VC Decision Making (Online): Developing an Investment Thesis NEW

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VC Decision Making (Online): Developing an Investment Thesis

Create Your Own Venture Capital Strategy

Venture capital funding has experienced exponential growth in recent years. While the peak for venture capital in terms of dollar value has passed in the face of the global economic slowdown, the field continues to be one of tremendous opportunity — if you know where to find it.

In order to thrive in this fast-paced, volatile environment, venture capital professionals must stay abreast of trends and develop a solid investment thesis to help them navigate uncertainty and pinpoint viable opportunities.

Lead faculty Angela Lee is the founder of 37 Angels, an investing network that has evaluated 15,000+ startups, invested in 90+ startups, and currently activates new investors through a startup investment boot camp. Join us to learn how to create a successful investment strategy and decision-making framework to improve venture fund performance and intelligently diversify your portfolio.

Please contact our partners at Emeritus at  [email protected] , +1 315-982-5094, or +1 315-277-2746 for a personal conversation about this program and how it may benefit you.


By the end of the program, you will be able to:

  • Determine the best investment strategy for your portfolio
  • Establish your criteria for industries and business models to invest in
  • Understand the risk/return trade-offs between investing in different stages
  • Recognize and navigate trends that are transforming the venture capital market and uncover upcoming opportunities  

Program Structure

What Is Venture Capital?

Get a refresher on the venture capital industry and self-assess your current knowledge. Identify the venture capital players, risks, rewards, and funding stages, and navigate the venture capital deal flow process.  

Participant Profile

This advanced-level program is designed specifically for mid-career venture capital professionals interested in exploring the evolution of the venture capital landscape and identifying emerging startup trends and technologies in which to invest.

Representative roles include:

  • Venture capitalist
  • Venture partner
  • Limited partner
  • VC associate or senior associate
  • Portfolio manager
  • Financial advisor
  • Family office manager

Angela Lee, Professor of Professional Practice in the Finance Division and Faculty Director of the Lang Center for Entrepreneurship, teaches venture capital, leadership, and business strategy courses at Columbia Business School.

Professor of Professional Practice, Finance Faculty Director of the Lang Center for Entrepreneurship

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VC Decision Making Online Program at Columbia Business School | Venture Capital Strategy

VC Decision Making (Online): Developing an Investment Thesis

Navigate the changing trends in venture capital

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6 weeks, online 4–6 hours per week


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Create Your Own Venture Capital Strategy

Venture capital funding has experienced exponential growth in recent years. While the peak for venture capital in terms of dollar value has passed in the face of the global economic slowdown, the field continues to be one of tremendous opportunity — if you know where to find it.

In order to thrive in this fast-paced, volatile environment, venture capital professionals must stay abreast of trends and develop a solid investment thesis to help them navigate uncertainty and pinpoint viable opportunities.

Lead faculty Angela Lee is the founder of 37 Angels, an investing network that has evaluated 20,000 startups, invested in 90+ startups, and currently activates new investors through a startup investment boot camp. Join us to learn how to create a successful investment strategy and decision-making framework to improve venture fund performance and intelligently diversify your portfolio.

Global venture capital funding surged to $621B in 2021, two times more than in 2020, and around 10 times the level of 10 years ago.

Source: CB Insights

$132B invested in financial services in 2021, which is 169 percent year-over-year growth and 21 percent of total venture funding.

62 percent of all venture capital deals are early-stage deals.

Key Takeaways

By the end of the program, you will be able to:

  • Determine the best investment strategy for your portfolio
  • Establish your criteria for industries and business models to invest in
  • Understand the risk/return trade-offs between investing in different stages
  • Recognize and navigate trends that are transforming the venture capital market and uncover upcoming opportunities

Who Should Attend?

This advanced-level program is designed specifically for mid-career venture capital professionals interested in exploring the evolution of the venture capital landscape and identifying emerging startup trends and technologies in which to invest.

Program Modules

Get a refresher on the venture capital industry and self-assess your current knowledge. Identify the venture capital players, risks, rewards, and funding stages, and navigate the venture capital deal flow process.

Compare existing startup investment strategies and determine the investment strategy that works best for your portfolio.

Identify components of an investment thesis, evaluate real-world investment thesis examples, and build your own criteria for industries and business models in which you want to invest.

Understand the best stages in which to invest and how they benefits your portfolio. Compare methods used to mark up a portfolio.

Explore technology trends that have transformed the market and how to spot upcoming opportunities. Apply a framework to plan for uncertainties and decide on the trends that can add value.

Learn how to get — and stay — ahead of the curve with your investment strategies. Learn the differences between structural and cyclical changes, which help you make informed investment decisions.

Program Experience

investment thesis education

World-Renowned Faculty

Learn from accomplished faculty, and industry experts whose diverse backgrounds encompass a broad range of disciplines

investment thesis education

Guest Speakers

Accomplished academics and experts offer unique perspectives and the opportunity to put learning into practice

investment thesis education

Live Faculty Sessions

Get actionable insights in live online interactions with faculty who are recognized leaders in their fields

investment thesis education

Engaging Assignments and Activities

Hone business acumen and executive skills with try-it activities that help you redefine your potential

Program Faculty

Image of the faculty - Angela Lee

Professor of Professional Practice in Finance, Faculty Director, the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center, Columbia Business School

Angela Lee Professor of Professional Practice in Finance, Faculty Director, the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center, Columbia Business School Angela Lee is an award-winning professor and former Chief Innovation Officer at Columbia Business School, where she teaches venture capital and leadership programs. She started her career in product management and then moved to consulting at McKinsey. She founded 4 startups and is also the founder of 37 Angels, an investing network that has evaluated over 20,000 companies and invested in over 90+ companies. She also serves as a venture partner at Fresco Capital, an early-stage venture fund that focuses on the future of work, digital health, and sustainability. She was awarded the Dean's Award for Teaching Excellence at Columbia Business School in 2020 and won the Singhvi Prize for Scholarship in the Classroom in 2022. Angela has spoken at the White House and NASA and is an expert in teaching online and making learning scalable. She is a sought-after expert on CNBC, Bloomberg TV, MSNBC, and Fox Business. She was recognized by Inc . as one of 17 Inspiring Women to Watch, by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of 6 Innovative Women to Watch, and by Crain’s as a Notable Women in Tech.
Elliott Robinson Partner, Growth Equity, Bessemer Venture Partners Elliott Robinson is a partner and co-founder of the growth investment practice at Bessemer, where he focuses primarily on cloud software investments, and is a board member of a number of organizations. Prior to Bessemer, he was a partner with M12, a vice president at Georgian Partners, and an associate with Syncom Venture Partners (where he led investments in organizations such as Canva, Forter, and Statespace). He earned his MBA from Columbia Business School and his BS from Morehouse College.
Hilary Gosher Managing Director, Insight Partners Since joining Insight Partners two decades ago, Hilary has played a role in some of the most exciting growth journeys in SaaS history. She founded and leads Insight Onsite, a team that accelerates growth at Insight's portfolio organizations. In addition, she is an adjunct associate professor at Columbia Business School. She holds an MBA from INSEAD in France along with a BA and LLB from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa.


investment thesis education

Upon completion of the VC Decision Making (Online): Developing an Investment Thesis program, you will receive a certificate of participation from Columbia Business School Executive Education — a powerful testament to your management capabilities — and add two days toward a Certificate in Business Excellence .

Your verified digital certificate will be issued in your legal name and emailed to you, at no additional cost, upon completion of the program as per the stipulated requirements. All certificate images are for illustrative purposes only and may be subject to change at the discretion of Columbia Business School Executive Education.

Other Recommended Programs

  • Foundations of Venture Capital (Online) 6 weeks, online Learn the sources for deal flow and select the best organizations to invest in and identify key elements to consider when developing and managing a VC portfolio. Learn more

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Note that, unless otherwise stated on the program web page, all programs are taught in English and proficiency in English is required.

What is the typical class profile?

More than 50 percent of our participants are from outside the United States. Class profiles vary from one cohort to the next, but, generally, our online certificates draw a highly diverse audience in terms of professional experience, industry, and geography — leading to a very rich peer learning and networking experience.

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Check back to this program web page or email us to inquire if future program dates or the timeline for future offerings have been confirmed yet.

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We have designed this program to fit into your current working life as efficiently as possible. Time will be spent among a variety of activities including:

  • Engaging with recorded video lectures from faculty
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The program is designed to be highly interactive while also allowing time for self-reflection and to demonstrate an understanding of the core topics through various active learning exercises. Please email us if you need further clarification on program activities.

What is it like to learn online with the learning collaborator, Emeritus?

More than 300,000 learners across 200 countries have chosen to advance their skills with Emeritus and its educational learning partners. In fact, 90 percent of the respondents of a recent survey across all our programs said that their learning outcomes were met or exceeded. All the contents of the course would be made available to students at the commencement of the course. However, to ensure the program delivers the desired learning outcomes the students may appoint Emeritus to manage the delivery of the program in a cohort-based manner the cost of which is already included in the overall course fee of the course. A dedicated program support team is available 24/5 (Monday to Friday) to answer questions about the learning platform, technical issues, or anything else that may affect your learning experience.

How do I interact with other program participants?

Peer learning adds substantially to the overall learning experience and is an important part of the program. You can connect and communicate with other participants through our learning platform.

What are the requirements to earn the certificate?

Each program includes an estimated learner effort per week, so you can gauge what will be required before you enroll. This is referenced at the top of the program landing page under the Duration section, as well as in the program brochure, which you can obtain by submitting the short form at the top of this web page. All programs are designed to fit into your working life. This program is scored as a pass or no-pass; participants must complete the required activities to pass and obtain the certificate of completion. Some programs include a final project submission or other assignments to obtain passing status. This information will be noted in the program brochure. Please email us if you need further clarification on any specific program requirements.

What type of certificate will I receive?

Upon successful completion of the program, you will receive a smart digital certificate. The smart digital certificate can be shared with friends, family, schools, or potential employers. You can use it on your cover letter, resume, and/or display it on your LinkedIn profile. The digital certificate will be sent approximately two weeks after the program, once grading is complete.

Can I get the hard copy of the certificate?

No, only verified digital certificates will be issued upon successful completion. This allows you to share your credentials on social platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

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No, there is no alumni status granted for this program. In some cases, there are credits that count toward a higher level of certification. This information will be clearly noted in the program brochure.

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You will have access to the online learning platform and all the videos and program materials for 12 months following the program start date . Access to the learning platform is restricted to registered participants per the terms of agreement.

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Participants will need the latest version of their preferred browser to access the learning platform. In addition, Microsoft Office and a PDF viewer are required to access documents, spreadsheets, presentations, PDF files, and transcripts.

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What Is an Investment Thesis?

  • Understanding the Thesis

Special Considerations

  • What's Included?

The Bottom Line

  • Portfolio Management

Investment Thesis: An Argument in Support of Investing Decisions

investment thesis education

Charlene Rhinehart is a CPA , CFE, chair of an Illinois CPA Society committee, and has a degree in accounting and finance from DePaul University.

investment thesis education

The term investment thesis refers to a reasoned argument for a particular investment strategy, backed up by research and analysis. Investment theses are commonly prepared by (and for) individual investors and businesses. These formal written documents may be prepared by analysts or other financial professionals for presentation to their clients.

Key Takeaways

  • An investment thesis is a written document that recommends a new investment, based on research and analysis of its potential for profit.
  • Individual investors can use this technique to investigate and select investments that meet their goals.
  • Financial professionals use the investment thesis to pitch their ideas.

Understanding the Investment Thesis

As noted above, an investment thesis is a written document that provides information about a potential investment. It is a research- and analysis-based proposal that is usually drafted by an investment or financial professional to provide insight into investments and to pitch investment ideas. In some cases, the investor will draft their own investment thesis, as is the case with venture capitalists and private equity firms.

This thesis can be used as a strategic decision-making tool. Investors and companies can use a thesis to decide whether or not to pursue a particular investment, such as a stock or acquiring another company. Or it can be used as a way to look back and analyze why a particular decision was made in the first place—and whether it was the right one. Putting things in writing can have a huge impact on the direction of a potential investment.

Let's say an investor purchases a stock based on the investment thesis that the stock is undervalued . The thesis states that the investor plans to hold the stock for three years, during which its price will rise to reflect its true worth. At that point, the stock will be sold at a profit. A year later, the stock market crashes, and the investor's pick crashes with it. The investor recalls the investment thesis, relies on the integrity of its conclusions, and continues to hold the stock.

That is a sound strategy unless some event that is totally unexpected and entirely absent from the investment thesis occurs. Examples of these might include the 2007-2008 financial crisis or the Brexit vote that forced the United Kingdom out of the European Union (EU) in 2016. These were highly unexpected events, and they might affect someone's investment thesis.

If you think your investment thesis holds up, stick with it through thick and thin.

An investment thesis is generally formally documented, but there are no universal standards for the contents. Some require fast action and are not elaborate compositions. When a thesis concerns a big trend, such as a global macro perspective, the investment thesis may be well documented and might even include a fair amount of promotional materials for presentation to potential investing partners.

Portfolio management is now a science-based discipline, not unlike engineering or medicine. As in those fields, breakthroughs in basic theory, technology, and market structures continuously translate into improvements in products and in professional practices. The investment thesis has been strengthened with qualitative and quantitative methods that are now widely accepted.

As with any thesis, an idea may surface but it is methodical research that takes it from an abstract concept to a recommendation for action. In the world of investments, the thesis serves as a game plan.

What's Included in an Investment Thesis?

Although there's no industry standard, there are usually some common components to this document. Remember, an investment thesis is generally a proposal that is based on research and analysis. As such, it is meant to be a guide about the viability of a particular investment.

Most investment theses include (but aren't limited to) the following information:

  • The investment in question
  • The investment goal(s)
  • Viability of the investment, including any trends that support the investment
  • Potential downsides and risks that may be associated with the investment
  • Costs and potential returns as well as any losses that may result

Some theses also try to answer some key questions, including:

  • Does the investment align with the intended goal(s)?
  • What could go wrong?
  • What do the financial statements say?
  • What is the growth potential of this investment?

Putting everything in writing can help investors make more informed decisions. For instance, a company's management team can use a thesis to decide whether or not to pursue the acquisition of a rival. The thesis may highlight whether the target's vision aligns with the acquirer or it may identify opportunities for growth in the market.

Keep in mind that the complexity of an investment thesis depends on the type of investor involved and the nature of the investment. So the investment thesis for a corporation looking to acquire a rival may be more in-depth and complicated compared to that of an individual investor who wants to develop an investment portfolio.

Examples of an Investment Thesis

Portfolio managers and investment companies often post information about their investment theses on their websites. The following are just two examples.

Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley ( MS ) is one of the world's leading financial services firms. It offers investment management services, investment banking, securities, and wealth management services. According to the company, it has five steps that make up its investment process, including idea generation, quality assessment, valuation, risk management , and portfolio construction.

When it comes to developing its investment thesis, the company tries to answer three questions as part of its quality assessment step:

  • "Is the company a disruptor or is it insulated from disruptive change? 
  • Does the company demonstrate financial strength with high returns on invested capital, high margins, strong cash conversion, low capital intensity and low leverage? 
  • Are there environmental or social externalities not borne by the company, or governance and accounting risks that may alter the investment thesis?"

Connetic Ventures

Connetic Adventures is a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage companies. The company uses data to develop its investment thesis, which is made up of three pillars. According to its blog, there were three pillars or principles that contributed to Connetic's venture capital investment strategy. These included diversification, value, and follow-on—each of which comes with a pro and con.

Why Is an Investment Thesis Important?

An investment thesis is a written proposal or research-based analysis of why investors or companies should pursue an investment. In some cases, it may also serve as a historical guide as to whether the investment was a good move or not. Whatever the reason, an investment thesis allows investors to make better, more informed decisions about whether to put their money into a specific investment. This written document provides insight into what the investment is, the goals of the investment, any associated costs, the potential for returns, as well as any possible risks and losses that may result.

Who Should Have an Investment Thesis?

An investment thesis is important for anyone who wants to invest their money. Individual investors can use a thesis to decide whether to purchase stock in a particular company and what strategy they should use, whether it's a buy-and-hold strategy or one where they only have the stock for a short period of time. A company can craft its own investment thesis to help weigh out whether an acquisition or growth strategy is worthwhile.

How Do You Create an Investment Thesis?

It's important to put your investment thesis in writing. Seeing your proposal in print can help you make a better decision. When you're writing your investment thesis, be sure to be clear and concise. Make sure you do your research and include any facts and figures that can help you make your decision. Be sure to include your goals, the potential for upside, and any risks that you may come across. Try to ask and answer some key questions, including whether the investment meets your investment goals and what could go wrong if you go ahead with the deal.

It's always important to have a plan, especially when it comes to investing. After all, you are putting your money at risk. Having an investment thesis can help you make more informed decisions about whether a potential investment is worth your while. Make sure you put your thesis in writing and answer some key questions about your goals, costs, and potential outcomes. Having a concrete proposal in place can spell the difference between earning returns and losing all your money. And that's if your thesis supports the investment in the first place.

Harvard Business School. " Writing a Credible Investment Thesis ."

Lanturn. " What is an Investment Thesis and 3 Tips to Make One ."

Morgan Stanley. " Global Opportunity ."

Medium. " The Data That Built Our Fund's Investment Thesis ."

investment thesis education

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What is an investment thesis?

Why you need a solid investment thesis, how to write an investment thesis , step one: determine your minimum viable fund size, step two: pinpoint your investment focus, step three: portfolio construction , how to present your fund thesis to lps, investment thesis example.

Breaking into the venture capital ecosystem is both challenging and competitive. Having a great investment thesis is key to running a successful VC fund. Without a clear investment strategy and effective portfolio construction , your fund won’t get very far.

In this article, we’ll cover how you can develop a strong investment thesis.

In private equity and venture capital , an investment thesis (sometimes called a fund thesis or fund strategy) outlines how you plan to use invested capital to generate returns. Your investment thesis clarifies how you’ll make money for the investors in your fund—it’s a definition of what your fund will do. 

Your investment thesis may include:

Your fund size

The number of companies in your portfolio

The stages and industries of those companies

The geographies those companies are located in

The differentiated way your fund will support your portfolio companies

Your average check size

The amount of capital reserved for follow-on investments

The return profile for your fund, based on the size of the stakes you’re trying to take in each company and your estimated success rate

How the fund will set itself apart from similarly sized or focused funds

An investment thesis tells a story by describing how each of these elements work together. 

Your fund’s investment thesis explains how you’ll cooperate with, compete with, and differentiate from other venture funds. An effective fund investment thesis is realistic and sustainable. It aligns with your investment team’s network of professional contacts (which provides access to deals), untapped opportunities in new and existing markets, and your LPs’ investment interests. 

Your fund thesis also supports compliance with the “ venture capital fund ” definition under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 , which is important if you plan to rely on the related regulatory exemption for private funds. 

Creating your own fund investment thesis involves determining fund size, investment focus, and portfolio construction. 

The size of your fund influences almost every element of your investment strategy: The number of companies in your portfolio, your check size, the amount of reserve capital you have, and the return profile for your fund. Fund size also affects the types of LPs you attract and helps determine your fund’s portfolio management fees, which then dictate the operational expenses you can realistically support. 

Competitive research

To determine your ideal fund size, start by researching funds with goals and benchmarks like yours to see how they’re faring. You may also want to research successful funds across a handful of different industries and sectors to see what works. You can learn more information about funds by subscribing to trade publications, reading press releases from funds when they close, or on social media.

Once you’ve settled on a fund size, the next step is to outline the stage, industry, and location you’ll invest in. Articulating your investment focus helps narrow your aim and convince limited partners (LP) with interests in these sectors and stages to get on board with your strategy. It also makes it easier for founders who meet your parameters to identify your fund as a potential investor—and discourages founders who aren’t a good fit from pitching your firm.

At what point in a company’s life cycle do you want to invest and offer guidance? If you’re interested in being a sounding board for early-stage companies who are just getting started, you might want to invest at the pre-seed , seed , or Series A stages. However, if you prefer to work with companies that already have steady revenue and an established business model, you’ll probably want to focus on a later stage. 

Ultimately, the stage where you can focus your investments will be a function of your fund size and the anticipated number of companies in your portfolio. So keep this top of mind when building out your minimal viable fund size.   

Which sectors are you interested in? Do you plan to target a specific industry—like healthcare, fintech, or real estate—or focus on companies across a handful of different industries? 

Where are the companies you’ll be investing in? What particular challenges and assets do they have because of where they operate? You may choose to invest in local companies if you already have a deep network of contacts nearby. On the other hand, if you’re open to traveling, or want to capitalize on emerging, international, or underserved markets, you may want to expand your reach. This may also apply if your fund’s investment thesis is based on industry, for example, so you may be agnostic to geography. 

Other considerations

Depending on your investment goals, you might have other criteria to look at, like a company’s social impact, environmental influence, or commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

A thoughtful portfolio is critical to running a successful fund and shaping your overall investment thesis. Your strategy for portfolio construction signals to LPs how you plan to allocate their capital across investments. Your fund’s investment portfolio is essentially the roadmap for the life of the fund. It spells out the number of companies you’ll invest in, the amount of capital you’ll pour into each company, your target ownership for each company, how much you’ll set aside for initial investments, and how much you’ll reserve for follow-on investments.

Portfolio construction is made up of the following elements: 

Investment focus

Diversification: Types of companies you’ll invest in and what percent of the fund will be for non-qualifying investments or investments outside the thesis

Check size: The amount you’ll invest in each company

Investment horizon: How long you have to allocate the capital and how long you’ll hold each investment

Expected returns: How much you expect to return on the capital invested

Investor requirements: Maximum or minimum contributions

A good rule of practice is to ensure that your investments align with your portfolio construction model before making each investment decision, and then actively thereafter. Set aside time to regularly evaluate whether your investments align with your model, and where to course-correct. If your investments deviate from your original thesis, you’ll need to adjust your model or reset your focus. This is particularly important to track if you include a specific investment thesis in your fund’s legal documents.

Learn more about how to create a portfolio construction strategy

Most VCs prepare versions of their fund thesis that go into different levels of detail, ranging from a one-sentence elevator pitch, like the example below, to a full pitch deck.

You should be able to sum up your fund strategy in one or two straightforward sentences. Here’s an example investment thesis from a hypothetical venture fund:

“Krakatoa Ventures is raising a $25 million seed fund to back U.S.-based startups focused on climate technology and earth sciences. The fund will capitalize a highly specialized network of climate scientists the general partners developed during their two decades of academic study in volcanology and climatology.”

→Ready to make a full pitch deck for LPs? Prepare for your next meeting with investors using our free pitch deck template and example pitch decks .

This example highlights a key aspect of a great fund strategy: It shouldn’t be a thesis that just anybody can go out and execute. Your edge, such as your personal experience and network, are integral parts of the plan. Articulate why you’re better positioned than anyone else to execute your investment thesis.

Rita Astoor

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Writing a Credible Investment Thesis

Only a third of acquiring executives actually write down the reasons for doing a deal.

By David Harding and Sam Rovit

  • November 15, 2004

investment thesis education

Every deal your company proposes to do—big or small, strategic or tactical—should start with a clear statement how that particular deal would create value for your company. We call this the investment thesis. The investment thesis is no more or less than a definitive statement, based on a clear understanding of how money is made in your business, that outlines how adding this particular business to your portfolio will make your company more valuable. Many of the best acquirers write out their investment theses in black and white. Joe Trustey, managing partner of private equity and venture capital firm Summit Partners, describes the tool in one short sentence: "It tells me why I would want to own this business."

Perhaps you're rolling your eyes and saying to yourself, "Well, of course our company uses an investment thesis!" But unless you're in the private equity business—which in our experience is more disciplined in crafting investment theses than are corporate buyers—the odds aren't with you. For example, our survey of 250 senior executives across all industries revealed that only 29% of acquiring executives started out with an investment thesis (defined in that survey as a "sound reason for buying a company") that stood the test of time. More than 40% had no investment thesis whatsoever (!). Of those who did, fully half discovered within three years of closing the deal that their thesis was wrong.

Studies conducted by other firms support the conclusion that most companies are terrifyingly unclear about why they spend their shareholders' capital on acquisitions. A 2002 Accenture study, for example, found that 83% of executives surveyed admitted they were unable to distinguish between the value levers of M&A deals. In Booz Allen Hamilton's 1999 review of thirty-four frequent acquirers, which focused chiefly on integration, unsuccessful acquirers admitted that they fished in uncharted waters. They ranked "learning about new (and potentially related) business areas" as a top reason for making an acquisition. (Surely companies should know whether a business area is related to their core before they decide to buy into it!) Successful acquirers, by contrast, were more likely to cite "leading or responding to industry restructuring" as a reason for making an acquisition, suggesting that these companies had at least thought through the strategic implications of their moves.

