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In this episode of Motley Fool Money, host Chris Hill and analysts Ron Gross, Aaron Bush, and Jason Moser hit on the market's biggest news.
Shares of McCormick (NYSE:MKC) (NYSE:MKC-V) tank, but investors might want to use this opportunity to buy. Mastercard (NYSE:MA) interrupts Visa's (NYSE:V) acquisition of Earthport with a one-up bid. Beleaguered Papa John's (NASDAQ:PZZA) shareholders could get some respite if the rumors of a Restaurant Brands (NYSE:QSR) buyout turn out to be true. New activist attention will make eBay's (NASDAQ:EBAY) upcoming earnings call a lot more interesting. New Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) CEO Kevin Johnson seems to be hitting his groove, but the company's future really depends on China.
In addition, the analysts share some stocks on their radar. Plus, Hill interviews Morgan Housel of the Collaborative Fund about the market's recent volatility, the weight of the U.S. dollar abroad, Jack Bogle's legacy, and more.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Jan. 25, 2019.
Chris Hill: It's the Motley Fool Money radio show. I'm Chris Hill. Joining me in studio this week, senior analysts Jason Moser, Aaron Bush, and Ron Gross. Good to see you as always, gentlemen! We've got the latest headlines from Wall Street, award-winning columnist Morgan Housel is our guest, and as always, we'll give you an inside look at the stocks on our radar.
Earnings season is heating up, and we begin this week with Starbucks. Same-store sales in the first quarter grew 4% here in the United States. Shares of Starbucks up on Friday. Ron, close to a new all-time high.
Ron Gross: Pretty solid quarter. Beat expectations. As you said, 4% comps. Traffic was flat, something to keep an eye on. All the growth came from spending more money, not on an increase in the number of stores. We don't love to see that. We'd like to see both. China's the big story here, we have to rely on growth in China. They entered 10 new cities. They expanded their store base by nearly 18% during the quarter, nearly 3,700 outlets. The growth is on track, but there's some worry about China, whether you're Apple or many other companies. We need to keep an eye on it.
Aaron Bush: I would add that, as my yellow flag, they grew their store count 18%, but in China, the comps were just up 1%, which is below average for the whole world. Thinking about, as we talked last week, with potential slowdowns in China, if their China growth strategy is so reliant on opening new stores, at some point, that could come to bite them.
Jason Moser: Not just regular stores. Those big Reserve Roasteries they've been talking about opening, at one point or another, Shultz talks about this grandiose vision of 1,000 of those around the world. That's obviously been pulled back quite a lot. But it's interesting to see, China has been a big part of the story, a big part of the growth story that we've talked about for the last few years. With Howard Schultz at the helm, it was a bit clearer and more understandable, the strategy, and perhaps a little bit more believable based on the time he spent there. I think today, with Schultz gone, perhaps we have a few questions there as to how that strategy is going to play out, or if they maybe need to pull back on their own expectations.
But at the end of the day, it's still Starbucks. It's still coffee and it's still going to do OK, I think.
Gross: I think so, too. I like some of the moves Kevin Johnson has made. Turned over a lot of the consumer business, products business to Nestle, got them out of the tea business. As you said, curtailed that 1,000-store buildout of the Reserve brand, which I was questioning from the get-go, adding on delivery, increasing mobile ordering. A lot of good initiatives in the works. You know what it's all going to hinge on? China.
Moser: Also, getting out of the tea business, you mean unloading those physical Teavana stores and bringing that brand in-house. With the success that they had with Tazo Tea back when they first launched that business, I suspect they'll be able to continue that success going forward with Teavana. It's still a strong brand. I'm actually kind of happy to see them bring that in-house and not deal with all that extra baggage.
Gross: Twenty-five times earnings at the moment. Not incredibly expensive, not dirt cheap by any means, but it's a growth story. It's probably a fairly good investment at this point.
Hill: Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) fourth-quarter profits and revenue came in higher than expected. The company also raised its quarterly dividend. Aaron, this is a good quarter for a company worth $160 billion. I think it's fair to say that for you and me, these results were not the most interesting part of the conference call.
