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1 Year Anniversary!

Some thoughts on the past year

As we all (older people) know, its scary how fast the years pass by. So here we are, and a year has already passed since I took the leap to launch the blog and my official portfolio. I launched my portfolio in the recovery from the strong sell-off in early 2016. The next six months would be very easy to a be long only investor, with world markets drumming upwards and quickly shaking off the Brexit event. After that it has been more of a mixed bag for world markets, naturally with a lot of focus on Donald Trump.

From the get-go writing this blog I knew it would be a challenge to keep up the pace. I didn’t want this to be something that flared up for six months and then died down. My main goal the whole time has been to keep this page running for one simple reason, to build a credible track-record of my investments. I want to keep building this track-record over a long enough period, to be able to evaluate if I would be suitable to invest money professionally, for myself and perhaps for others. I expect this to be a very long process, perhaps around 10 years.

From time to time it is hard to motivate myself to sit and research companies or just in general read, to come up with ideas or understand something new. It is a fun process, but only when you do not feel stressed by other things. This has been a struggle from time to time, especially during end of last year. It is after all a hobby and I have many other good things in my life, a full time job for example.

The type of content I produce has also shifted somewhat. In the beginning it was more of what I already know and could teach you readers, later it has been focused on what I do not know, which I write to develop myself. I think this makes more sense for me, although I know of many popular blogs that write a ton of material to educate their readers. I could do that, but since my purpose is to build my portfolio track-record as successfully as possible, that will be the focus.

Finally, a clarification. You might wonder why I never post a company analysis where I conclude the company is not worth buying? The reason is that I live and operate in a region where people actually are banned from the industry or sued for making “false” claims which brings down the stock price of companies. I do my research based of public information, the best I can and have time for. But I do not want to have any risk of ending up in this situation. Of course I do analyse a lot of companies that do not end up in my portfolio. Unfortunately you will not see me posting on those (in any great detail at least) in the future either. The other reason for this is that it saves me time, that I do not have to write a long post about a company that I already discarded as an investment. The obvious downside is that I haven’t recorded my thoughts clearly and the stock could be worth revisiting at a later stage.

Mistakes to learn from

We especially learn from our mistakes, I think we all know that. So let’s have a look at what has gone wrong for me during this year.

Current Portfolio

Holdings_20170324

Looking at the current portfolio there is not much that has gone terrible wrong. The shoe company Xtep International came in with a weak report, mostly related to the Kids shoe business. Here one can say that since I’m not a user of their products and I never visited one of their stores (I tried but they were too far away from Shanghai city center), I obviously don’t know the brand well. I have only looked at company figures and online how popular their products seem to be. Buying consumer brand companies without knowing the products might add unnecessary risky, which is obvious for other. I try to hold on to the companies that does well, so to say “let the winners run and cut losers short”, this leads me to the next topic.

Previous holdings

To find my larger mistakes we should instead venture to what I already held but decided to sell.

Old_holdings_20170324

Before we start talking about specific stocks one can notice that I had fairly significant portfolio turnover. Out of my starting 13 stocks, 8 have been sold (although 1, SAFT, was bought by Total). This is in my opinion too high and something I need to correct, there is no point in such a stable market to be switching the portfolio so quickly. A portfolio turnover around 50% per year, would perhaps be OK, but preferably I would want to come down towards 30-40% in a normal market. One can also notice NetEase as a big positive outlier, which was one of my larger holdings with a tremendous run.

I sell to cut my losses

In general I have a tendency of selling companies to cut my losses. Looking at the 4 stocks I sold at a loss, it seems to have been a bad decision on all occasions. All of them has positive performance afterwards. Here we find my two biggest mistakes, Highpower International and Zhengtong Auto. Highpower I was very well aware that the stock might bounce after I sell. It’s after all a stock with thin liqudity and very volatile stock price. So it’s not so painful, although still bitter to see the stock rally after I sell.

