Monday, 1 January 2018

Portfolio Strategy: Annual Review!

So a portfolio update is in order for 2017 to look at my overall performance and current positioning and outlook since the inception of this portfolio in April 2017.

Amiable Minotaur Portfolio 

Performance

I will call this my first Annual review as the portfolio began on the 19th of April. How has performance been? Including all fees and costs I have returned 1.96% in GBP since inception and relative to FTSE AW which gained 9.36% in GBP. I have under performed by 7.4% in the period. So whilst I am lagging the benchmark I do have a positive absolute return.

I expect to continue to under perform for as long as the wider market and especially the S&P grinds higher. The stronger GBP also has a negative impact on performance in absolute but not relative terms due to around 50% of the portfolio being in FX (mostly USD) and another 17% in precious metals which act as a proxy currency. Even at year end holding 25% in cash equivalents is obviously a major drag against the AW Index.

Stocks: The Worst and Best

My worst positions have been in Acacia Mining, Klondex Mines, Short NASDAQ and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Acacia has continued to suffer with little positive news flow on resolving their dispute with the Tanzanian government. Given cash flow constraints they suspended production at 2 of their 3 mines. Barrick Gold executives negotiated what looks like a terrible deal with the government resulting in the resignation of the CEO and CFO. I feel captive here because either this stock takes another major hit from more bad news (already I have lost 30%) - or it rallies very strongly on a resolution/clarification around future profitability. I think it is worth north of £3 a share even discounting this debacle, assuming a resolution.

Shorting the NASDAQ x3 is obviously not working (-31%) as central bank flows keep this market grinding higher - however despite the all time highs momentum is broken and I foresee at least a modest pullback of 10% or so before renewed propping up of the market. This is a valuation call lacking an immediate catalyst. The Tech top is close or appears to be near at this point.


BBBY results were soft again this month and further declines followed. I am down 46% overall on the position. It feels like a value trap for a while but ultimately it will turn, and fast - when results stop declining. Just like we have seen in Next PLC. It's a hold for now - it feels like it is bottoming here and screens very cheap assuming it survives the next decade.

Klondex has been a poor performer in the fourth quarter and I am down 24% overall due to weaker than expected results. This miner is in transition consolidating several mines together in Nevada and seeking to turn around its Canadian acquisition. Whether they do this hangs in the balance, a stronger gold price should helps, but I have trimmed the position a little in recent weeks due to the weaker momentum and risks to the valuation case.

The best positions have been in Tullow Oil, IG Group, CF Industries and Kirkland Lake Gold

Tullow Oil (+32%) has been a good performer and is my largest energy position. With Brent breaking the $60 barrier in the past few months Tullow has slowly been ticking higher after its successful rights issue earlier this year. More FCF from firmer prices means they can accelerate debt reduction and increase equity value. I continue to like this low cost E&P company.

IG Group has shaken off recent regulatory problems that saw the stock dip 10% in a day this month. My position has returned 40% this year in IG. This has been a great example of a solid underlying business with incredible FCF and dividends and a low risk business model - except for major regulatory headaches caused by crackdowns on leveraged trading. I bought this early in the year after the stock lost nearly half its value and it is a classic value investment for me. I do not see much upside from here but the healthy dividend yield alone makes it well worth holding long term.

CF Industries
has been a beneficiary of better commodity prices and cheap gas in the US. The stock rose +40% since I bought it and I recently sold down half my holding due to the strong performance and the bottoming in natural gas prices (see SWN later).


Kirkland Lake Gold has had interstellar performance from its top quality assets and results. The stock rose 60%+ but I sold out following those gains at the end of August. I bought it back at $17 having sold at $16 which was unlucky as it fell back to around $15  a share for a time. Trading now above $18 this has been a major success in the portfolio due to its operational excellence. Watch out for insider buys - this was something that alerted me to the stock in the first place.


Developments


SWN - I have taken a position in Southwestern Energy in December. This is a major US E&P company focused in Natural Gas. The gas market in the US has not followed oil and SWN has been a real dog. I see value here - much like Tullow Oil they have been through a  major cycle of write offs and impairments and appear to have trimmed the fat for future success and raised the necessary capital. 

