My 20 Investments for 2020

My “resident blog troll” might interpret this post as “The 20 Stocks to stay away from in 2020” due to the underwhelming 2019 performance, but these are the stocks that are in my blog portfolio in the beginning of 2020.  Every reader can do whatever he wants with that list, either ignore it, go short or whatever.

I do a brief recap of each investment case including a short outlook from a portfolio perspective.

The summaries of the previous years can be found here:

My 22(+1) Investments for 2019
My 21 investments for 2018
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

1. Miko (4,1% weight)

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Belgian company, family owned, providing Coffee workplace services and plastic packaging.  Slow and steady grower, doing small acquisitions along the way. In 2018, the EU introduced legislation to ban one-way food plastic packaging. It remains to be seen when and how this affects Miko’s packaging business. Competitor Guillin reacted already by buying paper packaging businesses. I like the company very much but this needs to be watched. 6M 2019 numbers were decent (~7% increase top and bottom line), however the underlying performance was very different between Coffee (great) and Plastics (negative). The slump in plastics according to Miko is however only temporary. So let’s see. Overall a nice boring “Hold” or even a potential “add” at the current valuation (PE of ~11-12)

2. TFF Group (8,9%)

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One of the initial investments from 9 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. It needs to be seen how Brexit & Trump Tariffs will impact the underlying trade .Just a few days ago they released 6M numbers which included a one off charge for the US Bourbon business that lead to a profit decrease for the first time that I hold them. The next few years could be a little bit bumpy but for the mid to long term the underlying case is intact.

3. Installux (2,9%)

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Small French company specialized in aluminium appliances. surprisingly resilient. Still run by the founder and majority shareholder, still one of the cheaper quality stocks in Europe. Downside well protected via large net cash position. The expected recovery in France was short and Installux share price got hit hard in 2018. In the first 6M 2019, topline stil increased but profit remained more or less flat. The cash balance decreased by 10 mn driven by higher investments and a 4 mn share repurchase. For me still a hold but I think I need to look more closely into the annual report 2019.

4. G. Perrier (5,5%)

tff1

French small cap, specialist for electric installations with a strong position in Nuclear maintenance. Good growth despite economic headwinds. Very good stock price performance in 2019. In the first 6M, top line grew organically close to 10%, net income only around 5% or so which seems to have been due to a negative on-off tax effects, Otherwise Net Income would have grown double digits.The stock is not so cheap as some years ago but at current growth rates the stock still offers a decent upside potential

5. Thermador (3,9%)
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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. Topline growth in 2019 so far is impressive (~+7% organic, +17% including M&A). Net result has increased “Only” by around 10%. Personally, I still feel very comfortable with this position and will hold this for some time.

6. TGS Nopec (3,5%)

“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. In 2019 they acquired competitor Spectrum ASA. Of course the oil price will drive a lot of their future business but I am prepared to hold the stock for some time. I need to dive into the annual report 2019 however, both to understand the M&A transaction and some IFRS changes.

7. Admiral (6,7%)

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“Outsider style” direct internet insurance company. UK based, large cost advantages, management/founders own significant share positions. Several growth projects on the way. Especially the European subsidiaries seem to make good progress with a long growth runway in front of them. P/L impacted by organic growth investments. (Very) long-term hold. Although the stock price moved mostly sideways, the underlying development is still very positive and fundamentally the company has nothing to fear even from a hard Brexit.

8. Svenska Handelsbanken (2,6%)

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Handelsbanken in my opinion is an “Outsider” style bank which has a strong position in Scandinavia and (still) growing quickly in the UK. Although they offer internet access, their focus is on branch based banking with full delegation of responsibility. In 2018, interestingly UK is still the main growth driver. To a certain extent I am not too bullish on banks as the sector is currently being thoroughly “disrupted”, but I think I will stick with Handelsbanken for some time. Brexit might be a bigger issue for them, on the other hand there is also a chance that banks will see some kind of repricing and Sweden seems to be willing to increase interest rates finally.

9. Bouvet (6,8%)

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 since 2016. 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 digitization. 2019 so far has been a monster year with topline growing by close to 20% and bottom line by more than 30%. That was a “lucky shot” for me.

10. Partners Fund (5,3%)

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. 2019 was slow from a performance side but since inception he is still far above the benchmark. And I am sure he will do fine over the next 10-20 years…..

 11. Electrica (3,8%)

Extremely cheap electric grid company from Romania. 2018, a lot of things happened. The CEO was exchanged, all Non-Romanian Board members resigned, the regulator cut the allowable returns and finally, the Romanian Government introduced a few surprise extra taxes before Christmas. With the exception of the tax event however, Electrica performed pretty OK in 2018.  Development in 2019 so far was kind of disappointing. The company still seems to be squeezed on their “side utility” business where they have to deliver electricity at capped prices to consumers but need to by whole sale and whole sale electricity prices in Romania have been increasing like crazy. In 2020 i really need to make a decision if I want to continue this investment as now my target investment period of 5 years has been reached.

12. Drägerwerk Genüsse (2,0%)

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. They made losses in 2018 and also 2019 looks like a loss year. Over the long term they just don’t seem to be able to make money. The position is clearly one of my prime selling candidates fro 2020

13. Majestic Wine (3,2%)

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A UK-based wine retailing company. This is used to be a “bet” on the  CEO which came on board when Majestic acquired online wine company Naked Wine. The company transformed in 2019 by selling all the traditional business which was a bold but good move in my opinion. However, also the CEO decided to retire early which is bad. Majestic will be on my “watch list” for 2020.

