ThumbTack Fund Report 10 – Hello 2022!

For full year 2021:

FULL YEAR (2021):

SPY: +29.07%

VT: +18.59%

STI: +9.95%

TTF: +24.91%

SINCE INCEPTION (FEB 2020), ANNUALIZED:

SPY: +24.93%

VT: +19.52%

STI: -0.45%

TTF: +35.97%

For reference, last TTF report: https://thumbtackinvestor.wordpress.com/2021/09/05/thumbtack-fund-report-9-you-shouldve-gone-for-the-head/

Note: Returns are MWRs, all figures in USD

TTF’s NAV: USD 1,262,649.05

Deposits/Withdrawals: USD 966,301.98

Nett capital gains since inception: USD 296,347.07

EPILOGUE

A return of close to 25% in any given year is usually sufficient to beat most indices.

Not S&P, not in 2021.

Having said that, there’s no shame in a +25% year. I can’t say I should be too upset with that. I mean, if someone gave me a deal whereby I’d compound a 25% yearly returns over the next 30 years… I’d take the deal immediately, no questions asked!

Also, S&P hasn’t really behaved like an index for the whole of 2021. Typically, an index is supposed to be sufficiently broad based, so as to iron out fluctuations in any 1 or a small subset of the constituents that make up the index.

Yet, most of the rest of the constituents of the index lost out to just the top 5 components, with GOOG being the top performer in 2021.

S&P 500 is really just S&P 5 in 2021!

IMO, this also presents with risk that we have to look out for. The very stellar performance of S&P is not necessarily a reflection of the broader market, as gains are dominantly from that handful of mainly tech companies. When the tide turns, and it will turn 1 way or other, the crash can be equally as rapid, and the index, which is typically supposed to be less volatile, can show massive swings as it corrects.

Also, apparently, most professional fund managers failed to beat S&P 500 in 2021 anyway, if this table is to be believed:

Only the top 3 names in this list beat S&P, and this list includes some of the biggest names in the industry.

TTF would’ve occupied the no.5 spot in this list… not too bad.

Overall, almost all of the generals that have appeared in my top 5 general list at 1 point or other, have done pretty well, with some eye popping gains. There have been some duds too.

Here’s a retrospective tabulation of who has done well and who hasn’t in 2021:

Zai (Fierce, Powerful, Smart) Generals:

Broadcom (AVGO), Ligand Pharmaceuticals (LGND), Gamestop (GME), Facebook (FB), Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (9101), Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd (9104), Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd (9107), Agilent Technologies (A), Support.com (SPRT), ASML Holding (ASML), Accenture Plc (ACN)

Buay Zai (Cannot Make It, Take Umbrage) Generals:

Nio Inc (NIO), Alibaba (BABA, 9988), Rocket Companies (RKT), Pershing Square Tontine Holdings (PSTH), Visa (V), Tencent (700)

TOP 5 GENERALS LIST (2022)

I took so long to come up with this post, because of this updated top 5 generals list.

A lot a lot a lot of effort and analysis and thoughts went into getting these 5 names up, and tbh, I still can’t tell exactly who should be no. 1 or no. 2 or no. 3.

I’ve mainly replaced some of the big names in the previous list (like AVGO), because they have run up soooo much in 2021, and I think it’s kinda over priced now, even though the company is great.

Look at how AVGO has beaten even the all powerful SPY.

At today’s price, AVGO is trading at a steep 40++x PE ratio, which makes me think real hard about where future gains are coming from.

Anyway, the top 5 general list that I’ve come up with now looks like this:

  1. DISCK (going to be merged with Warner)
  2. V
  3. BABA, 9988
  4. Tencent (700)
  5. ASML

None of these are totally new ideas, they’ve already occupied parts of TTF’s portfolio in various sizes and at various times.

The 1 underlying commonality amongst all 5 of them is that all 5 haven’t really done very well in 2021, so I’m obviously betting big on deep value, and expecting Mr Market to revalue them in 2022.

OUTLOOK

Cautious… really cautious. Much of the craziness in the investing world in the past 2 years stem from simply money printing. When this amount of liquidity floods the system, everyone’s having a good time. If you have a single digit % return in 2021, it almost feels like a loss, ain’t it? This is not normal. Neither is it sustainable.

Initially, Powell denied that there’s high inflation in the US. When the numbers make such a statement look outright ridiculous, he then claimed that such high inflation is “transitory” due to the reopening theme and the pent up demand etc. When the numbers make even this statement look dumb, now the Fed finally admits inflation is untenably high.

Currently, markets are pricing in at least 3 rate hikes in 2022.

Personally, I think it’d have to be even more. Remember a time when 2% fed funds rate is considered rather low? Well, if the Fed raises by just a standard 0.25% each time, we’d be looking at at least 8 hikes, just to reach this 2% mark!

I’m not predicting 8 rate hikes, but I do think that the rates have to go a lot higher than what the markets are expecting currently. The markets have been addicted to almost free credits for 2 years now, and that’s not including all the stimulus money placed directly in the pockets of the public. This kind of stimulus is the worst kind: It’s a stimulus for consumption. There’s no additional productive capacity. People don’t get their covid stimulus and use it to pay for a course for upgrading. Communities don’t take their stimulus cheques and use it to build a new road etc. But the removal of the stimulus itself, acts almost the same as the Fed raising rates.

In this regard, I’ve been positioning TTF to have a higher weightage in short positions for 2022.

Shorting is very difficult. It’s so much more risky than going long, and it requires a totally different mindset and way to go about thinking it.