It now appears to me to be a good time to accumulate the shares. Substitution for fuels should mean Nat Gas cannot remain sub $3/mmbtu in the US in the medium term and at those prices the incentive to build LNG export infrastructure becomes strong. The stock is highly leveraged to gas prices and I feel could outperform strongly next year (this is also why I have reduced my CF long - CF uses Nat Gas to produce nitrogen ferts.)

Gazprom - Speaking of cheap gas companies - how about one that trades on 4x PE? This is a pure value play. Russia is a hated market, one of the worst performers of recent years and 2017 - and yet unlike Saudi the Russians have taken a massive hit to the Ruble which makes exports very competitive. I think the Russian market is attractive and have been eyeing up Norilsk for a dip to buy too. Very cheap stocks. Hated and cheap are often a good combination for gains (like Nigeria earlier this year.)

It is also noteworthy that Diamond Offshore may have bottomed here as an inflationary impulse in the commodities space looks likely. I may look to add to these in future on a pullback but the recent strong performance from the low at $10 a share to $18 has seen hardly a pause!

GE - I bought some GE in December, just a small position. The company has a major pensions headache and slashed the divided but the capitulation in the stock has been extraordinary. At $17 this looks very good value despite all the headwinds. GE is afterall a major producer of many everyday items like bulbs and also highly specialized products such as turbines used across the world and unlike 2008 they are not running a major credit business on the side.

EOCC - I added a little to EOCC in the quarter as I believe this Chilean utility has some of the best assets for electricity generation around and is attractively valued. The 10% boost in the stock following the Chilean election results was a welcome gift. EOCC remains a major position at 6.2% of the portfolio and has returned 9% this year.

FCX -
I bought and sold Freeport stock in December playing a strong gold and copper price environment for a respectable 19% return. This was more a short term trade although I may buy it back on a dip as I think Copper could see good performance in 2018.


AZN - 
I bought some large cap Pharma in July with AstraZeneca which sold off strongly following a failed drug trial. Since buying that dip the stock was up 20% which is a nice move. With not strong view on the long term value I sold AZN in October.



Position Sizes

My biggest positions in terms of sectors are Gold Miners, Retail and Energy. 



My biggest single stock position is Next plc at 10.4% which I added to on recent weakness. I continue to love this stock but have reduced slightly following a strong pop.

Conclusion

Unchanged from last quarter! 


I remain bearish overall as regards the wider market. Volatility is very low, equity prices are very high, central bank liquidity is very high, interest rates are very low. Not exactly fertile conditions for findings assets at attractive prices. I remain long term bullish commodities and associated stocks and gold due to under valuation vs financial assets. The end game for this party is when inflation breaks out, reflected in commodities, and central banks lose control of financial markets because they are stuck trying to ease monetary conditions with an inflation spike.


I am looking for cyclical value plays in retail, energy, base metals and all other markets in general.

Disclaimer: I have an interest in all the securities mentioned in this article at present but i may change these in the future. These are opinions only, not investment advice. Construct your own portfolios with due care and attention.  If in doubt read my disclaimer.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Canadian Life Insurers; Screening for value - GWO, MFC & SLF

I wanted to look at some Life Insurance businesses to see if I can find some big cap value positions. These three large Canadian LI businesses offer attractive dividend yields and seem to be relatively attractively valued. In this piece I will demonstrate a quick screening process that helps me to focus on individual equities.

Soft Factors

These companies have slightly different overall profiles. Manulife (TSE: MFC) has generally struggled since the financial crisis due to aggressive underwriting of guaranteed investment policies ahead of the 2009 crash. MFC does however have a strong business in Asia with good growth prospects and was one of the first western insurers to target Asian markets. It has the biggest market cap of the three at CAD$51bn. 

It has generally been a poor performer since the GFC; losing 39% of its value over 10 years. 


(MFC Blue -39%, SLF Red -6% and GWO Yellow -0% )

Great West Lifeco (TSE: GWO) is the second largest by market cap at CAD$36bn and it largely escaped the problems that hit Manulife as it was late the investment guarantees party. GWO is more focused in Europe through its Canada Life and Irish Life subsidiaries than MFC. The management have an excellent reputation and unlike MFC it didn't cut its dividend following the crisis.