Much worse is the case of Zhengtong Auto. This stock I sold for no other reason than that I concluded it is something I have not understood in the company (since it keeps falling). The stock looked very cheap, but the market kept trading the stock lower and lower. In my real money portfolio this is a stock I held for a number of years before setting up the GlobalStockPicking portfolio. So I have suffered for a long time already with this stock-price decline. I have tremendous respect for the market and sometimes I will be terrible wrong, that’s just the way it is with investing. But I have to confess it became physiological this time. There was not really any very strong signs that my investment thesis was all wrong. Yes the market was pressured for a period with lower than average margins, but even considering that the stock was fairly cheap. I came to a point of fatigue and sorts of gave up on the stock. The picture below illustrates my timing:

Zhengtong Auto Trade

Selling winning stocks

In terms of taking profits and selling winners, the result is more mixed, in several cases I have managed to sell a stock at a peak. I have to confess I am somewhat of a chart-follower. I watched charts for so many years I tend to (believe) have some feeling of when a stock is weak or is going to correct soon. It’s not all about charts either, it’s also me believing in mean reversion in more or less everything related to financial markets. Two of the cases where it has been wrong to sell winners, are lower risk companies, SAS Preference and Yuexiu Transport, which both have very high dividend yields and kind of slowly compound upwards.

But my general strategy is to let my winners run. So it what cases do I then sell a company that had a nice run and in what cases do I just ride out for the long run? That is a good question that I’m struggling with myself. I probably need to more clearly define what stocks I no matter what own for the very long term, then I’m at least not allowed to sell the full holding, just because the performance is very good in a short time.

 

Portfolio Evaluation

Graph_20170324

1y_stats

Looking at normal portfolio stats my returns looks impressive. My risk figures are somewhere in-between MSCI World and the Hang Seng index. But my return figures are much better, indicating a fairly significant amount of alpha has been created. Return wise, the correlation indicates that I seem to be closer to Hang Seng than MSCI World, which is maybe a bit strange considering that I call my blog Global Stock Picking. A part of this portfolio tilt I motivate by that I find valuations on stocks with China exposure to be among the lowest I have been able to find. Another reason is that I’m closer to the region and therefor have a tendency of reading more general news that give my ideas for stocks to follow-up on.

Return distribution

With my portfolio being concentrated to around 15 holdings, looking just at standard deviation, might not tell the whole picture of the risks in the portfolio.

weekly_return_distr

As we can see from the weekly return histograms above we can see that MSCI World and Hang Seng has a weekly return profile similar to a normal distribution. We also understand why MSCI World has 9% vol and Hang Seng has 15%. The weekly return distribution for my portfolio looks.. ..different. It’s rather inverted from a normal distribution. During this year I have managed to skew the distribution towards the positive side. In another market environment and making some wrong calls one could imagine that a portfolio with this return characteristic could turn somewhat ugly. But partly this is the price you pay with a concentrated portfolio.

Current Sector exposure

sector_breakdown

active_sector_weights

 

Here I must say I’m quite satisfied, being a single person running a portfolio, it is not easy to have expertise to invest in all sectors. With only around 15 holdings in the portfolio one could not really expect a better spread among sectors. Professional fund managers often minimize sector bets to less than 10-15% active weights, but they usually have much broader portfolios with at least 40-50 holdings for Global Portfolio. I will try to continue to keep my portfolio as sector diversified as  now.

Revenue exposure breakdown

revenue_expos

 

As we already have seen in the correlation with Hang Seng, here is the Achilles heel of the portfolio.Way too much of my companies revenue is dependent on China. 25% is pure China exposure and another 26% are companies with large China exposure, but are also selling worldwide (this is mainly my battery companies). Property prices in China are crazy and all Chinese that can afford it are speculating widely with borrowed money. As soon as the market starts to wobble the government steps in, so it might be allowed to continue for many more years, but as some point a reckoning day must come. And that day, even though I found companies with great prospects, short term I will surely suffer greatly return-wise. Here I must find a reasonable balance and right now one might argue that my global stock portfolio is not really balanced.

