Category Archives: PC Jeweller

PC Jeweller & Anscor Position Size 10/2/17

PC Jeweller & Anscor Position Size 10/2/17

The company continues to execute with strong growth in showrooms leading to good growth in sales and profitability. PC Jeweller’s share price increased by 33% over the past four months leading to an increase in valuations. The company now trades on an NOPAT yield of 4.4%.

 

The fragmentation in the market points to a lack of barriers to entry. PC Jeweller’s gross margin similar to its competitors indicates its products are undifferentiated and customer are not willing to pay a premium. The company’s capital efficiency is also on par with competitors meaning capital efficiency is not the source of excess returns. Gross margin return on inventory tells a similar story. Meaning, operational efficiencies are the driver of the PC Jeweller’s excess returns. Its operating expenses averaged 4.1% of sales over the last five years lower than any other jewelry company analyzed.

 

Operational efficiency is replicable but it is very difficult as processes and values within an organization are difficult to change, therefore, PC Jeweller’s excess profitability should persist for some time. This is backed up by the ability of the company to maintain strong profitability during the latest industry downturn. Further, the organized portion of the segment accounts for only 30% of the industry so competition is currently primarily against weaker peers. Despite the likely persistence of excess profitability, a NOPAT yield of 4.4% requires a persistence growth over 10% into perpetuity with no working capital or fixed capital investment for an investment in PC Jeweller to meet the required rate of return of 15%. The PC Jeweller position is being sold.

 

A Soriano Corporation is also very illiquid. Reperio’s model portfolio has been purchasing shares since inception and it has only reached 0.5% of the portfolio.  There will be no futher purchases or posts until the position size changes. All recommendations will meet minimum liquidity requirements.

PC Jeweller FY2017 Results 6/1/17

PC Jeweller FY2017 Results Review June 1, 2017

 

PC Jeweller reported FQ4 2017 & FY2017 results. The company continues to perform well in a difficult operating environment due to regulatory measures. FY2017 saw demonetization and a stricter regulatory environment including high value purchases require a pan card, and imposition of an excise duty. The company also issued preferred shares to DVI Mauritus and Fidelity investments with a guaranteed dividend yield of 13.0% along with a conversion option. Despite, the regulatory environment PC Jeweller grew by 15.7%. Gross profit grew by 0.3% while operating profit increased by 12.1%.

 

The company’s gross margin declined as exports were a larger portion of sales. The table below illustrates management’s estimates of gross margin by geography and product within the domestic market. Based on the midpoint of the assumptions below gross margin should be roughly 13.37%.


The company improved capital efficiency with inventory only growing by 8.3% in the year. The slight decline in the company’s NOPAT margin combined with the improved capital efficiency saw ROIC increase to 24.7% from 20.9%.  A measure used commonly used in the retail industry is gross margin on inventory. Given the biggest investment within the Indian Jewelry industry is inventory, 57% of PC Jeweller’s 2017 assets was inventory. Since 2008, inventory has accounted for 58% of assets. The typical formula is gross profit divided by average inventory. We modify it slightly by subtracting interest expense from gross profit as the company purchases inventory using gold leases that comes with an interest component.

 

Unfortunately, the GMROI continues to decline. Compared to its peers, PC Jeweller is at the lower end of GMROI. This is particularly concerning when compared to Titan Company, whose GMROI is almost three times higher than PC Jeweller’s as the company generates a higher gross margin and pays less on interest.

 

The company’s declining and poor gross margin return on inventory points to a lack of pricing power.

 

PC Jeweller increased its showroom count to 75 from 60 in FY2017, while the square footage grew by 10% from 352,313 square feet to 386,923 square feet. The company’s average store size decreased to 5,159 square feet.

 

In FY2017, domestic sales per store and square foot decreased by 15.8% and 4.2%, respectively.

 

Since, the government took drastic measures in 2013 to stunt the growth of the gold industry, the primary growth driver for PC Jeweller is new showrooms.

 

The company trialed its first franchise operations and will continue to add additional franchises fueling growth with little additional investment requirements.

 

Overall, PC Jeweller continues to execute and is one of the most profitable and fastest growing companies in the Indian jewelry industry due to the strength of the company’s management and focus on efficiency. Management is one of the most innovative in the industry with many initiatives not seen in the industry. The company is trying to double its showroom footprint over the next five years. Despite the strengths of the company and management, government is continually bringing new regulation to the detriment of the industry. Additionally, the industry is fiercely competitive with evidence pointing to no barriers to entry. As discussed in a weekly commentary, the jewelry industry evolution in more developed countries points to no barriers to entry and a compression of profitability towards the cost of capital.

 

Given our research on industry evolution, our base case involves elimination of excess profits by the end of the terminal year as competition intensifies. PC Jeweller is able to grow by 10% over the next five years before fading to 0% terminal growth leading to an estimated annualized return of 2.6%.

 

The optimistic scenario assumes the company to grow its sales by 15.0% over the next five years inline with PC Jeweller’s target of doubling its store count over the same period. In the terminal assumptions, there is assumed to be continued grow of 2.5%. Also, the company is not impacted by competitive forces allowing the company to maintain its profitability leading to an estimated annualized return of 25.4%.

 

The pessimistic scenario assumes no growth and immediate decline in profitability as well as no excess profits in the terminal assumption as competition impacts the company.  The estimated annualized return under the pessimistic scenario is -4.0%.

 

At current valuation levels, the risk rewards is no longer drastically in our favor and a sustained continuation of the company’s excess profits is needed to justify much higher valuations. We will cut our position size to 2.0% as long as the share price is above INR450.

WEEKLY COMMENTARY 2/13/17- 2/19/17

WEEKLY COMMENTARY               2/13/17- 2/19/17

 

 

CURRENT POSITIONS

 

 

 

COMPANY NEWS

 

PC Jeweller report Q3 FY17 results over the past week. Demonetization impacted the quarter’s results with the company estimating sales were affected for three to four weeks. Post-demonetization, sales started improving in December and returned to normal in January. Gross margin were stable but the decline is sales resulted in a decline in profitability. Year on year sales declined by 3.4%, the number of showrooms grew from 58 in FQ3 2016 to 68 FQ3 2017, or 17%, and total square feet increased by 8% year on year from 346,855 square feet to 374,481 square feet. Year on year, the company’s operating profit declined 13.7%. Assuming during the four weeks that demonetization affected sales there was a 50% decreased in sales, no impact from demonetization would have lead to an increase in sales by roughly 16% year on year.

 

It is tough to tell how good or bad the quarter was due to demonetization. The company continues to increase its showroom footprint and sales barely declined despite demonetization. The company estimates 75% of the jewelry industry is unorganized dampening competitive pressures.

 

PC Jeweller is one of the most profitable and fastest growing companies in the Indian jewelry industry illustrating the strength of the company’s management and focus on efficiency. Management is one of the most innovative in the industry with many initiatives not seen in the industry. The company is trying to double its showroom footprint over the next five years. Despite the company’s strengths, it trades on an EV/NOPAT of 14 times and an EV/IC of 2.6 times. We will maintain our current position size.

 

In the past week, Grendene reported Q4 2016 and full year results. For the full year 2016, net sales declined by 7.2% with domestic sales falling by 1.6% and export sales falling by 16.3%.

 

Overall volume declined by 9.3% with domestic volume declining by 8.0% and export volumes falling by 13.0%.

 

ASP increased by 4.1% with domestic ASP increasing by 7.2% and export ASP falling by 3.2%. Gross profit fell by 6.7% as cost of goods sold declined by 7.6%.

 

Operating profit declined by in 7.5%. The company’s capital intensity did not change over the year with working capital at 47.9% of sales, fixed capital at 18.9% of sales, and invested capital at 66.8% of sales.

 

Grendene’s key value drivers are illustrated above. In 2016, gross margin reached a peak level of 48.7%. Selling expenses remain near its historical average relative to sales at 24.0%. General and administrative is at its peak at 4.8% of sales. EBIT margin remained at its historical peak of 20.0%. Working capital remains slightly elevated relative to historical averages. Fixed capital as a percentage is at its highest level over the past eleven years.

 

Grendene continues to struggle with economic weakness in Brazil and in export markets. The company operational efficiency allows the company to maintain its profitability during a period of declining revenue. In 2015, the company reiterated its growth targets of revenue growth of 8-12% and net income growth of 12-15%. The company continues to believe these targets are achievable but acknowledge risks of not achieving these results are increasing due to economic weakness in Brazil and in exports markets.

 

Given the new data, we update Grendene’s earnings valuation range. Grendene illustrated its ability to maintain profitability despite a period of declining revenues and increasing competitive pressures making earnings valuation the most appropriate valuation methodology.

 

Looking at Grendene’s earnings valuation, the company reaches our target return of 15% per year under the most optimistic scenarios. We would assume perpetuity growth only under scenarios when the company operates in an industry with barriers to entry and pricing power. Within the domestic market, there are clear barriers to entry with the company and its main competitor Alpargatas having economies of scale as they occupy over 50% of the market with large fixed costs in the form of distribution and advertising. Grendene also has unique capabilities in manufacturing plastic products as it modifies its own machines and can formulate plastics that are unavailable to other footwear producers. These barriers to entry do not transfer outside of Brazil. The company is a low cost producer with only China producing exports at a lower price.

