Archive for the 'Investment Ideas' Category

NEW PODCAST

Hey All! I’ve started a second show completely devoted to the field of Ontology which is another huge passion of mine. Please check out The Eric Scheien Podcast which is an ontological podcast where I break down distinctions of human consciousness as an access to enhancing performance.

Summary

I received this email last year about Trupanion and wanted to address some points made. The entire email is here:

Hi Eric,

 
I come in peace as a Chester County native who still very much prefers Wawa over Sheetz, despite living in Pittsburgh. You seemed very open to hearing counterpoints, as per your podcast on TRUP, so I wanted to give you some things to chew on. 
 
You made two points (I'll summarize): 1) It is justifiable to exclude development expenses from IRR and 2) there are "no accounting shenanigans" going on. 
 
I would love, then, to hear your thoughts on the following:
 
Let's first level set with the IRR methodology: the company allocates fixed expenses between Subscription and Other based on their relative revenue contributions. This includes a pro-rata allocation of G&A expenses. 
 
So let's get into G&A expenses -- what's in there? Typical back office stuff, finance, accounting, etc. But also a couple million bucks of rental income related to subleasing of the company HQ. Per their 2019 10-K: "The change was primarily due to a $3.1 million increase in compensation expenses, a $0.8 million increase in professional service fees, and a $1.5 million increase in depreciation expense mainly due to owning our home office building since August 2018, partially offset by a total of $2.6 million in savings from additional lease income and less rental expense."
 
The rental income has the effect of reducing reported G&A (i.e. it's netted against expenses). So my first question for you is as follows: if you firmly believe development expenses that aren't related to acquiring new pets are justifiably excluded from IRR calculations, how are you comfortable with several million dollars of sublease income that's clearly not related to acquiring subscription pets benefitting IRR?
 
Next up is their pet-food VIE. Also from the 10-K: The Company has also entered into a series of agreements to provide ancillary services to the variable interest entity at cost. The Company provided $1.2 million and $1.4 million of these services for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively, which were recorded against its operating expenses.
 
So TRUP provides back office support to the VIE and reduces its reported opex to account for the compensation for providing the services. 
 
So the next question is the same as the first: Would you bucket this in line with "development expenses" as being rightly excluded from IRR, or are you OK with the company getting the tailwind from the expense reduction?
 
Now here's where the situation becomes a bit more nefarious. The VIE has received a total of $9.5 million of funding from TRUP, including $7.0MM of preferred capital and $2.5MM from a line of credit. Think for a minute about what's going on here: the company pushed $9.5MM of cash down to another legal entity, and now reduces its reported OpEx for services provided to the VIE, with the payments being made with money TRUP used to finance the VIE. Money coming out of one pocket and right into the other. 
 
Third question: Do you think this is an accounting shenanigan?
 
Lastly, management knows PAC is getting out of hand and pulled a fast one in the first quarter to make it look like they've got things under control. Aren't you the slightest bit curious how they're going to hold PAC at $280 for the balance of this year in an increasingly competitive environment?
 
Management casually slipped in the following comment during the earnings call: "We expect stock-based compensation to be around $6-$7 million per quarter for the remainder of the year." Coupled with the $8.4 million of SBC already booked in 1Q'21, TRUP is on track to recognize $28 million of SBC expense in 2021. Putting this figure into perspective, it is 3x higher than last year's $8.9 million of total recognized SBC expense. Last year SBC expense was 1.8% of revenue; this year it will be 4.1%.
 
What does SBC have to do with PAC and IRR? 
 
Well, for the purposes of calculating PAC (a key input into the IRR calculation), management excludes SBC because it's non-cash. By upping the portion paid in the form of equity, management is artificially reducing the level of PAC incorporated in their IRR calculation. in 1Q'21, fully-loaded PAC (including SBC) was $328/pet, representing 22.4% y/y growth. SBC embedded in Sales and Marketing was $40/pet -- leaps and bounds above historical levels ($20/pet). See the charts at the bottom of the email. Had SBC been more in-line with historical levels ($20/pet), PAC (for the purposes of the company's IRR calculation) would have been ~$310...much closer to the full year figure I was expecting.
 
This is all a long winded way of saying, if you were to run the company's IRR calc with PAC of $315 or above, there is absolutely no way they would be within the boundaries of their self-imposed 30-40% target range. The only reason they'll print numbers within range this year is a result of their increased use of SBC in compensating their employees.  
 