Conclusions

You don’t get my kind of returns in a year without taking risks (deviating from bench) and being somewhat lucky. How much it was clever risk taking and how much luck, that will always be impossible to judge. The risks I have taken are related to a few sectors and exposure on China. Within these two exposure groups I have managed to pick stocks that outperformed. The main contributors in these two groups are NetEase (Chinese gaming), Coslight Technology (battery producer) and Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Pharma holding company). On top of that I managed to pick up some Nordic bank exposure (Skandiabanken) just when banks stocks started to rally. I picked one of the strongest performers of all, as well in the country where the currency (NOK) since then has strengthened against USD. I would attribute a higher percentage of skill in identifying NetEase and Coslight and more luck in the case of Shanghai Fosun and Skandiabanken, since my analysis on the two latter was much more shallow.

Looking forward

  • I will work actively on reducing my China dependency in the portfolio.
  • I will try to reduce my portfolio turnover, preferably max 6 new stocks in the portfolio over a 12 month period.
  • I should really think twice before I sell a stock just because the performance has been bad. My hit-rate on these trades is awful.
  • I should probably keep selling or maybe even better, reducing the size in stocks that had a very strong run, my hit-rate on these trades is very high. But having said that the most important is the long term and I should mark down what stocks I’m not allowed to sell on short term speculation, risking losing out owning the stock for the long term.

 

Thank you for reading and I’m very happy with your contributions in the comments section!


 

 

 

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Earnings season and other thoughts

Having a global portfolio the earnings season is less of a season and more of a continuous thing over the year. Most European companies are long done with the annual reports, whereas many Chinese companies are still holding it off for another week or two. In general I’m not very happy with the result updates from my holdings, few positive surprised and several fairly negative ones. Let’s look at some of the companies and the figures released..

Rottneros

About a month ago Rottneros reported for the first time, since I made my initial investment (Rottneros – the SEK winner). The report was a clear disappointment and the stock traded down -7% on the day. Since then the stock price has recovered and is hovering around my average buying price. So what was the reason for the disappointing figures? The company blames a longer than expected time to start up the Vallvik plant (which has it’s scheduled maintenance stop each autumn). And this obviously had an effect, but it’s still somewhat surprising the effect became so big. the NBSK Pulp price in SEK was 5% higher this Q4 compared to Q4 2015 and even so the result was -7 MSEK compared to +1 MSEK in 2015.

The conclusion back in October when I wrote my analysis, was that margins look favorable as long as the USD stays at strong levels vs SEK and Pulp prices at least stays steady. These two factors have stayed true. The USD (with some volatility) has stayed at same level as when the analysis was written and Pulp NBSK prices have even strengthened somewhat. Some fairly major investments have also been made to upgrade the plant, this should start to feed through in terms of production volumes and bottom line. I expect a very strong Q1 result in May this year, in range of 0.45 SEK per share. Which should put the company on track of delivering a 2017 EPS of around 1 SEK. Meaning that Rottneros is currently trading at forward P/E below 8. This would warrant the share price increase I have been looking for to around 10 SEK. If the next earnings report is again a disappointment (below 0.4 EPS), I will look at selling my shares, because then they are doing something wrong compared to what they delivered a few years ago.

Nagacorp

The market was also pretty brutal on Nagacorp’s reporting day, trading down the share as much as -9% . The stock has since recovered, in my view mostly because the Hang Seng and Macau casino companies has traded up significantly. But the stock has felt very weak and from compared to the market Nagacorp is a clear laggard, for example Galaxy (27 HK) is up +18% since after Nagacorp’s disappointing report. So what was the problem with the report? Honestly not that much, figures came in somewhat weak, but nothing major. But this was the first time the dilution from the convertible bonds became obvious to investors. Henceforth the dividend will be shared with convertible owners bonds, which are entitled to the same dividend as the ordinary shares. 2017 will be somewhat of a wait and see year, since Naga2 will be launching in the second half of the year. If this stock is going to have any major upside, it will be reliant on a successful launch of Naga2. Basically the company plans to expand it’s VIP segment by moving much of the mass market players to Naga2 and refurbish the old complex to better satisfy demanding VIP players, about half of current revenue is from VIP. As long as we don’t see any very hurtful share dilution for the Russia project, I’m confident that we at these levels, have low downside (10-20%) while the upside is towards the 100% range over the coming 3-4 years.

