Category Archives: Börsengeschichte

Book review “The Pay Off: How Changing the Way We Pay Changes Everything”

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I usually do favorable reviews of book because I don’t write about the bad ones. However this book is even exceptional among the many very good books I have written about.

There are some books that give you a new idea and/or explain something that I could never explain myself. This book created so many “Aha “moments for me that I am not sure if I have gained the same amount of new knowledge from any other book in the recent years.

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Performance review Q2 2020 – Comment: “What’s going on ?”

In the first 6 months of 2020, the Value & Opportunity portfolio gained  +0,9% (including dividends, no taxes) against a loss of -9.6% for the Benchmark (Eurostoxx50 (25%), Eurostoxx small 200 (25%), DAX (30%), MDAX (20%), all TR indices).

Links to previous Performance reviews can be found on the Performance Page of the blog. Some other funds that I follow have performed as follows in the first 6M 2020:

Partners Fund TGV: +0.9% 
Profitlich/Schmidlin: -4,1%
Squad European Convictions -4.7%
Ennismore European Smaller Cos 7.49% (in GBP)
Frankfurter Aktienfonds für Stiftungen -13.5%
Evermore Global Value  -23.6%(USD)
Greiff Special Situation -4.2%
Squad Aguja Special Situation -0.2%

Since inception (01.01.2011), this translates into +193,0% vs. 93.1%  for the Benchmark.

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Nikola Motor Company (NKLA) – The SPAC is back (plus a magic money machine).

Intro

Nikola is a company I haven’t heard of until a week ago or so. It is a pre-revenue, prototype-product company that according to their web site develops Hydrogen fueled and electric trucks.

The VC past

The company did a Series D funding round in September last year at a pre-money valuation of 3 bn USD which is quite remarkable for such an early stage company and they seem to have received ~500 mn USD from corporate partners CNH, Bosch and Hanwa. Although the valuation would raise some eyebrows, this would be still not considered super crazy by VC standards if they have a great team and great technology assets.

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Panic Journal (5) – “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”

When Mike Tyson was asked by a reporter whether he was worried about Evander Holyfield and his fight plan he answered; “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

This is how the current crisis developed so far for me personally and that is why i decided to do this more frequent “Panic journal” in order to document my actions and to hopefully learn a thing or two.

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My personal “GFC” story – 10 lessons hopefully learned

Personal experience 2007-2009 

There are a lot of articles currently about the “Great Financial Crisis” which culminated exactly 10 years ago when Lehman Brothers collapsed on September 15th 2008. There is still a lot of discussion around who is to blame for this, however most of this is nonsense as Barry Ritholz nicely summarized here.

My personal story is relatively short but quite lucky: Due to my “day job” back then, I saw many early warning signs in 2007. Although I had no idea how deep the crisis would be, I got mostly out of the stock market by the end of the year 2007.

This was maybe my only successful timing action I ever managed to do with some success. I even made some decent money with shorting that I had just discovered back then and a was on track to positive performance in 2008 when I was caught in the mother of all short squeezes, the famous “Porsche Volkswagen corner” which cost me more than -10% portfolio performance.

Nevertheless especially the years following the crisis taught me some important lessons which I wanted to share:

My 10 lessons (hopefully) learned

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Metro AG – Post mortem

As I mentioned in the comments a few days ago, I sold my complete Metro position at around 12,30 EUR /share. Including a 0,70 EUR dividend, this translates into a -26,6% loss and is a new entry into my “flop 10” list.

So what went wrong ?

Looking back at my initial post, my original idea was to buy the “ugly” part of old Metro which was supposed to be Ceconomy. This was clearly influenced by missing out on Uniper when it spun off from E.On, which was a similar ugly duck but performed very well.

One observation that I made back then was the following:

Looking at the stock chart we can see that Metro didn’t create a lot of shareholder value over the last 20 years.

