Category Archives: capital management

Travel series part 7 – Tripadvisor (TRIP) follow up & more thoughts on online travel

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:

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Majestic Wine (GB00B021F836) – Nothing to see or potential UK “Outsider” company ?

DISCLAIMER

As always: this is not investment advise. Please DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. Never trust any “stock tips” from anyone.

A few weeks ago I already mentioned that I had invested into a UK small cap company. Because of a lack of time I had to delay finishing the write-up but now I happily reveal the “UK mystery stock”:

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Majesic Wine Plc is the dominant wine retailer in the UK for “medium to higher priced” wines, from 5 GBP/bottle upwards. They run a retail chain plus a commercial service for restaurants and a “fine wine” subsidiary. They recently purchased online only wine trader “Naked Wine” but we come to that later.

Charly Munger’s mantra is “Invert, always invert”. So let’s start this one with a couple of reasons why you shouldn’t buy Majestic Wine at the moment:

  • BREXIT: This has potentially multiple negative impacts on Majestic. With a lower Pound, imports get more expensive plus a general potentially weak consumer climate could make things really difficult and squeeze margins and/or reduce volumes. On top of that, many of the bankers who might need to leave the City might be target customers
  • The overall wine market in the UK hasn’t been growing in the last years so any growth needs to come from competitors. If Wine importers need to raise prices there is also the potential of a “substitution effect” towards other, cheaper alcoholic beverages like for instance craft beer which can be made locally.
  • Current numbers do not look that good, even if one adjusts for one-offs etc. the stock is not “cheap”. The company cancelled the dividend for the current year.
  • Even before the Brexit discussion, the business had weakened. The earnings peek has been the business year 2013/2014
  • As everywhere in retail, online is definitely an issue for the wine trade.

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SportsDirect (SPD) – Bad PR but maybe good Capital Allocation ?

Already some days ago, I linked to an interesting write up from Wertart on UK retailer SportsDirect.

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In general, I liked a lot of things at SportsDirect from a share holder perspective:

+ It is kind of “Owner operated” with an experienced management
+ Aldi/Lidl like business model (Some brands, own brands, “hard discount”)
+ good growth track record since IPO
+ very good profitability
+ looks cheap based on past performance

Of course there are a couple of issues as well:

  • it is retail after all
  • Brexit / GBP issues (higher import prices, potential issues with consumer confidence)
  • Bad PR (low wages, zero hour contracts, incidents)
  • some governance issues (related party dealings etc.)

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