Weekly links

Great book review of “Investing in Japan” from Nate at Oddball

Interesting paper why a “long low beta, short high beta” portfolio outperforms

Interesting Q&A session with David Einhorn

Groupon: Less than 6 months after the IPO, Groupon has to restate earnings and the auditor has identified “material weaknesses”. Short candidate.

Sino forrest is finally bankrupt but sues Muddy Waters for 4 bn USD….

Edit: Although it is not a listed stock, this article about Goretex contains a lot about how to create and defend “moats”…

Track record (attention: shameless self advertisement)

When I looked through Tim du Toit’s Eurosharelab, I saw that Tim actually also shows his non-public track record since 2004.

For myself, I keep score of my track record since 2001 but I hesitate to publish this as it is not really possible to verify.

Then however I realised that I took part in the “Aktienbord Musterdepot” since 2007 with a kind of “best ideas” portfolio. In parallel, I discussed my strategy at my “home Board” Antizyklisch Investieren (only in German and you have to register).

Although the “Aktienboard” platform is not perfect (for example Dividends are not included), the performance relatively closely tracked my “real” performance. It is also an interesting way to look at how my old portfolios looked like and in what kind of stocks i was invested at that time.


2007 Performance was 34.4% plus 2,94% in Dividends.

That compares pretty well against 22.9% for the Dax 22.3 for the MDAX and +6.9% for the DJ Stoxx.

If I look at the 2007 ending portfolio, the only stock I still hold is WMF Vz. At that point in time, I held mostly German special situation stocks as I was not able to find cheap stocks anymore.


2008 Aktienboard performance ended with a loss -13.54 % before dividends of 2.70%, again quite good against -40.4 DAX, -46% MDAX and -45% DJ stoxx.

This was mostly due to avoiding any financial exposure and concentrating on low beta special situations like Biotest and other small caps which is basically still my main strategy.


“>2009 Aktienboard performance was +45.86% plus an additional 3.56% in Dividends and the absolut best year “on the record”. Again quite good compared to Dax (23.9%), MDAX (26.7) and DJ Stoxx (21%).

On the one hand, I rode the recovery story in cheap large caps, but additionally I kind of “discovered” distressed and subordinated debt which offered amazing risk/return opportunities. Subordinated bonds were also the way to inevst in financials without getting diluted through all the capital increases.


In the last “pre blog” year, the Aktienboard portfolio performed with 33.5% + 3.47% dividends (remark: I think the overview number is better than the detail page performance).

This was the only year where the “best ideas” performed better than my real portfolio by a margin of about 10%.

Benchmarks in 2010 were DAX 16.1%, MDAX 34.9% and DDow Jones Stoxx -5.35%. The 2010 portfolio contains already a significant part of the current portfolio, with AIRE, Buzzi, Hornbach, AS Craetion and EVN, 5 stocks are still relatively heavily weighted today.

Before getting to enthusiastic about this track record, one has to say that this investment style would not fully scale into a 10 mn portfolio I am trying to run virtually at the moment. Some trades, like in illiquid Depfa subordinates etc. were only possibel with double digit k EUR amounts or sometimes less.

In the last 5-6 years, I was also able to profit from the “secular” German recovery story which turbo charged German small caps plus the “once in a lifetime” opportunites in the subordinated bond area.

Going forward, it will be very difficult in my opinion to find such secular stories again. My biggest hope is that an eventual PIIGS revovery and maybe some French small caps offer comparable risk/return opportunities.

Quick news: EMAK Spa, AS Creation, Autostrada & SIAS & Impregilo

EMAK has published a new Investor presentation. Proforma 2011 P/E is around 7, P/B around 0.64. Still very cheap.

AS Creation:

The Russian JV partner has bought another 5% in AS Creation and holds now 10%. Despite the lackluster results of AS Creation in 2011, this is a very encouraging sign.

For me, this purchase should be counted as “insider transaction” as the Russian JV partner will be in the best position to judge the success potential of the Russian JV which is expected to start this year.

I am actually contemplating to fill up AS Creation to a full position (currently 3.7%) if the stock price weakens over the next few weeks.