When the split actually happened, Ceconomy traded far above the level that I thought would be interesting:

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Performance review June 2016 – Comment: “Brexit, Excuses and Risk Premiums”

Performance Q2 2016:

In the second quarter, the portfolio gained +0,6% against -3,5% for the Benchmark (25% EUR Stoxx 50, 25% EUR Stoxx small, 30% DAX, 20% MDAX). YTD the score is -1,4% for the portfolio against -9,5% for the Benchmark. On a rolling 1 year basis, its +1,0% for the portfolio and -8,4% for the bench.

Just for fun, here is the YTD/1 Year performance of some small funds that I follow and where I know the managers (I will track them in future reviews just to see how I am doing against the “Pros”, data from Bloomberg):

Partners Fund TGV: +1,71% / +7,20%
Profitlich/Schmidlin: -3,86% / -4,35%
Squad European Convictions -1,19% / +7,85%

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Movie review: “The Big Short”

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This is a clearly a first for the blog: A movie review and not a book review.

I had read the book from Michael Lewis a couple of years ago and it was clearly the best of many books trying to explain the sources of the “financial crisis” 2008/2009.

Honestly, I could not imagine how you can  make a Hollywood movie out of this book.

The  story is mainly about a couple of  fund managers who discovered at the same time around 2006/2007 that the US mortgage market was deeply flawed especially in the subprime area and that it was only a matter of time until everything would break down.

Most of those fund managers were “ousiders”, so not mainstream super star hedge fund managers but strange guys like Michael Burry, the now famous medical doctor turned fund manager with the Asperger Syndrom or the 2 guys who founded their fund as students with 100k start capital in a garage.

Another important role was played by a Deutsche Bank investment banker Greg Lippmann (in the movie the guy is called Jared Venett) who tried to sell the instruments to bet against sub prime mortgages.

Overall I found the movie extremely entertaining and very good. Why ?

First of all the actors are really really good. Especially Christian Bale (M. Burry) and Ryan Gossling (DB trader) play extremely well.

Secondly, the movie gets surprisingly almost all the facts right. They do explain the underlying concepts very well and often in surprisingly funny ways. One of my favourite scenes is when Selena Gomaz and Richard Thaler explain the conceptof CDS/CDOs at a Las Vegas Black Jack table.

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Of course they made some compromises to turn it into a Hollywood movie. Nevertheless I do think that the movie actually shows a pretty acurate picture of investment banking back in the heydays of 2006/2007.

Best learning experience: negative carry & patience

Of course the characters in the book and the movie were not the only ones who predicted the subprime crisis. Back then a lot of people were sceptical with regard to mortgages banks etc.

But I think what the movie really showed was how difficult it is to actually bet significantly on a “doomsday prediction”. Betting against subprime CDOs required those  guys to pay signifcant amounts of “insurance premium”. In Michael Burry’s case, the “negative carry” was something like -20% p.a. for the full portfolio. In all cases the managers were not credit specialists and investors clearly  didn’t like what they saw at first and in Burry’s and Iceman’s case tried to force them out of their positions because very few people are willing and able to sacrifice yield in order to make big returns.

It is very similar to what I wrote a couple of months ago: A great idea or a great strategy alone is worth exactly nothing. Yes, you can maybe sell some books as the guy “who predicted the last 5 crashs”. But if you manage money you have to actually execute it well in order to create value.

And I do think that this is the main lesson form the book and from the movie: It takes a lot of guts and a kind of “outsider” status to actually be succesful when you bet against the overall consensus. Talk is cheap, actions matter.

The second lesson was that patience also plays a big role in actually scoring big. All the portrayed fund managers were early with their trades and the position went against them at first. In Eismann’s case all his partners for instance wanted to sell quickly after they were back in the green, but he insisted on waiting.

Another good example of this rare persistence in adverse situation was Bill Ackman who at the same battled mortgage guarantee company MBIA on their role within suprime mortgage business. Hi fought them over years until he had finally his big pay off. There is a good book about this story as well, “Confidence Game”

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So my recommendation for anyone at least partially interested in finance is clear: Go and see the movie !!!!

I actually think the movie should be a mandatory part of any finance course at schools and universities like the original “Wall Street” movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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