The longer a bull market lasts, the more people tend to think that looking for value in a stock’s price doesn’t really matter. Instead, they point to growth strategies, putting particular emphasis on growth estimates and forecasts. Forecasts usually come from a company’s management as a part of the conference calls they host to discuss their latest earnings results. They’ll provide some estimates for how much they think their business is likely to grow over the next quarter, next year, or sometimes more. Estimates come from analysts that follow those companies, and while they usually refer to management’s forecasts, they often seem to use other kinds of fuzzy math to come up with future growth numbers that really amount to nothing more than their own guesses. The ironic thing in my mind is that talking heads and other experts use these “estimates” to justify their cases for buying stocks at or near all-time highs. It doesn’t matter how high a stock has risen in the past, as long as people think it is going to keep going up.
If that rationale seems a little silly to you, then you’re probably somebody that likes to go bargain hunting. When I talk about value investing with people, I often compare it to the kind of bargain shopping my wife likes to do at department stores. She spends a lot of time at clearance racks and likes to visit discount stores. She usually has to spend more time digging through things to find an item she likes, but she’s really good at finding nice things without having to pay full price for them. Value investing really isn’t all that different from bargain hunting, because you have to spend some time digging through lots of stocks to find something useful. Over the last few days, I’ve noticed that some of those talking heads that have been beating the growth drum forever seem to be shifting their discussions now to talks about value. That could be part of the reason that stocks like Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT), which haven’t just underperformed the stock market but have been in steep, protracted downward trends are showing some signs of life right now.
GT’s fundamentals are solid despite its price decline, which dates back to late January of this year and, which I think can be attributed mostly to broader concerns about the economy and trade tensions – I believe the stock has suffered a sympathetic response to the Trump administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs against the E.U., as well as auto tariffs against Canada and Mexico. The company recently released their latest earnings report, however and things look good, and the value proposition is very compelling.
Fundamental and Value Profile
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company is a manufacturer of tires. The Company operates through three segments. The Americas segment develops, manufactures, distributes and sells tires and related products and services in North, Central and South America, and sells tires to various export markets. The Americas segment manufactures and sells tires for automobiles, trucks, buses, earthmoving, mining and industrial equipment, aircraft and for various other applications. The Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) segment develops, manufactures, distributes and sells tires for automobiles, trucks, buses, aircraft, motorcycles, and earthmoving, mining and industrial equipment throughout EMEA under the Goodyear, Dunlop, Debica, Sava and Fulda brands. The Asia Pacific segment develops, manufactures, distributes and sells tires for automobiles, trucks, aircraft, farm, and earthmoving, mining and industrial equipment throughout the Asia Pacific region, and sells tires to various export markets. GT has a market cap of $5.7 billion.
- Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings declined by about 11%, while sales increased at a modest rate of a little more than 4%. The story is better in the most recent quarter, as GT saw an earnings improvement of 24% against flat sales. The company operates with narrow margins, as Net Income was about 1.5% of Revenues for the last twelve months. The improvement in earnings for the quarter is also reflected by an improvement in the Net Income/Revenue metric for the period, which increased to a little over 4%.
- Free Cash Flow: GT’s free cash flow is healthy, at about $445 million. That translates to a free cash flow yield of a little less than 10%, but remains adequate.
- Debt to Equity: GT has a debt/equity ratio of 1.18. This is higher than I prefer to see, and has increased in each of the last two quarters, indicating that GT has been taking on more debt. Over the last two quarters, the company’s long-term debt increased from around $5.1 billion to a little more than $5.7 billion. That is a red flag, however the company’s balance sheet indicates that operating profits remain healthy and more than adequate to service their debt.
- Dividend: GT pays an annual dividend of $.56 per share, which translates to a yield of about 2.3% at the stock’s current price. This is above the industry average as well as the S&P 500 average of 2.0%.
- Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for GT is $20.20 and translates to a Price/Book ratio of 1.19. The industry average is 1.9, and the stock’s historical average is 2.375. A rally to par with the historical average would put the stock above $47 per share. The truth is that the stock hasn’t been above $36 in almost 20 years, and so some might discount this as a useful long-term target price. I disagree with that notion, because the truth is that while the auto industry is changing and evolving with new technologies like electric and self-driving vehicles, the need for tires isn’t going to go away, or to be disrupted in a significant way. Even if you use the stock’s 20-year peak at $36 as a target price, that is still a great long-term opportunity for a stock that is just a little above $24 right now.
Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.
- Current Price Action/Trends and Pivots: The diagonal red line traces the stock’s upward trend until March of this year and provides the reference for calculating the Fibonacci retracement levels indicated by the horizontal red lines on the right side of the chart. I already referred to the stock’s rebound in price over the last couple of days, which has made the stock one of the top performers in the market right now. Seeing more people talking about value is a good conversation for the market to have, and it could contribute to seeing the stock recover even more. As of this morning it is a little above its 50-day moving average (not shown) after having crossed above that line yesterday. That is a good indication of strong short-term momentum. The stock has strong resistance in the $28 range from previous pivots in late 2017. This is a level that is also consistent with the stock’s 200-day moving average (also not shown) at with the 50% Fibonacci retracement level shown on the chart. I’m not ignoring the resistance at around $26 shown by the 38.2% retracement line, but given the confluence of data points around $28 I think we are more likely to see strong resistance at that level.
- Near-term Keys: If you like to work with trend-based, momentum-focused trading methods, the stock’s current price level looks like it is building to a nice trend reversal. The stock would need to break above $26 to confirm an actual trend reversal and would probably act as the best signal for a short-term swing or trend-based trade by buying the stock or using call options. The stock’s trend support is a little below $21, and if the stock breaks down below that level, its downward trend could push the stock to somewhere between $14 and $18 per share based on lows it hasn’t seen in more than five years. Bearish trades on this stock would only really be appropriate if the stock breaks below the $21 level.