7 Years of Value & Opportunity – THANK YOU !!


Exactly 7 years ago now, the first (German) blog post appeared on this site.

As I have done in the past years, this is a good time to reflect about happened over the year. Again a huge THANK YOU to all readers and especially those who actively contributed by commenting (critically) or sending Emails. And those who are suffering my sloppy spelling and grammar….

I am still surprised that I manage to keep this level of activity in the 7th year, but knowing that a lot of really smart people read my post is a fantastic motivation to keep going and try to become better.

Thank you again !!

The 10 most popular posts written in 2017

  1. The Naga Group / Nagacoin ICO: “Double Pumping” the Cryptocraze
  2. Actelion (CH0010532478) – Merger Arbitrage with a potential Spin-off “Gold Nugget” ?
  3. HP Enterprise (HPE) – Spinning-off its way to Happiness ?
  4. Spin-off/IPO updates: Metro/Ceconomy, Brighthouse Financial, ALD SA
  5. Special Situation: STADA Arzneimittel AG – Swimming with Sharks (again)
  6. Spin-offs: Uniper – Goal for Einhorn – Metro AG/Ceconomy – Complicated but maybe interesting ?
  7. Spin-Off Watch: SCA / ESSITY
  8. Oatree Capital Group (OAK) – Strong as an Oak ?
  9. Sapec SA – follow up
  10. Special Situation: Liquidation of KANAM Grundinvest Fund (ISIN DE0006791809)

Blogging observations 2017

I find it very interesting that my rather “thin” post on Naga Group & the Naga Coin generated the highest traffic of all posts by a wide margin. Cryptocurrencies were and are clearly “the thing” in 2017. It’s also interesting that “special situations” posts are more popular than most regular company analysis. I guess this has to do with the fact that there is in general less research available for special situations.

Personally, I enjoyed my “Travel Series” quite a lot but none of the posts made it into the top 10.

For me, looking into a series of different stocks of a sector is really very interesting. Although neither the “Watch Series” in 2015 nor the 2016 Travel Series yielded an actual investment, I found the experience very rewarding as one can build up much more knowledge about such a sector compared to just looking at one company and doing some background checking. I have not made up my mind yet, but I guess I might look at another industry next year.

Mistakes made in 2017:

In general, 2017 for me was a year of missed opportunities especially with regard to Italian stocks. One of my 10 crazy predictions for 2017 had been that Italy turns around (and yes, most of my predictions were nonsense but that was intended).

I had been looking at Italian stocks before and even updated 3 of the case in June 2016 but I did not have the guts to pull the trigger on them last year. Most of those stocks were up 100% or more in 2017 so I guess I could have added 5-10% to overall performance by investing in 2-3 Italian stocks.

Another mistake was not to bvuy GoCompare after the “Ogden Rate” issue hit UK insurers. I should have known that this is good news for Insurance price comparison.

Lessons learned in 2017

In spin-off investing, clearly “the uglier the better” seems to be the best strategy. I still could kick myself for not investing in Uniper. Also in the Metro/Ceconomy situation, Ceconomy would have been the better choice. Also, currency is important for special situations. Although I got the Actelion case right, I didn’t make a lot of money as in the investment period, the dollar depreciated significantly.

Company analysis:

Overall I managed to look at 31 companies/stocks which is slightly more than I planned for. Not all analysis were “super deep”, but still I think it is worth writing down the one that I cancel at a certain stage.

Those were the single investment covered in year 7 of the blog:

  1. Sapec SA
  2. Oaktree Capital
  3. GoCompare
  4. Metro/Ceconomy
  5. Actelion
  6. Unicredit Rights Issue
  7. Hastings Plc
  8. Lastminute.com
  9. Expedia
  10. Trivago
  11. Sanofi/Genzyme CVR
  12. Stada AG
  13. Topdanmark
  14. FlightCentre
  15. Kanam Grundinvest
  16. Amaysim
  17. Tripadvisor
  18. SCA/Essity
  19. HP Enterprise
  20. Whole Foods
  21. ALD SA
  22. GDS (Sabre, Amadeus; Travleport)
  23. Record Plc
  24. Universal Insurance
  25. Northgate Plc
  26. Trisura
  27. Home Capital Group
  28. Cars.com
  29. General Electric
  30. Synchrony Financial
  31. Kinnevik

Book reviews:

I posted reviews of 12 books. My book of the year was clearly Ed Thorpe’s “A man for all Markets”. Ed Thorpe is clearly one of the most underrated investment (and general) geniuses of all time.

