Sold all Bitatuo shares and swapped into Yixin group shares. Believe that given the probability of success is the same for two stocks, Yixin clearly offers better risk-reward. Yixin has around 10-20% upside while also offering 15% upside. Bitauto, at current prices, has less than 3% upside but more than 30% of downside.
I am not sure if there is much benefit to broadcast my portfolio online. But it certainly sounds FUN! I was born in a small village with a very auspicious sounding name which loosely translates to mean a hundred victories. I really love that name and in honour of the village, I am calling my portfolio – Invictus. I hope it also brings me many victories in the years ahead.
I have included here is a breakdown of my portfolio as of 31 Dec 2019 and Invictus’s performance since inception in 2016.
Here is how I will update my portfolio on this blog:
Please feel free to share any feedback/comments with me! Even better if you share an investment idea with me!
1H 2020 (6 months ending 1st Dec 2019) results were excellent! What a privilege to be a partner in this spectacular business! Especially the kind of hardworking partner where all I have to do is just sit and watch.
The most exciting part of the earnings release was the doubling of the licensing income from GBP 5.5m to GBP 10.7m due to the launch of a new video game. A big part of my investment thesis on GW relies on the increased monetisation of its Warhammer IP beyond just miniatures. While this is a step in the right direction, I fully expect the licensing income to be lumpy and would take years to materialise fully.
In the meantime, the core miniature business is firing on all cylinders….
The revenue grew 18.5% to GBP 148.4m which is above my long term expectation of 10-15%. New games and miniatures release schedule will impact the growth in a specific period. My long term expectation remains unchanged in this regard.
A more detailed study of the revenue growth reveals some encouraging signs. GW breaks down revenue into three channels – Trade, Retail and Online.
Trade channel is 52.6% of the total revenue and growing the fastest at 27.2%. Trade is mostly made up of local mom and pop hobby stores which stocks a variety of trading card and board games such as Magic the Gathering & Catan. These hobby stores are usually the centre of local hobby community which is very similar to GW’s own retail stores. There are 4900 distributors at the end of 1H 2020. The distributor count grew 11.4% and the annual revenue per distributor grew 14.2% to GBP 31.9k. The annual revenue per store for GW’s own retail store is GBP 173k. So there is a 5x gap. Over time, distributors should increase retail sales productivity to close this gap.
Retail channel is 31% of the total revenue and growing at a slower rate of 7.5%. Retail consists of Warhammers stores owned by Games Workshop. The store counted increased by 2.5% while the revenue per store increased by 5% on a YoY basis. Finally, the online channel grew 15.6% and makes up for 16.5% of the total revenue base.
Opening retail stores will help to build brand awareness and seed the initial Warhammer community in a new locality. However, the independent hobby stores is likely to remain the most important driver for revenue growth for the next few years. Because it is uneconomical for GW to open stores everywhere. Online will remain a complementary channel to help fans acquire miniatures that are not stocked in the local hobby store.
Due to the completion of the new factory and optimisation of operational controls, the gross margin has expanded by 2.5% to 69.5%. Different revenue mix of newer vs older miniatures in any one period lead to fluctuating gross margin. Gross margin of an older miniature is higher as the fixed cost of building a plastic mould is amortised over a larger volume. I would expect the gross margin to fluctuate between 67-70%. The core operating profit was GBP 48.5m which was up 37.8% due to the beautiful effect of operating leverage. Core operating profit margin stood at 32.7%.
Investment consideration – at ~GBP 67 per share, GW is valued at roughly 25-28x 2020E earnings. While it is not cheap on a headline basis, I am holding onto my positions due to 1) healthy top-line growth + operating leverage and 2) a very positive prospect on IP monetisation.
How America’s most reckless billionaire created the fracking boom [Guardian] – Bethany McLean on the shale industry & Chesapeake (CHK) founder
“Landmen were always the stepchild of the industry,” he later told Rolling Stone. “Geologists and engineers were the important guys – but it dawned on me pretty early that all their fancy ideas aren’t worth very much if we don’t have a lease. If you’ve got the lease and I don’t, you win.” – McClendon, Chesapeake Energy founder
In my opinion, the US natural gas industry has become an interesting pond to fish in.
