The Income Secret That Leads to 30% Returns

|October 15, 2021

Let me share with you a unique indicator that could boost your chances of scoring some big gains.

It’s one of my personal favorites.

It’s a metric that’s not as well-known as price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) or even discounted cash flow (DCF), but it’s behind the advice given by two of the world’s largest wealth management firms to their wealthiest clients.

Deutsche Bank invented it. Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management uses it extensively in its stock selection.

Cash return on capital invested (CROCI) may not sound like an important cause of stock returns…

But using this formula consistently leads to reliable 30% annual returns.

I first learned about it at a lunch presentation at Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management. I was seated next to then-Chairman Jim O’Neill when the company’s quantum division (cool name, eh?) made its presentation.

My jaw dropped. I kept the slides (and still have them!).

Now, not every stock with a good score will generate 30% returns… After all, a tailwind boosts returns, while a financial crisis evaporates them. And some sectors do better than others – like oil, mining, auto, capital goods, consumer staples, discretionary retail and tech.

I’ve been using this formula since 2010, based on data from the preceding decade. Through bull and bear markets and corrections, it’s the secret sauce that takes a portfolio from good to great.

As the so-called Robin Hood of financial advice (taking ideas from the rich and sharing them with the poor), I’d like to let you in on this powerful hedge fund secret… and show you why it leads to such astonishing returns.

Show Me the Money

In its simplest terms, CROCI measures how much cash a company produces on the capital it has had invested in it. It’s a measure of efficiency. It’s harder to manipulate cash than it is to manipulate earnings or profits. So CROCI paints a truer picture.

The higher the CROCI, the better. (In fact, I invest only in companies with a CROCI score of 10 or higher.)

It’s almost obvious: Companies that produce more cash on the capital they have perform better. They produce more cash by selling more and having fewer expenses. For example, if you don’t need to spend lots of money on capital goods (e.g., airplanes), can use the same machinery for years, have fewer staff members and generate lots of sales (demand)… you get more cash.

But of course, that is also too simple. High-return companies trade at a persistent and substantial premium… yet have significantly outperformed as their assets and cash flows have grown.

Let me explain…

The market is willing to pay a premium for companies with high cash growth. (After all, cash is king.) When we look at the trend of the average top 25% and the average bottom 25% of CROCI companies by measuring their gross cash invested, companies with low cash returns tend to generate slower growth, and – no surprise – companies with high cash returns tend to generate faster and more sustained growth.

Research shows that while companies with high cash returns are relatively expensive, they outperform nevertheless. Yet most investors think such companies won’t continue growing and are too expensive.

That’s simply not the case.

This is a hugely important idea.

A structurally well-positioned company should sustain outstanding earnings over multiple years. Assuming it does, the market will continue to value it at a premium.

There is, therefore, an inherent “valuation opportunity” in owning long-term leaders over longer-term holding periods.

Triple-Digit Gains

That’s why, in just the past 18 months, I’ve achieved triple-digit gains from stocks like Etsy, Crocs, Best of the Best and Medifast.

Each of these companies had a good CROCI score. Each was in the top 15% of all companies measured and ranked by CROCI.

They also had good P/E ratios, good sales growth and consistent momentum. But by further narrowing down by CROCI, we were able to laser-focus on these companies in particular… and they soon became market winners.

Etsy – the online marketplace for creators of handmade arts, crafts and other home goods – was able to generate lots of profits as its sales were boosted by lockdown buyers.

Those cash sales translated to profits because the company churns out a lot of cash relative to the amount of capital it invests. It is an efficient maker of money. In other words, it is good at turning income into profits because its expenses are low.

For Best of the Best – an online lifestyle competition platform – lockdown viewers started playing the types of games it features more often.

But this wasn’t a gamble on consumer behavior.

We knew that once sales increased, they would have an outsized impact on profits. That’s because the company had a high CROCI (again, that means it’s good at converting cash into profits).

Crocs was a similar case. During the lockdown, people wanted comfort, and the company’s Instagram campaign boosted sales.

We didn’t know the company would launch a campaign or how people would react to it, but we knew it had a great CROCI score. Once we saw sales come in, we knew they would exceed expectations because the company converts sales into profits more efficiently than companies with lower CROCI scores.

It’s pretty simple… and highly effective.

These are just a few of the countless wins I’ve uncovered thanks to using CROCI.

By drilling down into what really moves a stock, you can use one of the biggest hedge fund secrets to achieve truly great returns.

But even better, I’ll be making this powerful tool available to you very soon. Stay tuned.

Alpesh Patel
Alpesh Patel|Contributor

Alpesh Patel is an award-winning hedge fund and private equity fund manager, international best-selling author, entrepreneur and Dealmaker. He is the Founder and CEO of Praefinium Partners and is a Financial Times Top FTSE 100 forecaster. As a senior-most Dealmaker in the U.K.’s Department for International Trade, he is part of a team that has helped deliver $1 billion of investment to the U.K. since 2005 . He’s also a former Council Member of the 100-year-old Chatham House, the foreign affairs think-tank, whose patron is Queen Elizabeth. For his services to the U.K. economy, Alpesh received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) from the Queen in 2020. As a recognized authority on fintech, online trading and venture capital, his past and current client list includes American Express, Merrill Lynch HSBC, Charles Schwab, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, TD Bank, NYSE Life… and more.