Redundancy as an investment criteria

Redundancy, as defined within the domain of business, refers to a company being under-optimized. The term was coined by Nassim Taleb in his book The Black Swan when discussing risk management. Taleb argues that companies that have redundancies, such as excess cash or an overcapitalized balance sheet, are more likely to survive in the long term.

Redundancy as Insurance

For a company to be less efficient, in terms of structure, can be a form of risk management. A company that is over-capitalized will show worse performance ratios (return on equity, etc) than its more efficient peers, but will be more equipped to handle downturns or shocks in the market.

Redundancy as Stock Screening Criteria

Since redundancy will cause key performance metrics to suffer, it may be interesting to develop stock screens that try to capture redundancy.  This could, for example, be a screen for companies with low Return on Equity but high cash relative to some other variable, such as market cap, revenue or profits.