UPDATED:Can Kenya Airways Stocks Take Off Again

I remember around early 2000 local popular Sunday Newspaper ran a story in its pullout, Lifestyle magazine, on how people who had managed to get in the National Airlines shares (Kenya Airways) had grown incredibly wealthier from the investment. Some of them had got into the share when it very cheap and managed to register super-normal profits in paper form, since I do not recall any of them saying they had liquidated though they probably did later. At that time the general perception towards the airline industry was that it was a very lucrative investment and that there was, no way one could not turn a profit if made long-term investments in the business. The share managed to rally sharply to above a 100 shilling a share (barely above a dollar at current rates) before peaking and plummeting to present value of around 7 shilling a share (account for dilution through rights issues as it raised money to fund expansion). From a very remarkable growth and promising future great profits, about slightly over a decade after, the airline is now staring at insolvency and has been actively looking for more debt financing aside from most recent extended KSh. 4 Billion. This year it reported half-year losses of about KSh. 10 billion and as expected  (considering financials & managing director press release statements (funding wages through other debt) Kenya Airways has reported a record Sh25.7 billion loss after tax.

Kenya Airways reports loss

Kenya Airways Loss record:

2012 = 4.2Billion

2013 = 7.8Billion

2014 = 10.4Billion

2015 = 25Billion

What is ailing the business? There is a high possibility there is two sides to it, an industry with historically very low margins (net profits made against sales made) and an airline that has lagged its peers in terms of efficiency and competitiveness.

Airline Business

Ordinarily, you would expect if an investment is high risk, it should offer high returns to compensate for the risk but this is hardly the case in airline businesses. Airlines earn the lowest return on capital yet face the second highest volatility of returns and risk (among businesses surrounding airline businesses). According to a 2013 IATA report, airlines have earned the lowest returns on invested capital among all industries over the last 30-40 years. Warren Buffett famously remarked during one of his lectures, in response to a student’s question, that he had a special line he calls when he is about to make an investment in an airline business so that they talk him out of the idea. Obviously, it was for a reason, he had burnt his fingers while buying into an airline because it was an attractive security (on valuation) only to learn through loss of his investment that it was a bad business.

This is not to say that no airlines consistently deliver value to investors, there are but very few of them manage to do this. In most instances returns are usually, just enough for servicing debts but hardly leave anything for those who buy shares in the business and risk capital while there were alternative high return investments.

National airlines

National airlines serve national interests as primary before profits. This is because they help in for instance marketing economy and enabling trade, that is why governments are usually very willing to bail them out. Very few of them are generating profits, Zimbabwe and South Africa airlines were earlier on in the year insolvent and have got help from their governments.

Kenya Airways

Most other network airlines around the world have faced stiff competition from low-cost carriers (airlines that target cost sensitive clients) who not only are low-cost but also on average record higher return on investments. But in the local context, there is only one low-cost carrier which is a subsidiary of Kenya Airways but which also appears (from impression created) to be struggling to break even.

Kenya Airways has found itself falling deeper and deeper into debt, initially due to its ambitious expansion plans and now because of inability to break even. Debt isn’t necessarily an evil, in fact it is recognized for its usefulness in economies compared to re-investing internally generated profits since it tends to make the company that uses debt more efficient so that it can be able to finance cost of the debt (in form of interest). What happens when a business that is struggling to break even, is inefficient and has most of its financing in form of debt? It means it very easily falls into a debt trap that inevitably leads to insolvency.

The business is very low margin (estimated at around sh256 a seat-IATA $2.56), it has to operate efficiently otherwise it would not be able to generate profits. It does not take much of government tax, demand stock or rise in costs to eliminate profits. This makes it questionable how it will fare in a high interest rate environment unless again its debt was guaranteed by the government.

The problem with airlines where the government is big shareholder is that it is easy to hide internal inefficiencies through the problems inherent in airline industries outside their control. Contacts within the airline have highlighted low employee morale (later denied during recent senate probe). There have also been alleged cases of lost baggage especially on the West Africa flights. Due to information asymmetry issues (management knows better), it is difficult to determine what exactly is going on and as to whether rumors that have been swirling around are true. Something that is quite for sure is that even if debts were restructured, operating a network airline (not sure about LCC) without superior customer service and improved efficiencies will make it an unsustainable business model.

My take would be that most of the issues raised are addressed and accompanying measures such as requiring more efficient suppliers/external service provides, subsidized airport charges be effected.

Maybe low fuel costs will help improve profitability and new routes especially to the US, but it will be no mean feat to turn around a company facing serious debt overhang problem denominated in a foreign currency while the domestic currency is depreciating but will be watching commentating from the sidelines how it fares. In the meantime, my view is that it is still a too high-risk investment even for a contrarian although it is highly probable government will try to rescue it.


