(Casualty) Insurance For Your Portfolio

I have been on a bit of an insurance company kick these last couple weeks. I wrote extensively on AEG, a Dutch life insurance company whose charts are tantalizing, and combined with its market share power and strong balance sheet make a case for a bullish long position. As of writing this (11/30), that trade has yet to develop, but I am being patient (something I am always working on getting better at). However, I didn’t stumble across this company on my own digging. Arguably the smartest investor I communicate with shared this company with me, so I wanted to find out if there was something there. That company is United Insurance Holdings Corp. (UIHC). 

Like most of my company review, I want to give an overview on the fundamentals before diving into the specifics. Looking at the financial strength of the company, its cash – to debt sits at 5.28, higher than 54% of the companies in its industry. Debt to equity is also sitting attractively at 0.11, which is better than 83% of the competitors in its industry.

Breaking Down Ratios

Ratios are pretty much middle of the road compared to the rest of the industry. Price to Owners Earnings is 14.62, lower than 53% of the companies in the industry. The company is trading 1.42 times book value, higher than 53% of competitors. The company is trading below sales at 0.83.

Margins and profitability aren’t great in the short-term, with operating margin sitting at -7.39%, Net Margin at -4.54%, ROE% of -7.70, and ROA% of -1.98. However, a bright spot in the growth of the company is their 3-year revenue growth rate of 20.60%, better than 88% of its competitors.

Next we’ll move on to trends in Revenues, income, equity, asset, operating cash flows, and FCF.

Trends

Looking at revenues since 2012 we see a steady increase from $131.2M in 2012 to $603.27 at the end of 2016. This impressive revenue growth, however, isn’t translating into an equal steady rise in net income. This is a problem. Net income rose from $9.71M in 2012 to $41.01M in 2014, but since then has declined into the negatives, with its most recent report of -$27.37. This is also a red flag and will be a topic of further discussion in this piece.

Another trend that isn’t great is the company’s free cash flow numbers, downtrending since 2015’s high of $87.4MM, and currently sitting at $56.1MM.

However, one interesting point of mention is that there is insider buying going on quite frequently. Over the last seven months there has been four instances of insider buying of substance.

Quarterly Report Findings

As a whole, the company appears to be killing it, achieving various milestones set for itself, most notably passing 500,000 policies in force, and $1B premiums in force, all of this amidst dealing with not one, but two hurricanes this year. Speaking of hurricanes, I would be a fool to go through this analysis of the company without mentioning the impacts of the hurricanes on its balance sheets and cash reserves.

Hurricane Impacts

Not only did the company deal with two CAT4 hurricanes in one season, but they hit Florida and Texas, the two largest states for the company in terms of exposure and policies. This type of uncharacteristic event to a company reminds me of the investment letters I read from Michael Burry in which he revealed the reason his portfolio was performing poorly was due to the fact that he loaded up on a couple of airline stocks (a majority of his portfolio) days (or weeks) before 9/11.

Despite historically un-probabilistic events, the company remained strong, reporting less than 20% of their reinsurance capacity used after the two hurricanes. That is quite the safety net, and it shows the financial discipline of the company, mainly because the company cannot anticipate events like this, it can only hope to be prepared when the time comes.

Bringing in Business

Although the hurricanes took up much of the company’s time and resources in the most recent quarter, they still managed to grow their business, writing 13,000 new business policies, which is a staggering number when you realize that two of the company’s largest states were shut down for almost the entire month. Personal policies grew by 4.7%, commercial policies grew by 1.1%, and retention rate came in at 90%.

Financials

The company achieved an increase in YoY revenue of 35% thereby improving underlying ops and expense ratios. Gross premiums written were up 38%, gross premiums earned were up 54% YoY, and net premiums earned up 27%. The company suffered an increase in losses of 97% from $73MM to $143MM due to the hurricanes and the inclusion of AmCo in their equations. The hurricanes added around $83MM of net losses, which in turn added over 53 points to the net loss ratio.

If you take out the hurricanes, the company’s gross underlying loss ratio actually improved over 12 points YoY, primarily due to lower attritional loss ratios of their AmCo commercial business. Their gross expense ratio improved 1.3 points to 27.1%. They ended the quarter with $2.2B in total assets, $1B of which are cash and invested assets, and that is a substantial improved compared to their mere $400MM same time last year.

Looking Ahead

The company believes it has still $2.2B of catastrophe reinsurance remaining until about May 31, 2018. Shareholder equity declined $501MM mainly due to the net loss during the most recent quarter.

The company looks strong fundamentally, and if it has the resiliency to withstand two of the biggest hurricanes to hit their two largest policy states in the same year, I think they will be fine from here on out, as I would be shocked to see another hurricane season like this past one, although you never know. Let’s turn over to the charts to see a good entry for this company.

Let’s Get Technical

 

Taking a look at the chart above you can see a really nice consolidation / symmetrical triangle pattern on the weeklys. The rule from Schabacker and McGee suggest entering on a 3% breakthrough from resistance, which in this case would be anything over 17.30. That’s good enough for me. Stop loss placement will vary by anticipated holding length. If you want to hold longer, I would suggest to place your stop-loss on the bottom end of the triangle, perhaps at $14.00. If you want to play it closer to the chest, a stop loss at $15.62 will suffice.

As always, shoot holes in this argument, find out where I’m wrong, and let me know so that I can grow.

