My longtime readers know that I’m relatively sloppy with updates, especially when a stock is doing well. Whenever I have time, I try to at least briefly look at the annual reports when they are published.
VEF (formerly Vostok Emerging Finance)
The VEF had a pretty decent 2020. Its share price rose + 37% in 2020, albeit faster than its net asset value, which rose around 22%. However, this has been achieved with some volatility:
What I missed is that they are turning down a stock placement in November 2020. As usual, the reporting is very transparent, so you can see that 4 out of 12 investments have lost value. However, the biggest position, the Brazilian Creditas, was also the best performer. Around 2/3 of the portfolio now consists of Brazilian fintech. Their only new investment in 2020 was an Indian mobile payment company making it their first Indian investment.
In 2021, they have so far invested 7 million USD in Rupeek, another Indian fintech, and 0.5 million USD in the Mexican fintech Minu.
Overall, I think the company is on the right track. I failed to add my stake last year, but since the stock is quite volatile there could be another chance.
The FPD Group, the Irish insurance company, is clearly one of my big disappointments. I bought the shares in late April 2020 after a sharp drop on the assumption that Covid-19 losses could be contained.
Based on the annual report, FBD ended the year with a small profit of EUR 4 million. The return on sales was ~ -4% year-over-year, mainly due to premium discounts.
Covid-19-related claims amounted to “only” EUR 54 million net according to the reinsurance, much less than the numbers that were originally in circulation. Even assuming potentially higher reinsurance rates for a few years, I would assume that in 2021 the company should be able to make ~ 30-40m, which means a P / E of 6-8 without taking into account excess capital would. However, somehow the market believes this is a fair P / E ratio.
Although my initial investment case is not met; I stay invested because I don’t see many disadvantages at this level.
When Play Magnus published preliminary figures for 2020 in February, I was pleasantly surprised: “Bookings” in my first post were ~ + 15% than expected, and the forecast for 2021 was increased by more than 20%. The income statement didn’t look particularly good, but that was to be expected with the IPO, acquisitions, and tournament funding.
However, the stock price appears to have peaked back in January, and since then the stock has lost about 1/3 or even more after a brief high. Fortunately, I sold 1/3 of my original position at NOK 38.50, which almost covers my original investment. At the end of March there were some insider buying at the current price of NOK 22 / share.
The question is clearly whether online chess will remain relevant after the pandemic is over. Personally, I think these people create an interesting platform and that online chess will remain relevant, but it has to be seen what the later quarters of the year will be like. I expect Q1 will still look very good.
In the past, it was wise not to sell too early when a company exceeded expectations to such an extent. So I’m going to hold the position a little longer than originally intended to see what happens.
My investment in BioNTech in February wasn’t so well planned. In between, the stock lost -20% and only recovered in the last few days. Basically, however, things turned out better than expected (for BioNTech, not for society as a whole). The AstraZeneca vaccine turned out to be not that safe, making it increasingly difficult for countries to justify its use. In the meantime, BioNTech has ramped up production and even signed a contract with Fosun in China. In their 20-F, I honestly haven’t read the entire 70-page (!!!) Risk Factor section, but BioNTech is clearly facing some risks. On the plus side, they seem to have managed to accelerate the development of their “core” cancer business, but it will clearly be a few years before real results are seen there.
The Covid-19 vaccine as such continues to be a great success and, as an important step, only needs to be kept at -15 to -25 degrees, which makes distribution much easier.
In their investor presentation, they also showed an initial estimate of sales for 2021, which will be around EUR 10 billion. That seems like a more conservative estimate, however, as Pfizer has valued sales at $ 15 billion and BioNTech sells, for example, in Germany and possibly China without Pfizer.
One thing I’ve seldom mentioned is the fact that BioNTech itself scales almost “effortlessly”. The new production site in Marburg, in particular, is developing in what I can only call it a “miracle”: BioNTech has bought the production site in Aurumn and will be delivering the first products as early as April. If you look at all of the competitors struggling with production (AZ, J&J and even Moderna), This ability to execute is extraordinary in my opinion.
Unlike Pfizer, BioNTech doesn’t hit the table loudly in a typically German way and tells everyone how great they are.
However, they also affirmed that they will reinvest profits in drug development. For short term investors this is clearly a disappointment, but I think this creates a potentially very interesting long term opportunity.
Overall, I am very happy how this has fundamentally developed and how it will be invested for many years to come.
Of all of my recent purchases, JET is clearly the toughest case. The company is growing well, the just released Q1 trading update shows that the first quarter was another outstanding quarter. On the other hand, they have lowered delivery charges so drastically that profitability has suffered significantly. However, on an IFRS basis, they lost -150mn in 2020 and did not provide profitability for the first quarter of 2021.
As a direct effect, Deliveroo’s IPO was clearly a dud, with the stock falling ~ -30% right after the IPO. Since they signed a lot of customers to invest in the IPO, that will likely weigh on sales as well.
They also stepped on the gas for their deployed delivery model with spectacular growth (+ 700% overall, + 100% in London) for the first quarter. Strategically, I find this “pivot” very well executed. It also opens up a lot of strategic options. Personally, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if at some point they tested an “Instacart” lie service.
Another surprise to me was that they raised $ 1.1 billion in convertible bonds in February. Of course, they want to create a “war chest” to take on competitors, and companies should “raise if they can,” but I was a little surprised at the size, which is significantly watered down with the current low valuation.
Overall, however, I think JET is doing better than expected, and I already made a small purchase premium (~ 0.5% of the portfolio value) at the beginning of April and bought another portfolio weight of 0.5% today before the opening.
This is clearly a relatively risky bet, but I think they’ll do reasonably well and won’t repeat the mistakes made by Uber, which made competitors grow to a relevant size with no defense. I could expand the position even further.