Category Archives: English

Wexboy’s Summer Challenge – send him your favourite stock idea

Very good idea from the excellent Wexboy blog:

Send your favourite idea to him and he will analyse the stock and post it on his blog. Only very few “restrictions” apply:

– Should be accessible to the average reader – basically any company (or fund) listed on a developed market exchange (doesn’t exclude emerging market stocks if they’re listed in London/NYC, for example)

– Favourite‘s a flexible idea – might be the latest stock you bought, the most interesting/unusual, the cheapest, the least risky, the stock with the most upside potential, etc…

– You should have some skin in the game – please disclose what % of your portfolio is in this stock

– Stocks that can be bought & held for a few years are definitely preferable – so no ‘quick trades‘, or (specifically) event-driven ideas

I will be doing my own review/valuation of all stocks submitted. Remember, like most readers, I’m interested in great investments, not speculations… And I use a value perspective. This is not to suggest that I’m averse to a good growth story – I love ‘em, I just don’t want to pay too much for them!

I hesitate to call any stock in my portfolio as best idea, nevertheless I will participate with German DIY chain Hornbach Baumarkt AG (ISISN DE0006084403). Although I have analysed the stock extensively in German language, I was always to lazy to wwrte a detailed analysis in English. Maybe Wexboy will do that for me 😉

Some highligts of Hornbach:

+ honest, long term oriented management (majority family owned) with clear strategy
+ conservative balance sheet, replacement value significantly above book value
+ still cheap (P/B 0.96, PE 10)
+ only limited impact of internet on business model
+ special short/medium term growth opportunity if largest competitor Praktiker defaults
+ 5% weighting in my model portfolio (max. allowed before price appriciation, similar in private portfolio)

Some reasons why stock is cheap:

– complicated legal structure (both, holding and operating company are listed)
– low liquidity, low or almost no analyst coverage
– very competitive business
– no short term catalysts

As Wexboy wants as many ideas as possible, I would highly recommend all readers to send their proposals to him.

Core Value WMF AG – Hidden “Mittelstand” Champion – Part 1

WMF AG is one of the “core value” stocks, I have only mentioned briefly. WMF was founded over 150 years ago (wikipedia). The company is well known for generations in Germany for producing excellent kitchen supplements, especially cooking pots and pans, cuttlery and other “kitchen helpers”. Additionally they started at some time in the sixties to produce coffee makers, especially for the professional area like restaurant, company cafeterias etc.
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Book Review: Joel Greenblatt -You can be a stock market genius

This is one of the books I always wanted to read but never managed to:

When Joel Greenblatt published this book in 1997,he had a tremendous run as manager of Gotham capital.

The book is aimed towards the “average” investor and makes the case for investing in special situations.

The best special situation he recommends are spinoffs, when a usually large company is spinning off a part of its business in the form of stocks which are simply distributed to the owner of the large company. As the owner of the large company don’t really want this stock, this creates an investing opportunity, especially if the management of the spin off is incentivised correctly.

He touches a couple of other special situations (merger securities, recaps, reorganisations, companies emerging from bankruptcy), which should be well known to people having read “Margin of safety” or other value oriented books.

The case studies in the book are good, it is interesting to see that Greenblatt invests even in highly indebted companies if they are “special”.

For a European investor in our time howver, the book contains only partly directly actionable advise, as spinoffs are avery rare breed today. However it is still a very good books which shows that “special situation” investing can lead to great investment results.

Summary: I think the book is a good start for anyone who wants to have an “easy to read” entry into the world of special situation investing, although the focus of the book might not be easily applicable in current times.

Vetropack – Business model, Peer Group

After yesterday’s starting post for Vetropack, I would like to add some additional thoughts.

Business model & possible moat:
Vetrpopack basiscally produces glass bottles for beer, juice and softdrink companies. With all those beverages, usually both, the brewing and botteling part is done locally. Beverages esp. in glass containers are ussually difficult and expensive to ship, so especially the big breweries and soft drink companies produce everything locally.