Autostrada continues to implode. Interstingly the regulated subsidiary SIAS is doing relatively better:

In contrast, Impregilo continues to increase:

Impegrilo reported preliminary results this week with a 50% increase in earnings due to the sale of some South americen Assets. So there seems to be some real value in this company.

I am actually tmepted to get back into Autostrada at some point in time. They roughly lost 170 mn market value since the IGLI Deal, although the disdavantage dissapears with each increase in the Impegrilo share. I think when the capital increase is going to be announced, then it could be a good opportunity to get back in.

Magic Sixes Portuguese companies : Conduril (ISIN PTCDU0AE0003) – Too good to be true ???

Although my last “Magic Sixes” (P/B < 0,6, P/E 6%) Investment, Autostrada was not a runaway success, I still use the screener from time to time to see what companies are “really” cheap.

It might not be a big surprise that some Portuguese companies are among those “cheapies” now. As of today, the following Portuguese Companies are “magic Sixes”:

P/B P/E Div Yield
Ramada Invest 0.380 2.68 10.45%
Orey Antunes 0.440 5.11 15.48%
Grupo Soares 0.400 3.30 7.48%

Ramada is a steel company, Orey a shipping company and Soares a construction company.

As discussed before I also run a “Magic Sixes light” screener with slightly relaxed rules (P/B < 0.7, P/E 5%).

Here we get an additional 5 companies:

P/B P/E Div Yield
Corticeria Amorim 0.67 6.78 7.09%
Sonae 0.66 0.66 7.39%
Sonaecom 0.67 0.43 5.71%
Conduril 0.66 1.50 6.82%
Espirito Santo 0.47 3.44 5.28%

One has to keep in mind that only around 65 Portuguese companies are actually listed, so 8 “dirt cheap” out of a total 65 is quite significant.

A relatively well known problem of most Portuguese companies is their relatively high debt load. With Portuguese banks in trouble (not to speak of the Government), it is intersting to look at debt levels. I usually look at nebt debt / market cap in combination with EV/EBITDA:

Net debt per share Share price Net debt/Marcet cap EV/EBITDA
Ramada Invest 3.03 0.67 452% 6.52
Orey Antunes 0.55 1.15 48% n.a.
Grupo Soares 4.87 0.29 1679%  
Corticeria Amorim 1.01 1.41 72% 4.35
Sonae 0.62 0.45 138% 4.33
Sonaecom 0.76 1.23 62% 3.38
Conduril -33.8 22 -154% 0.55
Espirito Santo 313 5.3 5906% n.a.

Ratios above 100% are very critical in my opinion, because then a capital increase to “save” the company needs to be above current market cap which is highly unlikely.

Based on this list, Conduril looks like a ” bad data” input.

A P/E of 1.5, EV/EBITDA of 0.55 and Net cash above current market cap must surely be a mistake or ?

However a quick look into Conduril’s 2010 annual report shows an amazingly profitable company.

In 2009 and 2010, the company earned net margins 13-14% and ROEs of 30-40%. .

So how comes ? The answer seems to be relatively easy: Conduril is very active in the “hot” African markets Angola, Mozambique and Botswana. I only have 2009 figurtes, but of the 250 mn EUR sales in 2009, 167 mn were in Angola and only 45 mn or less than 20% in Portugal.

Of course doing business in those countries will be quite risky, but nevertheless it is a very intersting case.

Trading seems to be relatively strange. As far as I can see, 1000 shares are traded most of the days at 22 EUR per share, the chart doesn’t really look like a stock chart:

However it is definitely a stock I want to research deeper.

It might also make sense to look at the other less indebted comapanies at some point in time. If one wants to bet on a Portuguese Non-default, those stocks might be more interesting than Portuguese Govies.

Praktiker update – Loss 2011 and result of first vote of “voluntary bond haircut”

Praktiker, the troubled DIY chain has issued a preliminary earnings release yesterday evening.

They managed to book a total loss of 554.7 mn EUR, which translates into -9.56 EUR per share. So most of the 2010 book value of around 14 EUR has now dissapeared within a year.

