The growth stock investor’s answer: Joe’s, of course. Why? I pay $18 for the stock now. At the end of five years, earnings per share will likely be $2.70. Assuming the stock keeps the same p/e multiple, its price will be $48 and I will have almost tripled my money.
Look at Bill’s in contrast. I pay $10 for the stock. At the end of five years, eps will be up 61% and I will have collected $2.50 in dividends (which I may have to pay tax on, but let’s not count that here). Assuming the stock keeps the same multiple, it will be trading at $16.10. Add in the dividends and the total is $18.60. That’s a return of 86%, or about half what I would get from holding Joe’s.
One more thing. Maybe in five years, people will start to worry about whether Joe’s can continue to expand at its current rate. As a result, the p/e multiple could begin to contract. Maybe that will happen, maybe not. But even if it does, the multiple will have to drop from 18 to 12! before I would be better off with Bill’s.
The value stock investor’s answer: It’s obviously Bill’s. Joe’s has a much more aggressive growth strategy. Maybe it will work, maybe not. I don’t see why I have to decide. A lot of the potential reward for success is already built into Joe’s current stock price. And if Joe’s strategy is unsuccessful, the stock has a very long way to fall.
If Joe’s strategy doesn’t work, then I’m much better off with Bill’s. On the other hand, suppose it really is the way to go. In that case, either Bill’s management will see the light and adopt a more aggressive stance itself, or the board or activist shareholders or a potential predator (Joe’s?) will force a change. And the stock will skyrocket. While it may take a little more time, I’ll enjoy all the rewards of backing the winning strategy without taking on the higher risk of holding Joe’s.
It’s a question of temperament. A conversation between the growth and value sides could have several more rounds before it degenerated into name-calling, but you have the basic idea already.
Maybe the most salient points to be made about each answer are:
–not that many companies grow so rapidly as Joe’s without any hiccups;
–wresting control from an entrenched management is not that easy (look at the sorry history of Western-style value investing in Japan–or most places in Continental Europe, for that matter–for confirmation). It may not be possible, and could be a long and arduous process in any event.