Category Archives: Fortum

Short cuts: AS Creation, Fortum, KAS Bank annual report

AS Creation

As Creation is a stock I owned in the past. Last November I had quickly updated the case and written the following:

In any case, I don’t think AS Creation is interesting at the current level of 30 EUR. At a 2014 P/E of 15-20 (before any extra write-offs on Russia) there seems to be quite some turn around fantasy being priced in.

Just a few days ago, AS Creation came out with an anouncement. There will be no dividend and the loss for the year 2014 is 9,3 mn EUR, at the upper end of the communicated range. In parallel, the CFO left the company. The loss seems triggered by a 10 mn EUR FX loss and a 5 mn EUR fine in France. They did not give further details but one can assume that the German business wasn’t that great either.

In any case a good reminder that despite cheap fundamentals, not every “value stock” is good value.


Fortum is also a stock which I owned in the past. I sold them in autumn 2012 because I was not really convinced by the idea anymore.

Looking at the chart, we can see that Fortum has done OK since then, especially compared to like German utilities like RWE, which looked a lot cheaper back then:

Again a reminder that cheap doesn’t mean good. The even more interesting aspect is that a few days ago, Fortum finalised the sale of the Swedish power distribution grid to a consortium of pension plans and insurers for 4.4 bn EUR.

According to Reuters, the multiples were quite “Juicy” for the seller:

The deal values the network at around 16.6 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), the same as for Fortum’s Finnish grid sale in 2013.

16,6 times EBITDA for a business which is quite comparable to my portfolio stock Electrica is an interesting price point. Clearly, you need to take some kind of discount for a recently privatized Romanian company, but I think it clearly shows what kind of prices especially pension and insurance companies are ready to pay. This makes me feel even better about the prospects of Electrica than before.

KAS Bank annual report

When I looked first at KAS Bank 2 and a half years ago, i was drawn in mostly by a very low valuation and the solid business model with a good “mean reversion” potential. that’s what I wrote back then:


KAS Bank for me looks like a very interesting opportunity within the banking sector due to the following reasons:

+ attractive specialist business model (custodian)
+ cheap valuation even based on current “bottom of the cycle” earnings
+ valuation depressed because of overall hostility against banks
+ low or no analyst coverage
+ reversion to the mean speculation a lot less risky than with normal banks as virtually no risk of dilution (even Basel III standards are met by a wide margin)
+ potential upside ~100% over the next 3-5 years plus dividends+ low correlation / beta good portfolio diversifier

The upside has realized much quicker than i thought. As of now, including dividends, the stock return +75%. So good analysis, great return ? Well not really. Actually, if I am honest, this was mostly luck as I made a big mistake or omission when i analyzed the stock: I did not look at the pension liability. And this despite the fact that I have written and warned quite often about pensions.

In Kas Bank’s case I have ignored that because the plan was funded. That was a mistake and I will show you why.

Looking into the 2014 annual report of KAS Bank, we can see that they made a nice 24 mn EUR profit this year, which includes the one time effect of the canceled German JV. However, total equity DEcreased from 213 to 194 mn EUR. As the 2014 dividend is around 10 mn EUR, the question is clearly: Where did the other 35 mn EUR equity go ?

The solution to this question can be found on page 52, in the Comprehensive Income statement: KAS Bank lost 52,6 mn EUR pre tax) because of the increase in its pension liability. 2014 has been a brutal year for pensions. The discount rate has been reduced significantly. In 2013 I didn’t pay attention, but KAS Bank used 3,9% which was on the very high-end of permitted rates for EUR. In 2014 they had to slash this to 2,2% (page 80). It gets even crazier if we look at the gross numbers on page 81. The gross DBO increase 105 mn EUR from 182 mn to 287 mn. Luckily, some of that increase could be countered by asset increases. From an overfunding of 40 mn EUR, the plan went to break even. What really surprised me is the duration of the plan with around 22 years. The problem for me is the following: Despite the current funded status, there is a significant amount of risk in the plan. The gross size of the plan is 1,5 times the equity of KAS Bank. The run a significant equity allocation (85 mn EUR or ~ 45% of KAS Banks Equity). So in a scenario with a stock market crash with continuing low-interest rates, KAS Bank would pretty quickly be forced to do a capital increase.

