Although I wrote a lot about Watch companies over the past few years (Swatch part 1, Swatch part 2, Hengdeli, Fossil part 1, Fossil part 2, Movado, Richemont), no investment came out of it. However I had a lot of fun researching these companies so it was time well spent.
When I initiated the series in 3 years ago, Smart Watches were a big thing and especially the Apple Watch was perceived to be the “Swiss Watch” killer, which, as we know now didn’t happen as they seem to coexist quite well.
Besides Smart Watches, Fitness Trackers were the “hot shit” and especially VC backed FitBit that IPOed in 2015 was taking oer the world.
This chart shows Fitbit against Fossil (blue) and Richemont (green) and we can clearly see who had staying power and who not:
Within my “Watch series” last year (Swatch part 1, Swatch part 2, Hengdeli, Fossil part 1, Fossil part 2, Movado) I left out one company which also is one of the major players in the Watch space: Richemont.
Some might ask: Why didn’t you already buy Swatch ? I argued that 300 CHF would be a good entry point and the stock is now at 292. Well, at the time of writing the Swatch post, I implicitly assumed that 2015 would be the low point. As we can see now, this is most likely not the case. Sentiment at Swatch is clearly more negative than for Richemont but still not rock bottom.
Additionally, I think one should not overestimate the moat of expensive Watch brands. One example is a (German) article 2 weeks ago in Handelsblatt about luxury watch brand Richard Mille. Founded in the early 2000’s they went from zero to almost 600 mn EUR in sales of super luxury watches with a new brand. So the market entry seems to be possible, at least at the very top.
Originally founded in South Africa by Anton Rupert, Richemont has a quite colorful history.The Group among other activities was into Tobacco, Pay TV and jewelery. Then, in the early 2000s, they focused on luxury and increased their exposure to watches.
No analysis of Swatch (part 1 and part 2) would be complete without a look at Hong Kong listed company Hengdeli.
Hengdeli claims to be the largest luxury watch retailer in the world and sells mostly in Hong Kong and Mainland China. According to several sources, Hengdeli has a 35% market share in selling Swiss Watches in China, so they are of course important for Swatch. How important they are, shows another fact. According to the 2014 annual report, Hengedeli’s largest supplier is responsible for 71% (!!!) of all watches sold. The two largest suppliers account for 88% of all watches sold.
It is time to finish the Swatch case. Let’s start with summarizing the first post on Swatch and the post on smart watches:
– I do believe that luxury watches have “staying power” and will not replaced or significantly impacted by smart watches as the main buyers are Emerging Market consumers and collectors
– If we accept that Swatch is in fact a luxury product company, there would be a clear valuation upside compared to other luxury companies
– However the lower range of their products (Swatch, Tissot, Rado, Hamilton etc.) clearly has problems which could become worse over time as the moat here is small to non-existent
So let’s look at some more aspects of how Swatch is run:
The company is run like a “family company”, very conservative and “Swiss” and a big contrast to Fossil. As mentioned in my post about the Hayek book, Hayek senior hated banks and Swatch therefore always kept a big cash buffer.
In the short term, I don’t think that the Apple Watch is a big danger for Premium Swiss Watch brands. Why ?
– putting some gold on a mass-produced electronic gadget didn’t work for smart phones either
– the smart watch doesn’t have a killer app yet and we don’t see an overall smart watch boom
– the observed decline in Swiss watch exports seems to be mostly caused by overall weakness in Hong kong and Macau
– however lower or medium priced brands could be affected especially in the coming Christmas season
The short-term danger to Premium Watches is much more a further cooling of Chinese and Emerging Market demand. Mid to long-term there could be issues as the market seems to be in the early stages of significant technical changes
Before I jump into more details I have to make a confession: I am myself not an expert on watches. As a matter of fact, I haven’t worn a wrist watch for the last 25 years.
This is the 4th post in what developed into a kind of “Watch series”, see Fossil part 1 and part 2 plus Movado.
Swatch is the largest wrist watch producer in the world. The company is the brainchild of legendary founder Nicholas Hayek who turned around the whole Swiss Watch industry and created Swatch out of insolvent Swiss watch makers.
My long term readers know that I did a lot of research on travel stocks in the past, however with little result other than a only slightly profitable investment into Expedia.
With the current situation, I decided to have a quick look at the travel sector again.
Up until now, the tourism industry has been seen as a secular growth industry, mainly due to 2 mega trends: Emerging market middle class tourists and older, more wealthy first world tourists were driving tourist numbers and subsectors such as cruises or AirBnB rooms. Just last year, “overtourism” became a major trend in social media, I guess this problem will not be a big issue in 2020.
This is part 1 of the “All German Shares” series. As mentioned in the intro a few days ago and as a reminder:
- I will look at the shares in random order, so it doesn’t makes sense to propose specific shares to me
- the first round analysis will be very high level
Ok, so let’s start:
Nr. 1: DEMIRE (Deutsche Mittelstands Real Estate) AG – ISIN DE000A0XFSF0
DEMIRE is a listed real estate company focusing on “secondary” location commercial real estate objects, i.e. locations that are not “Prime”. The company has a market cap of 530 mn EUR and is stating an NAV of ~5,85 EUR compared to its latest stock price of around 4,90 EUR.
My roots as an investor are domestic German stocks. For the first 10-15 years of my investing “career” I would only look at German stocks (with minor exceptions during the Dot.com boom), only after some time I moved on to a more international focus. Even at the beginning of this blog in December 2010, the majority of our shares back then were still German.
These days, I only have a relatively small domestic stock allocation left (P. Hartmann, Draeger, Innogy) and mostly screen for international stocks.
One interesting thing happened in the meantime: I kind of lost my comprehensive knowledge about German shares. A lot of companies have newly been listed or disappeared and somehow I never ket track of what was happening. Also I didn’t follow the good ones very closely.
This is the follow-up post on the intitial Tripadvisor post from last week.
So where is the upside ?
After “bashing” them in the first post, the question is: Is there an upside and if yes where ?
CEO & Capital management
With Steve Kaufer, the CEO, one of the founders is still on board. His salary is rather modest but he got plenty of options awarded in the previous years. According to Bloomberg, he received option in the original value of ~33 mn USD in 2014 to 2016. He owns shares in an amount of 17 mn USD, which is not huge but still not insignificant.
In his 2016 letter to the shareholders he writes the following: