As part of my long-term study into the various operations of financial institutions, I have also come across ubiquitous payment processor Western Union. In what has now become seven years of writing about investments, I have never once endorsed Western Union as a potential investment. In early 2011, the stock traded at around $21 per share, a higher price than the current valuation of almost $17 per share, or around $7.5 billion.
Why do I never speak highly of it?
Because the terms of its costs with customers continues to get worse and worse.
With the rise of online price comparison shopping, many sellers have come to appreciate that consumers will purchase a product or service at the lowest possible price offered, with little tolerance to pay a higher price among similarly situated substitutions. Perhaps this has always been the case, but the ubiquity of consumer access to pricing has bludgeoned the ability of some sellers to charge a higher price than other available peer sellers providing the same stuff.
I invoke the Newtonian principle that “for every action, there must be an equal and opposite reaction” to assert that when one source of profit (say, charging higher prices than another nearby) is thwarted, something else gets … Read the rest of this article!
When I contemplate a potential investment, one of the hard decisions to make is defining the point at which a management team’s executive compensation becomes so excessive that it ought to deter investment.
So far in my life, the only stock I ever disqualified from consideration solely on the grounds of excessive compensation was Occidental Petroleum, where Ray Irani was doing things like collecting $76 million pay packages here and there. He’s gone now, but you can read about some of his collected spoils by clicking here.