Bush: Right. Maybe unsurprising, maybe surprising to some, they're looking to launch their own streaming service using the NBC Universal brand. I'll give them some credit because NBC has a pretty deep catalog. They have a lot of sports and events and stuff that they could put to work. But how many of these streaming services do we need?
Gross: A dozen.
Bush: Well, maybe. One for each of our listeners, right? [laughs]
Moser: Very well played!
Bush: But, I think what we'll probably see is, it will succeed to some degree. But really, what they're trying to do is be a mini-Hulu. It'll probably play out at a CBS All Access scale. Really, they're going to be one of many. When I think about what they're doing, it makes me that much more bullish about Netflix.
Hill: Comcast was very clear that they're looking at the first half of 2020 to launch this. As you said, they have a lot of properties, obviously, with NBC, they also have Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Animation, they've got the news properties, they've got sports, and every Olympics from now until the end of time. They have a lot of IP. But it really does seem like we are slowly, methodically moving, maybe five years from now, maybe sooner, to a world where everyone just takes their own shows and keeps them to themselves. If you want Disney shows, the only way you're going to get them is on Disney. Am I wrong? Is that the most probable outcome five years from now?
Bush: I think that companies are realizing that having that direct customer relationship is valuable. There's also that saying that the two ways to create value in business are by bundling and unbundling.
Gross: That's how you be a good investment banker. You roll them up, you take them apart, you roll them up, you take them apart.
Bush: And if you look at the history of entertainment and cable, it really has been that story. Cable was all about bundling things together to create value. Now, we're at a stage where things are increasingly getting unbundled for a reason. But at a point, when there are too many services out there, we'll come back to, "Well, we need to bundle things all over again," which leads to more dealmaking, all types of moves that could possibly be made.
Moser: I tend to agree with the bundling thing there. We saw early on how it was so convenient to have just Netflix, you could basically watch what you want. But then, more competitors enter the fray. New services enter the fray. And you're seeing things like with YouTube and Hulu live offerings, that bundling can work as long as you're bundling the right things and offering it for a reasonable price. I think Hulu and YouTube are doing that. Aaron and I were talking about this earlier today, it's going to be really interesting to see in the coming five years if Netflix doesn't pursue more of these live and sports-types offerings. We're seeing a lot of demand for that kind of stuff out there. Hulu just raised the price of their live TV offering, and I think they're going to be able to do that without much of a problem at all.
I agree with Aaron. The advantage Netflix has is so big now. They have so many subscribers. It's going to give them a chance to try a lot of different things. Really, we're seeing that you need to be more things to more people.
Hill: Shares of McCormick falling 13% this week. Fourth-quarter profits and revenue came in lower than expected for the spice maker. Jason, this was the stock on your radar last week. Kind of a surprising miss for them.
Moser: Wait a minute, I thought we were going to Ron with this?
Gross: [laughs] Covering McCormick? Pass.
Moser: [laughs] You've always loved this company, right? No, OK, listen. Let's remember, there's a big difference between a bad quarter and missing some set of arbitrary expectations that's established by people who don't have anything to do with the business.
Moser: This was a good quarter. They missed expectations on the operating profit side. They did hit their revenue target that they re-established last quarter. Let's also remember that 2018, while the market was down, McCormick was on fire.
Now, with that said, there are reasons to be a little bit down. Looking forward, they did note a large retail partner's disruption in its replenishment system, its inventory system. That's a headwind they're working through. And, again, let's face it, the stock wasn't cheap to begin with. But they continue to establish a very large global presence. They're opening a new manufacturing and distribution facility in Thailand very soon. Far ahead of schedule in repaying the debt for this RB Foods deal. That RB Foods deal is a done one, it's a good one, and it's paying dividends in a big way. Speaking of dividends, they just raised their dividend for the 33rd consecutive year.
Remember, you're not owning the stock for its high-flying growth prospects. You're owning it for its market-dominating position and reliable dividend. It's one of those that you can hang on to for a long period of time. I told people that were asking me on Twitter about this this week. This is a gift. If you had interest in this company, this sell-off is one where you get to take a close look. At 22 times full-year estimates, the market has already shown it will pay a higher multiple for a company that's leading in its space.
