LTC Corporation

TTI’s Portfolio Updates – November 2017

October 2017 was a busy month for me, in terms of portfolio changes. I made 2 complete divestitures, and feel really good about them.

This is just a quick update, and some of my accompanying thoughts as we go into the earnings season next week.

1. LTC Corporation

I currently own 240,000 shares.

LTC did pretty well YTD, rising a very respectable 26.42%. (In any other year, 26.42% would’ve been a monster year, but this year, the bar has been raised considerably by STI ETF)

635) LTC Corporation share price.jpg

I wrote about my thoughts at the end of 2016 after analyzing the FY16.

That post was summarized by Leong CT and republished on NextInsight:

https://www.nextinsight.net/story-archive-mainmenu-60/938-2016/11103-ltc-corp

And here’s the full, boring, long version:

Info That I Have Gleaned From LTC Corporation’s AR 2016

Well, nothing much has changed actually. The year panned out the way I expect it to be, business wise. I guess it’s been acceptable, nothing too amazing, but there’s a certain safety margin incorporated in the wide difference between the share price and the NAV.

A long time frequent reader, mslee888, attended the recently concluded AGM and has some comments on what transpired. You can read his comments in the “Recent Comments” section.

Nothing overly optimistic, perhaps even slightly bearish.

Personally, I’d continue to monitor their FCF generation and cash utilization. All that cash generated HAS to go somewhere. The most obvious place now is their development of GEM residences, which is situated just off the island of Penang. I didn’t write much about it, but that development at least, looks favorable to me when I did my DD.

Linked to what is the largest mall within the vicinity, the site has a lot of potential going for it. Any potential rewards though, won’t be in sight, so some patience is in order.

I have a lot of that.

2. BBR Holdings

The chart says it all:

636) BBR Holdings share price.jpg

Being the largest proportion of my portfolio at the start of 2017, a massive 44.44% gain is great. It single handedly helped me keep up with STI ETF, despite the drag by Dutech’s drop this year.

The share price was well supported by a series of share buybacks by the company, as well as by the sudden large increase by Dr Chiu, who is now a substantial shareholder.

I’m not sure what plans he has, but there’s no scenario whereby this is a bad thing.

Would I know at the start of 2017, that BBR would initiate a share buyback program? Nope. No idea.

But I do know the shares were, and still are, terribly cheap.

They don’t even have to do anything right. They just have to NOT do anything wrong, and stop bleeding money each quarter, and the share price should correct substantially.

As the loss making projects are gradually run down each quarter, their financial performance should improve.

I’m optimistic about their newer projects.

And for gods’ sake. Please stop doing all those fancy new technology for the sake of tech. Keep looking at your margins please. I rather you guys do nothing than do a lot of stuff and constantly lose money.

I’ve written about my long history with the management, the old posts can be found in the links, I shan’t repeat.

I do have to say that I’m a lot more pleased with how they chose to return capital to shareholders. A share buy back is much more preferred when the shares are undervalued, vs merely increasing dividends.

It inspires confidence, and the effects are more prolonged.

I did capitalize on the massive rise by taking some profits off the table. (Plus I consolidated my shares from the various nominee accounts in prior years, so if I don’t reduce my stake, I’d most likely end up in the Top 20 shareholder list in the AR17, and I’d like to not be so visible)

I currently still own 1,100,000 shares, having divested about 900,000 shares this year.

3. King Wan

DIVESTED COMPLETELY. ALL 1,000,000 SHARES.

PHEW!

Never felt more relieved.

Just divested the remaining 100,000 shares today at $0.16. I started the year with 1,000,000 shares, and now I own no shares.

I don’t know who bought them from me. Whoever it is, he either knows something I don’t (perhaps increased dividends), or he’s screwed.

I’ve previously written about my disdain for the performance of management… and nothing’s changed.

Oh actually, something did change. CFO Francis Chew left the company “to pursue other interests” (what else? Does anyone seriously give any other reason aside from this generic one?). With the departure of CFO Chew (the one guy who tried his best to answer my queries), the last good thing going for KW is gone.

