Finance

August News

We'll soon have the new Dickenson County Behavioral Health Services website online. It's nearly finished, and we're excited to complete a project for another client in Appalachia. Forward View is also filling our autumn design project calendar, so now is the time to schedule your organization's website development or upgrade. We offer free quotes and look forward to hearing from you!

On the equity research side of Forward View, Forward View research analyst, Michael Williams, was cited in an article about Nike's decision to exit the golf equipment business. We're developing fresh investment recommendations and always have sporting goods industry insights you won't get anywhere else. We invite you to ask us how this chart explains the state of sporting goods retailers:

Reach out to us soon!

The Appalachian Small Business Series: Mountain Finance

In the second installment of our Appalachian Small Business Series, we discuss economics and financing opportunities in the region.

We decided to focus on the availability of capital and related economic topics early in this newsletter series because they're critical elements for revitalizing Appalachia. Access to small business financing is necessary for entrepreneurial activity, and without cash, firms can't survive long enough to implement our other ideas. With a strong financial foundation, though, companies can focus on 21st century growth strategies.

Before diving into our small business recommendations, let's take a look at the state of small business financing in Appalachia. Perhaps not surprisingly, there's limited data on this subject as more researchers focus on rural economics in developing nations than on Appalachia. Anyway, some of the only available research on our topic comes from a National Community Reinvestment Coalition (2007) report. The study offers these important points:

  1. Small and mid-sized banks in Appalachia are especially small business-friendly. Branches of large banks tend to be less devoted to small business.
  2. The most economically-distressed counties in Appalachia suffer from insufficient access to business capital, especially for companies early in their development.
  3. An overall lack of non-bank financing opportunities restrains small businesses across Appalachia.
  4. Entrepreneurs in Appalachia need additional financial guidance and training to succeed.

How should small businesses in Appalachia respond to these facts?

Just because many counties in Appalachia have limited ties to the banking sector doesn't imply that small businesses should ignore this traditional source of capital. In fact, the fewer the banks in a community, the more important it is to be well-prepared for an application for a loan. (You can't afford to fail!) It's absolutely essential to create a detailed business plan for new ventures, including realistic financial forecasts. Banks won't lend money to entrepreneurs without a clear understanding of the business. Existing firms seeking additional financing will need revenue, profit and cash flow predictions, too. The SBA and SCORE are two sources of guidance for business plans and small business forecasting. Contact them for free advice! Forward View, of course, can also create the financial analyses required for loans and other forms of start-up financing.

One new source of business financing that's underappreciated in Appalachia is crowd-funding. No, we're not talking about some type of charity fundraiser; we're talking about a 21st century alternative to banks, private equity and venture capital firms. EquityNet, Crowdfunder and MicroVentures are just a few of the companies that help connect entrepreneurs directly to investors. Crowd-funding bypasses lending institutions and serves as a new route for businesses in Appalachia (and elsewhere) to receive capital from across the nation. We believe that crowd-funding can absolutely help to bridge Appalachia's financing gap.

In the next issue of this newsletter series, we'll discuss industry and tourism in Appalachia and its relationship to small business. We look forward to presenting our research and ideas. Stay tuned!

Reference: National Community Reinvestment Coalition. (2007). Access to Capital and Credit For Small Businesses in Appalachia. Retrieved from the Appalachian Regional Commission: 
http://www.arc.gov/assets/research_reports/AccesstoCapitalandCreditforSmallBusinessesinAppalachia3.pdf

Sporting Goods Conversations

This week, I've spoken with the Director of IR for Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS), Nate Gilch, and the CFO of Sportsman's Warehouse (SPWH), Kevan Talbot. Clients have received the notes from the discussions, and you can read them, too, with a trial of the Sporting Goods Monitor research product here on Harvest. Most importantly, these conversations delved deeply into the state of the sporting goods retail sector and its competitive pressures. Where Dick's sees an opportunity to steal market share from the bankrupt Sports Authority, Sportsman's Warehouse is focused on beating the Mom & Pop hunting and fishing retailers. Sportsman's Warehouse doesn't work to best Cabela's (CAB) with destination stores and giant aquariums. Instead, they're all about low prices. Meanwhile, Dick's is trying to elevate the in-store experience, especially with footwear. These two companies are thus pursuing different paths to success in the sporting goods industry. (I'll note, though, that Dick's Sporting Goods only competes directly against Sportsman's Warehouse with the company's Field & Stream brand.)