Hill: One other thing they have going for them -- and it's one of those things that doesn't show up on the balance sheet -- I have no idea who their main competitor is. Who is the Pepsi to their Coke?
Moser: That's a very good point. There really isn't an obvious one. A lot of people will ask the question, what about the generic offerings you see in grocery stores and whatnot? The thing is, McCormick owns a lot of that space as well. You see some mom-and-pop operations out there that are doing their own thing, but McCormick has proven time and time again that its scale in the space and the resources they have at their disposal, it's a very tough one to go up against.
Hill: Ford Motor's (NYSE:F) sales in the fourth quarter were strong in North America. Unfortunately for shareholders, Ford also sells vehicles in other parts of the world, and that's not going very well these days, Ron.
Gross: No. Is there any reason to get excited about owning a stock like Ford or GM? I have a hard time coming up with one, unless you get into the value investing argument. In this case, there's too much that you would need to bet on. They've got to really turn this business around. The restructuring is ongoing around the globe, China, Europe. They're getting bigger on trucks and SUVs in the U.S. There's an $11 billion restructuring overseas, it's going to take several years to complete that. Who knows how successful it'll be? They're cutting $25 billion in costs by 2020.
There's a lot to come here. It's hard to say what's going to happen. They declined to give profit guidance for 2019, but they tried to dance around and make some comments, which left investors a little unpleased, unfulfilled. This is one, I'd watch it and take some interest in it, but I would not want to own it.
Hill: I'm not saying he's necessarily on the hot seat, but Jim Hackett's been the CEO of Ford Motor for about a year and a half. The stock's down 20% during that time. It really seems like if that guy and his executive team have any rabbits that they can pull out of their respective hats, this would be the year to do it.
Gross: Yeah, but it's tough to do that. You take the reins of something that's kind of a mess, and you have to set up expectations, where you say, "I'm going to come in here and do my best, but you have to give me several years because I can't turn something like this on a dime."
Moser: Any chance these guys go knocking back on Alan Mulally's door at one point or another? "Hey, are you interested in part two?"
Gross: [laughs] You never know!
Hill: eBay's fourth-quarter report comes out next Tuesday, but shares are up nearly 10% this week when activist investors publicly called on eBay to consider selling off its classifieds business as well as StubHub. Aaron, their conference call just got a lot more interesting.
Bush: Oh, yeah! Lots of ways that this could go. But really, I'm not surprised to see this happening. As we talked about earlier this week, what eBay does a great job of is buying these companies early on. Buying PayPal, fantastic! Buying StubHub, fantastic! Spinning out the classifieds business, fantastic! But, as it turns out, eBay, the core marketplace platform, is really bad as a connection point for all of these different things. They don't go together very well. In the case of StubHub in particular, it makes a lot of sense that we could see logical pressure be put on them and StubHub does go stand-alone.
The classifieds business I'm not sure of. I feel like people buying and selling goods and services, even if it's more international, that still connects into the core eBay business. It'll be interesting to see how open-minded the CEO is, what tone he takes in their earnings call to determine how eBay attacks this situation.
Hill: In the lead-up to eBay spinning off PayPal, there were a lot of people -- I think including all four of us -- who were pretty excited for PayPal to be a stand-alone company and to own shares of that. If they end up spinning off StubHub, is that a business that you're putting on your watchlist?
Bush: It's probably a good business because ticket fees are exorbitant no matter where you go. If you have to buy tickets to something that you're interested in, you can only get it so many places. But what I think could happen with StubHub is that they could be acquired yet again by someone in the music industry to create a more complete music ecosystem. Live is more important in music than ever before. But, it also could get someone a starting foothold in sports ticketing, as well. It could be Amazon, it could be Sirius XM. Spotify might even have some partnership in there somehow. If one deal is made, it could be the beginning of a snowball.
Hill: In late December, Visa announced the acquisition of Earthport, a British payments company, for roughly $250 million. On Friday of this week, Mastercard announced the acquisition of Earthport for $305 million. Jason, what happened to the deal with Visa?