Not that tipping one's hat to strategy is a cure-all. In our work with companies that are thinking about doing a deal, we often hear that the acquisition is intended for "strategic" reasons. That's simply not good enough. A credible investment thesis should describe a concrete benefit, rather than a vaguely stated strategic value.

A credible investment thesis should describe a concrete benefit, rather than a vaguely stated strategic value. This point needs underscoring. Justifying a deal as being "strategic" ex post facto is, in most cases, an invitation to inferior returns. Given how frequently we have heard weak "strategic" justifications after a deal has closed, it's worth passing along a warning from Craig Tall, vice chair of corporate development and strategic planning at Washington Mutual. In recent years, Tall's bank has made acquisitions a key part of a stunningly successful growth record. "When I see an expensive deal," Tall told us, "and they say it was a 'strategic' deal, it's a code for me that somebody paid too much."

And although sometimes the best offense is a good defense, this axiom does not really stand in for a valid investment thesis. On more than a few occasions, we have been witness to deals that were initiated because an investment banker uttered the Eight Magic Words: If you don't buy it, your competitors will.

Well, so be it. If a potential acquisition is not compelling to you on its own merits, let it go. Let your competitors put their good money down, and prove that their investment theses are strong.

Let's look at a case in point: [Clear Channel Communications' leaders Lowry, Mark and Randall] Mayses' decision to move from radios into outdoor advertising (billboards, to most of us). Based on our conversations with Randall Mays, we summarize their investment thesis for buying into the billboard business as follows:

Clear Channel's expansion into outdoor advertising leverages the company's core competencies in two ways: First, the local market sales force that is already in place to sell radio ads can now sell outdoor ads to many of the same buyers, and Clear Channel is uniquely positioned to sell both local and national advertisements. Second, similar to the radio industry twenty years ago, the outdoor advertising industry is fragmented and undercapitalized. Clear Channel has the capital needed to "roll up" a significant fraction of this industry, as well as the cash flow and management systems needed to reduce operating expenses across a consolidated business.

Note that in Clear Channel's investment thesis (at least as we've stated it), the benefits would be derived from three sources:

  • Leveraging an existing sales force more extensively
  • Using the balance sheet to roll up and fund an undercapitalized business
  • Applying operating skills learned in the radio trade

Note also the emphasis on tangible and quantifiable results, which can be easily communicated and tested. All stakeholders, including investors, employees, debtors and vendors, should understand why a deal will make their company stronger. Does the investment thesis make sense only to those who know the company best? If so, that's probably a bad sign. Is senior management arguing that a deal's inherent genius is too complex to be understood by all stakeholders, or simply asserting that the deal is "strategic"? These, too, are probably bad signs.

Most of the best acquirers we've studied try to get the thesis down on paper as soon as possible. Getting it down in black and white—wrapping specific words around the ideas—allows them to circulate the thesis internally and to generate reactions early and often.

The perils of the "transformational" deal. Some readers may be wondering whether there isn't a less tangible, but equally credible, rationale for an investment thesis: the transformational deal. Such transactions, which became popular in the exuberant '90s, aim to turn companies (and sometimes even whole industries) on their head and "transform" them. In effect, they change a company's basis of competition through a dramatic redeployment of assets.

The roster of companies that have favored transformational deals includes Vivendi Universal, AOL Time Warner (which changed its name back to Time Warner in October 2003), Enron, Williams, and others. Perhaps that list alone is enough to turn our readers off the concept of the transformational deal. (We admit it: We keep wanting to put that word transformational in quotes.) But let's dig a little deeper.

Sometimes what looks like a successful transformational deal is really a case of mistaken identity. In search of effective transformations, people sometimes cite the examples of DuPont—which after World War I used M&A to transform itself from a maker of explosives into a broad-based leader in the chemicals industry—and General Motors, which, through the consolidation of several car companies, transformed the auto industry. But when you actually dissect the moves of such industry winners, you find that they worked their way down the same learning curve as the best-practice companies in our global study. GM never attempted the transformational deal; instead, it rolled up smaller car companies until it had the scale to take on a Ford—and win. DuPont was similarly patient; it broadened its product scope into a range of chemistry-based industries, acquisition by acquisition.

In a more recent example, Rexam PLC has transformed itself from a broad-based conglomerate into a global leader in packaging by actively managing its portfolio and growing its core business. Beginning in the late '90s, Rexam shed diverse businesses in cyclical industries and grew scale in cans. First it acquired Europe's largest beverage—can manufacturer, Sweden's PLM, in 1999. Then it bought U.S.-based packager American National Can in 2000, making itself the largest beverage-can maker in the world. In other words, Rexam acquired with a clear investment thesis in mind: to grow scale in can making or broaden geographic scope. The collective impact of these many small steps was transformation. 14

But what of the literal transformational deal? You saw the preceding list of companies. Our advice is unequivocal: Stay out of this high-stakes game. Recent efforts to transform companies via the megadeal have failed or faltered. The glamour is blinding, which only makes the route more treacherous and the destination less clear. If you go this route, you are very likely to destroy value for your shareholders.

By definition, the transformational deal can't have a clear investment thesis, and evidence from the movement of stock prices immediately following deal announcements suggests that the market prefers deals that have a clear investment thesis. In "Deals That Create Value," for example, McKinsey scrutinized stock price movements before and after 231 corporate transactions over a five-year period. The study concluded that the market prefers "expansionist" deals, in which a company "seeks to boost its market share by consolidating, by moving into new geographic regions, or by adding new distribution channels for existing products and services."

On average, McKinsey reported, deals of the "expansionist" variety earned a stock market premium in the days following their announcement. By contrast, "transformative" deals—whereby companies threw themselves bodily into a new line of business—destroyed an average of 5.3% of market value immediately after the deal's announcement. Translating these findings into our own terminology:

  • Expansionist deals are more likely to have a clear investment thesis, while "transformative" deals often have no credible rationale.
  • The market is likely to reward the former and punish the latter.
  • The dilution/accretion debate. One more side discussion that comes to bear on the investment thesis: Deal making is often driven by what we'll call the dilution/accretion debate. We will argue that this debate must be taken into account as you develop your investment thesis, but your thesis making should not be driven by this debate.

Sometimes what looks like a successful transformational deal is really a case of mistaken identity. Simply put, a deal is dilutive if it causes the acquiring company to have lower earnings per share (EPS) than it had before the transaction. As they teach in Finance 101, this happens when the asset return on the purchased business is less than the cost of the debt or equity (e.g., through the issuance of new shares) needed to pay for the deal. Dilution can also occur when an asset is sold, because the earnings power of the business being sold is greater than the return on the alternative use of the proceeds (e.g., paying down debt, redeeming shares or buying something else). An accretive deal, of course, has the opposite outcomes.

But that's only the first of two shoes that may drop. The second shoe is, How will Wall Street respond? Will investors punish the company (or reward it) for its dilutive ways?

Aware of this two-shoes-dropping phenomenon, many CEOs and CFOs use the litmus test of earnings accretion/dilution as the first hurdle that should be put in front of every proposed deal. One of these skilled acquirers is Citigroup's [former] CFO Todd Thomson, who told us:

It's an incredibly powerful discipline to put in place a rule of thumb that deals have to be accretive within some [specific] period of time. At Citigroup, my rule of thumb is it has to be accretive within the first twelve months, in terms of EPS, and it has to reach our capital rate of return, which is over 20% return within three to four years. And it has to make sense both financially and strategically, which means it has to have at least as fast a growth rate as we expect from our businesses in general, which is 10 to 15% a year.

Now, not all of our deals meet that hurdle. But if I set that up to begin with, then if [a deal is] not going to meet that hurdle, people know they better make a heck of a compelling argument about why it doesn't have to be accretive in year one, or why it may take year four or five or six to be able to hit that return level.

Unfortunately, dilution is a problem that has to be wrestled with on a regular basis. As Mike Bertasso, the head of H. J. Heinz's Asia-Pacific businesses, told us, "If a business is accretive, it is probably low-growth and cheap for a reason. If it is dilutive, it's probably high-growth and attractive, and we can't afford it." Even if you can't afford them, steering clear of dilutive deals seems sensible enough, on the face of it. Why would a company's leaders ever knowingly take steps that would decrease their EPS?

The answer, of course, is to invest for the future. As part of the research leading up to this book, Bain looked at a hundred deals that involved EPS accretion and dilution. All the deals were large enough and public enough to have had an effect on the buyer's stock price. The result was surprising: First-year accretion and dilution did not matter to shareholders. In other words, there was no statistical correlation between future stock performance and whether the company did an accretive or dilutive deal. If anything, the dilutive deals slightly outperformed. Why? Because dilutive deals are almost always involved in buying higher-growth assets, and therefore by their nature pass Thomson's test of a "heck of a compelling argument."

As a rule, investors like to see their companies investing in growth. We believe that investors in the stock market do, in fact, look past reported EPS numbers in an effort to understand how the investment thesis will improve the business they already own. If the investment thesis holds up to this kind of scrutiny, then some short-term dilution is probably acceptable.

Reprinted with permission of Harvard Business School Press. Mastering the Merger: Four Critical Decisions That Make or Break the Deal , by David Harding and Sam Rovit. Copyright 2004 Bain & Company; All Rights Reserved.

David Harding (HBS MBA '84) is a director in Bain & Company's Boston office and is an expert in corporate strategy and organizational effectiveness.

Sam Rovit (HBS MBA '89) is a director in the Chicago office and leader of Bain & Company's Global Mergers and Acquisitions Practice.                                              

10. Joe Trustey, telephone interview by David Harding, Bain & Company. Boston: 13 May 2003. Subsequent comments by Trustey are also from this interview.

11. Accenture, "Accenture Survey Shows Executives Are Cautiously Optimistic Regarding Future Mergers and Acquisitions," Accenture Press Release, 30 May 2002.

12. John R. Harbison, Albert J. Viscio, and Amy T. Asin, "Making Acquisitions Work: Capturing Value After the Deal," Booz Allen & Hamilton Series of View-points on Alliances, 1999.

13. Craig Tall, telephone interview by Catherine Lemire, Bain & Company. Toronto: 1 October 2002.

14. Rolf Börjesson, interview by Tom Shannon, Bain & Company. London: 2001.

15. Hans Bieshaar, Jeremy Knight, and Alexander van Wassenaer, "Deals That Create Value," McKinsey Quarterly 1 (2001).

16. Todd Thomson, speaking on "Strategic M&A in an Opportunistic Environment." (Presentation at Bain & Company's Getting Back to Offense conference, New York City, 20 June 2002.)

17. Mike Bertasso, correspondence with David Harding, 15 December 2003.

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How to Develop Your Own Investment Thesis: A Critical Step for Aspiring Venture Capitalists

s an aspiring venture capitalist, you hold the key to unlock the untapped potential of startups, propelling them to soaring heights and reshaping industries. But in this electrifying landscape of opportunities, how do you navigate through the ever-changing tides? The answer lies in the essence of venture capital success: developing your own investment thesis.

What exactly is an Investment Thesis?

An investment thesis is your North Star, an illuminating beacon that guides you through the vast ocean of startups, helping you navigate toward the brightest prospects. It's a strategic framework, meticulously crafted to align your investment approach, criteria, and aspirations.

With an investment thesis, you define the types of companies you want to invest in, the industries you're interested in, and the stages of startups you believe have the most potential. It's like setting your preferences and priorities before you begin the journey.

Why is an investment thesis so critical for aspiring venture capitalists? The answer is simple—this well-defined roadmap sets you apart from the crowd and gives you the edge to thrive in this fiercely competitive world. It empowers you to make informed decisions, uncover hidden gems in the startup ecosystem, and unlock the true potential of visionary entrepreneurs.

In this blog post, we will explore the essential steps to create a compelling and potent investment thesis

Getting Started With Your Investment Thesis: Conducting Market Research

At the core of any successful investment thesis lies comprehensive market research. Understanding industry trends, evaluating market opportunities, and assessing the competitive landscape are vital steps to identify lucrative investment prospects. 

Keep a finger on the pulse of the business landscape and stay attuned to shifts and disruptions. Analyze the forces shaping various sectors, from cutting-edge technologies and regulatory changes to changes in consumer behavior. Identifying and understanding these trends will enable you to anticipate the future landscape, positioning you as an astute investor who can spot opportunities before they materialize.

With a keen understanding of industry trends, venture capitalists must evaluate market opportunities with a discerning eye. Look beyond the surface and assess the long-term growth potential of markets and industries. Identify white spaces and areas where innovation is likely to flourish. Be mindful of macroeconomic factors, such as GDP growth, inflation rates, and demographic shifts, as they can profoundly influence market dynamics. A comprehensive evaluation of market opportunities will empower you to focus your investments on ventures that have the potential to become tomorrow's industry leaders.

In the vibrant world of startups, competition is the norm. As such, to excel as a venture capitalist, you must also gain a panoramic view of the competitive landscape. Analyze existing players and their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis). Identify startups that have the potential to disrupt established markets and challenge the status quo. Furthermore, seek out market gaps, where unmet needs and underserved customer segments await innovative solutions. Investing in startups that address these gaps can lead to remarkable returns on investment and foster a positive impact on society.

Market research is not a mere exercise of intuition and speculation; it thrives on data-driven insights. Leverage data analytics, market reports, and industry research to augment your understanding of market trends. Embrace technology and data tools that can provide you with a wealth of information at your fingertips. By making data-driven decisions, you'll foster a more robust investment thesis and bolster your credibility as a venture capitalist.

While conducting market research, it's crucial to remember that the startup ecosystem is dynamic and ever-changing. Be prepared to pivot and adapt your investment thesis in response to new information and shifts in the market. Stay agile and flexible, allowing your investment strategy to evolve as you gain deeper insights. Successful venture capitalists are those who can navigate uncertainty, staying attuned to emerging trends and swiftly adjusting their course to capitalize on unforeseen opportunities.

Defining The Investment Criteria for your Investment Thesis

Once you've gathered market insights, now it’s the fun part - it's time to define your investment criteria. Determine the stages of startups you want to invest in, such as seed, early-stage, or late-stage companies. Consider the industries you're passionate about or have domain expertise in. 

Additionally, establish your preferred investment size and the level of diversification you aim to achieve within your portfolio. Having clear investment criteria will streamline your decision-making process and keep your investments focused on your goals.

Determining the Stages of Startups

Venture capitalists invest in startups at various stages of their lifecycle, each offering distinct opportunities and risks. Deciding which stage aligns best with your expertise and risk appetite is pivotal. Consider if you want to invest in seed-stage companies, which are in their infancy and require significant support, or if you prefer early-stage startups with a product and initial traction. Alternatively, you may focus on later-stage companies that are scaling and need capital to expand rapidly. Your chosen stage will dictate your involvement level and the potential return horizon of your investments.

Geographical Preferences and Target Industries

Venture capital is a global endeavor, and you can choose to invest locally, regionally, or even globally. Geographical preferences may be influenced by factors like your network, knowledge of specific markets, and comfort with regulatory environments. Moreover, identifying the industries you're passionate about or have domain expertise in is crucial. Investing in industries you understand well will allow you to provide strategic value to the startups you support, beyond just financial backing.

Investment Size and Portfolio Diversification

The size of your investments and portfolio diversification strategy are interlinked. Determine the average investment size you are comfortable with, as this will influence the types of startups you can back. Some venture capitalists prefer larger, concentrated bets on a select few startups, while others spread their investments across a broader range of smaller companies to diversify risk. Striking the right balance is key—too few investments can expose you to concentrated risk, while too many might dilute your ability to provide adequate support to each startup.

Alignment with Personal Values and Objectives

As an aspiring venture capitalist, your investment criteria should be in harmony with your personal values and long-term objectives. Consider what impact you want to make through your investments. Are you driven by social impact, environmental sustainability, or a particular mission? Aligning your investment criteria with your values will not only enhance your satisfaction as an investor but may also attract entrepreneurs who share your passion, fostering a mutually rewarding relationship.

Market Fit and Growth Potential

While defining your investment criteria, focus on identifying startups that exhibit strong market fit and immense growth potential. Market fit refers to the startup's ability to address a specific problem or need in the market effectively. Investigate whether the startup's product or service resonates with its target audience and has the potential for widespread adoption. Moreover, evaluate the scalability of the business model, as this will determine the startup's growth trajectory and its potential to become a market leader.

Synergy with Your Expertise and Network

Leverage your expertise and network to your advantage when defining your investment criteria. Aligning with startups that can benefit from your insights and connections will create a symbiotic relationship. As an investor, you can offer more than just financial support; your guidance and connections can be invaluable in helping startups navigate challenges and scale their businesses. Synergy with your expertise and network can significantly enhance your value proposition as a venture capitalist.

Balancing Risk and Return

Investing in startups inherently involves risk, and your investment criteria should reflect your risk appetite and tolerance. Strive for a balance between risk and potential return that aligns with your investment objectives. High-growth startups often carry higher risk, but they can also offer substantial rewards.

On the other hand, more established companies may provide a steadier return, albeit with potentially lower growth potential. Understanding this balance is essential in defining your investment criteria and building a well-rounded portfolio.

Balancing risk and potential returns is a fine art, and your investment thesis should outline how you plan to approach this delicate balance. Furthermore, learn to measure and quantify risk in the startup ecosystem using various risk assessment techniques to make informed investment choices.

Identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Your Investment Thesis

Key Performance Indicators are quantifiable metrics that provide critical insights into the performance and achievements of a business. By tracking relevant KPIs, venture capitalists can assess the overall health and direction of a startup, enabling them to support portfolio companies effectively. Moreover, KPIs offer a basis for comparison, allowing you to benchmark a startup's progress against its peers and industry standards.

Tailoring KPIs to Startup Stages and Industries

While KPIs share a common goal of tracking performance, their significance can vary significantly based on the stage and industry of a startup. For example, early-stage companies might prioritize metrics related to customer acquisition, retention, and product-market fit. In contrast, late-stage startups might focus on revenue growth, customer lifetime value, and profitability. Tailoring KPIs to suit the unique needs and challenges of each startup stage and industry is vital for meaningful performance assessment.

Selecting Actionable and Measurable Metrics

When identifying KPIs, seek metrics that are both actionable and measurable. Actionable KPIs provide clear guidance on how to improve performance, helping startups identify areas that need attention and enhancement. Measurable KPIs, on the other hand, are quantifiable, allowing you to track progress and changes over time. The ability to take action based on KPIs and measure their impact ensures a proactive approach to enhancing a startup's performance.

Common KPIs in Venture Capital

While KPIs can be highly specific to individual startups and industries, certain metrics have proven valuable across the venture capital landscape. Some common KPIs include:

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): The cost to acquire a new customer, helping evaluate marketing efficiency.

Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR): Provides insight into the company's predictable revenue stream.

Customer Churn Rate: Measures customer retention and the ability to maintain long-term 


Burn Rate: Tracks how quickly a startup is spending its capital, indicating runway and sustainability.

Gross and Net Profit Margins: Assessing revenue generation and cost efficiency.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Estimates the value of a customer over their entire engagement with the startup.

The Power of Data-Driven Decision Making

KPIs are not merely numbers on a dashboard; they fuel data-driven decision-making. By continuously monitoring KPIs, you can identify strengths, weaknesses, and potential roadblocks. Data-driven insights enable you to provide tailored guidance and support to your portfolio companies, helping them navigate challenges and seize growth opportunities.

Building a Well-defined Due Diligence Process

A well-structured due diligence process empowers you to make informed decisions, mitigates risks, and will help you identify the startups that align best with your investment thesis!

Let's delve deeper into the key steps involved in building an effective due diligence process so you can include it on your Investment Thesis:

1. Defining Your Due Diligence Objectives

Start by clarifying your objectives for the due diligence process. What key aspects do you want to evaluate in potential startups? Identify the critical areas of focus, such as market opportunity, team capabilities, competitive landscape, financials, and scalability. Setting clear objectives ensures that you leave no stone unturned while assessing potential investments.

2. Gathering Essential Information

Begin the process by collecting comprehensive data and information about the startup under consideration. Request financial statements, market research, business plans, and any other relevant documentation. Engage in one-on-one discussions with the startup's founders and management team to gain insights into their vision, strategy, and execution plans. Gathering essential information lays the groundwork for a detailed evaluation.

3. Market Analysis

Conduct a thorough market analysis to assess the startup's positioning within its industry. Analyze market trends, potential for growth, competitive landscape, and potential threats. Understanding the market dynamics helps you gauge the startup's competitive advantage and potential for success.

4. Team Evaluation

Evaluate the startup's team to understand their expertise, experience, and alignment with the company's vision. Assess the cohesiveness and complementarity of the team, as a strong and capable team is a significant factor in a startup's success.

5. Financial Due Diligence

Perform rigorous financial due diligence to examine the startup's financial health and viability. Analyze revenue streams, cost structures, cash flow, and projections. Scrutinize financial ratios and indicators to assess the startup's financial sustainability and growth potential.

6. Product and Technology Assessment

Evaluate the startup's product or technology to gauge its uniqueness and potential market fit. Understand the value proposition it offers to customers and how it addresses market needs. Assess the scalability and defensibility of the product or technology to ensure long-term competitiveness.

7. Legal and Regulatory Review

Conduct a legal and regulatory review to identify any potential legal risks or compliance issues. Scrutinize contracts, licenses, intellectual property rights, and any pending legal disputes. Ensuring the startup operates within legal bounds safeguards your investment from unnecessary risks.

8. Customer and Partner Feedback

Gather feedback from customers, partners, and industry experts to gain external perspectives on the startup's product or service. Their insights can validate the startup's market fit, customer satisfaction, and potential for growth.

9. Risk Analysis

Identify and assess potential risks associated with the investment. Consider market risks, operational risks, technological risks, and competitive risks. A thorough risk analysis helps you make informed decisions about risk-reward trade-offs.

10. Decision-Making and Post-Investment Monitoring

Based on the findings from the due diligence process, make data-driven decisions on whether to invest in the startup. If you decide to proceed, establish a monitoring plan to track the startup's progress and performance after the investment. Continuously monitor the startup's performance against the initially defined objectives and pivot if needed.

Refining Your Thesis and Iterating

It’s also important to keep in mind that an investment thesis should not be static; it should evolve with your experiences and the changing market dynamics. Embrace flexibility and adaptability, and be open to learning from both successful and unsuccessful investments. As you gain insights from your portfolio companies and the market, update and refine your investment thesis to enhance its effectiveness continually!

Developing your own investment thesis is a critical step for aspiring venture capitalists. It provides you with a structured approach to identify and seize opportunities in the dynamic startup ecosystem. 

Through comprehensive market research, clear investment criteria, risk assessment, and an adaptable approach, your investment thesis will act as a guiding force throughout your venture capital journey. Embrace the continuous learning process, and don't hesitate to iterate and refine your thesis as you gain experience in the thrilling world of venture capital.

Interested in the full research paper?

You might also like, how to master the art of successful exits in venture capital, reinventing the wheel: how transport-tech is revolutionizing travel and mobility, 21 ways to build and maintain strong founder-vc relationships, exploring australia's venture capital ecosystem: a beginner's guide, navigating the post-investment phase: a comprehensive guide for new vcs, goingvc alumnus launches myriad venture partners with $200 million fund, about goingvc.

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The Impact Investor | ESG Investing Blog

The Impact Investor | ESG Investing Blog

Investing for financial return is only part of the equation.

How to Create an Investment Thesis [Step-By-Step Guide]

Updated on June 13, 2023

Our posts may contain links from our affiliate partners. This supports helps support the site as we donate 10% of all profits to sustainability organizations that align with our values. However, this does not influence our opinions or ratings. Please read our Terms and Conditions for more information.

One of the worst mistakes an investor can make is to sink their money into an investment without knowing why. While this may seem like the world’s most obvious mistake to avoid, it happens every day. Look no further than the stock market for plenty of examples of misguided optimism gone terribly wrong.

That’s where the idea of an investment thesis comes in. An investment thesis is a common tool used by venture capital investors and hedge funds as part of their investment strategy.

Most funds also use it on a regular basis to size up potential candidates during buy-side job interviews. But you don’t have to work at a venture capital fund or private equity firm to reap the benefits of creating an investment thesis of your own.

Table of Contents

What Is an Investment Thesis?

