A Wealth Creation Journal

Author: XC (Page 2 of 5)

Live Portfolio Update – 2020 #7

Added ~3% to Nintendo @ JPY 44500. After the latest result for FY 2020, I am gaining more conviction in the company. Though the management Q&A this time is very short and lacking in solid content. Very disappointing from that regard. More details for Nintendo will come later.

Concentrated Investing vs Change

My initial introduction to investing exposed me to different strands of thoughts and notions about investing. Only a few of these notions about investing are fundamental principles and exist as objective truths in my opinion. (yes, I see the contradiction here) One such principle includes the notion that the intrinsic value of a business is determined by the sum of all future cash flow that is generated by the business discounted at an appropriate rate. Another is the notion that shares represent partial ownership in businesses. Besides these fundamental principles, there are many tried and tested investment lessons and stylistic preferences that work for different individual investors. For example, many successful investors prefer to do highly concentrated investing. Warren Buffett famously said:

“I always tell students in business school they’d be better off when they got out of business school to have a punch card with 20 punches on it. And every time they made an investment decision, they used up one of their punches, because they aren’t going to get 20 great ideas in their lifetime. They’re going to get five or three or seven, and you can get rich off five or three or seven. But what you can’t get rich doing is trying to get one every day.”

I am intuitively attracted to the basic premises behind concentrated investing – 1) great ideas are hard to come by and when given the chance needs to bet big, and 2) high concentration forces discipline to focus on companies that are within one’s circle of competence. The mantra of concentrated investing contradicts the conventional investment wisdom which preaches diversification. In the name of diversification, most investment funds would routinely own hundreds of stocks. Investment managers who own 20+ stock would be considered concentrated by average industry standards. As a fully-signed up practitioner of concentrated investing, I generally own no more than 10 businesses and currently, my top three positions make up over 50% of my portfolio.

Lately, I am observing something strange. As I learn more about businesses in the technology and creative industries which typically exhibit extreme pay-off characteristics, I am struggling to apply the concentrated investing to investment opportunities with small chances of success but have huge pay-offs in the event of success. For example, video game companies are typically considered by the investment community as a hit-driven business and hence not investable because no one can figure out the long term earning power of a game company. However, there are compelling situations where the combinations of valuation, unique insights into the business and historical track records that can lead to profitable investment opportunities into a game company. Any cursory look at Nintendo’s historical earning profile, which is very highly cyclical, would seem to reinforce the view that video game is a hit-driven business and hence uninvestable. However, a confluence of technological trends and industry changes seem to herald a very bright future for Nintendo. Through the proliferation of cloud computing, higher Internet speed and adoption of the subscription business model, Nintendo could be building a direct and continuous relationship with its customers and transition the hit-driven revenue model into a stable and growing earnings stream. In this case, Nintendo could be worth multiples of its current market cap.

Nintendo is in a state of change – it could navigate the changes perfectly or it could fail to transform itself and relegated into the oblivion. I believe Nintendo has a non-trivial chance of wild success due to its unique culture, extraordinary game development track record and strong IP. Let’s call a non-trivial chance of success as 10%. And let’s assume that if successful, it could be worth 10x more.  But it still has a 90% chance of failure and would be worth 50% of its current valuation in the event of failure. The expected return for Nintendo would be 1.5x which seems like an attractive bet to make. However, it is not reasonable to have this as a large position size, say 20% of the portfolio, because there is still a 90% chance that I will lose 50%! The logical strategy is to spread the bet over a large number of these opportunities such that we can achieve the expected return. But spreading the portfolio over a large number of bets runs counter to the mantra of concentrated investing!

Now consider another investment opportunity that has the following characteristics – 70% of a 1.7x payoff and a 30% chance of 5% loss – which has the same expected return of 1.5x as the Nintendo example. Now, this looks like a classical asymmetric bet and could be a big bet in the portfolio despite having both investment opportunities having the same expected return. The second investment opportunity is likely to be a stable business with a solid asset value to act as valuation backstop. It could be an elevator OEM going through a cyclical low point and the earnings are depressed because new elevator sales loss is masking the true profitability of the maintenance income. If both investment opportunities are available to me, I would always pick the second one over the first one! It becomes really challenging if the opportunities with the best expected return exhibit extremely pay-off structure like the Nintendo example.

While I have not done a rigorous study, it does seem like concentrated investing works better in a stable industry environment where the company’s intrinsic value is relatively stable and the difference between the best operator and the average operator is relatively small. However, companies that are currently in a rapidly-changing industry with winner-take-most characteristics can produce extreme pay-off structures because the winner is able to grow its intrinsic value dramatically. Maybe these binary investment opportunities might not be so suited to the highly-concentrated investing style. But what if the best investment opportunities lie in these rapidly-changing industry with extreme pay-off structures?

