Category Archives: Hornbach

Hornbach Baumarkt AG revisited- Where are the market share donators ?

Hornbach Baumarkt is one of my few remaining initial position after almost 5 and a half years.

Looking at the stock chart we can see that compared to the German small cap index, Hornbach looks pretty lame:



At the time of writing, within my portfolio Hornbach clearly was a drag on performance with a total performance of 13,7% since 01.01.2011 vs. 109,5% for the portfolio and 73% for the SDAX.

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Short cuts: Greenlight Re, Hornbach & TGS Nopec

Greenlight Re:

One reader Emailed me that I had made a mistake in my initial post with regard to the book value and P/B ratio. This is what I wrote in December:


2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
P/B Ratio 1,24 0,96 1,23 1,23 1,08 1,03 1,19 1,05 0,78
P/B Ratio adj. B Shares 1,48 1,15 1,46 1,47 1,29 1,23 1,42 1,25 0,93

For some reason, the official Bloomberg ratios do not include the class B shares held by David Einhorn, so I adjusted them accordingly.

Actually, the B shares are included in the stated Bloomberg Ratios despite showing the wrong number of shares, so the “true” P/B ratio is around ~0,79 which then of course makes the “mean reversion” story even more compelling.

Additionally, Greenlight already released the monthly investment return for December which was -0,1% against -1,6% for the S&P 500. So at least its going into the right direction.

Maybe one quick point on comparisons of Greenlight Re to Berkshire, Markel or Fairfax: Although it is true that the other companies have better track records, I do think that Greenlight has one big advantage: The company is transparent and relatively easy to value as the whole investment portfolio is marked-to-market. And as I pointed out, Greenlight for me is not a long-term compounding story but a mid-term special situation betting on a David Einhorn outperformance.


After Hornbach’s profit warning in December, a lot of people asked me: What are you going to do ? Are you selling now ? Why do you own Hornbach at all ?

First thing: I wil do nothing and watch. For me , the profit warning was very surprising as I thought that they are on a good track and have the right strategy, although the business they are in is very tough.

For me, Hornbach is a pretty low risk position. My expectation was that I can make around 10-12% p.a. with very little risk. Until Q3 2015, that was on track but now of course it looks like a clear underperformer.

One of the reasons for this is clearly the fact that in contrast to almost any other stock in Germany, Hornbach did not enjoy any multiple expansion over the last 5 years. For a capital intensive, real estate dominated business like Hornbach, book value is one of the relevant measures. If we look at this we can clearly see that Hornbach now is valued at the low end of the historical range of P/B which ranged from ~0,8 – 1,8 in the past 15 years:

P/B BV/Share
30.12.1999 1,86 8,335
29.12.2000 1,46 8,679
28.12.2001 1,07 11,654
30.12.2002 0,99 11,642
30.12.2003 1,09 12,103
30.12.2004 1,10 13,201
30.12.2005 1,17 13,661
29.12.2006 1,33 15,182
28.12.2007 1,31 16,441
30.12.2008 0,81 18,784
30.12.2009 0,89 20,584
30.12.2010 1,09 22,947
30.12.2011 0,93 24,900
28.12.2012 0,99 25,881
30.12.2013 1,03 27,101
30.12.2014 1,04 29,023
Jan 16 0,84 31,230

Obviously, Hornbach does have some issues. Personally I think one needs to watch the E-Commerce issue most closely. So far I thought that DIY does not have big issues with Amazon & CO but this now needs to be tested.

TGS Nopec

Tgs Nopec released preliminary 2015 figures and a first outlook for 2016. Naturally, the outlook is rather subdued. Combined with the drop in oil prices, the stock got hammered. For shareholders, the only positive aspect is that TGS still is doing a lot better than its capital-intensive competitors, for instance PGS or CGG:

For the moment I will not do anything. Clearly the oil price went lower than I ever thought but TGS has net cash and will manage the cycle conservatively. So I don’t think one has to panic now.

Overall I think the best advice in such a situation is: Either you panic early or you don’t panic at all. For the early panic it is already too late for oil related stocks in my opinion, so the only alternative is to sit it out.