Additionally, the current environment is clearly not helping KAS Bank in its core business. A custody bank is always deposit rich which is a problem now. Another second level problem is mentioned on page 18:

Treasury income, mainly securities lending, decreased by 20% to EUR 11.4 million (2013: EUR 14.3 million). The lower income from securities lending was primarily due to a market wide liquidity surplus which decreased
the prices for securities lending services.

This decrease happened even before the ECB started pumping liquidity into the markets.

So overall, I have been very lucky so far. I didn’t take into account the pension liability in my first analysis and fundamentals got worse for the business itself. Nevertheless I made good money because i bought cheap enough. Optically, the stock still looks priced oK at P/B 1, trailing P/E of 7 and 5,6% dividend yield, but fundamentally, especially looking at ultra low interest rates for quite some time, KAS Bank is in my view now at fair value.

However, I didn’t want to stretch my luck too far and therefore I sold the whole position at around 11,50 EUR per share.

Some thoughts on utility stocks (Fortum, EVN)

In my portfolio, I have 2 utility stocks, Fortum OY from Finland and EVN AG from Austria. Both are part of the portfolio since the beginning.

The idea behind those two investments were the following:

1. utility stocks in general looked cheap and relatively save at that point in time
2. both, EVN and Fortum had a large share of non-carbon electricity generation capacity. “Fossil fuel” burners were expected to suffer as they need to pay more for the carbon emissions in the future
3. both companies are located in countries which are not directly impacted from the EUR crisis, so the risk of special taxes etc. should have been low

So far the investment thesis didn’t really work out.

First, the utility index underperformed with -8% the corresponding full index (Stoxx Europe 600) by a whopping 11%.

Second, both EVN and Fortum managed to underperform the utility index. EVN by -3.7%, Fortum by a dramatic 30.4% (including dividends)

If we look at the index constituents, we can see some interesting things:

Perf. 12/2010 –
SSE PLC 18.2%
SNAM SPA -12.4%
TERNA SPA -12.8%
EDP -22.6%
E.ON AG -22.8%
GDF SUEZ -27.3%
ENDESA -29.8%
RWE AG -34.2%
ENEL SPA -34.3%
EDF -46.3%

Frist thing to notice: “Renewables” really did badly, Mostly Iberdrola, Verbund and Fortum but also Enel Green Power. UK utilities did best. At least peripheral utilities did underperform as well, however French utilities were the worst (EDF, Suez, Veolia).

If we exclude UK and go for “EURO” utilities, the picture looks relatively speaking better, with a total return of -23.82%, this index performed really badly, EVN here (although not in the index) looks like a clear outperformer. Fortum still doesn’t look that good…

Perf. 12/2010-
ENAGAS SA -3.45%
SNAM SPA -12.37%
TERNA SPA -12.85%
EDP -22.64%
E.ON AG -22.93%
GDF SUEZ -27.49%
ENDESA -29.75%
RWE AG -34.24%
ENEL SPA -34.39%
FORTUM OYJ -37.06%
VERBUND AG -42.23%
EDF -46.34%

So looking back, what happened, especially to Fortum ?

– first of all, the Finish government introduced a special tax for Fortum although they didn’t need to. Bad luck
– secondly and more importantly, the price for carbon emission rights fell dramatically. As the following chart shows, CER prices fell a dramatic -75% from mid 2011 until now.

So the “Built in” (and as we know now “priced in”) competitive advantage of renewable power generators against “conventional” generators seems to have narrowed. Interestingly, the big divergence between Index and renewables opened up only in the last few months.

Additionally, the business model of electricity genrators in general seems to have eroded somehow, as it seems to be that they are on the worng side of the current political debates. Maybe not without their own fault.