Case for Under-performance of Gold as an Asset 2015

I contend that gold is going to continue exhibiting weakness against the dollar in value for much of 2015 and the downtrend will likely be a self-reinforcing process. Weakening of gold prices could lead to further reduction of speculative gold long positions and may lead to less demand for the metal from the traditional sources of demand further rein-forcing current downtrend.

Soros was right when he noted that gold has been losing its status as a safe haven after it failed to rally even when the Euro was on the verge of collapse and fed was still aggressively buying bonds. I shall try to explain why the trend has been so.

Prices in the market operate like an auction process. Commodity prices are influenced by supply and demand forces. When demand exceeds supply, prices rise and when supply exceeds demand, prices tend to fall. It is not always that straight forward, disequilibrium exists and prices do not have to necessarily reflect prevailing fundamentals. These price movements tend to have notable effects on the demand and supply constraints in the gold market.

Gold rose from around $457 in 2005 to a peak of circa $1921 at around 2011 and this has not been without substantial effects in the market. I recall early 2011 when it was peaking, those who were buying it defended it as the ultimate hedge against inflation justifiably so, rightfully so because it used to be highly responsive to market risks. Expectation of further rise in prices induced demand from funds, central banks and individuals, and increased demand created attractive prices for increased production. Gold ETFs were created and attracted a lot of interest as they had superior qualities relative to physical gold. They attracted are much less taxes than physical gold and are easier to quickly sell or buy.

The argument on the actual break even so far seems to be highly erratic. Just as in oil at present, when gold prices started falling, some participants made and have continued to make claims as to the break even prices for producers. Some claimed it was $1400, and when $1400 broke, they shifted to $1300 and closure of two big mines, prompted temporary price relief and now that it is trading below $1200, I am at least expecting a shift in the same.

I would not claim I have sufficient data to conclusively make a conclusion on the level of disequilibrium in gold prices that the gold market exhibits, but there are significant changes on the demand side that may precipitate some correction in gold prices or consolidation at least at lower levels.

A huge number of central banks base their portfolio allocations on security, liquidity and return. Gold is no longer viewed by central banks as to exhibiting the former qualities that made it favorable as an asset to hold relative to treasuries or equities. The change was well communicated by the Swiss Central Bank governor who recently noted.

“Gold typically performs poorly when it comes to liquidity and return, and on the security front, gold should be viewed critically in the context of investment policy. Although a certain diversification effect can come into play between gold and equities, I am sure you are also aware that the gold price is even slightly more volatile than equity prices. Just last year, this volatility made itself felt on our balance sheet. The collapse of the gold price in the spring of 2013 was responsible for a valuation loss of approximately CHF 15 billion.”

The Swiss Central Bank has for a period of time simply stopped buying gold and instead has been buying other assets and hence the reduction of it as a proportion of the total overall reserves. Although I am basing this assumption on a conjecture, if we see a similar trend among other central banks, we may see them continue reducing gold holding as a percentage of their reserves as well. Demand from Central Banks has been a strong source of demand in the metal.

Influence of the dollar on gold
Low interest US interest rates, quantitative easing and generally weaker dollar has supported gold over the past few years. Quantitative easing was ended this year and there are expectations that we may see rise in US interest rates coming year. There are general market expectations that divergence in central bank policies in Europe, Japan and US is going to push a lot of money into the dollar either through direct investments in dollars as financial assets or through bonds and treasuries/Equities and this is expected to result in further dollar rise in value. Rise in dollar value alone is likely to see value of gold against the dollar fall. Anticipation of rise in value of the dollar against domestic currencies and possible crisis could o see other central banks buy dollars to build up reserves and in the process push the dollar higher.

Gold still responds to geopolitical development, instances of geopolitical risks have been resulting in increase in daily volatility but each time prices ease back down within a relatively short period of time aside from when it has been within a reasonable price corrections. There is a school of thought that seems to think that, just as in oil, weakening gold similar to oil puts Russia in an even worse situation and subsequently the Western allies may try to depress their prices. The Russian central bank has been buying gold from the country’s exporters which also accounted for over half of central bank purchases third quarter. They may however start selling to defend the Ruble

It’s highly likely that gold under performs as an asset coming year. Launch of quantitative easing from the ECB may provide temporary rally in prices, but since asset purchases are highly unlikely to include gold purchases, we may likely still see a dip towards $1080 then $1000 area. If prices trade below that level for some time it may prompt liquidation of positions by funds and other speculators in the market which may result in further slide lower. However, I will re-assess my view when prices break and close back above $1280 level but remain bearish until underlying trend turns positive.