King Wan is without doubt, my biggest investing mistake thus far. Ever.

I’ve only learnt 1 lesson from this:

Keep your eyes on the game. Nobody’s going to do it for you.

I trusted in the capital allocation prowess of the management and literally just forgot about this company. “Buy and Hold” as Buffett says. Difference here is that the management is not what Buffett would’ve approved.

In my defense, it was a really busy period of my life when I had to devote 100% of my time to build up businesses in my work. Thus I thought I’d just chuck it aside and let these guys grow my capital. Imagine my surprise when I checked up on it 1 big fine day.

They got proud when things were going good, and had to eat humble pie. In recent years, when everything has just gone a single way up, KW has gone exactly the opposite direction.

I mean, just for laughs, check out these earlier articles and “analysts’ predictions”:

https://www.nextinsight.net/index.php/story-archive-mainmenu-60/919-2013/6421-wilmar-king-wan-what-analysts-now-say

https://www.nextinsight.net/index.php/story-archive-mainmenu-60/916-2012/5812-another-high-dividend-yield-stock-king-wan

LOL @ “special dividend”!

Perhaps the biggest early red flag that I should’ve picked up, was the IPO of KTIS.

That was the peak of KW’s fortunes. I remember clearly that KTIS IPO was done at a PE of 30+ (I’m not checking now, this is written off the top of my head)

I remember clearly thinking that “hey that’s kinda pricey for a sugar producer right? What competitive advantage would a commodity producer have to warrant that kinda PE multiple?”

Yet KW held on to the bulk of its stake post IPO.

I would’ve dumped it all to the hungry and dumb public.

I’ve previously said I’d give my coverage to my mistakes. So there, let me open up old wounds. Go ahead and re-read these. It is a damn good read.

King Wan Corporation – Part I

King Wan Corporation – Part II

King Wan Corporation – Part III

Good riddance.

4. Boustead Singapore

637) Boustead Singapore.jpg

A 9.76% ROI (and it’d be higher if we include dividends), is not bad normally, but in light of this year’s monster performance by the passive indices, this doesn’t feel much like a win.

Oh oh and before I forget, all the stated ROIs above do not include dividends, so it’s probably a bit higher. I’m just lazy to do the math right now.

I currently own 40,000 shares of Boustead.

This is a small position.

FF Wong still has my vote of confidence. A genius is a genius.

The only thing that’s bugging me constantly is whether I should buy Boustead Projects directly, or own it indirectly via Boustead Singapore.

I know this opinion is contrary to the thoughts of most other retail shareholders, but I really preferred if FF Wong didn’t hive out BP. Just keep it all together as a mega conglomerate.

I suspect a major part of the reason is just succession planning. He has to elevate and promote so many lieutenants, so better to split it up so that each can become their own bosses.

This just makes it more complicated for me to assess.

Obviously Boustead is in a tough position now, with the situation with O&G.

That’s why I’m keeping it as a small position.

At the 1st sign of a sustained recovery, I’m putting my money on FF Wong again. In a big way.

5. Comfort Delgro

well, shan’t waste too much time here.

Bought at $1.98, Sold at $2.02 barely a month later.

Was hoping to build a large position, but it never really dropped much after I bought. There were only 2 trading days where it went below my entry price, and that’s about it.

Also, further DD made me more cautious about their entrenched position, and the stake was really too small to warrant wasting time monitoring.

On top of that, as I alluded to in the previous post, I’m selling some positions to reallocate capital into a new idea. And I intend for that position to be a big one.

Wealth Destruction Behaviors – TTI’s Personal Anecdotes

6. Geo Energy Resources

Not bad at all.

638) Geo Energy.jpg

30.43% YTD, add in a few more % points for the dividend, and it’s turning out to be a fine investment indeed.

Well, anything that beats the index this year, is a fine investment.

I currently hold 500,000 shares, at an average price of $0.168.