The table below illustrates Restricted Stock grants (not expense, but grants) since 1Q'19. The grants in the most recent quarter -- $66 million! -- jump off of the page and explain why SBC will be elevated in the quarters to come. But don't just take my word for it. From what I can tell, we both respect Buffett a lot, and here's what he's got to say on the topic: "I have no objection to the granting of options. Companies should use whatever form of compensation best motivates employees -- whether this be cash bonuses, trips to Hawaii, restricted stock grants or stock options. But aside from options, every other item of value given to employees is recorded as an expense." 
 
 When it comes to SBC, RSUs are a functional cash equivalent, so there is no legitimate justification to exclude the related expense from any measure of profitability -- GAAP or otherwise.  
 
image.png
 
 
Perhaps using RSUs makes sense for the time being given the extreme overvaluation of TRUP. Management can handsomely compensate employees and gloss over the dilutive impact on the company's financials. But what happens when shares are back at $30, but territory partners are expecting their compensation to remain flat in nominal terms? Shareholders will either be 1) massively diluted or 2) the company would have to lean more heavily on cash compensation. The latter of the two options is a functional non-starter at the current juncture given the company's persistently negative free cash flow (another topic the bulls don't understand, but I'll let sleeping dogs lie on this one).
 
Last question: Do you believe SBC is a true expense? If it is, should the company be including it in its IRR calculation?  
 
Management updated guidance, and frankly, I think the financial outlook is worse than I was expecting. "Adjusted Operating Income" -- which is ex. SBC, D&A, and Pet Acquisition -- is forecast at $75MM. PAC -- ex. SBC -- is forecast at $66MM. That leaves us to $9MM. "Development expense" will be $4MM (at the mid), SBC is $28MM, D&A will be $12MM, resulting in a pre-tax net loss of $35MM. This is larger than the company's cumulative net loss for the past six years combined! 
 
 
I know this is a battleground stock and don't expect everyone to come around. But I also think: 1) there's only one set of correct answers to the questions I've laid out above, 2) none of the afforementioned points are "dumb", and 3) management is using sleight of hand to paint a picture of the company that is out of step with reality.  As someone who puts a lot of value in associating with the right people, I certainly don't appreciate the games / shenanigans that Daryl and team are pulling. 
 
  $MM
Adjusted Operating Income 75
- PAC (66)
- Development expense (4)
- SBC (28)
- D&A (12)
Pre-tax Income (35)

 

HELP OUT THE PODCAST

If you like The Intelligent Investing Podcast, please consider leaving a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. It takes less than 30 seconds to do and makes a huge difference! You can also join the Facebook page!      

You can subscribe to the podcast on the following platforms:

GET IN TOUCH WITH ERIC SCHLEIEN

Facebook  |  LinkedIn  | Twitter  | YouTube | GSCM | Instagram

Email: IntelligentInvesting@gmail.com

Disclosure: Eric Schleien and some SMA clients of Eric Schleien through GSCM own shares of TRUP. Nothing here is investment advice. Do your own due diligence.  

Read Full Post »

NEW PODCAST

Hey All! I’ve started a second show completely devoted to the field of Ontology which is another huge passion of mine. Please check out The Eric Scheien Podcast which is an ontological podcast where I break down distinctions of human consciousness as an access to enhancing performance.

NET NET HUNTER

This episode is sponsored by Net Net Hunter. If you’re interested in finding high-quality stocks trading at fractions of liquidation value – this research service is for you. I personally use this service at my firm to help me research tiny and obscure net-net stocks all around the world. Using Net Net Hunter comes out to way less money than hiring an analyst to do the exact same thing manually. It’s a service I love and I am proud to be able to offer this service to my listeners. If this is something you’re interested in, please click here.

Summary

Evan Bleker is a professional investor who has built his track record by buying high quality net net stocks. When not researching stocks, he focuses his time on helping small investors learn the strategy so they can earn great returns.

Evan manages two investing websites: Net Net Hunter and Broken Leg Investing.

Evan discussed Warren Buffett’s net net investing practice during his partnership. Further resources available here:

You can follow Evan’s portfolio performance here:

You can sign up for his free newsletter on the Net Net Hunter home page.

 

Show Notes

  • 1:06 - What is Westell (WSTL)?
  • 2:24 - Estimating liquidation value
  • 3:07 - A simplified approach to finding high quality net-net stocks
  • 3:55 - The 5G rollout
  • 5:10 - Potential catalyst
  • 5:26 - Dark Companies; The new SEC rule
  • 8:57 - Westell quarterly update

HELP OUT THE PODCAST

If you like The Intelligent Investing Podcast, please consider leaving a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. It takes less than 30 seconds to do and makes a huge difference! You can also join the Facebook page!      