Finally Sun Life (TSE: SLF) is the smallest of the three at CAD$30bn. This company sits somewhere between MFC and GWO in terms of its risk exposure but like GWO it has better weathered the storms of the last crisis - it has restructured selling its struggling US Life and Annuity business to focus on more group life products and the Canadian domestic market.

Financial Screening

I use a simple sheet developed by the UK Value Investor to screen stocks for 10 year performance when looking for the best investment opportunities or to compare several companies across industries. The results from screening these three companies gave some interesting basic data points which made me prefer GWO. 


[The metrics used are generally only useful for defensive value investments i.e large and stable acyclical businesses as the screening won't like cyclical value plays like CMMC for obvious reasons.]

Profitability, Yield and Growth

The first thing to note is a quick look at 10 year average ROCE - this gives us a good picture as to the underlying quality of returns from these businesses. GWO and SLF both have strong returns on capital employed at 9.1%, MFC on the other hand is weak with the return at just 6.1%. This indicates that both GWO and SLF are better managed at least historically have generated better returns. 




Dividend yields are similar across all three businesses although GWO has a slightly higher yield at 3.8% vs 3.3% for SLF - these are all broadly comparable. On the growth front again MFC is the laggard with a paltry 60bps growth rate. This estimate is based on 3 year average revenue, earnings and dividend growth. Both SLF and GWO have low but acceptable growth rates given these are large mature businesses in slow growing markets.

Risk Metrics

SLF is the standout when looking at risk due to its much higher debt load against its overall profitability. The greater leverage of the business (in the debt ratio / 5 year avg earnings) makes it inherently more risky and it should exhibit greater volatility in earnings. Both MFC and GWO have low debt ratios. 

Dividend cover is good for all three businesses at >1x - investors in these kind of defensive value businesses investors expect strong and consistent dividend returns. In addition as highly regulated businesses they must preserve capital so if these ratios were to drop below 1x an immediate dividend cut would be highly likely.

Note so far that GWO has both the best ROCE, dividend yield, dividend coverage and the second best growth rate and debt/ earnings ratio. It gets better though, it's also the cheapest...

Valuation


A high level assessment of valuation based on PE ratios indicates that GWO is the cheapest on a 10 year average basis at 16.9x with SLF the most expensive but both SLF and MFC trade at premiums to GWO. Some of this is to do with the way that GWO has managed to generate higher consistent earnings since 2007 due to its lower risk profile in the crisis on 2008/9.



The current PE ratios make GWO cheaper than MFC but it trades at a premium to SLF. All three stocks trade in a pretty close range.

Summary

The basic high level screen indicates that GWO is better value due to it's cheaper long term PE ratio and better dividend yield. Not only that but the dividend is better covered (meaning room to go higher), the business has a lower risk profile due to lower debt and the growth rate is decent with a high (for a mature business) ROCE over 9%. MFC looks the least favourable stock here and SLF is pretty neutral but has a few bright spots.

Net/net I think the best stock for further examination in detail is GWO.

Disclosure: I have no positions in GWO, SLF or MFC at this time. This may change in the future. These are opinions only, not investment advice. If in doubt read my disclaimer.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Portfolio Strategy: October update

So a quick portfolio update as I have made a few changes in the past month increasing some positions:


Amiable Minotaur Portfolio

Performance

I will call this my Second Quarter review as the portfolio began on the 19th of April. How has performance been? Including all fees and costs I have returned 1.7% in GBP since inception and relative to FTSE AW which gained 2.82% in GBP. I have under performed by 4.38% in the period. 

This is a substantial improvement from the first quarter due to several stock picks having strong performance and now whilst I am lagging the benchmark I do have a positive absolute return.

I expect to continue to under perform for as long as the wider market and especially the S&P grinds higher. The stronger GBP also has a negative impact on performance in absolute but not relative terms due to around 40% of the portfolio being in FX (mostly USD) and another 18.3% in Gold which acts as a proxy currency.