14. Groupe SFPI SA (2,9%)

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Groupe SFPI is the result of its merger with DOM Security. Despite DOM Security, SFPI is active in the industrial and construction services, specializing in niche businesses. Around 60% of the business is done in France, the rest is international. Dom Security is around 1/3 of the sales. Contrary to my expectations it turned out that the other 2/3 of the business seems to have some issues. In the first 6M 2019, DOM did ok, but the other 3 segments had big issues. SFPI is another position that i need to monitor closely in 2020 and dig into the annual report 2019 when it comes out.

15. Paul Hartmann (2,9%)

paul-hartmann-group

Paul Hartmann was a 2018 addition to my “boring” companies category. It is a German manufacturer of all kind of health care / clinic supplies. The 2019 numbers released so far look good up until EBITDA, however EBIT and net income were lower than in 2018. The reason given by the company does not make sense. They seem to be more active on the M&A side with a very interesting acquisition recently. At the current price the stock is a “hold”.

 

16. Vostok New Ventures (3,3%)

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Vostok New Ventures ,is a 2018 investment that is a publicly listed VC fund. They specialize in Online market places. In 2019 they were able to exit their largest Russian investment to Naspers.  I like the management a lot. They know have invested serious additional money into UK based Health AI company Babylon.

17. Vostok Emerging Finance (2,4%)

This is the sister company of Vostok New Ventures, but specializing on Emerging Markets Fintech. The fund has a large weighting in Brazil which I find very interesting. The management runs the portfolio extremely patient and only invests when they see a real opportunity.  A position to which I will most likely add during the year.

18. Zur Rose AG (3,7%)

Swiss Company Zur Rose AG is one of two consolidators in Europe’s online pharmacy market. They have been growing fast through acquisitions but now need to prove that they can make money. Structurally there is a lot of future potential especially with regard to tele medicine and online prescriptions, but there is a lot of regulatory red tape and changes in Healthcare in Europe need time. This is a stock I need to watch more closely than others.

19. Uber (1,1%)

Uber is a clear “contrarian Value trade”. I bought the stock when former CEO Travis Kalanick was selling. I think at its core, the company has some very interesting assets that were not fully priced into the stock price back then. Interestingly the stock repriced quite fast and my price target of ~37 USD has almost been reached.

20. German Startups Group AG (5,8%)

German Startup Group is a very unique situation: A listed VC company that in my opinion is a highly interesting “Deep Value trade” situation. The company is in a transition phase, selling down its “spray and pray” portfolio. The company has been using parts of the proceeds to buy back stock, the CEO has been adjusting his incentives  and a recent large sale was well above the stated value. Clearly a “Value trade” (compared to both Vostok vehicles which are long term holdings) but still with a decent upside in my opinion and with limited downside due to the large cash pile that covers a significant part of the current market cap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 comments

  • The German Startup looks interesting but most of the interesting info is in German…

  • Huh, that sounds much more defensive than in usual years.
    Some guarded buys, many holds, some guarded sells.

    Perhaps 2020 is the year were you have to prove you can overtake a weakened portfolio.

    Additionally I had the impression that your loot schematic (Beuteschema) has quite changed over the years, and today you would build a totally different portfolio. I am quite interested (and a bit sceptical) if your new loot schematic will work as impressively as your old one did for quite many years.

    In your Performance posting few days ago you wrote: “Value trades” have to be managed much more actively”.

    I agree. I (still) like to hunt for “value trades”, for me they are more easily to detect and to understand than “value investments”. But doing that I had to learn that my best average holding time, my “hot spot” is between 0,5 and 2 years for most of my shares. After that time many of them tend to lag against newer “catches”.

    In thes up to two years for most shares either (1) the undervaluation has been catched up (good case, investment thesis carried out, but I had to weight up the new or remaining potential against the risen risik), or (2) I had to realize some analysing mistakes I made (bad case, investment thesis failed, “sell” is the common result), or some unexpected things happened (mixed case, but I had to reevaluate if my investment thesis is still valid).
    Only few shares remain that either didnt “trigger”and realize their inner value or that realized to be real “value investments”.
    OK I once did set a (realistic) performance target of 10-15 percent per year as long time average without risking too much. To include some safety space for investment mistakes and unexpected events I expect an average potential of at least 50% over all^^ for “value trades” and of around 15% per anno for long term “value investments”.
    For the value investments that means a quite resilient business quite stable margins (margins can’t grow forever, so I dont hunt for), a revenue (and profit) growth of 10-15% per year and a dividend yield of 5%-0%.

    I would prefer more “value investments”, but I have only few “value investments” that can deliver these goals for a long time including manageable risks than I find “value trades”, offering a potential of 50% in up to 2 years.

    I am curious seeing your portfolio conversion!

    • Thanks for the detailed comment. Yes, the strategy has changed not only once during the 9 years of blogging and might change more often in the future. I am not dogmatic and adapt along the way.

      As I am investing now for over 30 years, my actual strategy has changed even more often. Sometimes the changes worked (i.e. adding bonds/subordinated paper after the financial crisis), sometimes it didn’t (restructuring cases, Australia etc.).

      I would also argue that over the last years in general my portfolio was always much more defnesive (lower beta) than the market but I was lucky with indiviual outperformance. Last year I clearly was too defensive with cash.

      So let’s see. The most important point however in my opinion is to actually have “staying power”.

  • Hi, the comment for Paul Hartmann is not complete

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