Some Portfolio updates – VEF, FBD, Play Magnus, BioNTech, JustEat Takeaway.com

My long term readers know that I am relatively sloppy with updates especially when a stock does well. When I have time then I try to look at least briefly into annual reports when they are published .

VEF (formerly Vostok Emerging Finance)

VEF had a pretty decent 2020. Share price went up in 2020 by +37%, although faster than NAV which went up by around 22%. This was however achieved with some volatility:

What I missed is that they dis a share placement in November 2020. As usual, the reporting is very transparent so one can see that 4 out of 12 investments lost value. However the biggest position, Brazilian Creditas was also the best performer. Around 2/3 of the portfolio is now Brazilian Fintech. Their only new investment in 2020 was an Indian mobile payment company which makes it their first Indian investment.

In 2021 so far they invested 7 mn into Rupeek, another Indian Fintech and 0,5 mn USD in to Mexican Fintech Minu.

Overall I do think the company is well on track. I missed out on increasing my stake last year but as the stock is quite volatile, there might be another chance. 

FBD Group

FPD Group, the Irish Insurance company is clearly one of my big disappointments. I bought the shares End of April 2020 after a big drop assuming that the Covid-19 losses could be contained.

Based on the annual report, FBD ended the year with a small profit of 4 mn EUR, top line was ~-4% yoy driven mostly be premium rebates.

Covid-19 related claims were “only” 54 mn EUR net after reinsurance, a lot less than the numbers that were initially floating around. Even assuming potentially higher reinsurance rates for some years, I would assume that in 2021 the company should be able to earn ~ 30-40 mn which would imply a P/E of 6-8 not counting any excess capital. However somehow the market thinks that this is a fair P/E.

Although my initial investment case will not be met; i do stay invested because I don’t see a lot of downside from this level. 

Play Magnus

When Play Magnus released preliminary 2020 numbers in February, i was positively surprised: “bookings” were ~+15% than expected in my initial post and guidance for 2021 was increased by more than 20%. The P&L didn’t look too nice but that was to be expected with the IPO, acquisitions and funding of the tournament.

However, the share price seems to have peaked already in January and since then the stock lost around 1/3 or even more from a brief peak. By pure luck, I sold 1/3 of my initial position at 38,50 NOKs which already covers almost my initial investment. At the end of March, there was some insider buying at around the current price of 22 NOKs/share.

The question is clearly if Online Chess will remain relevant when the pandemic is over. Personally I do think that these guys are creating an interesting platform and that Online Chess will remain relevant but it needs to be seen how the later quarters in the year look like. I assume Q1 will still look very good.

In the past, whenever a company exceeded expectation to such an extend, it was wise not to sell too early. Therefore I’ll keep the position a little bit longer than initially intended to see how what happens.

BioNTech

My investment into BioNTech in February was not timed that well. In between, the stock lost -20% and only recovered in the last days. Fundamentally however things developed better than expected (for BioNTech, not for society as a whole). The AstraZeneca vaccine turned out to be not that safe with the result that it becomes more and more difficult for countries to justify the use. BioNTech in the meantime is ramping up production and even stroke a deal in China with Fosun. In their 20-F, I honestly did not read the whole 70 page (!!!) risk factor section but clearly BioNTech faces a couple of risks. On the plus side, it seems that they seemed to have been able to speed up development of their “core” business against cancer, but it clearly will take a few years until real results will happen there.

The Covid-19 vaccine as such continues to be a huge success and as an important step, now only needs to be kept at -15 to -25 degrees which makes it a lot easier to distribute.

In their investor presentation they also showed a first estimate of sales for 2021 which will be around 10 bn EUR. However that seems to be a rather conservative estimate as Pfizer estimated Sales to be USD 15 bn and BioNTech is selling without Pfizer for instance in Germany and potentially in China. 

One thing that I have rarely heard mentioning is the fact that BioNTech itself scales up almost “effortless”. Especially the new production site in Marburg develops like I can only describe as a “miracle”: BioNTech bought the production site in Aurumn and will deliver already the first products in April. Looking at all the competitors that are struggling with production (AZ, J&J end even Moderna), this ability to execute in my opinion is exceptional.

Other than Pfizer, BioNTech in typical German fashion does not pound loudly on the table and tell everyone how great they are. 

However they also reiterated that they will reinvest profits into drug development. For more short term oriented investors this is clearly a disappointment, but I do think this creates a potentially very interesting long term opportunity. 

Overall I am very happy how this developed fundamentally and will be invested for many years to come.

JustEat Takeaway.com

Of all my recent purchases, JET is clearly the most difficult case. The company is growing nicely, the just released Q1 trading update shows that Q1 was again an outstanding quarter. On the other hand, they cut delivery fees so drastically that profitability has clearly suffered, On an IFRS basis however they lost -150 mn in 2020 and they have not provided profitability for Q1 2021.

As a direct effect, the IPO of Deliveroo was clearly a dud, with the stock dropping ~-30% directly after the IPO. As they had signed up many customers to invest in the IPO, I guess that will also make a dent into sales.