Moser: It looks like we've got a good old-fashioned bid up, Chris! It's just a matter of who wants it more. Right now, it seems like it's Mastercard. That's a 10% premium to what Visa was offering. Like we said with Visa a month ago with this deal, it's a drop in the bucket for either company. They could acquire this company today, write the whole thing off next year, and nobody would bat an eye. It's ultimately about getting a better cross-border payments business for either Visa or Mastercard. If you look at Mastercard, the cross-border payments volume grew 17% last quarter. Cross-border payments are transactions that involve parties in two or more countries. As we know, those are becoming more prevalent as the world gets smaller and electronic payments continue to grow.
We'll see if Visa wants to counter Mastercard's bid there. It seems like, at least, the board with Earthport was a bit more on board with being a part of the Mastercard family. But we will see. Either way, you can't be a loser if you're in either one of those two networks.
Hill: Can I just say, Earthport is a stand-alone public company, and a month ago, it was about $7 a share. Now, it's about $36.
Moser: That's a very good point to note.
Hill: It's good to be an Earthport shareholder.
Moser: Well, it is now. It wasn't about two months ago because the EU is tightening down on these regulations. It's going to make these cross-border transactions less profitable. Earthport was stuck between a rock and a hard place. For them to get in a nice little situation like this with two companies competing for them, that's just icing on the cake.
Hill: Shares of Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) falling a bit this week. Fourth-quarter profits for the maker of surgical robots fell short of Wall Street's expectations. I don't know, Aaron, this really seems like a speed bump for this business.
Bush: Yeah, the miss was negligible. I'm not even really thinking about that. The bigger deal about this quarter filling out the rest of the year is seeing how they top this year's procedure goals. At the beginning of this past year, management was calling for 9% to 12% procedure growth. Over the course of the fiscal year, they delivered 18% procedure growth, and in this fourth quarter delivered 19% procedure growth. By most accounts, they still are topping expectations when it comes to the core metrics. Part of that has to do with adding new systems. This quarter alone, they added 290 systems, about 5,000 total systems. Still making good progress there. We're also seeing clear growth and more procedures happening per system, meaning that doctors and patients are increasingly choosing to go use Intuitive Surgical's equipment. Because of all this, now over 70% of the revenue is recurring, which I don't think many people realize when they think surgical robots, that it's a recurring revenue business.
Hill: I thought they just sold the systems. They get paid based on the number of procedures?
Bush: Yeah. It's high-margin, recurring business. It's fantastic. I think this is a company that, even though this was a speed bump, they continue to be underestimated. For 2019, they're guiding for 13% to 17% growth in procedures, which is more optimistic than it was this past year. When you realize how large their markets are, the fact that they're improving their machines, building new ones, they're attacking more types of procedures, competition is lagging, they're starting to accelerate their push into China, there are still a lot of levers here that they can pull to keep growth going.
Moser: That recurring revenue is a big deal. I don't want to undersell that. It's high profit margin revenue. In the healthcare space, it seems like a lot of companies are pulling it off. Masimo, Idexx Laboratories. It's a neat space to be looking for those kinds of models.
Hill: Restaurant Brands is the parent company of Burger King, Popeye's, and Tim Hortons. Reports this week that Restaurant Brands is considering adding another restaurant to its portfolio, Papa John's.
Gross: You say that with a question mark in your voice.
Hill: I don't know. It seems like a buyout could certainly be good for shareholders, including and especially former CEO, John Schnatter.
Gross: Yeah, I don't begrudge Restaurant Brands wanting to maybe take this one into their portfolio. I'm not sure they want to get in bed with Schnatter if that's part of the thought there, along with 3G Capital, I could see the maybe wanting to go it alone and buy Schnatter out as well. That might make more sense.
However, I do love what the company is doing right now. Their new ad agency of record, Endeavor Global Marketing, has put together a great PR campaign called Voices where they're trying to change the narrative away from Papa John himself to many of the other folks involved in the business, including all the people that own franchises.
Hill: This is a stock that's been cut in half in the last two years. If you're John Schnatter, don't you have to consider ways to boost that?
Gross: Yeah, there's a lot of ego going on here. I think he's a little bit angry about how this all went down. He might have to let some of that go.