Lesson 12: How bonds work

Bonds as Debt

Whether we admit it or not, stocks, currencies and bonds are somehow interlinked. Of course when mentioning stocks, it is in reference to businesses. I have mentioned a number of times in previous lessons, when you are buying stocks, technically, you are buying businesses. We have briefly looked into how to assess a company’s financial statements.

Although not really necessary, having the ability to properly anticipate debt cycles in the market can give you a significant advantage over other market participants as it enables you to anticipate some developments you would have otherwise been unable to. It is not an easy task and has a lot that has to be considered which we will not cover in this particular lesson. Soros managed to anticipate some of the debt cycle patterns  and did offer extensive explanation on his approach of which could have partly contributed to his notable success in the financial markets as it enabled him to invest in businesses that would largely benefit from particular stages of debt cycles.

Whatever happens in the debt market almost always has to have an effect on both currencies and stocks. The link is especially more significant in relation to bonds and stocks. You only need to look into a few of the previous debt market bursts in different countries to see the significant effect they have had on the stock market movements (which is usually a good barometer on how business are generally doing especially in markets with a large diverse number of listed companies).

The debt crises in the process tend to create a lot of opportunities in the stock market as usually when a country is recovering from a debt market crash, stocks are usually very cheap due to the psychological impact the debt cycles have on investors. Businesses source for funding to grow their business from the debt market. They borrow in order to grow earnings in a way they would have otherwise been unable to. As an example, when debt markets crash, interest rates go up sharply because risks rise, when interest rates rise, it becomes difficult for businesses to finance their activities and investors may shy away from financing companies in the country and thereby worsening the situation and may lead to company collapses and bailouts especially in those companies that were reckless about debt.

The issue of  debt markets is a bit wide and to explain and I would have to spread out the lessons. I will begin by explaining on how to invest in the bond.


To define it simply, a bond is just a loan. Companies &  governments issue bonds to raise money from investors willing to lend them money for a certain amount of time (Also called maturity period).

Bonds are very popular as very low risk investments. Investors constantly use them to diversify their portfolios, so that they wouldn’t suffer significant loss in case there is significant market shock affecting investments in other financial instruments. By market shock, I mean events that may hurt performance of your stock purchases. Besides, its a better way to save up for retirement instead of stashing your money under the pillow(where you money loses against inflation), in the bank(paying little or no interest) or funds offering very little return over the long-term.

When you are buying a bond, you become a creditor for the company or government. You would be extending a loan that has compensations in form of periodic payments in form coupon interest. At the end of the agreed time period of the bond, you get back the amount of money you gave the government or company.

To illustrate, let us assume you are the Chief Finance Officer of a company called Home Kenya. You realize the business needs some 5 billion shillings to expand reach or finance a few projects you have identified have significant potential to create a future stream of income or boost your business financial position. You then talk to an adviser on the best way to raise funding.  The adviser may offer a range of options on how you can raise funding which include equity dilution, loan from bank or bond issue. You then maybe decide that you don’t want to dilute your company’s earnings per share since the owners of the business might not be happy about it. You also figure out that raising funding from banks may be a little bit expensive and some banks may be unwilling to extend to you the amount of money you require in a way where the business would remain profitable. Remember, high interests on loans you take will be eating up a huge portion of your earnings. (Some jurisdictions like Kenya require you to consult a professional by law).

You then decide to approach an investment bank to handle the issue(Also a mandatory requirement in some jurisdictions). The bank will then evaluate the ability of your company company to pay back the loan (bond inclusive of interest payments) before deciding on the rate at which the loan you will take, in form of a bond, will accumulate interest. If the bank determines it is healthy, they then facilitate the entire process by first restructuring the loan into a bond. They then decide on the lending rate to use which can be say for this situation 5% per year.


The bank can decide to split the loan into minimum amounts each investor can invest. In this case they split it into 500,000 bonds with each bond at a par value of 100,000. Par value is the minimum amount that lenders will lend to you and that you will have to pay back at the end of the agreed period of time.

The loan has to have a repayment period which in this case we can assume is 30 years. At the end of the 30 years, all those who bought the bonds and are holding the bonds issued by the company will get back  the per value of the bond which is equivalent to the money they invested when the bond was being issued.

To summarize, your bonds would look something like this

Bond per value : sh100,000

Term : 30 years

Coupon rate: 5%.

You will find that, instead of investors paying 100,000 for every bond, they may pay, 105,000 for the bond. The 5,000 extra is what the bank makes from facilitating the bond sale. Investors who buy the bond will make 5% every year. It is usually structured in a way where investors will receive money semi-annually. In this case it means after every 6 months, investors will receive a cheque of 2500 shillings for every bond they bought. At the end of the 30 years, they will get their 100,000 shillings back on every bond they bought.

