How Value Investing Works and How to Start It

Investing is key to wealth creation and effective management of personal finances. It goes beyond just saving money. Through investing, your money can compound over time. This means the money you invest earns an interest (an additional sum of money) that is added to your corpus. While saving helps accumulate money, investing takes it a step forward by growing your savings.  But how do you approach investing? Where do you invest? With the kind of investment options available today, it can be overwhelming to navigate details about financial products and make informed decisions. That’s where a value investing strategy may come in handy.

Value investing focuses on buying undervalued assets with the expectation that their true value will eventually be realized by the market. These assets are identified as having good potential for growth over time but are currently easier on the pocket. Value investing emphasizes long-term planning and focuses on the underlying value of the company or the asset rather than market speculation or short-term trends. Consider consulting with a professional financial advisor who can guide you on how value investing works and how you can adopt it into your investment strategy.

This article explores how to become a value investor and the key factors through which you can create a successful value investing strategy. Read below for valuable insights and perspectives on how you can incorporate value investing into your investment strategy and achieve your financial goals.

What is value investing?

Value investing is believed to be pioneered by American economist and investor Benjamin Graham, that gave him the moniker “Father Of Value Investing.” Graham is believed to have come up with this stock investment method some time in the 1920s. His methods centered around the ideology that when one buys a stock of a company, one is buying a part of the company itself.

Value investing involves searching for companies whose shares are undervalued or priced lower than their actual worth. Value investors believe that stock prices are heavily influenced by market sentiment and behavior, and may not always accurately reflect a company’s long-term prospects. It is not unusual to see value investors not just ignore market trends but, in many cases, even take the opposite course.

How does value investing work?

The cornerstone of value investing is recognizing undervalued and overvalued stocks. A value investor will buy up undervalued stocks with potential for growth (most possibly at low price), irrespective of market sentiment towards that stock, and wait patiently for its cost to appreciate. Once price rises reasonably, the investor sells the stock and bags a sizable profit. Patience is another defining feature of the value investing strategy. 

Value investing, therefore, works as a long-term investment model. For example,  during Covid-19 pandemic, markets across the globe experienced high volatility that ended up causing unrest among investors. While many investors were looking to cash out their investments, value investors thought the market low was a good opportunity to enter the markets. Afterall, the way is upward for the markets in the long term, forgiving some volatility on the way.

Value investors thrive on finding stocks that are being traded at a discounted rate. These stocks are bought at a significantly lower price and are held for a considerable amount of time with the intention of earning maximum returns later.

Also see: Growth Investing vs. Value Investing: Which is Better?

What should you keep in mind before opting for value investing?

There are some important parameters to keep in mind before you start value investing, as mentioned below. 

1. Be aware of the intrinsic value of the investment

The crux of value investing is to purchase stocks that trade below their intrinsic value and sell when the stocks attain their intrinsic value or go above it. This way, the investor enjoys a sizable profit on the stock. But what is intrinsic value?

The intrinsic value of a stock refers to the actual worth of the stock. This value is disconnected from its market or trading price. The intrinsic value is calculated by analyzing the company’s finances and other fundamental considerations. Usually, the financial metrics involved in calculating the intrinsic value are revenue, earnings, cash flow, and profits, as well as factors like brand, business model, target market, and competitive edge. This intrinsic value is used as the benchmark to determine whether a stock is undervalued or overvalued.

The market often causes stock prices to fluctuate away from their intrinsic value. This can be due to the company’s performance, the sector’s state, or even the larger economic condition of the country. Also, share repurchases, dividends, and debt reduction can affect a company’s value. It could also simply be a matter of market behavior driven by investor sentiment.

Value investors, by principle, tend to stay away from companies that trade much above their intrinsic value. Their focus is on undervalued stocks that have solid long-term fundamentals assuring of an upward journey for the stock price.

2. Invest within a margin of safety

When investing in perceived undervalued stocks, there is a risk of the stock not showing any significant signs of elevated performance. To mitigate such scenarios, value investors may look to operate within a margin of safety. This margin of safety varies based on the risk-bearing capacity of the investor.

For instance, renowned economist and better known as the “father of value investing”, Benjamin Graham believed in acquiring stocks only when they were priced below their intrinsic value by a margin of at least two-thirds. According to him, this provided a protective cushion against potential losses and helped maximize returns.

