My 21 Investments for 2018

Another part of my annual blog rituals is a short overview of all the positions I own at the end of each year with a short review of why I (still) own them.

The summaries of the previous years can be found here:

My 27 investments for 2017
My 27 investments for 2016
My 28 investments for 2015
My 24 investments for 2014
My 22 investments for 2013

Interestingly, the list for 2018 contains the lowest number of stocks so far as I tried to concentrate my portfolio a little more into my “best” ideas and kicked out a few positions where I wasn’t fully convinced anymore (Aggreko, Ashmore, Pfandbriefbank, Coface, Romgaz, Kuka, Lloyds Banking) or where the catalyst actually took place (Gagfah, Sapec, Kuka). In general, I would feel comfortable in owning up to 25 positions.

But now let’s look at the 21 stocks I own as of year end:

1. Miko (4,6% weight)

miko-squarelogo-1458628201728

Belgian company, family owned, providing Coffee workplace services and plastic packaging.  Slow and steady grower, doing small acquisitions along the way. No reason to change anything.

2. TFF Group (10,1%)

One of the initial investments from 7 years ago. Family owned oak barrel manufacturer. Has grown well over the past years due to Asian demand for oak aged French wines and opportunistic acquisitions. These days, Whisky barrels are booming and driving growth. This is a position I plan to hold at least 10 years.

3. Installux (3,4%)

logo_installux
Small French company specialized in aluminium appliances. surprisingly resilient. Still run by the founder and majority shareholder, one of the cheapest quality stocks in Europe. Downside well protected via large net cash position. It will be interesting to see how and when they profit from a real recovery in France.

4. G. Perrier (4,4%)

French small cap, specialist for electric installations with a strong position in Nuclear maintenance. Good growth despite economic headwinds. Cheap (ex cash) despite attractive, capital light business model. As with Installux, a French recovery could improve things a lot.

5. IGE & XAO (2,7%)

Small french software company, controlling the French market for electrical CAD software. Steady growth, highly attractive margins and still reasonably priced. Unfortunately now Schneider SA, the giant electric company has offered to acquire IGE + XAO for 132 EUR. Therefore I will be forced to sell the stock in 2018.

6. Thermador (3,3%)
thermador_logo
Thermador is a French based construction supply distribution company. Distinct “outsider style” corporate culture. Thermador has been accelerating (small) M&A this year. Will be interesting to see how this develops. But clearly a “very long term” position for me.

7. Van Lanschot (2,5%)

Dutch based private bank, initially bought as turn around story with new management. Especially in 2017, things look a lot better. The company returned extra capital to shareholders in December (1 EUR/share) and acquired some smaller competitors in the Netherlands. Overall a solid “hold” position.

8. TGS Nopec (3,0%)

“Outsider style” seismic data company. Clearly influenced by the oil price but with strong competitive advantages against competitors due to “capital light” business model. Has weathered the storm much better than almost all other oil related stocks despite significant off shore exposure. If the oil price stays where it is now or gets more expensive, business should pick up at some point in time.

9. Admiral (5,9%)

“Outsider style” direct internet insurance company. UK based, large cost advantages, management/founders own signifcant share positions Several growth projects on the way. As other UK competitors, Admiral has been hit by the “Ogden rate” increase. Clearly more competition in UK but the international subsidiaries seem to make good progress. P/L impacted by organic growth investments. (Very) long term hold. Self driving vehicles might have an impact in the very long run but I trust Admiral to find new opportunities if necessary.

10. Svenska Handelsbanken (2,9%)

handelsbanken_flag_530x200

Handelsbanken in my opinion is an “Outsider” style bank which has a strong position in Scandinavia and growing quickly in the UK. Although they offer internet access, their focus is on branch based banking with full delegation of responsibility. There seem to be some concerns on real estate prices in the Nordic and Brexit is an issue for UK operations. Nevertheless Handelsbanken for me is clearly a company I want to own for the long run even if the stock looks “unsexy” in the short run.

11. Bouvet (3,5%)

bouvet_logo
IT consulting company from Norway. Stock price previously had been hit hard by oil decline, Statoil was the largest client. The business and the stock showed a strong recovery in 2016 and 2017. Although my initial target price has been surpassed and I was unsure about the stock in 2017, I will hold the stock as they seem to execute their strategy really well and IT consulting seems to be very good business in the age of digitalization.

12. Partners Fund (5,1%)

An investment into a fund run by a close friend. Mathias is a “Munger style” investor with a relative concentrated portfolio of “moat” companies, many of them from the US. I think it is a good complimentary exposure for my investment style. It has worked very well so far and I assume he will do well over the next 10-20 years

 13. Electrica (4,4%)

Extremely cheap electric grid company from Romania. Guaranteed profit increases in the core business via investment program at guaranteed returns plus extra upside if efficiency gains could be achieved. Some problems in 2017 because of the legacy utility segment where clients get a guaranteed price from Electrica but wholesale prices peaked for some reasons and Electrica had to deliver at a loss. On the positive side, the Romanian economy is growing like crazy and Electrica did buy out the minorities at a very attractive price. Still one of my favorite positions with significant long-term potential but the road seems to be more bumpy than I thought.