Once investors buy the bonds, the relationship is now between the company and investors directly.

Some bonds have evolved and there are even smaller versions now called mini-bonds in some countries that are issued by very small businesses but are generally unsupervised and are considered high risk. They would however be deemed by the Act in Kenya as illegal as they do not meet the requirements stipulated in the act.

Lesson 10: Why the cashflow is important in analysis of a business

Examining the cashflow statement

As a recap, we have looked into the various approaches used in analyzing a business; we also looked into how to make some quick brief analysis on the income statement(P&L) and balance sheet.

In this lesson, I will briefly introduce on the cashflow and its importance before proceeding into detailed review of the statement.

Cashflow valuation

As we had noted in previous lessons, when you are buying shares, technically, you are buying a business. A business is supposed to earn profits for owners which can then be distributed to owners after they consent as dividends or can be retained for reinvestment.

Businesses/shares have traditionally been valued by investors as a multiple of earnings. Fundamental investors simply calculate how much the business would make during the time they invest then adjust for interest rates and inflation etc. (simply because money right now will not be worth as much in the future). The usual relationship is that when the rate of interest is high, the multiple paid for a business becomes low. Yet earnings are only part of pretax cashflow which is often a minor part. Cashflow is the primary criterion in determining the value of a business that is a candidate for acquisition/investment and there should be given as much emphasis as other items of the financial statements.

Just to lay a little bit more emphasis, when valuing a business, cash will always be king. The usual procedure is that we look at the value of the cash that can be taken out of a business during its remaining life time or over the period we want to invest, and then adjust. The value we get is called the intrinsic value. The calculation of intrinsic value, though, is not simple as I may have implied. This is because intrinsic value is an estimate rather than a precise figure, and it is additionally an estimate that must be changed if interest rates move or forecasts of future cash flows are revised. So the market is always adjusting towards a moving target rather than a fixed valuation. That may be part of the reason why stock prices in the market are constantly moving. We will get into more details on cashflow valuation in a different lesson.

Why cashflow matters

The rules of accounting are not meant to create an income statement that tracks cash flow; rather, they’re meant to track earnings as defined for tax or financial-statement purposes. That means they may show income that the business has not yet received as cash or show expenses the business has not yet incurred, meaning that the underlying cashflow becomes blurred and may not show the real liquidity position of a business.

This is not to mean that an investor should only consider cash flow statements. Ideally, cash flow statements should be used together with information from the Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet and footnotes to assess the cash-generating ability of the firm. Some of the reasons why the cashflow statement should be used alongside the income statement and balance sheet are

  • Inventories in the balance sheet are recorded as assets rather than expenses implicitly assuming that they will be sold in the normal course of business. If a business is ‘dying’, this might not be the case.
  • The recording of revenue from credit sales in the income statement and the valuation of receivables assume that the firm will continue to operate normally. Failing firms may find that customers are unwilling to pay.
  • When doubts start arising that a business may not continue running for long, revenue recognition and asset valuation can no longer be taken for granted. The cashflow statement acts as a check on the various assumptions made in the other statements some of which include the above stated.

Besides, if a business looks good on the profit and loss statement but has to plough back all its earnings into the business in order to generate that kind of income, then it won’t be worth near as much as a business that’s generating excess cash. This is because when calculating earnings, a company does not have to restrict to just the cash it receives but can include cash that it anticipates it will receive.

Case example of potetial impact of bad cashflows using Samuel’s business

In our previous illustration on Samuel’s business, let us assume that he somehow managed to grow his business into a huge sausage selling empire.

The first thing that may happen when his business isn’t generating cash is that supplies start getting squeezed. This is because they are not getting paid because little or no cash is coming into the business. Remember suppliers run businesses also and they too have financial obligations either to the owners or creditors. If the business has been maintaining good relations with the supplier, they might not start making much noise

When suppliers to Samuel’s business realize that the business is really hurting them by not paying them, they start now making noise and may change a few things. They may start requiring that they be getting prepayments for the products they sell to the business. They may also start limiting the amount of products they sell to the business to cut risks of losing.

By then, the business may start getting into trouble because if there isn’t any cash, the next step the business will take in order to survive is to try and get a line of credit from a bank or other lenders. They may do this by increasing an existing one or try to borrow some additional money. When the lender reads the financial statements of the business, they will see that the business owes a lot of money to suppliers. So they will quickly figure out that the money you get will simply be used to pay money you owe to suppliers and signal that your business isn’t really doing well. But the more you need the money, the less the banks want to loan the business and if they do, they might place a higher risk on the business and then they will have to ask for more interest. More interest drains cash from the business and therefore the business reports lower net earnings. If the business is not growing fast enough, it becomes problematic because then the ability to pay down the loan it took reduces.