 

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Another Retail Roadkill Candidate: Francesca’s

My analysis in the retail space is well documented on this website, as I love the idea of searching through the closet (excuse the dad joke / pun) to find an ugly sweater that I can turn around and wear to a Christmas party and impress everyone there. When it comes to analyzing retail stocks, the most important aspect of the company is its debt levels compared to its cash. Now with every company I look into, I prefer no debt, but an emphasis is placed on no debt in this case because the industry has been hit so hard, companies with any amount of debt could quickly become solvent with the inability to pay their obligations as their margins tighten and sales traffic slows.

When doing my daily look into potential plays, I stumbled across Francesca’s (FRAN). I was initially intrigued by the chart pattern, as you will see later, but the fundamentals are also tantalizing for any self – declared value investor. Before taking a look at the fundamentals, it’s important to see how Francesca’s ended up where it is now. The company’s share price has declined 60% since the start of the year, a significant decline compared to the overall surge in stocks during the same time.

Continue reading “Another Retail Roadkill Candidate: Francesca’s”

KORS, Bitcoin, and Natural Gas Commentary

Much to my surprise I haven’t received any feedback on my piece regarding Bitcoin. I believe that could be do to the fact that most people who receive my newsletter simply file it into their trash folder without ever glancing at what was said. Regardless, I will continue to send out my investment ideas and thoughts because no matter who reads it, it is what I love to do. Since my last newsletter, the Voyager Fund added a few positions which we will get to later.

First, I would like to talk about the losers of the Voyager Fund and why they are losing currently. Out of the 8 positions in the Fund (as of Nov. 12th), five of them are in the red. This isn’t a concern to me. Obviously I would love for each of my picks to be winners right from the entry, but that isn’t always the case, and it is foolish thinking to believe the contrary. Like I have mentioned before, most of my picks will turn out to be small losers. It is with the ones that I hit it big that make up for the small losses I suffer along the way, or what I like to call the ante in to playing the game of financial market speculation.

My losing positions are as follows: Long USOIL, Long USD, Long SRRA, Short EURO, and Short JNK. The long position in US Oil was triggered via a breakout of price resistance on the weekly charts, as Oil broke a key resistance level above $52. If you remember, I went long a basket of oil stocks, and all of those were hit for either small gains, or small losses (virtually a scratch play). I chalk that up to moving stops up too early and missing out on reversals from price declines.

Going forward I will be cognizant of where I keep my stops as to make sure they are at technical levels that prevent a premature exit. I am still bullish on my long-term position in oil. I entered on the weekly chart break, and my stop loss is set so that if I am wrong, I will be out of the trade and would be able to potentially take the short side of the oil price decline. Furthermore, the COT data shows an increase in positions for both the Producers & Users as well as the speculators. This is a good sign for the long thesis.

After cashing in big on my short USD trade a couple months ago, I reversed my position and went long. My thesis behind going long the USD is more of a derivative thought process. What do I mean by that? It is similar to second – level thinking. I am trying to think of how other people are thinking about things. The USD is looked at as the safest currency in the world, and a safe haven in times of crisis. Because of this logical thinking from the masses, it makes sense for me to go long the USD despite its overall lack of value as a currency. I like to leap on the backs of giants, one of which is Jim Rogers. Jim Rogers says (and I’m paraphrasing here), that the dollar will go up and turn into a bubble before it collapses. Whether he’s right or he’s wrong, I believe the probabilities are in his favor.

Moving on to one of my long equity positions, SRRA hasn’t performed like I thought it would after breaking out of an inverse head and shoulders patterns on the weekly charts. SRRA is a healthcare drug company that is trading at a negative Enterprise Value, and trading about half times book value. Although I am down in the position right now, I have no reason to not be bullish on the company. SRRA released its Quarterly Earnings on the 8th. Here are some of the earnings report highlights:

“- Chk1 inhibitor SRA737 Monotherapy trial expanded to eight leading centers across the UK – – On track to provide planned SRA737 Program Update in February 2018 – – $107.8 million cash expected to fund current operating plans through approximately mid-2019.”

When looking at their financial numbers quarter over quarter, the trend is continuing upwards: “For the three months ended September 30, 2017 , Sierra incurred a net loss of $10.0 million compared to a net loss of $15.2 million for the three months ended September 30 , 2016. For the nine months ended September 30, 2017 , Sierra incurred a net loss of $31.4 million compared to a net loss of $38.6 million for the nine months ended September 30 , 2016.” In summary, I like their cash position, I like the trend in their financial statements, and the charts are still not against me.

Going back to my currency positions, I took a short position in the Euro against the dollar as a basket type trade in tangent with my long USD exposure. I entered on a technical breakdown in price on the daily charts, and the charts are still in my favor. My final losing position is my short position on US Junk Bonds. JNK had a tremendous breakdown technically on both their weekly and daily charts. I entered the short position at the end of the week, and right now it is too early to say how the trade will turn out. Right now stops are set at $38, which is well off the current price of $36, and if hit, would indicate that my thesis was incorrect.

KORS Continues to Kill It

KORS is turning into that big trade I keep talking about that makes up for all the small losses. I entered KORS at 36.38 back in late July. Two strong earnings reports since then, KORS is sitting at 54.71. The position has increased 50% since initial entry, and at the designated stop loss, the worst case scenario would be a near 2% total gain on capital. Here is the notes from my original position entry:

“Risked 0.50% capital ($360). I have already expressed my fundamental interest in the company mainly because I deem it undervalued. I originally entered the trade on a false breakout within a channel, got out, entered again on another false breakout and got out before the heavy selling took place. Is three times the charm? Who knows? That is why I love risk management and limiting my losses first and foremost. I don’t care if I’m wrong two times before, because if I’m right this time, it will more than make up for the combined loss of the two previous trades of ~ 1.0% of capital.”

