Home Capital Group is a Canadian bank/mortgage lending company founded in 1986 and run by the same CEO for 30 years, which came into the spotlight over the past few months. It ran into trouble, almost imploded and then got saved by no one other than Warren Buffett (and Ted Weschler).
There is good coverage following this link. The story in short:
Home Capital wanted to aggressively expand into insured mortgages. However at least one underwriter collaborated with mortgage brokers to get mortgages approved without proper documentation. At some point regulators reigned in but management did not tell shareholders about it. Then the regulator got tough and management had to go. In the meantime, short-term financing was pulled and the company got into real liquidity troubles.
Business / Background:
Northgate is a UK based company that specialises in what they call “flexible rental” of smaller delivery vans to small businesses. My main interest in Northgate is not that I am so bullish on the UK and this sector, but that this company is somehow similar at least to the GoGetta part of Silverchef and I was looking for a peer company in order to be able to compare some metrics.
On a stand-alone basis, Northgate looks cheap:
Market cap: 570 mn GBP
Div. Yield 4,1%
Universal Insurance is an US-based P&C Insurance company which has been on my extended watch list for some time now. Why ? Well, the company always traded cheap (single digit P/E), was very profitable (~31% ROE for the last 9 years on average) and growing strongly year by year (400% over 9 years). So from the outside this looked like a cheap but highly profitable growth stock.
The main reason why I didn’t analyze the stock further is that Universal is a specialized homeowner insurance company which almost exclusively operates in Florida.
The company has a market cap of currently ~620 mn USD.
Not surprisingly Universal now is in a tough spot as “Irma” is creating havoc on Florida as I write this post. The stock price has dropped by around -30% by Friday:
Disclaimer: This is not investment advice. PLEASE DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH !!!
A few months ago, fellow blogger Wexboy had a very interesting post on Record Plc, a UK based “specialty asset manager”. Go and read the whole thing, it is worth it.
I try to summarize the business & background in my own words:
Record Plc provides so-called “Currency overlay” asset management services. Currency overlays are in principle used for two reasons.
- To hedge an international investment portfolio into one single currency, usually the currency of the investor and/or
- To gain some extra yield by hedging currency exposures more “dynamically”
It is important to know that they do not manage the underlying assets, but “just” a derivative portfolio hedging the underlying assets and that they do not use their own balance sheet but act solely as an agent for the ultimate client.
Time to do another “travel series” post after the last Tripadvisor post a few months ago.
GDS – The business
The so-called “GDS” (short form of Global Distribution System) is one of the oldest “platform business” I know about.
Basically (and as far as I understand it), it is a real-time repository of available airplane seats, hotel rooms and rental cars from different suppliers (airlines, Hotels etc.). This repository can then be accessed by travel agents, OTAs etc. in order to book these offers for their ultimate clients. The GDS charge money both for access to the system and transactions. The added value comes clearly from the fact that they act as a single interface to many different back-end systems on the supplier side.
Business & Business model:
Amaysim is a 320 mn AUD market cap Australian company which went public in July 2015 and offers mobile subscription plans without owning the physical network in Australia. So they are effectively a reseller (like Freenet in Germany). As a specialty, they do not package the plans with “free” phones and long lock in periods, but offer “clean” and customer friendly contracts which can be canceled on a monthly basis.
Essentially, this is a distribution / billing service. Their value proposition both, for the networks and end clients is that they can offer this service better and cheaper than the networks. If they can do this, then it is “win win” for both sides.
This is part 2 of the Flight Centre analysis after the book review last week.
The “old” business model
The Australian based company is a classic “travel agency”, both, running physical agencies as well as offering airline tickets and tours over web sites.
A traditional travel agency usually works like this: They offer flights from preferred airline partners and hotels or packages also mostly from certain partner companies. Traditionally you would go into a travel agency and ask if they can recommend you a destination, then you would be offered some colorful catalogues where they list the offered hotels (with prices mostly depending on the official “star system”) and then gladly sell you the “Bundle”.