The gut feel test may sound totally illogical and irrational, but I have used it several times. I have posted my investment approach earlier here. As I wrote, I run various filters and do a 1-2 hour check on the basic financials of the company. That is followed by reading the Management discussion and analysis.
If the numbers do not look ok, I tend to give the idea a pass. There are no set rules for the numbers to look ok. Let me list a few cases
1. In case of aftek the acqusition of promoter held companies was a red flag for me. Clear case of conflict of interest
2. In case of Dr reddy’s and other pharma companies the valuation of the company seems to be high and I do not have the skills to evaluate the success or failure of ANDA filings
3. In case of JSW holding, more than 60-70% of the value is due to JSW steel. I do not have a specific insight into the steel business. As I could not evaluate whether JSW steel is fairly valued or undervalued, I decided to give JSW holdings a pass.
4. In 2004-2005, I felt bharat forge was fairly valued and could not project with confidence if the performance would continue. Hence gave the company a pass. Clearly a mistake, but a rational and acceptable one.
5. Indraprastha gas limited – Gas is available at a subsidy. Future margins may drop and hence the current price seems to be reflecting that. So no undervaluation although the stock appears to be so by past measures.
A lot of times, I have analysed the company and towards the end a few points keep nagging me. If I cannot evaluate those critical issues with confidence, I tend to give the stock a pass. The risk of this approach is that I tend to miss out on several good opportunities. I however do not agonize over it if the reason was related to my circle of competence, wherein I do not have the necessary knowledge to evaluate the company well.
In a few cases however, the level of undervaluation may be so great that I have a large margin of safety. In such as cases even if I have a few issues with the company, the downside risk is low and the risk reward equation seems to be fine. In such cases I may buy the stock and hold it till the undervaluation dissapears.