3. Consider a longer investment horizon

Value investing is a long-term strategy, as it relies on the belief that, over time, stock prices will converge toward their intrinsic value. Unlike short-term speculation, value investing does not consider stock price predictions in the short term for the next few days or months. Instead, it emphasizes identifying undervalued companies that have the potential to generate superior returns over the long term.

Understand that value investing is a long-term plan as it demands patience from investors and that you are signing up for a long-term financial commitment.

Also see: 6 Important Things to Consider Before You Make Investing Decisions

4. Conduct thorough research before investing

Like all investment models, value investing also discourages putting all your eggs in one basket. The aim is to seek out a range of companies with dependable returns. But your choice of investments must be backed by comprehensive research. Before choosing to buy a stock, you should know about the current financial specifics of the company, its core fundamentals, and position in the market. It is also necessary to keep track of who is leading the company and whether the stock’s performance aligns with your financial goals.

5. Remain disciplined through the course of your investments

Discipline is a critical component of successful value investing. Unlike other investment strategies that rely on market speculation or short-term gains, value investing requires a long-term perspective and the ability to resist market fluctuations.

As a value investor, you must be willing to go against the crowd and make investment decisions that may seem unconventional. This requires a great deal of self-control and the ability to stick to your investment thesis, even when the market is not performing as predicted.


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6. Keep an eye out for value traps

With value investing, it is important to keep an eye out for any companies that may look promising but may be value traps. These stocks look inexpensive and, therefore, make for an attractive prospect. But they may actually have little potential for growth.

The danger of value traps is that they can lure you in, causing you to hold on to a declining asset for too long and eroding your investment returns. To avoid value traps, it’s important to thoroughly research and understand the underlying fundamentals of a company or asset before making an investment decision. Additionally, it is also wise to avoid market buzzwords and general hype when deciding on an investment.

How to start value investing

Choose stocks that belong to mature businesses and have:

  • Lower market price than competitors
  • Steady growth rates
  • Pay dividends

Some level of understanding of the stock markets and financial analysis is essential to successfully adopt the value investing strategy. Investors often rely on fundamental analysis to figure out if the intrinsic value of a chosen asset is greater than its current market value or whether the asset is undervalued presently. One of the main risks associated with this approach is that fundamental analysis may not always prove to be conclusive and fully accurate. It is quite likely that the stock or asset may not ever reach its potential.  

While fundamental research has no replacement, an added factor could be a check against the S&P Earnings and Dividend Quality Rank. This is a formal ranking system that assigns a letter (A, A+, A-, B, C, etc) to denote the businesses’ ranking of performance – consistency in earnings and dividends issued – over the past 10 years. 

The value investing strategy demands plenty of patience. Waiting for the perfect opportunity is possibly the most important and difficult aspect of starting value investing. Keep an eye on the price movements and pick the right time to buy at a low price.  Sometimes, this may take months to actualize, and years to benefit from it. Stay the course and your money will compound, as proven and professed by many successful value investors such as Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch, etc.

Which is better: Value investing or growth investing?

Value investing and growth investing are two of the most popular investment strategies, each with its own distinct approach to investing.

Value investing seeks to identify undervalued assets with the potential for long-term growth, waiting for the market to recognize their true worth. On the other hand, growth investing focuses on investing in companies with visible growth in their current stock price. Growth investing approach seeks to identify companies with a competitive advantage, such as innovative technology or a unique business model, and invest in them at an early stage of growth, expecting higher returns as the company continues to grow.

Both value investing and growth investing have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Value investing is often considered a more conservative approach, as it seeks to invest in well-established companies with a proven track record of success. Conversely, growth investing is riskier as it involves investing in companies that may not yet have a proven track record.

The choice between both these strategies will ultimately depend on the individual’s personal investment goals, risk tolerance, and investment time horizon.

To conclude

Value investing is a powerful investment strategy that can provide long-term success for investors willing to invest the time and effort required to research and analyze investments. By seeking out undervalued assets with growth potential, value investors can take advantage of market inefficiencies and generate returns that outperform the broader market.

However, value investing has its challenges, and investors must be prepared to exercise discipline and patience in order to succeed. Whether you’re a seasoned investor or just starting out, the principles of value investing can provide a solid foundation for your investment strategy and help you achieve your financial goals.

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