Initiation reports coming soon!

From Our Founder: Refocusing on the Forward View

First of all, I'd like to apologize for the lack of newsletters in December and January. I was hospitalized for almost seven weeks at the end of 2015 and admittedly didn't delegate writing our newsletters to another Forward View team member. (That was a mistake that I won't repeat.) In the hospital, I did have plenty of time to think about exactly what opportunities Forward View should be chasing and, more importantly, what paths we should not pursue. With a small business, I've come to realize that what we don't do is often more meaningful than what work we complete. Let me explain and offer examples:

Forward View sells investment research and has developed a loyal global readership. We don't, however, offer "corporate access" services that involve selling opportunities to communicate/meet with company executives. That is a change from the typical research industry business model. I, however, don't believe in putting a price on our contact list or the wonderful relationships we've developed in finance and multiple other industries. Forward View also doesn't engage in trading or investment banking services that would generate conflicts of interest with our research publications. Again, that lack of services is a departure from Wall Street. We simply enjoy being different and prefer to focus on our core strengths. Forward View's research team thus has no trouble sleeping at night because we're free of the typical ethical dilemmas that give finance a bad name.

On the consulting side of Forward View, we'll remain dedicated to small businesses and nonprofits. We're not going to pursue large corporate clients. The small business market is both extensive and woefully underserved, especially here in Southwestern Virginia. I enjoy serving entrepreneurs who've been ignored by other firms because they're both driven to find a consulting partner and exceedingly interested in our proposed solutions. Again, though, Forward View is defined by our self-imposed restrictions and "limitations."

This year, I'm going to refocus on The Forward View. (That's our unique outlook on the future of finance and small business success.) To accomplish our goals, we'll be launching a new equity research product in the Spring. Wall Street will soon have to pay more for our reports, but we'll also be making more analyses available to smaller investment firms for free/low-cost through StockViews. Our internal processes are also being revamped in order to better serve new, and existing, consulting clients. I look forward to presenting more of these developments in future newsletters.

In closing, I'm excited about what Forward View can accomplish in 2016! I believe we have a fantastic team and without them, almost nothing would get done. The future looks bright as long as we do what we do best... and nothing more!

Forward View Selected as StockViews Affiliate Partner

CONTACT:

Nathan Yates, M.S.F.

Forward View Consulting

(276) 218-0350

nathan@forwardviewconsulting.com

 

Forward View Selected as StockViews Affiliate Partner

Collaboration with StockViews announced as old Wall Street business model breaks down

 

Clintwood, VA, September 1st, 2015 — Forward View is pleased to announce its new partnership with StockViews, a leader in crowdsourced equity research. A total of four StockViews affiliates will be brought aboard, thus making Forward View a member of a trulyselect group. Thomas Beevers, CEO of StockViews, stated, “We’re excited to welcome Forward View as a partner on the StockViews Affiliate Network. We have been highly impressed with the quality of their research and depth of analysis. Forward View represents a new breed of equity research firm—independent, analytical and 100% focused on generating great ideas. We look forward to working closely with the team at Forward View to disrupt the established sell-side research industry.”

Forward View research will be regularly published on the StockViews platform, including the type of analyses previously available only to Wall Street and large institutional investors. Instead of limiting research access to a handful of global corporations and hedge funds, Forward View is dedicated to serving financial advisors, family offices and smaller asset managers. Nathan Yates, the owner of Forward View, noted, “I’m glad we’re joining the StockViews Affiliate Network because our firms share the goal of upending the traditional sell-side business model. We believe there’s an unmet need for quality investment research among small and medium asset managers in the U.S. and Europe, and this collaboration enhances our ability to serve this market. Our securities analysis methodology isn’t influenced by a desire to sell any investment banking or trading services, so our clients can have confidence in the value of our unbiased reports.”

This partnership is effective immediately and provides long-term value to both Forward View and StockViews. The two companies will engage in joint marketing and public relations efforts, both online and offline. “We honestly can’t imagine a better partner for our research services than StockViews,” concluded Yates.

About Forward View Consulting

Forward View is dedicated to propelling your business forward, and clients from across America realize that we're not your typical securities research business. We focus on your clientele’s investment success, not on our short-term profits. Forward View will remain dedicated to independent research because we disdain the traditional Wall Street practices just as much as you do. For more information about us, visit our website at www.forwardviewconsulting.com.