Materials needed to create a thesis for your investment strategy, a step-by-step guide to creating a solid investment thesis, step 1: start with the essentials, step 2: analyze the current market, step 3: analyze the company’s sector, step 4: analyze the company’s position within its sector, step 5: identify the catalyst, step 6: solidify your thesis with analysis, free tools to help strengthen your investment strategy.

Couple Checking an Online Documents

An investment thesis is simply an argument for why you should make a specific investment. Whether it be a stock market investment or private equity, investment theses are all about creating a solid argument for why a certain acquisition is a good idea based on strategic planning and research.

While it takes a little more work upfront, a clear investment thesis can be a valuable tool for any investor. Not only does it ensure that you fully understand why you’re choosing to put your hard-earned money into certain stocks or other assets, but it can also help you develop a long-term plan.

Should an investment idea not go as planned, you can always go back to your investment thesis to see if it still holds the potential to work out. By considering all the information your thesis contains, you’ll have a much better idea of whether it’s best to cut your losses and sell, continue holding, or even add to your position.

An investment thesis includes everything you need to create a solid game plan, making it a foundational part of any stock pitch.

See Related : Best Socially Responsible Stocks To Invest In Today

Writing on a Notebook

One of the benefits of an investment thesis is that it can be as complex or as simple as you like. If you actually work at a venture capital firm , then you may want to develop a full-on venture capital investment thesis. But if you’re a retail investor just looking to solidify your investment strategy, then your thesis may be much more straightforward.

If you’re an individual investor, then all you really need to create an investment thesis is somewhere to write it out. Whether it be in a Google or Word doc or on a piece of paper, just make sure you have a place to record your thesis so that you can consult it down the line.

If you’re developing a venture capital investment thesis that you plan to present to an investment committee or potential employers, then there are plenty of great tools online that can help. Slideteam has thousands of templates that can help you create a killer investment thesis , as well as full-on stock pitch templates.

As mentioned earlier, an investment thesis holds the potential to help you plot out a strategy for pretty much any acquisition. But for the sake of simplicity, we’ll assume throughout the examples in the following steps that you’re an investor interested in going long on a stock that you plan to hold for at least a few months or years.

Venture capitalists looking to invest in companies or startups can also apply the same principles to other investment goals. Investors who are looking to short a certain stock should also be able to use these techniques to locate potential investments. The main difference, of course, is that you’ll be looking for bad news instead of good.

First things first. Before you get into doing the research that goes into an investment thesis or stock pitch, make sure you take the time to write out the basics. At the top of the page, include things like:

  • The name of the company and its ticker symbol
  • Today’s date
  • How many shares of the company you already own, if any
  • The current cost average for any shares you may already hold
  • Whether the stock pays dividends and, if so, how often. You may also want to include the current ex-dividend and dividend payment dates.
  • A brief summary of the company and what it does

See Related : How to Start Investing With Purpose

Now it’s time to take a look at the entire market and the direction it’s headed. Why? As Investors Business Daily points out,

“History shows 3 out of 4 stocks move in the same direction as the overall market, either up or down. So if you buy stocks when the market is trending higher, you have a 75% chance of being right. But if you buy when the market is trending lower, you have a 75% chance of being wrong.”

While the overall market direction is definitely an important factor to keep in mind, what you choose to do with this information will largely come down to your individual investing style. Investors Business Daily founder William O’Neil advised investors only to jump into the market when it was trending up.

Another approach, however, is known as contrarian investing, which revolves around going against market trends. Warren Buffett summed up the idea behind this strategy with his famous quote, “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.” Or as Baron Rothschild more graphically put it, “Buy when there is blood in the streets, even if the blood is your own.”

Most investors who are looking for a faster return will likely be better off waiting to strike until the iron is hot. If you align more with the long-term contrarian philosophy, however, bleak macroeconomic outlooks may actually strike you as an ideal investment opportunity .

See Related: How to Invest in Private Equity: A Step-by-Step

Now that you’ve got a look at the overall market, it’s time to take a look at the sector your company fits into. The Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) breaks down the entire market into 11 sectors. If you want to get even more specific, you can further break down companies into the GICS’s 24 industry groups, 69 industries, and 158 sub-industries.

Once you identify which group your company belongs to, you’ll then want to take a look at that sector’s performance. Fidelity provides a handy breakdown of the performance of various sectors over different time periods.

But why does it matter? Two reasons.

  • Identifying which sectors various companies belong to can help you ensure that your portfolio is properly diversified
  • The reason that sector ETFs tend to be so popular is that when a sector is trending, many of the stocks within that sector tend to move in unison. The reverse is also true. When a certain industry is lagging, the individual stock prices of the companies in that industry may be affected negatively. While this is not always the case, it’s a general rule of thumb to keep in mind.

The idea behind working sectors into your investment criteria is to give you an overview of what type of investment you’re about to make. If you’re a momentum trader, then you may want to shoot for companies within the strongest-performing sectors this year or even over the past few months.

If you’re a value investor, however, you may be more open to sectors that have historically experienced high growth, even if they are currently suffering due to the overall state of the economy. Some speculative investors may even be interested in an innovative industry with strong potential growth possibilities, even if its time has not yet come.

See Related : How to Invest in Community [Step-by-Step Guide]

If you want to up your odds of success even more, then you’ll want to compare the company you’re interested in against the performance of similar companies in the same industry.

These are the companies that tend to get the most attention from large, institutional investors who are in a position to significantly increase their market value. Institutional investors tend to have a huge amount of money in play and are far less likely to invest in a company without a proven track record.

When choosing an investment, they’ll almost always go with a global leader over a new business, regardless of its promise. However, they also consider intrinsic value, which considers how much a company’s stock is selling for now, as opposed to how much revenue the company stands to earn in the future. In other words, institutional investors are looking for companies that are stable enough to avoid surprises but that also stand to generate considerable capital in the future.

Why work this into your game plan? Because even if you don’t have millions of dollars to invest in a company, there may be hedge funds or venture capital firms out there that do. When these guys make an investment, it tends to be a big one that can actually move a company’s share price upward. Why not ride their coattails and enjoy a solid growth rate as they invest more money over time into proven winners?

That’s why it’s important to make sure that you see how a company stacks up against its closest competitors. If it’s an industry-leading business with a large market share, it’s likely to be a strong contender with solid fundamentals. If not, you may end up discovering competing companies that make sense to consider instead.

See Related : What is a Triple Bottom Line? Definition & Examples

At this point, hopefully, you’ve identified the best stock in the best sector based on your ideal investing style. Now it’s time to find out exactly why it deserves to become a part of your portfolio and for how long.

If a company has been experiencing impressive growth, then there’s bound to be a reason why.

  • Is the company experiencing a major influx of business because it’s currently a leader in the hottest sector of the moment? Or is it a “good house in a bad neighborhood” that’s moving independently of the other stocks in its industry?
  • How long has it been demonstrating growth?
  • What appears to be the catalyst behind its movement? Does the stock owe its growth to strong management, recent world events, the approval of a new drug, the introduction of a hot new product, etc?

One mistake that far too many beginning investors make is assuming that short-term growth alone always indicates the potential for long-term profit. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. By figuring out exactly why a stock is moving, you’ll be far better positioned to decide how long to hold it before you sell.

A strong catalyst can cause the price of a stock to skyrocket overnight, even if it’s laid dormant for years. Even things like social media hype and rumors can cause a stock’s price to shoot up over the course of a given day. But woe to the investor that assumes these profits will last. Many are often left holding the bag when the price increase turns out to be part of a “ pump and dump .”

While many day traders can make a nice profit by capitalizing on these situations, such trades are best avoided altogether if you plan to hold a stock long-term. That’s why it’s so important to understand whether a stock is “in play” for the day or whether its growth can be attributed to more permanent factors that support the potential for a high return over time.

See Related : How to Become an Impact Investor [Step-By-Step Guide]

If you’re planning on investing a significant amount of capital in any stock, then a little research may be able to save you from a lot of heartache. Keep in mind that the focus of an investment thesis is to formulate a reasoned argument about why adding an asset to your portfolio is a good idea.

While all investments come with some level of risk, research can be an excellent risk mitigation strategy. There’s nothing worse than watching an investment fail due to an obvious factor you could have spotted with closer analysis. Don’t let it happen to you!

Fundamental analysis can help you ensure that your potential investments have the underlying traits that winning stocks are made of. While there’s a bit of a learning curve involved when you’re first starting out, here are some of the things you’ll want to focus on:

EPS stands for “earnings per share.” It’s a common financial indicator that basically tells you how much a company makes each time it sells a share of its stock. In this regard, a higher EPS is a good thing, but it’s important to look for solid EPS growth over time. Ideally, you’ll want to see consistent growth in a company’s EPS over the past three or more quarters.

Sales and Margins

Investing is all about putting your cash into successful companies, which is why sales and margins are key components to finding worthy investments. Sales indicate how much a business has made from (you guessed it) sales. Sales margin, also known as gross profit margin, is the amount of revenue a company actually gets to keep after you factor in overhead and other production costs. Ideally, a good investment will exhibit strong, consistent sales growth in recent years.

Return On Equity (ROE)

ROE is one of the more commonly used valuation metrics and is calculated by dividing the company’s net income/shareholders’ equity. ROE is basically a measure of how efficiently a company is using the capital it generates from equity fundraising to increase its own value. The higher the ROE, the more likely it is that a company operates with a focus on using its cash flow to increase its profits.

See Related : How to Do a Stakeholder Impact Analysis?

Woman Taking Notes

While these are just a few examples of various analysis methods to work into your investment thesis, they can go a long way toward locating solid companies worth investing in. Interested in learning more about technical and fundamental analysis? There are now plenty of great sites that can help you master the secrets of the training world.

In our opinion, Tradimo is one of the most underrated, as it provides tons of free classes for investors of all levels. Udemy also has some great classes that can help you learn how to beef up your investment thesis with as much quality information as possible.

But keep in mind that these are only suggestions. The most important part of any personal investment thesis is that it makes sense to you and can serve as a valuable tool to help you along your investing journey.

Related Resources

  • Best Impact Investing Online Courses
  • Best Green Apps for a More Sustainable Life
  • Sustainable Investing vs Impact Investing: What’s the Difference?

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Kyle Kroeger, esteemed Purdue University alum and accomplished finance professional, brings a decade of invaluable experience from diverse finance roles in both small and large firms. An astute investor himself, Kyle adeptly navigates the spheres of corporate and client-side finance, always guiding with a principal investor’s sharp acumen.

Hailing from a lineage of industrious Midwestern entrepreneurs and creatives, his business instincts are deeply ingrained. This background fuels his entrepreneurial spirit and underpins his commitment to responsible investment. As the Founder and Owner of The Impact Investor, Kyle fervently advocates for increased awareness of ethically invested funds, empowering individuals to make judicious investment decisions.

Striving to marry financial prudence with positive societal impact, Kyle imparts practical strategies for saving and investing, underlined by a robust ethos of conscientious capitalism. His ambition transcends personal gain, aiming instead to spark transformative global change through the power of responsible investment.

When not immersed in the world of finance, he’s continually captivated by the cultural richness of new cities, relishing the opportunity to learn from diverse societies. This passion for travel is eloquently documented on his site,, where you can delve into his unique experiences via his author profile.

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investment thesis education

How To Make An Investment Thesis: Ultimate Guide To Best Investment Decision

investment thesis education

An Introduction to Investment Thesis

An investment thesis forms the basis of an investor's strategy and serves as a framework to direct investment choices as well as articulate the reasoning behind targeting assets or markets. A robust investment thesis clearly outlines the factors that will drive returns while minimizing risks. Developing a thought-out investment thesis is crucial for achieving success in investments.

This guide will take you through the components of creating a compelling investment thesis from beginning to end. We will discuss how to identify promising investment opportunities, analyze target companies, perform valuation modeling, build a portfolio, present the fund's thesis to potential investors, implement the thesis in investment activities, and adapt it as market conditions evolve. By adhering to a disciplined investment thesis, investors can consistently make informed decisions and make choices to outperform the market.

investment thesis education

Identifying Investment Opportunities

The initial step in developing an investment thesis involves pinpointing areas of focus that will shape your investment decisions. This entails determining sectors, asset classes, geographical regions, or other frameworks on which you wish to concentrate your research and analysis.

When determining the area you want to focus on, there are four key questions and factors to consider;

  • Your expertise and knowledge - It is best to concentrate on areas where you have experience or can gain expertise without stretching yourself
  • Macroeconomic trends - Look out for trends that can have an impact. These trends could include shifts, advancements, policy changes, and more. Identify sectors, regions, or asset classes that are likely to benefit from these long-term shifts
  • Market inefficiencies - Keep an eye out for market inefficiencies. Opportunities often arise in markets that are fragmented, complex, or experiencing changes
  • Investment horizons - Consider the investment horizon required for investment theses. Some ideas may require a time frame to materialize their potential returns while others may offer shorter-term gains

Once you have determined your area of focus, it is crucial to conduct in-depth research on the macro trends shaping that market. Look for trends that will drive growth over the years rather than focusing solely on quarterly fluctuations mentioned in market reports. The objective is to identify factors that can positively impact revenues, margins, and valuations of well-positioned companies.

With an understanding of the landscape established through research, you can then search for companies positioned to take advantage of the identified trends. Look for firms, with products/services/customers/geographical reach or innovative strategies that give them an edge when it comes to capitalizing on these opportunities.

Analyzing the Company

For an investment thesis, it is crucial to assess the company you are considering for investment. This assessment should include an evaluation of the company's drivers of growth, its management team and strategy as well as potential risks and challenges.

Growth Drivers

When analyzing the market value of a company, you'll want to closely examine the products, customers, and competitive positioning that are fueling its growth.

  • Products: Look at the company's current product portfolio and pipeline. Do they have innovative products that are gaining market share? How large is their total addressable market and how much of it have they penetrated so far?
  • Customers: Evaluate who their key customers are and how loyal they are. Look at metrics like net dollar retention rate to understand how loyal their customers are
  • Competition: Analyze the competitive landscape and the company's positioning. Do they have a durable competitive advantage? How do they compare to rivals on factors like pricing, product features, and customer experience?
  • Scalability: Do margins get larger or smaller as a customer increases its size? In some cases, unprofitable companies become highly profitable with growth - in other cases, costs increase in line with revenues. 

Management and Strategy

The strategy and execution capabilities of management are critical to a company's success.

  • Management Team: Research the background and track record of key executives. Do they have relevant industry experience and a history of generating returns?
  • Strategy: Assess management's strategic priorities and plans to drive growth. Do they have a coherent plan to expand their market opportunity?
  • Culture & Incentives: Assess how they attract and retain talent. Are employees actively involved and motivated to excel?

Assessing the management will help ascertain whether the company has the leadership to seize the upcoming opportunity.

Risks and Challenges

When conducting an analysis it's important to consider factors;

  • Technology Shifts: Take into account innovations that could affect the company's market.
  • Regulation: Consider possible changes in regulations that may impact the business model and financial aspects.
  • Macro Trends: Look at shifts in the wider economic environment that could influence customer demand.

Thoroughly examining the company across these dimensions provides the information and perspective to build confidence in your investment thesis. It helps you understand the business model, growth trajectory, management capabilities, risks involved, and valuation potential.

investment thesis education

Conducting Valuation

Whilst a company's valuation is largely based purely on how much an investor or acquirer is willing to pay, there are a number of methodologies that help to guide valuations:

Choosing the Appropriate Valuation Method

DCF valuation is typically preferred when assessing situations where reliable projections can be made. However, for early-stage or volatile companies, it may be more appropriate to consider comparable multiples based on similar industry peers.

Making Projections and Assumptions

When making projections and assumptions it is essential to conduct research to establish credible forecasts.

Projections should encompass metrics such as revenue growth, margins, capital expenditure requirements, and working capital needs. Additionally, explicit assumptions should be made regarding elements like market size, market share, pricing strategies, and costs among others. Conducting sensitivity analysis can help stress test these assumptions.

Ensuring Upside to Current Valuation

Once you have determined the value of a company you can compare this value against its market capitalization. Look for the ultimate goal of valuation is to support your thesis that the company is undervalued. If the current market price exceeds your estimate of value it may be prudent to reassess your assumptions and analysis. The greater the upside potential identified within your analysis the stronger your conviction becomes in considering an investment opportunity.

investment thesis education

Constructing Your Portfolio

When constructing your portfolio based on your investment thesis, you should diversify your holdings and size your positions appropriately based on conviction and risk tolerance.


Your investment thesis should guide how you diversify your portfolio. For example, if your thesis focuses on emerging market consumer stocks, you would want exposure across multiple countries and consumer product categories. Diversifying appropriately helps manage overall portfolio risk. You want to avoid overexposure to any single company, sector, or country.

Position Sizing

When determining position sizes within your portfolio, larger positions should be allocated to your highest conviction ideas based on your investment thesis. However, position size should also be constrained based on your risk tolerance. Larger positions will drive portfolio performance but also increase volatility. 


As market conditions change, rebalancing your portfolio involves  realigning holdings in line with your investment thesis. If certain positions have increased significantly in size, trimming them down and reallocating to underweight areas can improve diversification and risk-adjusted returns. Revisiting your thesis and rebalancing at regular intervals instills discipline in sticking to your core investment tenets.

Presenting to Investors

When presenting your investment thesis to investors it's crucial to communicate and address important information right from the start. Your objective is to explain your insights and build confidence in your ability to generate returns.

To begin - guide investors through your thesis, research process, and valuation methodology. Elaborate on the trends you've identified and analyze the company's growth drivers and competitive position. Share how you arrived at your valuation.

Next, emphasize your "edge”. The expertise, relationships, or analytical skills that give you an advantage in assessing this opportunity. Provide examples of investments you've made in the past by leveraging an edge to establish credibility

Lastly, demonstrate your risk management abilities by addressing challenges and risks. Outline the assumptions underlying your thesis and discuss scenarios where they may not hold true. Describe how you plan to monitor and mitigate risks related to regulations, supply chains, customer demand, or management execution. 

investment thesis education

Implementing the Thesis

Once you have developed an investment thesis the next step is executing trades to construct a portfolio that aligns with your thesis. It is crucial to approach this process with strategic planning in order to achieve results.

When making investments it is important to allocate positions based on your level of confidence in each holding while also ensuring diversification. Generally speculative or higher risk assets should be given allocations that don’t jeopardize the portfolio as a whole.

Ongoing portfolio management necessitates actively monitoring performance against the expectations outlined in your investment thesis. By keeping track of metrics, business drivers, and macroeconomic factors you can gauge whether your thesis remains valid.

As new data emerges over time adjustments and rebalancing of your portfolio will likely be required. This involves reducing exposure to holdings where the original thesis has weakened or deteriorated while increasing exposure to emerging opportunities. 

Continuously refining your portfolio ensures that it remains closely aligned with your investment thesis as market conditions evolve. Successful investors remain adaptable. Adjust their allocations while keeping their long-term perspectives intact.

Updating the Investment Thesis

As time progresses it is crucial to revisit and update your investment thesis accordingly.

Markets are constantly changing and it is crucial to stay updated with information that emerges. Your initial assumptions may not always hold true which can lead to poor investment decisions if you stick to an investment thesis.

To ensure the relevance of your investment thesis periodically reassess all your assumptions and projections. Take a look at your growth estimates, address any emerging threats, and analyze how market sentiment has shifted. If there have been changes in the investment narrative it's essential to update your thesis

Incorporate insights from sources such as earnings reports, industry conferences, macroeconomic data, and more. I. Objectively evaluate if adjustments need to be made based on the information at hand.

The key here is flexibility; being able to adapt to information sets good investors apart from the average ones. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Developing an Investment Thesis

To ensure the success of your investment thesis it's important to steer clear of pitfalls. Here are a few common ones;

Lack of Diversification

Having an overconcentration in a sector, geography, or asset type can leave a portfolio vulnerable. For example, an investment thesis focused solely on fast-growing US tech companies could miss opportunities in emerging markets. 

Biased Assumptions

It's easy to fall into the trap of making projections that confirm your existing bias about a company's growth potential. Avoid exaggerated assumptions that are not grounded in facts, and remember that “hope” has historically been a bad investment strategy 

Ignoring New Information

Markets and companies are dynamic, so no investment thesis holds true forever. Do not blindly stick to your original assumptions if new data suggests your thesis is no longer valid. Be ready to change course if your investment case deteriorates. Failing to adapt can turn gains into losses.

To summarize this guide - here are the most important factors in an investment thesis ;

  • Identifying economic trends and sector-specific opportunities to focus on when making investments.
  • Conducting a thorough analysis of potential companies, for your portfolio including their products, customers, competitors, and management.
  • Using valuation models such as discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis to determine a target value based on your projections.
  • Creating a diverse portfolio by considering your confidence level and risk tolerance for each position.
  • Clearly presenting your investment strategy and unique advantage to inspire confidence in investors.
  • Consistently implementing your investment strategy when making buy or sell decisions.
  • Monitoring your portfolio and assumptions, updating the thesis as needed based on new data.

Creating a thoughtful investment thesis takes rigorous research and ongoing discipline. However, it also establishes a framework to capitalize on the upside potential of emerging trends. Investors who take the time to develop a compelling thesis are more apt to outperform the market. With the right blend of macro perspective and individual security analysis, your investment thesis can unlock substantial value creation.

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investment thesis education

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investment thesis education

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Investment Thesis: Definition, Components and How to Prepare One

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What is an investment thesis, the role of an investment thesis in investment decision-making, tailoring your investment thesis to your financial goals, components of a strong investment thesis, market research and analysis, target investment criteria, risk assessment and mitigation, expected returns and exit strategy, alignment with your risk tolerance and time horizon, building your investment thesis, conducting comprehensive market research, defining your investment objectives, selecting the right assets or securities, creating a clear investment strategy, addressing potential risks, implementing your investment thesis, portfolio diversification, monitoring and reviewing your investments, adapting your thesis to market changes, tracking progress towards your goals, evaluating the success of your investment thesis, measuring performance against initial projections, identifying key milestones, learning from both successes and failures, what is the difference between an investment thesis and a strategy, how often should i revisit and adjust my investment thesis, can i have multiple investment theses for different investment goals, what should i do if my investment thesis is not yielding expected results, key takeaways.

  • An investment thesis is a crucial tool for guiding your investment decisions and achieving your financial goals.
  • Building a strong investment thesis involves in-depth research, clear objectives, careful risk assessment, and alignment with your risk tolerance and time horizon.
  • Implementing your thesis requires portfolio diversification, monitoring, adaptation to market changes, and tracking your progress.
  • Regularly evaluate the success of your investment thesis by measuring performance, identifying milestones, and learning from your experiences.

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  • Feb 27, 2023

How to Write the Perfect Investment Thesis

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For investment managers, finding investment opportunities is only half the challenge. Often the harder part is raising funds. To do this they need to create the perfect investment thesis to set out a convincing argument as to why their investment strategy will generate a return on investment for their clients. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of crafting a perfect investment thesis and provide insights into how to write one.

What is an Investment Thesis?

An investment thesis outlines a fund manager’s investment strategy and rationale for investing in a particular market or niche. It’s a crucial document that investment managers use to provide investors with the information and data they need to decide whether or not to invest in a fund. It can be turned into a variety of marketing materials for the fund including white papers, one-pagers, and investment decks.

The investment thesis should be concise and articulate the investment logic and framework for why a particular market or niche presents an attractive investment. It should outline the investment strategy and how it aligns with the fund manager’s hypothesis. The thesis should also address potential risks and benefits to investors.

Successful investment theses typically include an analysis of market trends, an assessment of the competitive landscape, and an explanation of why the investment opportunity presents an attractive opportunity.

In 2013, Ron Baron, a fund manager, invested in Tesla. At the time the stock was trading at $25 per share. However, Baron believed that electric cars were the future , and he was convinced that Tesla would become the leader in the EV industry. Ten years later, Tesla’s stock is trading at over $200 per share, making it one of the most successful investments in recent years.

Empty Plan

Step-by-Step Guide to Writing the Perfect Investment Thesis

Crafting the perfect investment thesis is not an easy task. It requires a great deal of research, analysis, and writing skills. Follow our step-by-step guide to write a perfect investment thesis.

Step 1: Define Your Investment Strategy

Determine your investment goals and objectives.

To define your investment strategy, you need to first need to understand your investment goals and objectives. Are you looking to invest in high-growth companies or established companies that generate a stable return? What is your investment horizon? What is risk profile? How much capital do you need to raise?