 

The question is whether the barriers to entry within Brazil translate to pricing power. The barriers to entry within the segment means very few other players could sell products at the Grendene’s and Alpargatas’ price range meaning the company’s probably do have some pricing power in Brazil. Over the past ten years, the company average selling price increased by 3.8% per annum with the domestic selling price increasing by 2.6% and export selling pricing increasing by 3.9% in USD terms so there is a strong argument for potential pricing power. We assume 2.5% pricing power in our base case scenario. The company sales have grown at 6.8% over the past ten years with growth stagnating at 4.9% over the past five years. Assuming an inability to growth operating profit above sales growth a 5% growth rate seems appropriate for our five-year forecast period. Despite the company’s ability to maintain profitability during the recent industry weakness using peak margins seems aggressive therefore average margins are more appropriate. Our base case scenario is 5% forecast period growth, 2.5% terminal growth and average operating margins leading an upside to the 2021 fair value of 60% or 9.9% annualized return. Overall, the average return over the next five years under the earnings valuation is 59% or 9.7%.

 

 

INTERESTING LINKS

 

 

How much is growth worth? (Musing on Markets)

 

Professor Damodaran breakdowns how to value growth, the key drivers of growth, and the importance of ROIC in determing whether growth is valuable or not. (link)

 

 

Narrative and Numbers: How a number cruncher learned to tell stories! (Musing on Markets)

 

Another post by Professor Damodaran explaining how narratives can be worked into your valuation to provide a better picture of how the market is valuing a company. (link) Professor Damodaran recently published a book Narrative and Numbers, which I have not read but is next on my list.

 

 

Diversification..again.. (Oddball Stocks)

 

Nate Tobik of Oddball Stocks shares his thoughts on diversification. (link) Our current thoughts on diversification and position sizing can be viewed here. (link) We have a similar thought process on the limits of one’s knowledge as an outside investor with valuation being the biggest tool to offset the limits of our knowledge.

 

 

Humility and knowledge (Oddball Stocks)

 

Related to his post on diversification, Mr. Tobik discusses how investors sometimes make the mistake of believing they know too much. (link)  We touched on a similar topic in our diversification post linked above.

 

 

Graham & Doddsville (Columbia Business School)

 

Columbia Business School put out another edition of Graham & Doddsville, which always makes for interesting reading. (link)

 

 

Buffett’s Three Categories of Returns on Capital (Base Hit Investing)

 

Base Hit Investing’s John Huber talks about how Buffett categorizes business by their return on capital and capital requirements. (link)

 

 

What Does Nevada’s $35 Billion Fund Manager Do All Day? Nothing (Wall Street Journal)

 

The Wall Street Journal profiles the Steve Edmundson, the investment chief for the Nevada Public Employees’ Retirement. (link)

 

 

Howard Marks’ Letters Sorted by Topic (Anil Kumar Tulsiram)

 

Anil Kumar Tulsiram complied all Howard Marks’ letters by topic. He has compiled other documents in the past and can be followed on Twitter @Anil_Tulsiram. (link)

 

WEEKLY COMMENTARY 12/13/16 – 12/19/16

WEEKLY COMMENTARY 12/13/16 – 12/19/16

 

 

POSITIONING

 

 

 

 

COMPANY NEWS

 

Grendene changed its auditor from PWC to E&Y due its requirement to change its auditor every five years.

 

We were thinking about PC Jeweller and the potential evolution of the jewelry retail industry in India. When think about industry evolution in Emerging Markets, we often look to developed markets for roadmaps. Each market has idiosyncrasies but strategic logic should hold from industry to industry across geographies. For example, the retail market structure in India should eventually look like retail market structure in the US as the industry develops. Retailing is fiercely competitive in all markets with no barriers to entry therefore all industries should have many competitors with very few if any generating significant sustained excess profits.

 

Our main reference point for the following information on the US Jewelry market is Edahn Golan Diamond Research & Data’s 2015 US Jewelry State of the Market report. You can download the report here. According to the Jewelers Board of Trade, there were 21,463 specialty jewelry retailers accounting for 43% of the US jewelry and watch retail market. The vast majority of these specialty stores are independent with Signet Jewelers being the largest retailer accounting for 4.3% of overall jewelry sales in the US and 9.8% of specialty jewelry sales. Signet Jewelers had roughly 3,000 stores at the end of 2015.  Despite market development and industry maturation, the US jewelry market remains fragmented with thousands of players illustrating a lack of barriers to entry and continued competitive pressures.

 

The lack of barriers to entry puts a cap on Signet’s and Tiffany’s ability generate excess profits with their average ROIC over the last five years below 15%.

 

Looking at the United States jewelry retail industry as a roadmap leads one to believe that fragmentation will persist within the Indian jewelry retail industry.

 

Another use of the roadmap is the potential multiple the market gives a company during maturity.  Signet’s EV/IC has ranged from 1.69 in 2012 to 2.89 at the end of 2015, while Tiffany’s EV/IC ranged from 2.54 at the end of 2016 to 3.55 at the end of 2015.

 

Signet’s EV/EBIT ranged from 6.86 in 2012 to 18.94 in 2015. Tiffany’s EV/EBIT ranged from 11.84 in 2016 to 37.19 in 2014, with operating Income in 2014 was depressed. Accounting for the depressed operating income, EV/EBIT ranged from 11.84 to 14.49.

 

We have included similar analysis on Honworld (condiments) and Universal Health (pharmacies/pharmaceutical distribution) that we did in the past at the end of the weekly commentary.

 

 

INTERESTING LINKS

 

Deep Dive into China’s Apparel Market (Fung Business Intelligence)

Fung Business Intelligence freely provide a lot of good information on China. In this multi-part report, Fung Business Intelligence provides detail on China’s Apparel Market. (Part 1) (Part 2)

 

Asahi to Buy SABMiller’s Eastern European Beers in $7.8 Billion Deal (Bloomberg)

Acquisition news is always interesting as a knowledgeable player in the market puts a value on an assets based on a detailed analysis. The problem is we do not know the assumptions the acquirer is using, which are crucial, but it gives an idea of an appropriate valuation multiple in an industry. The paragraph below is from the Bloomberg article.

 

The offer values the SABMiller assets at about 15 times Ebitda of 493.8 million euros for the year ended March 2016, according to Bloomberg calculations. That compared with the median of about 11.5 times trailing twelve-month Ebitda for 9 brewery acquisitions announced worldwide in the past five years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

 

We extended the sample size of acquisitions back to 1999 and the median acquisition multiple was 11.7 times not far off the 11.5 times paid over the last twelve months.

 

 

 

The table below shows the upside to the 11.7 times multiple for various brewers in Emerging Markets.

 

 

 

Median Buyout EV/EBITDA Ratios Rising (PitchBook via ValueWalk)

 

The PitchBook examines the median buyout multiple for private value investors.  (link)  What we find interesting is the disconnect between what business owners are willing to pay and the valuations public market investors are willing to pay for companies.

 

 

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (The Rational Walk)

 

The Rational Walk discusses Michael Lewis’ new book about pioneers in Behavioural Finance and how it relates to investing. (link)

 

 

The Story of How McDonald’s First Got Its Start (Smithsonian)
The story of the history of the McDonald brothers before McDonald’s became a multi-chain restaurant. (link)

 

 

What is Your Edge? (Base Hit Investing)

 

An article discussing three types of edges in investing. (link)  We view our biggest edge over other market participants is a time horizon edge as we are looking for stocks for the next three to five years.  This also brings an analytical edge as we are analyzing business from the view point of a business owner rather than trying to figure out if the company will beat next quarter’s expectations.

 

 

Buffett’s Three Categories of Returns on Capital (Base Hit Investing)

 

An older post discussing how Buffett categorizes businesses (link)

 

 

HONWORLD DEVELOPED MARKET ROADMAP

 

As mobility increases in China, cultures converge leading to a more homogenous tastes and markets.  This will take generations to play out but when it does it leads to a national market similar to many developed market like the US. The cultural convergence leads to the ability to apply fixed costs to a larger market increasing consolidation and dominance of larger players as smaller players cannot reach the minimum efficient scale required to compete.

 

The significant fixed costs in the form of advertising and distribution allows a brand to be built by larger competitors as more customers can be reached and educated. A brand is particularly important in an industry with a low priced product as the brand decreases search costs for customers leading to potential habit forming behavior. For example in the US, customers have acquired a taste for Heinz Ketchup.  When a customer goes to the store given Heinz may cost as little $2.50 a bottle and the Heinz brand represent a known and liked product that customer is not going to spend anytime even thinking about another brand given very little benefit.

In addition, retailers only have so much shelf space and are unlikely to place 15 to 20 different cooking wines on the shelf as a good number of the 15 or 20 cooking wines will not sell leading to waste shelf space.  The biggest players have a tremendous advantage as retailers now they will sell.