  1. The Undoing Project
  2. Trump – The Art of the Deal
  3. A Man for all Markets – Ed Thorpe
  4. Genentech
  5. A Blueprint to better Banking
  6. Family, Village, Tribe
  7. Great by Choice
  8. So you want to start a Hedge Fund
  9. Attack of the 50 foot Blockchain
  10. The Hard Thing about Hard Thins
  11. 100 Baggers
  12. Angel: How to invest in Technology Startups


Other posts:

I did a couple of posts on general investment topics, but they clearly seem to be less relevant for my readers. Although for myself they are important in order to sort my thoughts.

The top 3 general posts were:

  1. Bitcoin for (Value Investing) Dummies like myself
  2. On Buffett’s 100 bn “War chest”
  3. The South Sea Bubble, the History of Corporations and the Cryptocraze


Blogging goals for 2018:

Last year I wanted to work more on a book but for several reasons I did not progress very far. Due to some changes in my professional life, I will most likely not have more time next year.

So my biggest goal for 2018 is trying to keep up the activity at a current level and look to a new interesting sector (recommendations welcome !!!).





  • Equity Investor

    Hey MMI,
    even it becomes nearly boring as everybody writes kind of the same, but: this blog is really excellent!
    Thanks for your wonderful work! Each writing is an inspiration for me, EVEN if I don’t agree to all points. When I visited the website several years ago, I was not even sure if its fraud because there was no advertisement (or amazon-links for the book-recommendations) at all and I couldn’t at the beginning believe, that somebody provides that skilled analysis without even a small (monetary) return 😀
    A sector which is kind of unbelieved (for partly good reasons) from investors but maybe also too boring and obvious to dig in is the construction sector for me. I always call it the “second oldest business in the world”, but of course there were also overcapacities at least in West-Europe in the last years leading to super-low profit-margins (1-2%) and necessary restructurings. But that’s probably priced in. (even I would not recommend taking one factor too serious, its quite interesting to see that most revenue multiples are still partly significantly below 1). What catched my attention for (large scale)construction:
    In a (basic) view it is comparable with credit business, where banks should manage the differences between short term and long term interests. Large scale construction works kind of similar: The constructor takes a large project like a new airport or a hospital on his books with a construction time of (for example) 5 years. But most of the big constructors have no own bluemen any more, as large scale projects change in place and it would be too expensive to fly thousands of “normal workers” (excuse, this is not ment to sound arrogant) through the country every week. So the modern constructors provide management and coordination and split the big project in thousand of smaller lots for the local construction market. But no small craftsmen business will give you a price offer for a trade executed in 4 years… So at the end, while signing the contract for the new airport the contractor can only estimate the prices for the trades in 4 years and is able maybe to fix the trades for the first year, but not more. (and even that is not done regularly) So in an economical upturn, this will turn against the constructor (as in 2012-2014 there were several restructuring, I am pretty sure that they came from contracts awarded in 2008/09 with price levels and insufficient indexation due competition).
    But of course: looking into the cycle, an economical downturn will play (at the beginning) into the constructors hand. Don’t get me wrong here: I would never recommend to play a cycle with an investment in a construction company. But seeing currently all this stock offers for Bitcoin-campanies, ICO, Cannabis-ETFs and other fancy stuff it could be worth looking at the ugly ducks…

  • Hi MMI, maybe this is an industry that’s interesting to research: funeral services. (csv, sci, dty for example)

  • Hi mmi, I have been reading your blog for more than two years now and felt it was time to say Thank You!

  • Merry Christmas to you and happy holidays!

    Nice to read you blog over the past years! I would be interested to read about the coffee and tea sectors and alcoholoc beverage producers and their value chains chains. The slightly addictive caffeine (Miko) / theine and alcohol (Bols, Berentzen etc) and intransparant trading markets (Acomo) provide room to earn good returns I guess.

    I realize that some companies are investments and that perhaps you already looked at others. Just making a suggestion. Again, happy holidays and happy hunting for investments!