Short cuts: Rhoen Klinikum, Hornbach, Vivendi

Rhoen Klinikum

KABOOM !! After a lot of corporate boardroom chess, Rhoen Klinikum and Fresenius today cam out swinging and announced that Rhoen will sell the mAjority of its business for 3.07 bn EUR to Fresenius.

Among other (and subject to regulatory approvals), Rhoen plan s to:

– pay a 13.80 EUR special dividend (this translates into ~1.9 bn EUR)
– and/or repurchase shares
– they will keep hospitals (mostly university hospitals) with an annual turnover of 1 bn where they expect an EBIDTA margin of ~15% in 2015
– the purchase price is cash, but Rhoen will use part of it to pay back debt
– the purchase price is priced at 12x EV/EBITDA

The stock price jumped initially today to 22 EUR and something but came back to ~ 19.50, giving Rhoen a current EV of around 3.5 bn (Net debt 800 mn)

The “stub” (remaining business) is currently then priced at around 500 mn EV but expected to earn 150 EBITDA in 2015. If we assume a Forward EV/EBITDA of around 6-8x, then a fair value of the current Rhoen shares (pre tax etc.) would be the current 19,50 plus 3,50 to 5 EUR per share or so. Slightly higher than the 22,50 Fresenius was ready to pay two years ago.

So for the time being I will not sell the shares and watch what is going to happen. At some point in time, the stub itself coul dbe an interesting situation in itself, as it will most likely drop out of the index etc. Sow I guess I will sell before the extra dividend is actually paid.


Quite a surprise: Kingfisher representatives, which owns 25% of the holding votes and 5% of the Baumarkt shares are actually leaving the supervisory board and planning to enter the German market.

They seem to target the “professional” market, not the retail sector. Clearly this is also the sector where Hornbach is strongest.

I am not sure how to interpret this. Clearly, it would be better if Praktiker (and MAx Bahr) would just disappear. I do not really understand why Kingfisher wants to enter the German market. Kingfisher is a great company, but in their major markets, UK and France they are number 1 with a clear size advantage. In Germany, they are a small fish and I would claim that the German retail market in general is one of the most brutal markets in teh world. Even WalMart didn’t have a chance here.

I am wondering if somehow now Hornbach enters the French market ? As far as I know, they so far operate some shops along the border which draw a lot of French people because prices are a lot lower in Germany.


Some 18 months ago, I had a quick look at Vivendi because Seth Klarman bought a stake.

Subsequently, he sold out again a large part at a loss. Now however, there seems to come some actual change. French “raider” Bolloré became vice chairman and the company announced the following:

Bowing to investor pressure to overhaul its structure, Vivendi will begin a formal study to separate its French phone unit SFR and assemble the rest of its businesses into a new international media group based in France, it said yesterday. Billionaire shareholder Vincent Bollore will become deputy chairman, as Vivendi ends its search for a new chief executive.

This is quite interesting. Thinking loud, Vodafone with all its Verizon Cash might be interested in the telephone part (after cashing out their minority participation to Vivendi some years ago….).

Nevertheless, I still hesitate to buy Vivendi. 2012 was a very bad year for them. Under my metric the made a loss, increased the share count and have 1 EUR per share more debt despite showing positive free cashflow.

Note to myself: Put Bolloré on my watch list. This guy seems to know what he is doing in France.

Short cuts: Praktiker/Hornbach, Thermador, Portfolio transactions


Yesterday, Praktiker gave notice that also the “healthy” subsidiary Max Bahr is insolvent and will seek creditor protection. In my opinion this coul simply the following:

1. an even lower recovery for the Praktiker Bonds. I had read a couple of analysis where people thought that Max Bahr could be sold for hundreds of millions with the proceeds covering the bond partly. Under current circumstances, Praktiker Bond holders in my opinion would be lucky if they get even 5% of nominal back. There will be nothing left.

2. It will be much harder to keep Max Bahr as a fully functional competitive entity. So this improves the outlook a lot for the other DIY chains. If for instance Hornbach could get 10-20% of Praktikers business, this might turn into nice growth. I am therefore quite surprised that the Hornbach shares didn’t react on this news. I personally think that there is a good chance to see a “Schlecker” effect. Schlecker had a higher market share compared to Praktiker, but according to this article, competitors DM and Rossmann saw sales jumping +14 to +16%. A lot of this increase is sales per existing square meter, so I assume with a nice profitability.

