Value Ideas Blog
S&T AG – Real Option Smart Energy

Disclaimer: This is not an investment advice, please do your own research and don’t follow anyone blindly. Furthermore, it has to be mentioned that the author and related parties are long-term shareholders of S&T AG for many years and thus participate if the share price increases. Additionally, the author and related parties may sell their shares without further notice. As this post is already extremely long, I will write another one for the Smart-Energy business.

 

1. Executive Summary

1.1. Business

  S&T AG (‘SnT’) is an Austrian company active in three different markets.

  1. IT Consulting and System House
  2. Niche market Security Appliances
  3. Hardware & software products for Smart Energy

Today, the System house activity stands for over 80% of revenue and is used to cross sell S&Ts smart energy & security Appliances. In the system house division S&T offers IT and ERP implementation services but also outsources the whole IT-Infrastructure of customers. The regional scope of S&T is focused on Eastern Europe and Russia. Major clients are governments and big companies like Skoda and Mikros.

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Back in 2013 we were invited to attend the Pabrai annual fund meeting to speak to Mr. Pabrai in person. Unfortunately it was not possible to meet him until six days ago. Thanks too my employer Fronteris, I was able to attended his annual meeting and a bike ride with him. In addition to this experience, I was able to meet with other great minds like Guy Spier, Rishi Gosalia (from Google), Haricharan Ramachandra (from Linkedin, who also run the great blog BitsBusiness), Adrian Warner (a fund manager from Australia) and many others.

 

Pabrai  

Highlights:

  1. Score keeping is Mr. Pabrai’s most important lesson to achieve success in life and investing. Especially, the track-record is important in investing and gaming. It can help you to track your mistakes and improve your knowledge.
  2. Has read the Poor Charlies Almanac 7 times and still finds new insights.
  3. Self-improvement is the most important thing, he would bet on the guy with less knowledge and less skills if he has a drive to self-improvement, over a lifetime he will bet the guy with more skills.
  4. Pabrai thinks that Fiat is highly undervalued. Minimum margin of safety is 50% and it has the potential to become a +4x. The spinoff of Ferrari will come in less than a month and it is still not considered in the share price.
  5. Pabrai currently holds: Fiat 42% of the fund , GM B Warrents >10% , POSCO ~10% , ~15% Horsehead Holding , ~10% Google
  6. Dhando Holding IPO will be delayed by 2-3 years, they are currently developing a Smart-Beta value ETF and an own direct small businesses Insurance company (GEICO for businesses)
  7. Stone Trust made an underwriting loss of 4 million this year (when the Equity was just 61 million)

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Today we would like to provide further insides into our hidden Asset valuation of Hargreaves Services plc, where a friend of us, Daniel Gilcher helped us.   According to the annual report of 2014 the book value of land assets are carried at cost: 8,418m GBP. The problem is, that we don’t have a lot available information on the different land patches across the country nor the status and information of the plan projects.     Her is what we know: Where the old mines are and that 300 acres (1% of overall land) is developed towards a residential area. A minimum of 1600 housing units will be erected. The cost for development remains unknown. Please see below the landbank of Hargreaves around Edinburgh.   land portfolio around Edinburgh And in the next picture the landbank around Westfield. read more

Intro

 

vitec logo

 

Today, we want to introduce a company we found trough a stock screening process and which we found very interesting: The Vitec Software Group AB (STO:VIT-B) is a Swedish software designer specialized in comprehensive property and energy management systems for buildings, forecasting for energy companies (electricity, district heating and wind power), management systems for realtors and media distribution. Merely a warning in advance: historical annual reports are published exclusively in Swedish language, but the company has started to publish reports in English as well. That might also be the reason international investors start paying attention. We were already able to realize modest gains (we invested at about 135 SEK) but think there is still an upside. Some of you might remember that we pitched the idea in February at the EBS talk. Here is the full story.

 
P/E P/B P/S EV/EBITDA EV/S Div Yield
 26.7 6.9 2.7  13.6 x  3.45 x  1.12%

Data: Bloomberg and own calculations, Website: http://www.vitecsoftware.com/en/

 

Live Stock Chart:

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Today I would like to present you a company which pops up in nearly every value screener which we use and is already well known by some value investors (the result below is from the quant investing screener):

 

QuantInvesting

 

I’m talking about Hargreaves Services Plc. (OTCMKTS: HGRVF), which was founded in 1994 with the acquisition of a haulage business from RJB Mining plc which consisted out of 20 trucks and simply hauled coal around. But we will come to the history of Hargreaves later in the text. Recently the share price has tanked to just below 3 GBP which is far away from its old high of 2012.  So the question is what happened? First in 2011 and 2012 some company specific news hit the share price when Hargreaves discovered in the year of 2011 that its Maltby coal mine had geo-structural issues and had to be mothballed. Later Hargreaves discovered a fraud in their Belgian operations, and took a GBP 17.7m write-down. You can see this development quite nicely in the share price development of that time. Than in 2013  many value investors found the company, it was pitched 2 times in Omaha, and called for an entry which ends in a share price stabilisation in the year of 2013 to 2014.