About StockViews

StockViews is a crowdsourced community of analysts, ranked by performance and by quality of research. Stripping out the costly infrastructure from the Wall Street brokerage model, StockViews matches idea generators with capital allocators in a more effective and transparent way. To join our community, visit www.stockviews.com.

From Our Founder: Earnings Season

I've found that earnings season is one of the least understood areas of finance... unless you happen to work in the investment analysis business. Most people haven't been acquainted with the importance of the quarterly earnings seasons nor their impact on stock market performance. Thus, I'd like to take a few moments to discuss this interesting topic.

U.S. companies with publicly-traded stock report revenue, earnings (or losses) and a range of other financial figures for each fiscal quarter. Thus, there are four earnings seasons each year, and each season typically begins 2–3 weeks after the end of a calendar quarter (though a few firms report earnings off-sequence). An earnings season will last around a month, but most of the activity occurs during the two middle weeks of the season. A public conference call by each firm's management team typically accompanies an earnings report. Equity analysts use these conference calls to ask questions... and attempt to earn some notoriety. I always say that you'll hear the smartest and the stupidest questions on these calls! (My favorite dumb inquiry: "How do I model your [insert financial metric here]?")
 

Wall Street analysts must pause summer vacations in the Hamptons for 2Q (second quarter) earnings season

By the time you read this newsletter, most of our earnings analyses will have been published. That also means the stock market will have had time to re-price shares based on earnings. Every season brings volatility to the market, and a stock portfolio's annual returns are heavily impacted by quarterly reports. That's why you should care about earnings announcements! It's also why we comb through all of the earnings information released by companies we follow. We condense details from a 25–40 page SEC document, a slideshow presentation and a conference call into an actionable analysis of the company's results before presenting our own forecast. Click here to see an example of a Forward View earnings analysis from the first quarter of 2015.

I hope you have enjoyed this article and have a better understanding of earnings seasons. They're busy periods for me, but earnings seasons also separate the good analysts from the chaff. Forward View will always be focused on timely and useful earnings report research products because we're centered on client success 24/7.

Cash Flows Are The Music of Finance

When Forward View analyzes any company or stock, we always look for the cash flow. "Show me the money" is an appropriate slogan for our research methodology. We believe that a focus on cash flow is both theoretically valid and eminently practical. Over the long-run, a business thrives or fails due to its increases or decreases in cash. The Forward View valuation model utilizes a DCF (discounted cash flow) approach in order to strip out "earnings" based on creative accounting. That's why we never recommend investing in firms without positive cash flows or a clear path to free cash flow (defined as operating cash flow minus capital expenditures).

Too often, equity research analysts forget that the only thing a company can spend is cash. Period. They can't spend "income" from the favorable revaluation of assets nor from adjustments in intangibles. Unfortunately, some analysts base ratings on these very items. Forward View will never get distracted by these things. Our goal is to accurately forecast future cash flows and then value them accordingly. We would be happy to explain the technicalities of our analytical methodology if you would appreciate more information. Forward View always welcomes your inquiries.

March News

March was a very busy month for Forward View, but I'm incredibly pleased with the results. We're moving multiple website development projects across the finish-line and have just begun a new one. Graphics designed by Kerri Costello and copywriting by Jamie Brown have been key components of these latest sites, and I'm very happy to have them both working on Forward View projects. We look forward to sharing the results of our efforts very soon!

On the finance side of the business, Forward View is pleased to announce that David Wilson will be our new contributing research analyst. David was my classmate at Southern New Hampshire University, and I'm excited to work with him again. I also enjoyed touring a Joy Global (NYSE: JOY) Center of Excellence last month and appreciated the company's invitation to see the facility. The research published following this visit has been our most popular report to date. Contact us to request a copy!

Last week, we rolled out our new research delivery system. You can now order research on the companies we cover through the Forward View website. We look forward to fulfilling your requests. We have also partnered with Seeking Alpha to provide a subscription platform. For less than $300 a year, you can access all of our research through a single portal. That's a significant savings vs. buying individual reports. The subscription service launches...today!

As always, I'm grateful to our clients and business partners for their continued support. Without them, Forward View wouldn't exist! We look forward to providing our new research offerings while we continue to support small businesses and nonprofits across America with modern web design services. -Nathan Yates