With European Gas and Electricity prices trading like “Meme stonks”, it is time for another “panic post”. As always, these posts are mostly for myself in order to better structure my thoughts and educate myself and should not be seen as any kind of advice.
Just to quickly revisit the last post from part 3. One of my predictions back then with regard to the economic impact (unfortunately) aged quite well:
One explanation that I have read is that Russia and Ukraine are only 2% of Global GDP, so a “loss” of these countries is no big deal. Personally, I do think that this is not a very useful number. Russian oil and gas is powering a significant amount of European (and Global) GDP. A supply disruption from Russian oil and gas would impact a much larger share of GDP globally and might make Covid-19 supply chain disruption like a toddler party.
Turmoil in European Gas and Electricity markets:
The fact that European Gas and electricity markets face absolute mayhem has now clearly reached the headlines. I have stolen two Charts from Twitter(@Schuldensuehner), one showing electricity prices until yesterday, and one natural gas:
Disclaimer: This is not investment advice. PLEASE DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH !!!!
Inflation & Pricing power
One of the obvious strategies for for investors in an inflationary environment is to pick companies that have “Pricing power”. Pricing power means that companies should be able to raise prices at least as quickly as costs rise.
Now one could try to do some deep thinking if and how different business models react to inflation. As I am a more “hands on” guy, my solution is to look at actual numbers and then try to draw my conclusion.
For any company that is producing material goods, the best indicator for pricing power in my opinion is Gross profit, i.e. the difference between selling price of a product minus the direct costs to produce them.
A company with pricing power should keep the gross margin or ideally even improve gross margins in an inflationary environment.
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.
The Auto1 IPO
Tomorrow, Auto1, the new German “Mega Unicorn” will go public and trade for the first time. At the upper end of the current book building range (38 EUR/share), which turned out to be the IPO price, the company is valued at almost 8 bn EUR. And that is before the expected “pop” at the IPO.
The company has currently 173 mn shares outstanding and will will issue 31.25 mn new Shares for around 1 bn that will go to the company. Another 15,625 mn shares will offered by existing shareholders, including the founders and the management.
As I will line out in the post, despite the very different sector (used cars), the underlying business model is somehow similar to Just Eat Takeaway.com (JET), a stock I have written about recently. The aim of this post ist to compare the business models of Auto1 and JET and to also compare the valuation the market grants to these 2 companies.
Spoiler: there will be no “actionable insights” in this post.
Auto1 business model
Health Warning: This is not investment advise. PLEASE DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH !!!!!
Just Eat Takeaway.com or “JET” is another of these stocks that popped up from different “high quality” sources. A few friends mentioned the stock, most recently Swen Lorenz featured JET (behind paywall). By coincidence I am also a relatively happy user of their service, especially since the lock downs started.
A good starting point for an analysis is this write-up from a US based 2 bn USD hedgefund called “Catrock” which has invested ~30% of its NAV into JET and not surprisingly is very bullish. therefore I will only describe here what I find important.
Long time readers of my blog know that I covered Grenke a while back and unfortunately invested instead in what I thought was the “Australian Grenke” with a pretty bad outcome.
Now Viceroy Research came out with a blazing short attack on Grenke. Viceroy seems to be the same guy that released the now famous “Zatarra Report” on Wirecard in 2016.
This post is a first attempt to look at the allegations in order to find out if they are true and how severe they potentially could be. At the time of writing, Grenke is down more ~ -20% and close to the lows from March.
1. Non disclosed related party transactions
Disclaimer: This is not investment advice. Please do your own research !!!!
German Startups Group – Sell
As mentioned in the comments of the original post, I sold out the complete position today at an average price of ~1,71 EUR per share.
When I established the position in December 2019, the case was simple:
My assumption was that the intrinsic value of the portfolio was higher than the ~ 1,40 EUR share price, that the management would continue to liquidate the portfolio and that there would be a catalyst in form of share repurchases.
From an incentive perspective, the CEO had a big incentive to move the share price above 1,80 EUR so that the management fees would kick back in.
Implicitly however there was always the risk, that the CEO would hesitate to reduce the asset base as this would reduce the AUM and management fees accordingly, but the risk/return profile looked OK for me.
My “resident blog troll” might interpret this post as “The 20 Stocks to stay away from in 2020” due to the underwhelming 2019 performance, but these are the stocks that are in my blog portfolio in the beginning of 2020. Every reader can do whatever he wants with that list, either ignore it, go short or whatever.
I do a brief recap of each investment case including a short outlook from a portfolio perspective.
The summaries of the previous years can be found here:
My 22(+1) Investments for 2019
My 21 investments for 2018
My 27 investments for 2017
My 27 investments for 2016
My 28 investments for 2015
My 24 investments for 2014
My 22 investments for 2013
1. Miko (4,1% weight)
Disclaimer: This is not investment advice. Please do your own research !!!
Despite many issues in the past, I do think that German Startups Group, a stock listed VC investment vehicle, represents an interesting “deep value” situation, where one can buy 1 EUR of underlying value for less than 50 cents. A lot of things have changed into the right direction and there is the chance for some (soft) catalysts in the relatively near future. On the other hand, the unusual corporate structure in combination with a small market cap (EUR 15mn) and relatively illiquid trading also clearly makes it a risky investment.
“Never say never”
Some of my readers will ask: What did make my opinion change on this ?
Kanam Grundinvest was a special situation liquidation investment I made around 2 years ago. After 2 years, the position returned ~13,5% and is therefore on the upper range of my estimated return range from 4-8% p.a.. From the initial purchase price of around 16,17 EUR/unit I received back ~ 9,50 EUR in tax free distributions, resulting in a 2,5% remaining portfolio position.
However the current price of the units at ~8.85 EUR is very close to the intrinsic value of 9,24 EUR. So there is not that much juice left and Warburg will not liquidate super fast as they keep earning their fees as long this vehicle exists.