I think I’d likely double my money from $0.168 before the year end. In fact, my purchases in July is already starting to look like a stroke of genius. (But the purchases of Dutech…. not so):

TTI Bought >$100K Worth Of Equities In July… Howard Marks’ Memo Better Don’t Come True Right Now!

Q3 results look promising, but unfortunately my DD tells me that their coal production would likely disappoint again this quarter.

I’m expecting them to report total coal volumes mined to be between 1.8 – 2.2mil tonnes.

Which would be a substantial improvement from Q2, yet below that of Q1.

Full year, I find it hard to see how they’d meet their stated 10mil target.

Probably not, even if TBR mine comes online soon.

Results would still be stellar though, as coal prices continue shooting through new highs. In Q3, China’s imports have held up much much better than most analysts were expecting. (Read Philips report on how they expect coal prices to drop in Q3. To their credit, they stuck to their buy recommendation as they believed it’d be transient)

I’m watching this space tightly, it’s going to be an exciting Q3 and Q4 for Geo.

7. Dutech Holdings

Tough year for Dutech:

639) Dutech Holdings.jpg

A -17.78% in a year where STI is up almost 20% (or more, not sure of the latest figures), is disastrous.

I currently own 701,000 shares at an average price of $0.287

I’m keeping faith with Dutech and Johnny Liu though.

Unfortunately, I don’t expect the business to turn around in Q3 or Q4 of 2017.

My analysis of their downstream peers (Diebold Nixdorf and NCR Corporation) tells me that globally, their High Security business is still going to be impacted heavily.

Diebold just reported earnings, and it’s not pretty. Major ATM clients are still delaying confirming orders. On the plus side, they are still expecting orders to be confirmed in the coming months.

I will be watching how Johnny Liu continues to steer the business towards the software intensive “Business Solutions” division, and how they integrate their newly acquired Metric.

It’d be a while yet, but I’m actually comfortable holding Dutech as a core, long term holding. I won’t make the same mistake as with KW though, I’m keeping my eyes on the game this time.

8. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

As mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve started accumulating a major position in a new idea. I’m pretty optimistic after doing my usual comprehensive DD, and hence, my position will reflect my optimism.

When I’m done, I hope to accumulate at least a 6 digit position.

Already, I’m slightly up, but I intend to continue to average up.

Not ready to reveal it yet, will write about it soon.


This year hasn’t been too bad ROI-wise, yet I’m still finding it tough to beat STI ETF.

DAMNIT.

Banks and Developers.

Those are the ones going ballistic this year.

Also, my US listed equities have not done as well as SG ones. I’ve made some major mistakes in the midst of tinkering and trying out ideas, particularly with options. 1 major mistake was entirely due to greed, something that I never thought I’d do. Damnit. I should’ve wrote about myself when talking about “Wealth Destruction Behaviors” in my previous post. Dumb, greedy mistake.

In fact, SG portfolio ex-US, would likely have beaten STI ETF, but that’s not how portfolio tracking works right.

We have to take in the bad with the good. Cash drags, transaction fees, even holding or margin costs etc, all has to be accounted for to give an accurate picture.

Thus far though, with the insight and the adjustments I’ve made, and the new rules that I’ve implemented, results have been good. I’m still trying it out, but it bodes well for 2018 and beyond.

I believe longer term, my options strategy would be a force to be reckoned with, ESPECIALLY so in down years.

Let’s see.

In terms of portfolio size, 2017 is likely to see a substantial gain, even though there’s been minimal capital infusion. It has been difficult to NOT make money in 2017, looking at how the markets have behaved.

I’ve instead preferred to channel whatever cashflow I have left (after the wealth destructive trail of the 2 kiddos) into my property fund.

Anyhow, I’ve always preferred to watch the ROI figures rather than the actual portfolio size. The quantum can be easily increased by channeling more funds into equities and options rather than into my property fund. The ROI is the fun and challenging part.

That’s all I have here.

Oh, and SGX has sent out emails for race pack collection for those who have received complimentary tickets for the Bull Charge 2017, so go collect them.