 

The table below shows the market structure of the five largest condiment markets in the US.

 

The US condiment industry is a great example of industry consolidation in a more developed market and a good roadmap for the Chinese Cooking Wine industry. The lowest concentration ratio among the largest five US condiment markets is the Hot Sauce market with a 52.2% four firm concentration ratio, while the highest is Ketchup with a 78.6% three firm concentration ratio. The four firm concentration ratio in the Chinese Cooking Wine segment is only 26.8% so there is potential for significant consolidation. The low four firm concentration ratio reiterates the fragmented regional nature of the market.

 

 

UNIVERSAL HEALTH DEVELOPED MARKET ROADMAP

 

Market Structure

 

The pharmaceutical retail segment in China is fragmented. According to the China Food and Drug Administration, in November 2013, there were 433,873 chain and individual drug stores in China, 10,150 more stores than 2012. There are 3,376 enterprises with multiple locations in China. Enterprises with multiple locations are more likely to manage the business for profitability and close down unprofitable stores. All though the market is fragmented, market consolidation is underway with Universal Health and Sinopharm leading the way. Retail competition comes in the form of target customer bases, business models, and product portfolios.

 

At the time of its IPO, Universal Health was the largest pharmaceutical retailer in Northeast China with 794 self operated outlets.  There is not sufficient information to get a sense of the efficiency of each store as competitors with higher revenue per store maybe a function of bigger stores, but it seems Universal Health’s may not be as efficient as competitors. This poor efficiency may be due to acquiring less efficient stores and improving operations. The pharmacy market in Northeast China has low level of concentration with a 2012 five firm concentration ratio of 44.2%.  This only tells part of the story as there could be a large number of smaller independent stores.  Universal Health has increased its estimated market share in Northeast China retail from 5.7% in 2012 to an estimated 8.8% in 2014.

 

The largest distributors in Northeast China at the time of the IPO are listed below. Universal Health is the largest private pharmaceutical distributor in Northeast China.

 

 

The largest retail pharmacy chains in China are listed below.  In 2012, the largest pharmacy operator had a 2.1% market share.  The 2012 five firm concentration ratio was 9.4%, while the ten firm concentration ratio was 16.0% indicating a very fragmented market. At the end of 2012, Universal Health’s China retail market share was 40bps.

 

The Chinese pharmaceutical distribution market is less fragmented than the retail market but still exhibits low concentration with the leading player accounting for 16.8% of the overall market.  The five firm concentration ratio is 36.5% and the ten firm concentration ratio is 44.9%. Universal Health garnered 16 bps of the total Chinese pharmaceutical distribution market.

 

While each individual country has its own idiosyncrasies leading to different development paths, the market structure of more developed markets may give a roadmap for developing countries.

 

The US pharmacy market shows moderate levels of concentration with a five firm concentration ratio of 64.4%.  There is some fragmentation but there are a significant number of small players still operating in the market.

 

According to Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs, the Canadian pharmacy market has a 2012 four firm concentration ratio of 68.6%. The largest company is Shoppers Drug Mart with a 31.8% market share followed by Katz Group with a 16.7% market share, Jean Coutu with a 12.2% market share, and McKesson with a 7.9% market share.

 

According to the Pharmaceutical Journal, in the UK, there are 14,361 pharmacies with 4,201 independent owners, owning up to five pharmacies, operating 5,590 pharmacies and 174 multiple owners, owning six or more pharmacies, operating 8,771 pharmacies.  Large owners and supermarkets account for 52% of the overall market.

 

The US’s, Canada’s, and UK’s pharmacy market structures point to a much more consolidated market than the Chinese market but not the oligopolistic market structure you would expect if there was a significant benefit from economies of scales.  There seems to be economies of scale in purchasing but only to a point. Another reason for the fragmentation and large number of small independent operators may be that independent operators do the job for something other than profit maximization.  Just like optometrists or dentists, the ability to be your own boss and make a decent living trumps the desire to sell to a larger chain or exit when faced with a competitive disadvantage.

 

Pharmaceutical distribution markets are far more concentrated in developed countries than China with a three firm concentration ratio ranging from 43% to 85%.  Developed pharmaceutical distributors, economies of scale manifest themselves in high capital efficiency as operating margins often struggle to reach 2%.   The high fixed costs associated with upfront investments and low marginal cost for selling an additional unit leads to very high competitive rivalry among distributors and the need to utilize fixed costs as much as possible leading to greater profitability.

 

 

WEEKLY COMMENTARY November 21, 2016 – November 27, 2016

WEEKLY COMMENTARY November 21, 2016 – November 27, 2016

 position-summary-table

 

 

COMPANY NEWS

 

PC Jeweller

 

PC Jeweller reported FQ2 2017 results on November 23, 2016. During the quarter, the company opened five stores including a franchised showroom bringing the total number of showrooms to 68. The company also introduced the Inayat wedding jewelry collection and the Azva festive and wedding season collection, which is selling in 15 independent retailers.

 

Year on year, the company’s revenues grew by 30.2%, gross profit declined by 0.9%, and operating profit declined by 5.3%. Gross margin declined from 16.3% in FQ2 2016 to 12.4% in FQ2 2017. To review the company’s business, the mix between exports and domestic sales and the mix between diamond and gold jewelry sold drive gross margin.

pc-jeweller-business-model

The expected sales mix between domestic sales and export sales is roughly 67 % to 33% with domestic sales having an estimated gross margin of 16-17% while export sales have a gross margin of 6-8%. Gold jewelry sales is expected to represent 70-75% of domestic sales with a gross margin of roughly 10%, while diamond jewelry sales is expected to represent 25-30% of domestic sales with a gross margin of roughly 25-30%.

pc-jeweller-sales-mix-and-gross-margin

The table above illustrates the actual figures on a quarterly basis dating back to the quarter ending December 2012. Since FQ3 2013, domestic sales averaged 72.3% of sales while gold sales averaged 70.5% of domestic sales. Domestic sales averaged a gross margin of 16.4%, export sales averaged a gross margin of 10.6%, and the overall gross margin averaged 14.4%. Using expected figures, gross margins should range from 12.7% to 14.0%. Operating expense averaged 3.8% of sales leading to an expected operating margin range of 8.9% to 10.2%.

 

Regarding demonetization, 32% of sales are cash sales so the company expects short-term impact from demonetization.

 

Overall, the company is operating in an industry without barriers to entry as illustrated by the thousands of competitors, but management has been able to consistent excess profits when peers other than Titan have struggled to generate any excess profits. Given the ability generate excess profits during industry distress and when peers cannot gives us confidence that valuing the company on earnings is appropriate.

 

Under our pessimist case scenario, which assumes a 12.5% discount rate, no growth into perpetuity and profitability fading to the discount rate in year 10, PC Jeweller has 4.3% annualized downside over the next five years. Under our base case scenario, PC Jeweller grows at 10% for a five-year forecast period (store openings) before fading to 0% in the terminal value in year 10. Current excess profits remain over the forecast period before halving in the terminal. Excess profits persist in our base case because of the strength of management and evidence that the company can generate excess profits when competitors cannot. Under the base case, PC Jeweller’s estimated annualized return is 9.1% over the next five years. Under the optimistic case, there is no change to profitability with growth increasing to 15.0% over the forecast period and 2.5% growth in the terminal value leading to an annualized return of 16.0% over the next five years.

 

The table below illustrates our assumptions under each scenario as well as historical averages for each key value driver.

pc-jeweller-scenario-assumptions

 

The company’s management is very strong and continues to generate excess returns in a fragmented industry where competitors struggle to generate excess profits. We will maintain our 4.0% position size.

 

 

PRE-RESEARCH REPORT

 

Executive Summary

 

ABS-CBN is a Filipino media conglomerate with three business segments: TV and Studios, Pay TV Networks, and New Business. The TV and Studios business generates 73.6% of revenue and 92.1% of EBITDA. Economies of scale exist in the form of content creation and distribution creating an advantage for the largest competitors. ABS-CBN is the largest. Unfortunately, the company is operationally inefficient generating an average of roughly 10% return on net operating assets over the past three years. The company’s Pay TV Network business only generates an average return on net operating asset of 2.3% over the past three years despite having a 45% cable market share in the Philippines. New businesses are a disparate group of organizations with no strategic connection pointing to extremely poor capital allocation. The average NOPAT margin of new businesses over the past three years is -253.4%.

 

Given the inability of the company to generate a reasonable return on a competitively advantaged business and the weak capital allocation, the company is unlikely to be considered for investment unless it trade well below book value (<0.5) or at a very cheap earnings multiple (<7 preferably <5). A change in ownership or evidence of the company improving its operational efficiency and/or capital allocation would potentially warrant a change to the view. The company currently trades at over 2 times invested capital and 16.5 times NOPAT well above its fair value based on the returns generated by the business. To reach an acceptable buy price, the company’s share price would need to fall to PHP15.00 per share.

 

 

Company Description

 

ABS-CBN Corporation is the Philippines’ leading media and entertainment organization. Primarily involved in television and radio, the company has expanded owning the leading cinema and music production/distribution companies in the country as well as operating the largest cable TV service provider.