I risked 50bps of capital on this trade and if it hits my stop loss it will be for a 186bps profit. You can’t ask for a better trade. Once again, I always stress I never know how much of my success is luck and how much is skill and analytical abilities. Either way, this is a big win for the Fund regardless of where prices goes from here.

Long Natural Gas In the Commodities market, I took a long position in Natural Gas based on technical breakouts in the daily chart, as well as confirmation of a breakout in the weekly charts from a wedge pattern. COT reports show that both Producers / Users and speculators are approaching a net 50% size position. On the daily chart, price broke above the 200 MA, and on the weekly chart price broke the 50MA and could very well break the 200 MA starting tomorrow.

As always shoot me an email with any further questions you might have, or any comments you would like me to comment on.

Why I Don’t Use Guidelines When Investing

As your potential Fund Manager, it is my job to provide you with the best investment decisions that are the most responsible. With that being said, the way I operate at Rockvue Capital is very different than most funds in the sense that I do not cater my investment style to a specific sort of clientele. The way I invest is the way I invest, and if a potential partner understands and agrees with the method and philosophy in which I use on financial markets, that makes a great partnership. I deem this as a much more comfortable way of interacting between Fund Manager, partner, and potential partner. In this way, I will not pressure or corner anyone into joining the Fund. In order to achieve the best results, the Fund and its partners must share the same goals and same mindset. Throughout these weeks, you’ve gotten a glimpse into my investment philosophy with my three part series on the matter, and I would like to take the time now to discuss a much broader, almost personal level to my investment technique and philosophy: Guidelines in Investing.

I don’t like guidelines when it comes to investing. Give me a coloring book and I will more than likely start coloring outside the lines. This is a personality trait that has always been with me, and one that will never leave. I am not one that likes to be told that I have to do something. In elementary school, I never read the books that were assigned, instead I read the books that I chose and wanted to read. In my English classes in high school I would read printed out 10 – K reports from various companies instead of MacBeth or Romeo and Juliet.

There is a tangible struggle between me and authority, which is a predominant reason why I love the idea of having my own fund in which I can make the decisions I think are best. Note, I am not saying that my decisions are the best decisions to be made, rather in having my own Fund I am able to be more confident and free to make the decisions  I think are the right ones. Please understand this difference as it will free you from notions of thinking of me as hubris.

When I found the game of financial speculation at age 13, those same traits and qualities about me translated into this discipline that I love. Although I read everything I could get my hands on on topics such as Warren Buffett, dividend investing, and value investing, a part of me realized that I would never be one to don a cookie cutter ‘style’ about them. I knew I would be a hybrid investor of sorts: One that would take nuggets of information from various investing strategies and trading ideas and boil them down into a personal ethos of investing philosophy. Nine years later, that is exactly what I have done. An investor is always evolving, always learning, and always seeking to become better than they were the day before. Because of this, I never chose to place rules on how I would invest, or how I would trade. My philosophy and mechanisms of investment are built on the years of tinkering and not accepting standard guidelines. But what does this look like ?

For example, I use classical charting principles (think Peter L. Brandt or Edward McGee) mixed in with my deep value Benjamin Graham style of fundamental analysis. Purists of the value investing cult would herald me as a lunatic for using such voodoo work as technical analysis. Likewise, pure chartists would call me crazy for “wasting time” worrying about fundamental data when, according to that crowd, “price is the only thing that matters.” To some, this could be a red flag when it comes to deciding to invest with me. There will be some that think I am dabbling too much into too many fields, and there are certainly people whom might think, “he should stick to one thing and be really good at that.” I hear all of those concerns, but at the end of the day, I have found what works for me. There are many ways to make money in financial markets and there are many ways to lose money in financial markets. By not following guidelines, forging my own path of reason and judgement, I have found a way that a) provides me with the best risk management system, and b) capitalizes on market imperfections and mispricings.

This brings me to the psychology side of my investment decision making process. I have well documented the psychological benefits of my particular way of trading the financial markets, so I will not regurgitate it here. However, I want to stress that it is paramount that a potential partner, whomever they be, have the same psychological logic about the markets as I do. You might be asking yourself, “Why is that? Aren’t I giving you my money so that I don’t have to think about things psychologically about the markets?” To a certain extent yes. But to a much larger extent, it’s more complicated. I will use two theoretical examples to illustrate the importance of psychological symmetry between Manager and Partner.

This first example will deal with an individual security selection that goes wrong. In this example we will also assume the Fund Manager sends out alerts to Partners after each trade made. We will assume I pick a stock in the US market and after going long the stock immediately begins to head towards the stop loss price. Let’s say John Doe receives the alert from me that I have added a long position in the Voyager Fund at $5.00 entry with a stop loss at $2.00. Throughout the week, John is watching my pick go from $5.00 to $4.00 to $3.50. At $3.50 he’s had enough and decides to call me to voice his displeasure seeing the NAV of the Fund and his money decline. After telling John I understand why he is upset, I refer him to the many resources available to read about my investment style, and remind him that my style is set up to lose no more than 1% of capital on each trade. So at worst case, the NAV of the portfolio would decline 1% if the stop loss gets hit. If John still doesn’t understand after explanation, it will only create further strife down the road with each incorrect trade (and remember, I will have more losers than winners).