As always, Godspeed.

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What Makes You Think You Can Win? The Case For The True Value Investor – LTC Corporation & S i2i Limited

Value investing as a concept, has really taken off in the past couple of decades.

Graham came up with the science behind it, but Buffett single handedly popularized it and made it mainstream by showcasing results that became the fantasy of investors-wannabe all over the world.

612) Value investing image.jpg

Let me play the devil’s advocate here, and put forth a key concept question:

If information is now ubiquitous, and assuming most retail investors have access to the same type of information, at the same time, how does one truly find value and capitalize on it?

If there’s a real discrepancy between the intrinsic value and the price, wouldn’t the numerous eyeballs in the investing realm quickly identify this gap, and take the appropriate action, either by going long or short, such that the net results of their actions would quickly nullify this discrepancy?

Let’s not forget that WB and Graham resided in a very different world from the world today.

Information was not ubiquitous. One could get a real advantage by receiving information faster. Hence, the scuttlebutt method of investing works. Going down to the base level, kicking tyres and doing good old investigative work gives one a true operating advantage. That’s hardly true these days.

Here’s TTI’s answer to my own question.

There are still opportunities because true value investing is simply… difficult. Most people would not be willing to put in the work required to find these opportunities. It’s human nature.

OK, this post is inspired by 2 recent incidents in my life.

1) Dad excitedly called me up one fine day to tell me that his buddy recommended him to purchase a trading program. All he had to do was to input the ticker symbol of the stock, and it’d track the share price and tell him when to buy and when to sell. The program apparently has a “very high success rate”.

I was disgusted.

1stly, I’ve been taught from young, that nothing comes to you on a platter without pure hard work. (unless it’s a one off lucky incident type like the US powerball winner…)

2ndly, common sense tells me that if such a program was indeed that successful, in which case the only limiting factor to the path of riches would be the capital deployed. And there are many ways one can do that. The inventor of such a program would not need to be peddling it to the masses. (And guess how much such a program costs? I would consider even $300mil to be cheap if that’s true). Yet, it costs $300. What a joke.

3rdly, common sense also tells me that if it is indeed such an all powerful program, and if indeed the inventor is so altruistic as to pass such a program around for a mere $300, then logic tells us that many people would buy it, many people (including TTI!) would use it, and if a sufficient number of people use it, then the program itself would become useless! It’s a self defeating mechanism incorporated into such schemes. I would assume the said program relies on TA to spot certain levels and come out with buy calls etc. And if it truly worked, then the price would never deviate far from the intrinsic value. Or, if taken to extremes, the program could set the market price in itself, as when it gives a buy recommendation, everyone would start buying and with sufficient players, it’d presumably reach the “sell” range in a split sec.

In short, it’s just simply not possible.

2) Almost 2 decades ago, my mother in law got into a serious traffic accident through no fault of hers. To cut a long story short, she received a tidy sum of just over $500k as compensation, and subsequently quit her low paying job, intending to live on the returns of this initial capital.

Being a layman with minimal education, she followed almost exclusively, the recommendations from 2 sources: Her broker and analysts’ reports, particularly those that she heard over the radio or read about in the news.

Mind you, we’re talking about someone who strictly followed these recommendations, whenever possible. In fact, she even paid the higher “broker-assisted” commission fee of 0.5%, because she doesn’t even know how to use the online/mobile apps to transact on her own.

So what’s the result after 15 years?

How much of the $500k remains?

ZERO.

Well technically it’s not zero. It’s NEGATIVE. Cos she put in more of her own savings aside from the $500k compensation.

And this result is “achieved” in a period of time when all indices worldwide have pretty much been on an upward tear. If you do the relative comparisons…..

Yup. True story. She’s lucky because her kids have done well in life and send her fat allowances every month.

How many other gullible aunties are there out there, who cannot afford this folly?

Talking about this really makes my blood boil. My wife has been asking me to manage my MIL’s funds for ages, but managing your MIL’s funds, especially if she’s not privy to what’s happening, is suicidal.