    • Thanks for the comments. the beverage sector looks very richly valued, so I think that is not a priority for me. Coffee/Tea is unfortunately too small with regard to listed companies.

    • IMHO MMI already has a strong exposure toward drinks and alcoholics.
      With TFF (10,1%, barrels for whisky and whine), Majestic Wine (4,8%, wine retailer), Miko (4,6%, B2B coffee maker) and Silver Chief (3,4%, credits for restaurants), his asset allocation for these branches is at 22,9%.

  • update of suggestions so far:

    – On shore Chinese stocks (sorry, that’s not an industry)
    – Shipping (I don’t like, so it is no fun for me)
    – Greek stocks excluding financial (sorry, this is a country a´gain, not an industry)
    – Tech conglomerates (again, not treally an industry)
    – Advertising companies (could be interesting but big issues with Google, Facebook etc.)
    – European Logistics parks operators (maybe logistics as such is more interesting ?)
    – French bank mutuals (there’s various listed Credit Agricoles at insanely low PEs for example) –> most of the securities listed are no real stocks
    – US Energy MLPs (nope,I don’t like)
    – Emerging markets agricultural companies (capital intensive, cyclical)
    – Alcoholic beverage companies like Anheuser/Busch InBev, Heineken, Diageo, Brown Forman etc. (hmm, need to think about it)
    – Asian/Chinese online business giants like Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, Momo, NetEase, YY, JD.com etc. (mope, no china)
    – Investment firms. Especially in Europe there are some (in my oppinion) underfollowed and interesting funds, like: Ackermans & Van Haaren, HAL Trust, Bollore, Investor AB etc. (again, not an industry but I already looked at some of them)
    – Oil stocks and more specificly: oil services. (yes, I looked at some of them. Might look at more)
    – Retail reits, are their prospects really that bad? (hmm, real estate ?)
    – EV / Cars (I guess very difficult to figure out)

    From that list I found the following most interesting:

    – Logistics as such (not restricted on logistic parks)
    – advertising (but very difficult…)
    – alcoholic drinks (including wine etc.)
    – car sector (again, difficult to figure out)

    What I find interesting on top of this:

    – restaurants
    – retail (ugh….very hard)

    So still some days left to decide….

  • Wow, 7 years of blogging already!? That’s no small feat, my compliments! I really do enjoy ready your blog 🙂

    Suggestions for research:

    – Investment firms. Especially in Europe there are some (in my oppinion) underfollowed and interesting funds, like: Ackermans & Van Haaren, HAL Trust, Bollore, Investor AB etc. Great historical performance, but what about the future?

    – Oil stocks and more specificly: oil services. They seem to have been left in the dust by the big oil majors… which seems odd.

    – Retail reits, are their prospects really that bad? Warren Buffett seems to think some have a bright future (Store cap. corp). Names that come to mind: STORE Capital Corporation, Unibail-Rodamco SE. Maybe there are more niche retail REITS?

  • globalstockpicking

    Thanks for a great blog mmi, my favorite investment blog!

    As you know I’m still big on the EV-theme. It’s a big task to map out all the parts in the value chain, but its surely going to impact the world quite a lot over the coming 10 years.

  • Hi MMI,

    congratulations. 7 years is a long time in the blogging hemisphere. I hope we can read about your high quality thoughts for at least another 7 years.

    Suggestions for sector research:
    1. Advertising companies like Omnicom (Geoff Gannon might be interested in that one), WPP Plc, Publicis Groupe, Stroer etc.
    2. Asian/Chinese online business giants like Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, Momo, NetEase, YY, JD.com etc. (I know you dislike chinese companies, but they’re still interesting)
    3. Alcoholic beverage companies like Anheuser/Busch InBev, Heineken, Diageo, Brown Forman etc.

  • Value Investigator

    Congratulations for 7 successful years with this terrific blog! I like so much about it, I even miss the weekend reading list when you don´t post one ;-).

    Building up on your recent interest on Kinnevik, I do have a promising “industry” for you: Tech Conglomerates Trading at NAV-Discounts with great(?) capital allocators.

