Clarivate Is a Cash Flow Machine!

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Editor’s Note: Today is a historic day here at Wealthy Retirement!

Our mission has always been to deliver you fresh, compelling ideas from the best and brightest minds in the financial world – and the newest member of our team fits that description to a T.

Please join me in welcoming The Oxford Club’s new Director of Trading… Anthony Summers.

Anthony’s name may already be familiar to some of you. He was the Club’s Senior Research Analyst for several years before taking a position with our colleagues at Manward Press, and we’ve featured his insights in Wealthy Retirement on multiple occasions.

And when we had the opportunity to bring him back on board, we jumped at the chance.

Starting today, Anthony will be contributing to the Club in a variety of ways, including taking over our weekly Value Meter column.

Leave a comment below to let him know what stocks you’d like to read about and to welcome him (back) to The Oxford Club!

– James Ogletree, Managing Editor

In 1991, a book was published that some view as the holy grail of the investment world. Yet it never came close to being a New York Times bestseller.

Printed in a modest batch of 5,000 copies, the book was a sales dud. And it was never reprinted after its initial publication.

However, over 30 years later, an unsigned copy may fetch upward of $2,500 – a hundredfold increase over its original $25 price tag.

What makes this rare book worth more than a troy ounce of gold, you ask?

It’s not its cover design or its dry title. Rather, it’s the investing philosophy laid out by its author, one of the most successful fund managers alive.

Billionaire fund manager Seth Klarman’s Margin of Safety breaks down the value investing principles used by the most successful and wealthiest investors in the world, including Warren Buffett, the late Charlie Munger and Joel Greenblatt.

And with his hedge fund, The Baupost Group, having notched returns of about 20% annually since 1982, Klarman’s own track record speaks for itself.

He writes on Page 107 of his book:

“The entire strategy can be concisely described as ‘buy a bargain and wait.’ Investors must learn to assess value in order to know a bargain when they see one. Then they must exhibit the patience and discipline to wait until a bargain emerges from their searches and buy it, regardless of the prevailing direction of the market or their own views about the economy at large.”

In practice, this tends to mean that value investors take the long way around to market outperformance, resisting the allure of popular short-term trends in the market in favor of lower-risk – yet, arguably, higher-reward – alternatives.

In today’s Value Meter, I want to assess one such opportunity: a stock that’s in Klarman’s own portfolio.

Clarivate (NYSE: CLVT) is hardly a household name. It’s an information services company that focuses on providing insights and data analytics tools to businesses and professionals.

Most investors would take one look at the stock’s price trend and be immediately turned off. It’s been badly bruised and battered over the past few years.

Chart: CLVT

But the fact that this stock is trading for a mere $9 isn’t enough to make this a value play. Nor is it the sole reason Klarman’s Baupost Group owns over 25 million shares of the stock.

Let’s dig deeper.

For starters, the company has seen some sizable revenue growth in recent years.

Chart: Clarivate's Earnings and Revenue Growth

From 2017 to 2022, which is the last year for which we have data, revenue rose by an annual clip of 24%. And EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) largely followed suit, growing by nearly 53% a year.

But a more important measure to consider is operating cash flow. It tells us very plainly how much cash a business is generating from its core operations, and it’s harder to manipulate using accounting gimmicks.

On that note, Clarivate is a rarity in today’s market. Not only is it cash flow positive, but its cash flows have grown very strongly.

Chart: Steady Growth in Operating Cash Flows

In the same five-year period, operating cash flow has risen at a staggering annual pace of 138%. And the company is likely to report clearing $700 million in 2023.

In short, this business isn’t nearly as dead in the water as its stock chart might suggest. Despite some earnings setbacks, business is moving in the right direction.

Clarivate currently sports a price-to-book (P/B) ratio of about 1.1, which means it is trading at a better value than 70% of publicly traded stocks.

Its price-to-cash flow (P/CF) ratio sits at around 8.9, which puts it in the 55th percentile among publicly traded stocks.

As we’ve seen with Klarman’s book, the intrinsic value of things – investments included – is rarely obvious. Oftentimes, the ugly, unpopular or obscure opportunities hold the most long-term potential.

For value investors willing to tune out the noise and bide their time, Clarivate hits all the right notes.

In short, falling out of favor has a silver lining. This is the kind of opportunity that would make even Seth Klarman take notice.

The Value Meter rates shares of Clarivate as being “Slightly Undervalued.”

The Value Meter

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