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Problems with valuations, again.

Account Net-Liq: $7,477.66
SPX value: 3,426.96
Shiller PE: 31.47

In my older post I wrote about the market high valuations and how you can mitigate the problem with valuation.

You hear (and read) people complaining that valuations are high and there is nothing to invest in. It is not true. And people who say that do not do their homework properly.

I must admit, that when I was writing my original post, I too made the same mistake and looked at stocks via whole market magnifying glass and ignored the reality, that the whole market doesn’t represent the stocks. It is the stocks that represent the market. Unfortunately, SPX or SPY represents only a fraction of the market and it can be easily manipulated by a few stocks. Before you start complaining about it, let me assure you, it has been like that since the inception of the aforementioned indexes. They were set up that way from the beginning and there will always be stocks that have significant weight to push SPX higher although the entire market is different.

It was the case with the recent rally. The SPX was rallying hard and many could get the impression that all stocks became expensive. Nope, it was only a few tech stocks that moved the market, others lagged.

I could see this phenomenon in my portfolio. While SPX was making new all-time highs, my portfolio net-liq was going down. It was best illustrated when you looked at the heat map back then.

This is how the S&P500 heat map looked like:

S&P 500 heat map

It is obvious what was driving the market up. Technology stocks, communications… everything else was red. It is something you would expect. People are sitting at home, doing nothing, some trading stocks at Robinhood and losing money, others using computers, like kids in schools, shopping, watching TV shows, or zoom, go-to-meeting app, or other apps to do their job (those lucky enough to have a job). Other businesses struggle.

This is how IWM, representing small caps looked like:

IWM heat map

I am pointing this up to show that although the market, represented by SPX, was making new highs, not all stocks participated in this rally. And even if they did, they were still undervalued by their earnings and P/E measures.

If people really keep screaming about the market being overvalued, then they do not really look under the surface. And I must admit, I fell for this too and dismissed the entire market as overvalued meaning all stocks were overvalued.

But, they were not.

In my previous post I published the following table indicating high quality dividend aristocrats with great dividend history and highest yield among the aristocrats.

Dividend aristocrats accumulation

And I was eager to start accumulating these shares as per my original plan and once I reached 100 shares, start selling covered calls. My only defense against high valuation was selling covered calls and puts around these positions and lower my cost basis.

However, I decided to take another look at valuations when I realized that not all stocks are overvalued. Some may be valued correctly, some still undervalued, and of course some grossly overvalued.

I took another look at my previous selection and decided to add a few comparisons. My criteria for valuation were:

  • Current P/E
  • Theoretical (calculated) multiple P/E value based on market historical valuations
  • Calculated intrinsic value based on earnings growth and P/E multiple
  • Income generated from dividends must beat income from S&P 500
  • Stock growth must beat S&P 500 growth


Based on these criteria I reviewed my previous selection once again and the result was that only two companies were undervalued and beat the market:

Dividend aristocrats accumulation

From the new table, there are two patterns I am going to follow:

  1. All three criteria must be met, that is, the stock must be undervalued, its income and growth must beat the market.
  2. It is OK to have a stock that is undervalued and its income beats the market only.


Based on these results, I will be accumulating stocks that meet all three criteria (pattern #1), and eventually, once all stocks of my interest are all accumulated, I may start accumulating stocks that meet only two criteria (pattern #2). However, the valuation of any stock must be always “green” (undervalued) in order to keep buying these shares. If a stock is overvalued, I will skip purchasing and wait for a correction or pullback to start buying.

There are stocks, though, that will always trade at high valuation (premium) no matter what. For example, Realty Income (O) was always overvalued. I checked the 20-year history of this stock and it never traded at its earnings valuation. Only once in the 20-year period, the stock pulled back to its fair value – in 2008.

The same valuation issue is with Coca Cola (KO). The stock always traded at a premium to its fair value. Waiting for it to be fairly valued, you would never buy. It only happened once when the stock pulled back to its fair value – in 2008.

These are stocks I consider high-quality stocks and I like to own them. Buying them, though, I would have to bring their valuation artificially down – using options and selling puts and covered calls.

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