Stocks: The Worst and Best

My worst positions have been in Acacia Mining, Short NASDAQ and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Acacia has continued to suffer with no positive news flow on resolving their dispute with the Tanzanian government. Given cash flow constraints they are going to have to suspend production at 2 of their 3 mines if no resolution is reached. Barrick Gold executives are currently negotiating with the government. I feel captive here because either this stock takes another major hit from more bad news (already I have lost 31%) - or it rallies very strongly on a resolution. I think it is worth north of £3 a share even discounting this debacle, assuming a resolution.

Shorting the NASDAQ is obviously not working as central bank flows keep this market grinding higher - however despite the all time highs momentum is broken and I foresee at least a modest pullback of 10% or so before renewed propping up of the market. This is a valuation call lacking an immediate catalyst.


BBBY results were soft again this month and further declines followed. It feels like a value trap for a while but ultimately it will turn, and fast - when results stop declining. Just like we have seen in Next PLC. It's a hold for now.


The best positions have been in Next and Kirkland Lake Gold

Next has started to deliver results which are less bad - and the stock has popped up 20%. This is my biggest position so that pop had a major impact on the portfolio. A much welcomed development. I reduced the position 25% following the Q end just to take some gains as it approached my fair value of around £60 a share. I may add again after it has been faded.

Kirkland Lake Gold has had interstellar performance from its top quality assets and results. The stock rose 60%+ but I sold out following those gains at the end of August. I may add again on a pullback - perhaps switching for Goldcorp as on reflection this junior miner has more fundamental upside to run.



Developments


CMMC - I bought this stock as a highly leveraged play on improved copper prices. The fundamentals stack up and the risk / reward is compelling. It's really a micro cap stock rather than a small cap - high risk but simple to understand and analyse.

It is also noteworth that Diamond Offshore and Tullow Oil may have bottomed here as an inflationary impulse in the commodities space looks likely. I may look to add to these in future on a pullback.

I bought some large cap Pharma in the case of AstraZeneca which sold off strongly following a failed drug trial. Since buying that dip the stock is up 15% which is a nice move. I screened the fundamentals and history but didn't do a deep dive on this one as it required a quick and timely move to buy.


Amiable Minotaur Portfolio

Gold Stocks

I continue to like Gold Mining stocks and have added to my position in Klondex Mines which has started to move upward as we move away from the GDXJ rebalancing debacle. 

Weights are:

ACA        2.2%
KLDX    6.2%
GG          2.2%


Position Sizes

My biggest positions in terms of sectors are Gold Miners, Retail and Energy. 


Amiable Minotaur Portfolio

My biggest single stock position is Next plc at 12% which I added to on recent weakness. I continue to love this stock but have reduced slightly following a strong pop.

Conclusion

Unchanged from last quarter! 


I remain bearish overall as regards the wider market. Volatility is very low, equity prices are very high, central bank liquidity is very high, interest rates are very low. Not exactly fertile conditions for findings assets at attractive prices. I remain long term bullish commodities and associated stocks and gold due to under valuation vs financial assets. 


I am looking for cyclical value plays in retail, energy, base metals and all other markets in general.

Disclaimer: I have an interest in all the securities mentioned in this article at present but i may change these in the future. These are opinions only, not investment advice. Construct your own portfolios with due care and attention.  If in doubt read my disclaimer.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Copper Mountain Mining Corp (TSE:CMMC) - Looking for a play on the red metal

Copper is used in many industrial applications and has historically been a leading indicator of industrial expansions. The technicals for Copper have recently shown some signs of life and the broader macro environment of a weaker dollar seem supportive for the price. It has broken a long run downtrend and prices are now close to 2015 levels. 


Copper Price vs Trend 

Copper also suffers from declining grades globally which puts pressure on supply with much of the new incremental production being located in localities of dubious safety for investors. 

Cyclical Equities

I feel the cyclical value stocks are often rather unappreciated by the market especially commodities. There exists a paradox in equities where if Copper is in a bear market you don't really want to own any Copper stocks yet the one's with strong balance sheets are likely to weather the storm. On the other hand in a bull market you want to own the smallest and most leveraged players because the upside to the value of the equity is huge from only small incremental increases in revenue. 

My favourite kind of investment is those that act a bit like options - unlikely to go completely bust but with excellent reward upside from a shift in commodity prices or another factor - case in point Diamond Offshore Drilling which is now seems to be bottoming out.