 

ABS-CBN has business interests in merchandising, licensing, mobile and online multimedia services, publishing, video and audio postproduction, overseas telecommunication services, money remittance, cargo forwarding, TV shopping services, food and restaurant services, theme park development and management, and property management.

 

 

History

 

ABS-CBN Corporation traces its roots from Bolinao Electronics Corporation (BEC), an assembler of radio transmitting equipment, established in 1946. In 1952, BEC adopted the business name Alto Broadcasting System (ABS) and began setting up the country’s first television broadcast by 1953. On September 24, 1956, Chronicle Broadcasting Network (CBN), owned by Don Eugenio Lopez Sr. of the Lopez family, was organized primarily for radio broadcasting. In 1957, Don Eugenio Lopez Sr. acquired ABS and on February 1, 1967, the operations of ABS and CBN were integrated and BEC changed its corporate name to ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation. On August 16, 2010, the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission approved the change of the corporate name to ABS-CBN Corporation reflecting the company’s diversified businesses in existing and new industries. ABS-CBN achieved many firsts since it started the television industry in the country in 1953. However, with the imposition of martial law in September 1972, ABS-CBN ceased operations as the government forcibly took control. ABS-CBN resumed commercial operations in 1986 after the People Power or EDSA revolution. Despite being shut for 14 years, ABS-CBN recaptured leadership in the Philippine television and radio industries by 1988. During the 1990s and the early part of the new millennium, the company expanded and ventured into complementary businesses in cable TV, international distribution, mobile services, and magazine publishing among others.

 

 

Shareholder Structure

 

The top 20 shareholders own 98.57% of the business.

abs-cbn-shareholder-structure

 

Lopez Inc. is the largest shareholder at 55.15%. Lopez Inc. is a Filipino business conglomerate owned by the López family of Iloilo. Oscar M. López is the Chairman Emeritus and his brother Manuel M. López is the current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the López Group. It was first established by Eugenio Lopez, Sr. in 1928. It has holdings in many industries including media, power, energy, real estate, infrastructure, and manufacturing.

 

PCD Nominee Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Philippine Central Depository. Shares are held at PCD Nominee Corporation for other shareholders.

 

 

Current Business

In 2015, ABS-CBN’s generated PHP38,278 million with 73.6% of revenue from the TV and Studio business, 21.1% from Pay TV Networks and 5.2% from new businesses.

abs-cbn-revenue-by-segment

 

In 2015, ABS-CBN generated PHP8,083 million in EBITDA. The TV and Studio business generated 92.1% of EBITDA, Pay TV Networks generated 20.7%, and new businesses generated -12.8%.

abs-cbn-ebitda-by-segment

 

As illustrated above, ABS-CBN has three business segments: TV and Studio, Pay TV Networks, and new businesses.

 

TV and Studio

 

The TV and studio segment is comprised of broadcast, global operations, film and music production, cable channels and publishing. This consists of local and global content creation and distribution through television and radio broadcasting.

 

abs-cbn-tv-and-studio-revenue

 

In 2015, free to air TV accounted for 63.4% of revenue, global operations accounted for 19.2% of revenue, with films and music, narrowcast, and others accounting for the remaining 17.4% of revenue.

 

The Free to air TV business includes content creation and distribution mainly through free TV and radio with Channel 2 and DZMM as its flagship platforms. The content created is predominantly in Filipino and is aimed at the mass Filipino audience. The company’s leading position in the Philippine television broadcasting industry is largely due to the popularity of its entertainment programs, while the news and public affairs programs have developed a reputation for the quality of news coverage that includes national, local and international events.

php-ratings-and-audience-share

 

In 2015, ABS-CBN 41.5% audience share in all of Philippines. There is significant barrier to entry in the form of economies of scale with content creation being a large fixed cost required to acquire an audience. The industry is very concentrated pointing to the existence of a barrier to entry. The top two players ABS-CBN and GMA Network have roughly an 80% market share.

 

The global business pioneered the international content distribution through Direct to Home, cable, Internet Protocol Television, mobile and online through The Filipino Channel. It is available in all territories where there is a significant market of overseas Filipinos such as the Unites States, Middle East, Europe, Australia, Canada and Asia Pacific. Other activities include international film distribution, remittance, retail, sponsorships and events. Similar to free to air, there are economies of scale in the form of content creation with much of the content created for the free to air business can be used in global operations. Distribution is another fixed cost in the global segment intensifying economies of scale. Efficient scale also comes into play, as the global market for Filipino content is not that large therefore the market cannot support many players. GMA Network also produces content for the international market.

 

The films and music business is composed of movie production, film distribution, audio recording and distribution and video and audio postproduction. Films and music needs are generally produced through ABS-CBN Film Productions Inc. (AFPI), more popularly known as Star Cinema. Other movies are co-produced with other local or international producers or are simply distributed by AFPI. Music needs are also managed by AFPI to complement the recording needs of the company’s multi-talented artists and handle music publishing and composing requirements, respectively.

 

The Narrowcast and sports business caters to the needs of specific or targeted audiences or markets not normally addressed by the broadcast business. Included in this line of business are cable programming and channel offerings such as Filipino movie channel, music channel, animé, upscale male sports content and upscale female lifestyle content. It also covers print, sports, and other niched programming via its UHF (Ultra High Frequency) channel. Narrowcast includes the following subsidiaries: Creative Programs, Inc., ABS-CBN Publishing, Inc., and Studio 23, Inc. As part of the company’s goal to elevate boxing as a sport in the country, it entered into a joint venture agreement with ALA Sports Promotions, Inc., a world class boxing organization and promotional company.

 

In the whole TV and Studio segment, economies of scale as content creation or acquiring content is a significant upfront fixed cost. Being the market leader in free to air TV with a 41.5% audience share illustrate the strong competitive position of ABS-CBN.

tv-studio-key-drivers

 

Despite the existence of economies of scale and market share leadership, ABS-CBN’s is only able to generate an average return on net operating assets of 9.9% over the past three years point to operational inefficiency.

 

 

Pay TV Networks

 

ABS-CBN owns 59.4% of Sky Cable Corporation. Sky Cable provides cable television services in Metro Manila and in certain provincial areas in the Philippines. As of December 2015, Sky Cable held a 45% market share in the Philippines. Sky Cable’s main competitor in the pay TV business is Cignal. The company also competes with other small local operators in certain cities it operates in, but no other operator has the same scale and geographic reach as Sky Cable. Given the fixed cost associated with infrastructure needed for cable coverage, size is a key competitive factor. Size also helps with bargaining power.

 

The company also provides broadband internet services through Sky Broadband. PLDT dominates the broadband industry with 65% market share.

pay-tv-network-key-value-drivers 

 

Cable television requires infrastructure, which is an upfront fixed expense. Despite its size advantage, Sky Cable is unable to generate a reasonable return pointing to operational inefficiency.

 

 

New Business

 

ABS-CBN’s new businesses include wireless telecommunications business, digital terrestrial television, theme parks and home shopping.

 

ABS-CBN mobile’s network sharing agreement with Globe Telecom enables the company to deliver content in addition to traditional telecommunication services on mobile devices. Through the network-sharing agreement, Globe provides capacity and coverage on its existing cellular mobile telephony network to ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc. (ABS-C) on a nationwide basis. The parties may also share assets such as servers, towers, and switches.

 

In February 2015, ABS-CBN commercially launched the digital terrestrial television (DTT). The company continues to invest in DTT equipment to improve clarity of signal in certain areas of Mega Manila and Central Luzon with a belief that the transition from analogue to digital will result in an increase in its audience share.

 

ABS-CBN invested in a theme park more popularly known as KidZania Manila. KidZania provides children and their parents a safe, unique, and very realistic educational environment that allows kids between the ages of four to twelve to do what comes naturally to them: role-playing by mimicking traditionally adult activities. As in the real world, children perform “jobs” and are either paid for their work (as a fireman, doctor, police officer, journalist, shopkeeper, etc.) or pay to shop or to be entertained. The indoor theme park is a city built to scale for children, complete with buildings, paved streets, vehicles, a functioning economy, and recognizable destinations in the form of “establishments” sponsored and branded by leading multinational and local brands.

 

Launced in October 2013, A CJ O Shopping Corporation is a joint venture between ABS-CBN and CJ O Shopping Corporation of Korea to provide TV home shopping in the Philippines.

new-business-key-value-drivers

 

ABS-CBN’s new businesses generate significant losses and there seems to be no strategic logic when allocating capital. New businesses are from a variety of industries where the company does not have any particular competitive advantage, which leads to the losses. The poor capital allocation will affect the ability of the company to grow its intrinsic value. Capital allocation is unlikely to change with the current management and ownership.

 

 

Valuation

 

Given the inability of the company to generate a reasonable return in a competitively advantaged business and the weak capital allocation, the company is unlikely to be considered for investment unless it trade well below book value (<0.5) or at a very cheap earnings multiple (<7 preferably <5). A change in ownership or evidence of the company improving its operational efficiency and/or capital allocation would warrant a change to the view. The company currently trades at over 2 times invested capital and 16.5 times NOPAT well above its fair value based on the returns generated by the business.