This runs into another notion of investing where Warren Buffett famously said that change is the enemy of investors. Four years ago, I would agree whole-heartedly. I am less sure now. I think change could be the friend of an investor if, and only if, the investor has unique insights into the nature of the change that allows the investor to handicap risks confidently and figure out the pay-off structure clearly. One still has to do the work to gain real insight into an industry / a company that is undergoing change.

Arguably, it requires a lot more work to gain insight into a changing industry versus a stable industry. So all else equal, I would much rather make the same amount of money with the least amount of effort possible. Alas, the investment management field has gotten more competitive and what used to work before might no longer work so well anymore. So to stay ahead of the competition, one has to do things differently. Maybe this includes being open-minded about how to conduct concentrated investing and perceive industry changes in the context of investing.

Live Portfolio – Update #6

Two actions recently – 1) Added 2% to Ryman Healthcare @ NZD 12.15 per share. 2) Bought 1.5% of Nintendo @ JPY 46450.

Nintendo is a new investment. I must admit that Nintendo research has been most enjoyable so far! I will write a full post on Nintendo at a later date.

Ryman Healthcare – Update #5

Finally! I executed my first share purchase since the beginning of this crisis. I bought some Ryman shares @ NZD 10.45. It is a relatively small position now (~2%) and I aim to buy more if situation becomes favourable again.

Ryman Healthcare is a company that I have been following for more than one year now. I really started to do work on the company in Nov 2019. It is the largest retirement village operator in New Zealand. Globally, retirement villages are typically average businesses but there is one little quirk about retirement villages in New Zealand that completely transforms the economics of the business. For most real estate asset developers, there are really two ways to generate profits – either sell the assets for a profit upon completion or rent the property to collect the fixed income.  For example, most residential property developers would sell the asset upon completion while shopping mall developers often choose to rent the retail property as the long term rental growth would generate a higher return over time. The IRR is better if the property is sold upon completion while the rental model has lower IRR initially and can be more profitable over the long-term if rental growth is respectable.

But is there a business model in which the property is sold immediately upon completion while also retaining the right to collect rental payment over time?  You know, have the cake and eat it too.

Turns out that is exactly Ryman’s business model.

It builds retirement villages and “sells” elderly folks the right to live in their villages. The resident pays a deposit that is roughly equal to the value of the retirement unit. Ryman would charge up to a maximum of 20% of the deposit value as a management fee and the residents are granted the right to live in the retirement unit for as long as they wish to. At the point of exit, the resident is paid back 80% of the original deposit. In reality, most residents only stay in the retirement villages for 6-7 years on average because the average entrance age is more like 75+. This business model allows Ryman to recycle capital on day one through the deposit (great for IRR) while retaining the ability to collect fixed payment through the form of the management fee.

So why do the elderly folks chose to move into a retirement village? Many elderly folks find it very hard to maintain their large house as they get older. Property management service provided by the village operators relieves them of these chores. Another important motivation is a change in life circumstances such as the passing of one partner. Many prefer to live in a close-knit community than living alone. There is the hospitality aspect of living in retirement villages. There are weekly drinks, movies, field trips, exercise classes, and parties. It is kind of like living in a hotel with strong healthcare capability. Finally, a move into a retirement village helps to release equity in their home which can be used to finance their lifestyle.

New Zealand has a rapidly ageing population which will see the 75+ population grow by  ~3.5% for the next 10 years. The supply of retirement village is growing 5% and hence the penetration of retirement village is growing. The retirement village sector is ramping up supply to meet the growing demand; I would keep a vigilant outlook on the pipeline of new supply. However, Ryman should continue to do well relative to its peers because its villages offer better value for money.  Ryman charges 4% management fee p.a. capped at 20% while most competitors charge 5-6% management fee p.a. capped at 25-30%. Furthermore, people will always want the best care and safest pair of hands to take care of them in the twilight of their lives. They also need to trust operators that don’t take advantage of them when their mental and physical states are not in the best shape.

Hence Ryman’s competitive advantage comes from its reputation as a high-quality care provider and a trust-worthy retirement village operator. It offers a continuum of care model for its residents where independent units (normal houses with minimal care provided) and care centres (including hospital care) are on the same site. Elderly folks are not the most flexible bunch. Ryman pays its care staff above market rate to provide premium care and a strong culture of care.

The market also clearly acknowledges Ryman’s superior quality as its valuation is twice of its peers such as Summerset, Oceania and Arvida. Despite the valuation premium, I prefer Ryman over its peers as a strong culture of care is the best protection for long term franchise value. For example, I have found Summerset to have a mercenary attitude as compared to Ryman. This is not to say I will not invest in Summerset. Just that I think the valuation premium is at this moment reasonably justified. While I believe that Ryman is the best operator in the sector, the entire sector is likely to do well given the favourable economics of the business model.

