COVID-19 has thrown the investing rule book out the window


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COVID-19 has thrown the investing rule book out the window. Having patiently held cash for two years amid an unwillingness to participate in the unbridled enthusiasm that saw shares trade at record multiples despite declining prospects, we are now finding once-in-a-decade opportunities.

The business cycle has been resurrected.  As a consequence of COVID-19's spread, corporate earnings will plunge and unemployment will surge. Historically, however these experiences have been perfectly normal and most importantly, temporary.

For the US market to merely revert to its long-term average valuation, a 56% decline from the February 2020 all-time high is required. So, the recent weakness is nothing like 'blood in the streets' we have experienced previously.

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Most importantly, even the deepest sell-off ultimately passes. If you imagine hibernating for five years, you would awaken to a world that won't be talking about coronavirus. The world will have moved on.

National Storage REIT (ASX:NSR) is the largest storage property owner in Australia. Compared to the US, Australia is underpenetrated in the storage market. The US has 8-10 square feet of self-storage per capita. Australia has just 1 -2 square feet per capita. This differential represents a multi-year growth story. Meanwhile Asia is at the very beginning of its own storage journey.

NSR owns 150 assets with quoting, contracting and receiving payment in advance fully automated. While some sites are at full capacity, some are leveraged to suburban expansion and others have potential for residential development. In other words, there are any number of value-realising opportunities.

When the US-listed Public Storage recently walked away from a $2.40-per-share take-over offer for NSR, the stock plunged. But longer-term investors should keep in mind management have recently purchased shares, the stock is trading at a discount to net tangible assets and Warburg Pincus and Gaw Capital Partners were also interested in buying NSR and may one day return.

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Roger Montgomery is founder, chairman and chief investment officer of Montgomery Investment Management. Following a successful career as an analyst and public company chairman, Roger published the first edition of his stock market guide,, in 2010, becoming an Australian best seller in just 16 weeks. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce and is a senior fellow of the Financial Institute of Australasia.

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