Hill: Joining me in studio, it's the one and only Morgan Housel. Good to see you!
Morgan Housel: Good to see you! Thanks for having me!
Hill: You've been traveling. We're going to get to your travels. Let's start with this. The last time you and I were talking in the studio, it was last June.
Housel: Yeah, sounds right.
Hill: I checked, the S&P 500 today is just about where it was when you and I were talking back in June, although it's visited a lot of different places in between those two times. I'm curious, studying the market the way you do, what do you make of the volatility that we've seen over the last six months in particular?
Housel: Someone asked me a couple of weeks ago a similar question, but they said, "The market has been so calm for the past two years. And now, the last three or four months, it's been up and down all over the place. What do you make of the ups and downs?" And I said, "Well, no, it's the calm that was the outlier. That was the abnormal part." The volatility we've experienced in the last three or four months is what is closer to the historical normal than what we experienced in 2017 and most of 2018, where the market just went up consistently 1% per month, very little volatility. That's the outlier. But it happened for so long, even if it was only 12 or 16 months, I think people got accustomed to it. Even if you're a long-term investor, you've been doing this for a long time, if you go through a period of 12 or 18 months where things are calm, it's really easy to extrapolate and just assume that's how the market works. It feels so good, it's so calm, everyone's having a good time. And then, when you get into a more volatile period, it's hard to remember and remind yourself, that's what markets are supposed to do. And that's why you're going to earn a higher return than other assets, because you're putting up with all those ups and downs.
Hill: We've talked before for years on this show about, as great as the bull market run has been for roughly the last decade, one of the potential ripple effects is, we're going to have a lot of new investors who, when the volatility hits, when the market drops suddenly, that's going to be their first time encountering it. We've focused more on the returns and steeling ourselves for people not being ready for the market drops. But, is it the volatility that's as important, if not more important, in terms of investor psychology?
Housel: You can break it up into two groups. There's a group of investors who started after 2008 and have never experienced a big downturn, and then there's the people who were investing in 2008 and they have all the scar tissue from 2008. Both of those groups can be equally dangerous. You have the new investors who might not understand what it's like to watch your net worth go down by 25%, and what that's going to do to your psyche, and how that's going to affect your outlook on your retirement, your kids' education. And then, there's another group, like you and I, who did live through 2008, invested through 2008, who are probably a little bit overly paranoid that that's what's going to happen next. And we keep anchoring to 2008, assuming that the next big downturn is going to be like that next big one. It's like if you lived through the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, you probably assumed that every earthquake after that was going to devastate the city. But, no, that was a big outlier, you probably shouldn't expect that to keep happening.
In terms of the psychology about it, those are the two camps out there today. You have the complacents and the paranoids. I don't think one is better than another, but both groups can anchor on scenarios that are statistically unlikely to occur again.
Hill: Do you think we can get team jackets made with Paranoids written on the back?
Housel: That would be good. I would do it, I'd wear it.
Hill: [laughs] Let's talk about your travels. You've been speaking literally all over the world. You were in India, you were in Mexico. Let's start with India. How was the trip? In terms of investing-focused reflections, what can you share from the trip?
Housel: If you haven't been to India, you can relate with this, which is that it's the country of huge extremes in terms of wealth and poverty. It was some of the glitziest wealth that I'd seen, some of the nicest office buildings, some of the nicest hotels you've ever been into. And then, you can step outside on the street corner, and it's some of the deepest poverty that I've ever seen. To a degree that I was not expecting more prepared for, it's a country of amazing polar opposites. From an economics standpoint, it's interesting in that India does have so much going for it. There's parts of India that are as developed, if not more developed, than a top-tier city here in the United States. There are parts of India that you can walk down and you feel like you're in the middle of Manhattan, and then there's parts that, it's so, so devastatingly sad poverty. The juxtaposition between those two is what stood out most from the trip. It was pretty jarring. There's parts of the Indian economy that are absolutely booming and have the infrastructure as any other first world country in the world. That's really what stood out from the trip. I wasn't there that long. I was there for 48 hours and did three talks in 48 hours and got back on the plane and left.
