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CFA Institute presents a series of articles detailing a framework for analysis of investment fundamentals of industries.


The key to a company’s success depends on how well it executes its business model. This calls for optimising the allocation of limited resources to generate sustainable cash flows, for investing in new products, technologies, and services in responding to the wider competitive landscape or societal changes and mega trends, as well as for devising appropriate responses in the face of an evolving macroeconomic, regulatory, and political environment.

Different industries often require very different business models; and even within the same industry, the model that does add value to the business may vary somewhat from company to company.

To help investors undertake proper due diligence on a company, we have generated a framework of analysis designed to tease out the following: (1) whether the pertinent factors favour the firm in question; and (2) whether management is effective in executing its business model or value-generating strategies, while responding appropriately to its external environment.

This framework is customised to specific sectors and incorporates interviews with professionals within those sectors

Understanding the Investment Fundamentals of the Insurance Sector

Insurance is a curious sector. In years gone by, it was regarded as something of a cash cow, with the likes of Warren Buffett treating the float as a source of money to be invested elsewhere. Insurance companies were also seen as sclerotic, with time-consuming processes that often placed the customer last. It’s not because these firms didn’t care. Instead, the characterisation reflected an
ingrained culture that didn’t quite know how to change.  

28 January 2019 | CFA Institute | 1 CE

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Understanding the Investment Fundamentals of the Logistics Sector

Logistics is the backbone of today’s supply-chain ecosystem, ensuring that people and goods are transported efficiently from one point to another, on time, in good condition, and at competitive prices. The sector is evolving rapidly, as advances in technology respond to distribution demands from e-commerce firms. Furthermore, disruptive forces are in play as new entrants create services that we suddenly cannot live without.

15 January 2019 | CFA Institute | 1 CE

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Understanding the Investment Fundamentals of the Education Sector

Citius, altius, fortius—faster, higher, stronger—may be the Olympic motto, but it also reflects a basic human desire to improve on what we have already achieved. This is precisely the case with education, where parents—be they millionaires or daily wage earners—instinctively want their children to transcend the achievements of previous generations. This desire is particularly evident in emerging markets.

3 November 2018 | CFA Institute | 1 CE

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Understanding the Investment Fundamentals of the Palm Oil Industry

From cooking oil to biofuel, to the oleochemicals used in food additives, soaps, cosmetics, lubricants, and textiles, palm oil and its refined derivatives touch our lives in many ways. Given the commodity’s ubiquity, we decided to perform some extraction of our own, and provide insights into the factors and dynamics to consider when analysing companies involved in the production of palm oil.

19 October 2018 | CFA Institute | 1 CE

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Understanding the Investment Fundamentals of the Gaming Sector

There is an old Chinese saying: “For every ten gamblers, nine will be losers.” Typically, you might picture a down-atluck gamer staring in shock at the card table. However, the casino itself may also not be on a winning streak.

Despite the deep-pile-carpet glamour and general hype about how profitable the casino business model potentially can be, gaming is actually a highly regulated and heavily taxed industry. After all, society expects to be compensated for absorbing the social costs that gambling engenders. As such, few public voices lobby against gaming levies.

8 September 2018 | CFA Institute | 1 CE

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Understanding the Investment Fundamentals of Airlines

Perhaps it’s the thrill of voyaging to a far-flung, unfamiliar place. Maybe it’s the teasing prospect of a seat or—even better—an earnings upgrade. Whatever our reasons, we remain seduced and frustrated by the airline industry.

In a 2007 letter to shareholders, Warren Buffett observed that: The worst sort of business is one that grows rapidly, requires significant capital to engender the growth, then earns little or no money—think airlines. Here a durable competitive advantage has proven elusive ever since the days of the Wright Brothers. Indeed, if a farsighted capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk, he would have done his successors a huge favor by shooting Orville down. 

1 September 2018 | CFA Institute | 1 CE

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Understanding the Investment Fundamentals of the Property Development Sector

In a complex and fast-moving financial world, it’s comforting to know that some sectors remain relatively easy to understand. A case in point is property development. The property developer acquires land and an architect then designs the building and obtains planning approval before passing the baton to the construction team. 
At this stage, the developer could choose to undertake marketing and sales before construction is complete or wait until the last brick falls into place. Either way, you can then calculate the gross development value (GDV) of a project or profit from the project, of which the sum of GDV, excluding the developer’s liabilities, will yield the value of the development.

28 June 2018 | CFA Institute | 1 CE

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Understanding the Investment Fundamentals of the Banking Sector

The role banks play in our lives is vital. Their activities underpin the efficient working of an economy – indeed, they are often among the most significant constituents of a country’s stock market. When we talk about banks, we are not just referring to the familiar branches we occasionally visit to deposit funds or withdraw cash. Banks is an umbrella term that describes an industry subdivided into several segments, including, but not restricted to Consumer Banking & Wealth Management (also known as retail banking), Wholesale (also known as institutional banking) and Treasury.

28 May 2018 | CFA Institute | 1 CE

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Understanding the Investment Fundamentals of the Telecommunications Sector

For investors exploring the telecommunications sector, it is important to be aware of the key economic, operational and regulatory factors influencing these firms. These not only vary from country to country but also from company to company, depending on the kind of service that is being provided – fixed line, mobile or a combination of the two. Common to all are the opportunities afforded by the growth in data and the proliferation of online services. For operators in developing markets, lower penetration rates offer long-term opportunities. Meanwhile for operators in the  developed world, staying relevant by keeping pace with technological advancements is vital. In general, the sector is marked by intense competition, hefty capital expenditure requirements (at least historically) and rigorous regulatory intrusion.

26 March 2018 | CFA Institute | 1 CE

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Understanding the Investment Fundamentals of Real Estate Investment Trusts

REITs are vehicles that own and typically operate a portfolio of income-yielding real estate assets. Modelled along the lines of unit trusts, REITs allow for funds to be pooled from a group of investors. Such a structure provides retail investors with several advantages: a low-hurdle of entry and exposure to a diversified pool of real estate assets with a high level of liquidity, which would not otherwise be possible with direct investing.

15 March 2018 | CFA Institute | 1 CE

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About the Author(s)

ARX Editorial Team

Director: Scott Lee
Editor, content manager: Piotr Zembrowski, CFA
Coordinator: Natalie Yiu

Additional Information

Published by CFA Institute Asia-Pacific Research Exchange

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