Copper Stocks

As with most investments in commodities the key competitive advantage is to be the low cost operator. A low cost operator with a strong balance sheet can survive a major downturn as smaller and less profitable players shut up shop. The issue with copper and many industrial metals is that the large mining conglomerates tend to dilute the pure play aspect - by which I mean stocks like BHP and Rio Tinto are driven by Iron Ore prices, Coal prices and other industrial metals and commodities. 

Therefore whilst BHP's massive Chilean Escondida mine may offer good low cost copper exposure ultimately the exposure is muddied by Iron Ore prices (a much more abundant mineral) and other noise. Chile is the world's copper capital but most of the mines there are operated by Codelco a private state company. 

Other huge mines include Southern Copper's assets in Peru and Mexico - but SCCO has terrible corporate governance, social and a environmental records leaving it liable to fines and problems. Finally there is Grasberg which was recently 'appropriated' by the Indonesian government from Freeport who now hold a minority stake.

So I wanted to look for small pure play copper producers in safe parts of the world where property rights are generally protected (US, Australia, Canada, Europe etc) - which took me to Canada.

CMMC

This stock is a small cap, highly leveraged copper and gold producer based in British Columbia. The company has one relatively low grade open pit copper project which is fairly close to the Pacific Ocean for shipping with long term sales contracts to Japan.


A few interesting points;

It has a lot of debt


CMMC Annual Report 2016

Confusingly CMMC reports accounts in $CAD despite being a $USD commodity producer. The underlying debt of the company is happily denominated in $USD which matches the currency profile of revenues but is reported in $CAD. The total debt of $CAD362m is big given the market capitalisation of CMMC to date is $CAD 164m - > 2x levered on a market cap basis is a lot of debt.

What seems to have happened in the project was built and developed during the past commodity price boom and the subsequent bust in copper that started in 2011 could not have come at a worse time for the mine. A lot of debt was taken on to finish development at that time with both credit facilities maxed out and this is now being paid down incrementally.


CMMC Annual Report 2016
The good news is that during 2016, despite copper prices averaging $2.19/lb the company managed to generate sufficient operating cash flow to make substantial payments on it's debt. The stock has more than doubled since last years bottom due to the rise in copper prices which will drive up surplus cash flow and thus the value of equity in CMMC. It's very levered - great on the way up, not so great on the way down. 
CMMC Annual Report 2016
The company generated CAD$47m in operating cash with only CAD$6m in capex leaving net cash flow of CAD$41m - with that the company was able to meet CAD$17m in interest payments and another CAD$17m in capital repayments on loans alongside CAD$6m in lease payments - or ~CAD$40m. Thus staying afloat. 

Now with copper prices this year touching $3/lb and the average so far around $2.60/lb surplus cash flow generation should be greater this year allowing for more rapid reduction of leverage meaning the company can meet its CAD$37m in debt repayments, plus interest and the CAD$7.5m in lease payments with room to spare.

Now the schedule of repayments accelerates toward 2021 but if the company meets that it will have only CAD$100m in debt in 4 years time - and interest payments will have more than halved (assuming steady rates). The reduction in leverage if achieved will also give ample room to refinance at more attractive terms - although the current rates are mostly swapped for 3.565% or linked to LIBOR plus a spread. Rising US rates therefore have some negative impact - but to my mind survival looks possible and more assured as copper prices rise. 

By my estimates CMMC could generate as much as CAD$80m this year in FCFF so net of debt repayments they could start to build a reasonable cash surplus and potentially accelerate debt repayment on the term loans or alternatively reduce its reliance on finance leases for new equipment.

Net debt/EBITDA in 2016 was around 4.5x which is high but not nearly as bad as 10x in 2015! I estimate it could fall to around 2.2-2.5x this year with interest coverage improving from 2x to 5x putting the business on a more even footing. Not hard to see why the share price has more than doubled in 12 months.

Cash costs are reasonable


CMMC Annual Report 2016
The company has competitive cash costs especially given the relatively low grade of the mine (~0.3 / 0.34%) when compared to some of the best mines globally. Escondida for instance is 0.6% and the global average is around this level and has been declining for many years. The cash margin declined slightly in 2016 due to weaker copper prices despite a fall in costs because byproduct credits were positively impacted by gold and silver prices. In general higher gold prices rising in tandem with copper help margins.


