Selling two long term holdings – NetEase and Coslight

NetEase

As i already hinted in my previous post, NetEase is the only company left that I identified as not having an “edge” against the market. I was at the time of posting not willing to sell it just yet, but now the time has come. I was looking for a better exit level as well as rumors around NetEase selling its e-commerce business. The rumors have now come true and the stock has since rebounded significantly, which gives me the opportunity to exit this holding at a decent level. NetEase has been the holding I traded the most of all my holdings. The reason for that is probably the extremely high volatility of the share. Calculating the return on an investment is actually not the easiest thing when you bought, sold and re-bought the stock over these years. My trades summarized since I started this blog:

41 shares in my starting portfolio at US$147.84 per share.

May 2016: Bought 15 shares @ US$166.08, August 2016: Sold 17 shares @ US$213.33, September 2016: Sold 19 shares @ US$231.27, October 2016: Sold 20 shares @ US$248.6

I then held no shares until, May 2017: Bought 23 shares @ US$276.76, May 2018: Bought 24 shares @ US$233.35, As of Friday: Sold 47 shares @ 278.81

On an initial investment of some 6061 USD, I have made a total return of 5578 USD through all these transactions. Even if this company has been one of my better investments, as my investment philosophy develops, I need to stay true to what I think will generate out-performance in the long term. Owning one of the worlds largest gaming companies does not really tick those boxes for me any-longer. This is a company fully understood by the market and do not have any longer term view than the market. Rather I might see more problems ahead than the market does, the game production space has become an awfully crowded space. To keep delivering hit games, just gets harder and harder. It therefor feels quite comfortable parting with this holding.

Coslight Technology

This holding has truly stayed in my portfolio from day 1 and never left the portfolio, it’s one of only two holdings that’s been with me from the start (the other being Sbanken).  So it’s a bit depressing that Coslight is one of my worst investments since I started the blog. I did sell some shares back in September 2016, when the stock was up over 100% from my bought price. I then increased in Coslight again at a lower price. This did reduce my total losses on a dollar basis. Of a US$6000 initial investment, I lost some US$2681 over these 3.5 years. Nevertheless a huge detractor to performance, since my overall portfolio is up some 59% since inception.

Lesson learned

From most bad investments you usually take away some expensive learning, some stocks teach you more than others though. The big lesson in Coslight for me was – company debt. When I started the blog one of my big “bets” were around Electric Vehicles and how they would take over the car industry. I made quite many bets in this sector and the ones that are left are Coslight and LG Chem, which are battery cell manufacturers. I think my predictions from back then has more or less come true in terms of EV adaption, something that was definitely not clear to everyone at the time. What I did fail to realize was how costly it would be to create next generation battery cells. Quite frankly money that Coslight could not muster, given how indebted the company already was. This has really been the main problem for Coslight, they did not have the financial muscles to create the next gen battery cells. Instead they ended up selling parts of their largest factory to pay down debt and kind of give up on the EV cell race. It’s always easy with hindsight, but I should have sold this earlier. I had understood more than a year ago that this was the case, but it was a bit of pride and stubbornness from my side to keep holding. I’m selling this company now when it was trading at a very low multiple. But again, taking into account the debt, the company is actually not that cheap on an Enterprise Value basis. So this is my lesson, I learned to put much more emphasis on cash-flow generation versus debt and Enterprise Value. Something that feels very obvious to me now, but something I managed to get wrong when I was excited about investing in a small cap EV-theme related stock 3.5 years ago. Debt can be a blessing when things are going well, but it might also wipe you out when it doesn’t.

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