Very strange (at least for me) was the following passsage:

- So führte die erstmalige Anwendung einer neuen Bewertungssystematik für Warenvorräte zu einer Wertberichtigung des Vorratsvermögens (69,8 Millionen Euro).

So inventory was written down by 70 mn EUR due to a new “method”. This is almost -10% of the 800 mn inventory they showed in Q3 2011. I would be really curious what kind of “method” they used before.

Voluntary Bond haircut

For some reason, I only found the results of the first bondholder praktiker 27.03.2012“>vote through the Luxemburg exchange and not through Praktikers homepage.

So within the process described in a previous post, less than the required 50% have voted in the first round.

However, in the second round only 25% of the bondholders have to vote. So let’s wait and see if those 25% are already “in the bag” and if in the second round more bondholders participate.

It would be really interesting to know, who voted in the first round but as a non-participant I don’t have access too this file on Praktiker’s homepage.

Banca Civica – Take over Spanish style

A couple of months ago I looked at Spanish “Thrift conversions”, especially Banca Civica which was a potential take over candidate.

Now, the take over was finally announced by Barcelona based Caixabank, however with a significant discount to the prevailling market price:

The share valuation for Civica in the transaction is 27 percent lower than the 2.70 euro-per-share price of its initial public offering in July, in which it raised 600 million euros. CaixaBank has a market value of 12.1 billion euros

The offered 1.97 EUR is a 11% discount to the previous day closing price and equally an all time low for the Banca Civica stock since its IPO.

So this is something to keep in one’s mind: You can basically do takeovers/tender offers in Spain well below current market prices.

Weekly links

Great post why market timing based on “expert advice” is a sucker’s game

Must read: Damodaran’s 2012 update on equity risk premiums

Interesting analysis of Warren Buffet’s stock picks after they are made public

Must see: Great (and very funny) speach of Jim Simmons, founder of one of the most succesful hedge funds ever, RenTec.

The strange story of the flash crash of BATS, a stock exchange operator, on its own stock exchange a few minutes after its IPO. Very very strange.

Draeger – Results of repurchase offer for Genußscheine & Warrant


Draeger released yesterday that they bought back 41.1% of the outstanding Genußschein. In one of my previous posts, I said the following:

I am still struggling how to interpret potential acceptance outcomes for the offer. If we have a very low acceptance for instance, we have two potential factors which could influence future Genußschein prices:

1. With a low acceptance ratio, everyone knows that Draeger needs to do more to buy the Genußschein back (positve)

2. In theory, they could try to make life difficult for the Genußscheine either by continuing low dividends for a longer time (negative) or try some other tricks like possible dilution etc. (negative)

With a high acceptance rate we have the following potential issues:

3. The Genußscheine will become illiquid, larger investors will no longer be interested (negative)

4. Draeger will not need to increase the offer (negative)

5. However, Draeger could afford to raise the dividend quite fast back to or above last years levels as it doesn’t hurt shareholders anymore (positive).

Now we are somewhere in between. The percentage is high enough so that Draeger does not need to do really nasty stuff, although the percentage is too low to see higher dividends on very short notice. Draeger will also be motivated to buy anything which comes on the market under 210 EUR, so going forward there is a nice “put” under the current market price.

For the patient investor, I think the Genußscheine will be still an intersting medium term investment. For the portfolio I will hold them unless I find something better, there is no need to sell.

Interestingly, in their latest Earnings release , Draeger actually showed “diluted” earnings for the first time. They call it “Earnings per share in the case of full distribution”…


Early this week, a (at a first glance) very strange deal took place, where I had to look twice to really understand it. What happened is best explained in this IFR article:

Siemens had already seen the value in the convert market last month and looked to take advantage once again by attaching the warrants into pref shares, which were turned into a tradable warrant by Deutsche Bank, to a bond. Rather than take the normal approach of a Deutsche Bank SPV bond, some Bunds of a near tenor (2.5% February 2015s) were sourced and bundled – to create a German state exchangeable into Draegerwerk, without either party being involved.

The bonds of €79.6m principal trade at 106% of par and the March 2015 bonds were issued with a 2.5% coupon and packaged with the warrants for a total 134.631% of par to raise €107.17m. A placing in the illiquid prefs helped with the delta hedge for hedge funds that dominated the book of about 40 lines. As the warrants have an exercise price of €63.68, versus the €78.40 placing price, this was a true technical trade, but a few outrights were interested and were filled in full.