 

 

INTERESTING LINKS

 

A Dozen Things Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger Learned From See’s Candies (25iq)

A discussion about the lesson from See’s Candies (link)

 

Mental Model: Price Incentives (Greenwood Investors)

An good article by Greenwood Investors discussing discounting and brands (link)

 

Two Powerful Mental Models: Network Effects and Critical Mass (A16Z)

The title speaks for itself, an excellent essay on network effects and critical mass. (link)

 

The Reason We Underperform – Markets Have Evolved Faster Than Humans (Acquirer’s Multiple)

An article discussing potential behavioral reasons for the underperformance of fund management. (link)

 

Anatomy of a Failed Investment (Tom Macpherson- Gurufocus)

A great reminder to never be too confident of one’s views as there is only so much that one can prove to be absolute truth. Understand the counter to your argument and always remember looking for evidence confirming either side. (link)

 

Frozen Accidents: Why the Future Is So Unpredictable (Farnam Street)

The must read blog Farnam Street discusses how complexity and randomness make prediction a difficult if not impossible task. (link) We agree with the difficulty associated with forecasting and attempt to make as few forecasts as possible. Instead, we wait until the key value drivers being priced into by the market are so pessimist that there is little downside.

 

WEEKLY COMMENTARY NOV 14 2016 – NOV 20 2016

WEEKLY COMMENTARY NOV 14 2016 – NOV 20 2016

 

Company News

 position-summary-table

PC Jeweller

PC Jeweller’s share price fell by 15.1% during the week bringing the total decline to 31.7% this month as the Indian government demonetized INR500 and INR1,000 notes in an attempt to fight “black money”. On the back of the regulation, the market is speculated that gems and jewelry companies would be one of the most impacted industries as gold and jewelry is thought to be a favorite “black money” asset. The Indian jewelry industry participants speculate a potential import ban on gold is also coming.

 

After the fall in share price, PC Jeweller is now offers a 9.1% NOPAT yield causing us to increase our position to 4.0%. While the company is in an industry with no barriers to entry evident by the thousands of competitors, PC Jeweller and Titan are far more operationally efficient than competitors creating excess profits through strong management. Our initial theory on PC Jeweller’s and Titan’s excess profits was associated with weaker competition from the unorganized sector, but the continued outperformance of PC Jeweller and Titan while listed peers continue to struggle points to operational advantage over organized peers.

indian-jewelry-value-driver-comps

 

The table shows the key value drivers within the industry as well as the financial health of peers. From 2012 to 2016, PC Jeweller has the third highest gross margin with the highest operating margin. Gross margin points directly to the customers’ willingness to pay while the difference between gross margin and operating margin point to the efficiency of management in running operations. In addition to the highest operating margin, PC Jeweller also has the fastest growth in the industry. PC Jeweller has the second highest ROIC leading to the second highest value creation in the form of excess profits. PC Jeweller and Titan are the only competitors that generated any significant excess profits over the period examined. The ability to continually generate excess profits in a period of raw material constraints and weak demand points to the strength of the management teams at PC Jeweller and Titan and an ability for sustained excess profits.

 

To get to an annualized return of 15%, PC Jeweller would have to fight margin pressures through stable operating margin and capital efficiency, while growing at 10% during the forecast period fading to a 0% growth rate in perpetuity. These assumptions do not seem too aggressive given, management ability to continue to create value despite points to sustained excess profits. New store openings and franchising should provide the 10% growth with the fade to 0% growth in year ten potentially being conservative. Our big concern with the above assumptions is competitive pressures lead to ROIC contraction rather than growth. If we change our profitability assumption to marginal excess profits from superior management (ROIC = 15%, Economic Spread = 2.5%), the five year would be 10%. This profitability assumption seems much more conservative and gives us sufficient comfort that if profitability declines there is still ample upside. It seems the risk reward is balanced sufficiently to increase our position size in PC Jeweller to 4.0%. We will be increasing our position size at a price below INR375.

 

Zensar Technologies

On November 17, 2016, Zensar Technologies reported FQ2 2017 results. Revenue grew by 2.7% and operating profit declined by 9.3%. FQ2 2017 was the third straight quarter where operating profit declined as the lack of growth on the top combined with continued growth in employee benefit expense leading to margin compression. The margin compression comes with an increasing average deal size and an increasing number of customers above 1 million, Zensar are unable to grow its top line as rapidly as its employee benefit expense leading to margin contraction. The weak top line growth may be temporary as the company’s backlog is strong at USD700 million up from USD500 million in the last quarter. Zensar is now offering a NOPAT yield of 6.5% despite being a business with no competitive advantage. With very aggressive assumption of a 12.5% discount rate, stable margins and capital efficiency, 10% forecast period growth, and 5% growth into perpetuity, Zensar offers 85% upside over the next five years. Growth in perpetuity is usually only assumed for companies with sustainable competitive advantages, which seems not to be the case for Zensar. Assuming a perpetuity growth rate of 0% decreases the potential upside over the next five years to 47%. Changing the growth assumptions to a 5% growth rate over the next five years, and a 0% terminal growth rate, there is only 19% upside over the next five years. Given the lack of upside, and lack of competitive advantages, we will be selling our Zensar position at prices above INR900.

 

Other Links

 

Why Moats are Essential for Profitability (Restaurant Edition) (25iq)

A fantastic essay at 25iq discussing the importance of moats. It also discusses the amount of research needed to understand the economics of a business. (link)

 

A Narrative Narrative (Polemic’s Pains)

A good blog post discussing how the current narrative on many topics is nothing more than speculation and subject to rapid change (link)

 

Expected Return (Research Affiliates)

Research Affiliates maintains expected real returns of different asset classes including Emerging Market Equities. (link) Given our view that the discount rate is an opportunity cost it may be more appropriate to view expected returns as the discount rate rather than historical returns. The appropriate discount rate for Emerging Markets would be 7.3% expect real return. Adding an additional 2.5% for expected inflation gets to roughly 10% discount rate. Adding an additional 2.5% as a margin of error gets us to 12.5%, our current discount rate. The idea that the discount rate should be tied to expected returns needs to be flushed out, but it seems interesting.

 

Predicting the Long Term is Easier than Predicting the Short Term (Intrinsic Investing)

An interesting article discussing how it is easier to predict the long term than the short term due and why this is one of the reason investing for the long term investing outperforms short term investing. (link)

 

Value Stocks vs. Value Traps (Old School Value)

Old School Value wrote an interesting article by discussing the characteristics of Value Stock and Value Traps. (link)

 

Chris Mayers on 100-Baggers (MicroCapClub)

Chris Mayers wrote 100-Baggers, an update on Thomas Phelps 1972 book 100 to 1 in the Stock Market. In this video, he discusses the key characteristic of 100-Baggers. (link) Below are the summary points.

 

  • Start small
  • Hold for a long time
  • Prefer a low multiple
  • High returns on capital
  • Owner operators

 

Fake News (Stratechery)

A good article by Stratechery on the subject of “fake” news, Facebook’s role in the delivering the news, and the dangers of who decides what news is deemed fake. (link) The discussion of fake news is interesting with the potential to leading us down a scary path. We must not forget the masses still receive their news from a small number of news outlets creating gatekeepers who deem some information to be newsworthy and other information less newsworthy. The existing gatekeepers already create narratives and form opinions among the population.

 

How the Brain Decides Without You (Nautilus)

It may not matter what the facts are, as the brain seems to decide how the world appears based on your existing views. (link) The best way to ensure, you are not missing anything due to pre-existing biases is to seek out the other side of the argument and understand it as well as you understand your side of the argument.

 

How Headlines Change the Way We Think (New Yorker)

Tied to the previous two articles, is an older article from the New Yorker discussing how headlines change the way we think about a story (link)

WEEKLY COMMENTARY NOV 7 2016 – NOV 14 2016

WEEKLY COMMENTARY NOV 7 2016 – NOV 14 2016

 

COMPANY NEWS

 

PC Jeweller declined by 14% over the last three days of the week as the Indian Government decided to ban all INR500 and INR1,000 notes to fight black money. Roughly, 80% of the industry sales are in cash. In the short term, there will be an impact. In the longer term, it may increase the attractiveness of gold and jewelry as a store of value as credibility of the government and its potential actions decrease. It may also help consolidate the market in the organized sector. PC Jeweller offers a 7.8% NOPAT yield. We are maintaining the current position size of 2.0% for now with any further price declines probably prompting a position size increase.