14. Drägerwerk Genüsse (3,3%)

Capital structure “arbitrage”. Price of Genußscheine still far below the fundamental value which should be 10x the Draeger Pref shares. Draeger as such is not a great company but i plan to hold this for the long term.

15. Silver Chef (3,4%)

Print

Australian based financial services company which leases in a special format (rent, try , own) mainly restaurant equipment to restaurant owners. Added a second business line (GoGetta) which expands the concept to other assets. Also trying to expand into Canada, which could be big if they succeed. GoGetta problems have been bigger than initially thought, although the core business still does fine. Again, like Electrica, a much more bumpy ride than I thought. If they manage to overcome these problems, the stock would be very cheap.

16. Dom Security (4,6%)

csm_151217_dom_logo_dom_30ab6ee832

Small French “hidden Champion” which specialises in locks and home security. Although DOM is a small player, they have good positions in Germany and France. Still run by the founder and major shareholder, the stock looks cheap despite a significant stock price increase in 2016 & 2017. Should benefit from a European recovery.

17. Majestic Wine (4,8%)

wine

A UK-based wine retailing company. This is a “bet” on the  CEO which came on board when Majestic acquired online wine company Naked Wine. I think the underlying business is solid despite the Brexit and protects the downside at current levels and the upside lies in a continued success of Naked Wine.

18. Record Plc (3,6%)

logo_shadow

New position bought in 2017. Small and specialized Asset management company from the UK. Unspectacular but solid business with good cash generation. Management owns significant part of the company. Business might benefit from MIFID. A typical “boring” company that I prefer to own.

19. Kanam Grundinvest (2,4%)

A special situation (liquidation) that I added in 2017. A formerly open-ended real investment trust that had been closed and moved into liquidation. Little real estate exposure left. Main risk is delay in paying out the available cash which actually materialized. Position did not perform as I initially thought.

20. Metro AG (6,1%)

A special situation (spin-off) investment that I added in 2017. Company looks cheap but P&L currently is impacted by a lot of special effects after the separation of Ceconomy. Another risk is that a significant part of profits comes from Russia and Turkey. As special situation, my time horizon on this is 2-3 years.

21. Cars.com  (4,2%)

logo-cars

The last special situation (Spin-off) that bought in 2017. An online classified business that has been spun off by its ailing parent Tegna. The stock looks cheap compared to other online classifieds. Very recently, an activist investor (Starboard) has taken a 10% position. Will be interesting to see what happens in 2018.

 

19 comments

  • bye bye silverchef

    • Indeed quite interesting development. Doesn’t look too good at the moment 😉

      • You appear quite relaxed.
        In the 2016 Half Year report there was no such comment:
        “There are reasonable grounds to believe that the company will be able to pay its debt…”

        • Why shouldn’t I be relaxed ? Not every investment will work out. Especially when you go into a new market like Australia, one should expect to pay some “Lehrgeld”…..

        • it’s 1.7% of his portfolio now. (bought 3.4% @ 9.8)

          So you can be relaxed if your loss is covered by the performance of your other holdings as well…

        • I would be relaxed in any case. Losing on an invetsment is part of the “game”. if you cannot stand losses, you should not invest in stocks.

    • I think that depends. If something like this happens, the market is often very quick in response and a lot of the time the reaction is overdone. So selling after this kind of news is often not the best way to go.

  • Hi mmi,

    I personally have a hard time to overcome price anchoring, and don’t manage to add to a position if it grew considerably while I own it. I rather go out and look to buy a stock which I don’t own yet. Do you consider topping any of your other (older) positions? If I didn’t miss anything this year, you topped up 1 existing position at a higher price in 2017: Admiral. (Metro and Record topping you did more or less for the same price as your initial position, I believe).

  • Great collection, sonds good for 2018!

    Regarding Record plc: I suppose in 2018 we will face a higher volatility in shares and currencies. Do you have an idea how that might affect record plc? May they be a profiteer of rising volatility?

    Regarding TGS Nopec: They and spectrum seem to be the only companies of their branch remaining healthy, the competition seems to be heavily injured by heavy debt levels. So if their market starts to come back, they may increase their market share due to a collapsing competition.

    Regarding Thermador: The markets are celebrating but I am less happy with their switch toward anorganic growth. I hope they can use these small companies as a kind of seeds that can better blossom within the new network of Thermador. For Thermador it is a new challenge to integrate that many companies with very own company cultures. Lets hope the french construction market awakes in 2018.

  • Hi memy,

    I see TFF Group is your biggest holding. It indeed seems a great business, however from a quick look on the numbers in the reports, the valuation seems to me a bit stretched. What would you say is the valuation of the company in which you would start selling, and how do you come to calculate that figure (never mind how rough is the calculation of course)?

    Thanks a lot,

    Michael

  • Thanks for the overview.
    Do you think about rebalancing or let your investments just grow?

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