We will look into how we can quickly review the cash position of a business using the cashflow statement in the next lesson.

Lesson 9: Gauging Whether Company is Being Managed by Vigilant leaders

Stock must be managed by vigilant leaders

Buffettology proposes that for those of us who don’t have the luxury of visiting the management to gauge how well they would manage the company, an alternative would be to evaluate this factor by looking at how well they manage debt. But I would tend to think that, in any case, visiting the management might sometimes create an unnecessary bias when you are making your investment decision.

Warren Buffett and George Soros both do not actually object to the use of debt for a good purpose like in a situation where a company uses debt to finance the purchase of another strategically good company or invest in assets that would reasonably yield a lot more profits. He however objects if the added debt is used in a way that will produce mediocre results.


The act of lending does stimulates businesses earnings since it enables the business invest in more productive assets that they would have otherwise not been able to invest in. The exception arises where the assets that the business is investing in are not physical but financial ones. In this case, the effect might not necessarily be positive. Debt servicing can really have a depressing effect on a business because the resources that would otherwise been devoted towards future stream of income are drained from the business through interest payments. As the total amount of debt outstanding increases the portion that has to be utilized for debt service increases. It is only net new lending that stimulates a business and total new lending has to keep increasing in order to keep net lending stable until the business encounters limit of size problems and it is something you would not want to get caught up in, hence the need to properly evaluate the debts of a company.

There are various methods designed by analysts to check for the health of the business in terms of debt, but I will highlight two that I think you would help you comfortably get a quick idea on how the business is. The two are Debt to Equity ratio and current ratio.

  • Debt to Equity Ratio

 As a recap; in the first few lessons, we learnt that Equity is just how much you as the owner would get after selling assets and paying off money owed to lenders in case the business was closed.

The ratio allows us to determine how much debt we get for every shilling we invest in buying a single share.

Ideally when calculating this ratio, we are supposed to get total amount of liabilities, which in the case is what the business owes lenders, over the equity. It is however preferred especially when analyzing a large company to do a ratio of the long-term loans(which are earning interest) against equity.

What is the ideal ratio? In judging whether the debt to equity ratio is too high, it is important to as well put the industry into consideration. For example, manufacturing companies tend to be more capital intensive and therefore you will often find that their debt to equity ratio may be a little high. Also try and look into what the debt is being used for. There are investments that specifically take up debt to just finance projects like in real estate that potentially earn much higher income than the interest paid to lenders. Warren Buffett tends to favor ratios of somewhere around 0.5, because there, the risk is much lower, his preference may however vary with the industry as we had indicated earlier.

You can pick both the equity and debt ratios from the balance sheet.

If the ratio is too high, try and find out what the debt is being used for, if you do not know whether the debt is being used for the right purpose, I think you would be better off steering away from the company and looking for an alternative investment. If you have access to good detailed financial information to gauge all that, then you can take the risk.

  • Current Ratio


This is simply used in determining a company’s ability to pay debts that they are supposed to pay in a year or less. It is calculated as a ratio of the current assets against the current liabilities. The two can both be obtained from the balance sheet or consolidated statement of financial position.

Current assets are the cash or other assets that the company is likely to convert into cash within a 1 year period. Current liabilities are the debts that the company will pay within that same year. In doing the comparison, we are able to get a rough idea on whether the company will have to borrow more within the next 12 months to pay off the debts or if it will comfortably pay its short term debts. A ratio of 1.0 means that the business has just enough current assets to cover debts they are supposed to pay within one year. Below 1.0 is bad for the business because it means they will have to borrow more in the next financial year, conversely, above 1.0 is good for the business as it means the business can comfortably cover its current assets.

A ratio of less than one may also signal the probability of more problems arising like issues with suppliers who may not have been paid.

According to the writer of Buffettology, Warren Buffett prefers investing in companies with a current ratio above 1.5; but again, this varies with the industry.

Twitter: @moneyacademyKE

(This post will later be revised to add real company illustration)

Introduction (Understanding the Stock Market)

Lesson2:Why do stocks remain overvalued for extended periods of time

Lesson 3: Illustrating How Listed Companies Operate Using Small Business model

Lesson 4: Flow of money through a business

Lesson 5: Valuing a business in terms of earnings it makes

Lesson 6: Balance Sheet & Margin of safety in a business

Lesson 7: Explanation on shares in a business

Lesson 8: Quick Basic Stock valuation Techniques

Lesson 9: Gauging Whether Company is Being Managed by Vigilant leaders

Lesson 4: Flow of money through a business

In the previous lesson, we introduced how a business runs and detailed an illustration of how a business runs. In this lesson, we will look into how money flows through a business using Samuel’s business model.