Identify investment opportunities

Once you have defined your investment goals and objectives, you need to identify your target market and investment opportunities in that market.

Define your investment strategy

Having determined your goals, risk tolerance and capital requirements you need to create a high-level investment strategy. This is a set of principles that will help the fund achieve its investment goals and guide investment decisions. This can be refined as you conduct market research and receive feedback from investors and industry-peers.

Step 2: Conducting Market Research

An investment thesis that is not backed by data is just opinion. To write the perfect investment thesis you need to conduct market research. This includes analyzing market trends, identifying potential risks and benefits, and conducting competitive analysis.

How to analyze market trends using data

To analyze market trends, you need to collect and analyze data. Data can come from a variety of sources including industry reports, financial statements, and news articles to identify trends in the market. You can also use tools such as Google Trends to identify search trends for specific keywords. There are also opportunities to use official data to back up claims, for example census data to prove an investment thesis based on demographic trends.

A variety of alternative data sources are available. these include:

Web scraping : Scraping data from online sources including social media sites, e-commerce or news stories. This data can be analyzed using natural language processing techniques (categorization, sentiment analysis).

Open data : There is a growing trend of organizations making data freely available. Good examples include traffic patterns on metro networks such as TFL in London .

Sensors and satellites : A growing industry of data providers is providing access to alternative data sources. From satellite data showing agricultural production to IoT sensor devices.

Polls and Surveys : Surveys provide insights into the collective consciousness. From tangible economic behaviors such as buying and shopping habits, customers expectations, information on personal finances, to social and political views.

Identifying market opportunities and potential risks

Having analyzed market trends, you need to identify market opportunities and potential risks. Investors need to be aware of different types of investment risks, such as market risk, credit risk, and liquidity risk associated with your investment thesis. A thorough analysis of potential risks helps investors make informed decisions and ensure that the investment is aligned to their risk appetite. The analysis should cover both systematic and unsystematic risks, There are a variety of statistical methods than can be used to measure risk and volatility including standard deviation, Sharpe ratio, beta, value at risk (VaR), conditional value at risk (CVaR), and R-squared.

Conducting competitive analysis

You may also want to include a competitive analysis. This looks at the competition in your target market. Who are the main players in the industry, their strengths, weaknesses, and competitive advantage.

Step 3: Developing Your Investment Hypothesis

The best investment theses include a well structured investment hypothesis. An investment hypothesis summarises why an investment opportunity exists in a given market. It should be based on your research and analysis and articulated in a clear and concise manner.

What is an investment hypothesis?

An investment hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a specific investment opportunity. It’s a statement that describes the investment opportunity and how it aligns with the investment manager’s investment goals and objectives.

Formulating an investment hypothesis based on your research and analysis

To develop a strong investment hypothesis, you need to review the data and information collected during your market research. Using this you need to identify key trends, opportunities, and risks and determine an investment strategy that allows you to achieve investment goals and objectives. This is the time to revisit and critique your initial investment strategy.

H4: Articulating the investment thesis in a clear and concise manner

Once you have developed your investment hypothesis, you need to articulate it in a clear and concise manner. This includes a clear investment logic and analytical framework for why a particular market or niche presents an attractive investment. You should also outline the investment strategy and how it aligns with your hypothesis.

Step 4: Writing the Investment Thesis

Having created the perfect investment thesis you need to structure the thesis and include key elements to make it persuasive.

The structure and format of a successful investment thesis

A successful investment thesis typically follows a structure that includes an executive summary, market analysis, investment hypothesis, investment strategy, and potential risks and benefits. The thesis should also include data and visual aids, such as graphs and charts.

Key elements to include in your investment thesis

To make your investment thesis persuasive, you need to include key elements such as a clear articulation of the investment opportunity, a detailed explanation of the investment hypothesis, an overview of the investment strategy, and describe the risks and benefits for potential investors.

Writing with clarity and brevity

To make your investment thesis easy to read and understand, you need to write with clarity and brevity. Use simple language and avoid jargon. Keep the thesis concise and to the point.

What type of resources and marketing materials do you need to create

Having defined your investment thesis you know need to create a variety of marketing materials in order to present to potential investors. These will vary depending on the type of investors and the regulatory framework you operate under. Some common investor marketing materials include:

Investor decks

An investor deck is a summary of your investment thesis. It should include a summary of your investment hypothesis, market opportunity with data, investment strategy, expected outcomes, risks, and benefits to investors. The investor deck should be concise and easy to understand. Avoid lengthy text and present the opportunity using relevant data points. Employing a professional designer will maximize the impact of your investment thesis.

The structure of an investment deck forces you to focus only on the key points, consequently a clear analytical framework or investment logic is essential.

White papers

A white paper is a more detailed description of your investment thesis. It should include an in-depth analysis of the market trends, competitive landscape, and investment opportunity. The white paper should also include an overview of your investment strategy and potential risks and benefits.

Investment one-pager

An investment one-pager is a brief summary of your investment hypothesis, market opportunity, and risks and benefits. It should be a one-page document that investors can quickly review to understand your investment opportunity.

Step 5: Refining and Perfecting Your Investment Thesis

The final step in writing a perfect investment thesis is to refine and perfect it. You need to continuously refine and improve your thesis to ensure it’s persuasive and effective.

Revising and editing your investment thesis

Once you have written your investment thesis, you need to revise and edit it. Review the thesis for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Ensure that the thesis is clear, concise, and persuasive. Nothing will damage your credibility more than easily fixed errors or incorrect data.

Seek feedback from peers and industry experts

You should seek feedback from peers and industry experts to ensure that your investment thesis is persuasive and effective. Aim to get feedback from colleagues, mentors, or industry experts all of whom can offer a unique outside perspective.

Continuously refining and improving your investment thesis

Investment managers should continuously refine and improve their investment thesis. They should review the thesis periodically and update it as needed to reflect changes in the market or investment strategy.

Crafting a perfect investment thesis is a crucial task for investment and fund managers. The investment thesis is a document that outlines the investment strategy and rationale for investing in a particular market or niche. A good investment thesis provides investors with a clear understanding of the investment opportunity, the risks and benefits, and the potential return on investment.

To write a perfect investment thesis, investment managers need to define their investment strategy, conduct market research, develop an investment hypothesis, craft the thesis, and refine and perfect it. They should also create marketing materials such as an investor deck, white paper, and investment one-pager to summarize their investment opportunity. Investment managers should continuously refine and improve their investment thesis to ensure it’s persuasive and effective.

How Interpretive Economics can help you write the perfect investment thesis

At Interpretive Economics, we help investment managers, asset managers, venture capital, family offices and other investment professionals create a variety of investment marketing materials including investment white papers, investor decks and investment one-pagers. We are experts at economic analysis, sourcing and analyzing data and crafting investment hypotheses. Get in touch to see how we can help you create the perfect investment thesis.

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Investment Thesis

An investment thesis refers to a set of criteria and principles that investors use to guide their decision-making process when evaluating potential investment opportunities. It serves as a framework that helps investors determine whether an investment aligns with their goals and risk tolerance.

1. Why is an investment thesis important?

An investment thesis is important because it provides a structured approach to evaluating investment opportunities. It helps investors make informed decisions based on their objectives, risk appetite, and market conditions.

2. What are the components of an investment thesis?

An investment thesis typically includes the following components:

  • Investment goals : Clearly defined objectives that an investor aims to achieve through their investments.
  • Risk tolerance : An assessment of the level of risk an investor is willing to take.
  • Market analysis : A thorough evaluation of the market conditions, trends, and potential opportunities.
  • Industry analysis : An examination of the specific industry or sector in which the investment opportunity exists.
  • Company analysis : A detailed assessment of the company's financials, management team, competitive advantage, and growth prospects.
  • Exit strategy : A plan for how and when the investor intends to exit the investment.

3. How does an investment thesis help mitigate risks?

By establishing clear criteria and principles, an investment thesis helps investors avoid impulsive or emotionally-driven investment decisions. It ensures that investments are aligned with the investor's goals and risk tolerance, reducing the likelihood of making poor investment choices.

4. Can an investment thesis change over time?

Yes, an investment thesis can evolve over time. As market conditions, industry trends, and an investor's goals change, it may be necessary to adjust the investment thesis accordingly. Regular reviews and updates to the investment thesis help ensure that it remains relevant and effective.

5. Are there different types of investment theses?

Yes, there can be various types of investment theses depending on the investor's strategy and preferences. Some common types include value investing, growth investing, income investing, and socially responsible investing. Each type focuses on different criteria and principles to guide investment decisions.

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How to Write an Investment Thesis

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Duolingo Stock Quote

Plus, a look at "one of the most obvious long-term trends out there" and more.

In this podcast, Motley Fool analyst Jason Moser discusses:

  • Recognizing short-term catalysts.
  • Why home improvement is "one of the most obvious long-term trends out there."
  • Travel and return-to-work are two trends worth watching.

Then, using language-learning app Duolingo ( DUOL -0.54% ) as an example, Motley Fool analyst Alicia Alfiere shares key questions to ask when writing an investment thesis, including:

  • What are its competitive advantages?
  • Who's running the company?
  • Will broader trends help or hurt?
  • Stocks discussed: BKNG ( BKNG -0.80% ) , HD ( HD 1.03% ) , LOW ( LOW 0.70% ) ,  MSFT ( MSFT 0.27% ) , and DUOL.

To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool's free podcasts, check out our  podcast center . To get started investing, check out our  quick-start guide to investing in stocks . A full transcript follows the video.

10 stocks we like better than Duolingo, Inc. When our award-winning analyst team has a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor , has tripled the market.*

They just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now… and Duolingo, Inc. wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

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*Stock Advisor returns as of March 3, 2022

This video was recorded on March 7, 2022.

Chris Hill: Tell the DJ to queue up ZZ Top because we're talking about investing trends with legs. Motley Fool Money starts now. I'm Chris Hill joined by Motley Fool senior analyst Jason Moser. Thanks for being here.

Jason Moser: Hey, thanks for having me.

Chris Hill: Everybody loves a good trend, right?

Jason Moser: Sure.

Chris Hill: We're investors, we love a good trend. Lately, I don't know if you've noticed as the market has continued its grim slide of 2022, that doesn't stop potential trends from emerging here or there. I wanted to talk with you about how to figure out which trends have legs and which ones don't. I'll just start with an example of one that I think for me anyway, doesn't really have legs, and it goes under the umbrella of because of reasons, this industry has sold off tremendously. Therefore, it presents an opportunity for investors because it's trading below where it should be. The one that leaves to mind for me that's come up several times over the past two plus years is the Cruise Industry, and that may be a good short-term opportunity for some people. I'm not interested in that.

Because it's not an industry that I think has great long-term tailwinds behind it, I don't mean to pick on the Cruise Industry, but you know what I'm talking about. There are some trends that get a lot of attention, but it's for short-term reasons.

Jason Moser: Yeah, I'm glad you said short-term reasons because I agree with what you're saying. I think the way I typically try to break this down in my own mind, and I've talked before about the way that I invest. As a long-term investor, someone who typically like to be a net buyer of stocks, I'd like to buy, I don't really like selling. Typically I am looking for companies that I feel they're going to be relevant for decades. Figuring out and following the long-term trend in differentiating that between what I would call a short-term catalyst, and so I think that the Cruise example there is a good example of something where there's a short-term catalyst. Before 2020, I don't know that Cruise ships were really a place where I was interested in investing, it sounds you feel the same way. It's just not an industry that you're all that interested in. I think that's how I start to at least look at this, because you could look at the Cruise liners for example, and say, "well, I'm not all that interested." But by the same token, it does feel there's a short-term catalysts in place that could result in value for shareholders if things continue to improve. The travel industry in general has been shellacked, but things are starting to come back.

There were a lot of questions early on in 2020 as to whether these major Cruise liners would even survive. They did a good job, I think of figuring out ways to survive and keeping their balance sheets in working order there, but I think for me, you see the benefit of a reopen and then say, alright, Cruise liners could benefit from that, the stock's been may start to reflect that optimism. But beyond that short-term catalyst, is there something there? Do you see more people clamoring to go on cruises as the years go by? I'm not convinced that's the case. I think it's a relevant industry. I think there are people who love to take cruises, but I think there are also a lot of risks that come with something like that. For me, it's trying to think about what direction the world is headed and I'll be honest with you, I'm sure you probably can relate to this as a parent. I looked at my kids, I have two daughters, they're are at sophomore junior and high school. I looked at them and their friends and what they're doing, what they're watching, the apps that they're using, ways that they're conducting their business, that to me starts to tell a little bit more about consumer behavior, trends that may be forming, things that matter to younger generations that will continue to matter even as they get older. I typically try to break it down between looking at a long-term trend versus a short-term catalysts in figuring out ways to discern between the two.

Chris Hill: If you think back to last year in the late spring, one of the big trends getting a lot of attention was what was referred to as the great reopening.

Jason Moser: Yeah.

Chris Hill: It seems we're at that point again, as Omicron levels continue to drop, vaccines continue to rise, more and more businesses, we talked about this last Friday on Motley Fool Money about some of the biggest tech companies in America opening up their offices, mask mandates coming down. You were talking to the folks at Cheddar, and I'm happy to share Jason Moser as a resource our with media outlets. [laughs] You're welcome Cheddar. But seriously, you were talking to them about this trend, weren't you?

Jason Moser: Yeah, we were talking about reopening, and to me it feels like reopening 2.0. We did go through a reopening before, where I think a lot of us are starting to get back out there and resuming somewhat normal behavior. This is the next iteration of that, where I think the wall start to come down and even more people start to go out and really get their lives back to normal. We were talking about ideas, investments, companies that will benefit from this next phase of reopening, and then what future they may have even beyond that, because I would look at reopening as definitely a short-term catalyst. This is not something where the long-term trend is for our economy to reopen, and so for me that doesn't mean that there aren't great ideas out there, that doesn't mean there's no money to be made, but by the same token, and I think, we said this a lot when we were talking about the stay at home stock, theme that we were delving into a couple of years ago. 

You want to make sure that regardless, these are businesses that you feel will continue to do well even beyond the short-term catalysts. Because this short-term catalyst will end, and then you want to make sure that you're not left holding the bag with the business that maybe isn't going to continue to benefit beyond just that catalyst. For me, there are a lot of different ways you can look at the companies that will benefit from this. I mean, you're talking about incremental traffic in all places, people going back to work, office buildings getting busier, the areas around the office buildings getting busier, malls getting busier, so what companies can you expect a benefit there? To me, there are a lot of different ways you can look at it. I think travel is one that stands out immediately just because so many people are ready-to-go do something. We saw some of the snap-back in travel earlier through the course of this last couple of years, but it does look things continue to get even better. 

I was looking through Booking Holdings, for example their most recent earnings call, they were talking about the fact that they are seeing the trends continuing to move in the right direction. They said the first half of February they saw meaningful improvement across all of their regions compared to January, but then they made this reference to gross bookings. They said gross bookings for the summer are higher than they were at this time in 2019, so that's encouraging for a number of different reasons and it sounds a lot of people are planning trips. I know that we are both planning to get a trip and I'm going to be going a few places here over the summer as well looking forward to that. But when you think about just the fact that gross bookings for the summer are higher than they were at this time in 2019, that's really encouraging. The nice thing about travel is it's truly a global opportunity. I think travel is going to continue to be a long-term trend that investors can benefit from, so Booking Holdings stands out as one way to look at this reopen 2.0.

Chris Hill: It is interesting. The difference, as you said, the long-term trend versus the short-term catalysts, because ultimately there has to be something sustainable. There has to be something about an underlying business that we as investors can see a pathway for growth. Which, and this may be just my preference, I always prefer organic growth as opposed to growth through acquisition. It's not to say that that doesn't work, there are plenty of businesses that have rewarded shareholders by going the route of acquisition. But to me, it's just preferable to see a business like I've talked before about Home Depot and Lowe's, and not that they do a tremendous amount of increasing their store count year-over-year, but you look at the way that they've grown out their online presence, their deliveries, that sort of thing, that's just easier for me to wrap my head around.

Jason Moser: Well, yeah. I think Home Depot and Lowe's, two very good examples of businesses that I think could certainly benefit here over the next several months as consumer traffic continues to pick up. We've seen the strength in the housing market over the past couple of years, and the neat thing about housing is whether you own or you rent, home improvement maintenance, all that stuff is always on the table. That's to me one of the most obvious long-term trends out there, because everybody needs a roof over their head. You look at Home Depot and Lowe's, the quarters that they just chalked up, to be able to maintain their gross margins in a time like this when inflation really is front and center, Lowe's actually expanded their gross margin very modestly. Home Depot, a little bit of pressure, but overall they've really been able to maintain prices very well and passes these costs along to consumers.

I think part of that is just due to the nature of the market that it serves, it's a necessary market. Then they love to throw the statistics out there, 50 percent of the homes here in the US are over 40 years old. A lot has changed in 40 years. The ways that we build houses, the ways that we've repair our homes and update and improve our homes. What that ultimately means is you get this massive installed housing base out there just in this country alone, that really requires a lot of what Home Depot and Lowe's are selling. They may not be the sexiest names in the world, and they may not like the world on fire in the near-term, but when you stretch the chart out, if you look at the way these companies performed through the years, 3, 5, 10 years, they are just tremendous performers. Lowe's in particularly, you look at what Marvin Ellison has done there, that has been just nothing short of spectacular. I think what we've got now is really two businesses there in Lowe's and Home Depot that you and I have likened before to MasterCard and Visa . It's almost like a which one should I pick? Why bother choosing? You could actually own both and get away with it just fine. It's not a bad idea, actually.

Chris Hill: Not a bad idea at all. Last thing and then I'll let you go. When you think about long-term trends, I suppose there are a couple of different ways you can think about them. One is to try and predict where the future is going and be right, not only about the direction, but the timing of how soon we're going to get there. I was on David Gardner's Rule Breaker investing podcast recently and on an episode that were set in the year 2052 and one of the jokes we made on that was that self-driving cars, still not a thing [laughs] and it may not be by the way. That's one way to do it, like OK, this is where the world is going. But another way to do it is to look at trends right now and say, OK, do I think this is going to be here in 20 years? You can say that about individual products, you can also say that about industries. It's why whenever someone has a new baby and he's like, I want to buy a stock for them. My answer is always Starbucks. Because I know that the way we drink coffee in 50 years is going to look a whole lot like the way we drink it now.

Jason Moser: [laughs] If it looks any different, Starbucks is probably going to be one of the companies that is innovating and iterating there. So you probably win either way. Yeah, I think to me, one of the trends that I think it's front and center right now for a lot of people is work, exactly how we're going to be working. We're talking about stay at home, now we're talking about reopen. It's been a weird two years. There're offices that never closed down and then there are other offices that just have closed down completely and you wonder what exactly the future holds. I look to a business like Microsoft, for example, and I think it's very telling that you've got a lot of these big tech companies that are reopening their offices. They're eager and excited to do that, and I think that's for a number of reasons. I think that you've seen some of the CEOs of these businesses, Twitter for example, they're talking about the fact that, yes, remote work is available, but it is harder. It makes things a lot more difficult. I'm sure probably you run into some challenges where remote work does make things harder. 

But by the same token, there are a lot of folks that like that, convenience in being able to go do what they want to do when they want to go do it, it certainly expands that work schedule. For me, I look at the absolutes as being probably what you want to avoid. If you're saying, well, we're just going to be a virtual-only company, you're probably leaving something on the table there. But if you say that, well, everybody has to be at the office all the time, well, you're leaving some talent out there that you might not be able to get otherwise. To me, the hybrid work environment, that's what seems like the future holds. You look at a company like Microsoft , a company that's responsible for getting so many of those tools that we've been able to use, whether you're Slack or Zoom or Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Teams and all of the tools that Microsoft provides, they help enable what ultimately I think we're going to see is the hybrid work environment where a lot of folks have the opportunity to do it however they want to do it, but companies still have a process and a philosophy in place that leaves everybody feeling included. I think that's probably one of the bigger challenges. I think that's going to be one of the things that companies will figure out as time goes on, is managing the remote and the physically present workforce together. Not saying that's an easy thing to do, but I think that's going to be something that companies are going to have to do. Because to me, again, it feels like you've take it to the extreme, if you go absolutes one way or the other, that to me seems to open up more challenges of opportunities the longer you play that out.

Chris Hill: Jason Moser, thanks for being here.

Jason Moser: Thank you.

Chris Hill: Remember back in high school when your English teacher taught you how to write a thesis statements, it's the main idea of your essay and you are not going to get an A without a strong thesis statement. It turns out that's one of those skills that comes in handy for investors like you and me. Here to talk through the nuts-and-bolts of an investment thesis is Motley Fool Senior Analyst, Alicia Alfiere. Thanks for being here.

Alicia Alfiere: Thanks for having me.

Chris Hill: Before we get into some of the key questions that can go into an investment thesis. Why do you think an exercise like this is helpful for us as investors?

Alicia Alfiere: First, when we think of an investment thesis, it's really a summary of what you think of the company and why you think it makes a good investment case, as well as some of the risks. It's really important, particularly now when we are seeing a lot of market volatility. The idea here is that I will help you cut through all the noise of that market volatility and focused on signals for your company and hopefully stop you from selling a company that's actually pretty good.

Chris Hill: I know that you've been using Duolingo, let's use that as an example here, and some of the key questions that people can ask when they are looking to build an investment thesis for any business, for any stock and it starts with really knowing the company.

Alicia Alfiere: This one sounds like a no-brainer, but there are actually companies out there that require a little bit extra time and research to be able to answer questions like, what does this company sell? Do? What problem are they solving? Who are their customers? How do they make money? That's really fundamental to understand. If we use Duolingo as an example here, Duolingo is a global mobile learning platform with the mission to develop the best educational content in the world and make it universally available. They offer a gamified approach to learning over 40 languages and they offer a lot of different solutions here. They have their flagship Duolingo Learning Language App, which is free. They have Duolingo Plus, which is a subscription. Duolingo English Test, which is a proficiency exam, and Duolingo for Schools. Essentially the problem that they're solving here, is making education accessible to the mobile generation and their lessons are pretty effective. According to their internal study, users with five Duolingo units were as proficient in reading and listening as students with four college semesters of language classes. Then in terms of how do they make money, again really important to understand. They make most of their money from their subscription products. The rest comes from the Premium Apps, so those are based revenues and revenues from their English tax.

Chris Hill: Every business has competition, so obviously it is worth spending a minute or two when you're putting together an investment thesis thinking about competitive advantages that a business might have.

Alicia Alfiere: Look at the competition within the industry. Is there a product or service sticky? Does the business have network effects? When we talk about network effects, think of a platform like Facebook. Where you have this virtuous circle of data which makes your users use it more, which brings in more data, which allows you to get more insights, [laughs] which again makes that product even more valuable. In terms of Duolingo they are in a highly competitive industry. Lots of options to learn new languages, whether it's a virtual or in-person classes, other apps and websites and there is substitution items that you could use as well like translator apps. But what advantages does Duolingo have? They have a strong brand, they have had over 500 million downloads and their flagship app is the top grossing app in the education category on Google Play and the Apple App Store. This strong brand recognition really helps to drive organic growth for them. 

They also have strong network effects so 41.7 million monthly active users, which includes a US contingent that actually out numbers. Total US high school foreign language learners which a massive amount here. They have over a half billion exercises completed daily on the platform and as a result of that strong network, Duolingo beliefs, they have the largest collection of language learning data, and they feed this virtual cycle of their network by using their collection of data, to make learning experiences more efficient and differentiated for its users. In terms of platform stickiness, over 50 percent of daily active users have used the app for more than seven days in a row, and one million users have an active stretch of longer than 365 days. Pretty impressive there, but there are some tricky parts here for paid subscribers, it's a bit more complicated. About 40 percent of annual subscribers renew their subscriptions after a year or about nine percent of monthly subscribers renew their subscription after one year. They got some work to do here.

Chris Hill: At the Motley Fool, we're not just interested in the business, we're interested in the management as well. It's worth spending time figuring out, hey, who are the people running this business?

Alicia Alfiere: Absolutely. Take a look at who are the co-founders, who is leading the Company? Do they have a long-term vision? What's their culture like? Remember their employees are what make a vision come to life. If employees don't buy in, it's going to be really hard for a company to grow. For Duolingo, it was founded by Luis von Ahn and Severin Hacker, two engineers who met at Carnegie Mellon. Luis is the CEO and Director, Severin is the CTO and Director. They're both heavily involved in the company, which we really like. For Luis growing up in Guatemalan, he saw how access to education can truly transform lives and when he met his kindred spirit in Safran the two embarked are creating an accessible, effective, and intelligent learning solution. While they started with languages, their long-term goal is to have language learning be just one of the education solutions that they offer. They've already started along this path. They have their Literacy App, Duolingo ABC, which teaches children how to read and they're working on an app to teach elementary school math. For culture, I like to look at website like Glassdoor to see what employees think. Do they like working there? Are they dedicated to vision? On Glassdoor, 93 percent of employees would recommend Duolingo to a friend and 97 percent approve of the CEO, so pretty solid results here.

