both top and bottom line profits are consistent, although there hasn’t been growth.

The 5yr and 10yr numbers are basically the same so there hasn’t been many hiccups with how stores were run.

The cause of concern that could turn quality from a yes to a no is how well its $3m investment in a 2 store frozen yogurt franchise will work, and being a family run business, it’s important to know how shareholder friendly the Anderson family is.

Value: Yes

Didn’t change anything in my assumptions. Since the numbers for the company has been flat for the past 5 years, it was real easy to value.

If BAMM just does what it is doing now the intrinsic value is at $15. Even the NCAV alone is $13.51 and since the book value, and reproduction value is close, BAMM should be valued as a no growth company.

Growth: No

Competitors consist of Barnes and Noble, Borders, Amazon as well as other discount retailers like WalMart. Margins are low with brick and mortar stores with books being discretionary items.

There is also the whole fuss about how ebook readers are revolutionizing the industry, but from personal experience, I find ebook readers to be less efficient.

I’m the type of person who underlines, highlights and scribbles notes everywhere. To do that with any reader, I would have to go through about 3-4 menus before I can do even one.

Apple has also beaten Amazon in the ebook pricing war. If you go to Amazon, you will see that ebooks now cost just as much as a regular book. Not many $10 titles anymore.

BAMM Stock Valuation Overview


I hold BAMM at the time of writing

Value: Yes

  • eclecticvalue

    I definitely think GME is undervalued but you still need to remember the downside and there is a potential downside which is the emergence of this gaming service called Onlive. Check it out and let me know what you think. Even though I want to buy Gamestop but I still on the lookout of this potential gamebreaker which is OnLive.

  • I agree that based on all the metrics, Gamestop does appear to be cheap. The potential flaw though is that if video game sales go online – so purchasing directly through something like Valve’s Steam, or the equivalent for dedicated gaming consoles, Gamestop might be cut out of it.

    The challenge for that is the publishers will have less control, because if they get all their sales from one source, and that source wants to change pricing, they might be in a tough situation where they simply have to accept whatever is being offered. The other issue is that this kind of model kills the aftermarket, which some gamers consistently use.

    It’s hard to say what will happen with Gamestop’s business model though, and that’s why I think the stock is priced the way it is.

    A good parallel might be the music industry – however iTunes offers other benefits there like being able to pick and choose songs from an album rather than only being able to buy the entire album. Even with online music sales growing, people still buy physical media and rent physical media, but the demand is only going to end at some point. Why wouldn’t this happen with Gamestop as well?

  • I do see your points that online games could drastically change the industry and flip the current model on its head.

    The question is how long?

    Online social games are gaining popularity on places such as facebook and other social networks but these people are the types that won’t play a playstation or xbox to begin with.

    There will always be hardcore gamers and Ankit correctly states that gamers need an aftermarket. It’s why GME has done so well. Their used game revenues has been the biggest revenue driver.

    Lots of possibilities on both sides of the argument, just a matter of which one plays out.

  • zehua

    I wouldn’t bother to buy any stocks now. Remember the stock index trend is down, and the index is significantly over-valued. Any cheap stocks can simply get cheaper when the stock index goes down. Just be patient and wait till the index falls into a more reasonable region before start any buyings.
    I would be closely tracking companies in decent shape, but don’t buy anything right now.


  • I havent been trying to buy things myself. Everything is at fair value in my eyes. Nothing so obviously cheap that I can recognize it instantly.

    But you do need to prepare a watch list and filter it out to the best opportunities and pounce when you get the chance.

  • zehua – I’ve actually been trying to identify bad companies (or good companies w/ bad financials) so I can start to create a short investment portfolio as well as a long investment portfolio that does well on the whole in any kind of climate.

    Ideally, with that setup, I wouldn’t need to “time” any of my purchases as long as my picks are well researched and done with a strict discipline.

  • zehua

    Ankit Gupta— As far as I can tell, cheap and good companies can always get cheaper, while bad and expensive companies can always get more expensive. Timing is quite important.

  • Parker Bohn

    Interesting. When analyzing investments, I think in terms of Value and Quality (I include growth as part of quality).

    GME does look cheap, but as a rule, I will never invest in a company whose service I know to be bad through personal experience.

    Gamestop rips off their customers and offers pennies for trade in. I don’t know if you hang out with video-gamers, but most people would rather just give away unwanted video games, or let them collect dust rather than trade them in at Gamestop rates.