The same applies for the glass containers themnselves , which are relatively cheap but expensive and difficult to transport. So somehow similar to a cement plant, someone with a local glass bottle production has a local natural cost advantage (“moat”) to competitors from geographically remote regions. The major difference to cement plants being the lower cyclicality of the business.

Peer Companies

I found the following companies which could be considered “peers” i.e. companies manufacturing glass packaging:

Vidrala SpA (Spain, glass bottles, very similar to Vetropack)
Gerresheimer (Germany, glass and plasticv bottles, more focused on pharmaceutical containers)
Zignago Vetro SpA (Italy, glass bottles)

Based on “simple” valuation ratios, the results look interesting:

Tkr & Exch Mkt Cap P/E P/B P/S EV/EBITDA T12M Net D/E LF
VET SW 650.8 10.40 1.23 0.80 4.46 0.00
VID SM 418.1 10.49 1.84 1.08 6.33 76.20
GXI GR 913.4 17.59 1.81 0.86 6.38 69.45
ZV IM 373.6 11.03 3.51 1.41 6.40 69.86

Although the P/Es are quite similar, all the other peers carry a significant amount of debt. This results in a singificantly lower EV/EBITDA multiple for Vetropack compared to its much more highly levered peers, which interestingly all trade around 6.4x EV/EBITDA.

EV/EBITDA is often used as a “proxy” for a private company valueation (Gabelli). Under this metric, Vertropack would be significantly undervalued compared to its Peers.

For me its not clear why the most solid company of the peer group should have the lowest relative valueation, in my opnion this should actually imply a premium.

Portfolio Management
As mentioned in the first post, Vetropack has currently a weight of 2.9%. As the cash balance in the portfolio is currently at the low end of the target (10%), I will either need to decrease another position or fund the increase through a short position.

My initial idea to create a pair trade between Vetropack and Gerresheimer (short) does not work to well. Correlations between the peer companies are extremely low (Vetropack against Gerresheimer for instance 0,24 for the last 12 months).

So before increasing the Vetropack position I will have to reduce other positions first.

Magix Sixes – Quick Check UPM-Kymmene OYJ (ISIN FI0009005987)

One stock which has been popping in and out of the Magic Sixes Screen several times is the Finish Paper Company UPM Kymmene.

Current “simple” value metrics are (stock price 8,30 EUR):

P/B 0.60
P/E Trailing 2010 5.4
Dividend Yield: 6,65%

Market Cap is 4.4 bn, there are no majority shareholders. The stock is fairly liquid.

Some standard quick qualitiy checks:

Tangible Equity: Tangible book value per share is 10,86 EUR (YE 2010), which represents ~80% of book value, so no issues here
Debt: Net debt per share is relatively high at ~7.1 EUR per share, however with ~2.5 EUR trailing 12M EBITDA per share, total EV/EBITDA at ~6.8 looks OK.
Free cashflow: Free cashflow is positive as far as I can look back (1999).

If I find a stock interesting, I try to do a quick check of historical earnings quality and cashflow usage based on Bloomberg numbers:

Year Earnings Dividends Free Cashflow Debt per share
2001 1.93 0.75 1.62 10.52
2002 1.06 0.75 1.67 10.53
2003 0.61 0.75 1.26 10.21
2004 1.76 0.75 0.70 9.58
2005 0.50 0.75 0.31 9.62
2006 0.65 0.75 1.11 7.92
2007 0.16 0.75 0.37 7.96
2008 -0.35 0.40 0.14 9.12
2009 0.33 0.45 1.97 7.74
2010 1.08 0.55 1.43 7.14
Total 7.73 6.65 10.57  
In % of Earnings   86.1% 136.8%

In this case, the result looks quite good. UPM seems to generate much higher free cashflows than earnings (137%). Also 86% of Earnings have been distributed to shareholders via dividends and the company has significantly reduced debt until 2010.

First summary after this “Quick check”: From a “semi mechanical” point of view, the stock might be a interesting Contrarian investment, so it makes sense to more deeply research the company.

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