You can subscribe to the podcast on the following platforms:

GET IN TOUCH WITH ERIC SCHLEIEN

Facebook  |  LinkedIn  | Twitter  | YouTube | GSCM | Instagram

Email: IntelligentInvesting@gmail.com

Disclosure: Eric Schleien and some SMA clients of Eric Schleien through GSCM own shares of WSTL. Nothing here is investment advice. Do your own due diligence.  

 

Read Full Post »

It's Eric Schleien with episode #167 of The Intelligent Investing Podcast. Today I discuss one of my current positions LAACO with a quick update.

Summary

I originally invested in LAACO when the stock was trading at roughly $2000/unit. The thesis was that you could buy the entire company at a significant discount to the private market value of the assets. You can read my original thesis, here. Recently, there has been news reports that the company may be in the process of selling their self-storage business which would be huge for shareholders. You can see a link to an article, here.

More About Eric Schleien

To learn more about me, Eric Schleien, check out my personal website and business website. You can also reach out to me on TwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

If you'd like to read my book, you can find it on Amazon. Reviews are appreciated.

New Podcast

Hey All! I’ve started a second show completely devoted to the field of Ontology which is another huge passion of mine. Please check out The Eric Schleien Podcast which is an ontological podcast where I break down distinctions of human consciousness as an access to enhancing performance. To learn more about Eric's work, check out his ontological coaching firm, Transformational Leadership Associates.

Help Out The Podcast

If you like The Intelligent Investing Podcast, please consider leaving a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. It takes less than 30 seconds to do and makes a huge difference! You can also join the Facebook page!      

You can subscribe to the podcast on the following platforms:

Contact Eric Schleien

Facebook  |  LinkedIn  | Twitter  | YouTube | GSCM | Instagram

Email: IntelligentInvesting@gmail.com

Read Full Post »

It's Eric Schleien back atcha with Episode #166 of The Intelligent Investing Podcast. Today I bring on Jason Rivera to discuss BE Semiconductor Industries NV (BESIY).

Summary

Jason found the company when they were a $640 million dollar market cap company. Since then, the stock is up ~10x. Not a bad return! When Jason  found them, they were a pick and shovel play in the semiconductor industry. The company builds testing kits. They also build plastic casings for the actual semiconductor pieces. They're a necessary business for the semiconductor industry. Jason believes you can expect that trend rapidly grow because of the internet of things and 5G.

Jason  found the stock by going one by one through the OTC markets database. There's around 20,000 companies listed there.

More About Eric Schleien

To learn more about me, Eric Schleien, check out my personal website and business website. You can also reach out to me on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

If you'd like to read my book, you can find it on Amazon. Reviews are appreciated!

Get In Touch With Jason Rivera

To learn more about Jason Rivera, check out his website: Value Investing Journey

 

New Podcast

Hey All! I’ve started a second show completely devoted to the field of Ontology which is another huge passion of mine. Please check out The Eric Schleien Podcast which is an ontological podcast where I break down distinctions of human consciousness as an access to enhancing performance. To learn more about Eric's work, check out his ontological coaching firm, Transformational Leadership Associates.

 

Help Out The Podcast

If you like The Intelligent Investing Podcast, please consider leaving a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. It takes less than 30 seconds to do and makes a huge difference! You can also join the Facebook page!      

You can subscribe to the podcast on the following platforms:

Contact Eric Schleien

Facebook  |  LinkedIn  | Twitter  | YouTube | GSCM | Instagram

Email: IntelligentInvesting@gmail.com

Read Full Post »

Join Eric Schleien as he discusses Altria Group Inc (NYSE: MO) with Jason Rivera from Value Investing Journey. Eric Schleien has been following Altria for many years and brought Jason on after he saw that he’s talked about it on his website. For those who don’t know, Altria is the maker of Marlboro cigarettes and is considered the ultimate sin stock. You can make the argument that the stock has often been cheap due to the fact it is a sin stock leading to high rates of returns over many decades.

About Eric Schleien

To learn more about Eric Schleien, check out his personal website and business website. You can also reach out to him on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Microcap Shareholder Activism

If you are an executive of a microcap public company or a large shareholder of a microcap company where the executives are not doing right by shareholders, I'd be happy to see if me and my team can help with our novel approach to shareholder activism. For more information, see our offering at Transformational Leadership Associates and would be happy to do a free consult.

If you'd like to read Eric Schleien’s book, you can find it on Amazon.

What Are Sin Stocks?

Sin stocks are public companies involved in activities that are considered unethical by society, such as alcohol, tobacco, gambling, adult entertainment or weapons. ESG investors tend to exclude sin stocks, as the companies involved are thought to be making money from exploiting human weaknesses and vices.