Latest analysis: Nagacorp

Skandiabanken

Solid report, with significant increase in NII margins, home lending is growing very nicely. I’m a bit it worried that deposit volumes are standing still, maybe not right now, but at some point this will hinder further growth. Somewhat mixed feelings on this holding, long-term I think it is a very strong case in the bank sector. But short-term the stock feels somewhat overbought, I was very close to pushing the sell button around 77 NOK and now it has traded down to 71.50 NOK. In general my feeling of owning banks is a bit like picking pennies in front of a steam-roller, given that it will be very tough times day the housing market starts to fall (which I think is due, either due to normalized rates or economic downturn). Having said that, very long term a digital efficient bank that handles mortgages definitely feels like the future, and Skandiabanken’s current customers do seem to be agreeing (being the most satisfied banking customers).

XTEP International

This report came out after Friday close and on Monday we will see the markets judgement of the report. In the meantime I will give mine. The figures were disappointing, looking at head-line figures it looks awful and that is due to a one-time write off of the Kids store segment (impairment of trade receivables of 222m RMB). A larger number of stores have been closed during 2016, from 600 a year ago to 250 left today. I have not taken that much note of this kids segment, but looking back at sell side analyst reports, this seems to have been known in the investor community. With Footwear sales coming in very strong for the first half of 2016, the expectations on my side were quite high for H2. This did not impress, and the reason must be the 222m write of in the kids segment. The apparel part which made the stock trade down significantly over the last year, as I expected recovered nicely and is back to it’s long term trend of hovering around sales of 1bn RMB per half year. Below is an overview:

revenue_break_xtep_2017H1

In a sector which such high growth as sportswear, XTEP is lagging, but I don’t see reason to sell just yet, the stock is so cheap. The biggest worry for me is the discussions we had in the comment section, where one of the readers made me aware of how huge cash pile the company is sitting on (~3bn HKD – MCAP 8bn HKD).  I also had not reflected on how constant that cash pile has been since it’s IPO, this I think is my biggest worry. Why do they need so much cash? The comments raised possibility for fraud, I’m not overly worried about that, but at least it’s showing a very in-efficient use of the companies capital. From a pure value perspective it is of-course amazing buying a company with MCAP of 8bn HKD, with net cash of 3bn HKD cash and generating 0.6bn HKD of Net Income per year.

Recent analysis: XTEP

Coslight Technology

Last but not least, the most important holding in my portfolio (since it has the largest weight) has still not reported. The report is due on Friday 31st of March. Like XTEP the reporting is semi-annual. The last report was what got the stock moving big-time and rightfully so, since the company delivered 0.35 HKD half-year EPS on a stock trading below 4 HKD. Since then, for not really any major reasons the stock has been on a roller-coaster ride, moving between 6.9 and 4.1 HKD (I added to the stock on this weakness). My expectations on this report is high, for a few reasons. Some of the major companies Coslight deliveries batteries to, HP for laptops and BAIC for EVs have both been doing very well in their respective markets. HP is holding a very strong position in the laptop market and has even managed to gain market share (although I do not have data on market share on the models that Coslight provide batteries for). I would also suspect that Coslight has been given a larger allocation from HP, due to other battery-suppliers to HP have created problems with faulty batteries and very large recalls for HP.

BAIC as I mentioned before has been of the top sellers of EVs in China, especially over the last 6 months. Again is not totally clear how much of the total EV volume that has Coslight batteries, since BAIC has several battery suppliers, but it does look promising. All in all this means that it seems reasonable Coslight will be selling close to full capacity of it’s factories (which was also the companies guidance).