Chris Hill: We say all the time investing is about the future. At some point when you're putting together an investment thesis, you got to check a couple of boxes in terms of what does the future look like for this business?

Alicia Alfiere: Yes. Think about the future. What's the market opportunity for them? Can they grow? How can they grow? Are there any broader trends that can help or hurt the company in the future? For Duolingo, they're a player in a growing market, the mobile learning space. Preferences for convenience, an on-demand services have driven a lot of consumers toward mobile solutions. Whether it's shopping or learning, and COVID accelerated the usage for mobile learning. Though the growth will probably edge away from some of that COVID highs, it's still expected to grow. Global language learning spending both online and offline, reached 61 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow to 115 billion by 2025. Within this market, online learning is growing fast. From 12 billion in 2019 to 47 billion in 2025. Perhaps the convenience and flexibility of mobile learning, as well as smartphone adoption overall, is broadening the demand for that language learning products. Since Duolingo's annual revenues were about 161 Million in 2020, they're only about 1.3 percent of the current market for online language learning, which gives them a ton of room to grow. They have a plan to grow, which is really important. They think that they could grow by increasing the number of users, converting free users to those paid subscription users, increasing subscription stickiness, which we already talked about, and expanding their solutions, beyond that language learning.

Chris Hill: We want to be bullish when we're thinking [laughs] about stock that we're considering adding to our portfolio. But at some point you have to put on the bare hat and think about what are the risks to this business?

Alicia Alfiere: Because every investment has risks, that's the nature of the beast and if you can't find one, you need to research more. Be curious, play the part of the skeptic and ask, what could go wrong. This is especially important in times of market volatility. For Duolingo, we already talked about some of the issues that they have here. Operating in a highly competitive environment and subscription retention numbers that could be better. But there's also another issue we didn't talk about, and that's low switching costs. What that means that it doesn't really cost a lot of money and it's not a huge hassle for users to simply change apps, or take in person costs instead and so that is another risk.

Chris Hill: You've clearly put in some work on Duolingo, tell me how the story ends. Is this stock you're adding to your portfolio or is it on your watchlist for right now?

Alicia Alfiere: Well, right now it's more on my watchlist. At the end of this process, what I like to do is summarize and actually, hey, what would the investment thesis look like? In this case, I would say Duolingo has gamified approach to learning, which has helped the company build a strong brand and benefit from strong network effects in some platform stickiness. With these competitive advantages, strong tailwinds from online education trends, a large market to expand into, and a plan for expansion, Duolingo is an intriguing company by subscription retention statistics and those low switching costs give me a bit of a pause for right now. I'm going to continue to follow them and research them because I find this company fascinating and a really value leadership's vision and plans for the future.

Chris Hill: Do you've more information about putting together your own investment thesis in our show notes. So check those out when you get a chance. Alicia Alfiere, thanks so much for being here.

Chris Hill: That's all for today, I will be coming up tomorrow, three analysts share some of the biggest investing lessons that they've learned over the past 20 years. As always, people on the program may have interest in the stocks they talk about and the Motley Fool may have formal recommendations for or against. So don't buy or sell stocks based solely on what you hear. I'm Chris Hill. Thanks for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.

Alicia Alfiere owns Microsoft. Chris Hill owns Home Depot, Lowe's, Microsoft, Starbucks, and Visa. Jason Moser owns Booking Holdings, Mastercard, Starbucks, and Visa. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Booking Holdings, Home Depot, Mastercard, Microsoft, Starbucks, Twitter, and Visa. The Motley Fool recommends Lowe's and recommends the following options: short April 2022 $100 calls on Starbucks. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

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investment thesis education

Investment Thesis: An Argument in Support of Investing Decisions

October 29, 2023 by Abi Tyas Tunggal

An investment thesis is a well-reasoned argument that supports a specific investment decision, playing a vital role in the strategic planning process for individual investors and businesses alike. It comprises detailed research and analysis to evaluate an investment's potential profitability. A good investment thesis serves multiple purposes, including helping in the decision-making process, providing a comprehensive framework for monitoring and assessment, and offering a structured approach to identifying potential opportunities.

There are different types of investment strategies, such as venture capital , private equity, and long-term value investments. The core of an investment thesis involves identifying key parameters for evaluating an investment, understanding the unique market dynamics and competitive landscape, and realizing how to create value through strategic planning. To ensure a comprehensive and detailed investment thesis, it is crucial to involve thorough research, considering emerging trends and opportunities, and incorporating industry case studies for better understanding. Ultimately, financial statements and valuation metrics play a significant role in determining a well-suited investment decision.

Key Takeaways

  • An investment thesis is a well-reasoned, research-based argument supporting a specific investment decision
  • There are several types of investment strategies, and a well-structured investment thesis addresses market dynamics and competition to create value
  • Research, valuation metrics, and understanding emerging trends are crucial in crafting a compelling investment ideas

Defining an Investment Thesis

An investment thesis is a well-structured, logical argument that justifies a particular investment decision, based on thorough research and analysis. It is essential for investors, as well as financial professionals in the domains of investment banking, private equity, hedge funds, and venture capital funds . A confident and knowledgeable investor will build out clear investment criteria to successfully navigate the investment landscape.

The primary purpose of an investment thesis is to outline the reasons and expected outcomes of a proposed investment, often focusing on the potential for growth and profit. This document offers a roadmap for investors, guiding them through their decision-making process, and helping to ensure that they arrive at rational and informed conclusions. A comprehensive investment thesis should consider various aspects, such as market conditions, competitive landscape, and financial performance of the targeted asset or company.

A strong investment thesis is built on rigorous market research and analysis. This involves evaluating historical and current financial information, as well as scrutinizing industry trends and the overall economic environment. Skilled investors will also incorporate their expertise in the industry to better assess the merits of an investment opportunity. This level of thoroughness creates a confidently expressed thesis, allowing investors to remain steadfast in their investment decisions, even amid market volatility.

In summary, an investment thesis plays a pivotal role in the investing process. It presents a well-reasoned argument, grounded in extensive research and clear analysis, that supports an investment decision. Crafting a robust investment thesis is crucial for both individual and institutional investors as it provides a solid foundation for investment choices and ensures the alignment of investment strategies with long-term objectives.

Importance of Research in Crafting an Investment Thesis

Thorough research is a crucial aspect of creating a solid investment thesis. It allows investors to gather vital information and insights that will help guide their investment decisions. There are several elements to consider while conducting this research, with data analysis, understanding risks, and returns being essential components.

Data Analysis

Data analysis forms the backbone of any research conducted for crafting an investment thesis. It involves collecting, organizing, and interpreting various types of data, such as financial statements, market trends, and industry forecasts, to identify patterns and make informed predictions about a potential investment opportunity. A comprehensive data analysis can help investors make confident choices based on reliable information, which is essential for a successful investment strategy.

Some key data analysis techniques used in crafting an investment thesis include:

  • Comparative analysis: Comparing the performance of different companies within the same industry to identify investment opportunities.
  • Trend analysis: Monitoring historical data to determine patterns and potential future developments.
  • Financial statement analysis: Examining the financial health of a company through its balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements.

Understanding Risks and Returns

One of the primary goals of research in developing an investment thesis is to assess the risk/reward profile of a potential investment. This involves evaluating the potential risks associated with the investment and weighing them against the expected returns. A sound investment thesis should demonstrate a clear understanding of these risks and offer a rationale for why the investment’s potential returns make it a worthwhile addition to a portfolio.

Some common risks to consider when crafting an investment thesis include:

  • Market risk: The risk of an investment losing value due to fluctuations in the market.
  • Credit risk: The risk that a company or issuer of a financial instrument may default on its obligations.
  • Operational risk: The risk of losses arising from failed internal processes, systems, or personnel within a business.

Evaluating these risks requires investors to develop a deep understanding of the investment opportunity, its industry, and the factors that may impact its performance. A diligent and systematic approach to research can help investors identify potential risks and gains, leading to informed and confident decision-making in crafting a strong investment thesis.

Types of Investment Strategy

When it comes to crafting an investment thesis, selecting an appropriate investment strategy is crucial. In this section, we will discuss two popular strategies: Value Investing and Growth Investing.

Value Investing

Value investing is a strategy that focuses on identifying undervalued stocks or assets in the market. These investments typically have lower valuations, which are reflected in their price-to-earnings ratios or book values. The central idea behind value investing is that the market may sometimes undervalue a company or asset, presenting an opportunity for investors willing to do thorough research and analysis.

The process of value investing involves:

  • Fundamental analysis : Evaluating a company's financial health, management, and competitive advantages
  • Value metrics : Identifying various valuation metrics, such as price-to-earnings, price-to-book, and dividend yield
  • Margin of safety : Discovering investment opportunities with a built-in cushion to reduce the risk of loss

Famous investors, such as Warren Buffett and Benjamin Graham, have implemented value investing strategies to achieve long-term success.

Growth Investing

On the other hand, growth investing centers on companies that are expected to grow at an above-average rate compared to their industry. Growth investors seek opportunities in businesses they believe will offer substantial capital appreciation through rapid expansion or market-share gains. They prioritize the potential for future profit over the stock's valuation.

Features of growth investing include:

  • High expectations : Companies targeted by growth investors typically have a history of robust revenue and profit growth
  • Momentum : Investors seek stocks with upward price momentum, as increasing demand for these stocks may drive prices even higher
  • Risk tolerance : Growth stocks can be volatile, and investors must be prepared to weather price swings

Renowned growth investors like Peter Lynch and Phil Fisher have demonstrated the effectiveness of growth investing throughout their careers.

Both value and growth investing strategies have their unique advantages and require different levels of risk tolerance. Investors should carefully consider their investment thesis and select a strategy that aligns with their objectives and risk appetite.

Venture Capital and Private Equity Investment Theses

When considering investments in private companies, venture capital (VC) and private equity (PE) firms each have their own unique strategies encapsulated within their respective investment theses. These theses provide guidance on the focus of investments, the sectors or geographies of interest, and the stage of the target companies.

Learn more about the differences between private equity and venture capital .

Venture Capital Investment Thesis

A venture capital investment thesis outlines how a VC fund aims to make money for its investors, typically referred to as Limited Partners (LPs). This strategy identifies crucial factors such as the stage of companies the fund will invest in, commonly early-stage companies, the targeted geography, and specific sectors of focus.

The thesis may vary depending on a venture capitalist's unique specialization, with some firms concentrating on a specific vertical and stage, while others invest more broadly without a core thesis driving their decisions. The underlying objective of a VC investment thesis is to outline how the firm will achieve high returns on investment by supporting and nurturing the growth of portfolio companies.

Private Equity Investment Thesis

In contrast, a private equity investment thesis is an evidence-based case in support of a particular investment opportunity. It usually begins with a concise argument illustrating how the potential deal supports the fund's general investment strategy. The thesis then provides details that substantiate this preliminary conclusion.

Private equity firms often target more established companies compared to venture capital firms, focusing on businesses with a proven track record. The PE investment thesis may identify areas where operational improvements, strategic mergers, or better capital structures could enhance value, ultimately generating a good return for the firm and its investors.

Overall, both venture capital and private equity investment theses serve as critical frameworks guiding investment decisions. They not only help align these decisions with a firm's specialized strategy but also provide a basis for evaluating potential deals to ensure they contribute to the firm's goals and long-term value creation.

Key Parameters for Evaluating an Investment

When assessing the viability of an investment, it is essential to examine various key parameters to make informed decisions. By analyzing these factors, investors can gain a deeper understanding of a company's financial health and its potential for growth.

One vital metric to consider is earnings per share (EPS) , which represents the portion of a company's profit attributed to each outstanding share of its common stock. A higher EPS indicates higher earnings and suggests that the company may be a lucrative investment opportunity.

Another fundamental metric is the return on assets (ROA) , which measures the effectiveness of a company in using its assets to generate profit. The higher the ROA, the better the company is at utilizing its assets to generate earnings. Similarly, return on equity (ROE) is a measure of financial performance that calculates the proportion of net income generated by a company's equity. A higher ROE demonstrates the efficient usage of shareholders' investments.

Conducting a thorough analysis of the company's financial statements is crucial. This includes reviewing income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. By doing so, investors can gain insights into the company's profitability, liquidity, and solvency.

Another important factor to consider is a company's cash position. Adequate cash reserves enable a company to meet its short-term obligations and invest in growth opportunities. On the other hand, a lack of cash can leave a company vulnerable to market fluctuations and financial stress.

It is also essential to evaluate a company's capital structure, which refers to the proportion of debt and equity financing it uses to fund its operations. A balanced capital structure ensures financial stability, while excessive debt may lead to financial distress.

Examining a company's debt level is crucial, as it can directly impact the company's financial flexibility and risk profile. A high level of debt can hinder a company's ability to grow and adapt to changes in the market, making it a less attractive investment option.

Assessing a company's assets and how they're managed plays a significant role in evaluating an investment opportunity. This includes tangible assets, such as property and equipment, and intangible assets, such as patents and trademarks. Effective asset management contributes to a company's ability to generate profit.

Finally, it is important to scrutinize a company's costs associated with its operations, such as production costs and overhead expenses. A company that efficiently manages its costs will likely generate higher profitability and provide better returns for investors.

Creating Value through Strategic Planning

Strategic planning plays a crucial role in creating value for investors and businesses. It serves as the foundation for effective decision-making and guides companies towards achieving their goals. Through strategic planning, management teams can identify and focus on core competencies that contribute to a company's competitive advantage.

One way to create value is to prioritize revenue growth. By identifying key growth drivers, such as product innovation or market expansion, companies can allocate resources accordingly to boost earnings. Such targeted investments in growth engines allow firms to capture a larger market share and drive long-term profitability.

Another aspect of strategic planning involves optimizing a company's holdings. By assessing the existing portfolio, management can decide whether to divest underperforming assets or make strategic acquisitions that align with their investment thesis. The right combinations and adjustments can significantly enhance a company's overall performance and shareholder value.

Risk management is also an essential aspect of strategic planning. Companies must assess potential risks and incorporate suitable mitigation measures in their plans. This ensures that organizations are prepared for unforeseen circumstances, which can safeguard profits and protect the company's assets.

Furthermore, creating value requires continuous improvement and adaptation to market trends. Companies should routinely reevaluate their strategies to identify both internal and external factors that may impact their current position. By setting clearly defined objectives and quantifiable financial targets, management teams can measure their progress effectively and adjust their strategic plans as needed.

In summary , creating value through strategic planning involves a combination of focusing on core competencies, prioritizing revenue growth, optimizing holdings, managing risk, and continuously reassessing the company's strategic direction. This holistic approach can help businesses enhance their profitability, strengthen their market position, and ultimately deliver strong value creation to investors.

Understanding the Market and Competition

Before developing an investment thesis, it is crucial to have a deep understanding of the market and its competition. The stock market is influenced by various factors such as economic supercycles, bear markets, and secular trends. Analyzing these elements will provide a solid foundation to recognize potential investment opportunities.

An economic supercycle is a long-term pattern that occurs over several decades, during which the economy undergoes periods of growth and contraction. Investors need to be aware of the current phase and how it may impact their investment decisions. For instance, during a growth period, certain industries tend to outperform, while others may underperform during a contraction phase.

In addition to analyzing these market conditions, investors must also pay heed to the competitive landscape of the sector in which they plan to invest. Examining the competitors within the industry enables one to identify companies with competitive advantages, which may lead to superior performance. These advantages can stem from factors such as lower costs, innovation, or a dominant market share.

A bear market occurs when the stock market experiences a prolonged decline, typically characterized by a decrease of 20% or more from recent highs. In such environments, it becomes even more crucial for investors to understand the competitive dynamics within an industry to identify resilient companies that can withstand market downturns.

A secular trend is a long-term movement in a particular direction that can last for several years or even decades. Identifying secular trends within industries is essential to spotting opportunities for long-term growth. For example, investors may capitalize on sectors benefiting from a shift towards clean energy usage or the increasing importance of artificial intelligence.

In summary, understanding the market and competition requires a deep analysis of the stock market, economic supercycles, bear markets, and secular trends. By researching industry trends, evaluating market opportunities, and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of competitors, investors can develop a robust investment thesis that increases the likelihood of achieving long-term returns.

Industry Case Studies

In the investment world, the importance of an investment thesis cannot be overstated. By examining various industry case studies, we can gain insight into how businesses make strategic investments to enhance their value. In this section, we'll discuss notable examples from companies such as DuPont, General Motors, Rexam PLC, and Clear Channel Communications.

DuPont is a leading science and innovation company with a focus on agriculture, advanced materials, and industrial biosciences. During its acquisition of Dow Chemical, DuPont developed a robust investment thesis to justify the merger. Their investment case relied on the belief that the combined entity would benefit from increased operational efficiencies, new market opportunities, and enhanced innovation capabilities. This approach provided a strong rationale for the deal, which has created a more competitive company in the global market.

General Motors (GM) , a multinational automobile manufacturer, crafted its investment thesis in response to evolving trends in the automotive industry, such as the increasing importance of emissions reduction, electrification, and autonomous technology. GM's investment case centered on embracing these trends, focusing on innovation, and expanding its product offerings through strategic M&A, investments, and partnerships. For example, GM has made significant investments in electric vehicles and autonomous driving technology, positioning the company for future growth in these areas.

Next, we have Rexam PLC , a former British packaging manufacturer that was a leading producer of beverage cans globally. When Ball Corporation sought to acquire Rexam, they developed an investment thesis based on the value derived from combining the two companies' strengths. This thesis outlined the strategic fit between both companies, synergies from combining production capabilities, and projected growth, particularly in developing markets. The successful acquisition helped Ball Corporation consolidate its position as a global leader in the packaging industry.

Lastly, Clear Channel Communications is a media company specializing in outdoor advertising. As the company sought to expand its presence in this sector, it created an investment thesis centered around leveraging its core competence in outdoor advertising and acquiring strategic assets. One example is Clear Channel's acquisition of crucial billboard locations to solidify its competitive edge in the outdoor advertising market. This targeted growth strategy has allowed Clear Channel to remain a dominant player in the industry.

In conclusion, these industry case studies demonstrate the value of a well-crafted investment thesis. Effective investment theses provide a roadmap for companies to pursue strategic acquisitions and investments that create long-term value, while also helping investors evaluate the viability of proposed deals. By understanding how companies like DuPont, General Motors, Rexam PLC, and Clear Channel Communications have strategically invested in the market, we can better appreciate the importance of a well-structured investment thesis.

Long-Term Investment Strategies

A long-term investment strategy refers to an approach where investors hold onto their investments for an extended period, typically more than one year. This type of strategy aims to achieve the investment goal by allowing assets to grow through market fluctuations and capitalizing on the power of compounding interest. Diversification and patience play pivotal roles in ensuring the success of a long-term investment strategy.

Portfolio managers often use various techniques and methods to craft long-term investment portfolios. Some of these techniques include targeting undervalued sectors or stocks, dividend reinvestment plans, dollar-cost averaging, and asset allocation. By employing these strategies, portfolio managers increase chances of achieving their clients' investment goals over time.

In order to develop long-term investment strategies, investors should first define their investment goal . This could include objectives such as saving for retirement, funding a child's college education, or purchasing a home. Clear investment goals help in designing an appropriate investment strategy, taking into account factors like the investor's risk tolerance, time horizon, and available capital.

One key aspect of a successful long-term strategy is diversification . Diversifying across asset classes and industries allows investors to spread risks and potentially achieve higher risk-adjusted returns. A well-diversified portfolio will typically consist of a mix of stocks, bonds, and other asset types, with variations in investment size, industry sector, and geographical location. This diversified approach minimizes the impact of underperforming investments on the overall portfolio.

Another crucial element in long-term investing is patience . Market fluctuations can be tempting for investors to react to their emotions and make impulsive decisions, which could derail a well-thought-out investment strategy. Maintaining a disciplined approach and sticking to one's investment plan, even during periods of market volatility, is paramount to achieving long-term success.

In conclusion, long-term investment strategies require investors to define clear goals, diversify their portfolio, and exercise patience in the face of market fluctuations. By adhering to these principles, investors and portfolio managers can steer a course towards achieving their investment objectives.

Emerging Trends and Opportunities

In recent years, various emerging trends have presented attractive opportunities for investors. Among these trends, renewable energy, megatrends, and the coffee shop market stand out as sectors with significant potential for growth.

Renewable energy has gained considerable attention and investment as a response to the global push for addressing climate change and reducing emissions. Solar, wind, and hydroelectric power are some of the most prominent technologies in this sector. With an increased interest in clean energy from both governments and consumers, companies in this space are poised to experience substantial growth.

Megatrends such as urbanization, aging populations, and technological advancements are also influencing investment opportunities. These large-scale shifts provide a backdrop for businesses to tap into new markets and adjust their strategies to capitalize on these changes. For instance, companies working in healthcare and biotechnology may benefit from catering to the needs of an aging population, while businesses focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and automation may find increased demand due to technological advancements.

The coffee shop market, too, presents investment opportunities. This industry has experienced robust growth in recent years as consumers increasingly seek out unique, high-quality coffee experiences. Independent and specialty coffee shops are at the forefront of this trend. Niche coffee shops that offer novel and authentic experiences have seen success by catering to the specialized preferences of today's consumers. As the demand for artisanal and premium beverages continues to rise, businesses operating in this space can expect to have ample opportunities for growth.

In conclusion, current emerging trends such as renewable energy, megatrends, and the coffee shop market offer a wealth of investment opportunities. As these sectors continue to develop and evolve, investors with well-informed investment theses stand to benefit from the potential rewards in these growing industries.

Role of Financial Statements and Valuation Metrics

Financial statements play a vital role in the investment thesis by providing crucial information about a company's financial health and performance. They consist of the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement, which offer insights into the company's assets, liabilities, revenues, expenses, and cash flows. Investors use these statements to assess the company's past performance, current financial condition, and potential for future growth.

Valuation metrics, on the other hand, are vital yardsticks that investors use to compare different investment opportunities and make informed decisions. These metrics include price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, price-to-sales (P/S) ratio, price-to-book (P/B) ratio, dividend yield, and return on equity (ROE), among others. By analyzing these ratios, investors can gauge a company's value relative to its peers and make better investment choices.

Analysts and investors scrutinize financial statements to identify growth trends, profitability, and financial stability. For instance, they may calculate the gross margin, operating margin, and net profit margin to determine the company's profitability across different stages of its operations. Additionally, they examine liquidity ratios, such as the current ratio and quick ratio, to assess the company's ability to meet its short-term obligations.

Valuation metrics provide a quantitative basis for comparing investment opportunities within the same industry or across different sectors. For example, a lower P/E ratio may indicate that a stock is undervalued, while a high P/E ratio might suggest overvaluation. Moreover, the P/B ratio can help investors determine if a stock is undervalued by comparing its market price to its book value.

Another key valuation metric is the dividend yield, which measures the annual dividend income per share relative to the stock's price. A higher dividend yield may attract income-oriented investors, while a lower yield might be more appealing to growth-focused investors. Furthermore, the ROE ratio, which measures a company's profitability in relation to its equity base, is an essential metric for evaluating the efficiency of management in creating shareholder value.

In conclusion, financial statements and valuation metrics are indispensable tools for investors to evaluate a company's financial health and investment attractiveness. By analyzing these data points, investors can make well-informed investment decisions that align with their risk tolerance and investment objectives.

Concluding Thoughts on Crafting a Compelling Investment Thesis

Crafting a compelling investment thesis is crucial for informed investing decisions, as it helps investors thoroughly analyze a potential opportunity. A well-researched investment thesis demonstrates the investor's conviction level and reinforces their confidence in the investment choice. This process involves a deep understanding of the business, its value drivers, and its potential growth trajectories.

A strong investment thesis should be definitive, clearly articulating the reasoning behind the opportunity and the expected returns. This allows investors to stay focused on their goals and maintain their conviction, even when the stock's price movement does not align with their expectations.

By adopting a confident, knowledgeable, and neutral tone, investors can effectively communicate their investment thesis to others. Clarity in presenting the investment case is essential for persuading potential partners or stakeholders to support the opportunity. Utilizing formatting tools such as tables and bullet points can aid in conveying essential information efficiently and ensuring the investment thesis is easy to understand.