The second example deals with the amount of cash being held by the Fund Manager at any given point in time. Let’s say the market is reaching all time highs each and every day (sound familiar right?), and the Fund Manager has advised his clients that he is happy with how the portfolio has performed, pleased with the return percentage, and decides to hold a bit more in cash for the foreseeable future, citing lack of pristine investment bargains to be bought. After receiving this email about the plan to hold more cash, one partner, Jane, gets frustrated at the Manager, thinking to herself, “I gave him my money so that he could invest it, not to sit on it and basically bury it in a coffee can.” Jane is right to voice her displeasure only if her Fund Manager wasn’t forward with his views on cash percentages. Jane calls the Manager and proceeds to express her frustrations with him. The Fund Manager lets Jane know he understands, but also lets Jane know that part of his philosophy in the markets is to hold cash when the opportunity cost of a perceived investment is less than the opportunity cost of holding onto cash. If Jane does not understand the logic or if she doesn’t agree with that, Jane might not be the best Partner in the Fund.

The point is to let you, a potential partner, know that I place a tremendous amount of importance on compatibility of ideas and understandings on the markets. I am not one for guidelines, specifics, and certain tinkered portfolio percentages based on what every other institutional investor is doing. If you want to get average results, do what everyone else does. That’s not what I’m about. I believe I can perform better than the averages, so average and ordinary is not what you will get if you invest in Rockvue Capital. It is paramount that you are comfortable with this. As always, I am free to discuss the various aspects of this article, and if you have any personal concerns or questions. I want the Fund to perform to its capabilities. The only way that can happen is to have partners that understand what Rockvue Capital is all about. The Fund is only as good as its Partners, and I truly believe that. I will always strive to be better and to perform better, because like yourself, I am one that loves coloring outside the lines and finding ways to make the standard extraordinary.

The Big Post About Water

Let’s talk about water, good ol’ H2O. Water isn’t a commodity you can physically invest in like gold, silver, or wheat. Because of this, we have to look at ways to invest in water indirectly. What are some of the options? Right off the bat there’s public utility companies such as American WaterWorks; followed by agricultural businesses that produce food; finally you have potash companies that use their recycled water byproduct as a means to sell to other companies that are in need of it.

One of these companies that could expose a portfolio to water is Intrepid Potash Inc (IPI). Intrepid Potash produces and sells potash and potash byproducts in two main product segments: Potash and Trio. The Potash segment produces and sells potash to the agricultural industry as a fertilizer input, the industrial market as a component of oil and gas drilling fluid, and the animal feed market as a nutrient supplement.

The Trio segment produces and sells specialty fertilizer that consists of potassium, sulfate, and magnesium, and is mined from langbeinite ore. The vast majority of revenue is generated in the United States, which is also the location of the firm’s production facilities. Here’s the other cool thing about IPI, it sells water. Taking a look at the third page of their last 10-K it reads, “We also have water rights in New Mexico and Utah under which we sell water primarily for industrial uses such as in the oil and gas services industry”. But it isn’t enough to know that IPI sells water. It isn’t enough to know where they record their water sales on their balance sheets. It’s important to know why water matters, and what could drive its demand.

Why Water Matters

Water is used for almost everything we humans do in the world. Its one of the essential building blocks of life for crying out loud! Now before I get scientists shouting, “the world is 70% water you idiot, how could we run out?!” You’re right. The odds of us running out of water are almost zero. However, the water that humans need is fresh water. Freshwater accounts for around 2.5% of the overall water population. This means we have 8 billion people fighting over 2.5% of a resource.

According to the World Resource Institute, water use is expected to rise by 50% by 2025 in developing countries, and 18% in the developed world. A really cool website I found for those that are nerds like myself, is http://www.worldometers.info/water/. Worldometers.info records in live time the amount of water consumed per year (in millions of liters) along with some statistics. According to Worldometers, “population is rising about 80 million per year, and energy demand is also increasing around the world, with corresponding implications for water demand” (Worldometers.info).

Now that we know how much water humans are working with, it’s important to understand just how we use that water in our society. Going back to our worldometers.info statistics, “agriculture accounts for 70% of all water consumption, compared to 20% for industry and 10% for domestic use” (Worldometers.info). Another cool site to check out if you’re interested in water usage / risk is http://www.wri.org/applications/maps/aqueduct-country-river-basin-rankings/#x=147.30&y=8.70&l=2&v=home&d=bws&f=0&o=171. This website displays what the WRI calls an “Aqueduct Water Risk Map”. This map rates country from 1 – 5 (1 being less at risk, 5 being severely at risk) for water shortages. Along with providing the average score for the country, the map breaks it down into the three major industries: domestic, agricultural, and industrial.

Take a look at the Baseline Water Stress Score, which is the ratio of total annual water withdrawals to total available annual renewable supply. Examining the developed nations we find the following scores (remember, its 1 – 5, with 5 being the worst scenario and 1 being no worries):

North America

  • United States – 2.9 Average (3.5 Agriculture, 2.8 Domestic, and 2.5 Industrial)
  • Canada – 1.2 Average (2.4 Agriculture, 0.9 Domestic, and 1.2 Industrial)

South America

  • Mexico – 3.5 Average (3.7 Agriculture, 2.9 Domestic, and 2.9 Industrial)
  • Brazil – 0.9 Average (0.9 Agriculture, 1.1 Domestic, and 0.9 Industrial)
  • Argentina – 2.5 Average (2.9 Agriculture, 2.2 Domestic, and 1.8 Industrial)

Africa

  • South Africa – 3.2 Average (3.2 Agriculture, 2.7 Domestic, and 3.3 Industrial)

Middle East

  • Every Country Average > 4.0

So now that we have a clearer understanding of the world in terms of water usage, supply, and shortage worries, let’s get more granular and find out just how water is used in the industrial industry, which is where Intrepid Potash is located. The Canadian Society for Unconventional Resources has a great PDF describing the uses of water for the oil and gas industry, an industry IPI sells their water rights and water too. I learned a ton about how water is used in the drilling process, so I’ve pasted a few quotes from the article below.

