In the small towns where I grew up, OK Bazaars was a big deal. We all shopped there and I worked there as a checkout teller during the holidays. Perhaps that was why the first share I ever bought was OK Bazaars. I thought I’d got it at a good price because it was trading at a discount to net asset value (NAV), which at least would provide some underpin to the price I paid. I was wrong then, and I’d be spectacularly wrong today if I let NAV be my primary guide to value — it’s so last century.

As I grew up in the investment world we graduated from NAV to price-earnings (PE) multiples, which made a bit more sense except that they looked at past earnings. So we moved on to forward PE multiples. In so many sectors these multiples either didn’t make sense at all or weren’t sufficiently comparable. We moved on...

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