If we look at the performance numbers above, we can see a second interesting detail:

Gas utilities (apart from the French) and grid operators do a lot better than electricity generators. The top 5 performers are either gas utilities (Enagas, Gas Natural) or Grid operators (Red, Snam, Terna).

A quick look on relative valuation shows that Fortum is still relatively expensive, as well as EVN, although EVN should be treated differently:

Name BEst P/E EV/BE EBITDA Curr Yr  
RWE AG 8.11 4.37 6.40%
EDF 8.07 4.80 6.28%
HERA SPA 10.49 5.16 2.12%
GAS NATURAL SDG SA 7.68 5.67 2.58%
IBERDROLA SA 6.76 6.02 3.45%
GDF SUEZ 12.15 6.10 4.18%
E.ON AG 8.82 6.21 7.19%
A2A SPA 6.65 6.75 7.00%
ENAGAS SA 9.28 7.27 7.48%
FLUXYS BELGIUM 18.23 8.34 8.95%
FORTUM OYJ 10.16 8.36 6.21%
EVN AG 9.01 8.60 8.44%
SNAM SPA 11.73 8.74 7.75%
VERBUND AG 13.66 8.87 8.29%

So looking back, it was not a good idea to buy the “Carbon story” although I was lucky to a certain extent with EVN. However going forward I still have to find out what I am going to do. At the moment, Gas Natural does look quite attractive.

I think the Carbon Emission Right (CERs) might also be an interesting area to look at.

more to come…..

Catching up: Praktiker, Aire KGaA, Tonnelerie, Fortum

Time to catch up on my portfolio shares…


As announced, I sold out the Praktiker bonds right after the annula shareholder meeting. Including accrued interest, I realised 43.65%, a small gain against the initial (“dirty”) Price of 41.62%.

I will do a more detailed “post mortem” analysis later as I think that Praktiker implies some important lessons for senior bond investors.


The AIRE KGaA tender offer was finally settled on July 17th for EUR 18.25. Cash quota for the portfolio is now above 20%.

Just right now, the bidder again increased the offer to 19.75 EUR per share

They really seem to want to delist the company. The nice thing about the offer is the fact that the increase applies also to those who have tendered the shares at 18.25 EUR !!! Thank you !


Tonnelerie issued a rather vague but positive outlook for the next year. s they ussually don’t do this at all, this might be the reason behind the recent positive stock price developement.


Fortum issued relatively weak half year interim results. The stock price since then dropped by more than 20% bellow the 2009 lows. Buying opportunity or value trap ? Somthing I have to analyse further. However it is clear that my initial investment thesis (higher oil prices, higher energy prices, higher profit) didn’t really work out. Same for EVN and OMV.

Newsflow – kein schöner Tag (Fortum, Dräger)

Zwei mal Nachrichten zu unseren Portfolio Werten:

Hat heute Halbjahreszahlen gemeldet. Lag anscheinend unter den Erwartungen der Analysten und es ging dann gleich bis auf knapp unter 18 EUR runter. Das Ergebnis war von Sondereffekten geprägt, die aber alle POSITIV waren. Der Wachstumstreiber Russland läuft wohl gemäss den Erwartungen- Aus Value Sicht kein Handlungsbedarf.

Draeger hat heute die Guidance fr die EBIT Marge für das Gesamtjahr erhöht. Der Kurs der Vorzugsaktie ist in der Spitze um deutlich über 10% gestiegen, die Genußscheine nur um 2%. Das ist natürlich nicht gerade gut für unsere Vorzüge Short / Genußschein long Strategie. Fundamental hat sich aber an der Einschätzung zum eklatanten Misspricing nichts geändert.

Portfoliotransaktionen – Verkauf ENI & Aufstockung Fortum

Per heute werden wir, wie beim Rückblick auf das erste Halbjahr angekündigt, schon eine erste Transaktion vornehmen:

Verkauf ENI, dafür wertgleiche Aufstockung FORTUM

Bei ENI ist unsere These von einem schnellen Rebound wg. Lybien nicht aufgegangen. Bei Fortum ist u.E. der Investmentcase intakt und die Sondersteuer eine gute Gelegenheit um nachzulegen.

