U.S. Value Equity Team

Capital Stewardship Focus

We believe that management teams that are good stewards of capital and employ it efficiently generally will grow their business over time and create shareholder value.

WHAT WE BELIEVE

We believe successful companies possess superior capital stewardship and management teams focused on shareholder value—a solid balance sheet and cash flows may provide downside protection. As a result, we balance valuation and fundamentals  with a strong emphasis on cash flows and return on invested capital (ROIC).

Proprietary company-specific modeling and valuation work:

  • Helps gauge management’s historical record of capital stewardship
  • Highlights future opportunities for a company to create shareholder value

And our sector neutral approach allows us to focus on investing in the best stocks within each sector.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

Small-cap companies typically have an insatiable appetite to get bigger. There are a number of ways these companies can grow and many of these options are not shareholder friendly. The most straightforward example is a management team that makes a series of acquisitions and overpays for the acquired companies. In the end, the company is now larger, but was this the most efficient way for the company to employ its capital? Would the company have been better off returning this capital to shareholders or paying down debt?

We strive to invest in companies that are focused on growing the right way and are generally growing their free cash flow and return on invested capital. We believe management teams that are good stewards of capital and employ it efficiently generally will grow their business over time and create shareholder value. If management struggles to find a good use for the company’s excess capital, they are generally better off being disciplined until the right opportunity comes around or returning the excess capital to shareholders so they can employ it as they see fit.

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Any statements or opinions expressed are those of the author as of the date of publication, are subject to change without notice as economic and market conditions dictate, and may not reflect the opinions of other investment teams within William Blair Investment Management, LLC.

This content is for informational and educational purposes only and not intended as investment advice or a recommendation to buy or sell any security. Investment advice and recommendations can be provided only after careful consideration of an investor’s objectives, guidelines, and restrictions.

Factual information has been taken from sources we believe to be reliable, but its accuracy, completeness or interpretation cannot be guaranteed. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein are based upon proprietary research and should not be interpreted as investment advice, as an offer or solicitation, nor as the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. Statements concerning financial market trends are based on current market conditions, which will fluctuate. William Blair does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult your tax and/or legal counsel for specific tax questions and concerns.

Investing involves risks, including the possible loss of principal. Equity securities may decline in value due to both real and perceived general market, economic, and industry conditions. The securities of smaller companies may be more volatile and less liquid than securities of larger companies. Investing in foreign denominated and/or domiciled securities may involve heightened risk due to currency fluctuations, and economic and political risks, which may be enhanced in emerging markets. Investing in the bond market is subject to certain risks including market, interest rate, issuer, credit, and inflation risk. Currency transactions are affected by fluctuations in exchange rates; currency exchange rates may fluctuate significantly over short periods of time. Diversification does not ensure against loss. Any investment or strategy mentioned herein may not be suitable for every investor. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

The MSCI ACWI IMI Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that captures large, mid, and small cap representation across developed and emerging markets. The MSCI ACWI Small Cap Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that captures small cap representation across developed and emerging markets. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of emerging markets. The MSCI World Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed markets. The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index is a broad-based benchmark that measures the investment grade, U.S. dollar-denominated, fixed-rate taxable bond market, including Treasuries, government-related and corporate securities, mortgage-backed securities (agency fixed-rate and hybrid ARM pass-throughs), asset-backed securities and commercial mortgage backed securities. The Russell 2000 Index is a market capitalization-weighted index designed to represent the small cap segment of the U.S. equity universe. Index performance is for illustrative purposes only. The indices are unmanaged, do not incur fees or expenses, and cannot be invested in directly.

Alpha is a measure of an investment's return in excess of the market's return, after both have been adjusted for risk.

Half-life is a statistical measure of the time required for the discrepancy between price and value to contract by half of its starting value. Fundamental value estimates are based on the Dynamic Allocation Strategies team's proprietary research.

P/E Ratio is a measure of valuation which compares share price to earnings per share, calculated using estimates for the next twelve months.

Standard deviation is a statistical measurement of variations from the average.

QUANTITATIVE MODELS—FACTOR DEFINITIONS

The William Blair Earnings Trend Model captures information about short- and medium-term changes in analyst estimates in an attempt to anticipate future estimate changes and stock performance. The score combines measurements of earnings revisions, momentum, and earnings surprise.

The William Blair Valuation Model combines varying metrics used to characterize the relationship between the stock’s trading price and its intrinsic value. By going beyond using only one or two measures, the model attempts to build a more holistic version of a stock’s worth vis-a-vis the market. The score combines measurements of earnings/cash flow based, asset-based, and model-based factors.