 

Turk Tuborg reported Q3 2016 results with revenue increasing 39% while net profit increased by 55%. It remains extremely profitable with a Q3 2016 annualized ROIC of 151%. Turk Tuborg continues to gain share on Anadolu Efes with Anadolu Efes Turkish beer revenue increasing by 2.5% in Q3 2016. Over the past 12 months, Turk Tuborg gained 7 percentage points of market share (34% to 41%). These two players have accounted for over 99% of the industry for many years. It also is much more profitable generating 1.14 times the EBITDA of Anadolu’s Turkish beer operations on 70% of the sales. Turk Tuborg net profit was six times Anadolu’s Turkish beer operations net profit due to the financial leverage employed by Anadolu. The combined market share, a two-way distribution system (bottles and kegs account for over half the market), and the economies of scale within the industry alleviate concerns of entry from new players. Competitive rivalry is also weak despite Turk Tuborg’s share gains due to Anadolu Efes financial leverage (6.1 times EBIT in 2015), currently a big concern of the company. Anadolu is also a much bigger entity with operations all over Eastern Europe diverting their attention while Turk Tuborg is focused solely on the Turkish market. The big risk to the investment case is the increased centralized control within Turkey may decrease secularism in the country leading to prohibition. The Turkish government taxes the Turkey’s beer market heavily making it a steady stream of revenue for the government, which it may not want to lose through prohibition. Turk Tuborg now trades at an EV/ttm EBIT of 7.8 times with a net cash position almost two times ttm EBIT. We will maintain our 4.4% position potentially increasing if there are any significant share price declines.

 

 

COMPANY IN FOCUS

 

Veto Switchgears and Cables

 

Executive Summary

Veto operates in a commodity business with low barriers to entry yet only offers a NOPAT yield of 6.1%. The commodity nature of the business means growth does not add value and therefore does not generate any additional return, therefore the current expected return is 6.1% well below the required return for a commodity business.

 

Company Description

 

Veto Switchgears and Cable manufactures wires & cables, electrical accessories, industrial cables, fans, CFL lamps, pumps, modular switches, LED lights, immersion heater, MCB and distribution boards.

Veto has a distribution network of 2,500 dealers across the country with a majority of revenues coming from Rajasthan with growth opportunities in the rest of India and the Middle East. Given it growth potential, the company purchased 10,312.99 square meters in SEZ Jaipur to increase manufacturing capacity. The company’s targets reaching more than Rs.1,000 crores in sales by FY2021. The company’s current capacity and capacity utilization is illustrated below.

capacity-and-capacity-utilization

The company’s main raw materials are copper, PVC resin, and aluminum.

raw-materials

 

The company listed on the public stock exchange in 2012. The promoters own 58.19% of the company down from 71.76% at the end of December 2015.

 

Industry

The company describes the industry as fragmented with low barriers to entry therefore the only way to generate excess returns is through operating efficiency. Given the difficulties maintaining a competitive advantage, it will be difficult sustaining excess profits and therefore the company should trade at reproduction value.

 

A volatile ROIC averaging 15.8% over the past five years seems to confirm the lack of competitive advantage but the company’s capacity utilization is low providing an opportunity for the company to double its ROIC. An inconsistent gross margin is evidence of a lack of pricing power.

 

Management

Management has not overly levered the company with current net debt to 5-year average operating income of 1.95 times.

 

Management remuneration is reasonable at 2.0% of operating income in FY16 and FY15.

 

Related party transactions are relatively insignificant at 2% of sales.

 

Given the lack of barriers to entry, the company’s number one strategic focus should be operational efficiency.

 

Valuation

Assuming an 12.5% discount rate, cyclically adjusted operating margin, and cyclically adjusted capital efficiency, for the company to generate over a 10% annualized return, the company needs to grow by 20% over the next five years fading to 5% terminal growth rate in year 10. Given the lack of barriers to entry in the industry, any growth should not generate any value therefore is irrelevant making the market’s current assumptions very aggressive.

 

Veto currently offers a NOPAT yield of 6.1%. As mentioned the commodity nature of the business means growth does not add value and therefore does not generate any additional return, therefore the current expected return is 6.1% well below the required return for a commodity business.

 

Risk

Continued growth in the market alleviates competitive pressures allowing the company to main elevated returns.

 

The company fills capacity and is able to double its ROIC through much better capital efficiency.

 

Key Areas of Research Focus

  1. Operating costs relative to peers

 

 

INVESTMENT THOUGHT

 

Whether an industry has a barrier to entry or not is a key question in our investment process. In an industry with barriers to entry, competition cannot freely enter limiting the potential supply in the market allowing excess profits to be sustained. The sustainability and predictability of earnings or cash flows means an earnings or cash flow based valuation is a more appropriate valuation methodology. If barriers to entry do not exist in the industry, competition will freely enter the market leading to a reversion of profitability to the cost of capital. In times of elevated profitability, supply will increase until profitability reverts to the cost of capital. In an industry with no barriers to entry, the appropriate valuation methodology is reproduction value or the value of a new competitor to reproduce the assets of the company.

 

In a scenario of no barriers to entry, we also take into account barriers to exit. An industry with no entry barriers and no exit barriers, profitability will revert to the cost of capital as new supply enters and exits the industry. The speed of the reversion of profitability will depend on the time to add new supply, the time to eliminate supply from the market, and the growth in demand in the market. If exit barriers exist, it will be harder for supply to exit the market slowing or even halting the reversion to the mean of profitability during periods of underperformance when supply should be exiting the market. A state where industry returns persist below the cost of capital occurs and is rectified when demand growth catches up to the supply in the industry or supply exits the market.

 

In an industry with barriers to entry, growth is an important assumption in determining the value of a company. Assuming 25% ROIC and a 12.5% discount rate, every $1 invested creates $2 in value illustrating the importance of growth. In an industry with no barriers to entry, ROIC will eventually revert to the cost of capital meaning $1 invested will create no additional value making growth an irrelevant assumption.

 

The crucial strategic questions in industries with barriers to entry are what is the barrier to entry, and then is the barrier to entry strengthening or weakening. The crucial strategic questions in an industry without barriers to entry are do exit barriers exist, is supply increasing or decreasing, how long does it take to bring on supply or shut down supply,  and is the company at the low end of the cost curve as operational efficiency provides an opportunity for potential excess profits.

 

Not understanding the importance of barriers to entry leads investors to make mistakes. The thought that all growth generates value and is therefore relevant being the biggest mistake. Another mistake investors often make is assuming an industry in its early stages with strong profitability means barriers to entry exist. Often in the early stages of an industry’s life cycle, companies are able to generate excess profits as demand is growing at such a rapid pace that supply cannot keep up. The supply demand imbalance allows producers to be price takers. In most industries, the excess profits from the early stages of the industry eventually dissipate as demand growth slows and supply catches up eliminating the tightness in the market causing profitability reverts towards the cost of capital as pricing power of suppliers is eliminated. Only a small number of industries will be able to limit the supply allowing for sustained excess profits. The short-term thinking in the industry is the main culprit for the errors listed above. If an investor has focus on whether next quarter’s earnings will beat expectations, barriers to entry and industry life cycle is irrelevant, as these events may not occur for quarters or years.

 

Whether barriers to entry exist or not is an important question in our investment process determining the type of industry analysis and the valuation method used.

 

 

INTERESTING LINKS

 

CVS Warns of Prescriptions Shift, Shares Tumble on Profit Warning (Wall Street Journal)

An interesting article discussing the differences in business models of CVS and Walgreens. It is a reminder that strategy involves choosing not only what to do, but what not to do. (link)

 

Why Warren Buffed Does Not Believe in EBITDA (S&C Messina Capital Management)

While market participants regularly use EBITDA as a proxy for cash flow, we find it to be a very flawed metric therefore we use it only we there is no other option. The linked article by S&C Messina Capital Management discusses the main reasons for our suspicion of the EBITDA metric. (link)

 

Joel Greenblatt on Wealthtrack (Hurricane Capital)

Hurricane Capital took notes on Joel Greenblatt’s recent visit to Wealthtrack. Mr. Greenblatt is always insightful and a very articulate value investor. He discusses many of the key tenets of value investing. (link) You can watch the full interview here on YouTube.

 

Reader’s Questions (CSInvesting)

CSInvesting answered some readers’ questions on reproduction value and EPV with some very interesting insights. (link) CSInvesting has a lot of useful resources so it is worth the time to have a look around the website. Reproduction value and EPV are valuation techniques made famous by Bruce Greenwald. His book Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond is one of the best value investing books ever written. Professor Greenwald also wrote Competition Demystified another invaluable resource on thinking about the competitive environment. Professor Greenwald teaches a value-investing course at Columbia Business School. A playlist of his course can be found here on YouTube. It is well worth the time to watch multiple times.

Don’t Confuse Cheap With Value (Broyhill Asset Management)

Broyhill Asset Management put together an interesting presentation on valuation multiples and what a multiple actually represents. (link)

 

Interesting Tweet Comparing Nike and Under Armour (Connor Leonard)

Apparel much more prone to trends and higher margins but a weaker competitive position as performance footwear is much more complex requiring more R&D. Additionally, performance footwear is crucial to the activity it is bought for therefore much more loyalty. Apparel is much more fashion oriented so significantly less loyalty. These views conform to our views mentioned in our Peak Sport Products and Anta Sports reports. (link)

 

Common Mistakes Made When Investing in Quality Companies (Lawrence A. Cunningham)

Mr. Cunningham was the co-author of Quality Investing: Owning the Best Companies for the Long Term. A wonderful book that is a must read for all investors thinking about investing in quality businesses. As stated in the title, the article discusses the common mistakes made when investing in quality companies. (link)

Weekly Commentary 10/31/2016-11/6/2016

Weekly Commentary 10/31/2016-11/6/2016

We are starting a weekly commentary to provide more consistent updates.  It will contain the news from the companies we cover, random investment thoughts, and the top articles of the week.  Let us know what you think.

