A brief tale of 1937

A brief tale of 1937

The western world is finally ‘recovering’ from the greatest recession since the 1930s. Many parallels have been drawn with the 1929 crash over the last few years, including politicians citing ‘lessons learnt’ from how lawmakers reacted in the 1930s and why this time, it’s different. We are now 6 years since the bottom of the stock market crash in 2009, and an unprecedented amount of money has been added to the economy, with little overall impact on inflation. I usually don’t focus too much on the macro when it comes to investing, but I find a brief look back to 1937 tells an interesting tale and may give us a clue as to what the future holds.read more

Premier Case Study

Premier Case Study

There is a stock I looked at a few years ago that has always stuck in my mind, and that is London based Premier Foods ($PFD.L). To me it is the perfect simple example of how even a great business can be destroyed by leverage. Before the crisis it was a company that had so much going for it, a producer of many reputable food brands in the UK with a moat worthy of giants like Pepsi. But in 2006 the management and board made a catastrophic decision. They engaged in the leveraged buyout of two competitors, which resulted in Premier becoming the largest food supplier in the UK. This was supposed to be a transformational point in the history of the company, and it certainly was….for all the wrong reasons. Premier is a story of what happens when a company has everything going for it, but is sunk by too much leverage and bad management.read more

7 things to note from Berkshire’s 2014 letter

7 things to note from Berkshire’s 2014 letter

I’m sure by now most have heard that Buffett’s latest letter to shareholders has been released. If you haven’t read it, you have probably already read articles on it. So I wanted to post here some quotes from which I drew some subtle implications that others may not have picked up on when reading.read more

Portfolio update – $CLP.L sold

Portfolio update – $CLP.L sold

CLP posted a bullish trading update yesterday which saw the stock surge 80%. I took the opportunity to cut my losses on this investment, as I don’t have any faith in managements bullish assertions any more.read more

Free online valuation course

Free online valuation course

I came across this online valuation course run by Professor Aswath Damodaran at Stern School of Business at NYU and wanted to share it with readers. I have long been a follower of his blog which goes through numerous musings on business valuation as well as worked examples, so would recommend his course and the blog. This is a great way to get started if you want to dip your toes in the water without reading all the books I recommend in my learn to invest section.read more

Ubiquiti ($UBNT) Investment Thesis

Ubiquiti ($UBNT) Investment Thesis

Ubiquiti ($UBNT) is a fast growing network hardware producer. Normally when it comes to hardware and technology, margins and returns on investment are low, but Ubiquiti has managed to dominate its market with a unique approach to the business, one that is not easily replicated. It earns margins over 25% by having no marketing and advertising costs, relying entirely on its products to distinguish themselves from competitors.

The company is growing revenues at 40% per annum, is highly cash generative, yet is selling at a P/E of just 13, excluding cash (yes it has net cash, not debt!). Here is my investment thesis.read more

What does Short Interest tell you?

What does Short Interest tell you?

As “investors”, we like to think we have some inherent advantage over most people in the market, which is made up of traders and short term thinkers. We think of ourselves as the rational ones who keep a level head and objective approach even in the midst of fear and crisis. Books like the Intelligent Investor by Ben Graham, and gurus such as Warren Buffett make out like the market as a whole is irrational, disregards company fundamentals and can be taken advantage of. But there is an important point which is easy to miss among this self congratulatory rhetoric, and that is that Mr Market, far from being incompetent, is usually right. It is only on occasion that he is irrational and will offer you the proverbial $1 for 50 cents. In this article I’m going to explore what the ‘short interest’ in a stock tells you from the perspective of going long (i.e. it’s not about shorting stocks).read more

2014 review and portfolio update

2014 review and portfolio update

It’s that time of year again, and hard to believe it’s been 2 years since I started this blog. Time sure does fly. The second half of 2014 in the markets has been very interesting, unfortunately for my portfolio that wasn’t a good thing. Overall my portfolio was down 10% in H2 2014 compared to -0.7%% for the FTSE All share tracker and +5% for the S&P 500 tracker. My portfolio is 75% in the UK so the FTSE is the closest benchmark, but given how easy it is to invest in the S&P and hedge currency I aim to beat both benchmarks.read more

Are fossil fuels a bad investment?

Are fossil fuels a bad investment?

It’s hard to miss the carnage in oil stocks at the moment. I’m sure many, like me, are tempted to load up on them as oil reaches lows not seen since 2009. Surely this must be overdone, oil at $60 a barrel will not be sustained? Well that may be true, but the question I’m interested in is are fossil fuels going to prove to be a sensible investment long term?

‘Unburnable Carbon’ is a report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative. It raises an important issue at the moment, and that is if all the world’s fossil fuel companies extract and use all their proven reserves, the emissions will total 5 times the currently agreed limit by all major governments. There is a complete disconnect between the targets agreed by governments, and how the market is valuing fossil fuel reserves far in excess of those targets. In effect the market assumes the targets will be completely ignored.read more

Moats aren’t forever

Moats aren’t forever

There was once a time when a moat was one of the best defenses of a castle. It slowed down attacking troops or bottle-necked them into a narrow route of attack. However times change, and nowadays with the advent of both artillery and aircraft a moat has little use. Such is the way with competitive “moats” in business; what was once insurmountable suddenly becomes insignificant. I was reminded at the weekend of one of my favorite shops growing up – Argos ($HOME.L), a UK catalogue retailer, and began thinking about its once great moat. Unlike most catalogue retailers, Argos had physical stores where you would buy their products, rather than ordering over the phone. You would also pick up a catalogue to take home and browse through at your leisure when looking for gift ideas or something you needed. Most houses contained an Argos catalogue and back in the day, if you suddenly realized you needed something, whether it was while cooking, seeing an advert on TV etc, you would usually go first to the catalogue and check out how much it was. But that moat didn’t last forever and here are two big things in the future that I think will destroy lots of company moats in a similar way.read more


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