Category Archives: Vetropack

Vetropack Update – SELL

Vetropack is one of the original constituents of the portfolio. A few weeks ago I already posted my doubts on Vetropack.

So why did I decide to sell now ? Despite the Ukaraine issues, one other aspect caught my eye while reading the annual report:

Market trends.
Unlike the packaging market for glass containers, which is growing worldwide, the glass market in Europe has been trending negatively since 2012. Regional differences in purchasing power and consumer behaviour have also affected this trend. In the Eastern European countries, it is primarily declining purchasing power that is increasingly causing consumers to turn to cheaper products in alternative packaging.

Vetropack is mostly making beer bottles. For me, this looked like a utility business. From my own (Western European) experience I know that for instance German beer drinkers don’t easily change their favourite beer brand for a cheaper one. As it does not make sense to transport glass bottles across Europe, a local glass bottle manufacturer should enjoy some “utility like” competitive advantages and stable sales.

But it seems to be that in Eastern Europe, where Vetropack makes a large amount of business, people just subsitute more expensive brands in glass bottles with cheap ones in cans or plastic bottles. This basically eliminates a large part of my investment case.

On top of that, Vetropack did nothing with regard to share repurchases that year and the chart looks quite ugly:

So overall, after holding the share for 3,5 years, I will sell Vetropack at current prices as I do not have any indication of a clear higher value of the stock. Including dividends, I lost ~ -6% in total on this position.

The last remaining “intitial” positions are now Hornbach, Tonellerie, Draeger and HT1.

Update: Vetropack (CH0006227612)

Vetropack just released 2013 numbers and the annual report yesterday.

All in all, things don’t look so great. Sales increased 2%, however EBIT margins declined and net income declined significantly as the one-off gain from a property sale in 2012 could not be repeated. EPS (undiluted) was 137 CHF per share.

A quick reminder here: Vetropack reports in CHF but the majority of sales are non-CHF. In 2013, the Swiss frank depreciated against the EUR, so all things equal, even with constant EUR sales, Vetropack would show increasing CHF sales.

The stock market seems to have been expecting more, the share has dropped significantly over the last few week:

The biggest problem for Vetropack is clearly Ukraine, where they had ~15% of sales in 2013. They do not provide profits for their subsidiaries, so we do not know which margins come from what country. But clearly, with the currency devaluation (~-50% since the beginning of the year), in the best case, sales from Ukraine (and profits) will be -50% lower in 2014 than in 2013 just from the currency effect.

Looking into the 2013 annual report, we can see that most other subsidiaries are stagnating or only growing very slowly. interestingly, if we compare 2013 with the 2008 report, we can see that especially Switzerland has disappointed, with sales now -20% lower in 2013 than in 2008. Somehow, the increase int he Swiss franc seems to have been a big problem.

All in all, things don’t look very good. This is reflected also in the current valuation. At the current share price of ~1570 CHF, P/B is almost exactly 1, trailing P/E 11,4 and the dividend ~2,4%.

The only bright side was that cashflow looked rather OK in 2013. Operating CF of around 100 mn CHF minus Capex of 50 mn is ~50 mn free cash flow which has been distributed to shareholder to a large extent via divdends and teh stock repurchase last year. Net cash went down but this seems to be the result of a “Non core” purchase of a real estate company which came with some real estate loans (note 26 annual report). I would therefore exclude the 20 mn real estate debt from EV as the acquired assets are “extra assets”, not required to run the business.

Valuation & Competitors

That’s what i wrote back in “the old days”:

We can clearly see that for a margin of safety of 50% I would need to assume for instance a discount rate of 8% and a growth rate of 3%.

If history is any guide, Vetropack should be easily able to grow by 3%, having achieved much much mor in the past. Additionally, a 8% discount rate for a non-cyclical consumer product related company with net cash and an extreme conservative balance sheet should be reasonable.

This was based on 150 CHF free cash flow per share. 2013 FCF per share was around 122 CHF per share. So first mistake: Free cash flow did not increase by 3% from 150 CHF but did actually contract. Secondly, I used 8% as discount rate. As we see now, Vetropack’s regional exposure does not really warrant a lower discount rate than my simple 10%. So second mistake: The 8% discount rate was much too optimistic for a company with signficant “emerging markets” exposure.

