My posts over the last two months have been heavy, dealing first with my data update from January 2018, and with the market and its volatility in the last few weeks. I felt like taking a break and talking about something lighter and more personal, and giving you an update on my teaching, writing and data plans for this year, with news about an app for the iPhone or iPad that you might (or might not) find useful. I won’t fault you if you are not in the least bit interested in what I am doing, and if so, please do skip this post, since it will bore you!
Check out our H2 hedge fund letters here.
As some of you may know, I have taught at the Stern School of Business at NYU since 1986, teaching two classes, a Corporate Finance class every spring and a Valuation class every fall and spring. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you also know that I invite the rest of the world to join me in these classes, through a multitude of platforms (iTunes U, Online, YouTube). If you are wondering why you have not received an invite to the classes this academic year, the answer is simple.
I am on sabbatical this academic year, living in California, and will not be teaching at Stern at least through September 2018. I am enjoying keeping what I call beach bum hours (8.30 am-12.30 pm), but I have to confess that I miss teaching, and my weeks feel unstructured without my Monday/Wednesday classes, but I love teaching too much to take a complete break from it. I continue to teach my compressed valuation classes, trying to fit in everything in my regular classes into one or two days, with stints coming up in Amsterdam (March 7), London (March 8-10), Mumbai (April 19,20), Manila (May 15-16), Bangkok (May 17-18), Warsaw and Prague (June 2018) just in the next few months.
I am also planning on redoing the investments philosophies class that I have only online, but which is showing its age, in the next three months and adding to the in-practice videos that I supplement my valuation and corporate finance classes.
Research Writing Update
After my most recent post on interest rates and stock prices, I received one response that made me laugh and here is what it said: “Bro, Please stop. get your head out of academia and into reality’. I assume, since I was not this person’s brother, that the “Bro” was an attempt to establish street cred (though I am not sure that it works on this audience), but it was the “academia” part that I found humorous. If I am an academic, I am one in awfully bad standing, since I have not submitted a paper for publication in close to two decades and spend little time at academic conferences. That said, I love to write and I am continuing to do so on my sabbatical, on several fronts.
- First, there are my blog posts, which I know are way too long and not very frequent, but I try (though I sometimes fail) to not spout off about things I do not understand or know much about.
- Second, I spent the last few months of last year finishing the third edition of one my books, The Dark Side of Valuation, the first edition of which was born at the peak of the dot com boom, about valuing difficult-to-value companies from start-ups to banks. The book is in its final printing stages and should be available in bookstores shortly (Amazon link).
- Third, I am turning my attention to what I hope will be my next project, which I hope will become a book, on the difference between pricing an asset and valuing it, a theme that I have mined for multiple posts over the last few years. Fourth, In a couple of weeks, I hope to post the updated installment of my Equity Risk Premium paper, which I first wrote and posted in 2008 (right after the crisis) and have revisited every March since. (Link to 2017 version). Later this summer, I will update my Country Risk Premium paper, focusing more closely just on country risk. (Link to 2017 version)
- Finally, during the course of the next few months, I will also be taking the work that I have done on valuing users and converting into a paper.
I will keep you updated as each project is complete.
Data & Tools Update
I maintain a number of data sets on corporate finance and valuation that I update on an annual basis at the start of the year. I wrote a series of posts on what I learned looking at the data this year, in January, and you can read all ten posts, if you are so inclined.
- January 2018 Data Update 1: Numbers don't lie, or do they?
- January 2018 Data Update 2: The Buoyancy of US Equities!
- January 2018 Data Update 3: Taxing Questions on Value
- January 2018 Data Update 4: The Currency Conundrum
- January 2018 Data Update 5: Country Risk Update
- January 2018 Data Update 6: A Cost of Capital Primer
- January 2018 Data Update 7: Growth and Value - Investment Returns
- January 2018 Data Update 8: Debt and Taxes
- January 2018 Data Update 9: Dividends, Buybacks and Cash Holdings
- January 2018 Data Update 10: The Price is Right!
While I will not update much of this data during the course of the year, I will continue to post my estimates for the equity risk premium for the S&P 500 at the start of every month, continuing a series that started in September 2008.
The tools that I offer are three fold.
- First, I have excel spreadsheets for corporate finance and valuatoion, and they are not polished, lacking formatting finesse and macro add-ons, but I view them as raw material that you can mold to your liking.
- Second, my YouTube videos are classified by playlists into my class videos, tool videos and blog post videos.
- Finally, I do have an app for the iPhone and iPad called uValue, that I co-developed with Anant Sundaram, professor at Dartmouth, that does intrinsic valuation. Give it a shot!
You welcome to use these tools, but please recognize that this is all they are, and it is your insight and common sense that will make them shine.
As the material that I have grows, I have struggled with how best to organize it and present it. My website has much of the material but you need to be on a computer, with an internet connection, to access much of it, and finding what you want can be a challenge. I am glad that there are some people who find the material useful and am humbled by their gratitude and their offers to help. To illustrate, a few months ago, I received an email from Taha Maddam, who had used the site, and he offered to create an app that would contain the material. I thanked him, but I pointed out that since the site was not commercial, I could not spend much to make the conversion, but he graciously offered to do it for nothing. Knowing how much work was involved, I did not expect him to follow through, especially since he works full time in Shanghai and has a young family.
Taha surprised me just over a week ago, when he said the app was ready and that I could take it for a spin. I did and I was dazzled, since it contained all the information in my website, on my blog and on YouTube, in one location. If you have an Apple device (iPhone or iPad), you can download the app either from the app store (type in "Damodaran" in the search box, and it should pop up) or by going to the launching pad that Taha has created for the app. If you like our app (while the material is mine, this app is Taha’s doing), please pass on the word and compliment Taha for a job well done. If you are an Android user, I am truly sorry that the app does not work on your devices yet, but I will have to wait on the kindness of strangers, for that to happen. In the meantime, if you can think of what we can add on to the app to make it more useful, please let us know.
Article by Aswath Damodaran, Musings On Markets