2015 Cash cost curve - SNL Metals & Mining
As can be seen here $1.74 in 2015 for CMMC (comparable with this curve) is not bad but is not as low as bigger mines like Escondida. It seems on par with Grasberg. Southern Copper has very low cash costs at under $1/lb after byproduct credits or roughly 2/3 of CMMC's cost in 2016. But of course operating mostly in Peru and Mexico means labour costs etc are cheaper and their mines tend have higher grades too.

Currency Impact

The company is generally short CAD, long USD in its cost structure since local wages and transport costs are payable in Canada but revenues and debt are linked to the USD. However a weak dollar generally improves commodity demand globally and accordingly pricing so excepting unprecedented strength in the CAD by itself in general the company should fare better in a weak USD environment. 


Reserves and Resources


The mine life is currently estimated at around 15 years in terms of reserves. So I limit my DCF valuation to 2030 with that time period. They are currently stockpiling less rich ores for future use.


CMMC Annual Report 2016
Valuation

This is not a massive resource base but at copper prices in the region of  $2.65/lb rising to $3.07/lb in 2022 (quite modest assumptions at $2.97 today) I gain a DCF valuation of $4.13 using a 8.7% WACC (ke 11.2%, kd 5.5% pre tax @ 35% debt). 

I think total FCF generation can be CAD$80-90m in the each of the next 3 years with those prices (assuming gold and silver prices hold and drive a virtuous cycle on the cost side). Given the debt repayment schedule that should leave CAD$35-45m per year for equity holders or at current rates a FCFE yield of 24-30% by current estimates! This is hardly a given because of the volatile nature of commodity prices but it goes to show the potential of this stock. Even a FCFE generation of CAD$6m as per last year is a not wholly inadequate 4%. 

What's my price? Well with bullish Copper assumptions around the $3/lb mark and including gold prices rising from $1,250 to $1,450 by 2022 I foresee a DCF value of $4.13 against a current share price of $1.25. If this sounds extreme that's because it's highly at risk - this stock could easily go back to zero if copper prices take a prolonged dive under $2.50/lb. 

Still an interesting risk/reward exists for me and I have taken a starter position in the portfolio. If it goes to zero I lose $1.25 a share. If copper prices stay where they are today I reckon the stock is worth 3x current value. That seems a fair deal.

Disclosure: I have established a modest long position in CMMC. These are opinions only, not investment advice. If in doubt read my disclaimer.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Portfolio Strategy: General Update

I wanted to give a brief update on some new positions in the portfolio - not had time lately to do any full notes with models but I have generally been making limited purchases and holding cash/metals due to the high valuation in the market and now a likely period of seasonal weakness going into the second half - years ending in seven are notoriously rocky!

Composition:

High level I am still heavily invested in Gold with a modicom of Silver for higher beta metals exposure - with negative real interest rates in the UK some Gold is something of a hedge. In addition the yellow metal tends to outperform in uncertain markets - and it has broken out of a long run technical bear market that started in 2012. So present allocation is a reasonable 20%;

Amiable Minotaur Portfolio
In more detail I have mostly GBP cash and Gold with a little Silver and USD.

Amiable Minotaur Portfolio
Equities

Additions:

The equity side of the portfolio has seen a couple of new additions and changes since my last update at the end of June. I have added AstraZeneca, The Global X Uranium ETF and CF Industries. I have sold out of the IBZL Brazil ETF.

AstraZeneca - I bought this opportunistically the day of the recent announcement of the failed trials for their new lung cancer drug. Its not a sector I have great experience in but a quick look at the debt metrics, overall valuation and the scale of the sell off meant I took a small position. It is up a touch to date.

Uranium - This I view like a long term option with limited downside. Uranium has a history of long bear markets and stratospheric peaks in pricing. This is due to the supply and demand dynamics. At present all major producers are scarcely breaking even and no new production is incentivised. At some point this could shift with explosive price consequences. So this is a small but speculative position in a very undervalued sector.

CF Industries - Much like my views on CMP - CF Industries gives nice agricultural exposure and benefits from very low US natural gas prices. The stock has done little to date but the valuation case stacks up and you get a 4% yield while you wait for the agricultural cycle to turn. I got the idea from a report by Jesse Felder and I consider all his reasoning to be very sound on the name.


