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Goodbye? Or Good Buy?

By Jim Mueller, CFA - Updated Nov 11, 2016 at 4:54PM

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Your goodbye is another's good buy - it's what makes a market.

News flash! Whenever you sell a stock, the person buying it likely thinks you're making a mistake.

And there has been a lot of selling recently. In fact, over the past two months, the average daily volume for the S&P 500 has been 6.45 billion shares. That's 2.5-times higher than the average of the previous five years. It's also 1.5-times higher than the last year alone, as the markets fell from their highs of a year ago. This is, officially, a frenzy.

And the reason there's been so much selling is because there's a whole bunch of "it's-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it!" news. People are pulling their money out left and right, and either selling their holdings outright, or forcing fund managers to sell in order to pay out redemptions.

You're selling what?
For instance, we hear that holiday sales are going to suck, so people sell off retailers like Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) or Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) because of the perception that they are going to take one on the chin. Both of these stalwarts are down more than 30% in the past two months alone.

The panic has punished companies in every industry -- from retailers and restaurants to oil and agriculture. Yum! Brands, ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), and Monsanto (NYSE:MON) are all trading at multiyear low multiples.

But guess what? Somebody's buying those shares you're selling.

Maybe it was Robert Olstein, manager of Olstein All Cap Value (OFALX) and co-founder of "The Quality of Earnings Report." He delves into the financial statements of the companies to find those that generate lots of free cash flow, avoid aggressive accounting, and are selling at a discount to his estimate of value. This has allowed his fund to post annualized returns of 7.6% since inception in late 1995, versus 3% for the S&P 500.

He increased his position in Dell last quarter, along with other consumer-facing companies like Macy's (NYSE:M) and Office Depot. He's also been stocking up on some of the more indirectly hit financials like NYSE Euronext (NYSE:NYX).

Or, it might have been David Dreman. He runs the Dreman High Return Equity fund (KDHAX), which has returned 9.5%, after charges, on average per year since its inception in the spring of 1988. The S&P? It only did 5.6%. His fund has large positions in beaten-down companies such as ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP). He looks for below-market price metrics like P/E, strong balance sheets, and dividends. Right now ConocoPhillips qualifies with a 3.7 P/E, debt-to-equity of 24%, and a dividend of 3.8%.

Getting it right side around, not backwards
Long-time successful value investors are snapping up shares left and right, knowing that the market has mispriced the long-term performance of many companies. Yes, companies will face troubling times over the next several months, but many of them are going to survive that and go on to new highs. And these guys have seen it all before.

Value investing masters, like Olstein and Dreman, are seeing good buys while too many see goodbyes. Which view do you hold?

Like Olstein and Dreman, Philip Durell and Ron Gross, co-advisors for The Motley Fool's Inside Value investing newsletter service, see a lot of good buys right now. To see what two companies they've just recommended for subscribers, as well as all other active recommendations, take a trial for 30 days, free, without any obligation to subscribe.

Jim Mueller highly recommends Value Investing With the Masters by Kazanjian. He owns shares of Yum! Brands and is a beneficial owner of the Olstein fund.. NYSE Euronext is a Rule Breakers pick. Dell and Best Buy are Inside Value recommendations. Best Buy is also a Stock Advisor selection and Motley Fool holding. The Fool is all about investors writing for investors.


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Stocks Mentioned

Macy's, Inc. Stock Quote
Macy's, Inc.
$18.73 (6.82%) $1.20
Best Buy Co., Inc. Stock Quote
Best Buy Co., Inc.
$78.76 (3.17%) $2.42
Exxon Mobil Corporation Stock Quote
Exxon Mobil Corporation
$91.38 (0.87%) $0.79
ConocoPhillips Stock Quote
$95.97 (0.48%) $0.46
Dell Technologies Inc. Stock Quote
Dell Technologies Inc.
NYSE Holdings LLC Stock Quote
NYSE Holdings LLC
Monsanto Company Stock Quote
Monsanto Company

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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