Many investors get frustrated when companies hold onto large amounts of cash rather than return it to shareholders through dividends or other means. But Validea CEO John Reese says that sometimes, you should be thankful when a company doesn’t send its cash back your way.
“It’s important to remember that some companies do a great job redeploying their cash to grow their businesses, which in the long run can turn out far better for shareholders than dividends or buybacks,” Reese writes in his latest column for Seeking Alpha. “Warren Buffett famously does not pay dividends at Berkshire Hathaway, because he thinks he can use the company’s cash in a way that better benefits shareholders than simply paying it out in dividends. His long-term track record shows that he’s right.”
Reese notes that return on retained earnings is one criterion Buffett looks at when assessing a stock, according to Mary Buffett’s books Buffettology and The New Buffettology. In Buffettology, he says, Mary Buffett said that “Warren believes that if a company can employ its retained earnings at above-average rates of return, then it is better to keep those earnings in the business. … Whether or not the management of the company can utilize its retained earnings is probably the single most important question you must ask yourself as a long-term investor in businesses. Commitment of capital to a company that has neither the opportunity nor the managerial talent to grow its retained earnings will cause your investment boat to become dead in the water.”
Reese looks at four stocks that get high marks from his Buffett-inspired Guru Strategy, which uses return on retained earnings as one of its variables. Among them: Monster Beverage Corp.