 

Hargreaves

 

In the same time the coal price collapsed from its high in the year of 2011, when one tonne of coal was traded at around 130 Dollar to  now 58 Dollar. As coal mining companies are normally dependent on the coal price this is the explanation for the collapse of the stockrpice of Hargreaves.

 

Coal Price

 

But Hargreaves is not a simple coal mine. The key to Hargreaves business model lies in its history.  Especially the 1990’s  where from importans for Hargreaves, when it continued to grow organically and bought further haulage operations. At the start of the millennium, Hargreaves Waste Services was founded and haulage diversified to hauling waste. Gordon Banham, the current CEO joined the group in 2001 and began a strategy of diversifying into higher value services.

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Hello readers, we are sorry for the recent slowdown in blogging activities which are mainly due to time constraints and restrictions on what we can and would like to publish, but the good news is that we will publish two new company analyses in the near future. As I’m recently working on quantitative value portfolios, their backtesting and possible improvements I would like to share two helpful ideas with you.   First: The use of the Piotroski-F score seems to increase the returns of nearly all quant portfolios.   Second: So called dual momentum seems to work as a protection against high absolute drawdowns Both strategies are nicely described by Tim of the quant-investing blog.   Third: magicdiligence has written about the potential to increase the returns of Earning yield stocks by adding a FCF-Yield, which is on the first view quite similar but seems to effect the overall return positive.  According to the author, the earnings yield screening led to a better outcome (most of the times), as it accounts for minority interest effects, and “smooths out” lump sum businesses for a better idea of ongoing earnings power. Therefore the FCF-Yield is a good verification that the earnings are real earnings to the owner. If the Earnings Yield and FCF-Yield are widely divergent, perhaps the business isn’t as attractive as it initially appeared in the screener.   The fundooprofessor has written in interesting article the Coal CAPEX in India and who will benefit from it. As the next stock which will be presented will be a coal stock this was a good read, but it also helps to think about other input costs and their influence on the outcome of a company. The key takeaways are, that the Effects of low/high commodity prices are temporary and lead to big cycles in the producers earnings. But the real money is mad somewhere else: In the businesses which will benefit from this huge capex – businesses which facilitate the capex or benefit from that capex. There are two different levels of companies:
  1. upstream (businesses that benefit from supplying goods and services to facilitate the capex that is coming) For example SMT Scharf (Where the CEO stepped down today)
  2. downstream (businesses that benefit from cheap energy – a cost benefit they will be able to retain because they have a moat).
What we are looking for are businesses which have very high energy costs, but when those costs go down they can retain a significant part of that benefit for themselves without suffering any loss of business volume or market share. Those two things — protection of business volume and market share — are terribly important. Examples for this are Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Apple etc.   Last but not least I would highlight the latest news from Banque Privée Edmond de Rothschild or from now on only Edmond de Rothschild S.A.. Recently they appointed a new Chief Risk Officer, Manuel Leuthold in the same time will step down from his position. Interestingly after the announcement the share price started to rise at, for BPE astonishingly high volumes. Today Rothschild is trading at 17.500 CHF and we are happily waiting for everything what comes next.   Have a good week!  

Today we would like to present you METKA, which is probably one of the cheapest stocks in the world. Before we start with actual valuation, we provide an executive summary as this is a rather long post. Afterwards we would like to highlight the history of this over 50 year old company.

 

1. Executive summary

 

The share price is € 8.60. The company was founded in the year of 1964 in Volos Greece and was floated in 1973. In 2008 METKA’s share price hit a high of € 17,50 and slumped in the aftermath of the financial crisis to a share price level of around € 5.50. Since 1999 the Mytilineos Group owns 50.4% of Metka. Ioannis (current CEO of METKA) and his brother Evangelos Mytilineaos together own 31.8% of Mytilineos Group, split almost evenly.