In the counter-balance we have the margin pressure in terms of lower battery prices world-wide and also as several sell side firms have been warning a potential oversupply situation in the battery market especially for 2017-2018. So there is a risk that Revenue comes in very strong, but that bottom line has suffered and that EPS comes in weak. Looking at history there has also been clear seasonality in terms of EPS. Average EPS for H1 is 15.5 cents since 2007, whereas EPS for H2 is 3 cents. But I do believe the market is factoring in a lot of these concerns already, the last time the company delivered a semi-annual EPS in the 35 cent range was H1 2009, in the wake of the crisis – the stock traded at 7 HKD pre-report and went to 16 HKD. When the company followed that up with a H2 result of 21 cents it had in the interim rebounded to 10 HKD and rebounded up to 14 HKD. So if Coslight just delivers something modestly good, say in the range of 15 cents EPS, this gives us full year EPS of 50 cents and I do believe we can see Coslight going quickly to 8-9 HKD.

Coslight analysis: Coslight

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Sell Ericsson and thoughts on China

Ericsson out

This has been a very interesting holding over the last six months, with my analysis and buying strategy for once working very well. I did my initial analysis (Value Hunting – Ericsson) of the company in September. The stock was then trading in the 60 SEK range and I concluded that I was wary about the negative trend since 2014. I also did a skew analysis, concluding that the stock has in the past had a history of serious negative surprises. Little did I know how timely my analysis would be when the next quarterly report was out and the stock trading down -20% on the day. I had decided to take a position sub 50 SEK and that opportunity already materialized. I took a 2% position with the plan to add further if the stock moved towards the low 40 SEK range. And so it did, the stock continued to trade down. Averaging down is in general very painful for me, it helped me a lot to have committed to this already here on the blog. So at around 43 SEK I doubled up. Again I was lucky in the sense that this was more or less the absolute bottom.

A few months later the market has started to recognize the potential for a Cisco bid. This was one of my main arguments for buying and especially adding in the stock at 43 SEK. The stock has now traded up nicely, and is now trading again in the 60 SEK range. Given that I don’t think the company outlook has changed much, the risk-reward is more or less back to where when I did my initial analysis. The medium term trend stock chart now looks better and missing out on a potential Cisco bid would obviously be very hurtful. But the stock is no bargain anymore and I choose to exit my full position on today’s close.

Thoughts on China

Currently on a business trip to Shanghai and again fascinated about how quickly things change in this city. This time the new normal is to only use Alipay and Wechat pay. We went down to the food court and my colleague had to buy the food for me because the small food stalls do not accept cash or Mastercard/Amex/Visa. You can basically only pay through your smartphone with Alipay, Wechat pay (it was also possible to use Unionpay, although nobody used it). Last time I was here cash was still accepted, it has gone so fast, Shanghai city center is going cashless! My colleagues are telling me a bit jokingly that it’s no big worry to loose your wallet, but if you loose your smartphone you are in trouble (to be able to pay). Taxis are the same thing. When I visited the city 3 years ago, finding a taxi was super easy, you could pick one up anywhere on the street. Today you could be standing next to the road for 1 hour, looking like a moron waving after taxis which are all already taken. Everyone books their taxis through their smartphone, and then obviously pays through the phone. Not armed with a smartphone loaded with all the latest Chinese services makes you lost in this ever changing city.

So if what has happened in central Shanghai is a guiding light for the country maybe China as a whole is more or less cashless in 10 years and 1.3 billion people pay their daily spending through Alipay or Wechat pay. Without taking into account the hundreds of other initiatives Alibaba and Tencent have, I could almost be willing to long these companies on only this single observation. Although just looking a tiny bit deeper, shows that Ant Financial which owns Alipay is only 33% owned by Alibaba and the market is still waiting for Ant Financial to do its anticipated IPO. Maybe the valuations already reflects this glorious future both for Alibaba/Alipay and Tencent/Wechat pay. Some reader views on this would be very welcome.

For my sport-shoe hunting, a bit disappointing to realize I won’t have time to try out any Xtep shoes, why? Because the do not have any stores in central Shanghai. They are all further out, and even often far away from subway stations. So I learned something, the tier 1 big city Chinese are already too rich to be the main potential customer group for these type of local brands, it’s all Adidas and Nike here, maybe that says something about the long-long term potential of these brands, if they do not manage to change their brand image..

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