In summary, crafting a compelling investment thesis enables investors to make well-informed decisions that align with their financial goals. By developing a thorough understanding of the investment opportunity and maintaining a strong conviction level, investors can better navigate the market and achieve long-term success.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you develop a strong investment thesis.

A strong investment thesis begins with thorough research on the company or asset in question. This may include looking at the financials, competitive position, management team, industry trends, and future prospects. It's essential to critically analyze the available information, identify potential risks and rewards, and establish a clear rationale for the investment based on this analysis. Staying focused on the long-term outlook and maintaining a disciplined approach to the investment process can also contribute to developing a robust investment thesis.

What are the key elements to include in an investment thesis?

An investment thesis should include the following key elements:

  • Overview of the company or asset: Provide a brief background of the company or asset, including its market, size, and competitive positioning.
  • Investment rationale: Detail the reasons for investing, such as attractive valuation, strong revenue growth, or a unique business model.
  • Risk assessment: Identify potential risks and how they could impact the investment returns.
  • Expected return: Estimate the potential financial return based on the identified growth drivers or catalysts.
  • Time horizon: Indicate the investment period, typically long-term, during which the thesis is expected to play out.
  • Fund size: Specify the amount of invested capital that will be allocated to this particular investment, considering its impact on portfolio construction, liquidity, and potential returns within the overall portfolio strategy

How can one evaluate the success of an investment thesis?

Evaluating the success of an investment thesis involves tracking the progress of the company or asset against its initial expectations and underlying assumptions. This may involve measuring financial performance, analyzing key developments in the industry and the company's position within it, and monitoring potential changes in overall market conditions. It is helpful to revisit the investment thesis regularly to assess its validity and make adjustments as necessary.

What's the difference between an investment thesis for startups and publicly traded companies?

An investment thesis for a startup often focuses on the growth potential of a new or emerging market, considering the innovative products or services the startup offers in that market. Here, the focus may be more on the potential for long-term value creation, the management team's ability to execute on their vision, and market fit.

For publicly traded companies, the investment thesis may include analysis of current financial performance, valuation multiples, and overall market trends. Publicly traded companies have more historical data and financial performance information available, allowing investors to make more informed decisions based on these factors.

How does an investment thesis guide decision-making in private equity?

In private equity, the investment thesis helps guide the selection of companies to invest in, as well as the structuring of deals to acquire those companies. It provides a blueprint for how the private equity firm aims to create value, including plans for operational improvements, financial engineering, or growth strategies. This thesis serves as a basis for monitoring the progress of an investment and helps make decisions on the timing of potential exits.

How can real estate investment theses differ from other sectors?

Real estate investment theses may focus on factors such as location, property type, market dynamics, and demographic trends to identify attractive investment opportunities. The analysis may also take into account macroeconomic factors, such as interest rates and economic growth, which can influence real estate markets. Additionally, real estate investments may be structured as either direct property investments or through financial instruments like Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), affecting the underlying investment thesis.

What considerations should a first-time fund manager have when developing a fund's investment thesis?

For a first-time fund manager, crafting a compelling and robust fund's investment thesis is paramount for attracting investors. Given their lack of a track record, these managers need to lean heavily on the research, clarity, and vision articulated in their investment thesis. The thesis should detail how the fund aims to identify ideal investments, especially those in industries with high margins. It should also benchmark the strategies against industry standards to highlight the manager's acumen and awareness of market norms.

How is a stock pitch related to an investment thesis and what role does a target price play in it?

A stock pitch is essentially a condensed, persuasive form of an investment thesis, often presented to stakeholders to advocate for investing in a particular publicly-traded company. A key element of any stock pitch is the target price, which is an estimation of what the stock is worth based on projections and valuation models. This target price serves as a quantitative anchor for the investment thesis, giving stakeholders a specific metric against which to measure potential returns and risks.

Financial Samurai

An Investment Thesis: The Key To Making More Money Long Term

In general, the longer you stay invested, the greater your chance of making money. To help you maintain a long-term investment approach, it's imperative to develop an investment thesis.

Drawing from my experience in investing since 1995, it's sometimes easy to get shaken out of a particular investment. Or it’s easier for some people to just keep their money sitting in cash out of fear of financial loss. I get it. I’ve lost plenty of money before because there are no guarantees when you take risk.

I observed panic selling during the 2000 dot bomb and 2008 global financial crisis, affecting both stock and real estate sellers. More recently, I witnessed panic selling at the beginning of the global pandemic in 2020. The events lead me to try and allay fears with the post, “ How to Predict the Stock Market Bottom like Nostradamus .”

Having a solid investment thesis, as long as it remains intact, will provide you with the courage and confidence to hold on for the long term.

The longer you invest, the greater your chance of making money. An investment thesis will help you invest for the long term

The Importance Of Developing An Investment Thesis When Investing

Let me go through some examples of how having an investment thesis has helped me hold long-term and make more money overtime. Coming up with an investment thesis also helped me make a significant decision on a recent dilemma. At the end of this post, I'll also share what makes a good investment thesis.

If you are just starting out and are fearful of investing your hard-earned money, developing an investment thesis will help you take action. To beat inflation , you must continuously invest over the long term. If you don’t overcome your fear of investing, then you will likely fall way behind over time.

Please know that you don't have to be a great investor to make money. You just need to be a good-enough investor to significantly outperform a large part of the population that does not save and invest aggressively.

1) Heartland Real Estate Investment Thesis

In 2016, I published my post titled “ Focus on Trends: Why I'm Investing in the Heartland of America .” My investment thesis was based on the anticipation that more people would relocate to lower-cost areas of the country due to advancements in technology and the increasing ability to work from home. Additionally, I believed that Trump's victory would contribute to increased interest, funding, and expansion in red states.

Given the uncertainty of which specific real estate investment deal to pursue, I opted to invest in a couple of funds that focused on acquiring real estate in the heartland of America. Now, eight years and $954,000 later, I have generally witnessed positive returns on my investments. Texas properties, in particular, have performed quite well since 2016. However, as I shared in my post on private real estate investing after eight years , there have also been some duds as well.

Investing for such an extended period has been relatively straightforward. In the realm of private funds , the expected distributions typically span between 5-10 years.

2) San Francisco Real Estate Investment Thesis

When I arrived in San Francisco in 2001, I was amazed by the affordability of real estate compared to New York City. Properties were priced 20 to 30% lower, offering more space for the same cost or a similar property for less.

At that time, compensation in the finance industry was comparable between the two cities at my level. My investment thesis was that prices in SF would catch up to prices in Manhattan due to a better quality of life and the growth of technology.

Didn’t Want To Miss Out On The Tech Boom

My firm played a role in taking Facebook and Google public in the early 2000s. As a result, I anticipated a resurgence in Web 2.0. Lacking the skills or connections to enter the tech industry, I opted to invest in tech stocks and acquire rental properties instead.

Overall, San Francisco property prices have shown positive performance. The excitement of living in a big city attracts billions of people. However, the city's reputation suffered post-pandemic due to hesitancy by officials to address criminal activities and remove drug dealers downtown.

Thankfully, to stay in power, politicians must address corruption, tackle crime, clean up the city, and provide tax incentives for businesses to thrive. Citizens discontented with criminal activities are likely to vote out ideological politicians and judges who harm the community. Consequently, there is potential for the city's image to be restored post 2024 election, leading to a recovery in real estate prices.

San Francisco histórica media house prices

Deja Vu With Artificial Intelligence

Since 2023 there has been an extraordinary surge in tech stock prices. Fueled by substantial bonuses and robust portfolios, I anticipate that a portion of this wealth will flow back into San Francisco Bay Area real estate. Redfin reports that luxury home prices are reaching all-time highs , attracting a significant number of all-cash buyers .

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is evoking a sense of déjà vu, reminiscent of 25 years ago when the internet promised to revolutionize the world. Today, it is equally apparent that AI will shape the world in the next two decades.

Despite the likelihood that most of us won't secure lucrative AI jobs due to intense competition, there's an opportunity for ordinary individuals to invest in AI companies. Beyond public companies like Nvidia, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook, private investments can be made through open-ended venture capital funds like the Innovation Fund .

I am personally adopting this approach by investing in both public and private AI-related companies. My goal is to allocate $500,000 to these companies over the next five years. This strategy not only positions me for potential gains but also serves as a hedge against the challenges AI might pose for our children in terms of job opportunities.

Luxury home prices investment thesis - Buy them as AI and tech create massive wealth for investors and employees

AI Facilitated My Property Decision

In my previous post, “ Rent out, sell, or create a wellness center, ” I detailed my dilemma regarding what to do with my old house. At 46 years old, with two young children and already managing four rental properties, the prospect of overseeing another rental didn't appeal to me.

Being a landlord can be burdensome, particularly when dealing with challenging tenants or constant maintenance issues. Such responsibilities take away time that could be better spent on more enjoyable activities, like playing tennis or spending quality moments with my kids.

After reading through the comments on my post, which provided diverse opinions on the course of action, I weighed the options and arrived at a decision to rent out the house and hold it for the long term. The deciding factor was the formulation of an investment thesis.

Why Renting Out Is Better For Now

My investment thesis revolves around the belief that owning a single-family home on the west side of San Francisco is a sound decision. Local economic catalysts, including the opening of a large school in the fall of 2024 and the $4 billion renovation of the UCSF Parnassus Hospital by 2030 (expected to create 1400 new jobs), indicate a positive trajectory for real estate on the west side.

Remote work is here to stay. In addition, there is a demographic transition from downtown on the east side to the west side. The final catalyst for my decision to rent out is the anticipated wealth generated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) for employees and investors. As a result, I will suck it up as a landlord for the next 3-5 years and then reevaluate.

I spoke to Ben Miller, CEO of Fundrise , and he believes we're past the real estate market as do I. As a result, holding onto my property and renting it out makes even more sense.

3) The Vision Pro Investment Thesis

I've owned Apple stock since 2012 and it has done well. With the S&P 500 surpassing 4,900, I've faced increasing challenges in finding compelling stock investments. However, when the Vision Pro was unveiled on February 2, 2024, my interest was piqued.

At that time, Apple had just reported somewhat soft quarterly results, causing a dip in the stock. I contemplated whether this could be the opportunity to further invest in the company. After dedicating several hours to researching the Vision Pro, I concluded that the answer was affirmative.

Apple's new Vision Pro is a significant accessibility tool for the visually impaired . Approximately 2.2 billion people worldwide experience some form of visual impairment. While an estimated 237 million face moderate to severe impairment. Among them, 40 million are considered legally blind or completely blind. This figure is expected to rise to 115 million by 2050.

Consequently, I believe the Vision Pro holds the promise of greatly assisting a substantial portion of the global population in enhancing their vision and interaction capabilities. Considering the critical importance of sight, the demand for this product should be relatively inelastic for the visually impaired. Furthermore, Apple is likely to enhance the product over time and reduce its retail cost. I can’t wait for version 2 and 3.

An Example Of How The Vision Pro Can Help The Visually Impaired

If you have regular sight or can correct your myopia or hyperopia with glasses or contact lenses, then you might take for granted your vision. Seeing a small screen on your phone or the 10-point font size on a menu is usually not a problem. For for those with visual impairments, it can be.

This Vision Pro commercial succinctly captures one of its many benefits for the visually impaired.

Apple is already an outstanding company with intelligent employees and an impressive product line. Further, it is cash flow positive with substantial cash reserves and a dividend payout. My confidence in investing in Apple stock aligns with my confidence in the S&P 500. However, I anticipate additional upside potential, particularly with the introduction of the Vision Pro.

Note: The definition of legally blind means the inability to correct your visual accuity to at least 20/200 with corrective lenses. Most people can correct their visual acuity to 20/20 to 20/40 with glasses or contacts. Legally blind usually does not mean complete blindness, as many people who are legally blind still have some vision.

America The Great: The Ultimate Investment Thesis

I harbor a home country bias as an American patriot. Residing in this country since 1991, paying six figures in taxes annually since 2003, witnessing my children's birth on American soil, and crafting over 2300 personal finance posts aimed primarily at aiding Americans in achieving financial freedom sooner—these experiences have fostered my deep connection and commitment to this nation.

I envision my final days in America, leaving behind a positive legacy . Consequently, my long-term outlook is bullish and biased on owning American assets.

The greatness of America, in my belief, stems from:

  • Entrepreneurial spirit
  • Strong work ethic
  • A stable democratic government
  • A robust legal system safeguarding intellectual property and individual rights
  • A formidable defense industry ensuring citizens' protection
  • A stable world currency
  • Generally thoughtful and kind people aspiring to assist others globally in attaining freedom
  • A history of unity during times of crisis, exemplified by events like 9/11 and the pandemic

While acknowledging America's challenges—crime, poverty, socioeconomic injustices—I consider it unwise to bet against its long-term excellence. The collective willpower of our nation, I believe, will drive ongoing positive improvements.

I advocate that everyone, globally, should find a way to own a piece of America , be it through the S&P 500 or U.S. real estate.

In 50 years, when our grandchildren become adults, they will appreciate our foresight in investing in America today. Despite inevitable economic fluctuations, with a well-defined investment thesis, we stand to accumulate wealth beyond our current imagination.

What Makes A Good Investment Thesis

A good investment thesis is a well-researched and articulated rationale behind an investment decision. It serves as a comprehensive guide that outlines the reasons and expectations for choosing a particular investment. Here are key characteristics of a good investment thesis:

  • Clear and Concise: The thesis should be easily understandable and to the point.
  • Supported by Research: Ground your thesis in thorough research, including fundamental analysis, technical analysis, and an understanding of relevant economic and market trends.
  • Alignment with Goals: Clearly state how the investment aligns with your overall financial goals and objectives. Whether it's capital appreciation, passive income generation , or risk mitigation, the thesis should reflect your goals.
  • Identifies Investment Opportunity: Specify the investment opportunity or opportunities you have identified. This could involve a specific asset class, industry, sector, or individual securities.
  • Analysis of Risks: Acknowledge and assess the risks, challenges, and uncertainties associated with the investment.
  • Time Horizon: Clearly define your time horizon for the investment. Specify whether it's a short-term trade, a long-term hold, or something in between.
  • Competitive Advantage: Understand what sets it apart from competitors and how it plans to sustain or enhance that advantage.
  • Financial Metrics: Include relevant financial metrics supporting your investment decision. This may include valuation ratios, growth rates, profitability, and other key financial indicators.
  • Scenario Analysis: Consider different scenarios and outcomes. A well-thought-out thesis anticipates how the investment might perform under various circumstances.
  • Adaptable and Dynamic: Recognize that market conditions can change. A good investment thesis is adaptable and allows for adjustments based on new information or changing circumstances.
  • Exit Strategy: Clearly outline your exit strategy. Know under what conditions you would sell or reduce your position.
  • Communication: Share your thesis with others to find any blind spots, like I am with this post. Others should be able to understand your rationale and analysis.

Having a good investment thesis won't guarantee success, but it's like a roadmap for your investments. Keep updating it based on what's happening in the market, and make sure you invest for the long term.

Investment theses can vary in quality, and sometimes you might get the investment right with the wrong thesis. The main thing is to have a good reason why you're investing, so you stick with it over time.

In 10 years, you'll probably end up with a lot more money if you're the kind of person who keeps investing for the long haul, compared to someone who doesn't invest or tries to time the market. Decide which situation you want to have in the future.

Reader Questions

Share an investment thesis you have about a particular investment you are bullish on. How can we convince more people to come up with an investment thesis and hold for the long-term?

Invest In Private Growth Companies

If you believe artificial intelligence will be an important economic driver, check out the  Innovation Fund . It invests in the following five sectors:

  • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  • Modern Data Infrastructure
  • Development Operations (DevOps)
  • Financial Technology (FinTech)
  • Real Estate & Property Technology (PropTech)

Roughly 35% of the Innovation Fund invests in artificial intelligence. In 20 years, I don't want my kids wondering why I didn't invest in AI or work in AI.

The investment minimum is also only $10. Most venture capital funds have a $250,000+ minimum. You can see what the Innovation Fund is holding before deciding to invest and how much. Traditional venture capital funds require capital commitment first and then hope the general partners will find great investments.

Fundrise is a long-term sponsor of Financial Samurai and Financial Samurai is an investor in Fundrise.

About The Author

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Financial Samurai

35 thoughts on “an investment thesis: the key to making more money long term”.

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Folks investing should have an Investment Policy Statement (IPS).

Scope & Purpose: “The investment policy statement (IPS) will govern how the financial assets of ____________ are to be invested.”


“__________ is responsible for coordinating updates to the IPS and responsible for monitoring the application of the IPS and shall notify ETFguide of the need for updates to the IPS and/or violations of the IPS implementation. _________ shall be responsible for approving the IPS and all subsequent revisions of it.

Changes in life circumstances including the birth of a child, retirement, disability, divorce, or family death will impact all future adjustments and responsibilities to this document.”

Research the subject and find a Financial Advisor (RIA) firm that prepares such IPS reports and go over your situation with them. Ron Delegge at ETFguide can prepare an IPS for you for a reasonable fee. You can find his firm online.

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your quote sums up our last 40+ years of heavy real estate investing vs investing in equities.

“Since 1996, I’ve discovered that having a well-defined investment thesis increases the likelihood of consistently investing and holding onto investments during challenging periods. As the old saying goes, ‘time in the market is more important than timing the market.’ This lesson came to me the hard way during the first 10 years of my investing career.”

We were told many times that we would lose it all, go bankrupt, have to grovel to return to work & suffer the never ending torment of bad tenants & damages. We could write a book on it all, as it definitely was not easy, but since 1998 (& retired) we have been free & clear on every property since, have no debt since & live comfortably between three homes during the year after selling our 4th, a FL home of 31 years, just before H. Ian hit. love your articles & financial insight.

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My California real estate thesis is this:

Despite numerous rent control efforts and the State’s (and most coastal counties’) hostility towards landlords, I think California residential real estate will be very lucrative for landlords assuming they have sufficient cash on hand to withstand vacancies, evictions, cash for keys, etc.

This is because rent control decreases landlord and developer participation in providing housing and thus leads to fewer units on the market. Fewer units on the market will increase rental prices.

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Hi, like you I own and manage a few rental properties in the city, which is our primary income. Although the rental market here isn’t great, at least it’s stabilized. It’s like survive until 2025 and hopefully things will turn around in SF. These upcoming city elections, with a swell of moderate candidates will hopefully make a tangible difference in quality of life issues, which of course have hurt SF’s reputation worldwide.

I’m also bullish on the potential for the AI industry. But work from home is pervasive and I think downtown and soma are going to be challenged for several years. Also tech firms are less concentrated in the Bay Area now and getting more distributed in 2nd tier cities. The saving grace for SF is that many local neighborhoods are now more cleaned up and also have thriving foot traffic, if it’s the mission, inner sunset, etc. So I feel good about the future of good and established SF neighborhoods, which is where I own properties.

SF has roughly doubled in value every 10years, which is amazing. The first chart in this report is a good visual, The main thing I need to wrap my head around is that I think the next 5-10 years will not have the amazing appreciation that we’ve had since the mid-late 90’s when I started investing. I honestly got used to that phenomenal rate growth, but I’m trying to set more modest expectations going forward.

How bullish are you on future SF appreciation? Do you think it will be anything like the last 30 years?

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The market may simmer this year. But I think it’ll eventually go up again by a rate of 3.5 to 5% a year. If you look at the historical cycles, there’s generally about 4 to 5 years of flat lining.

Given we’re already at a high base, the growth rate of appreciation won’t be as high as in the past. That said, I think there’s gonna be another renaissance of Wealth being created over the next 10 to 20 years with new tech / AI.

What the cost of building materials, labor, and restrictive building should help push real estate prices higher.

Yeah 3.5-4.5% SF real estate returns over the next 5-10 years is probably realistic. 7% is unlikely, which is what we’ve gotten used to :) Without that outsized 7% equity return, and holding my properties debt free (no leverage), keeping them long term vs selling and going into the stock market becomes a much closer call.

My cash on cash on my RE is 3.5-4%, plus 3.5-4.5% expected appreciation totals 7-8.5% total returns, which is roughly in line with s&p 500 long term returns. Tax treatment favors RE, but then again with stocks you don’t need to deal with tenants and repairs. But of course the main issue is transferring my RE equity into stocks is bloody expensive, with sales expenses and capital gains of about 37%. So I’m still better off holding the RE. My only issue is that I’m heavily RE weighed, with only a small stocks portfolio. My plan has been to dollar cost average excess RE profits into stocks to better balance my portfolio.

I’ll just have to see what transpires over the next 2-3 years to our fair city, plus evaluate the macro economic picture. I guess this “sell RE, buy stocks” dilemma isn’t such a bad problem to have. But nevertheless it’s nice to have a “safe space” (sic) such as this blog where wealthy people can freely cry about their problems…IRW anytime I bring this up to people it’s like, “wait, let me get the worlds smallest violin to play for you” :)

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Innovation Fund vs going after AI public companies like the following that are already established and surging YTD. Thinking the latter might be more attractive and with less risk.

Nividia TSMC Arm SoundHound

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I don’t have thesis, only several points: -Only buy S&P 500 index with lowest fee. -No trading, hold for LONG time. – Maximize all tax deferred accounts. – No investment in a single company since I have no control over management. I bought and didn’t look at my account for years . I just recently checked and saw that it has 13% compounding interest making me millionaire.

Well done. Don’t forget to capitalize on your investments by selling on occasion to buy things you want and improve the quality of your life. Otherwise, there’s really no point to investing in stocks.

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Is there a fundrise equivalent for non-US citizens? Thanks in advance. Dave

Hi Dave, I’m not aware of one. You can just invest in a public real estate ETF like VNQ or one of the publicly-traded REITs like O. Just know they are more volatile.

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Just to clarify, Innovation Fund is not currently open to new investors but has a “waitlist.”

Also what is happening with publically traded companies in the AI thesis seems to me to mean that not really necessary to take on added risk of start-ups. just look at recent performance of ARM SMCi and NVDA. and that is just a few. i will continue inverting in a broad 10-12 public stocks and sure to gain solid and not massive returns. i look at it this way, if a start up here or there will do 10x and some will bust, leaving you with overall 3-4 times return, then i am likely to better with the established companies in a sector where the revolution has just begun. smci is up 3x in just a month.

That’s weird. I just checked with Fundrise and the Innovation Fund is open to investors.

“The Innovation Fund is OPEN to new investors. It is possible this person is unable to make a direct investment into the fund if they are an existing investor who is not a Pro member. This is something we’re working on.

But to reiterate the fund is open to new investors.

If you select the Venture Capital investment plan during signup you can invest in the Innovation Fund.”

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I’m an existing investor and don’t believe I’m a pro member. I’m able to invest in the Innovation Fund.

i’m an existing investor but not a pro member and i am not able to invest in Innovation fund so must fall into that segment. it is not provided as an option when i select “browse investments” in my account. i then read a review of the fund from late 2023, i will try to post, and it did say that it wasn’t open to all yet. it did said all you needed was $10 to start.

You should reach out to them and let them know.

ASH01 – What are the 10-12 AI public companies you are targeting besides Nividia, smci and ARM? Thoughts on TSMC & SoundHound? I tend to agree with your thesis. Why take on the private risk when the public companies should still be in their infancy in terms of AI growth.

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As discussed earlier, here is my investment thesis which could be quite controversial:

1. A portfolio of 50/50 real estate vs. stock. The stock portion should not be lower but could be much higher. Holding real estate is mostly for pleasure/need and rent. Rental properties are all places i would want to live. Once pleasure part of real estate is no longer needed, should graduate to stocks or to rental units.

2. Stocks is a mix of SP500 and Tech i.e. Nasdaq 100, XLK, VOOG and also exposure to single high performing stock. No international stock. No bonds. Mostly automated invested to cost average. Real estate rental income is the security in case stock market crashes.

3. Flexible and nimble approach. Whenever the market is down, try investing more and don’t withdraw funds.

4. No investment in private funds, real estate funds, bitcoin and other cryptos which i dont understand and have no transparency. No need to complicate.

Sounds good. What’s your investment thesis though for your tech stocks?

It’s a good mantra to not invest in what you don’t understand.

I really enjoy investing private funds (VC, VD, real estate) as it forces me to invest for the long term ~10 years. The capital calls also keep me investing even when I might not want to.

