We all have some needs, some desire in life and we work for fulfilling those. But due to Inflation, our purchasing power get reduce which has always remained a serious question for all of us. We all working hard to beat inflation and enhance our purchasing power. We save, we invest money for our future life. The very popular story everywhere at the market prevailing is a common stock investment is a better tool to beat inflation compared to the bond investment. But is it true in all the situations? We know that every-time it is not true; many a time, good stocks do not give a good return compared to the bond. We need to focus on the valuation of the stock and yield available on the bond. It is very much possible that good stocks can be traded a valuation of the great stocks which can be harmful to us to beat the inflation by investing in it at such a valuation. And at such a valuation, investing into the bond becomes a better choice. Good business is not always a good investment.
Common stocks do not have an inheritance feature to always beat inflation. Yes, it is acceptable that stocks have delivered a good return compared to the bond in the past. But for the future, we need to look at the future of the growth of the economy, growth of the corporate earnings, etc.
If we see the growth of Japan then GDP grows at ~3% CAGR since the year 1981 and similarly their stock market also has given a return of 3% CAGR since the year 1981. Nikkei still is not able to break the higher level of the year 1989. So for growth of the investment return, underlying companies/economy also has to grow otherwise we are not able to earn by making an investment.
When inflation keeps on rising then companies need to bring more capital for growing sales (as the purchasing power of the company reduces) at similar peace. Such a scenario creates difficulties for businesses to survive and grow further. When companies need additional capital to grow similar sales level, then return on incremental capital will reduce, also companies cannot able to put capital to the new projects as old projects require additional capital. This also can enhance a debt level or the external funding to run a business and that can hamper the profitability.
One of the communication company
We can see that the capital employed of the company is growing at 16% CAGR and sales growing at 8% CAGR. This means for growing a similar business, the company need to make a twice of capital employed. So that company keeps on requiring external funding to grow the business. Here, we can see that company having a negative working capital cycle though the company needs to bring external funding to grow or maintain the business. There is much business which having such problems and those businesses require to have a huge capital to grow and to even maintain the business.
Hyperinflation stop consumer to buy more and more goods as their purchasing power starts getting reduced. During such time, businesses do not rise a price to overcome the impact of the rising cost of raw material and other utilities. So that hyperinflation can hamper the earning, growth of the companies and which having an adverse impact on the annual investment return during those time period.
Many people make an investment to the gold, real estate, old paintings, old currencies, etc. for beating inflation but such a scenario does not seem to be practical even. Real estate is a hot investment for getting protection against inflation. But if we missed with a location, the price needs to pay, etc then we also do not protect ourselves against inflation by investing in the real estate.
We should not focus on the one and only basket by seeing the huge return in the past. We should focus on the different basket for making an investment. As we have experience in the near past that due to good return from the equities, people have started making an investment into the equities and market got a huge liquidity flow which has bring the market to the record high level. Similarly in the past for the real estate market.
Our investment success does not count by how much % of return, we have made through investment but how much we left after adjusting inflation is considerable. That means if we have earned 20% return on our investment and inflation is 8% then we need to consider our return is 12% after adjusting inflation. And if our investment is not able to generate a positive return after adjusting for the inflation at a longer period of time then that is of no use for us.
Similar thing with the Indian economy, we also experienced a Current Account Deficit and we have to borrow money for supporting the economy. If the hyperinflationary situation starts prevailing to an economy then it will become difficult for the economy to grow further. We need to bring more fund to just maintain the existing state of living.
Disclosure – Companies mentioned in the article is just for an example & educational purpose. It is not a buy/sell/ hold recommendation.
Read for more detail: The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, Jason Zweig