If I am asked to buy the entire business (which I do sometimes fantasize about), I would value Ryman in a similar manner to an asset management company in that it clips ~3% of the total capital base. The capital base is generated by resident deposits. If I assume that Ryman builds out its existing landbank in the next 5 years without adding to the land bank, it would be able to generate, in my estimation, ~NZD 200m of incremental earnings. Note I exclude new sales gain from this analysis. Putting on a 25x earnings multiple, it would imply a share price of ~NZD 12. I think 25x is reasonable because the capital base enjoys 2-3% of house price growth even if there is no unit growth. This is comparable to the 4-5% rental yield in New Zealand. Of course, in reality, Ryman will maintain its land bank for growth beyond 2025. Hence our entry price is a very attractive one.

Now let me address the elephant in the room – can Ryman survive current pandemic?

  1. Ryman’s care revenue is well protected even in a national lock-down as the residents still live in the care centre. New residents are allowed to be admitted because these are typically need-based demand. Of course, there will be stringent isolation protocols in place
  2. Ryman’s care revenue more or less covers the fixed cost of the entire company. So they have liquidity to cover fixed cost even in a prolonged lock down situation
  3. New sales activity will cease but the company has a lot of leeways to stop existing construction projects to conserve cash. As of Sep 2019, the capital commitment is NZD 150m.
  4. Resale activity will cease too and this would impact Ryman’s ability to repay resident deposits on exit. Typically, Ryman promises to repay the deposit within six months after which Ryman will pay ~1-2% interest on the deposit. Legally, Ryman has three years to repay the resident. Even if we assume that COVID-19 lasts for 3 years (super unlikely in my view), Ryman can sell the apartment to pay back the resident
  5. It has roughly NZD 300m of liquidity headroom in an NZD 1.9bn credit facility. The credit facility is secured with underlying assets.
  6. According to the company, there are two main covenants – interest rate cover and gearing ratio

Given the above facts, it seems that Ryman has a very high probability of surviving this crisis.

The demand for Ryman product is mostly like to be delayed and not lost. Hopefully, we should see a reasonable demand recovery.

There is a risk with house price deflation in the event that we go into a recessionary environment coming out of this pandemic. Even though Ryman’s units usually sold at a discount to comparable houses in the same market, it would still impact Ryman because elderly folks need to sell their house to afford a Ryman unit.

Dart Group – Mar 2020 Update

I am re-evaluating how much Dart Group (DTG) could be worth coming out of this crisis. In considering the reasonable price to buy DTG under the current conditions, one would evaluate the following factors – 1) chance of DTG survival (liquidity analysis); 2) loss incurred during this crisis, 3) competitive landscape, and finally 4) the normalised earning power coming out of this crisis.

1. Chance of survival

Based on GBP 1.5bn of cash and roughly GBP 800m of the annual fixed cost base, I estimate the following chances of survival. In theory, DTG can sustain itself for an entire year based on the current liquidity profile. However, there are a few catches. DTG customers pay upfront for their summer holiday. Typically Jan and Feb account for a bulk of the summer holiday bookings. If the current lockdown extends into the summer months, customers would want their refunds. This could severely impact the liquidity situation if it so happens. Many UK travel companies are issuing Refund Credit Notes (RCN) that is backed by the UK package holiday regulator, ABTA, to avert the liquidity crunch. In the case of travel company failure, consumers can buy another holiday using the RCN. ABTA’s backing ends on 31 July 2020 after which customer can demand cash repayment if they have not used the RCN to book another holiday. On the hotel side, DTG typically buys up some capacity to guarantee supply quality. DTG would have to balance the long term commercial relationship and the short term need for cash. Given the level of unprecedented fiscal and monetary policies that are announced, the government’s willingness to intervene is strong. While I would not count on that necessarily, it is a factor in considering the chance of survival.

Length of lockdown Chance of survival
3 months 99%
6 months 80%
9 months 75%
12 months 70%

The main point here is that on balance DTG’s chance of survival is very high even in extreme scenarios.

2. The loss incurred during this crisis

The first step to estimating the possible range of loss sustained in this crisis is to estimate the revenue decline. I used Jet2’s monthly traffic in 2018 and 2019 to approximate the amount of volume decline and layer on price declines.The table below shows the weight of each month traffic as % of the full-year traffic. So if we assume a three-month lockdown, there would be zero revenue in Apr / May / Jun which meant a loss of ~30% of full-year traffic. The actual traffic loss is going to be greater than 30% because the process of demand recovery is going to take time. For simplicity sake, I will use 5% to account for the volume loss during the demand recovery process.