Why Do People Avoid Sin Stocks?

A common question people ask is why do people avoid sin stocks? In reality, a stock doesn’t know you own it. As long as you aren’t participating in a secondary offering, you buying stock in Altria in no way contributes to the tobacco industry. However, even though that is the reality, there are many reasons why people avoid sin stocks. For example, there is an entire investment industry around what is coined ESG. ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance. Companies are given a score based on a variety of metrics. This has led to a whole new money making scheme in the name of “feeling good” about what you’re investing in despite the fact it makes no actual impact to the planet. However, this ESG fad has led to opportunities for prudent investors.

Altria Stock Valuation

Jason discusses how he values Altria. Jason assumes the company is worth 11x EBIT which he considers high for most companies but appropriate for Altria. That would get you to a value of about $129.5 billion. Then, if you add cash of just under $2 billion and subtract the company’s $28.2 billion in debt, that gets you to a value of about $101

Most companies, I wouldn't value it. An 11 X EBIT, multiple them. I would, again, for the competitive advantage we already talked about, so that gets us to a value of about 129.5 billion. Plus cash they had about just under $2 billion cash minus all of their debt at $28.2 billion. That gets us to a value of about $101.3 billion. This contrasts to a current market cap of about $93 billion.

What’s The IRR For Altria Stock?

Jason assumes that the future returns for Altria will essentially be their dividend of just over 7%. In addition, Jason believes the company will be a good hedge for inflation. This IRR is much higher than a US Treasury Bond and he believes it is a good fit for a long-term portfolio with someone who is extremely risk averse.

About Jason Rivera

To learn more about Jason Rivera, check out his website: Value Investing Journey

Read Full Post »

Hi, it's Eric Schleien, and welcome back to another episode of The Intelligent Investing Podcast! In this episode, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the wonderful Jason Rivera who runs Value Investing Journey. I've always liked government contractors due to the sticky nature of their business, high margins, and lots of recurring revenue. I also love them when they are tiny and undiscovered and filling some interesting niche or segment of their market. A company that seems to possibly fit that bill is WidePoint Corporation (WYY).

What Is WidePoint Corporation?

WidePoint Corporation (WYY) is the leading provider of Trusted Mobility Management (TM2) solutions. TM2 converges at the intersection of WidePoint’s pioneering Telecom Lifecycle Management (TLM), Telecom Bill Presentment & Analytics, Mobile and Identity (IdM) Management solutions.

Market demand for secure mobile management such as WidePoint TM2 solutions is increasing due to security risks and vulnerabilities that could result from allowing mobile devices and cloud-based applications access to an organization’s technology infrastructure. In today’s connected world with high-profile data breaches, it is important for an enterprise to have a TM2 solution in place to protect valuable mobile assets and infrastructure while complying with changes in privacy and data protection laws and regulations. WidePoint TM2 solutions provide security, manageability, and visibility of an enterprise’s mobile assets and services through a single platform supported by our secure TM2 framework.

WidePoint is the leading provider of customized telecom and mobile management solutions to the U.S. public sector. WidePoint has a diverse portfolio of government and commercial clients, serving global and international enterprises and the Fortune 100 across a multitude of industries.

More About Eric Schleien

To learn more about me, Eric Schleien, check out my personal website and business website. You can also reach out to me on TwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

If you'd like to read my book, you can find it on Amazon. Reviews are appreciated!

Get In Touch With Jason Rivera

To learn more about Jason Rivera, check out his website: Value Investing Journey

 

Read Full Post »

Eric Schleien hosts the September Roundtable for Finance Podcast Week. Join Eric Schleien, host of the Intelligent Investing Podcast, with Andrew Sather and Jason Rivera for a jam packed hour long finance roundtable. 

Eric Schleien Discusses Real Estate Stocks

In this episode, Eric Schleien sits down with Andrew Sather and Jason Rivera to discuss two real estate stocks.

  1. Laaco Ltd (LAACZ), which owns the Los Angeles Athletic Club and has a Self-Storage Business.
  2. Cedar Realty Trust (CDR), which owns grocery anchored retail outlets across the United States.

Eric Schleien believes that both of these are cheap real estate stocks that would be some of the best picks for 2021. Both of these stocks are special situations as it is likely that both of these will be selling core assets for a higher price than the current market value. In Cedar’s case, they may sell the entire company. With Laaco, they may sell their self-storage business at what would almost certainly be a higher price than the current market price if they were to get a fair valuation on the assets.

