Understanding the concept of the economic moat in evaluating stocks


Economic moats are key advantages a company has over competitors. Here’s how you can evaluate economic moats for a stock.

A moat surrounded medieval castles and protected those inside the castle and their belongings from the outside world. A good moat could protect the fortress from danger.

When we refer to the term “economic moat,” it takes on a metaphorical meaning where it is the competitive advantage of a company to withstand any unforeseen circumstance. A wider moat means the company is well protected from any changes happening in the outside world, even over extended periods.

Finding companies with a broad and sustainable economic moat is key to investing. These are the companies that will reward the investors in the long run.

For example, having a cost advantage over competitors is an economic moat. However, if this compelling cost advantage is not guarded by some patent or known to everyone, the competitors will soon replicate it, and the company will lose the benefit.

Factors deciding whether a company has an excellent economic moat:

Finding Wide-Moat Stocks

Companies like Apple and Walmart have a wide moat. They have made a name for themselves, which further widens their economic moat. Similarly, we can find such moats for smaller companies as well.

Finding and evaluating stocks based on their moat can be challenging as it is not very quantitative. It can still be achieved if we have their past performance data on hand. Financial statements and past stock performance can help determine such cases. The key is to look out for signals that denote a particular strength of the company amidst the competitive market.

Earnings Performance During Bad Economic Times

If the company has done well even during bad economic times, it shows the robust strategy of the company. You can see if their revenues and profits have been adversely affected or not compared to competitors.

Cash on Hand

Many companies tend to keep cash on hand. While many may think it is better to reinvest the money, keeping a certain amount of cash can act as a cushion in uncertain times.

Dominance in the Market

If a company is the sole domain player, this represents a wide moat. Intel is a market leader in semiconductor chips and has created an enormous advantage over other players in this domain.

Powerful Intellectual Property

Patents provide a considerable advantage over competitors, whether on a product or technology. It is considered a sustainable moat if it cannot be replicated.

Name Recognition

Sustaining in the industry for a long time creates a brand for the company, and its products are synonymous with the company name.

A company with a wide moat is worth investing in as, despite near-term fluctuations, it tends to be profitable in the long run. Even if these stocks fall in bad times, they bounce back faster and outperform the market. It is advisable to consult financial advisors who are experts in this area for such requirements. Geojit is a financial partner who can help find the best stocks to invest in.


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