“During the drilling process water-based fluid (drilling mud) is used in a number of different ways including lubricating the drill bit, circulating the drill cuttings out of the hole, containing formation fluids and facilitating the operation of sophisticated formation evaluation tools.”

“Hydraulic fracturing operations which use water as the primary fracturing fluid can require thousands of cubic metres of water. These large volumes of water are required to stimulate each section of the length of the lateral and to carry the proppant material into the newly created fractures.”

Where Intrepid Potash Fits In

Now we can finally move on to the vehicle for our water investment, IPI. Intrepid Potash is committed to expanding their water sales resources for the year 2017 and beyond. According to their latest 10-K, IPI mentions water in their speciality product sales, saying, “Through our existing operations and assets, we also have the potential to grow our offerings of salt, water, and brine with low capital investments”, and, “In addition to our reserves, we have water rights and access to additional mineralized areas of potash for potential future exploitation” (IPI 2016 10-K). Reading into the balance sheet, I realized that IPI doesn’t explicitly record their water revenue under any particular name, rather they place it under “Other Income” on their books. But before we go into their water sales, it’s important to take a look at the company as a whole.

The Fundamentals

IPI is currently trading at a 22% discount to book value and only 1.1 times sales. Their financial strength isn’t great, which makes it an area of concern for investment. IPI has a Cash to Debt ratio of 0.24, ranking it lower than 62% of the companies in its industry. However, it has an Equity to Asset ratio of 0.76, which is better than 88% of companies in its industry. Looking towards profitability, IPI currently doesn’t make money, but their trends are headed in the right direction. After reporting a Net Income loss of -$524M in 2015, IPI reported their most recent 10-K Net Income at -$61.88M, a tremendous recovery and tilt in the right direction. Free cash flow is slowly but surely making the turn towards positive. After a dismal 2013 FCF reporting of -$185.9M, IPI has grown their FCF to -$29.69M in 2017.

What I like most about IPI’s prospects is their dedication to reducing debt and raising cash levels. In 2014, IPI had $151M in debt compared to $78.02M in cash. Since then, IPI has reduced its debt to $88.02M and grown its cash to $20.7M (compared to the prior year of $4.46M).

So what is the biggest driver of growth for the company? Their ability to sell water. Taking a look at the balance sheets we can find how much of an impact the water sales have had on their bottom-line. Remember IPI reports their water sales as ‘Other Income’. Looking at the 2016 10-K, we see that IPI’s Other Income grew from $575M in 2015 to $1,106M in 2016, close to a 50% growth in income. That’s impressive. My thesis, backed by the research on water, suggests that the demand for IPI’s water rights and water usage will continue to bolster the bottom-line of the company, propelling the company into positive FCF and a greater Cash to Debt Ratio, and it should be then reflected in the price action. Speaking of price action, let’s take a look at the charts to round out this analysis.

Price Action / Chart Analysis

Right now the charts are depicting what could be a bottom in the bearish trend of IPI. If you look closer you can see a wedge forming at the end of this long saucer formation

Price action has already crossed 50 MA in a bullish manner, and I like the increased volume I’m seeing on the charts as well. Anything close to the 3.00 strike range would be a good entry in my books, and I would set the stop below the 50 MA, which if hit, would rebuttal my bullish thesis and get me out safely. Not too sure on how much to risk, but I would be sure to keep it between 0.50% and 1% of capital.

Conclusion

In pure supply and demand terms, the world will eventually need more usable water than it currently has. Whenever an imbalance like that occurs, there is always a time and place to make a profit from it. If water has the likes of Michael Burry digging into it, it should be worth your time to do some digging as well. Below this piece are the websites used to research this piece. I hope this thesis is a good starting point for those that want to dig in further. If you find anything of substance, shoot us an email. Also, if you see anything wrong with this, shoot holes into the thesis so I can see where I could’ve been wrong in my thought process.

Sources For Research

http://www.csur.com/sites/default/files/Water_Consumption_v3_wBleed.pdf

http://www.wri.org/applications/maps/aqueduct-country-river-basin-rankings/#x=-12.30&y=6.85&l=2&v=home&d=bws&f=0&o=86

http://www.worldometers.info/water/

https://www.wri.org/our-work/topics/water

Investment Philosophy Part 2 – Diversification & It’s Shortcomings

I want to discuss part two of my Investment Philosophy series, Portfolio Concentration and Diversification. Although this is not the most important part of my philosophy (that was discussed in part 1), it is still very important for you as a potential investor in the Fund to understand how I think about such matters like diversification and the concentration of my portfolio.

Continue reading “Investment Philosophy Part 2 – Diversification & It’s Shortcomings”

Investment Philosophy Part 1 – A Word on Losses

I want to take the time to discuss my investment philosophy in a bit more detail as I believe it will provide you, a potential partner, more clarity into the mindset of your potential money manager. I will break these investment philosophy pieces up into three different parts, with this first part being about losses.

You might be wondering why I am starting with losses, given the main goal of firms is to maximize profit. That is not the main goal of Rockvue Capital. The main goal is to minimize losses and restrict drawdowns as much as possible. By doing this, I am able to let the profits take care of themselves, while preserving my capital, and your capital. Let’s breakdown how I do this in Rockvue Capital. (The investment philosophy discussed herein these three parts have solely to do with the Voyager Fund. The SteadFast fund is algorithmic and independent of discretionary action from myself).