I’ve more than enough work to do as it stands anyway.


And that’s it. It amazes me how it’s precisely the lower educated or those with poorer earning power, that treats their “investments” in such a cavalier manner.

Those who are most ill-afforded to lose money, are usually the ones who treat their investments like it’s a gamble. They can save up every cent here and there, but when it comes to investing, throw their money in a stock because someone else says so, because the news says it’s good, or because some squiggly lines on a chart tell them to do so.

Illogical and without basis.

Yet, that’s the case throughout history, and it’d never change.

Why?

Cos it’s easy to do so. The allure of riches without effort is strong enough to overcome human logic. Hell, even I feel like participating in the US Powerball after reading the news!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/08/26/a-hospital-worker-won-the-powerball-her-prize-758-7-million-and-police-outside-her-house/?utm_term=.c041faacd440


As the title suggests, I’m gonna make the case for the TRUE value investor.

I use the word “true”, because I don’t think there are many true value investors.

There are many value investors because of WB’s popularity… but there aren’t many who can truly claim to seek out value.

Since SG TTI was set up, I have had the fortune of making friends with and discussing investment ideas with several of my readers. Amongst them, I’d highlight 3 of them as true, blue value investors. And their results (those that I can verify) have been truly stunning.

It’s a pity that I cannot share too much information about 2 of them, as they have both declined to be identified or spoken about at length.

The 1st guy is an UHNW individual, based in HK. Made his fortune at a relatively young age, and now runs a home office managing his own fortune. He shared just 1 idea with me sometime in mid 2016, it’s been slightly over a year, and the ROI sits pretty at 28% right now. (Incidentally, I just recently found out one of my friends works for him. It’s a freaking small world)

The 2nd guy is also based in HK, works in the fund management industry, and although I am not sure what the results of his fund look like, but the 1 idea he shared with me, also sometime last year, has returned close to 32% to date. I can understand why he doesn’t want to be featured, I guess there are all those non-disclosure stuff to consider in his line of work.

The 3rd guy, ah, and now I can showcase verifiable results, is Alain T, and he has contributed a post sometime ago here:

S i2i Investing Thesis

Please go and read that post again before you proceed. Please. It’s important, so that one can understand what it means to be a true value seeker. Go take a look at his work.

Note the date of that post: 29th October 2016

So how did his idea do thus far? I’ll quote a paragraph I wrote in a follow up post after his:

“On top of that, at the end of June, the company did a 1-off capital reduction exercise and returned a cool $ 0.729/share to each shareholder. So if one took up a position then, the returns now would’ve been a real pretty sight. I won’t even do the math here, but if you’d just add ($0.729 + capital gains of about $0.1) / intial vested price of around $1.65, and then annualize the return…. the ROI figure should be eye popping.”

And that was in October 2016.

I won’t even bother to do the math if one had invested before June (I believe Alain did because he brought this idea to me before that). The returns would be several hundred %  by now. Yes, several hundred %.

Let’s be critical and assume that one had vested in S i2i at the point the post was published, and not earlier. How had the share price performed?

607) Si2i share price.jpg

Share price rose from $1.75 to $3.08 at the time of writing this.

That’s a 76% return in just under 1 year!

And that’s achieved by buying and going to sleep in the market and not doing anything but waiting and sitting tight. No reading and shouting “UP UP UP” everyday. Nothing. Just doing nothing.

I have never seen anyone using squiggly lines prove their long term results to me like this. And I’ve an open mind.

Right now, we can all agree that this kind of returns is outstanding. Anyone would be proud of it.

But what does it entail? Again, as I’ve mentioned above, go read that post again:

S i2i Investing Thesis

This is the type of effort and work needed to attain the confidence and arrogance to invest AND stay vested in the face of opposing views.

And that, my friends, is what I call true blue value investing.

Still not convinced?

