Editor's note: When it comes to investing, don't overcomplicate your strategy. Sometimes, the answer is right in front of you. And Porter Stansberry – the founder of Stansberry Research and the boutique investing research firm Porter & Co. – agrees...
In today's essay, most recently published in the free Health & Wealth Bulletin e-letter, Porter explains some of the basic rules that folks are missing in the game of investing. He details three crucial factors that everyone should consider before jumping into an investment... and reveals the key to getting rich with stocks.
Make sure you save a copy of this letter.
It's a step-by-step, paint-by-numbers guide to making a fortune in stocks.
No, I can't promise that your investments will pan out as well as a few of mine have. But I believe anyone is capable of becoming a world-class investor. You only need to know three things.
These are the things I know work – no matter what else is happening in the world or in the markets.
Let me explain...
Investing is a simple game.
The goal is to get the most in return for having given the least in exchange. Any serious study of this process will reveal just a few variables control the outcome.
First, the amount of capital that's invested is important. Thus, the cardinal rule is: Don't lose money. Money lost cannot be invested and will not compound.
Second, time matters. The duration an investment may be held continuously with dividends reinvested is critical.
And the third important factor is the rate of compound growth.
What's funny about this list is how simple the game really is... and how few people pay any attention to the most basic rules. I doubt many folks consider these variables before they buy a stock. Most people will only consider, "Will this stock go up? By how much? And when should I sell?"
The questions they should be asking are almost the complete opposite.
They should try to figure out...
- How fast are these shares likely to compound, assuming I reinvest all of the dividends?
- How long will I be able to hold this company safely?
- And most important, what's the most I can safely pay for this stock?
Now, I share these ideas with a large amount of trepidation...
These aren't ideas that sell newsletters. Some folks might expect me to deliver the name of a stock that will surely double in the next month, then double again next year.
Believe me, if it were that easy, I'd oblige. But the truth is a bit more complicated...
There's one exception... one sure way to get rich. And that is to buy capital-efficient businesses that have long-lived products and are capable of increasing payouts year after year.
This approach is, without question, the best way to invest. It's exactly the approach that legendary investors like Warren Buffett use. But it's difficult to explain. Worst of all... once you understand how it works, it's just too simple.
Here's all you need to do... Buy the kind of companies that require very little capital to operate and grow their businesses and therefore produce excess capital that they return to their owners (the shareholders). Then, reinvest that capital into more shares. Rinse and repeat. It's not much harder than washing your hair.
And that means it's boring. But the truth is, using this kind of strategy over time will produce returns that dwarf the gains you're likely to make speculating – even if you're a great speculator.
Best of all, my approach, which is based on capital efficiency, is totally safe and requires almost zero effort. The whole trick lies in understanding which companies are capital efficient and have good long-term prospects.
Once you know that, you only buy when you can get the shares at such a low price that they essentially carry no risk.
So... how much should you pay for a stock like this or any other long-term investment? Because the first rule of investing is "don't lose money," this ends up being the most important variable. Remember... money you lose doesn't compound.
Here's an easy rule of thumb to use when trying to figure out a safe price to pay for a stock... Just figure out how much money it would take to buy back every share at the current market price and add in the total net debt of the company.
The number you'll end up with is called enterprise value. That's the figure it would cost (in theory) for the company to buy itself.
Next, just figure out if there's any realistic way the company could afford to buy itself. (To be fair, few companies actually go private this way... But bear with me.)
Imagine a company with an enterprise value of $15 billion. For the company to borrow this much money, it would have to afford roughly $1 billion a year in interest payments (assuming 7% interest).
If that's more than its operating income... it can't currently afford to buy itself. But if its operating income covers that amount, you've got yourself a winner. And your chances are better when shares are cheaper, of course – because this pushes down the enterprise value.
Doing this kind of analysis shows whether a company could realistically repay all of its debts and shares. Assuming it can afford to do both, there's no fundamental difference between the risk of its stock and the risk in its bonds – because all the bonds and shares could be repurchased.
On a fundamental basis, that means you're getting all the upside of the shares – all the benefits of being an owner – with the same low risk of being a creditor.
I call this buying at a "no risk" price. There's no additional risk to buying the equity compared with the debt.
This is the best analysis to consider before you buy any stock – especially one you're buying to hold for the long term. You have to make sure you'll be comfortable enough to wait for the payoff.
And the only way to do that is to buy capital-efficient companies... at good, safe prices.
Editor's note: Porter is known for making bold predictions that go against the mainstream narrative. He predicted the 1998 emerging market crisis... the 2007 financial crisis... and the inflation crisis that has consumed our nation the past few years – just to name a few.
Yesterday, Porter sat down with Dr. David "Doc" Eifrig for a special year-end broadcast. During their conversation, Porter shared his analysis for 2024... and revealed one of the most important messages of his 25-year career.
But don't wait to tune in for Porter's urgent message. Their conversation goes offline promptly at 34410 a.m. Eastern time tomorrow... Click here to learn all the details. (And if you're an Alliance member, make sure to check your inbox for your special access link.)
"It's important to keep your 'shopping list' ready," Porter writes. Periods of uncertainty can offer great buying opportunities for long-term investors. So while others panic, patient and prepared investors can scoop up shares of ultra-high-quality businesses at fair prices... Learn more here.
Market volatility is hard to navigate if you don't arm yourself with the correct tools. That's why you should have a checklist in place to help protect your portfolio from anything that may come. Here are two ways to become a better investor in the year ahead... Read more here.