There have been a lot of changes to my portfolio in the last week. Here they are along with my reasoning behind them.
I’ve always wondered whether I’m wasting my time when researching companies and if instead I should just blindly follow the recommendations of other bloggers I like. I decided to put the theory to the test in what I call the Blog Experiment, where I track the buys/sells of select blogs since 2012. Here are the preliminary results.
I follow quite a few blogs, it’s a great way to get ideas for investments without doing much work. I don’t usually follow bloggers into investments, it’s rare for me to be convinced of a thesis and all too often I find myself unable to get over some fundamental issue I have with the investment. But in the last couple of weeks I’ve seen an unusual number of ideas that I really liked. Firstly I thought I’d share my favorites with you.
I then started thinking, I follow a lot of blogs where the authors have impressive track records and I trust their judgement even if I don’t invest in everything they do. I wondered how I would perform if I skipped due diligence and just made investments in their recommended stocks, spread out over a few blogs to minimize the risk. So I thought I’d do a blog experiment.
One of Warren Buffett’s most successful investments was in American Express, just after the ‘Salad oil scandal’ hit. A company had been faking inventory to receive loans secured against it, and American Express was one of the casualties when the scam was uncovered. The stock plunged 50% and allowed Buffett to secure a strong growing business at a cheap price. Higher One (NASDAQ:ONE) is a financial services company offering debit card accounts and electronic payment facilities targeted at HE institutions and students. It is being hit with its own set of scandals which leaves the stock trading at a forward P/E ratio of just 7 despite returns on equity of 15% (which have historically been much higher at ~30%).
Asset prices throughout the western world, from property to shares, are at all time highs and show no signs of slowing. Quantitative easing and low interest rates, rather than encouraging new investment and entrepreneurship are simply fuelling price increases in existing assets. Now is the time to be fearful in my opinion, however that doesn’t stop me trying to find great investments even if it is that much harder at the moment.
I recently ran a stock screen of US companies to try and find some interesting prospects. The results were very interesting so I wanted to share them with you, and highlight some possible value traps I noticed going through the list, particularly retailers, along with some stories of my experiences investing in them.
Zamano (ZMNO:ID) is an Irish company trading at just 2.4x free cash flow excluding net cash. It is profitable yet has a chequered history with regulators, being fined multiple times in the past, and regulated out of existence in some countries. Critics say it scams consumers, yet the company has battled through and now has a viable business to business segment as well. The market is clearly very negative about the company, are they right or is this a bargain purchase?