The other thing, you brought up Mexico City as well, and also I've done Australia and England and South Africa. Every one of these countries that you go to, everyone talks about the strength of the U.S. dollar and how it's impacting them. Even people on the street. Your cab driver will be acutely aware of the currency ratio between their local currency and the U.S. dollar. They talk about it, they know about it. In the United States, no one ever talks about the value of the dollar. What's the value of the dollar relative to the peso? I have no idea! I have no clue! For everyone else in the rest of the world, it's one of the top variables that everyone, not just investors, tracks. That's a big thing that sticks out when I go to other countries and speak to them, is that everyone wants to talk about the strength of the U.S. dollar. And they want my opinion about it. And my opinion is, honestly, I had no idea that it had done so well in the last year. It's not something that you and I track on a regular basis.
Hill: This almost has a virtuous cycle effect, in terms of the U.S. stock market, but for a number of years, part of the rise of the U.S. stock market was due to a lot of other countries just weren't that great to invest in. I'm curious, with the recent downturn in the U.S. stock market, now that we're in month two of a government shutdown, is there worry setting in in some of these other countries? Or, do they think, on balance, the dollar is strong, the U.S. economy is strong?
Housel: They look at it and say, "Yes, the U.S. is probably the strongest country in the world right now economically, and therefore the dollar is strong," which to them can be a really difficult thing to deal with, because all of their U.S. dollar imports become way more expensive.
South Africa I was at in September. The U.S. dollar has increased like 35% against the rand over the last year, something in that range. Everything that they purchase from the United States is 35% more expensive. It's a big deal for everyday people. So, it's a weird thing, where they do look at the U.S. as a source of strength, but relative to their purchasing power, it's a burden on them.
Hill: Next month, we're going to celebrate the 10th anniversary of doing this show. One of the guests that we had on in the early years was Dan Yergin. For those unfamiliar, Dan Yergin, one of the leading authorities in the world on energy, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer. At the time, this is the fall of 2011, he had just written a book called The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World. The latest piece that you just wrote, which folks can read on the Collaborative Fund website, starts with that book and with something that you call "the biggest energy story of the last four decades."
Housel: It's something that Dan Yergin writes about a lot, which is one of the biggest impacts on energy markets of last four decades had nothing to do with oil or gas or solar or wind -- it was simple conservation and general efficiency, that our cars got much better gas mileage, our factories are much more efficient terms of how much energy they need, planes have longer ranges than they used to. The impact that increased efficiency has had over the past four decades is bigger than any new energy resource that we've come across. All the new oil drilling, all of the new sources of energy from solar and wind, pale in comparison to how much improvement we've had in simple efficiency.
I use the example in the book of, a 2019 Chevy Suburban gets better gas mileage today than a 1989 Ford Taurus did. There's been massive improvements, to where a huge SUV now is as efficient as a midsize sedan was 25 years ago. That's been the biggest story in energy over the past 40 years. It's nothing to do with what's in the ground, it's just what we've done with the energy. We can do twice as much with the energy today as we could have in 1950s.
Hill: Other than maybe thinking twice about investing in oil and gas stocks, what do you think is the ripple effect for us as investors and everyday consumers?
Housel: I use this as an example to talk about how we're trying to get ahead as investors and using it as an analogy. In energy, most of the focus is, how can we get more oil? How can we find more gas? What can we get out of solar? The reality was, the low-hanging fruit, what moved the needle the most, was this efficiency. There's an analogy for investors, in terms of, there's two ways to get ahead -- you can increase your investing returns, which can be very powerful, but can be very difficult to try to outperform the market by a huge amount over a long period of time; or, you could look at the other side of the equation, which is your own personal efficiency and fuel economy, let's say, which is your own savings rate and frugality.
I just made the point that, look, if you and I have the same amount of money, and I can earn 8% return on my assets, and you can earn 12%, but I can survive and be happy with a half as much money in terms of just paying my bills month to month, I'm better off than you are, even though I'm earning much lower returns. There's a source of financial outperformance in there that has nothing to do with market returns, it just has to do with your own personal efficiency and frugality and learning how to live with less.