Flow of money through a business to the owner/Income

As a recap, Samuel owns a Sausage business in the city. He has employed an employee who sends him a cheque at the end of every year. We have assumed Samuel’s business is fairly stable.

Now to illustrate the flow of money:

  • Assume customers buys sausages worth 1000 shillings from the business. Now The 1000 shillings is indicated as sales in some financial statements and other words with identical meaning can be used depending on the company but they all mean the same thing.
  • The business also incurs costs. We can assume that, Samuel pays employees 200 shillings and buys sausages worth 400 shillings and pays local authorities locally known as ‘Kanjos’ 100 shillings. That means that, Samuel’s business spends 700 shillings to make the 1000 shillings from the sausages that it sells.

At this point, the business makes a profit before deducting taxes of (1000-700) shillings which is 300 shillings. Assuming that the business pays taxes to the government worth 100 shillings, Samuel is entitled to receiving 200 shillings from the business at the end of the year. I have assumed that he hasn’t taken a loan. If he had taken a loan, the interest he pays on the loan would have been deducted before the taxes are calculated.

The 200 shillings that Samuel receives is called net EARNINGS or net income. It is important to remember this term since you will often hear it mentioned in reports provided by the company or by analysts. Earnings are important since they represent what the owner should get. That is the money that went through the process and comes to you.

Since we now know that Samuel is getting money amounting to 200 shillings at the end of every year from his business, as an owner he now has to make a choice on what to do with the money.

Samuel can choose to:

  • Take all money and go spend it on say school fees, rent, entertainment or charity whatever he likes
  • Grow the business by reinvest all the money to grow business more by maybe buying another stand or even buying out other competitors who might pose a threat to his business. Its all up to him. Of course he can seek advice from his employee who will probably propose a range of ideas.
  • Split the money into two, take one portion of it and reinvest the other portion

In both situations where Samuel chooses to reinvest his earnings back into the business, the business will be worth more at that point and may increase his how much he makes at the end of every year depending on whether his investment works.

Comparing Samuel’s business to a bigger listed company.

As is illustrated above, Kenya Power, the national electricity distributor on the left operates in a model very similar to Samuel’s business in the right. The owners are represented by the board of director. The CEO and other employees involved in the day to day running of the business are just employees of the company.

That basically roughly highlights how a business runs. Next we shall look into how to value a business in terms of earnings which is one of the most commonly used approaches by market participants.

Introduction (Understanding the Stock Market)

Lesson2:Why do stocks remain overvalued for extended periods of time

Lesson 3: Illustrating How Listed Companies Operate Using Small Business model

Lesson 4: Flow of money through a business

Lesson 5: Valuing a business in terms of earnings it makes

Lesson 6: Balance Sheet & Margin of safety in a business

Lesson 7: Explanation on shares in a business

Lesson 8: Quick Basic Stock valuation Techniques

Lesson 9: Gauging Whether Company is Being Managed by Vigilant leaders


As a continuation from lesson 6, let us assume that Samuel is unable to get one investor to buy the entire business or only wants to sell a small portion of it to investors. If he thinks the business is worth 100,000 shillings, he can split the business 10,000 times into small units called shares. Each share would be now worth $10.

Shares outstanding

The 10,000 shares are referred to as shares outstanding. It simply refers to how many times the business has been split intoIt is very important to remember this since you will often see it being mentioned and it is the figure that you use in getting the value of the business you are buying per share.

Difference between whole business and the one share that you buy:

When buying that one share, worth 10 shillings, think about it like you are buying a very small business identical to the bigger business. The only difference is that you are only using less capital.

The book value is the amount of equity in the balance sheet divided by the number of shares outstanding.

Using Samuel’s business illustration if he split his business 10,000 times so that he can sell to many investors, we would have something like this; (remember he had an equity of 7,000 and was getting net profits of 20,000 shillings every year)

Amount of shares in the business:                                10,000 shares

The market value (Value Samuel assigned to it):      sh10 for every share (100,000/10,000)

Earnings distributed to each share:                           20,000/10,000 = sh2

Book value:                                                         7,000/10,000 = sh 0.7

As an emphasis, always value that one single share you buy like you would value the entire business.

In the next lesson, we are going to look at valuing a business in relation to the market price now in terms of per one share.











Why do stocks remain overvalued for extended periods of time

(This is a continuation of introduction made in earlier lesson)

To start with, whichever way you look at it, fundamental value is defined by either the earning power of the underlying assets or in relation to the fundamental value of other stocks. This is because in any case, you are dealing with a business and a business’s purpose is to generate money for the owners in form of earnings. The market price ideally is supposed to tend towards its fundamental values.

