Archive for December, 2008

The N-firm Concentration Ratio

The N-firm concentration ratio is an intuitive measure of industry concentration. Industries with high (or low) levels of concentration have few (or many) competitors.

The N-firm concentration ratio is found simply by adding the market shares of the N largest firms in the industry. For example, in an industry with six competitors with respective market shares of 30%, 20%, 20%, 10%, 10% and 10% the three firm concentration ratio would be 30% + 20% + 20% = 70% and the 5-firm concentration ratio would be 90%.

The N-firm concentration ratio is an intuitive measure, but the Herfindahl index provides a greater degree of discrimination. As a result, when the two indicators offer differing signals the Herfindahl index is likely more reliable.

Posted on 25th December 2008
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Business Cycles in the Economy

The typical business cycle can last as long as 10 years or more. It is typically represented by several stages.

In the recovery stage, there is still a large gap between output and capacity. Bond yields are bottoming and stocks often surge. Taking risk (cyclical and risky stocks, high yield bonds) tends to offer above-average rewards.

In the early upswing, the economy experiences robust growth without causing inflation because output is still below capacity. As the capacity utilization improves, so does profitability. Short rates begin to rise, though long-term rates remain stable.

In the later stages of the upswing, the output gap closes and overheating becomes a danger. Inflation can pick up, resulting in rising interest rates and stock market volatility.

In a slowdown, the slowing economy becomes sensitive to potential shocks. Interest rates are peaking, and interest-sensitive stocks tend to perform well.

In a recession, declining GDP leads to falling short-term interest rates and bond yields. The stock market bottoms out and often starts to rise well ahead of the business cycle recovery.

Posted on 18th December 2008
Under: Asset Allocation, Fundamental Analysis, Industry Analysis, Investment Returns, Portfolio Management | No Comments »