I think Hornbach at the moment provides a good risk/return relationship. The had a rather bad last quarter due to the ugly weather. Based on personal observations, I assume that the made up for that in the current quarter plus tailwinds from the Praktiker bancruptcy make me positive about the shares.


Thermador issued half year numbers a few days ago, here and here.

Clearly, 2013 will be a difficult year for them. But as the already mentioned after Q1, Q2 was already relatively seen much better than Q1 (sales down -5.2% against 2012 vs. -8.7% in Q1). Profitability is clearly lower, but all in all I think they are still doing quite well. I would have hoped that the stock price might go down a little bit in order to add to my half position, but it seems not to be the case right now.

Portfolio transactions

I sold the second half of the Dart position today at ~2.45 GBP. On the other side, I am adding to Hornbach Baumarkt as I think there is a very good chance for a positive medium term surprise despite all the issues. I will increase from currently 3.7% of the portfolio to a “full” 5%.

Magic Sixes meets Boss Score: Mr. Bricolage (ISIN FR0004034320)

As some might remember, I kind of like the Magic Sixes Screen (P/E < 6, P/B 6%) initially mentioned by Peter Cundill.

Many of the “Magic Sixes” companies are declining and/or cyclical companies which do not score well on my Boss Screen which is looking for stable companies.

The exception at first sight seems to be French DIY chain Mr. Bricolage.

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Portfolio updates & ManU short

Draeger Genußscheine

After the dramatic increase in the Draeger Genußscheine, the portfolio weight of this position increased to aropund 11%. As 10% is my maximum treshold, I will sell down to 10% of portfolio weight from today on.

Manchester United short

Manchester United is now avaliable to short at Interactive Brokers. Therefore I will start with a 1% portfolio weight short position as of today as discussed in the post.

On the third trading day, the stock showed already a similar pattern to Facebook after the IPO, with the banks supportiung now at 13,40 USD after the IPO price didn’t hold.

Rebalancing: Total Produce, Hornbach, Vetropack

Due to differences in performance and paid out , some of my core holdings dropped significantly below the 5% target thresholds, among others:

– Total Produce (~4.2%(
– Hornbach (~4.5%)
– Vetropack (4.16%)

For those 3 companies, I will add to a full 5% over the next days depending on volume.


By the way, please do not forget that I might own or buy or sell the mentioned securities privatley and read the disclaimer.

Praktiker Bond (ISIN DE000A1H3JZ8) – Scenario analysis & crazy hedging idea

I already wrote a lot of posts about Praktiker in the past.

My previous summary was something like this : I don’t understand the motivation behind the recent events especially asking senior bond holders for a cut first before shareholders contribute , why they didn’t do any capital increase when the stock price was higher etc. etc.

After thinking about this the most likely possibility in my opinion is the following thesis:

Current Management doesn’t work in the interest of the current shareholders and bondholders but in the interest of potential future investors.

The result of this is relatively clear: It would be suicide to invest into the shares, as you can take a massive dilution at some point in time for granted. However, a new investor might prefer a “non-bancrupt” company, so for the bond things might look better from a risk/return perspective.

With this in mind, I think one can now try to analyse the different possible scenarios for bondholders, which in my opinion are

1) No bankruptcy – (unrealistic) best case: Take over within 1-2 year and early full pay out of bond
2) No bankruptcy – normal case: Bond pays out as scheduled
3) No bankruptcy – bad case: coupon gets reduced in second round of bondholders vote
4) bancruptcy – normal case: bond gets “fair” share of liquidation value 40% in 2016
5) bancruptcy – bad case: “DIP” financing reduces liquidation value significantly , value 10% in 201

Then we have to do 4 more steps:

First, assign probabilities to each scenario and the second, “model” cashflows.In a third steps we then can calculate “weighted” total cashflow and then calculate an internal rate of return based on current market prices.