I am excited about building out, my artificial intelligence exposure, and I have one from the invested in Ripple, which has turned out to be maybe a 20-40X return. Maybe I can cash out just in time to buy a new car in 2027, when my current car is 12 years old.

Here’s an example of an AI company one of my private funds (Kleiner) is investing in. I’m pumped!

I’m also excited about the AI investments in the Fundrise Innovation Fund , like Databricks.

Sounds good. As for tech, i have a single stock exposure due to my employment which is doing better than market and is a great company that does good work. So thesis for that is don’t fix what is working. As for the rest, my strategy is similar to most here – i Invest in 15-20% of stock portfolio in QQQ and lesser to XLK and VOOG which are Apple, Microsoft heavy – i believe i get enough AI and other exposure through these since i dont know what the next big thing will be.

One last point. I am very bullish about US Stocks for the following reasons:

1. European markets are not performing. On surface, it appears cheap to buy however not a single tech company in the top 100 European companies. 2. China stock market is not performing. Significant decline and volatility. Could be the beginning of a Japan like deflation and decline. 3. US is the center of AI and innovation. 4. Stock ownership, although at historical highs is still low among Americans being at approx 56%.

In couple years, i think everyone will want a piece of the US companies. Already evidenced by the fact that Shiller CAPE after 80s is much higher than historically has been. Could this lead to a bubble? Definitely – but it could well last 10-20 years and the fundamentals could also catch up in the meanwhile either due to AI generated earnings or something else and optimism pays when investing!

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My best thesis was investing in semiconductor stocks. Roughly 5 years ago I noticed how almost everything needed a chip. My thesis proved itself out during the pandemic. You couldn’t get a car, dishwasher or any smart device because chips weren’t available. I bought AMD, NVDA, and Intel. 2 of them worked out pretty good. I was banking on the cloud and data centers to boom. That part worked out okay. I didn’t see any of the AI craze coming which has been hugely beneficial. Decent thesis and a ton of luck!

Nice! But what about the future?

Take a little profit and hold the rest for another 5 years. I realize we’re right in the middle of AI mania but everything I read and watch tells me we’re still in the early days of AI.

No matter what happens we’re still going to need more chips to power all our future ambitions

so interesting how almost nobody but nvda saw the AI craze coming. that one earnings report by them set this whole thing off about a year ago. such an interesting phenomenon. AI has been talked about for many years but then suddenly companies decide to try to make a product of it in a massive scale. nvda explosion in earning was because companies suddenly ordered their chips.

Yup, I spend hours a day watching cnbc, reading blogs and doing research and I truly didn’t know what AI could do or how much money companies could make off it. Luck is definitely a factor.

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VTI + VXUS + long haul = chill

Agree, but it’s hard to retire earlier by just investing in the total stock market. There are two levels of wealth , the top-tier wealth did not get there by investing in ETFs or index funds.

100% agree with you on that front! BUT I do personally believe that 95% of people will accumulate more wealth through regular and automated index investing over time vs. active investment strategies such as picking 1:1 stocks. I would guess you also have a sizable audience base that loves the content but also leans toward simple investing strategies over the long haul and not constantly stressing about achieving the top tier of wealth. The content here can sometimes make you feel behind, overly stressed that you’ll never have enough, and stuck stressing about the future. I personally have to step back and remember it’s really about regular investing (in your strategies of choice) + time in the market and not timing the market. Which I personally think is a sound investment thesis! Love the content though to be clear. It’s really helped me think about allocation percentages and mortgage payoff strategies.

Yes, good points. For most people, buying a primary residence and regularly investing in an S&P 500 index fund is a great long-term strategy.

Personally, I like to always be challenged bc it’s fun. Even if I fail, I will likely have accumulated more than if I hadn’t pushed myself.

From my coaching days, the players who advance the most are pushed the hardest.

But good reminder to press the easy button once in a while for readers who may be burning out or feeling behind.

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I love your clear and specific convictions in your investment thesis. That’s something I need to work on. Very cool on the Apple Vision Pro. I don’t have anything specific in my own investments. Although I do believe in long term real estate, stock, and tech exposure. Thanks for the list of steps on creating an investment thesis.

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I’ve been investing since the mid-1980s. Every time I’ve evaluated my portfolio against a portfolio of index funds using backtesting of 5 years and more, the index funds (with expenses deducted) have beaten my portfolio’s performance over a 5+ year time horizon. I’ve finally realized that I have a lot more money today if I’d purchase a mix of three low-cost, passively managed index funds. My latest lesson occurred during the latest 5 year period in which my portfolio performed well. It did what it was designed to do (mitigate losses during down markets like 2022). I was only down 2% that year. Unfortunately, if I had invested in a mix of SCHD (50%), SCHG (25%), and SWPPX (25%), that portfolio would have crushed my performance by a wide margin. Yes, it lost more money in 2022 (around 14.75%) but dramatically exceeded its performance in the other four years. I’m done trying to be smart. I’m buying a mix of passive ETFs and accepting the market risk.

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Thanks for posting that. You basically stated my “investment thesis”:

1. My assets must grow in order for me to keep up with long term inflation 2. Over the long haul it’s very difficult for me to outperform the market 3. Figuring out my my risk tolerance and indexing accordingly is probably my best bet

No different than you, it’s taken since the mid 1980’s for this reality to really set in…

Those are great points Vaughn. Keep the focus and stay invested for the long term!

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Active funds underperform their benchmark passive index >95% of the time after 10 years. With retail investors its over 99% with average underperformance by 4% *annually*. The 1% that crush due to lucky pick with concentration are the reason people still do it, but I’d rather have a 99x higher chance to have a +4% CAGR *and* barely think about it.

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investment thesis education

Higher education in India is a tremendous opportunity, fueled by a confluence of various factors.  India boasts more than 40 mn students enrolled in higher education institutions, with the private sector taking 60% of this share. We have witnessed one of the fastest periods of enrollment growth in the last 15 years, yet our gross enrollment ratio is at 27% only. As a point of comparison, the USA has an enrollment ratio of over 85%. Countries like Germany, France, and Canada already exhibit substantial enrollment rates well above 60%, and China has also recently surpassed the 60% GER mark.

investment thesis education

In India's National Education Policy (NEP) of 2020, the government has set an ambitious target of achieving a 50% higher education Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) by 2035. This would entail the addition of nearly 3.5 crore new seats 1 . The envisaged increase in enrollment ratio will be facilitated by augmenting capacity through increased investments in the sector, coupled with a growing number of students opting for higher education with burgeoning aspirations.

While the 2035 GER goal establishes the stage for significant expansion, a more pressing question lingers regarding our commitment to delivering a meaningful education. The existing system grapples with several quality issues, rendering it somewhat ineffective. Subsequently, this gives rise to employability challenges on the one hand and leads to the closure of colleges on the other hand. Neither of this helps to achieve the GER goal. Hence, alongside the imperative of increasing the enrollment rate, it is equally crucial to prioritize productive outcomes for students. Both the objectives of increased access and enhanced quality must be addressed collectively to ensure forward progress and avoid falling into the vicious cycle of expanding capacity only to later rectify quality issues.

The government has already recognized the need to ease regulations and facilitate the quality expansion. This recognition is creating significant opportunities for entrepreneurs to innovate, build, and deliver high-quality programs, enabling students to achieve their potential. Entrepreneurs are actively exploring diverse pathways and establishing companies that leverage a wide range of pedagogical and business models. Although several edtech companies have already been built and scaled, there is still ample room for new companies to emerge.

Landscape of Higher Education Companies

To begin, let's examine the current landscape of companies operating in this space and the various business models they employ. There are several ways to cut the landscape. We have chosen to do the primary categorization looking at the (1) operational model of the companies, i.e. whether the edtech companies are operating the programs independently or collaborating with existing institutions. We then further look at the two key pedagogical dimensions: (2) Learning promise: Companies can focus on providing a certification, degree, or employment at the end of the program. And (3) Delivery method: Companies can offer learning through online, offline, or mixed approaches.

investment thesis education

Exploring Operating Models of Interest

Of the different possible operating models, we highlight some of the opportunities that we are keen to investigate and invest in: 

a. Institution-linked programs:  Scaling quality programs to reach larger number of students 

Traditionally, higher education has been limited by factors like geographical location, high costs, and limited enrollment capacity. Over a decade old phenomenon, MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, overcome these barriers by offering a wide range of courses online, allowing anyone with an internet connection to participate. These are typically offered by universities, colleges, and other educational institutions, in partnership with online platforms that specialise in delivering these courses. Global players like Coursera, FutureLearn, edX, Udacity are examples of platforms that have helped institutions reach millions of learners simultaneously, often on a global scale. Indian learners have been the second largest MOOCs users after the USA over the past many years. 

As these courses have demonstrated their value and improved learner engagement, students have grown increasingly committed to their education through such platforms, demonstrating willingness to pay for a prestigious degree or certificate to advance their careers. Indian edtech companies have forged business models in collaboration with institutions both within India and abroad. Notably, these companies have strategically aligned themselves with various tiers of educational establishments, concurrently strengthening their brand alongside partnered colleges, and also tailoring their outreach to Indian and international candidates. Generally, a revenue-sharing framework is adopted, entailing companies receiving 35-55% of student fees. The Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) hinges on two primary factors: (i) partner institutions' fee structures and (ii) job assistance or assurance extended by the edtech enterprises. Crafting an effective distribution strategy and maintaining cost-effective acquisition are pivotal to achieving a contribution margin of at least 20-25% with first sale, particularly given the potential for a relatively slow-repeat or low-frequency business model.

We have strong interest in the following two areas:

1. Online Program Manager for Indian Universities: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has granted approval for over 500 online degree programs offered by more than 60 Indian universities. This achievement marks a significant milestone and is poised to further elevate the standard of quality education initiatives. Anticipating the approval of additional programs, such universities or institutions are likely to seek partnerships with suitable online platforms to establish their programs and extend their reach to a broader student audience, both within India and potentially internationally. Additionally, the UGC has eased the rules for institutions as they build online distance learning programs. While institutions have to take charge of 60% of their own content, they can utilise 40% of academic content from other sources. This enables further collaboration and opportunity for edtech companies to innovate and deliver on the learning promise as well as partake in larger revenue share with institutions.

2. Hybrid Program with Global Universities: In 2023 alone, over a million Indian students pursued education overseas in search of enhanced educational quality and improved employment opportunities. The programs offered by global universities evoke a sense of aspiration, providing access to global networks and promising better career prospects. However, these programs tend to be expensive and often entail significant opportunity costs. An innovative approach involving hybrid degree programs has emerged. Startups are collaborating with international institutions, expanding the reach of their programs and attracting students. These startups typically function as Online Program Managers (OPMs), allowing students to begin the initial phase of their degree through online education, followed by a seamless transition to in-person studies for subsequent segments. We view this as an appealing opportunity that will grow over time, as students can save on costs and reduce opportunity costs through the initial online program, while also gaining exposure, building networks, and accessing on-site program benefits.

b. Institution-linked programs: Improving quality of existing programs 

Despite enrolling over 25 million students in higher education in the last 20 years, India has struggled to maintain the desired level of education quality. A majority of the 1,000 universities and 40,000 colleges grapple with the dual challenge of insufficient faculty and outdated curriculum, which results in subpar placements. Edtech players are taking up the opportunity to help revamp these institutions so they can continue to stay relevant and graduate employable students. As placement rates improve through quality intervention, institutions also see a rise in enrollment rates and accreditation standings. Thus creating a significant win for partnering institutions and hence a significant opportunity for edtech businesses to build and grow.

There are two models of partnership: One, when a company takes charge of the entire program, from admission to placement. In this case, a revenue-sharing arrangement is typical. To make this work well, they need to make sure it does not cost too much to find new students. For long term sustainability, it's really important for them to create a clear brand that students recognize and connect with, making sure students associate their degree with the company as much as they do so with the college. On the other hand, colleges might choose to let companies be part of only some parts of the program (up to 40% of the work). These arrangements can translate into per-student fee contracts for coursework. To pay more money, colleges will find it valuable if companies also help students with finding better jobs by partnering with workplaces. While the programs are primarily delivered to students in an offline setting, building a scalable model necessitates use of technology for standardising academic delivery and running efficient operations. 

We have a strong interest in models that collaborate with institutions on both academic and placement aspects, aiming to secure favourable placement results for students. Through this approach, companies must aim to build their own brand closely tied to positive outcomes, thus reaping the benefits of profitable growth over the long term. 

c. Independent programs: Skilling and upskilling for better career outcomes  

Every year, approximately 10 million students graduate from higher education institutions in India. However, only about 14% 2 of them manage to secure employment in white-collar positions. Even those who are hired often require an additional 3-6 months of training before becoming productive. In response to margin and cost-cutting pressures, employers in different industries have begun transferring the responsibility for training of new employees to the candidates themselves, often making employment offers contingent on successful completion of training programs. Moreover, the existing workforce faces the risk of becoming obsolete and losing job opportunities. This deficiency primarily stems from a lack of the essential skills and knowledge demanded by the evolving job market. To respond to challenges both at early and later stages of careers, edtech companies have launched independent programs to skill and upskill early-career professionals for gainful employment.

Industries value graduates emerging from such programs for their knowledge and skills. Over time, the better programs start becoming recognized as credible sources of talent for future hiring. There are three distinct operating models at play here. Firstly, there's a model focused on helping students build knowledge, competencies, and networks. However, it doesn't provide assistance in job searching. Secondly, there's a model that emphasises building knowledge and skills, along with offering career services to ensure better outcomes for students. Thirdly, there's the pay-after-placement model that not only trains students but also links their fee payments to achieving specific career outcomes. While in the first model, the company would be involved in training a large number of students over a shorter duration, the next two models require deeper and more extended programs, as ensuring outcomes requires a more profound intervention. In the third model, with outcomes directly linked to payment, the company manages to reduce customer acquisition costs and alleviate financing obstacles for learners. Nevertheless, this model necessitates resolving working capital challenges due to delayed payments. Companies offering program alternatives to traditional degrees often choose to initially run offline courses. This approach not only replicates the academic experience but also fosters a campus-like atmosphere and networking opportunities. Over the long term, like universities, these companies can transition to offering online and hybrid courses, enhancing their revenue potential.

Our strong focus lies in outcomes-linked models, their significance in establishing a robust brand and ensuring the company's long-term viability. Such programs also yield higher ARPUs (average revenue per user) and, over time, possess the potential to decrease acquisition costs, whether or not a pay-after-placement framework is employed. We are also actively exploring models where collaboration with industry players enables edtech companies to offer relevant certification programs with tangible value in the job market. However, we emphasise the significance of building a distinct brand closely associated with positive outcomes. Furthermore, we advise companies to mitigate risk by forming partnerships with multiple industry players rather than relying on just a few. This strategic approach ensures resilience and enhances the potential for sustained growth.

Exploring Educational Domains of Interest

Having examined various operational approaches, we now delve into our perspective on opportunities across distinct educational domains. We believe that relevant education programs need to be built or revamped for various industries, specifically which are experiencing significant gaps in demand and supply or rapid job expansion as well as where students are seeking promising and rewarding career paths.

Fundamentally, we identify opportunity domains through three key parameters:

1. Student Career Aspirations: domains with potential to provide candidates with career growth and advancement

2. Significant Gap between Demand and Supply of Candidates: industries abundant with substantial job prospects, yet constrained by an inadequate supply of skilled professionals to fulfil those roles

3. High Complexity or Cost of On-the-Job Training: domains heavily reliant on technical expertise, where the dispensation of on-the-job training proves challenging and costly due to the specialised nature of skills required.

Software engineering and digital skills have proven well on these three parameters and hence we have seen several companies built in that domain. These different companies have employed one of the many operating models described above. Another compelling example resides within the medical education sector, particularly evident in the nursing workforce. India needs more than 2 million nursing professionals to fulfil WHO’s norm of 3 nurses per 1000 population. Currently India has 1.7 nurses per 1000 population. In addition, Indian nurses are demanded all over the world thus presenting a great opportunity for Indian aspirants. We illustrate the opportunity in the exhibit below.

investment thesis education

Concluding our Thesis: 

The opportunity to shape higher education is undeniably thrilling, offering a canvas where numerous thriving entities can coexist and prosper sustainably. While considerable progress has been made in providing programs for software and digital skills, other domains are yet to be explored. Specialising in specific domains and delivering tangible, quantifiable outcomes for students, new companies have the opportunity to innovate and grow. Moreover, from the initial stages of college admission to the later phases of a professional journey, distinct aspirations and challenges emerge. Lastly, companies can establish robust ARPUs and build substantial revenue by addressing the needs of ten-thousands or hundred-thousands of students, while leaving space for other players to serve the rest of the population. Establishing student outcomes as a cornerstone is key, as this is especially pivotal in the intricate realm of education.

Technology acts as the pivotal catalyst for standardising delivery yet creating personalised learning experiences for students. The crux lies in crafting top-notch educational programs that seamlessly adapt to evolving industry demands, equipping students with the skills for productive employment and dynamic career progression. 

In essence, the higher education landscape presents an exciting canvas for diverse stakeholders to thrive cohesively. By strategically addressing distinct student needs and leveraging technology, startups can carve a significant niche, contributing to the evolution of education while fostering their own enduring success.

Note: 1.; 2. Source: Omidyar Network India - Redseer Report, 2019

Why we invested in Circle Health?

Palantir: Promising Potential, But Hold Off For Now

Matteo Sada, CFA profile picture

  • Palantir Technologies is a data analytics, cybersecurity, and AI company attracting investor attention with strong growth potential.
  • Despite positive financial performance and leadership alignment, potential overvaluation and competitive AI market raise concerns for Palantir's future.
  • Palantir's unique software, focus on customer education, and healthy financials position them well, but caution is advised due to potential overvaluation and market volatility.
  • Initiating coverage with a hold based on Palantir's healthy financials, strong management team, and successful education strategy. However, it shows overvalued characteristics and near-term volatility is possible due to sector rotation and recent AI rally.

Woman giving a big data presentation on a tv in a board room.

Investment Thesis

Palantir Technologies ( NYSE: PLTR ) a company offering data analytics, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence services, has captured investor attention. For me, it’s always been about the company attracting top talent and having Peter Thiel as one of his cofounders. However, this article, is about the question, is Palantir a good candidate for my growth at a reasonable price portfolio?

Palantir’s business and growth potential centers around its software platforms, including Foundry, Gotham, AIP, Apollo, used by governments and corporations to manage and analyze data. The booming field of AI positions Palantir well, especially with its new AIP platform. A long-standing relationship with the US government highlights the value proposition of Palantir’s technology. The company is experiencing sales momentum, particularly in the commercial sector.

Company presentation

Company presentation

Palantir stock performance reflects the current market enthusiasm for AI and the company's potential. The company has shown impressive growth during their last earnings report with revenue increasing 21% YoY in their latest earnings report. This momentum is particularly strong in the commercial sector, which grew 27% YoY. The company is also demonstrably profitable, achieving positive GAAP net income for six consecutive quarters. Despite the company meeting analyst estimates, the stock price fell after the company lower than anticipated guidance.

Company Earnings

Seeking Alpha

As you will read later in this article, I find that while the company boasts strong potential, there’s a reason to consider potential overvaluation:

On the positive side, Palantir seems well-positioned for AI growth. They have a loyal customer base and are expanding into the commercial sector. Additionally, their business model is profitable, and their balance sheet appears healthy – I will delve into this later.

However, some metrics suggest the stock price might already reflect future growth expectations. Their technology is complex and can be misunderstood, I will go over it later in this article and explain its relative strengths and how it positions them against competitors. The AI data analytics space is also becoming increasingly competitive, and government spending on Palantir’s products could be limited.

Management Evaluation

Alex Karp , is the CEO of Palantir and is also one of its cofounders. While Palantir boasts high-growth and strong customer retention, Glassdoor reviews suggest average employee ratings. Despite this, I find that he has a high alignment ratio with the company's future success, he is the second-largest personal shareholder with stock ownership of around 3%, the first largest shareholder is Peter Thiel with ownership of around 7%-10%.

Interestingly, most of his compensation comes from stock options granted before the IPO and estimated to be worth around $1.1 Billion and he’s already cashed out some of it, according to SEC filings; however, his cash salary is only around $1.1 million.

A screenshot of a computer Description automatically generated


Karp’s perspective on Palantir future is evident in the most recent earnings call . He believes Palantir has no true competitors, especially in the US government market. This dominance, according to Karp, stems from their unique software infrastructure and their focus on educating customers about the true potential of their products. He acknowledges their sales strategy is still evolving, prioritizing customer education over immediate sales, but believes this will lead to long-term success. Additionally, Karp sees potential in partnerships with major tech companies to expand their reach while remaining the core software provider.

With regards to landing new customers, we've sustained our high volume of bootcamps with over 915 organizations participating to date to meet inbound demand. We are also seeing substantial deal cycle compression. As one example, a leading utility company signed a seven-figure deal just five days after completing a bootcamp.

Employee ratings

David Glazer , Palantir CFO since 2020, is making strategic financial moves to fuel growth. With a debt level to equity of only 5%, he’s been funding projects through cash flow, which has been increasing and expected to keep growing. During the earnings call, Glazer, emphasized their strong financial health with low debt and increasing free cash flow to $149 million. Looking ahead, he raised the company's full-year revenue guidance to $2.68 billion and commercial revenue guidance to over $661 million, for me, this is a signal that reflects on their continued growth and a more diversified revenue stream with commercial almost approaching 50% of their revenues and its fastest growing segment.

A close-up of a financial statement Description automatically generated

Company 10Q

Overall, I find that Palantir’s leadership takes a unique approach. Despite some controversies with their client selection in the past, Karp prioritizes customer education over immediate sales, believing it fosters long-term success and partnerships to expand their reach. This strategy aligns with CFO David Glazer’s financial, prioritizing cash flow to fuel growth. Glazer’s recent guidance raise, although below expectations, reflects the success of bridging education into sales with commercial revenue surging and approaching half of total revenue. Overall, considering all factors, I’m giving Palantir’s management a rating of exceeding expectations.

Corporate Strategy

Palantir prioritizes educating customers on the full potential of their complex software, believing it fosters long-term, high-value contracts. This offsets slower sales cycles. Their core strategy focuses on government and defense contracts, leveraging deep expertise in secure data analysis for complex tasks. They also cater to large commercial clients with similar needs. Palantir’s Foundry platform integrates and analyzes massive datasets, offering versatile toolkit for various data-intensive tasks. I find that, in fact, despite some slight overlapping with some companies in data analysis industry they offer a unique solution for complex data analysis, especially in the government sector.

Here is a table I created with key differentiators between PLTR and some companies in the data analytics industry:


Snowflake ( )

Databricks (Private)

Alteryx ( )

IBM ( )

Corporate Strategy

Educate customers, prioritize long-term value through deep data analysis

Facilitate fast, scalable data storage and analytics.

Offer cloud-based platform for data warehousing, engineering, and machine learning.

Provide self-service data analytics platform for business users.

IBM Watson Studio, offers versatile platform for data science teams and business


Deep expertise in government and defense, strong data security, handles complex and diverse data. Growing commercial presence.

Scalable cloud-based architecture, easy data storage & retrieval

Open-source foundation, vibrant developer community, strong data science integrations.

Easy to use interface, drag and drop functionality for data preparation and analysis.

Broad range of data science tools and functionalities caters to diverse needs.


Slower sales cycles, complex software requiring expertise. Not for all companies’ sizes.

Limited functionality beyond data warehousing, not ideal for complex data integration.

Steeper learning curve for non-technical users, may not be ideal for highly secure environments.

Lacks advanced features for complex data analysis and manipulation. The company was acquired recently by a Private Equity firm.

More complex than Alteryx, require technical knowledge like Databricks.

Software Differentiator

Foundry platform for data integration, transformation & advanced analytics

Cloud-based data warehousing for storing & analyzing large datasets

Cloud-based Lakehouse architecture for data warehousing engineering & machine learning

Self-service preparation and analytics platform with user-friendly tools and workflows.

Data science platform for data warehousing, machine learning, model building and deployment.

Revenue Drivers

Government contracts (US & international)

Subscription fees for cloud-based data storage & analytics

Subscription fees for cloud-based data processing & tools.

Subscription fees for software licenses & support.

Subscription fees for software licenses & support.

Source: From companies’ website, presentations, Seeking Alpha, Gartner

I have compared Palantir to the companies above since they are all in the data analytics and in the center of artificial intelligence. Snowflake, IBM Watson, and Databricks are data warehouses and tackle data as Palantir does but with distinct strengths. Alteryx, on the other hand, is user-friendly self-service platform for data preparation and basic analysis at a lower price point.