If we look at the peers, both Zignano and Vidrala have been doing much better, at least over the last 2 years:

Both trade at siginficant higher valuations. Zignago at 20x trailing p/E, 8,5 EV EBITDA and 4,6x book, Vidrala at 18xP/E, 3x book and 7,8 x EV/EBITDA. MArgins are not that much higher for Zignago and Vidrala, but Return on invested capital (including debt) looks better. ROE anyway as both competitors use leverage. Both peer companies, despite being based in “PIIGS” countries managed to grow their top line better than Vetropack. Vidrala has grown sales by ~25% since 2008, Zignago by around 20%. Vetropack in comparison has grown sales (in EUR) since 2008 only by 15%, net income went down -10% vs. 2008.

But: Also for Zignago, net income went down -20% since 2008, only Vidrala could actually increase net income (after a small dip in 2011 and 2012). Although they seem to do almost all of their business in crisis ridden Spain, Portugal and Italy. So Vidrala clearly shows that you can do a solid job in this business even under adverse circumstances. Although valuations look stretched for both competitors.

Back to Vetropack: Starting with the current variables (1.575 CHF per share, 125 CHF FCF), I would need at a 10% discount rate ~4,5% FCF growth per annum to give me a 50% upside. This is clearly not going to happen soon. On the plus side, the downside is well protected via the (conservative) tangible book value which will most likely grow by mid single digits going forward.

So at the moment, I do not see a big upside or under valuation for stock, taking into account the higher risk profile of the stock.

The upside could come back, if Ukraine gets solved quickly and a lower discount rate could be justified. Another positive could be somehow lower costs but I would not rely on this. Finally, if they continue to buy back shares, then we could also see improving metrics per share but they didn’t announce anything yet.

What to do now ?

I am a little bit uncertain at the. I think I made a mistake in the beginning by using a discount rate which was too low and did not reflect the geopolitical risk profile of their subsidiaries. Now however, the Ukrainian risk seems to be priced in already to a large extent. As I am somehow more sympathetic to Emerging Markets in their currently depressed state, I am tending to keep Vetropack as a partial “Emerging markets / Ukraine bet” for the time being.

However, if I would find more and better EM bets, I might sacrifice Vetropack at some point in time.

Quick updates: Sol SpA, AS Creation, Vetropack

Sol SpA

Sol came out with a “preliminary annual” already end of March. The numbers were not really surprising.

Sales were up 4.9%, EBITDA was up +1.4%, however net result was down -6.8%. I find this surprisingly good especially considering the tough environment for the mostly Italien based industrial gas business.

Most interesting is this part of the statement:

In comparison to 2011, the sales increased slightly in Italy (+0.2%) but much more abroad (+10.8%), which represents 46.8% of the total turnover. The home-care business, in which the Group operates through VIVISOL, marked a growth of 10.9% (sales equal to € 264.9 ml), while the technical gases business increased of 1.3% (sales equal to € 344.9 ml).

I think this is also the reason why the share price is doing quite well at the moment, despite the overall EPS decrease.

AS Creation

Also last week, AS Creation came out with its annual report for 2012. Numbers were ok (EPS 2.67 EUR per share against 1.69 EUR last year. Dividend will be increased to 1.20 EUR.

This is all quite positive, however the shares are now not cheap anymore. With a trailing P/E of 16 and the German economy running on full steam, there seems to be quite a lot of positive expectations for the Russian JV priced in.

AS Creation is one of the stocks where I have to check in more detail if there is still a real “margin of safety” at this level. (Edit: Interestingly, in Bloomberg they show a wrong EPS number for 2012. Here the EPS is 3.22 EUR, this makes the stock look cheaper)

The stock price has great momentum and is on its way to challenge the ATH from 2007 at around 50 EUR:


Last but not least, Vetropack came out with their 2012 report some days ago. Although EPS wass up strongly at 197 CHF per share, operating profit was down. The reason for this was a sale of non used real estate. Vetropack invested significantly more in 2012 than 2011, the question will be if this results in more growth.

In 2012, positive developements in some countires were off set mainly through negative developements in Switzerland and high energy costs.

I still like Vetropack as a very boring, extremely defensive (indirect) consumer play, again one has to monitor if the capital is allocated efficiently. At the moment a solid “hold” position.

The stock price is stagnating clearly, also compared for instance vs. Italian competitor Zignano:

Vetropack is trading at a discount (EV/EBITDA) both to Zignano and Vidrala, the 2 European peers which, in my opnion should be theother way round.

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.

Housekeeping Magyar Telecom, Tonnelerie and Vetropack

As posted on Friday, I fully exited the Magyar position already on Friday at the VWAP of 589.6 HUF,or 2.03 EUR per share.

Part of the liquidity (currently 13 %) will be used to increase Tonnelerie and Vetropack to full positions of 5% from currently 3.2% and 2.8%. This is also a “self controlling” effort in order not to “waste” the free liquidity on any half baked ideas. In my opinion, you are much more focused if you have to sell an old position first before you buy the new position.

