A Refresher on Stock Investing Basics

In a recent Bloomberg article, columnist Nir Kaissar argued that profits, governance and price should always be front and center in the stock investment decision-making process.

Kaissar used the missteps made by SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and the bank’s subsequent $6.5 billion quarterly loss as a cautionary tale. He writes, “One problem, according to Son, is he overlooked that startups need solid governance and a path to profits,” citing SoftBank’s investments in WeWork and Uber as choices that failed to meet those criteria. Kaissar added, “And don’t forget about price. It’s not easy to make money when paying a fortune for companies, as son routinely does, no matter how good their governance or path to profits.”

Son is not alone in his approach, Kaissar points out, noting that investors have increasingly adopted looser standards when it comes to stock investing. He argues that “glamour stocks”—pricey companies with buzz but little or no profit— “outpaced shares of the cheapest and most profitable companies by 12.5 percentage points a year over the last five years through September” (data from Ken French).

But Kaissar contends that investors may be wising up, citing comments from Goldman CEO David Solomon that “there’s a little more market discipline coming into play.” Glamour stocks are reportedly down 9.1% over the last year, despite the S&P 500’s gains of 4.3%.

The article concludes that “everyone could use a reminder that profits, governance and price never go out of style.”