Using Stop – Losses To Mitigate Risk

The most important factor in mitigating risk and drawdowns in the Fund is through the power of stop – losses. Stop – losses for those that aren’t familiar, are used in trading to set a predetermined price at which one exits a trade. Using an example, let’s say I want to buy stock XYZ on a breakout at $5 on a symmetrical triangle pattern. Now, on this trade, I will place my stop – loss order on a price at which my bet would be wrong. In other words, I would place my stop – loss at a technical point that would signal me to get out. If this still doesn’t make sense, feel free to email me with any personal questions.

Here is the most important part about using stop – losses: I have yet to sustain an individual loss of greater than 1% per trade. This is very important to me, and it should have the utmost meaning to you as a potential partner. Through the power of stop – losses and moving those stop – losses up as soon as I can, I am able to lock in profits as soon as possible, and try to get to breakeven as soon as I can. This is what I am referring to when I talk about minimizing as much risk as possible. Now that you understand a little bit more about how I manage risk technically from stop – loss orders, I would like to take the remaining time of this memo to discuss my views on losing in the markets.

How I (And You) Should Handle Losses

My view on losses may come as surprising to those who haven’t read my work before, or frankly who are reading this memo and haven’t read previous memos. I will make a lot of losses. Statistically my losses will outnumber my wins, the scale of which I do not know specifically. So far, the ratio is close to 45% winning percentage. I am not worried about this. In fact, I would be completely comfortable with a 1% win rate if at the end of the year I am net profitable. I don’t believe this will ever happen, but the point I am making is that I am a firm believer in Pareto’s Principle.

Pareto’s Principle states that 80% of outcomes come from 20% of the inputs. If I can focus on the 20% profitable trades, I can sustain 80% of my success from 20% of those trades. The reason that I am comfortable with this principle is that the losses I sustain are very small compared to the size of the gains I receive on my profitable trades. I hope that you understand this principle as a potential partner in the Fund. If the idea of suffering lots of small losses is something that you are not comfortable with, I completely understand, but I would love to discuss it with you personally before making a decision to either invest or pull capital.

Positive Asymmetry in The Fund

As a caveat for my talk on losses, I want to end the memo with a word on positive asymmetry. The Fund will at all times have a positive asymmetric skew to the profile of its returns. This goes back to the Pareto Principle I discussed earlier. If you look at a Normal Distribution, you will see a symmetrical bell shaped curve along the various probability distributions. This is what the return distribution will probably look like at Rockvue Capital: 

Image result for asymmetric investment return

As you can see, the amount of small losses (as the x axis shifts towards the left) will outnumber my wins, which is what we should expect going forward. however,  the power in asymmetry is that the smaller number of profitable trades will cover for the losses and (hopefully) return a net profit after commissions and expenses.

A Final Word

This first memo got a bit mathematical and technical, so I apologize if some of this material went over some heads, that was not the intention. When dealing with losses, it is important to get granular to understand the reasoning behind my philosophy on losses and the purpose of my stance to the firm.

Once again, all of what I do directly impacts your potential capital investment. For this reason, I want to be as transparent as possible with my philosophy. Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Philosophy Memos where I discuss the criteria on which I invest in equity positions.

A Little Portfolio Hospitality (AHT)

Well I’m finally fully moved into my townhouse, and after finishing some economics homework broke in the new casa by doing some research for any potential plays in the coming weeks. One thing before I get going … I tend to do my best research with the comfort of music in the background. It doesn’t have to be any particular type of music, mainly whatever I’m feeling that moment. For instance, the research I did to find this play came while listening to the Batman & Game of Thrones soundtrack. Not sure if working with music will help, but if you’ve never tried it, give it a test drive and see how it helps (or harms) your productivity. Volume up, let’s get crankin’.

REIT Investment Potential

Like always, the following company description is from Gurufocus.com: Ashford Hospitality Trust (AHT) is a real estate investment trust that invests in full-service upscale and upper-upscale hotel properties in the U.S. The company owns and operates its assets through its operating partnership, Ashford Hospitality Limited Partnership. All of its hotels are located across the U.S. and operate under the Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Crowne Plaza, and Sheraton brands. Ashford’s sole segment is Direct Hotel Investments, through which it owns hotels by acquisition or development. Ashford also provides real estate investment services, such as mezzanine financing, first mortgage financing, and sales-leaseback transactions. Its revenue streams include Room revenue, Food and beverage revenue, and Other revenue. Room revenue accounts for the majority of total revenue.

To the standard ‘value investor’, REITs are compelling investment equities given their usually high dividend yield coupled with a normally steady pay-out schedule. Institutional investors and boutique firms alike like to add REITs to clients portfolios as a way of exposing them to the real estate side of investing, without getting their client knee deep in the rabbit hole that is real estate investing. I like to think of REITs as the ETF before the ETF. If you think about it, there are very few differences between REIT equities and a standard ETF. Both claim to offer diversification and predictability, and both offer the investor a way to dip their toes into investment areas they otherwise wouldn’t.

I say that because AHT offers a 7.8% dividend yield, a percentage that is the highest amongst their competition. If you would’ve asked me a year ago what I thought of this company, I would’ve relished in that yield like I relish carbs on my cheat days … But these days not so much. To me, a dividend (if I’m on the long side), is the cherry on top of the trade. Because Rockvue Capital is pinpoint focused on creating positive asymmetry with each and every trade, a dividend for a stock we are long on is basically free money for a trade we would’ve taken otherwise. I hope you can see the difference I am trying to make here. I am not interested in this company because of the dividend, I’m interested in this company notwithstanding the dividend.

