As promised last time, the follow up to the follow up. Let’s look at a few other “actors” in this developing crime story.
A few updates:
Yesterday, the German authorities started searching offices and private homesa second time with a big team of over 50 people. The new CEO in a feature story of Manager Magazin seems to have found out on his first day that the fraud started at least 5 years ago. After the crazy
idiot speculator orgy the last two days, the stock seems to approach back its intrinsic value of 0,00 EUR per share.
The local newspaper SZ “discovered” that the escrow accounts were not the only fraud and and a lot of well known clients & cooperation partners leave the sinking ship rapidly, for instance Aldi Süd, Allianz and Softbank.
My new prediction is that not only the stock is a zero but all debt at TopCo level is essentially worthless.
There is also a very good interview with Dan McCrum on finanz-szene.de which covers a lot of aspects that I have been writing about. Most interestingly, McCrum promises to “tell the bigger story”……
The German Regulator BAFIN and what went wrong there
Thanks to a week of vacation I was on “read only” mode since I posted my Wirecard story 11 days ago.
Since then a lot of things happened, such as EY suddenly doubting the existence of 1,9 bn in “cash”, Wirecard releasing a really strange 2 minute video Statement, the CEO resigning, the CEO being arrested and subsequently released on a 5 mn bail, the COO having disappeared somewhere between the Philippines and China and the company finally filing for insolvency.
As mentioned in the earlier post, the insolvency is not really a surprise, but to be honest, the speed of the unraveling was clearly surprising. Equally surprising was today’s share price movement of ~+130% at the time of writing, resulting in a market cap of 360 mn EUR. With the senior bonds trading at only ~18,6% of notional and falling further, it is pretty clear that shareholder will end up with a zero, but the gamblers and day traders seem to have a lot of fun. Personally, I think even the unsecured borrowers (Hi Softbank !!) will end up with a nice “Donut” due to the weak creditor protection in Germany.
The Book/ The Movie
A great interview with Marc Andreessen on how to schedule workdays and other stuff
The inspiring story of how coach Juergen Klopp transformed the Liverpool FC
Highly recommended: The UK Value Investor with a very nice post on how to calculate and judge the quality of growth of a company
Activist hedge funds are increasingly targeting companies that try to do “greenwashing”
Very interesting story on Joe Granville, the “original” David Portnoy like “stock market entertainer”
Volatility strategies have really been killed during the Covid-19 crisis
And finally a Wirecard link: Dan McCrumm tells his story (and don’t worry, there will be a Wirecard follow up post soon):
For those who just came back from a 15 year space mission: Wirecard is a German company that according to its website is ” one of the world’s fastest-growing digital platforms for financial commerce”. It managed (briefly) to achieve a market cap of close to 25 bn EUR and is part of the German Blue Chip index DAX 30. The stock lost -62,71% today which is most likely a record for a DAX company for a single day.
Backstory / Personal history 2008
This is an article I wanted to write for a long time but I was actually afraid to do so for several reasons.
Wirecard is a company/stock that I have been following for a very long time. My first “encounter” with the company ended in a kind of “5 minutes of fame” situation with some very unpleasant side effects.
The story starts in May 2008 when a post appeared under the pseudonym memyselfandi007 on Wallstreet Online, the largest German stock community/forum. (fun fact: This Thread seems to have been read 17,8 million times, so a lot more than all my blog posts on V&O combined….).
Another batch of 25 randomly selected German stocks. This time with some quite interesting or even strange underlying businesses. Five candidates are worth “watching”.
526. VTG AG
VTG is a 1.1 bn market cap company that is renting out/ leasing railway cars and was taken over by a Morgan Stanley infrastructure fund in 2018 at 53 EUR/share. The company has been de-listed and is trading only on the “Pink sheets”. Interestingly the stock price suffered after the crisis but has recovered in the past weeks as well:
Nikola is a company I haven’t heard of until a week ago or so. It is a pre-revenue, prototype-product company that according to their web site develops Hydrogen fueled and electric trucks.
The VC past
The company did a Series D funding round in September last year at a pre-money valuation of 3 bn USD which is quite remarkable for such an early stage company and they seem to have received ~500 mn USD from corporate partners CNH, Bosch and Hanwa. Although the valuation would raise some eyebrows, this would be still not considered super crazy by VC standards if they have a great team and great technology assets.
It has been almost one month since my last panic journal post and a lot has happened in between. The stock market has roared back like crazy and everyone seems to ask themselves when they look at YTD charts and compare it with unemployment numbers and GDP “growth”: What the hell is going on ? Is this the next “Bubble” ? Are people crazy ?
Of course I can’t explain what is going on either but at least from my perspective three main topics stand out that I did not expect to such an extend and seem to be fundamentally positive surprises compared to a worst case scenario:
- Central banks and Governments have acted more quickly and more radical than anyone thought
- The “Dance” after the “Hammer” so far looks a lot easier that envisaged
- A vaccine might come earlier than initially expected
As mentioned in the comments on the previous post, I sold my Interactive Broker stocks. Why ? Mainly because of the following reasons:
- although I still think that it is a very good company, I reconsidered some of my assumptions after reading the “Chuck” Schwab autobiography
- Despite the fact that the Covid-19 crisis seems to have driven an increase in new accounts and trading commissions, the long term effects of lower interest rates (and margins) will be significant as interest margins are the main driver of profitability in the mid- to long term. My current scenario is that interest rates will remain very low even in the US for a very long time.