In the following table, I have made a first try:

Bankrupt Prob. in % 2013 2014 2015 2016
Best Case No 5.00% 5.88 105.88 0.00 0.00
Normal Case No 60.00% 5.88 5.88 5.88 105.88
bad case No 10.00% 1.00 1.00 1.00 101.00
Normal Case Yes 12.50% 0.00 0.00 0.00 40.00
bad case Yes 12.50% 0.00 0.00 0.00 10.00
Weighted CF   100% 3.91875 8.91875 3.625 79.875

This scenario would give the bond at the current price of 40% an implicit IRR of 28%, which would be attractive. If we would change for instance the “normal non bancruptcy” probability to 35% and increase the two bancrupty scenarios to 25% each, we would end upwith a 17.6% IRR.

Bankrupt Prob. in % 2013 2014 2015 2016
Best Case No 5.00% 5.88 105.88 0.00 0.00
Normal Case No 35.00% 5.88 5.88 5.88 105.88
bad case No 10.00% 1.00 1.00 1.00 101.00
Normal Case Yes 25.00% 0.00 0.00 0.00 40.00
bad case Yes 25.00% 0.00 0.00 0.00 10.00
Weighted CF   100% 2.45 7.45 2.16 59.66

An analysis like this can help to understand better the sensitivities of such a rather complicated special situation investment.

Of coure, the probability of bankruptcy is the single most important driver, so let’s discuss this shortly:

On the positive side we have the fact that Praktiker survived the year end and the restocking of inventory for the spring 2012 season. Further, I think at the moment no one has a real advantage if Praktiker goes bankrupt. The biggest problem, the leases for the real estate, could be better reduced if Praktiker would be bancrupt but on the other hand they might have much more problems getting merchandise delivered even if bankruptcy would only be short term.

Additionally, I think the “year end accounting blood bath” makes more sense on a going concern basis than if one would prepare a “prepackaged” bancruptcy.

Potential Catalyst:

In my opinion, something with regard to financing has to happen this year. So there might be a good chance that the bond reacts positively within a limited time frame if the refinancing package is hopefully finalized.

Stand alone risk / return and portfolio view

If I compare Praktiker with the sucessful WestLB Genußschein investment, the Praktiker bond looks more risky, both from the potential downside and time horizon. However, also the potential upside is a lot higher at current levels.

However, on a portfolio level, things look differently. With special situations, I try to make “bets” as long as they are company specific and not directly correlate with each other or “normal” portfolio companies.

With Praktiker, we have the interesting situation that the bond ecoonomically is even negatively correlated with one of my core holdings, Hornbach.

This is something we can clearly see in current company news. In 2011, the German DIY segment showed around 3% growth, Praktiker lost almost 10% in slaes whereas Hornbach and OBI gained significantly above the market growth with 5-6% growth each.

If Praktiker really goes bancrupt, Hornbach among other will profit even more, either through taking over some of the better locations or just gaining more customers. On the other hand, if Praktiker manages the turn around or even gets a startegic shareholder, they might win back a lot of customers from the competition and hurt them significantly.

So one could argue (and I know this sounds a little crazy) that the Praktiker bond combined with the Hornbach shares creates a kind of “hedged” position.

Just for fun I loked at correlations between the Praktiker share, the Praktiker bond and the Hornbach Baumarkt Aktie. And, surprisingly we see the following based on 12 months and daily observations:

Over the last 12 months, the Praktiker share was slightly positively correlated with the Hornbach share (+0.03) whereas the bond was slightly negatively correlated with -.002. Not much but. nevertheless interesting. Again, for instance the last 4 months shows a small positive correlation between the shares (0.05) and a slightly negative correlation (-0.02) between Bond and Hornbach. So maybe not that crazy after all….


On a stand alone basis, at current level, the Praktiker Bond is no “sure thing”, but a relatively risky speculation however with a relatively attractive risk/return ratio. In combination with the Hornbach share in my opinion, the combined position has a very intersting risk/return relationship which can greatly increase the expected return of the portfolio by actually reducing risk on an overall level.

I will therefore add a half position (2.5%) of Praktiker 2016 bonds to the portfolio at current prices (limit 41% of nominal value).

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