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Author: FuzzyD Three stars, 500 posts Motley Fool One Everlasting Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 1150  
Subject: Re: How much model building should we do? Date: 12/9/2010 1:10 AM
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Jim,

I found my way over here from your discussion on the MDP ATVI boards. I really liked this post, and it reminds me a lot from when I met you at the MDP event in 2009. You shared how you made the transition to working for the Fool, analyzing companies, and using your scientific background to help in that.

That said, this post is awesome. Because you TEACH the mechanics of things.. which.. most people don't really want to know, or don't think they can learn. Or (in my case).. they don't want to read through "boring" financial details in financial statements, annual reports, etc. You know, those "boring" types of things that lead to "boringly-large-gains" because you read those "boring" statements.

Your MUE approach resonates. Why? Because it's so simple.

You hit the nail on the head as you discuss the models, and picking values for all the knobs and levers that go into it.. FCF growth, sales growth, revenue growth, etc, etc. It's math, and it's exponential math. If you mess up, it goes wrong in a hurry. But -- while I'm probably not the type to go thru the exercise (at least not yet) -- like you said, it's worthwhile to understand the things that the business can do to make those knobs and levers move. Is the analyst going to pick the right percentage growth? Probably not. But understanding how the company makes those numbers change is the real value.

And then, how you use MUE to back out those rates, is basically making sure you didn't make a stupid mistake. As an engineer, I'd liken it to using diffential equations to figure out a physics problem, but then making sure you didn't make a sign error and that gravity still goes down (and not UP!) at the end of it.

For the simplified investor-wanna-be in me, MUE makes more sense than all the fancy models. It's at least a great place to start, and then the fancy models could be learned later - but really, that's moreso learning to understand how businesses work and make money.

Perhaps this will sound weird, but I could see TomE adding a MUE line to his page post each quarter.. what does the market expect for growth rates at this point in time? It's a simple concept, and one that when the "MUE number" goes into your favor enough, could be used as a good indicator to buy. And simple and straightforward is better.

Dave
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