So basically Siemens did cash out the Warrants from Draeger which they got when they sold their JV stake to Draeger. They used this structure so that hedge funds could invest in this instrument and extract the option premium.

Updates: As Creation, Hornbach & Frosta

A very busy day:

AS Creation

As Creation reported a significantly lower profit for 2011 plus a dividend reduction. The stock price remeined relatively flat, which in my opnion is driven by the “Russian option”. For the normal business it is clear that risiong costs are an issue and pricing power is limited.


Frosta, which is sold a couple of weeks ago, reported also relatively weak numbers. Very similar to AS Creation, costs rose faster than prices.


Core Value stock Hornbach however showed very strong preliminary numbers today. Increasing same store sales, increasing market share and increasing profits. It is still a joke, why such a business tardes at book value and a single digit P/E.

Record Profit Margins – follow up German companies

Following up on Tim’s comment, I had a quick look at German HDAX companies. Unfortunately, only a subset of 2011 figures are currrently available.

What I did was the following: For those companeis where 2011 net margins were available, I calculated the 10 year average net margin. I then subtracted this from the 2011 margins to see if 2011 was better or worse than the average.

name avg 10 Y margin 2011 NI margin Current vs. average
FUCHS PETROLUB AG -PFD 6.0% -0.3% -6.3%
PUMA SE 10.6% 7.6% -3.0%
BEIERSDORF AG 7.3% 4.4% -2.9%
SALZGITTER AG 4.7% 2.4% -2.3%
KRONES AG 3.2% 1.8% -1.5%
RWE AG 5.1% 3.6% -1.4%
QIAGEN N.V. 15.4% 14.2% -1.2%
HOCHTIEF AG 0.5% -0.7% -1.2%
ADIDAS AG 4.8% 5.0% 0.2%
HENKEL AG & CO KGAA VORZUG 7.6% 8.0% 0.4%
AURUBIS AG 2.1% 2.6% 0.5%
BECHTLE AG 2.6% 3.1% 0.5%
BILFINGER BERGER SE 1.9% 2.7% 0.8%
DEUTSCHE TELEKOM AG-REG -1.9% -1.0% 0.8%
COMMERZBANK AG -0.5% 0.7% 1.1%
GILDEMEISTER AG 1.3% 2.7% 1.4%
CONTINENTAL AG 2.3% 4.1% 1.8%
CARL ZEISS MEDITEC AG – BR 6.7% 8.9% 2.1%
BAYER AG-REG 4.5% 6.8% 2.3%
SGL CARBON SE 2.5% 4.8% 2.3%
LEONI AG 1.8% 4.2% 2.4%
SOFTWARE AG 13.6% 16.2% 2.6%
FRAPORT AG 7.5% 10.1% 2.7%
BASF SE 5.5% 8.4% 2.9%
DUERR AG -0.5% 3.2% 3.7%
SIEMENS AG-REG 4.5% 8.6% 4.1%
PSI AG -0.2% 4.3% 4.5%
DEUTZ AG -0.1% 4.5% 4.6%
HUGO BOSS-PFD 8.9% 13.8% 4.9%
K+S AG-REG 6.9% 12.8% 5.9%
VOLKSWAGEN AG-PFD 3.2% 9.7% 6.4%
SAP AG 16.7% 24.1% 7.5%
DRILLISCH AG 2.0% 12.0% 10.0%
AIXTRON SE 3.1% 13.2% 10.1%
MORPHOSYS AG -7.6% 7.9% 15.5%

So from the 42 companies with relevant data, only 11 are below average, whereas 31 are above the 10 year average net income margin in 2011.

On average, 2011 profit Margins were 6.4% of sales for those companies against 3.9% for the last 10 years. If we would assume constant P/Es, than a return to “normal” would mean a drop in earnings on average by -39% or implcitly an over-valuation of those companies of 39% (keeping everything else constant).

I will try to update as sson as more results are published, but if one believes in reversion to the mean, some of those comapneis should be avoided.