The Fundamentals

AHT is trading at a 26% discount to book value, and that is something given the high quality of their brands, and the fact that they are the leader amongst their competition in nearly every major category. With $4.28 cash per share, the current share price of $6.30 isn’t terribly overvalued just on a cash basis alone. Keeping in like with the discounts, AHT is trading a staggering 39% discount to sales, and is trading 3x its operating cash flow. Both of those last two metrics place it better than 99 and 97% of its competitors in its industry.

The Headwinds

AHT isn’t without its flaws, however. Debt levels remain significantly high compared to cash since the start of 2014, net income hasn’t been positive since 2015, and operating loss increased over the last year. Trying to figure out why these numbers are the way they are, I looked to their balance sheets. In terms of operating income losses, AHT didn’t sell as many properties as they did in previous quarters, leaving their Income From Sale of Property much less than when they did. Secondly, AHT reported a loss in their derivatives investments for the most recent quarter of (1,600+) compared to a positive income of near $6,000 (in thousands).

The company is taken measurable efforts in reducing their debt burden, and I’m not worried about the decreased selling of their properties, I’m more concerned with their playing around in derivatives. Although the loss in derivatives was small on the grand scheme of things, I would like to see management more disciplined in how they allocate capital towards derivatives, and save more of that money for the core of their business model.

The Chart

I like the chart set-up for AHT, which made me interested in the fundamentals aspect of the business. On the daily chart, AHT has broken its price resistance from the descending triangle. However, I would like to see price reach around 6.40 before entering on the long side. Let’s take a look at the Weekly Chart:

The weekly chart shows price bouncing off the support end of the descending triangle / wedge.

Entry point will be $6.40 with my stop loss set at $6.10. I would risk between 50 and 75 bps on this trade.

The market seems to be overselling on the decrease in net income, while not looking at the obvious value that is on AHT’s balance sheet, and the value of their properties and their brand. I like how management has handled the company in the past (aggressive buybacks in 08 – 09), and with their determined effort to reduce the overall debt burden, as well as shifting their focus to having their properties be franchise managed instead of individually managed, it creates for a more streamlined, efficient revenue business model.

Will update via email if I have entered into this trade on my paper account. As always, if you are interested in getting my trade alerts, shoot me your email and I will get you signed up.

Two Charts For Next Week Trading

Its been a crazy week with the first full week of classes starting, and yes, it is finally the last year of schooling for me! But with the Labor Day Weekend extending my freedom by another day, it gives me time to send y’all a heads up on what I am thinking about going into next weeks trading. Although I have dozens of companies that are on my “radar”, there are only a select few (if that) each week that could be a potential trade set-up. A lot of the companies on my radar are longer term set – ups, developing set – ups, or companies that I am waiting for a drop in share price. Going into this next week I have two main charts that I am focusing on for potential trades, both of which I will dig into here.

As always, if you have any further questions, or you think my idea is stupid and I am missing something blatant, please email me. I love discussing ideas and bullet – proofing strategies whenever possible.

Chart 1 – Silver

I’m slowly beginning to realize that my writing has developed a quasi fetish towards silver. In all seriousness, silver has been on my radar for months, possibly a full year. I bought physical silver back in 2014 which I keep as a stowaway, but that was before I started getting extremely serious about the markets. Silver futures charts are looking extremely interesting as a bullish set – up. When it comes to charts, I like to follow Peter Brandt’s style (which, why wouldn’t one want to, with his 42% annualized return). Like Brandt, I first look at the weekly charts to see if there is a pattern setting up, from the weeklys, I dive into the dailys for an entry point and to place my stop losses. After recognizing a pattern on the weekly chart, I will use the daily chart to move my stop losses up or down according to which side of the trade I’m on.

Here’s the Weekly Chart for Silver Futures Continuous:

www.tradingview.png

From the charts, you can see the descending wedge pattern forming. What is important to note is that price action already broke the 200 MA, and is at the literal tip top of that resistance line going back into mid 2016. This will be the fourth time silver has tested its descending resistance level, and if it breaks through this time, it could be a powerful move upwards. That’s the beauty of waiting for chart patterns to develop: There is a clear right or wrong when it comes to your trade. If it breaks through that price resistance, I will put an order in and place my stop right below the 200 MA on the daily chart.

I am a bit more confident in the possibility of a breakout in silver this time around because I have a potential double confirmation from both the weekly and the daily charts. Whenever you have two different time charts confirming a pattern, your odds of success increase. That’s what this entire game is about anyways, creating a positive edge in the markets.

Here is a picture of the daily chart for the same Silver Continuous Future:

What’s important to notice is that there is a confirmation of price breaking out of the resistance on the daily chart, and the weekly chart is close to follow. That is why Tuesday’s trading day is so important for silver, and will determine whether or not I place an order.

Now onto the topic of risk capital, I might edge closer to 100bps of risk, just given the increased confidence I have in the charts and in the sentiment around the market (increased volatility). I will confirm on the day of the trade if and when that happens, but for right now I am looking between 75 and 100bps risk.

Chart 2 – Jakks Pacific, Inc. (JAKK)

Most of you reading this have experienced Jakks Pacific merchandize at least some point in your life, most notably during the Holidays. GuruFocus has a great description of Jakks Pacific, saying:

Jakks Pacific Inc is a toy and leisure products manufacturing company. Its products offering include traditional toys and electronics such as action figures, toy vehicles, dolls and accessories, ride-on toys, toys for pets. They also offer role play, novelty and seasonal toys such as dress-up, pretend to play toys, Halloween and everyday costumes, junior sports, and outdoor activity toys. The brands under which these products are sold include Road Champs, Spy Net, Fisher Price, Kawasaki, JAKKS Pets, Disney Frozen, Black & Decker, Spiderman, Toy Story, Sesame Street, among others. Its products are sold to customers in the United States, Europe, Canada, Hong Kong, and Other parts of the world.