I made the point that there's so many investors in the world who will spend their entire careers grinding a way to outperform the market by 0.5% a year, 1% per year, when in their own personal finances, there's 2% or 3% of lifestyle bloat waiting to be exploited right there. It's a bigger source of alpha than most people assume. You can make a bigger difference in terms of your financial well-being by focusing on that expense side rather than the income and return side.
Hill: I think it's a great question for anyone to think about in their own personal life, particularly if we all frame it as, what is my level of lifestyle bloat? That's a nice phrase.
Housel: And for you, it's going to Dunkin' 17 times a day. That's your lifestyle bloat. I've seen it.
Hill: [laughs] I'm not going to deny that. I'm just going to find other efficiencies in my personal life. Don't take my Dunkin' coffee from me.
Housel: If you take that out, though, you're the next Warren Buffett. That's what I'm saying.
Hill: [laughs] Last week, the investing world lost John Bogle, who really seemed like he was going to live forever. We talked a lot about him on last week's show. When you think about Bogle, what stands out to you? Whether it's something you encountered with him or just part of his legacy.
Housel: It's two things. This point has probably been made many times, but it's what stands out in Bogle's career. When he started the Vanguard Group, he structured it as a legal entity so that it could never make a profit. To be as talented as he was, and have the vision that he had, and to say, "I'm going to devote my life to this, and I have basically zero chance of ever becoming rich off of it," is astounding. There's no one else -- that's a one-in-a-billion personality of someone who's willing to do that, to be that talented and that smart, have the opportunity to make a fortune on Wall Street, and he went out and basically started a nonprofit. And the calculations that I've seen is that, in recent years, between $30 billion and $50 billion per year is what Vanguard investors are saving relative to if they were in a for profit, higher-fee fund structure. That's basically money that effectively could have gone to Bogle's pocket that he's given back to tens of millions of ordinary retirees. I think about it like Bogle is the biggest undercover philanthropist of all time. Without even writing a check, he took money that could have been his and he gave it back to tens of millions of ordinary retirees, and it now sits in their retirement accounts. That's an extraordinary thing, and there's no other relevant example that's close to doing what he did. There are a lot of great philanthropists, but they're people who made a fortune and then gave it away. Bogle said, "I don't even want to make a fortune. I'm just going to let people keep the money that they earned."
Hill: You can follow him on Twitter, you can read his stuff, and you should be reading his stuff, on the Collaborative Fund's website. My favorite financial columnist, Morgan Housel. Always good talking to you, my friend!
Housel: Thanks for having me!
Hill: We're hiring. We're looking for writers, editors, developers. We're building up our tech teams, our marketing team, SEO. A lot of these jobs are here at Fool headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. We're also hiring for our office in Colorado, as well as some of our international offices. And, oh, yeah, we're looking for summer interns. You can find all of that and more by going to careers.fool.com. And, as an added bonus, you get to meet Ron Gross.
Gross: Oh, it's amazing!
Hill: Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Question from Nick Burgess in Atlanta, Georgia. He writes, "Hey, guys. Love the show and everything it has helped me learn in my young investing journey so far. As I'm only 26 years old, I'm looking for companies that I can stick with for the long haul. I know I need to look for companies within my circle of competence with great management teams, but I always hear about looking for companies that are undervalued. With that in mind, what is your favorite way to value a company? Again, thanks for all that you do." Thanks for listening, Nick! Thanks for the question! Ron, you're up first.
Gross: I could talk about this for hours.
Moser: He literally could.
Hill: We don't have that kind of time.
Gross: I'm going to give you one that's off the beaten path and is perhaps easier, and that's called earnings power value. It assumes a company has no growth and you value it assuming it's stable. Then, you can compare the no-growth value that you get to the current price to determine what you're actually paying for that growth.
Hill: That sounds like it involves math.
Gross: A little bit of math, but it's easy.
Hill: Jason, what about you?
Moser: I preface this by saying that valuation is more art than science. It's an opinion, really, and everybody's is probably a little bit different. I know a lot of people like to look at cash flow. I do like to look at that. But I also think that generally speaking, most people are out there looking at actual earnings per share. I do like to fiddle with these income statements and stretch out earnings per share five years down the road, get an idea of what the company's going to be earning, and look at it from a multiples perspective.