Palantir’s Foundry is a complex workbench for government clients, integrating, analyzing massive sensitive data. Think of it as a powerful toolbox requiring expertise. Snowflake, on the other hand, is a user-friendly cloud storage unit, ideal for business of all sizes to store and manage large datasets using SQL or BI dashboards. Imagine it as a scalable filing cabinet. IBM Watson Studio, offers a wider range of data science tools and functionalities, from data warehousing to building and deploying machine learning models.

Similarly, Databricks also leans towards data science, offering a modern cloud workstation but a steeper learning curve than Snowflake but less than IBM Watson. It combines data storage with analysis tools, making it a favorite among data scientists with its familiar programming languages. In a nutshell, I see that Palantir excels at secure, intricate analysis for all type of data – structured to unstructured data, making Snowflake, IBM, and Databricks more of a complementary product than a competitor.

PLTR currently trades at around $24.32. The stock dropped around 7% after its last earnings call in early May due to a lower-than-expected guidance. The stock, however, is up around 41% YTD.

Now, to assess its value, I employed an 11% discount rate, this rate reflects the minimum return an investor expects to receive for their investments. Here, I am using a 5% risk-free rate, combined with the additional market risk premium for holding stocks versus risk-free investments, I’m using 6% for this risk premium. While this could be further refined, lower or higher, I’m using it as a starting point only to get a gauge using unbiased market expectations.

Then, using a simple 10-year two staged DCF model, I reversed the formula to solve for the high-growth rate, that is the growth in the first stage.

To achieve this, I assumed a terminal growth rate of 4% in the second stage. Predicting growth beyond a 10-year horizon is challenging, but in my experience, a 4% rate reflects a more sustainable long-term trajectory for mature companies that should be close to historical GDP growth. Again, these assumptions can be higher or lower, but from my experience I will use a 4% rate as a base case scenario due to the nature of their business . The formula used is:

$24.32 = (sum^10 FCF (1 + "X") / 1+r)) + TV (sum^10 FCF (1+g) / (1+r))

Solving for x = 35%

This suggests that the market currently prices PLTR FCF to grow at 35%. According to Seeking Alpha analyst consensus, FCF over the next 2 years sits at 77.70%. Therefore, it seems that PLTR is still undervalued on a Free Cash Flow basis. Further, I’ll also look at their price earnings to growth (PEG) ratio to confirm. This ratio sits at 3.02x -versus a sector median of 2x- implying the stock price is overvalued. However, I believe earnings should catch up to the valuation at some point, but for right now they are also getting an overvaluation rating on Seeking Alpha. The recent rally in AI has also made the stock more volatile. For all these reasons, I will rather hold off for right now and wait for a better entry point.

A screenshot of a graph Description automatically generated

Technical Analysis

PLTR has been on a positive momentum recently, which coincides with the AI rally that ended last week after NVDA became the most valuable company. Its 1-year average RSI it’s in neutral territory at 56 and below its 14-day moving average of 61 indicating a change in trend in the stock price.

A screenshot of a graph Description automatically generated


However, PLTR has formed a strong support level at around $22.80 and has resistance level at around $26.50, the stock should move around this band awaiting more news. The next earnings report is estimated to be on August 7 th .

PLTR is a data powerhouse, but for now, I’m staying on a wait and see mode. While they boast impressive growth potential in AI healthy financials, the stock price might already reflect that optimism. This in part due to the recent AI rally that ended last week. Their competitive software does offer a unique proposition but limitation on government spending and a possible economic slowdown are risks. Therefore, I am starting my coverage of PLTR with a hold rating. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

This article was written by

Matteo Sada, CFA profile picture

Analyst’s Disclosure: I/we have a beneficial long position in the shares of PLTR either through stock ownership, options, or other derivatives. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article. My analysis specializes in identifying companies that are experiencing growth at a reasonable price or value companies with potential. Rating systems don't consider time horizons, risk profiles, or investment strategies. My articles aim to inform, not to make decisions.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

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investment thesis education

From The Rachel Maddow Show


In rarity, Trump vows to slash federal investments in education

investment thesis education

By Steve Benen

Donald Trump ’s standard 2024 stump speech includes a vow that invariably receives far-right applause: “I will not give one penny to any school that has a vaccine mandate.” Though the Republican hasn’t offered details as to how this would work, it raises the prospect of a second Trump administration denying federal funds to schools that try to stop the spread of polio.

But as it turns out, this isn’t the only area in which the former president has talked about denying federal resources to education.

It was last year when Trump, echoing a key element of the Project 2025 blueprint, said he plans to shut down the Department of Education if given a second term — a radical step he was reluctant to take during his White House tenure. The presumptive GOP nominee has repeated the promise several times since.

But as part of the same pitch, Trump is also talking up the idea of slashing federal investments in education. Speaking to the Faith & Freedom Coalition over the weekend, the Republican twice said he’s prepared to cut federal education spending in half — even if that means leaving some states worse off .

Hours later, the former president headlined a rally in Philadelphia, where he made the same pitch. The Washington Examiner reported :

“We’ll be able to cut [spending on] education in half and get much better education in some of the states,” Trump said. “We’ll have the best education anywhere in the world.” However, he continued, “Some won’t do as well.”

The Republican candidate added that when it comes to education and student performance, “we’re at the bottom of every list.” It led Trump to ask, in reference to his regressive spending plans, “What the hell do you have to lose?”

There’s no shortage of problems with such a pitch, starting with the fact that American students are not, in fact, “at the bottom of every list.” I’d also love to hear Trump explain in more detail why he believes some areas will “get much better education” with fewer resources.

While he’s at it, perhaps Trump can identify which states he expects “won’t do as well” under his proposed vision on education investments.

But the historical oddity is also worth appreciating. While it’s true that school budgets mostly rely on local and state spending, the federal government does make some investments that benefit public school districts nationwide, and no major party presidential nominee in recent history has run on a platform of slashing those investments.

And yet, here we are, watching Trump talk about cutting education spending in half, and conceding that some parts of his own country would be worse off as a consequence.

To date, this hasn’t been much of a campaign issue. Don’t be too surprised if that changes.

Steve Benen is a producer for "The Rachel Maddow Show," the editor of MaddowBlog and an MSNBC political contributor. He's also the bestselling author of "The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics."

More From Forbes

To lead in education r&d, the u.s. must first invest in it.

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Students work on an e-learning lesson at school. As timing, interest, and need coalesce, education ... [+] in the U.S. is at an inflection point – one where reevaluating federal investment in education R&D could yield immediate gains and long-term success.

Imagine this: An executive wants their company to be a leader in technology or healthcare but invests less than 3 percent of its budget in research and development to achieve that goal. An analyst might point out the misalignment. After all, people invest in what they value, and innovation fuels leadership.

Yet this is exactly what is happening with education in this country. Despite leaders from both parties expressing a need for America to lead the world in innovation, a new analysis from the Alliance for Learning Innovation (ALI) finds that the federal government’s investment in education R&D is a mere $40 per student – roughly 2.6 percent of its per-student spending.

To give a better sense of where that fits in the world of government R&D investment, the nation spent more than $37,000 per American service member in FY 2022 on defense R&D. Looking at those numbers, one might wonder why a superpower like the U.S. invests so few dollars in supporting education R&D that would help students learn better, innovate faster, and lead the way in an increasingly high-tech future.

This short-sightedness comes as the scores of American students on tests like NAEP and PISA are declining following years of stagnation. Even more alarming is recent research that finds students are not prepared for dynamic, tech-forward careers. In a 2023 poll , almost 40 percent of teachers said schools are not equipping students to succeed in the jobs of the future. This, even though 91 percent of Americans polled said preparing students for STEM-related careers is important and a third believe teaching such skills is vital to national security.

The time to improve student learning is now. Education innovation can address many of the challenges facing American students and teachers. Advancements in artificial intelligence are opening up new possibilities in teaching and learning that were largely unimaginable a few years ago.

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As timing, interest, and need coalesce, education in the U.S. is at an inflection point – one where reevaluating federal investment in R&D to further drive education innovation can yield both immediate gains and long-term success.

Funding Possibilities

Greater investment in education R&D acts much like a ripple in a pond with exponentially expanding returns on that investment. Think of all the young minds educated in U.S. schools who created innovations that make everything from smartphones to ChatGPT to advances in food production possible.

One promising federal investment in education innovation is the Institute of Education Sciences’ (IES) Accelerate, Transform, and Scale Initiative . Congress provided a modest increase to IES’ 2023 funds and directed the agency to “support a new funding opportunity for quick turnaround, high-reward scalable solutions intended to significantly improve outcomes for students.” With these funds, IES is assembling a future-facing, DARPA -inspired set of investments, like a modernized version of Transformative Research in the Education Sciences program and the brand new From Seedlings to Scale program, which just started accepting applications.

While IES’ Accelerate, Transform, and Scale Initiative is still in its infancy, its early results are encouraging. Through the Transformative Research in the Education Sciences program, IES funded three cutting-edge projects. Each harnesses the power of AI – particularly large language models (LLMs) – to personalize learning. One is using LLMs to create a mobile platform for college students that offers interactive, customizable learning prompts and immediate feedback. Another is creating a chatbot to help low-income middle school students get up to speed in math after school. The other uses generative AI to help college instructors customize assessments and provide personalized feedback.

All could have a significant impact on learners across the United States. Think of how much more could be achieved if such programs had the funding to support additional groundbreaking projects.

Supporting Education’s R&D Ecosystem

Federal support for the education R&D ecosystem must grow significantly, rather than shifting marginally, to meet today’s challenges in teaching, learning, and workforce preparation . There are many proactive steps the U.S. could take that would benefit students and the economy now and in the long term. Among them, as noted by ALI’s new report , Congress should increase funding for existing education R&D programs at the U.S. Department of Education and National Science Foundation, and make strategic new investments, too. Specifically, Congress should establish and fund a new DARPA-like center for informed-risk, high-reward R&D – a National Center for Advanced Development in Education (NCADE) .

Additionally, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget should publish data about education R&D investments across federal agencies. This would provide a clearer picture of the federal government’s support for education R&D, and identify gaps, deficiencies, or opportunities for collaboration and efficiency.

Innovation and leadership often require taking a long hard look at what is not working, identifying steps to change the status quo, and investing in programs and people to move an organization forward. The U.S. cannot be a global innovation leader by allocating 2.6 percent of its federal education funding to education R&D. Support from Congress and assistance from edtech researchers and developers can help the country’s students become the next generation of global leaders.

Ulrich Boser

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New York City Council

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NYC Council, Unions, Parents, Early Childhood Education Providers, and Advocates Call on Mayor to Prioritize Early Childhood Education Investments in City Budget

June 20, 2024

Administration’s failure to agree on investments would leave thousands of preschool-aged children and families without access to needed childcare and legally required services

City Hall, NY  – Days ahead of the impending June 30 city budget deadline, New York City Council leaders, unions representing education workers, parents of preschool children, and early childhood education providers and advocates rallied at City Hall to call on the Mayor to agree to restorations of cuts and investments in early childhood education programs. A lack of investment into the early childhood education system would leave thousands of families and children without access, including legally mandated special education services.

For the upcoming 2024-2025 school year, families have been placed on waitlists for their chosen programs with over 2,000 children still waiting for a seat after more than a month.

The livestream of the rally can be  found here . Photos can be  found here .

“New Yorkers are relying on the City to deliver a budget that prioritizes and funds early childhood education,” said  Speaker Adrienne Adams . “The Council is fighting for equitable opportunity for working families, investments in our children’s education, and dignity for our providers. The reality is that not every child has a seat, and we must confront that with investments that fund and fix the system. Now is the time to strengthen 3-K, Pre-K, preschool special education and Promise NYC to make good on our promise to New Yorkers. Our children and families need us to get this right.”

At the end of the 2022-2023 school year, more than 1,100 children were still waiting for a seat in a preschool special education class, despite Mayor Adams’ December 2022 promise that every child would have a seat in their legally mandated class. 12,300 children also never received their preschool special education class or at least one of their mandated preschool special education services. Without additional funding in the Fiscal Year 2025 budget, hundreds of preschool children with disabilities who are legally entitled to a seat in preschool special education class would go without one. The Mayor’s Executive Budget funded less than a third of the Department of Education’s request provide legally mandated special education services for preschool children.

‘As a city, we must invest in early childhood education in order to have an education system that serves all students, especially our youngest New Yorkers,” said  Council Member Rita Joseph, Chair of the Committee on Education . “That requires investing in preschool education services and seats, restoring resources to 3-K, maintaining access to Promise NYC and giving working parents the options they need. Failure to do so will push more families away due to the lack of affordable and accessible childcare. We cannot afford to wait any longer. This Administration must act now to join us in investing in the future and long-term success of our children.”

“The mayor loves to make promises, but when it comes to delivering on them—whether through long-term strategies or immediate solutions—he consistently falls short,” said  Council Member Jennifer Gutierrez . “By insisting on cutting 3K programs, he is failing parents, labor, and businesses. The promises made to New Yorkers are now being broken, with drastic cuts to incredibly popular child care funding, parents are leaving, nonprofits are struggling and closing, and students with disabilities left at home. While the City Council fights for a more affordable New York, we must ask: who is the mayor really fighting for?”

To assess the Department of Education’s management and performance of paying early childhood education providers, the Council analyzed of the DOE’s payments to 20 early childhood education providers operating in zip codes with the highest economic need through Q3 of the City’s Fiscal Year. These zip codes which consist overwhelmingly of Black and Latino residents include 10303, 10033, 11102, 11239 and 10475. The analysis found that only 3 providers had been paid up to 75% or three-quarters of their contracted amount.

In Fiscal Year 2023, the Council and Administration created Promise NYC, a program to provide access to childcare for undocumented children and their families through community-based organizations. In the current Fiscal Year, the program is funded at $16 million to support hundreds of children and families but no funding was allocated in the Mayor’s Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2025. The Council has called for a restoration and enhancement to the program to maintain the current level of access and provide additional seats.

“We stand with Speaker Adrienne Adams, Education Chair Rita Joseph, Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez and our City Council allies in calling for a restoration of funding for our 3-K, Pre-K and special needs pre-school programs,” said  Karen Alford, UFT Vice President for Elementary Schools . “Our students deserve the best start to their education. We cannot let them down.”

“The lack of access to affordable child care options in our city has put families in an impossible position,” said  Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children . “Parents need affordable care to help support their children’s development and academic success and to allow parents to enter or remain in the workforce and secure financial stability for their families. The cuts proposed to child care and afterschool in the city’s budget will have a devastating impact on families’ ability to access care, at a time when they are already leaving the city because they can’t afford to raise families here. The Mayor must stand by his promise that every child who needs a 3-K seat will receive one. We urge the Administration to restore proposed cuts to the Early Care and Education and after school systems, and to address operational and contracting barriers that are impeding access to services.”

‘New York City families and communities cannot thrive without a stable and responsive early childhood education system,” said  Tara N. Gardner, Executive Director of the Day Care Council of New York.  “The City Budget must restore funding for early care and education programs and invest in the workforce that cares for and educates the youngest New Yorkers. The Day Care Council of New York is proud to stand with Speaker Adams and the City Council to call for a Budget that makes these crucial investments. NYC’s children and families and the early childhood workforce deserve a well-funded system that meets their needs.”

“Early childhood investments are among the most consequential we can make as a society,” said Richard R. Buery, Jr., CEO of Robin Hood . “They support the healthy development of our youngest New Yorkers, enable parents to work, and boost our local economy. As COVID relief funds continue to expire, poverty and hardship are on the rise. We must ensure that existing investments in early childhood education are spared from budget cuts and minimally, current funding levels are sustained in whole.”

“It has become clear that New York City’s financial position is much stronger than Mayor Adams originally predicted,” said  Nora Moran, Director of Policy & Advocacy at United Neighborhood Houses . “At this point, proposed cuts to early childhood education, Promise NYC, and afterschool programs are more than just misguided—they’re unnecessary. Thank you to Speaker Adams and City Council for holding firm to ensure this budget reflects New York’s values.”

“The YMCA of Greater New York stands with Speaker Adams and the New York City Council in prioritizing critical investments in the early childhood education system,” said  Sharon Greenberger, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York . “We see the rising demand for affordable childcare citywide and we hear from families who are frustrated and confused by the 3K enrollment process. We echo the Council’s call on the Mayor to restore and invest the funding for early childhood education programs, like 3K, preschool special education and Promise NYC, and support a comprehensive awareness campaign that engages our communities and simplifies the early childhood application process for our families.”

“It is imperative that every family that calls New York home has access to safe and affordable early childhood programs, to get children on the path to success while parents work. We stand with the City Council to demand Mayor Adams restore funding for the critical programs that serve New York families and children by expanding funding for 3-K, Pre-K and preschool special education, as well as investing $25 million for Promise NYC. It’s long past time the city prioritized children in our budget as an investment in our City’s future,” said  Liza Schwartzwald, Director of Economic Justice and Family Empowerment, New York Immigration Coalition . 

“As NYC’s FY25 budget nears completion, we urge the Administration to prioritize New York City’s working families by securing continued access to 3-K and Pre-K for all,” said  Phoebe Boyer, President and Chief Executive Officer . “Investment in early childhood education is crucial for New York’s economic recovery and reversing the proposed $170M cut to these programs is essential. We applaud Speaker Adams for her unwavering leadership in advocating for our families’ needs.”

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  • Statement from Speaker Adams on Charter Revision Commission’s Preliminary Staff Report June 24, 2024
  • NYC Council, Library Leaders, and New Yorkers Call on Mayor Adams to Restore Funding for Libraries at Rallies outside of Branches Closed and Threatened by Budget Cuts June 23, 2024
  • NYC Council Members and Parks Advocates Call on Mayor Adams to Restore Parks Funding in City Budget June 22, 2024
  • NYC Council, Cultural Institutions Call on Mayor Adams to Support Restoration of $53 Million in Budget Cuts for Arts and Culture June 21, 2024
  • Speaker Adams Calls for Charter Revision Commission to Offer Thoughtful Proposals for 2025 General Election, Allow Voters to Decide Whether to Expand Advice and Consent in 2024 June 20, 2024

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  • China and Russia have chilling plans for the Arctic

The two autocracies dream of creating a “polar silk road”

China's icebreaker "Xue Long" sails among stained floe ice in the Chukchi Sea

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F our hundred kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, in the Norwegian port of Kirkenes, there are still some who dream that this sleepy town will one day become an important shipping hub. They see it as the western end of a new, faster sea route from China to Europe, made possible by the impact of global warming on ice-filled waters off the Siberian coast. With war raging in Ukraine, this ambition now sounds fanciful. China’s support for Russia is fuelling Western distrust of the Asian power’s “polar silk road” plans. But China is not retreating from the Arctic. It still sees a chance to boost its influence there, and to benefit from the area’s wealth of natural resources .

Rising temperatures in the Arctic are slowly opening up new possibilities for transport. But geopolitics are changing the region faster. Kirkenes feels this strongly. It is just 15 minutes’ drive from the Russian border. Tourists can enjoy a “king crab safari” that takes them by boat right up to it, with eponymous crustaceans caught along the way and cooked for the visitors (the massive non-native species was introduced by the Soviets). Russians, though, no longer cross into Kirkenes for shopping and crab feasts. On May 29th Norway closed the border crossing to day-trippers from the other side. The conflict in Ukraine has cast a chill over the town. There were “tensions in the air” in October when Russia’s envoy in Kirkenes laid a wreath at a monument to the Soviet troops who liberated the town from the Nazis towards the end of the second world war, the Barents Observer , a local online newspaper, reported. Politicians in Kirkenes had urged him not to do so.

investment thesis education

In such a climate it is hard to imagine how China’s Arctic silk-road project, unveiled in 2017, might take off. It had sounded a great idea. By using the Arctic’s Northern Sea Route (see map), shipments from Shanghai to Hamburg could take a mere 18 days, compared with about 35 days needed for the route via the Suez Canal—or ten days longer than that if rerouted around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid attacks by the Houthi rebels in Yemen (there have been dozens against ships in the Red Sea since the war in Gaza began last year).

Kirkenes had hoped to sell itself as the first ice-free port that container ships from China would reach after traversing the Russian segment. They could use it as a place to offload cargo onto vessels that would sail on to other ports in Europe. Or they could transfer their goods onto trains that would take them much faster into European markets. Chinese businesspeople were keen, says Rune Rafaelsen, who was the mayor of Kirkenes from 2015 to 2021. Were all this to happen, northern Europe would change from a mere “end point” of the flow of goods from China into a “gateway” for them, enthused Qiushi , the Chinese Communist Party’s main theoretical journal, in 2019. The “silk road on ice” (as China calls its polar transportation plan in Chinese) would become a “new platform” for the Belt and Road Initiative, it said, referring to the country’s spree of port, railway, road and other infrastructure-building around the world.

A big problem is that Kirkenes has no rail connection with anywhere in Europe. There had been talk of building one with neighbouring Finland. Its border is only 50km away; the line would join the Finnish rail network in the city of Rovaniemi, “the official home of Santa Claus”, 500km to the south. Even before the all-out Russian invasion of Ukraine the Finnish government had got cold feet about this. In 2019 it published a report expressing doubt that such a line could be profitable, let alone acceptable to indigenous reindeer-herders, the Sami, whose land it would traverse. Now, says the Barents Observer ’s editor, Thomas Nilsen, the Finnish authorities “don’t want to subsidise and build a railway line so close to the Russian border”, given the area’s “geopolitical instability”.

Frosty relations

Western governments have long been cautious about China’s Arctic activities, worrying that the country’s growing economic influence in the region might give it political sway and open doors to a Chinese security presence that would add to the Arctic challenge that Russia already poses. RAND , a think-tank in Washington, notes that since 2018 China’s “diplomatic activism” in Greenland, an Arctic dependency of Denmark, has waned. That is probably a result of successful efforts by Denmark and America to block Chinese attempts to invest in sensitive infrastructure and mining there (Greenland hosts an American airbase with missile-warning and space-surveillance systems).

The war in Ukraine has compounded Western scepticism about any big project involving China, which calls itself neutral but also boasts a “no-limits” friendship with Russia and is giving huge support to Russia’s defence industry. The conflict has led to the freezing of activities of the Arctic Council, a talking-shop involving the eight countries with Arctic territory, which China joined as an observer in 2013. (In a white paper in 2018 China called itself a “near-Arctic state”, though its northernmost provincial capital, Harbin, is on the same latitude as Venice.) All of the council’s members, except Russia, are now members of NATO, Finland and Sweden having joined the defence pact in the past 15 months. In Arctic affairs, China finds itself even more of an outsider.

The frustration this has caused in China is clear. In Russian Studies , a Chinese academic journal, two Chinese scholars, Yue Peng and Gu Zhengsheng, wrote in February that Russia was growing weaker in the high north. “The original balance of the Arctic has been disrupted, and the scales in the Arctic region are tipping towards the Western countries.” China’s image in the region, they said, faced “a significant risk of decline”. This could have a “huge negative impact on China’s future participation in Arctic affairs”, the academics suggested.

Russia controls about half of the Arctic’s shoreline and a huge share of its oil and gas reserves. For now, Chinese ships may not be pushing to use the Northern Sea Route (Russia charges stiff fees for the use of its icebreakers). Shippers prefer predictable schedules: for all the Arctic’s warming, journey times along that passage can vary as a result of ice and fog. Chinese firms, however, see gains to be made in Russia as it turns to Asia to make up for the loss of Western markets. They include involvement in port construction, oil and gas projects and the building of ships for Russia to sail such resources eastward (China is a big buyer of Russian energy). Russia may once have been wary of getting China involved in developing its Arctic coast. Now it welcomes Chinese help. “Russia is very keen to have them, because they have no other options,” says Kjell Stokvik of the Centre for High North Logistics in Kirkenes. “So in a way for China, they’re in a very good seat.”

There are risks, as Messrs Yue and Gu noted, such as fallout from Western sanctions. They urged China to be “cautious and low-profile” in its approach to Arctic co-operation with Russia. However, during a visit by Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, to Beijing in May the two countries vowed to “promote the Arctic route as an important international transport corridor” and encourage their companies to “strengthen co-operation in increasing Arctic route traffic volume and building Arctic route logistics infrastructure”. The silk road on ice is slippery, but it retains its allure. ■

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This article appeared in the China section of the print edition under the headline “Picking through the ice”

China June 22nd 2024

China wants to export education, too, china doesn’t want people flaunting their wealth, china’s revealing struggle with childhood myopia.

War and AI

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