In short, they make toys for children (Unless there’s one reader who yells to himself, ‘They’re collectible figurines thank you!’). Unlike their toys, their charts are ugly, and times are tough for the company. Before we dig into the technicals, let’s see why I am evening worrying about JAKK as an investment. Remember, with equities, I always put more emphasis on the narrative around the company before I assess the chart. This is something that I file under the category of ‘Strong Opinions Weakly Held’ because certainly there have been times where I have seen a chart so tantalizing I will, as George Soros says, “Buy First and Investigate Later”.

The first thing that popped up to me with JAKK was their valuation. JAKK is trading for roughly 50% of Book Value. That discount is better than 80% of competitors in its industry. Because of this, it begged the question in my head, ‘How could such a huge, reputable brand like JAKK be trading at such a steep discount?’ The digging led me to their latest quarterly report.

Why The Sell – Off Occured

The biggest reason for the share decline was their drop in sales. JAKK reported a 10% decrease in sales QoQ, due to what they referred to as Sales Comparisons and Timing of Expenses. The decline in sales was linked to the decline in the retail space as a whole, with JAKK forced to suspend the sale of their product in certain stores due to shutdowns. To add to the decrease in sales, JAKK COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) increased 10%, a double whammy negatively affecting bottom line profits and margins.

The other major headwinds for the company that affected the bottom line was the suspension of toys from the new Star Wars movie and Frozen. Frozen provided a healthy dose of sales revenue for the company after that movie rocketed to #1. The good thing about a company like JAKK is that the movie industry isn’t dying. In fact, demand for super hero movies seems to increase. With Marvel and DC virtually dominating the big screen production, one can safely assume that JAKK will have more than enough content to dig from for their toy production. On that note, I want to discuss why I think the market isn’t realizing the importance of the brand name, the demand for products from movies, as well as the increase in free cash flow from the company.

What Wall Street Doesn’t See

Sometimes I think Wall Street gets too wrapped up in sales numbers and forgets other crucial aspects of a business that are not only performing well, but are increasing in their performance. When it comes to JAKK, that increase in performance is from free cash flow. Although sales numbers decreased 10%, JAKK was able to increase their FCF by 101% and their operating cash flow by 122%. The company also is trading for $3.84 per share in cash, which is a $0.40 discount to current price. In other words, Wall Street has beaten down this stock merely off of a missed sales number for one quarter.

JAKK is taking direct effort to fix the problems of the most recent quarter. JAKK is increasing their master global reach of toy licenses in a host of countries, and most recently opened up a branch in London. For the remainder of 2017, JAKK is branching into the sporting / outdoors industry as well as Cosmetics.

The most important aspect of the JAKK business developments come from their online space. I stress this with every company in retail that I investigate … How are they competing online, and how are they making themselves more accessible online? JAKK has expanded and grown its online presence tremendously. Online sales are up 50% YoY for the company, a great sign of mobility.

The Chart

 

Notice anything crazy about this weekly chart? JAKK hasn’t been this low since 1997. To put that in perspective, they haven’t been this low since my 3rd birthday. At these levels, there is price support, its just very far dated. If it can hold this price level though, it would present significant support from it. Moving on to the daily charts we find a similar story.

On the daily charts, JAKK is very close to breaking both price resistance levels going back to the start of 2017, as well as the 50 MA. Whenever I dissect these companies that are trading at a steep discount to book value, and even a discount to cash, it’s extremely important to try to increase the possibility of buying after a bottoming formation. Note: I am not trying to ‘pick’ a bottom in a stock, what I am saying is that its important to buy off of a basing pattern with momentum heading upwards.

When looking to buy JAKK, my entry position would be on the 3.65 – 3.70 price range, and I would put my stop loss around the 3.30 price range, right below the price support on the most recent coiling pattern formation.

Takeaway & Email Notification

These are two of the top charts that I am paying attention to coming into the trading week. If you have any concerns or questions on these two potential trades, shoot me an email or text if you have my number.

One thing that I would like to stress is that this website isn’t the only place that I communicate with potential investors or partners interested in investing with me. I have a list of people whom I email on a semi regular basis where I discuss individual trades and results of my two funds. If you would like to be included on this email list, leave me a comment in the comments section, or shoot me a personal email regarding your inquiry.

Surfing and Trading

So this past week I’ve been relaxing (as best as I can) in Tybee Island, GA. This is supposed to be my last vacation before the school year starts, but I’ve spent most of it getting destroyed by waves, early morning workouts, and studying the markets. I’ve come to the realization that I cannot get away from the markets, mainly because I love them so much. It’s my passion, so I don’t think of it as distracting or “working” while on vacation.

This brings me to the point of this article. I won’t go into any details on specific companies, but rather provide an insight into the methodology and process of my trading. I tried surfing this week and I struggled, a lot. To my defense, the waves were very large and challenging in general. More or less, I’m trying to make excuses for myself. But while I was out in the ocean letting the waves decide where to take me, I thought about markets, investment opportunities, and the waves. It hit me. Along with a wave, a thought hit me that garnered a writing piece. My strategy to the markets is exactly like surfing in 4 major ways. Let’s break it down.

Continue reading “Surfing and Trading”