Bush: I think it's important to learn how these different frameworks work. Discounted cash flow, earnings power value. I may be a little bit different in the sense that the companies I'm looking for are the ones that break all of these models. I'm looking for the companies that can grow faster and longer than what most people would plug into those models. There are qualitative reasons why that happens. Optionality, great products, great leadership. You could go a million ways with it.
Moser: I think that's really the point. Something we've learned here with our years as analysts is, the idea in analyzing stocks and valuing these stocks is having as many tools in your toolbox as you can. There's no one right way to value a company. There are better ways for certain markets and whatnot. Learning all of those different ways over the course of time is the most valuable way to go about it.
Hill: Let's get to the stocks on our radar. Our man behind the glass, Steve Broido, is going to hit you with a question. Ron Gross, you're up first. What are you looking at this week?
Gross: I've got Hawaiian Holdings (NASDAQ:HA), HA, operates Hawaiian Airlines, 15th largest airline in North America by passengers carried. Most extensive routes to the Hawaiian Islands, fuel and labor costs remained fairly stable, which has allowed them to increase the bottom line nicely. The stock is at a historically low valuation, however, because of worries about increasing competition. But I think the company's in a pretty good place to combat that. 1.4% yield for those looking for a dividend.
Hill: Steve, question about Hawaiian Holdings?
Broido: This one might be a little bit tricky. When we were in Hawaii, there seemed to be a lot of people going between island to island that lived there. What percentage do you think of that makes up this business vs. me flying here from Virginia?
Gross: It's a smaller percent than people popping in from the mainland and from overseas, but it's an important part. There are some airlines that actually specialize in that island hopping.
Hill: Jason Moser, what are you looking at?
Moser: Ameris Bancorp (NASDAQ:ABCB), ABCB. Ameris' earnings came out on Friday. No surprises, really. It reinforced what they already told us about a month ago when they announced the Fidelity Bank acquisition. Efficiency ratio down to 54% from 60% a year ago. That's important because it's a ratio that tells you they're earning more than they're spending. Big exposure with this acquisition that's going to give them additional presence in Atlanta and Orlando. The stock actually fell 10% on that news a month or so ago, it actually touched under $30. But to me, it was a no-brainer. This is going to make this a bigger, more powerful bank. A good business in an attractive space, one you can plan on owning for a long time to come. As a side note, I'm going to have the very good fortune of interviewing CEO Dennis Zember very soon. We'll have that available for Industry Focus, and perhaps other podcasts, too, Chris.
Hill: Steve, question about Ameris Bancorp?
Broido: Convince me that banks aren't just commodities.
Moser: Steve, banks aren't just commodities. You can trust me.
Broido: Thank you!
Hill: Aaron Bush, what are you looking at?
Bush: I'm looking at Elastic (NYSE:ESTC), ESTC. Elastic is a search company, but it's nothing like Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG). They're an enterprise search company. I'll explain that with a couple of examples. Ron, when you're swiping left and right on Tinder it's actually Elastic that powers the search looking for your matches. When, after your Tinder date, you're looking to take an Uber back home, it's Elastic that powers the search to find matches between drivers and riders. They help big companies work to find things in servers, network outages. It's a really big opportunity. The company is growing like wildfire. The stock is expensive, but it's a really cool opportunity, I think.
Hill: Steve, question about Elastic?
Broido: Is the goal for this company to get acquired by somebody like Google?
Bush: I don't think Google would acquire them. This could be a stand-alone business, but still be a pretty massive business on its own one day.
Hill: Three stocks, Steve. Do you have one you want to add your watch list?
Broido: I'm feeling Elastic.
Gross: Honey, Aaron was kidding!
Hill: [laughs] Ron Gross, Jason Moser, Aaron Bush, thanks for being here, guys! That's going to do it for this week's edition of Motley Fool Money. Our engineer is Steve Broido. Our producer is Mac Greer. I'm Chris Hill. Thanks for listening! We'll see you next week!