Archive for the 'Companies' Category

Show Summary

Happy day before Halloween! This is a very special episode of The Intelligent Investing Podcast. I bring Brian Langis back on the show to discuss Brookfield Asset Management which we have discussed before. We go into some of the slides from Brookfield Investor Day 2019 on both Brookfield Asset Management and also some of their subs such as Brookfield Business Partners. We discuss larger trends, low and negative interest rates, valuations, and culture.

Cultural Activism

We spend quite a while on the cultural activism going on at Brookfield Business Partners led by their COO, Denis Turcotte. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the Brookfield Investor Day and noticed he wasn't just giving lip service to culture but actually doing it and knew he didn't learn this from business school. Many of you don't know this but I have a 10 year background in transformational coaching and a 7 year background specifically on organizational culture- not just understanding it but actually empowering organizations to elevate it. Brookfield Business Partners is actually working with businesses to elevate culture not just talk about it and no surprise, profits go up!

Better Culture Equals Greater Profits

One of the things I have discussed with my colleagues John King and Scott Forgey is that greater culture equates to greater profits. John King is the inventor of Tribal Leadership which is the most cutting edge and leading cultural transformation technology on the planet. Scott Forgey is working with me on empowering organizations to elevate their culture, except we are focusing on public companies. When an organization goes from what is known as Stage 2 to Stage 4, profits go up by an average of 300% - 500%.

Relevant Links For This Episode

  1. Eric Schleien interviews John King on Tribal Leadership | Thrive Global
  2. Cultural Activism: A New Model For Activism | The Intelligent Investing Podcast
  3. Netflix, Sears, Tribal Leadership | The Intelligent Investing Podcast
  4. How To Keep Large Companies Innovative | The Intelligent Investing Podcast
  5. The Oaktree / Brookfield Transaction | The Intelligent Investing Podcast
  6. 2019 Brookfield Investor Day Slides | Brookfield Asset Management Investor Relations
  7. Getting Into The Weeds: Recap on Brookfield Asset Management | The Intelligent Investing Podcast

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In this episode of The Intelligent Investing Podcast, Eric Schleien sits down with Braxton Gann to discuss two shipping companies, Scorpio Tankers (STNG) and Diamond S Shipping Company (DSSI). 


A lot of managers are concerned about the "trade war" because less trade = less shipping. Braxton thinks that a trade war is a positive because the trade will be less efficient, increasing ton-miles.
Some investors also worry that a global recession will send these shipping companies into bankruptcy, forgetting that new supply would be cut off by a recession, and that obsolete vessels would be scrapped mercilessly.
There has been a lot of talk about OPEC cutting production being a negative for STNG, but STNG carries products, not crude. Saudi Arabia is adding refinery capacity, and the OPEC cuts will have to be renewed in March.

IMO 2020

Another puzzle is that shipping companies are downplaying the obvious effects of IMO 2020, which can easily be enforced by spot checks. Braxton thinks this is because most companies can't afford scrubbers, even though they offer payback times of 10 months or less.
Another factor that we didn't end up getting to on the show is that many shipyards are going bankrupt, and shippers will have to rebuild their balance sheets for a couple of quarters before ordering more product tankers, which can take a year and a half to build.

The Tanker Thesis

The main reason Braxton likes product tankers is due to the disruption that will occur from IMO 2020. Many ports don't have the low-sulfur fuels required for IMO 2020, and each low-sulfur blend must be carried in a different tank. Braxton started looking at product tankers when he realized they would be the ones carrying LSFO blends. Inventories of refined products and bunker fuels are surprisingly low, so you could get a double boost from normalizing inventories and arbitrages between ports. This could boost demand by 10% or more, excluding the effect of normal GDP growth.

Contact Eric Schleien

If you'd like to connect with me Eric directly, he always loves connecting with listeners of the Intelligent Investing Podcast on his personal Twitter.

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In this episode of the Intelligent Investing Podcast, Eric Schleien discusses Trupanion (TRUP).


The price of Trupanion (TRUP) stock has recently declined from the mid 30’s/share to the low 20’s/share. Trupanion has high short interest due to claims of overvaluation on a price to book level and due to claims that the business model is flawed and unsustainable. Even some longs are selling the stock. For example, Todd Wenning of Ensemble Capital shared in a recent blog post from his online publication Intrinsic Investing that he has grown concerned with Trupanion’s ability to communicate their value proposition to pet owners and that Trupanion has trailed the industry growth rate as defined by the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), after years of outperformance.