    1) Softbank
    I already suggested it to you on this blog. By the time you put it on the “too hard pile”. Based on your Kinnevik interest, I hope you changed your mind.
    Softbank currently trades at a discount to NAV of about 50%. The historical track record is an IRR of 44% (including leverage), even without Alibaba.
    Their japanese Telco makes about 5 billion USD in free cash flow per year and that cash is reinvested (with a lot of leverage) into promising later stage unicorns. Sprint may become the next cash cow, given their spectrum holdings and the upcoming 5G network.
    Softbank tends to invest in later stage bet where the chance of success is higher than 50%. Basically, they try to buy the market leaders of new industries and in tech there are a lot of “natural monopolies”.
    With their new 100 billion USD vision fund, which is structured very much to their advantage, the may earn another few billions per year in asset management fees. Vision fund 2, 3, and 4 are already in the plannings.
    Their tech-startup investments may also be seen as an “ETF” of tech private equity. A historically rather promising investment area.
    Some investors call Masa currently the dumb money of tech. I don´t think that is true. Son has built a massive team in the last years with top notch brains and they are doing their due dilligence.
    Masa is convinced that we enter a new technological era because of the combination of computer vision (machines are getting eyes), computing power (NVIDIA, ARM), clould computing & robotics. So he is trying to get as much money as possible to invest now, and in all of the next years.
    Last year they bought ARM holdings for about 30 billion USD. Because of their low-power-consuming smart chips (they power 96% of all smartphones of the world), they will be at the center of the internet-of-things. This company is highly likely to continue grow at ca. 20% per year for a very long time in my opinion.
    Above all, I like the propagated idea that all “Softbank-companies” are loosely connected with each other. They are “good friends”. Companies have friendly relationships and support each other where possible (e.g. use each others technologies). Through ARM, Softbank also has very early insight into new upcoming ideas, which is a key advantage for their new tech investments.
    Even if the discount would never close, the underlying business model may spur growth as well as it worked for Softbank in the past.

    2) Naspers
    Trades for less then their Tencent stake, so one may get the other (tech) holdings for free. Though to me they seem more like a one-trick-pony than Softbank.

    3) Rocket Internet
    Did not follow them for a while, but they should still be much cheaper than their last portfolio value.

    What 2) and 3) miss compared to Softbank is a cash cow that keeps the dice rolling.

    4) Maybe Tencent itself. They meanwhile have so many holdings, so in addition to its core business, it more and more develops into a tech-holding company.

  • In your first post I read you are two in writing this blog. Funny…. I never realised that ! 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing your thoughts in this great blog. I recommend your posts every week in my website. Keep the great work!

    Best wishes from A Coruña (Galicia, Spain). 🙂

  • Thanks for all the comments.

    The suggestions so far for next year’s industry analysis so far are:

    – On shore Chinese stocks (sorry, that’s not an industry)
    – Shipping (I don’t like, so it is no fun for me)
    – Greek stocks excluding financial (sorry, this is a country a´gain, not an industry)

    • Bei Recherchevorschlägen docke ich mal bei Woodpecker an: Exportorientierte Firmen aus mäßßig stabilen Schwachwährungsländern / Entwicklungsländern.
      Beispielsweise Rohstoff- oder Agrarunternehmen, von Korn- und Eierproduzenten bis zu afrikanischen Blumenexporteuren.
      Idee: Wenn das eigene Land in Turbulenzen gerät und die Währung abwertet, sinken die Ausgaben (Gehälter), während die Einnahmen durch Exporte in Hartwährungsländern stabil bleiben, könnten Unsicherheitsrisiken und -kosten durch steigende Gewinnmargen ausgeglichen.werden.
      Ich habe den Eindruck, dass sich in dem Sektor noch günstige und zugleich perspektivreiche Firmen finden lassen (Z.B. MHP / Ukraine)

      • Rohstoff und Agrarunternehmen sind auch Beisoiel von kapitalintensiven Branchen. Ausserdem habe ich festgestellt (und auch im Blog dokumentiert) dass ich für “harte Contrarian EM Aktien” nicht die Nerven habe…..