They also put the foot on the gas for their employed delivery model with spectacular growth (+700% overall, +100% in London) for Q1. Strategically I find this “Pivot” extremely well executed. It also opens up a lot of strategic option. Personally i would not be totally surprised if they test a “instacart” liek service at some point in time.

Another surprise to me was that they raised 1.1 bn in convertible debt in February. Clearly they want to create a “war chest” to fight competitors and companies should “raise when they can” but I was a little bit surprised by the size which is clearly dilute at the current low valuation.

In total however, I do think that JET is performing better than expected and I made a small add on purchase (~0,5% of portfolio value) already in the beginning of April and I bought another 0.5% portfolio weight today pre-opening.

This is clearly a relatively risky bet but I do think that they execute quite well and do not repeat the mistakes of Uber who let competitors grow to a relevant size without any defense. I might add to the position even further.  

13 comments

  • Thanks for the Just Eat Takeaway.com update!

    One thing that surprised me, and it would be great to hear your take on it, is that JET very recently announced that it would venture into the grocery delivery market in Germany. That bluntly contradicts Jitse Groen’s statements on grocery delivery services made in the youtube Goldman Sachs interview of October 21 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hkwgm28xte0, @ minute 13), where he clearly rejected this service, stating it doesn’t make any sense to him, wouldn’t be profitable and might be something that would become less relevant again post-corona.

    • Hi Fred,

      iI was surprised as well. I think currently everyone tries everything in Germany. I was also surprised by Delivery Hero coming back.

      The “dark supermarket” concept (Gorilla’s) is quite interesting but already crowded.

      I will stay invested for the time being but it will be clearly a tough fight. At some point he might need the Cash from selling the Brazilian asset.

      • Thanks. My thought was a bit that this might have been just a move to simply not leave any room unattended to competitors to expand in any food delivery area, even if it is an area that financially/strategically normally doesn’t make much sense for JET. The financial risk exposure in getting a foot in this door might be limited for JET with its existing infrastructure. It at least shows how aggressive the competition is getting.

  • Great call on BioNtech, don’t worry about the timing, the story looks very promising. I don’t know whether you are aware of Moderna hosting their vaccine day last week. I think there is plenty of positive read across for the whole mRNA space. Link to the presentation below:
    https://investors.modernatx.com/static-files/36d85cf5-365b-4c5c-a8e5-017e973bcdb9

    On Just Eat Takeaway, I do not like the space. Reasons:
    – There is too much capital flooding into the industry (DoorDash and Deliveroo IPOs, Uber doubling its efforts), and this can only depress returns or at least depress them until there are only a couple of companies standing, which may take years.
    – Top line growth has limited value to me as it is massively subsidised.
    – Uber announced today they are entering Germany, which is a bold move. A book I liked in its day (Hardball, are you playing to win or are you playing to play), describes such behaviour as attacking your rival’s profit sanctuaries (note that Uber’s access to capital is manyfold that of JET).
    – I believe going in the US was a mistake for JET, I don’t know whether they can win that battle, but even if they do it risks being just a Pyrrhic victory.
    – Add to that the CEO’s hubris problem. I know not many agree on that, but he perfectly fits a pattern I have seen more than once.

    Best

    J

    • Thanks for the comment. I agree that you can see JET very differently. However in my opinion that makes the stock even more interesting. The Uber move is not unexpected after JET went into Uber’s turf with the Grubhub transaction.

      However Uber in my opinion has a much bigger image problem than JET. Also the fact that they work with “sub contractors” is not a long term solution in my opinion. But let’s see how this develops.

  • As a german investor i’ve made bad experiences with irish stocks: On Medtronic dividends i had to pay 25% irish withholding tax on top of 25% german „Abgeltungssteuer“, which results in 50% total tax rate. Since then i stay away from irish stocks like FBD Holdings.

  • Hi,
    I just saw that Protector Forsikring ASA disclosed a 6.4% stake in FBD Holdings this morning. I would be more than interested to get your feeling about that. Do you think that FBD could be a potential target now?
    Thanks,

    • FBD could be an interesting target but I am not sure if there would be support from the Irish Government to sell out the one remaining “national” company.

      • As protector is my largest portfolio Position and I follow it for quite some time, i would rather guess it is a financial investment for them.

        First, they like investing in businesses that are cheap and that they understand well – seems to be a given here.
        Second, their strategy has a rather narrow focus (only large commercial and public customers server through brokers) and they are very keen if developing the right “culture”, which is much easier if you build up a business organically.

  • Welcome Mr. Bean. I looked at Mediqon during my “All german Shares” series with a very brief write-up.

    All German Shares Part 24 (Nr. 501-525)

    For now, it is a small “to watch” position. If I decide to increase it, I’ll will come up with a write-up. The same goes for Netfonds.

  • Great blog! I noticed your investment in the MEDIQON GROUP AG but was not able to find a “write-up” of your investment thesis. They will publish their annual accounts on the 24th of May. Are you planning to write something about them in the future?

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