Recently, with the release of LTC Corporation’s FY17Q4 results, I was updating my thoughts while going through the financials, when I suddenly remembered that Alain T sent me his investing thesis on LTC Corporation as well.

I searched for it on SG TTI and couldn’t find it, before I finally realized that I forgot to post it here! It was sitting in my mailbox after I read it.

Again, it’s a piece of art.

Instead of copying and pasting here, I’ll just attach the report in it’s entirety here.

LTC Corp Thesis by Alain T 10112016

Do download it and take a look. Note the date: 10th Nov 2016.

So how has this idea done?

608) LTC Corporation share price.jpg

Share price then was $0.55, today’s it sits pretty at $0.685, giving a return of 24.5% in just under 10 months!

But in reality, his thesis was written way earlier. I’ll just cut and paste the concluding segment:

609) LTC corp valuation price.jpg

So if one bases it on the $0.515 entry price, his returns right now would be even higher at 33%.

At this point, I’ll squeeze in my updated analysis on LTC Corporation.

Both Alain T and myself were in agreement then, that LTC’s superior FCF generation ability meant that their debt would be quickly eliminated, and in subsequent quarters, without having to pay off debt, LTC would be extremely cash rich.

I’ve opined about that in several posts, but this is the most recent one:

LTC Corporation – FY17Q2 Results. Let’s Analyze…

Thus far, FY17Q4 results have confirmed that our thesis remains on track.

610) LTC total debt.jpg

Total debt was pretty much eliminated with a single year’s FCF in FY16, and that has been brought down to a negligible $6k as of FY17.

The excess cash has accrued in the balance sheet:

611) LTC cash holdings.jpg

At $48.9mil of cash and cash equivalents, it’s at its highest since FY09, and at the same time, debt is at it’s all time low (or rather, zero)

Of course, the key risks lies in the utilization of this cash. Management has not been great managers of cash. ROE figures remain in the low single digits, and while earnings have improved, they haven’t been great.

In his thesis, Alain was kind enough to give management some time to prove the USP acquisition would be successful. I’ll quote from his report:

“Potential for poor capital allocation to destroy value. The fact that LTC is cash rich and could begin to rapidly accumulate even more cash as debt repayments subside makes management’s capital allocation abilities pivotal going forward. The first use of said cash was to add a new retail business segment last year. While the jury is still out on that investment (see Appendix for further analysis), management’s use of cash is an important metric to track going forward as it weighs heavy on LTC’s future intrinsic value.”

Well, I ain’t so kind.

I’ve railed at how asinine that move was ever since it was announced and very unfortunately, I’m still right. Oh boy, how I wish I can eat my words.

Despite paying a nice premium to acquire a struggling RETAIL business, our total returns from it thus far has been a loss after 2 years.

Still, we bet that with the tremendous amount of FCF that builds up in LTC’s balance sheet each quarter, the share price simply HAS to increase. It’d be ridiculous not to.

Even now, the book value is 162.82 cents, while the share price is 68.5 cents. LTC trades at a 58% discount to book value! To top it off, this 68.5 cents comprises 31.2cents of cash and cash equivalents.

The company is severely undervalued, and as long as the FCF generation holds up, this undervaluation has to be corrected. If the management maintains at status quo, logically, the share price has to rise in tandem with the cash that builds up in the balance sheet.

If the management wakes up tomorrow and decides to be more shareholder friendly, the share price can shoot through the roof.

It is hard to see the share price dropping, as the amount of cold hard cash in its books acts as a floor.

This is the type of dynamics that I like. Draw or win. There’s no lose. Not a bad deal.


But then, this post is not about LTC or S i2i.

It’s about true value investing.

I’d encourage anyone who wants to make their next investment, to go stare at the 2 investing theses above, and think about this for a moment. There are guys like these 3 folks out there, doing this kinda work. (I wish I can share the other 2’s)

They are looking at the same things as you are.

Since the stock market is a negative sum game, you’re technically stepping in the ring to compete with them, figuratively, each time you make an investment (or punt, in some cases)

What makes you think you can win?