Length of lockdown Volume Decline Price Decline Revenue Decline
3 months 35% 20% 50%
6 months 75% 20% 90%
9 months 90% 20% 95%
12 months 100% n/a 100%

The assumption of the price decline of 20% might be too generous but it does not really matter. Because the point of this analysis here is to show that the revenue decline is close to 100% as long as the summer months are lost.

2018 2019
Jan 3% 3%
Feb 3% 3%
Mar 4% 5%
Apr 6% 6%
May 10% 10%
June 13% 12%
July 14% 13%
August 15% 14%
September 13% 13%
October 10% 11%
November 5% 5%
December 4% 5%

Assuming 3-6 month of lockdown and a fixed annual cost base of GBP 800m, the loss incurred is likely in the range of GBP 400-800m.

3. Competitive landscape

On the supply side, the materially higher debt level will limit growth capex in the next 2-3 years. This would provide a favourable backdrop to medium term (2-3 years) ticket price recovery. However, it also provides an opportunity for new entrants with a clean balance sheet to compete against the incumbents as they don’t have to carry the cost of debt. On the other side, many smaller competitors will probably go out of business and free up more demand.It is not clear what this means for Easyjet’s venture into the package holiday. Maybe they are less committed to a large marketing budget to support the new business. Or maybe it doesn’t cost that much to push the packaged holiday business.For Tui, I think DTG is likely to come out of this in a stronger position relative to Tui as DTG’s balance sheet is stronger and a lot less asset-heavy versus Tui. Tui’s offline distribution network is going to be massive cost drag while DTG relies on more nimble independent travel agents.Generally, I do expect DTG to come out stronger relative to its core competitors.

4. Normalised earning power

Assuming that by 2024, the traffic volume is back to 11m per pax vs 14m in 2019. And assuming a pre-coronavirus ticket yield of GBP 82 and average holiday price of GBP 680, DTG’s leisure revenue looks like GBP 2.4bn. Putting an 8% EBITDA margin on the top, DTG would be making GBP 200+m. The normalised earning power is probably ~ GBP 150m. With a 10x multiple, DTG is worth ~ GBP 1bn. There would probably be another GBP 100-200m of net debt. That leaves the equity value around GBP 800m.So given the risk-reward and the opportunity cost, I would consider buying DTG shares around GBP 300-400m market capitalisation which gives me an IRR of 25%.

Live Portfolio – Update #4

What a roller coaster journey I have had with Aimia for the past 2 years. I initially bought Aimia share around CAD 1.3 in Sep 2017. There was a lot of debate around what Aeroplan would look like once it breaks away from Air Canada. My purchase was driven mainly by the insight that the redemption liabilities originated from issuing loyalty points do not carry nearly as much economic value as its nominal value would suggest. As the issuer of your own currency, there are multiple ways to deflate the liabilities denominated in your own currency to effectively zero. Anyhow that debate got resolved when Air Canada bought back Aeroplan for a sweet CAD 450m which more than double Aimia’s market capitalisation at the time.

I sold the majority of Aimia position but kept a sizable 5% position because I believe the activists’ chance of monetising the remaining holdings (such as PLM and Cardlytics) are quite high and the discount to NAV is substantial (30-50%).

Fast forward to the current situation, the activists have taken over the board at Aimia and completed monetization of smaller stakes such as Cardlytics. However, the real value is PLM which is Aero Mexico’s loyalty program. Aimia owns 49% of PLM.

The biggest variable in Aimia’s NAV calculation is the valuation of PLM stake. This valuation is a balance of three factors:

  • The balance of negotiation power
  • How much can Aeromexico realistically afford to pay given its highly leveraged b/s
  • The intrinsic value of PLM

I ranked them in order of decreasing importance. The relative negotiation power of Aimia vs Aero Mexico is the most important driver of the actual value realisation and not the intrinsic value of PLM. It is not clear that Aimia is in a position to push for high valuation because Aeromexico can always opt for the status quo indefinitely. Yes, Aeromexico would have to share the dividend value with Aimia but it would also be very hesitant to add to its already high debt load. Of course, Aeromexico can issue equity to Aimia but this is further compounded by the current coronavirus situation.

My original expectation was that there could be a reasonable chance that Aimia can sell PLM stake at 10x EV/EBITDA multiple. I must admit that this is looking increasingly remote. I still believe that Aimia easily have 20-50% upside from its current share price. However, there is a real opportunity cost to holding Aimia shares as other companies are becoming more attractively priced.

So I have decided to sell Aimia position down to zero at the prevailing market price (CAD 2.2)

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2020 Pembridgecap

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