In addition, Todd shares a few concerns on his blog:

  1. Todd assumes that when there are industry tailwinds, most companies with what he refers to as “emerging moats” should be able to continue to gain market share and recently this hasn’t happened with Trupanion. He cites this as a red flag.

  2. Todd also explains that Trupanion is often the first brand that vet customers hear from their vets yet Trupanion has a slowing growth rate and is not outpacing the industry recently


There have also been concerns raised on Seeking Alpha that California raised their prices by 150% in California since 2015 with an additional 20% price-hike this year. He has concerns that this will lead to adverse selection which is a worst nightmare scenario for any insurer: healthy pets leaving due to higher prices while the sick pets stay leading to unsustainable losses.



However, there are some faulty assumptions here. 

Yes, it’s true that Trupanion subscription growth only grew a bit over 15% compared to the industry’s 17% growth rate, but looking at this alone doesn’t tell the entire story. In reality, Trupanion is growing faster than the industry when you compare similar products in the marketplace. For example, there are lots of cheap products in the pet insurance marketplace that really aren’t comparable. In addition, some companies are underpricing during a period where the pet insurance category is gaining more awareness. We have seen this before.



Trupanion competitors from time to time will grow faster than the category due to mis-priced policies. For example, Nationwide grew pretty quickly and grabbed market share two years ago. However, they had to pull back after a year because they couldn’t price their product properly Another example is Healthy Paws. If we look at Healthy Paws, they have grown pretty quickly. However, if you look at their pricing, they’re able to get away with it because they keep switching underwriters and they keep rolling over new pets to new books of business. Healthy Paws recently had to change their product by introducing caps, changing their deductible structure to longer having zero deductibles. In addition, we see pricing increases of 30% on top of natural age based pricing factors. The fact that they are mis-priced has now become a problem for Healthy Paws. In Washington, they can’t even underwrite policies anymore. 



California is getting a lot of attention for Trupanion. However, this concern is also totally unwarranted and blown completely out of proportion. Just like Trupanion, Healthy Paws also files in California and 34% of pets need more than a 50% pricing increase. That’s base rate increases + 15% = 65%. California, however, is capped at 50%.

The way you win your insurance category long-term is to price more accurately than your competition. Short-term this means you won’t always be growing faster due to the ebbing and flowing of the many other pet insurance competitors that underprice their policies. This has never been shown to be sustainable (obviously) and economic reality always settles in within a few years time. Trupanion is by far the best in the business when it comes to pricing policies accurately to get their 70% target as quickly as they can.

California is no different than what Trupanion has disclosed on their main book of business. Nothing would suggest that churn is different in California despite the massive pricing increases in recent years. One-third of Trupanion customers interact with the product in the first year. The company is processing 80,000 claims/month and the average claim is only a few hundred dollars. When rates increase, there is an increased churn of 20% across their entire book, California is no different. One of the biggest opportunities for Trupanion currently is their first year churn rate. 

The reality in California is that the greatest usage amongst Trupanion customers are specialty and referral hospitals (cancer centers, cardiologists, urologists, etc). This leads to greater Trupanion customer population density. The California market has seen large increases in these types of hospitals and the Trupanion customers are seeing value in them as can be seen through claims passing through those hospitals.



The business model is not broken. None of this should be news. The panic ensues by those who can’t see the context behind the numbers. However, I’m happy to have the shorts keep shorting. Recently, the borrow rate on shares has climbed to nearly 10% meaning that through Interactive Brokers, myself and my investors through Granite State Capital Management are getting ~5% interest on our shares.

Disclosure: Granite State Capital Management manages SMA’s with positions Trupanion (TRUP). However, this could change at anytime without prior notice. This is not a buy or sell recommendation. I wrote this article myself, and I am expressing my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for this post.



If you'd like to connect with me directly, I always love connecting with listeners of the Intelligent Investing Podcast on my personal Twitter.

You can also connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, or through my personal website.

To follow The Intelligent Investing Podcast, click here.


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