The general misconception is that any differences between current stock prices and the fundamental values can be attributed to future developments in the companies concerned that are not yet known but are correctly anticipated by the stock market. Stock price movements are therefore assumed to precede the developments that eventually justify them. This has even been accepted by people who don’t put much faith in fundamental analysis but is almost always never the case.

Borrowing from George Soros’ explanation on the life cycle of a stock also known as the ‘boom and bust’ we shall assume that there is an underlying trend. The underlying trend in this case shall refer to the trend in fundamentals. I have picked the exact same illustration George Soros used in this particular case because I found it to be very simplistic compared to what other text books use. In the illustration that is provided below, we shall use earnings per share to represent the fundamentals. assumes that fundamentals are properly measured by earnings per share

Explanation on the path that stock prices normally follow

A-B: There is a lag in investors identifying the underlying trend in the earnings per share despite the fact that the trend is growing and at this stage the stock is still underpriced. Despite the failure of investors to recognize this in form of stock prices rising higher, the trend remains strong enough to manifest in earnings per share.

B-C: Underlying trend is finally recognized and is reinforced by rising expectations and as we can see from the graph, stock prices momentarily rise above the earnings per share. However, doubts arise and the process aborts, but trend in fundamentals survive. Alternatively, the trend waivers but reasserts itself. In real market situations, such testing may be repeated several times and may extend for a prolonged period of time especially if investors are suffering from a previous trauma experienced in investing in the same or similar stocks.

D-E: Conviction develops and it is no longer shaken by a setback in the earnings. Investor confidence is high and previous and current investors are rewarded by their shares trading at higher multiples.

E-F: Expectations now become excessive and fail to be sustained by reality which in this case would mean that the stock is highly over-valued. Investors are getting very little return on their investments for every share they buy. Eventually the bias is recognized as such and expectations are lowered especially when earnings start reflecting what investors were not anticipating.

F-G: Stock prices lose their last drop and plunge. Panic may further fuel the drop.

G: The underlying trend is reversed, reinforcing the decline

G-H: At this stage pessimism by participants is overdone and market stabilizes. By the time market is done with the downfall, bulls are usually disillusioned and that is where you get to see a lot of negative sentiment from the general public. The process repeats itself.

From this we can conclude that stocks can remain over-valued until investors recognize the underlying trend and change bias, as long as underlying trend continues to rise, eventually investors will recognize it and stock market price will rise to match fundamentals. Break in price ranges tend to cause rise in volatility and this is what can cause rise to be sometimes very sharp.

Can market price influence fundamentals?
Yes, I do believe in the theory of reflexivity because it is very practical. High market prices can positively influence the fundamentals of a company in different ways especially if instead of making acquisitions by cash, it makes acquisitions by offering its shares at much higher value. This would mean that the company can continue to increase it earnings to justify higher prices simply by acquiring other companies. To illustrate, assume business A and B are of the same size but business A has a higher market value than business B and is actually double, when it comes to acquisition, A can offer B its shares at a much higher multiple and hence increase its earnings by 50%. Investors on the other hand will see that the company is doing well by increasing earnings and therefore reward it with even higher market prices.  This can be dangerous especially if acquisitions are of poor quality because it acts like a smoke mirror.

Low market prices can influence company’s credit rating (Affecting its ability to raise debt), consumer attitude, raising of money through rights and bonus issues (May have to really dilute shares and affect exercising of rights) etc.

If you did not understand the terminologies used, we will provide a tab with important definitions.

Introduction (Understanding the Stock Market)

Lesson2:Why do stocks remain overvalued for extended periods of time

Lesson 3: Illustrating How Listed Companies Operate Using Small Business model

Lesson 4: Flow of money through a business

Lesson 5: Valuing a business in terms of earnings it makes

Lesson 6: Balance Sheet & Margin of safety in a business

Lesson 7: Explanation on shares in a business

Lesson 8: Quick Basic Stock valuation Techniques

Lesson 9: Gauging Whether Company is Being Managed by Vigilant leaders

Introduction (Understanding the Stock Market)

(The next few lessons will be based on investment approaches of Soros who is famed for his excellent performance in the market and is famously known as the man who ‘broke’ the bank of England and of course Warren Buffett whose specialty is in value investing. Soros participates in all markets, debt, currency and stocks but at a leverage hence his high average performance. )

Stock Market

A stock market is a mechanism through which company’s shares are bought and sold. Simply put, it is a public market. It is used for the trading of company stocks and securities at an agreed price through an auction process. Prices are established when buyers and sellers settle and shares exchange hands.