IBZL - I sold this for a tiny profit - which is a shame as it has since had a major bounce - but with such a high beta market and my bearish outlook for the near term I could see little value in holding it at this point and want a better entry point for the long term growth story that is Brazil. 

Amiable Minotaur Portfolio


Weight Changes:

I have added to Next, BLADEX and SQQQ and generally reduced Tullow Oil and Diamond Offshore as I trade these a little trying to pick a low in the oil bear market.

Next Plc - has broken a multi year downtrend and recent results showed signs of improvement. This is really such an obvious value diamond in the rough and that is why I keep banging the table on it. I've taken it up to 10% of the fund now. Downside could prevail in the near term if we see a wider market sell off and a consumer panic - but in general with such low expectations it should outperform the wider market in my opinion.

BLADEX - had a weak set of Q2 results and dropped - so I bought some more. Good dividend, good banking model, growing but out of favour markets and the local central banks on your side. 

SQQQ - I have been dripping into this very risky 3x levered short position - not for the faint hearted. I think we are seeing peak 'Big Tech' and I am looking for a 10% drop in the NASDAQ to give a 30% return on this ETF. We shall see - my time horizon is 3 months on this one. 

(The only reason I have the 3x levered is it saves FX costs to buy 1/3 the amount of dollars to gain the same exposure)

Diamond and Tullow I have been trading a bit with Oil prices - it feels like a bottom is near but I fear one more major blowout like early 2016 could be on the cards to clear out the weak shale producers and rebalance global oil markets. Time will tell. The energy sector has been such a dog for such a long time it's hard to not expect some reversion and I expect commodities will outperform tech over the next 3 years for this reason.

Sectors:

I still have a large slice in Gold Miners and a large slice in Retailers - with the additions of Materials stocks and Pharma things are getting a bit more diversified. Note this is also muddled by the 3x short position which is shown at ETF share value not notional exposure. Current long equity exposure is 61% and short is 13% with a net exposure of 48%.

Performance:

Overall things have improve since June end - I am down only around 1% now in GBP (lagging the FTSE all world return of 6% since inception). 

Star performers have been generally small positions with Guaranty Trust Bank of Nigeria and Kirkland Lake Gold having very good returns but limited attribution. IG Group posted good results with a solid rebuttal of all regulatory issues seeing a major tick up in the name. Endesa Generacion Chile had a great bounce due to some reorganization - if it settles down I may buy more...if I want utilities it is a no-brainer compared to the UK selection of indebted pension schemes utilities. 

Gold and especially Silver have also started to outperform. 

Unfortunately Bed Bath and Beyond has continued to be a dog after the Q2 selloff with no signs of a bounce and that stock alongside bealeagured gold miner Acacia Mining are the main drags on performance. SQQQ has been highly variable but is down a bit, same for Diamond Offshore.

Outlook

Going into the end of the year my instincts are pricked by opportunities in Copper once the futures settle back down again - I think we could be seeing the start of a shift into inflationary plays as the USD declines. So base metals will be a place that I am looking to pick up stocks. 

With high levels of cash, metals and short NASDAQ I am well placed for a modest markets decline - it is hard to expect a crash with so much Central Bank intervention at the moment - dont forget the Bank of Japan for instance owns 2/3 of the domestic ETF market!!


Disclaimer: I have an interest in all the securities mentioned in this article at present but i may change these in the future. These are opinions only, not investment advice. Construct your own portfolios with due care and attention.  If in doubt read my disclaimer.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Results are what counts - Once Again; Next Plc (NXT)


Next is my largest equity holding at the moment at 8% of my fund and the stock saw a significant pop this week following the publication of the August trading statement. I remain bullish on Next shares and think they offer the best value proposition in the FTSE 100 at this point. The stock rose around 8% off the back of the announcement due to better than expected sales following warm weather in the UK in Q2:

Next Trading Statement
Notice that Next directory saw 7.4% YTD sales growth and the stores a 7.7% decline. So 'bricks and mortar' is not doing so well but this long standing secular trend is something Next is extremely well positioned in having taken the Directory online years ago. Not only that but Next managed to make a huge profit and excellent cash flow running that business - unlike ASOS plc - (although yes overall top line growth is less exciting).