 

Company News

 

On November 2, 2016, Zensar Technologies announced the acquisition of Foolproof. Foolproof is one of Europe’s leading experience design agencies, headquartered in London with other offices in Norwich and Singapore. The company helps global brands design better digital products and services for customers based on a deep understanding of consumer behavior, their clients’ business and new technology. It has many Global500 firms amongst its clients. LTM revenue = GBP8.5 million with a mid-single digit GBP million EBITDA with expectations for continued growth rate of 10-15% post acquisition. Zensar’s digital revenue now is 30% of total revenue.

 

From a strategic standpoint, the Foolproof acquisition makes sense. Foolproof adds knowledge in a fast growing industry strengthening Zensar’s digital services business. It strengthens Zensar’s client list adding relationship with a number of Global 500 allowing Zensar to cross-sell other services. It is also a smaller bolt on acquisition making it easier to integrate into existing operations. Unfortunately, the lack of price disclosure eliminates the ability to evaluate the transaction fully.

 

We will maintain Zensar’s current 3.5% position in our model portfolio. The company is trading at roughly 6% NOPAT yield with expected growth between 5-15% over the next five years. It continues to generate strong profitability and its executing on its strategy to increase revenue from digital services. It continues to win larger and larger contracts allowing for greater profitability. Zensar’s top 60-65 clients have had a business relationship with company on average over 6 years pointing to a quality product and/or some switching costs. Most smart customers will have multiple vendors allowing the customer to eliminate bargaining power of the suppliers and eliminating their pricing power with it as multiple vendors allows for continuity in case of switching suppliers. The Indian IT services sector is based on low cost labor or price competition. There is no sustainably differentiation on knowledge as employees hold the knowledge of the organization and employees can take this knowledge to another company.

 

Why are we maintaining Zensar Technologies 3.5% position size while decreasing PC Jeweller’s position size to 2.0%? Zensar and PC Jeweller’s both offer a NOPAT yield of roughly 6.0% and both offer growth between 5-15% over the next five years. Zensar’s business seems slightly better to us. Both industry have significant competition, but Zensar’s industry generates much higher average returns on invested capital than PC Jeweller’s, due to the asset light nature of the business. The jewelry business is very working capital intensive. Additionally, Zensar has a long history of steady growth while PC Jeweller has grown rapidly; it is in a much more cyclical industry.

 

On November 3, 2016, Miko International announced the resignation of Mr. Zhu Wenxin, an Independent Director at the company with Mr. Chan Wai Wong replacing him. The resignation is the latest in a series of director resignations. Below is a list of previous resignations.

  • On June 30, 2016, Gu Jishi resigned as Executive Director being replaced by Ms. Ding Lizhen, a member of the founder’s family.
  • On March 14, 2016, Mr. Wong Heng Choon resigned as Independent Director less than a month after being appointed.
  • On February 19, 2016, Mr. Leung Wai Yip resigned as Independent Director.
  • On September 8, 2016, Mr. Ng Cheuk Him resigned as Chief Financial Officer.

 

All the resignations follow the resignation of KPMG on April 21, 2016 and appointment of HLB Hodgson Impey Cheng Limited, an auditor of last resort for many Chinese frauds. The signs of fraud are piling up.

 

On November 4, 2016, Miko announced it signed a Memorandum of Understanding to set up a Joint Venture in the factoring business, an industry far removed from the current operations, which does not make much sense. We are already in the process of selling our position in Miko International.

 

On November 4, 2016, Credit Analysis and Research (CARE) reported first half results. Revenues grew 9% and operating profit grew 20%. The company also grew its client base by 8.5% from June 2016. It also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to start a credit rating agency in Nepal. The company also designated the first “SMART CITY” credit rating. Overall, the earnings report does nothing to move the needle either way. CARE is trading on a NOPAT yield of 3.0% but it is the most profitable company in an oligopolistic industry with significant barriers to entry and a very long runway for growth requiring no capital to grow. We entered with a 2.0% position in hopes that we could increase our position size at a cheaper price. We will maintain the current position given the barriers to entry in the industry, the runway for growth, and the lack of capital required to grow.

 

 

Random Thoughts

 

A recent FT Alphaville article discussed Sanford Berstein’s shift away from valuing companies by discounting cash flows. Bernstein argued in a zero rate world the risk free rate and the over weighted average cost of capital (WACC) is so low the importance of distant cash flows in the intrinsic value is much higher. Given an inability of analysts to forecast cash flows in the distant future, this increasing importance of the terminal value places a significant weight on highly uncertain cash flows. The following exhibits from the FT article illustrate the importance of the terminal value in Berstein’s estimation. Bernstein uses a discounted cash flow model with a five-year forecast period followed by a fade to a terminal value in year 10. Bernstein’s first charts assume a 10% growth rate for the next five years followed by a fade to a terminal growth rate of 3.5% in year 10. The second chart assumes a 5% growth rate for the five-year forecast period followed by a fade to a similar terminal growth rate.

importance-of-terminal-value-ft

 

Under the scenarios mentioned, Bernstein estimates the terminal value accounts for 55% at a 10% WACC increasing to 99% for a 3.6% WACC. WACC or discount rate is one of the many factors determining the importance of terminal value in a discounted cash flow valuation. We believe Bernstein, like many other market participants, is overlooking many other crucial factors in determining the importance of terminal value. We will discuss our view on the discount rate as well as other factors overlooked by Bernstein. We will also discuss another valuation method to overcome the shortfall of increased importance of terminal values in the discounted cash flow valuation. Whenever we value companies at Reperio, we use a similar discounted cash flow model with a five-year forecast period fading to terminal assumptions in year 10.

 

In the article, Bernstein’s main concern was lower interest rates lead to a lower discount rate leading to a lower WACC. Given the value of a corporation is driven by cash flows well into the future, the main assumption in lowering a company’s WACC is interest rates will remain low for a very long period of time. The chart below is the yield on a US 1 year treasury rate since 1953 illustrating the current rate of interest is the lowest on record.

1-yr-treasury-rate

We are bottom up investors but to assume market participants will accept 64 basis points forever in compensation for lending the US government money for one year seems aggressive, particularly, when one-year interest rates were over 1600 basis points in the early 1980s.  .

 

The treasury rate is a key input into the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) used by Bernstein and many other investors in determining a company’s WACC or discount rate. CAPM like many models in economics and finance is built with assumptions completely detached from reality. The biggest flaw in the CAPM is price equals risk. When calculating the cost of equity to determine the cost of equity, beta is multiplied by the equity risk premium. Beta is the volatility in a stock relative to a stocks benchmark meaning if a company’s share price is more volatile than its benchmark, it is assumed to be a more risky investment and therefore have a higher cost of capital. Putting aside the potential errors in measure a stock beta, a volatile stock does not equate to risk for the investor. This logic would lead you to believe a private business with the exact same characteristics of a public company listed on a stock exchange is a much safer investment, as there is not daily price volatility associated with being listed. At Reperio Capital, we view permanent loss of capital as the true risk of any investment. Permanent loss of capital comes from three risks: business risk, financial risk, and valuation risk. Business risk is the permanent loss of capital due to a permanent impairment of cash flows from competition or mismanagement. Valuation risk comes from overpaying for a security. Financial risk is when a company is has significant financial leverage that may lead to bankruptcy.

 

Another significant problem with CAPM is measuring a stock’s beta. The measurement of beta lends to significant estimation errors. Using Zensar Technologies as an example, if you calculate the company’s beta on a weekly basis since its listed in July 2002, its beta is relative to the SENSEX is -1.19. If you change the time period used in calculating beta to the last 10 years, Zenar’s beta changes to 0.77 illustrating the potential issues calculating beta.

 

Instead of calculating the weighted average cost of capital, we have used a constant discount rate as we assume there is an opportunity cost associated with making any investment. We are increasing our discount rate to 12.5% discount rate (from 10%) for all companies, roughly the average annualized return generated by the MSCI Emerging Market Index since inception and slightly more than the S&P 500 average annualized return is 9.5% since inception. If we can generate 12.5% annual return elsewhere then cash flows from any potential investment should discounted at that particular rate regardless of what the cost of capital is for each individual company. A constant discount rate also eliminates some of the subjectivity in valuation.