Generell dürfte das Thema Sondersteuer bei Energieunternehmen und Versorgern in Italien evtl. auch noch mal ein Thema werden, in Finnland hat man das jetzt hinter sich.

VWAP wird noch nachgereicht.


ENI VWAP 13.07.: 15,57 EUR, Verkauf 20 Tsd Stück mit Erlös 311.400 EUR. AK 17,40 EUR, macht einen Verlust von -10,52% vor Dividende, nach Dividende -7,87%Fortum VWAP 13.07.: 19.17 EUR, Kauf 16 Tsd. Stück zu 306.720 EUR.
Nach Transaktionskosten erhöht sich der Cash dadurch um 3.680 EUR.

Fortum – Windfall Tax und Risiken regulierter Unternehmen

Eigentlich hat unser Depotwert Fortum alles richtig gemacht: Sie produzieren Strom hauptsächlich aus kernkraftwerken und Wasserkraft, kaum CO2 Ausstoss und sollten damit ein klarer Gewinner steigender Strompreise sein, denn die Konkurrenz muss ja demnächst für CO2 Belastung mächtig zahlen.

Nix da sagt die Finnische Regierung und implementiert flux eine “Windfall Tax”.

Fortum selber ist darüber nicht gerade erfreut.

Es wird darauf hingewiesen, dass es schon inkonsequent ist, zum einen CO2 Emissionen zu besteuern, dann aber auch gleich eine Sondersteuer für CO2 freie Energiegewinnung zu implementieren:

Emissions trading is the EU’s primary means for combating climate change: it is designed to increase the cost of fossil-fuel powered generation and to benefit CO2-free generation. After 2012, power generation will not receive any free emissions allowances and all allowances will be auctioned. From this, the Finnish State is estimated collect EUR 225–600 million annually depending on the price of the allowances. This fact is ignored in the Government´s programme. In Fortum’s opinion, it is important that energy taxation supports commonly agreed energy and climate policy that also the new Finnish Government strongly endorses. The proposed windfall and uranium taxes are direct support to fossil-fuel powered generation and therefore in obvious contradiction with climate goals.

Fairerweise muss man sagen, dass eine Sondersteuer schon mal 2009/2010 diskutiert wurde und dann erstmal auf Eis gelegt wurde.

Der Fortum Kurs sah in den letzten Tagen ähnlich wie Asian Bamboo aus:

Es stellt sich die Frage, ist der Kursrückgang gerechtfertigt ?

Rechnet man mal grob mit 120 Mio. Gesamtbelastung p.a. bei Fortum wären das bei 10% Kapitalkosten ungefähr 1,2 Mrd. EUR Barwert. Bei 888 Mio Aktien entsprechen die mindesten 3-4 EUR Kursrückgang aber einem Verlust der Marketcap von um die 3 Mrd. EUR. Man könnte also von einer Überreaktion sprechen.

Generell zeigt dass aber, dass in Zeiten knappen Kassen regulierte Industrien ein beliebtes Ziel für Sondersteuern sind, so z.B. auch bei unserem Wert Magyar Telekom, wo wir die Sondersteuer allerdings zum günstigen Einstieg genutzt haben.

So etwas könnte natürlich noch in weiteren Ländern bevorstehen, gefährdet wären Versorger und TelCos z.B. in den PIIGS Staaten.

Fazit: Beim Investieren in regulierte Industrien sollte man das Risiko des Staatseingriffes nicht ausser acht lassen, momentan gilt das v.a. für Versorger und zum Teil auch für TelCos. Allerdings können Kursbewegungen aufgrund solcher Eingriffe durchaus interessante Einstiegspunkte für längerfristig orientierte Valueinvestoren darstellen.

Disclosure: Verfasser hält selber Aktien von Fortum

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