        • Ja, oft. Aber ich weiss nicht, ob diese Unternehmen notwendigerweise kapitalintensiv sind. TGS Nopec hat ja auch mit geringem, smarten Kapitaleinsatz eine traditionell kapitalintensiv Branche aufgemischt.
          MHP hat seine Ackerflächen großenteils gepachtet, meine ich. Ändert das schon etwas, positiv oder negativ? Was wären weitere Beispiele für geringen, smarten Kapitaleinsatz a la TGS?
          (Lauter Fragen, die mich interessieren, die ich aber nicht ausreichend gut beantworten kann)

    • Well, I still think you should do onshore China…but I agree it’s not an industry :-). If you like an industry in China, I think they’re going big on natural gas for obvious reasons, and it’s a no brainer growth stock for me. Things like China Natural Gas (1193 – disclosure, am long), Beijing Enterpises, Sinopec etc.

      I have a curious mind, so here’s a few things that I’ve found interesting the last 6 months, maybe you like one and then I can see how mad I was when I was doing my thinking:

      – French bank mutuals (there’s various listed Credit Agricoles at insanely low PEs for example)
      – US Energy MLPs (I have a hunch oil price will come back with a vengeance as nobody is drilling in the sea anymore, and there isn’t enough shale to replace offshore oil). And if you need an industry – pipeline mid-stream partnerships seems like an interesting space to me.
      – European Logistics parks operators (again, they are cheap cheap cheap e.g. Argan in France, Corem in Sweden)

  • Herzlichen Dank für ein weiteres Jahr mit vielen spannenden und gut durchdachten Gedanken und einigen sehr bereichernden Analysen. Auch das “verflixte 7. Jahr” hat diese Blog bravourös gemeistert!
    Ich wünsche dir ein gesegnetes Weihnachtsfest und freue mich auch im neuen Jahr auf spannende Diskussionen, hier und bei den Antizyklikern!

  • Well, I’ll add my name to the list of thanks.

    As for a sector – I’d love to see you analyse some China listed Chinese stocks. They’re not all frauds believe it or not and I would love your view. Keep it up!

  • Thank you. Your blog is a really great read!

  • Thanks, your blog is one of the best I read!

  • Congrats, I very much enjoy reading your blog!

  • Thanks for another year of great blogging. I am looking forward to more interesting ideas and insights in 2018! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

  • Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts this year, keep up the great analysis!

  • many thanks for the effort you put in this blog. it is my favourite blog out there.

    if I may suggest looking at Greek stocks (excluding financials); some of them have not taken off yet and I think now there might be enough margin of safety.

  • Congratulations for your work this year! A must read blog that enjoy a lot!!

  • Thanks for another year of great blogging, thoroughly enjoyed your posts. My personal pick for 2018: ModusLink (MLNK). Guten Rutsch!

  • Thank you for the blog. Happy Christmas and Guten Rutsch. Take a look at the LNG shipping sector.

  • Thanks for all the great writing, keep up the good work!

  • I also want to convey my thanks and to wish you a Happy and safe Christmas and New Year

  • thank you for all the wonderful work and the great insights. Good luck!

  • Keep up the good work. The south sea bubble comparison to blockchain/crypto was one of my favourites. Recommended sector to look at would be shipping. it is potentially at the end of the overcapacity stage of the “capital cycle” with depressed valuations and ignored by institutional investors.

    • Thanks for the suggestion. However shipping is one sector I have ruled out completely after reading the “The Shipping man”.

      • sorry i commented twice because it asked me to login!! Shipping man was an interesting book. Not all shipping is bad, especially at a low enough price. Check out j mintzmyer of seeking alpha to dip a toe in – he has some interesting ideas.

      • Hi mmi, I recommend reading more books on the topic. The shipping man is entertaining. However it seems to me the story is from another time. Maybe you could do a review of “The Box” next year which I think is a great book that I enjoyed reading. Very useful book in my opinion for a better understanding of trade, globalization and the industry as a whole.

        Keep up the great work which I enjoy following for several years now!

  • shall you write a book, I wonder if you will stick to the MMI pen name or disclose your identity to the world

  • You’re one of the best financial bloggers out there,i find almost every post interesting to me,thank you!

    And yes,2017 for me too has been a year of not having the courage to buy the stocks i researched and then watching them doubling-tripling during the year,ahh well..

    Happy christmas!

  • Thank you very much. I love the way you write and I love also your deep thoughts. Keep up this awesome work!

  • Thank you so much – learned a lot from you – pls keep up this excellent blog!

  • Congrats! This remains one of the better blogs out there. Keep up the great work!

  • Thank you for great blog and quite some money earned…. 🙂

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