 

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Dear followers, first of all, we want to wish happy easter to all of those who celebrate! As you know, we share some useful reading from time to time. These are some easter eggs that we think you might like:     I want to close this entry with some thoughts about chosing business partners. Here is a short quote from “The Ides of March”, a movie from 2011.  
There is only one thing that I value in this world, Steven, and that’s loyalty. And without it, you are nothing. You have no one. And in politics? It’s the only currency you can count on. That’s why I let you go. Not because you’re not good enough, not because I don’t like you. But I value trust over skill.
  I think that in business life, there are lots of situations in which you have to be certain you can rely on your peers and I have always spent time getting to know the great people I deal with. Charlie Munger found his own words for this:  
 Choose clients as you would friends.
  Some time ago, I heard a talk about by Kent Hahne, the founder of several international food chains (Vapiano, L’Osteria et al). He was very clear about the importance of shared values and friendship in business. For him, it was the ‘key ingredient’. I have to add that I absolutely agree on his thoughts. I hope that I continue to be as lucky as I have been so far when encountering partners, as loyalty is crucial for any long term business relation. Finally, we want to thank all the subscribers that have stayed with us so far. Let’s keep the discussion alive. Happy Easter!

After the success of our last presentation one year ago we are happy to announce two upcoming presentations about value Investing. The first will be held by us at the 23.02.2015 19.30 on the EBS Campus in Oestrich-Winkel in room N3 the presentation will be presented in german and will deal with an introduction to Value Investing and two case studies. The Case studies will be interactive and contain a long pitch which we have not yet presented on the blog. The second will take place on Monday the 09.03.2015 18.30 in N3 and is presented by Frank Fischer of Shareholder Value Management AG eg. Frankfurter Aktienfonds für Stiftungen and is held in english. The topic of this presentation is Value Investing in Crises. You are kindly invited two both presentations but as place is scarce you have to quickly fill out the form below with you name and the number of guest first so that we can plan. We would be glad to host many visitors.

  ebs   Please enter your name into this form to join: http://goo.gl/forms/RyiZmAbqnk Thanks. read more
 
Higher Frequencies: Chicago Board of Trade Futures Market

Avoiding the buzz: Low liquidity beats the market

  One aspect or explanation why Value works is the low trading volume which is often typical for companies in which we invest. A new paper by Roger Ibbotson and Thomas Idzorek, Roger Ibbotson is a partner at Zebra Capital Management and finance professor at Yale and Tom Idzorek is head of investment methodology and economic research at Morningstar, in the Journal of Portfolio Management which analysed 40 years of stock returns by putting them into a perspective to the average trading volume of the last year.  The Paper finds, stocks in the least popular quartile outperformed those in the most popular segment by seven percent. In their paper “Dimensions of Popularity,” Ibbotson and Idzorek identify the most common market premiums and anomalies, such as:
  • Small cap—Smaller capitalization stocks outperform larger capitalization stocks
  • Valuation—Value companies beat growth companies
  • Liquidity—Less liquid stocks beat those with more liquidity
  • Momentum—Stocks trending up will continue to trend up
Because the risk-return framework does not explain all these premiums and anomalies seen in the market, the researchers propose the unifying “theory of popularity.” The authors explain that the most common market premiums and anomalies are associated with a stock’s popularity or unpopularity. For example, if investors “vote with their dollars,” small cap companies have gotten fewer votes. Value companies commonly have something wrong with them, which makes them unpopular.   If an asset has characteristics that investors really dislike, such as low liquidity, little name recognition, or high volatility, its price will be lower and therefore its expected future returns will be higher, all other things being equal. According to the theory of popularity, if an investor were to rank stocks by popularity, he or she could buy a basket of unpopular stocks and systematically rebalance as the stocks become more popular by buying a new portfolio of relatively less popular stocks. As some of the stocks in the portfolio become more popular over time, they become more valuable and the investor will see appreciation. This cycle happens normally in Deep Value situations where trends tend to revert to the mean.  
“Risk has become a catch-all for all of the attributes that investors do not like, but riskiness does not explain all the anomalies we see in the market. Value premiums are a perfect example. Stocks with low market-to-book ratios or low price-earnings ratios are not necessarily more volatile or less liquid, but we know that over time value stocks beat growth stocks. We need a new model for explaining investment performance that goes beyond risk and return. Popularity may be a better lens through which to view investment behavior,” Ibbotson said. “Many of the well-known market premiums are associated with unpopular stocks. Unpopular stocks tend to be smaller, less liquid, and perceived as lacking growth potential. These stocks, with their low relative prices, may offer investors better future performance as they move along the spectrum toward popularity.”
  Have a good week.