 

Eric Schleien Discusses Modern Value Investing

One of the things that Eric points out during the roundtable is that modern GAAP accounting isn’t always appropriate for companies such as Amazon (AMZN) or Trupanion (TRUP) to show true value of the business. For example, Amazon’s R&D expense he believes is an asset even though it gets run through the income statement as an expense. 

To learn more about Eric Schleien, check out his personal website and business website. You can also reach out to him on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

If you'd like to read his book, you can find it on Amazon.

 

Jason Rivera Discusses Altria Stock

During the episode Jason Rivera discusses Altria (MO) as a potential value investment due to the stability of the business mixed with a high dividend yield. Jason believes that Altria is a better inflation hedge than buying TIPS.

To learn more about Jason Rivera, check out his website: Value Investing Journey

 

Andrew Sather Discusses Defense Contractors

Andrew believes that defense contractors offer good value in this market. As a value investor, he is always looking for sectors and companies that are being mispriced by the market for various reasons.

To learn more about Andrew Sather, check out his website: Investing For Beginners

Read Full Post »

Principles Of Power

My book Principles Of Power: The Art & Wisdom of Badassery is now available on Amazon. I would be extremely grateful if you could pick up a copy and write an honest review. Would mean the world!

New Podcast

Hey All! I’ve started a second show completely devoted to the field of Ontology which is another huge passion of mine. Please check out The Eric Scheien Podcast which is an ontological podcast where I break down distinctions of human consciousness as an access to enhancing performance. To learn more about Eric's work, check out his ontological coaching firm, Transformational Leadership Associates.

Summary

In this episode of The Intelligent Investing Podcast, Eric Schleien sits down with Evan Bleker of Net-Net Hunter to discuss a tiny little company, McCoy Global Inc. (MCB.TO) with a current market cap of $21 million.

Show Notes

[00:48] Tiny little company traded on Canadian Venture Exchange

[2:14] A study on net-nets that buying at a huge discount to net current asset value doesn't enhance performance that much

[4:21] The company is cash flow positive

[5:26] Modeling out different scenarios (classic Dhandho!)

[6:09] Could be a $2/stock if drilling takes off

About Evan Bleker

Evan Bleker is a professional investor who has built his track record by buying high quality net net stocks. When not researching stocks, he focuses his time on helping small investors learn the strategy so they can earn great returns.

Evan manages two investing websites: Net Net Hunter and Broken Leg Investing.

Help Out The Podcast

If you like The Intelligent Investing Podcast, please consider leaving a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. It takes less than 30 seconds to do and makes a huge difference! You can also join the Facebook page!      

You can subscribe to the podcast on the following platforms:

Contact Eric Schleien

Facebook  |  LinkedIn  | Twitter  | YouTube | GSCM | Instagram

Email: IntelligentInvesting@gmail.com

Read Full Post »

I had a blast chatting with Evan Bleker who runs Net-Net Hunter. We discussed an interesting little company that many of you may be familiar with called ADDvantage Technologies Group, Inc. (AEY).

Show Notes

[00:35] Overview of ADDvantage

[1:23] The 5G Rollout

[2:05] How 5G Cell Towers Work

[4:13] The Impact of COVID on ADDvantage

[5:15] What it will take for the company to breakeven

[6:18] The Delta COVID strain & Telecom Companies

[7:52] The company may go bankrupt

[9:53] Large upside in stock if they don't go to 0

[11:41] Brief discussion on American Tower (AMT)

 

 

Read Full Post »

New Podcast

Hey All! I’ve started a second show completely devoted to the field of Ontology which is another huge passion of mine. Please check out The Eric Scheien Podcast which is an ontological podcast where I break down distinctions of human consciousness as an access to enhancing performance. To learn more about Eric's work, check out his ontological coaching firm, Transformational Leadership Associates.

Summary

In this episode of The Intelligent Investing Podcast, Eric Schleien sits down with Braxton Gann to discuss another shipping company, Dorian LPG (LPG). Braxton believes the business is cheap due to the business trading at a steep discount to its Net Asset Value.

Show Notes

[2:10] Shipping has been in a bull market

[2:37] Track record of management

[4:45] Eric Schleien pushing back on Braxton on concerns about shipping stocks

[8:08] How to make money with shipping stocks

[10:26] Recap on Scorpio Tankers

Help Out The Podcast

If you like The Intelligent Investing Podcast, please consider leaving a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. It takes less than 30 seconds to do and makes a huge difference! You can also join the Facebook page!      

You can subscribe to the podcast on the following platforms:

Contact Eric Schleien

Facebook  |  LinkedIn  | Twitter  | YouTube | GSCM | Instagram

Email: IntelligentInvesting@gmail.com

 

Read Full Post »

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App