That other shale phenomenon, shale oil is actually the biggest risk factor for the price of US natural gas (i.e. cheapest fossil fuel globally, and cleaner than oil & coal). US Shale oil producers make their decisions based on the oil price. As a “side effect”, they also produce associated gas. This “free” natural gas competes with cheap shale gas producers in the US. Interestingly, the US natural gas price is becoming counter-cyclical via the worldwide oil price. As the oil price suffers from an important demand shock in a recession, and shale oil producers are swing producers of oil, this growing competition of “free” associated gas is turned off (hence local nat gas supply shrinks).
In other words, while US shale gas producers are amongst the cheapest fossil fuel producers in the world, most US shale oil producers are almost the opposite (the marginal producers that turn off if oil demand retreats). As “associated gas” production of oil producers is turned off, this is very positive for US natural gas producers.
As credit markets are already shutting for natural gas producers (have a look at breathtaking multi-year plummeting share prices of AR, RR, CNX), a recession will probably put a damper on shale gas drilling (i.e. capex) growth as well. Lastly, demand growth remains underpinned by being the cheapest fossil fuel in the world. Meanwhile, US natural gas equities are very cheap compared to their prospective maintenance cash flows (20-50% yields) and SEC PV-10 reserves. Both valuation measures give 0$ credit to the huge dormant assets convexity/optionality (no costs if US nat gas prices go down, but extra profits if nat gas starts rising). Of course these are commodity businesses with the usual disadvantages, except one! This idiosyncratic group of commodity businesses can’t be criticized as “cyclical” anymore. That is a game changer. More later.
“Simply put, low prices cure low prices as consumers are motivated to consume more and producers are compelled to produce less” – McClendon
Games Workshop (GW) is the largest investment (20%) within my portfolio as it is the cheapest and simplest idea that I can find. When GW ownership was first acquired in April 2018, I only committed 5% of total investment funds because I did not fully appreciate GW’s outstanding business quality. Despite the share price increasing from GBP 22.75 to GBP 61 since then, I further increased the investment in GW as my understanding and conviction in the business developed positively. I may be a slow learner, but it is better to be late than never.
GW is the UK-based creator of Warhammer Hobby which makes fantasy miniatures set in endless, imaginary worlds called Warhammer Universe. The Warhammer Hobby involves painting and collecting Warhammer miniatures with rich backstories developed over 500+ Warhammer novels in the last two decades. Fans can form armies with the miniatures to participate in the tabletop wargaming with the rules developed by GW. All miniatures are designed and manufactured in the company’s headquarter in Nottingham. The story writers collaborate with miniature designers and game makers to weave new characters, games and stories seamlessly together. GW generates revenue through the sales of miniature and the royalty income from licensing its intellectual properties (IP) for PC and mobile games.
I think of Warhammer fan base in three categories – Collectors, Gamers and IP fans. The Collectors preoccupy themselves with collecting and painting miniatures because of their design and beauty. The Gamers are passionate about the wargames and strategically acquire miniatures based on their roles and powers in the game. IP fans, fascinated by the Warhammer Universe, mostly enjoy the Warhammer novels. In reality, the fans have one main preference but also participate in other aspects of the hobby in varying degrees. Interestingly, the Collectors make up for 30-40% of GW’s revenue.
While not everyone is a natural fan of the Warhammer, those who carry the Hobby Gene have an innate tendency to become a fan. This love affair between fans and GW was under trial during the period from 2010 to 2015. Under the leadership of previous Games Workshop management, the company had minimal communication with the fan community, shun social medial (because they did not want to deal with criticism from the fans), closed down popular product lines and increased prices excessively to offset a shrinking fan base. During this 5-year period from 2010 to 2015, the revenue shrunk from GBP 126.5m to GBP 119.1m while the net profit declined from GBP 15.1m to GBP 12.3m.
Just when it seems like GW is set on an inevitable slow decline, Kevin Roundtree took over as the new CEO of Games Workshop in 2016. The first thing he did was to reconnect with the Warhammer fan base through the Internet. Then, he reintroduced the popular Warhammer games that fans loved. Most importantly, he makes it easier for fans to get into the hobby by offering lower price point starter sets and simplified the game rules. The fans are elated and came back into the hobby in droves. One fan even commented that “it is like Games Workshop was taken over by someone who actually knows about sales and marketing in the twenty-first century.” Its revenue doubled to GBP 256.6m while its net profit jumped five-fold from GBP 12.3m in 2015 to GBP 65.8m in 2019. This is a testament of the fans’ loyalty towards Warhammer. Few companies can not only keep their customers after years of mistreatment but also win them back with one big gesture.