Next narrowed their lower bound sales guidance by 50bps and maintained their profit forecast guidance. The stock rallied because things arent getting any worse. This is a significant bottoming reaction to news - this and the May trading statements have seen a reversal of expectations after January's awful statement - which initially caused me to first start acquiring the stock.

Is the 18 month bear market in Next shares ending? Well I am a fundamentals guy but technicals give you an idea about whether you are stuck in a value trap - now I understand its a bullish move when you break the 200 day moving average and the 50 day in a nice gap up. Could this be the end of the wider downtrend?

Stockcharts.com

Regardless the healthy dividends continue and cash flow generation is just fantastic;


Next Trading Statement
More dividends, excellent free cash flow levels - just short on the growth front (hence the high divs and low valuation). Time will tell. I continue to maintain my personal bullish view on Next shares. 

I notice also, although it is early days, that Next has performed very well especially against the value trap that is Debenhams since my initial inquiries into the sector in March:



As the graph shows Next +13%, ASOS +2%, FTSE +2% and Debenhams down 22%. I maintain my view that within 2-5 years Debenhams will no longer exist - which will come about from first a dividend cut smashing the share pire and then a squeeze from lenders - the pension scheme will end up another minor scandal.

Disclosure: I have established a modest long position in NXT. I have no positions in ASC or DEB. These are opinions only, not investment advice. If in doubt read my disclaimer.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Sturm Ruger (NYSE:RGR): Is there Value in Guns?

Sturm Ruger is an American manufacturers of firearms namely pistols, shotguns and rifles. The company was founded in 1949 and is one of the largest producers of firearms in the states alongside their main listed competitor AOBC formerly Smith & Wesson.

Background Check

I have been having a look at RGR due to the apparent defensive nature of their business. Gun sales tend to rise due to economic fears, terrorist incidents, civil unrest, legislative threats of further gun control and the election of Democrats. 

97% of sales are domestic US so this means the stock is a pure play on American fear;


Gun Sales Rise after Shootings


Gun sales also rise ahead of restrictions - and peak before Christmas

This may also explain why the present moment does not offer the best entry point into RGR. The Republicans are in, there is little talk of new gun control measures and for now the economy is lumbering along. Both RGR and AOBC shares fell significantly on  June 30th after AOBC announced a weak outlook for the rest of the year. 

So I tactically I feel I need a better valuation point or catalyst to really want to own RGR now.

What I like about RGR


It has no debt. RGR runs net cash on the balance sheet meaning it is extremely under leveraged compared to most US corporates. This kind of balance sheet is highly unusual in this day and age and makes RGR significantly more robust than AOBC which is a rather more volatile share. 

Therefore somewhat unusually RGR finance their buybacks from cash:


RGR Annual Report

ROIC is extremely high. The company averages a 10 year median net rate of return of 19.7%. Similarly the 10 year average ROA is over 20%! This company has excellent returns and capital allocation and throws off a lot of cash.

The FCF yield is around 6-7% with no debt and the company pays out a dividend of around 40% of earnings yielding 3%. That dividend has been in place and growing since 2009. In terms of Earnings the PE is 14x last years earnings - which is a good discount to the wider market. 

There is also no ongoing pension liability as the company settled the scheme in 2014;



RGR Annual Report
So this is definitely the kind of stable business that I would consider highly investable for the long term. However the wider sell off in the sector and weak immediate term outlook means the stock may do nothing or trend down for some time.

Valuation

A quick valuation in my model with conservative growth assumptions (3% revenue growth, stable margins) gives a DCF value around $90 a share which is a good premium to the current value of $60. However it only scores a $45 price target on the DDM model due to the low dividend payout because of buybacks as an alternative capital distribution. 

I think with a turn up in underlying sales this stock could head up towards my $90 estimate but currently there seems little in the way of an immediate catalyst to turn the sales momentum back towards stronger growth. Certainly one to keep on eye on going foward.




Disclaimer: I have no investment in NYSE:RGR at present but may do in future. These are opinions only, not investment advice. If in doubt read my disclaimer.