    They also have an unusually restrictive returns policy, which is bad service and can cause resentment.

    Gamestop under-pays their employees, and they get what they pay for, which is bored, uninterested drones looking for the first way out. Seriously, go to a Gamestop and strike up a conversation with an employee. They will be happy to tell you how messed up their business is.

    Gamestop also seems incompetently run from a technological standpoint. My local store was still using dial-up internet in 2008. And this is for a company catering to young, high-tech consumers! I haven’t asked them since, so I have to assume they eventually upgraded.

    I am speaking from experience with maybe 4 or 5 locations, all in Georgia (and of course an investor can still profit from an investment in a poor company), but I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents. Gamestop does not have a reputation for excellence with their customers, but is rather approached with mild resentment.

  • Thanks for your comments Parker and a good rule at that.
    Why become part owner of a company that doesn’t please you?

    Next time I’m around GME, I’ll stop by and ask a few things or so.

  • Parker,

    You made a lot of good points and I think there’s something that should be noted. As investors, we have to analyze the business, which you’ve done very well through observation, experiences, talking to customers, etc.

    The thing we need to distinguish between is what the market says and what the business says. Business success does not mean investment success and business failure does not necessarily mean investment failure.

    For example – you can have a crappy business turn out to be a great investment. Let’s say that a business is basically at break even operations, has $10 Million in the bank, and customers hate it, but they don’t have a better choice. There is no debt and not even any payables. While at break even operations, the total stock outstanding sells for $25 million and based on your experience, there’s no prospect for anyone to buy it out at a higher price. Okay, the stock is overvalued. Things deteriorate though and the market values the same stock at $2.5 Million and they have $9 Million in the bank. They began losing money and that drove the fear.

    For $2.5M, with approval, you can buy out the company, immediately liquidate just the cash alone, and make a quick $6.5 Million. When companies sell below liquidation value, no matter how crappy they are, there are opportunities for certain investors. You can argue that the markets are forward looking and so they factor in future losses, and so when that forward looking factor becomes too much and you can make $6.5 Million from buying a company, it becomes well worth it to buy that crappy business.

    Business risk and market risk are very different and so the cheaper the ownership, all else equal, the less risk. As investors, we need to identify opportunities where we want to make money, and often times it leads us to “cigar butts” as Ben Graham would call them. Wall Street pays a large premium to be able to buy good companies because people see them doing good things and automatically assume it will also be a great investment.

    The investment is only good at certain prices, and so when investors say that they invested in Twitter or Facebook as a way to show off their skills, the real question is at what price 🙂

  • Ranajit

    Regarding market timing..I can only quote Buffett..I know many hedge fund managers would disagree with him but well ..it’s for each individual investor to judge whether it suits his/her investing style

    This is from his 1979 interview with Forbes

    “There may well be some period in the near future when financial markets are demoralized and much better buys are available in equities;
    that possibility exists at all times. But you can be sure that at such a time the future will seem neither predictable nor pleasant. Those now awaiting a “better time” for equity investing are highly likely to maintain that posture until well into the next bull market.”

  • red.

    You run a good blog, Jae.

    I doubt Gamestop has a future, frankly; it looks to be in very much the same competitive situation as Blockbuster five years ago. It has no real way to defend itself from future competitive threats (Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy, etc)or, as Ankit pointed out above, from the advent of online gaming. The price war last Christmas between WMT and GME was a sign of the future. That’s why backward-looking metrics such as average 5-year CFROI are dangerous in this case — the business model that underlay that profitability is likely under serious threat. There’s always a chance that GME could successfully adopt a Radioshack-type business model and preserve its profitability, but that would be, in my view, a gamble rather than a value investment.

    A second, more general, thought: I’m not sure that I subscribe to a QVG model. Value is the outcome of the difference between quality and growth on the one hand (what the security is worth), and net assets + yield (CF yield or owner earnings yield) on the other (what the security costs). In other words Quality + Growth + Net Assets + Owner Earnings Yield = Value. Treating value as independent of quality and growth, at the same level of analysis as quality and growth, or as the discrepancy between recent high price and current price is likely, in my view, to lead to expensive mistakes.

    In any case, thanks for your blog. I always learn something from my visits here.

  • Thanks for the detailed thought and opinions. I respect it greatly.

    I dont think GME is a perfect company, but I do believe an opportunity exists. I’m not a buy and hold forever investor so whether the company will be around 10 years or more doesn’t affect my decision.