So why are fans so loyal to Warhammer? Warhammer has a differentiated customer experience that few can match – beautifully designed miniatures with great details, a strong physical network of players, and cleverly crafted fantasy worlds that fans can immerse themselves into. Even as fans complained about GW during 2010 – 2015, they acknowledged GW’s miniature as best in the industry. GW has the unique competence to mass-produce high-quality miniatures in a cost-effective manner because it has years of accumulated manufacturing know-how and the scale to internalise its entire manufacturing process. As the largest fantasy miniature producer, they can cover the fixed cost of investing in customised tools and mouldings. The design team can work closely together with the manufacturing team to push the limits on manufacturing the next best miniatures.
Gamers are going to play the games that have a decent chance of finding another Gamer to play against in the local community; thus it is critical to have a minimum player population size locally. Hence, GW uses its fleet of 500+ physical retail stores to provide physical space for local fans to meet and recruit new blood into local Warhammer communities. Local Warhammer clubs are formed as the fan base grew. It took GW over 30 years to build this physical network of Gamers globally which new competitors will find it hard to replicate.
Put in another way, GW’s moat lies in its physical social network of Gamers. Warhammer – the game – is the equivalent of Facebook – the digital platform – that binds these players together. Each new player joining Warhammer strengthens the social network because it increases the existing players’ probability of finding a good game quickly. Physical social networks are of course inferior to virtual social networks because 1) Gamers cannot have a game whenever and wherever they want, 2) Gamers’ social relationships are not digitalised and hence not accessible to GW, and 3) Gamers’ interactions cannot be stored in a useful format. Nonetheless, the physical social network is still a powerful moat for the business.
Finally, GW’s IP elevates Warhammer above other board games and tabletop games. Most board / tabletop games are hit-driven businesses where new gameplays are easily copied by competitors. Unlike most board / tabletop games, Warhammer fans immerse themselves in the narratives as they collect and play the miniatures. It is a common scene to see Warhammers fans tries re-enact plots from the narratives through the games. Ask any Warhammer fan what they like most about their favourite miniatures, and the reasons usually are the characters’ personalities and their struggles and victories in the narratives. The progress in the narratives will introduce new characters which then is made into new miniatures. The stories give meanings to the lifeless miniatures and emotional bonds are formed when fans project themselves into the characters. This emotional bond with Warhammer drives repeat purchase. Or in the modern business parlance, Warhammer fans have high lifetime value. This strategy is common among other successful media franchises such as Pokémon and Star Wars.
I believe GW’s moat is likely to grow stronger with its unique corporate culture and first-rate management team. GW’s culture is formed by employees who are themselves biggest fans of Warhammer and they come to work here because they love what they do. GW also has a very strong creative culture where people have the creative freedom to try new things. After spending two decades at GW, Kevin, the CEO, is the right steward of company culture. I have come to know him better over the last year. He cares deeply about Games Workshop and he understands the full potential of Warhammer IP. Kevin set up a new media business unit to bring the Warhammer IP into mainstream media. If this is done successfully, the acquisition cost of new fans is going to decrease significantly. One of the biggest investment risks is Kevin’s departure due to some unforeseen reasons.
I value GW in two parts – core earnings from the sale of miniatures and royalty income from IP licensing. Through acquiring new fans and growing spend by existing fans, GW can grow its core earnings by 10-15% annually. I do not need to know precisely the size of the total market to believe that GW has a very long growth runway ahead. Another popular card game called Magic the Gathering has ~ USD 500m in revenue double that of Games Workshop’s revenue. GW has a sizable fan base in China but negligible revenue. I think China can be at least as big as the US which is GBP 100+m (50% of total revenue). On the royalty income side, GW is significantly underearning relative to the strength of its Warhammer IP. It is currently generating GBP 11.4m which is only 5% of its miniature sales. The top media franchises, such as Pokemon and Dragon Ball, make the majority of their income from licensing rather than merchandise sales. Despite paying a hefty multiple of 24x 2020 earnings, I believe we are getting a fantastic bargain because this is a very high-quality franchise with strong growth prospects, under-appreciated IP monetisation potential and strong corporate culture that reinforces its moat with time.