 

Other than lower interest rates and faulty measures of risk, Bernstein’s assumptions seem very optimistic. The FT article only mentioned growth and discount rate assumptions meaning the other important value drivers of operating margin and capital efficiency must have remained constant assuming no competitive pressures over the life of the company. The vast majority of companies succumb to competitive pressures leading to a fall in profitability and/or capital efficiency eliminating any excess returns. If excess returns are eliminated, growth does not add value making it an irrelevant discounted cash flow assumption. A small number of companies can hold off competitive pressures making profitability and capital efficiency irrelevant assumptions. The FT has a great free equity screener. In its universe, there are 13,799 stocks with a market capitalization above USD100 million and a 5-year average return on investment. Of the 13,799 stocks, only 2,001 stocks or 14.5% of the universe averaged a 15% return on investment over the past five years, which a very, very crude approximation of a company with a competitive advantage illustrating the difficulty in fending off competitive pressures and maintaining excess returns. Given the vast majority of companies face competitive pressures the assumption of constant operating margin and capital efficiency and any growth in terminal cash flows is very optimistic. An example is PC Jeweller, the company is operating efficiently generating excess returns but jewelry retailing is a fiercely competitive industry with thousands of competitors with little ability to sustain differentiation. We assume a 10% growth over the first five-year forecast period with growth fading to 0% in year 10 and competition eliminating excess profits.

1-scenario-terminal-value-total-value

 

As illustrated, at a 5% discount rate, the cash flows in the terminal value account for 51.0% total value. At a 15% discount rate, cash flows in the terminal value account for 31.6%. At a 5.0% WACC, Bernstein estimated 91% of a firm’ value is in the terminal value, while our estimate is much lower at 51.0% as we are more conservative on our assumptions for the vast majority of companies. The failure to account for competition makes terminal value a much larger percentage of total value.

 

Changing our initial assumptions to view PC Jeweller as competitive advantaged with sustainable margins and capital efficiency but with no growth in the terminal value, at a 5% discount rate, the cash flows in the terminal value account for 73.6% total firm value. At a 15% discount rate cash flows in the terminal value account for 39.1% of the total firm value still well below Bernstein’s estimates.

3-scenario-terminal-value-total-value

 

Being competitively advantaged and adding terminal value growth of 3.5% similar to Bernstein’s calculations further increases the importance of the terminal value assumptions. Again, growth in the terminal value is aggressive, as the vast majority of companies do not generate excess returns. Assuming a competitive advantage and 3.5% terminal growth, at a 5% discount rate the importance of cash flows in the terminal value increases to 90.5% of total firm value, while at a 15% discount rate 46.1% of the of the total firm value is derived from the cash flows in the terminal value.

 

The assumption of permanent low interest rates, no competitive pressures, and perpetual growth are all flaws in Bernstein’s assumptions that increase the importance of terminal value in a discounted cash flow valuation and probably are over aggressive. Like Bernstein, many investors make the same mistakes in their discount cash flow assumptions, which leads to the question why? The biggest reason is institutional constraints and the focus on asset gathering rather than performance making the vast majority of investors short term oriented and trying to outperform every quarter and every year. This short-term orientation leads to focus on next quarter’s earnings and whether a company will beat earnings estimates rather than focusing on a company’s competitive environment, management, financial health and valuation. The charts below from Andrew Haldane’s Patience and Finance illustrate the short-term orientation of market participants with the average holding period of a stock on the many different stock exchanges decreasing.

nyse-lse-holding-period

other-exchange-holding-periods

 

In the US, the average holding period of equities dropped from 7 years in 1940 to 7 months in 2007. In the UK, the average holding period of equities dropped from 5 years in the mid-1960s to 7.5 months in 2007. Looking at stock exchanges around the world the average holding period of equities has dropped to under 1 year on all exchanges with the exception of the Toronto Stock Exchange and Euronext. It seems evident that equity investors have a shorter and shorter investment horizon leading to focusing on the next few quarters making the discounted cash flow a useless tool for many investors. For long-term investors, a discounted cash flow with conservative assumptions it is still very useful. Another use for a discounted cash flow is to reverse engineer the market’s expectations of key value drivers, which eliminates the need for forecasting and makes judgment of the assumptions of key value drivers, the main determinant of the margin of safety associated with an investment.

 

If the use of a discounted cash flow still concerns you, a residual income model provides the same valuation while eliminating the importance of cash flow forecasts in the distant future. At Reperio Capital Research, we also use a residual income model with a five-year forecast period followed by a fade to the terminal value in year 10, with the current invested capital as the book value and return on invested capital and the discount rate as other key inputs. Residual income = (ROIC – discount rate) * invested capital. The residual income stream is then discounted back and added to the beginning of the year’s invested capital. The theory is every company has an asset base to generated returns. The asset base comes with an opportunity cost as the money invested in the asset base can be allocated elsewhere. If the company cannot generate its discount rate, it is destroying value and the company will be valued at less than its asset base. If the company generates excess profit, it will be valued above its asset base. Revisiting PC Jeweller using a residual income valuation and the same three scenarios illustrated above, we can see the residual income valuation method relies less on the discounted cash flows from the terminal. Under a scenario of no competitive advantage, no excess returns are generated in the terminal value assumptions therefore; the terminal value adds no value. Under the scenario of a competitive advantage but no growth, at a 5% discount rate, the terminal value accounted for 57.1% of the total firm value while a 15% discount rate 14.6% of the total firm value is derived from the terminal value. Finally, under the scenario of competitive advantage and terminal value growth, at a 5% discount rate, the terminal value accounts 83.4% of the terminal value and 21.0% of the total value at a 15% discount rate.

residual-income-terminal-value

 

The residual income method does a much better job at decreasing the reliance on terminal value calculations, but provides the same valuation outcome.

 

Discounting cash flows to value companies is still a valuable for any investor with a long-term orientation. Unfortunately, a model is only as good as its inputs. In a world with increasing short term thinking, garbage in will lead to garbage out.

 

 

Other Interesting Links

 

Jim Chanos’ and Kyle Bass’ views on China (link)

 

Mittleman Brothers Q3 Letter on Valuewalk (link)

  • They talk about a potentially interesting idea within the Emerging Market Small Cap space: ABS CBN in the Philippines.
  • They also discuss other ideas First Pacific Holdings in Hong Kong and Rallye SA in France. Both are based on management track records.

 

Apple Should Buy Netflix (link)

A very interesting post at Stratechery discussing the media value chain.

 

Competitive Advantage of Owner Operators (link)

Base Hit Investing goes into detail into the advantages of owner operators.

 

Missionaries over Mercenaries (link)

Somewhat related to the previous link on owner operators.

 

Value Investing using Enterprise Multiples — Is the Premium Due to Risk and/or Mispricing? (link)

The Alpha Architect discusses the outperformance of Enterprise Multiples.

 

Update of Measuring the Moat (link)

An excellent essay on the analysis of barriers to entry

 

 

Peak Sport Products, PC Jeweller, and Honworld Position Sizes 10/30/2016

Peak Sport Products, PC Jeweller, and Honworld Position Sizes 10/30/2016

Peak Sport Products completed its privatization at HKD2.60 per share on Monday October 24, 2016, therefore we no longer have a position in Peak Sport.

 

We are decreasing our position in PC Jeweller to 2.0%. The company is now valued at 12.9 times EV/EBIT and 3.7 times EV/IC. The company and Titan are clearly the two most operationally efficient competitors within the India jewelry industry, but we must remember, the organized sector is very small portion of the total market and there are no barriers to entry in the jewelry retail industry. As the organized sector increases its share of the market, competitive pressures will be more intense. The lack of barriers to entry means PC Jeweller and other participants can do very little to shield themselves from competitive pressures.

 

To reach an annualized return of 15%, sales growth of 5% into perpetuity, stable operating margins, and stable capital efficiency must be assumed. Stated another way, PC Jeweller must have pricing power and defend against competitive pressures in an industry with no barriers to entry and over 500,000 participants, which seems high unlikely. Our conservative base case scenario assumes 10% growth over the next five years before fading to 0% growth in the terminal year and no margin deterioration leading to annualized return of 8.6% over the next five years.

 

We are decreasing the limit on our current sell price of Honworld to HKD4.00 per share. Our position size decrease to 2.0% is a risk measure because during a period of weak growth, when there is minimal investment in inventory the company is unable to generate free cash flow due to an increase in prepayments, which is extremely concerning. Capital allocation to inventory is a big concern as the company has sufficient inventory to last for years and the overinvestment is hurting profitability. The lack of free cash flow, the increase in soft asset account, and it being a Chinese company leads us to be concerned over the factual nature of financial statements. Our initial position size in Honworld, Miko International and Universal Health were far too aggressive. We were blinded to the risks of our aggressive position sizing due to the strong performance at PC Jeweller and Zensar Technologies and more importantly, our assumption that financial statements were accurate representations of the operating performance of theses Chinese small caps. The inability to trust the financial statements of Chinese companies should probably eliminate any future investments, as there never really can be high conviction. For these reasons, the position size in Chinese companies are typically going to be no larger than deep value stocks, if any positions are taken.

PC Jeweller Position Size August 8, 2016

PC Jeweller Position Size August 8, 2016

We have decreased our position size in PC Jeweller from 6.3% at the closing of 7/29/2016 to 3.9% at the closing of 8/8/2016. We sold 390,509 shares at an average price of INR415.28 at an average USDINR FX rate of 66.76.  The average cost of our PC Jeweller position was INR118.20 at an average exchange rate of 59.49.