    As for value, the definition is very broad. The price of a security will determine the value. A great company with high growth and awesome fundamentals could be considered the polar opposite of value if it is expensive.

    On the other hand, value also exists in bankrupt companies where there may be no quality, growth, owner earnings. Maybe assets is the only thing that exists but that doesn’t mean value does not exist.

  • Parker Bohn

    @ Ankit Gupta
    Thank you for the response.
    I agree that price (and the balance sheet) matters a great deal.

    There are many data points to consider when doing research.
    I’m not sure how many companies you invest in you’ve also been a customer of, but it seems like a potentially useful data point.

    How to interpret or how much weight to assign to discretionary factors like this, is up to the investor.

    @ Jae Jun – I’m not sure if this is an academic exercise, or if you plan an investment in GME. I was able to talk to Gamestop employees (obviously not the manager, who will have political reasons for not admitting shortcomings) fairly effectively because I looked and talked like them at the time (ie a young video-gaming slacker). I’m not sure your age, etc, but if you appear too ‘official’, or ‘business-like’, you may not get the same kind of open response.

    Good luck, and keep blogging.

  • http://www.thestreet.com/_yahoo/story/10784091/1/best-buy-takes-on-gamestop.html?cm_ven=YAHOO&cm_cat=FREE&cm_ite=NA

    Did you guys see Best Buy is getting back into used games?

    Any idea why? Didn’t they already try this? I know Wal*Mart did and I thought Best Buy already tried but couldn’t make it.

  • red.

    Ankit — to increase store traffic, drive Gamestop over the edge of the cliff, and to attempt to hold the line against WMT and Amazon especially.

    The market has now priced GME as having 0% future growth rate and a gross margin reduction of 15%. I would be impressed with management if it managed to meet these expectations and very impressed indeed if they managed to exceed it. My assessment of GME’s true value is in the neighborhood of $9-10; I’d buy it at $5.

  • Jason

    BAMM sounds all well and good but I can’t get my mind around a footnote in its most recent DEF14-a. Under Beneficial ownership where different people and entities decides to file as a “group” under Section 13(d)(3) of the Exchange Act.

    Never came across that before. Don’t understand it, so I’ll pass and keep looking elsewhere.


  • @ Jason,

    This is what i found.

    When two or more persons act as a partnership, limited partnership, syndicate, or other group for the purpose of acquiring, holding, or disposing of securities of an issuer, such syndicate or group shall be deemed a “person” for the purposes of this subsection.

    where a “person” is defined as the following in section 3(a)(9)

    The term “person” means a natural person, company, government, or political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality of a government.

    Hope that helps.

  • Nick Levis

    Howdy cowpokes;

    Interesting findings here… Good companies should be given a nice premium to bad companies no doubt, as Future cash flows is a better way to value them than is book value or even PE ratios… I have no comment on GME although I do think that BAMM is very shareholder friendly, paying out massive dividends over the years — the stock is in a horribly hated industry has managed to reward investors year in year out. Peter Lynch used to love finding great companies in bad industries as they can gain market share when competitors die off. I am not saying this will continue but that it is nice when your bad company has shareholder and not stakeholder interests in mind. This may make the counter worker attitude theory sound a little less plausable but I agree with Parker that a good company needs happy or at least honest employees — it is hard to reduce shrinkage when you underpay people, and also it is not good business. For my dollar I would rather pay one guy a bunch of money than 3 guys minimum wage in a retail environment due to shrinkage concerns, but no matter what today’s ultra competitive retail environment makes life tough for managers, investors, and workers. This is an interesting article for me as I was involved in the stock of Hastings Entertainment very heavily as a percentage of my holding in 2008. When the stock went from $10 to $1 part of me panicked, but I managed to step away from my “brain” as described in “the power of now” and sold a very statistically cheap company to add to my investment in Hastings, which is a really cool place to shop and at the time traded for 3X-4X 2007 earnings, 1X operating cash flow, and just 35% of book value. Its hard to stomache doubling down on a movie rental, book, music, and video game chain no matter how low the price to book value may seem, but for me it may have saved me my job — today the stock is at $7.5 and I sold half of my position between $7.5 and $9 (it hit $9 per share in April)… As Parker has detailed on his blog, I had a very difficult 2008. BTW Parker as to my DUI you mentioned on your blog, which was funny, I read today that alchohol consumption helps one live longer! Cheers.

Ready to try Old School Value?