Methods used in analyzing the stock market

Investors use different methods of determining when to buy or sell shares. Amongst the most popular approaches are; Fundamentalists, Technical and Academics

We shall not focus on technical approach in the next few lessons because it studies market pattern and the demand and supply of stocks. Of course inarguably it has undoubted merit in trying to predict probabilities but it does not show the actual course of events. It is important that any investor should always be equipped with a proper understanding on what actually influences the price movements rather than just studying the price movements by themselves. As Buffett put it, you don’t want to be in a party, hoping to leave one second after midnight only to realize when it is too late that the clocks on the walls have no hands. In this case it equates to buying shares then realizing that they were worthless and that you actually got caught at the peak of a bubble amid the rising prices excitement. Besides, it has little theoretical foundation other than an assertion that stock prices are determined by their supply and demand and that past experience is relevant in predicting the future.
We shall also not focus much on the academic approach which is based on an assertion that prices behave in random manner and are highly unpredictable hence the random walk theory. This theory has continuously formed a justification for funds that invest in the stock index.  Countless investors have disapproved this theory based on evidence of consistently outperforming the market over a very long period of time. In trying to enhance brevity in the lessons, I shall not dwell much on the subject.
Back to what shall be the subject of several subsequent lessons.

People who use the fundamentalist approach believe that stocks are supposed to have a true or fundamental value that is distinct from the current market price. The question of fundamental value varies from investor to investor and depends on one’s judgment and is therefore always subject to bias. Among the most commonly used yardsticks amongst many others developed by analysts in trying to determine valuation are; earnings, dividends, asset value, free cash flow. The weight given to each varies from investor to investor. When we will be dealing with the subject of financial analysis we will focus with the main ones that Warren Buffett successfully used and has notably always commented about just to sufficiently equip the reader in having an edge in the market.

Lesson2:Why do stocks remain overvalued for extended periods of time

Lesson 3: Illustrating How Listed Companies Operate Using Small Business model

Lesson 4: Flow of money through a business

Lesson 5: Valuing a business in terms of earnings it makes

Lesson 6: Balance Sheet & Margin of safety in a business

Lesson 7: Explanation on shares in a business

Lesson 8: Quick Basic Stock valuation Techniques

Lesson 9: Gauging Whether Company is Being Managed by Vigilant leaders


Requirements for Trading Shares at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE)

Due to the number of inquiries we have been getting, thought it was necessary that I provide the requirements investors would need to provide and a few pointers. You are supposed to complete and sign the CDSC (Central Depository and Settlement Corporation) and broker account opening forms, and General Terms and Conditions.

Documents required include:

For individual or joint accounts

  • ID or Passport copy
  • 2 two color passport size photos. (Some brokers offer to take your passport photos in case you are physically present)
  • Evidence of physical address (utility bill, lease or tenancy agreement). Some brokers give you the option to draw and sign a map to your place.
  • Email Indemnity (Optional Kes 200/- depending on the broker)

For corporations;

  • Signed and sealed CDS 1 and NSE Securities account opening form
  • 2 color passport sized photos, ID copies and utility bills of each director and signatories if any.
  • Board resolution on approval of account opening including account signatories
  • Memorandum and articles of association
  • Certificate of incorporation
  • Company PIN certificate
  • Evidence of physical residence (utility bill, lease or tenancy agreement)
  • Evidence of income of the business (bank statement)
  • The originals of the above documents need seen and verified physically by the broker, or be certified by a notary public.

Some factors to consider when choosing a broker;

  • Whether they are actually registered with the regulatory body in this case which is CMA. This is important since there are fraudulent individuals out there in the market.
  • Although it varies with investors, some may prefer being able to buy and sell without having to go to the physical offices. There are brokers who do provide online share trading like NIC securities and CFC’s SBG securities. NIC has gone a step further to provide trading on mobile phones. Online trading may not necessarily be an edge for investors buying with a long-term view but it does facilitate an investor to act on information much faster.
  • Quality of service: There are brokers who provide very good quality services to their clients and are easy to reach. There are those who can instruct to buy for you your shares via email and there are those who require you to go to the broker physically and sign documents before they can buy any securities for you.
  • Minimum deposits. There are brokers who do not accept amounts below around $5500 or 500,000 and may vary from broker to broker.

Commission is almost identical across the board if not in all. It is usually around 2-2.1% for amounts below 100,000 and reduces to 1.8% for amounts above 100,000. Fixed income transactions are charged at 0.035%.

Here is a list of securities brokerage firms in Nairobi.

You can get contacts and further information from the respective brokers in their websites. The broker should be able to respond to phone or email inquiries. Note that the list of brokers may increase in future as minimum amounts required to register as a broker were lowered to 20Million shillings or around $250,000 and 1Million for fixed income brokers.