To minimize risk of getting caught short when something explodes upwards, I’ve resolved to diversify the short positions by putting a very conservative amount of capital to work in any 1 short idea, regardless of how strongly I feel about it. This does mean that I’d have to spend a lot more time and effort to suss out ideas, cos I need a lot of such ideas without compromising on the conviction and quality of each short.

Short positions should ideally have a catalyst too, no short position should be a “short and hold”.

Removal of a long catalyst itself, is considered a short catalyst too.

I hesitate to give an example tbh… because most of these ideas are pretty niche, and if too many people start copying and following, it’d definitely affect TTF. So I’d just share 1 example:

Imagine u are a shareholder of a company “S”.

After weeks of media speculation, it’s been confirmed that S is being bought out by a private company in a RTO, so that said private company and S combined, becomes publicly listed.

As a shareholder of “S”, this is what you’d receive:

“their pro rata portion of $25 million cash consideration along with their pro rata portion of an aggregate $75 million in principal of new 5% merger consideration notes which under certain circumstances will automatically convert into new XXXXX Class A shares after 12 months, or”

“a certain number of XXXXX Class A shares.”

What this means is that the deal is valuing company S at a valuation of $100mil, of which, $25 mil would be given to shareholders as cash, and the other $75mil in terms of notes which would then later convert into shares of the combined entity at a 20% discount.

Alternatively, you could also elect to convert your entire stake into shares of the combined entity.

Now, what if I opt to take the 1st option, that is, take some cash out, then leave the remaining stake to convert into the new company?

Effectively, it’d mean that company S is worth ($75mil x 5/4) + $25mil, to account for the 20% discount on the notes. This means that in the near future, all things being constant, Company S shareholders would receive $118.75mil for their company.

With 49million shares outstanding, this values each share at approximately $2.42

Alternatively, you could also rely on the press releases which states that the combined entity is valued at $5bil.

Shareholders of Company S would own 2.3% of the combined entity after the completion of the RTO.

This means that collectively Company S accounts for $115mil of the $5 bil valuation given to the combined entity.

With 49mil shares outstanding, this values each share at $2.35.

If u are a shareholder of Company S, would u buy more shares on the open market at say $2.6?

Hell no. It’d be “converted” to a stake worth less than that in a while once the RTO is completed, who in the right mind would pay more right now?! Deal is slated to complete in Q1 somemore, which means anytime now.

Yet when the deal was first announced…

Company S’s share price shot up from $0.75 initially to around $2, which makes Mr Market a pretty accurate barometer of value.

But it then went higher and higher as market laggards got wind of this massive jump, and piled on without any knowledge of the details of the RTO, and probably, without any effort to calculate value at all. (if they even know how the deal is conducted)

These are probably the dumb monies, and there are a lot of such dumb monies in today’s markets. The only reason for piling in, is because the share price has shot up. That’s all. They have no other justification for doing so.

With that, the share price overshot to $3.44, which is a more than 40% premium to the deal’s perceived value. On top of that, I’d argue that the $2.42 value is in reality, much lower, since we cannot assign the same value for the $75mil in convertible notes as cash.

This is a relatively straightforward deal to analyze. There aren’t anything too complex, details are transparent, and there aren’t a lot of factors to analyze. Yet Mr Market has given it a big premium. Now, sometimes, it is justified. For example, if the combined entity has strong growth prospects, is in a dominant market position etc. This is just not the case here.

Anyway, company S is SeaChange (SEAC)

https://www.reuters.com/markets/deals/triller-go-public-via-5-bln-merger-with-seachange-international-2021-12-22/

I started shorting SEAC when it spiked above $3. But since the cost of borrowing was rather high then, I opted to sell naked calls instead. Position was literally green from day 1. I’ve since covered most of the positions, locking in gains.

Ideas like these lock up little capital (because like I said, relatively small position size), and returns are relatively low quantum wise, but in terms of %, the ROI can be very very high, like 15% in 2 months.

Now, I’ve given a specific short idea, but to be absolutely crystal clear, I’m not predicting any sort of “crash” for 2022. It might happen. I’m just not smart enough to predict it. I do think that in a rate hike cycle, there is a “dampening” effect on markets and personally, I don’t think S&P goes anywhere near the performance of 2021. As such, it does make sense to be somewhat prudent. Staying out of the markets to try to anticipate a crash is also a fools’ game. Tell me if you can figure out exactly when it crashes, I’d pay to learn from you.

IMO, in 2022, “value” returns to a large degree. That means that profitable, FCF generative companies do much better than the high growth, speculative “story telling” unprofitable companies.

But that’s just my opinion. Form your own.


For 2022, my target for TTF remains:

  1. Beat S&P, VT and STI
  2. End the year in the green

In terms of NAV, TTF now sits at ard USD 1.26mil.

I hope TTF hits the USD 2mil mark by the end of 2022. Although that seems like an unreasonable target, seeing that it’d mean an almost 60% gain in NAV, I do think it’s achievable with another year of double digit % returns, coupled with some serious capital injections along the way.

Most of my FCF in 2021 was directed to my property portfolio, so 2022 will be mostly for equities. So this target itself isn’t quite that far fetched. Difficult, but not impossible.

To all subscribers, readers, associates and friends of SG ThumbTack Investor, wishing you guys all a successful, meaningful and exciting 2022 ahead!

2 comments

    1. Hi Matador
      Yeah, Ive been bagholding DISCK for more than 6mths, ever since Bill Hwang imploded.
      FCF is my go to, key metric, so Im optimistic.
      Good start to the yr… hopefully, a lot more to come for DISCK.

      By the way, get DISCK, not DISCA.
      When it converts, its all the same.

      Like

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