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.

Vetropack (CH0006227612) – Rock Solid Swiss compounder

Vetropack is one of the “Core Value” shares of my portfolio which I haven’t covered in detail yet.

Vetropack describes itself on its homepage as follows:

Vetropack is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of packaging glass. With a rich variety of glass packaging products to offer the beverages and food industry, as well as a broad spectrum of services, Vetropack truly delivers “tailor-made glass”.


This end-to-end service is the fundamental reason for Vetropack’s position as market leader in its six home markets, namely Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia and Ukraine.

Based on “traditional” metrics, the stock looks OK but not “super cheap”:

P/B 1.25
P/E 2010 17.6
P/E 12M Trailing 10.4
P/E Graham (10 years): 13.5
EV/EBITDA 12M Trailing 5.1
Div. Yield 2%
FCF Yield (2010) 9%

No debt (95 CHF net Cash per share)
no intangibles

A quick view on historical earnings shows quite an impressive picture:

EPS BV/share FCF Share
1999 10.96 497.29 25.21
2000 36.58 510.66 92.28
2001 27.22 534.51 30.76
2002 59.78 578.15 -29.87
2003 91.03 681.03 120.04
2004 97.74 768.46 19.42
2005 119.10 909.37 85.48
2006 101.20 933.70 -22.48
2007 236.30 1,180.99 138.17
2008 182.55 1,243.69 105.58
2009 184.84 1,371.71 207.95
2010 91.24 1,283.77 155.84

We can clearly see the incredible rise in Earnings and Book value since 1999 until 2007, however in the last few years the picture has changed to a certain extent.

Looking at the Earnings developement in Swiss franks only shows part of the picture. Only 17% of Vetropacks sales are generated in Switzerland by the Swiss operations, 83% is outside Switzerland. Important: Vetropack does not export anything from Switzerland.

So if we look at peak Earnings in 2007 and compare them to the 2010 earnings, we should take into account that the 87% of Euro denominated Earnings have been reduced by a significant reduction in the value of the EUR against the CHF. Even more interesting is the effect on Free Cashflows:

2007 138.17 83.56 1.65
2008 105.58 70.69 1.49
2009 207.95 140.16 1.48
2010 155.84 124.51 1.25
CAGR 3.2% 12.3%

Over the last 4 years, Cashflos in CHF have increased by 3%, the underlying EUR Cashflows by 12%, quite a difference. The currency movement also explains the lower book value in 2010 against 2009 despite the profit made.

So how can we value Vetropack ? If we look at the last 5 year free cashflows, we can see that the 2006 number looks quite odd, being negative. A quick glance into the 2006 annual report shows, that actually operating cashflow was strong but the company invested some extra amount in acquisitions and starting productions in contries like Slovakia.

So if we just take the average Free Cash flow of the last 4 years (which would be 150 CHF per share) and capitalise them at 10% we would end up with an intrinsic value of 1.500 or roughly 5% less than the current market price of 1.600 ChF.

Now we enter a difficult area for a contrarian investor: lower discount rates and growth.

If we just look at the following table where I simply discount the avg. Free Cash flow with various growth and discount rates (Discount rate X axis, growth : y axis)

7% 8% 9% 10%
1% 2,516.67 2,157.14 1,887.50 1,677.78
2% 3,020.00 2,516.67 2,157.14 1,887.50
3% 3,775.00 3,020.00 2,516.67 2,157.14
4% 5,033.33 3,775.00 3,020.00 2,516.67
5% 7,550.00 5,033.33 3,775.00 3,020.00

We can clearly see that for a margin of safety of 50% I would need to assume for instance a discount rate of 8% and a growth rate of 3%.

If history is any guide, Vetropack should be easily able to grow by 3%, having achieved much much mor in the past. Additionally, a 8% discount rate for a non-cyclical consumer product related company with net cash and an extreme conservative balance sheet should be reasonable.

Finally a quick check of the stock chart:

In 2008 the stock went down to almost 1.100 CHF, slightly below book value. Currentbook Value is around 1.300 CHF, so in a 2008 scenario we look at a 20% downside from here.

Summary: Vetropack is a stock with extremely strong historical growth, strong free cash flow generation and a rock solid balance sheet. Based on relatively conservative assumptions (3% growth, 8% Cost of capital), the current price would imply amargin of safety of almost 50%. If the stock should show some weekness in the next few days, I would actually be tempted to increase the allocation from the current 2.8% to 5% on acurrency hedged basis.

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