General

To Infinity & Beyond? Nah!

Happy Mid Autumn Festival Guys!

879) Mid Autumn Festival

I’ve come to realize that since my investing thesis on Avenue Therapeutics (Avenue Therapeutics – No Pain, Lots Of Gain?), I suddenly have a band of American readers/fellow investors/subscribers.

Apparently, a friend highlighted to me that if you google Avenue Therapeutics, SG TTI’s post on the company is in the 4th link (thereabouts).

Since then, I’ve had a few emails from global readers. This is interesting to me as it’s a fresh and different perspective. Plus I think, most local investors don’t actually understand the thesis that much.

So… to the global readers who would probably not be aware… Mid Autumn Festival is today (13th Sept 2019) and this is a festival whereby folks like myself eat mooncakes and drink tea and supposedly, have to admire the full moon.

Well, skip the full moon part. But I do enjoy mooncakes. They’re absolutely delicious. If you haven’t tried them before, you should.

But try the SG version ones.

I’ve a buddy who’s mainland Chinese (富二代la), and this year, he sent me a box of mooncakes all the way from Beijing. I’ve gotta say, they taste….. weird. It’s just… too different for my liking.


It’s been over a month since my last post:

TTI’s Portfolio Updates – End July 2019 + The Thanos Of Global Macro Funds Is Coming Back!

So let me start with the usual portfolio performance updates.

SG Markets

Total portfolio value in SG markets is SGD 259,582.

Thus far in 2019 (and we’re already 3/4 of the way through the year), I’ve had zero additions in SG, and instead, fully executed on my plan to pare down stakes, take profit or recognize losses in certain holdings and my current SG holdings are a mere fraction of the overall portfolio. Nothing much has changed, and I intend to continue either holding or paring down stakes if the opportunity arises.

Bonds

Nothing much to talk about here, the bond portfolio is approximately SGD 550,000.  It’d be another 1-2 yrs before the fruits ripen here. I’ve already mentally locked away this capital.

US / Global Markets

This is where I’ve focused much of my energy and attention on.

Having endured a somewhat rough July & August, the past couple of weeks has been absolutely sweet.

Stats from Interactive Brokers:

878) TTI returns Sept 2019.jpg

US/Global Portfolio NAV has grown to USD 1,068,901.11

But check out the blue line above!

It’s *almost vertical in the past 2 weeks!

Of course, global markets have been really on a tear in the past several weeks, but TTI’s gains have far outstripped the indices in the past fortnight.

This can be attributed to sizable gains in a few larger, core positions such as Centurylink (CTL), Broadcom (AVGO), Chesapeake Energy (CHK) & a significant drop in Beyond Meat (BYND), in which, I have a fairly large short position in the form of naked calls sold.

I’ve also built up a core, 6 digits worth of exposure to HK listed Future Land (1030), that has finally started moving. (In the desired direction of course!).

I put in an estimate in IN, and briefly wrote my thoughts then:

882) Futureland.jpg


Assuming USD-SGD of 1.37280, overall portfolio NAV is thus now SGD 2,276,969.

US/Global portfolio has returned 36.75% YTD, which is a significant bump up from my last update (TTI’s Portfolio Updates – End July 2019 + The Thanos Of Global Macro Funds Is Coming Back!) of 28.07%

My approach has always been pretty much bottom-up, company specific.

Yet, once in a while, I try to take a step back and look at the big picture, just to have a sense of where we are currently.

And lo and behold…… having done so recently, I find it pretty amazing that despite everything in the news, Trump’s resolve to single handedly upend decades of conventional trading conditions, all the talk of China’s shadow banking debt, the Hong Kong unrest, and even the now, almost sidelined poor Kim and his nukes, the S&P 500 is actually sitting right now, just a tad below it’s all time highs!

I mean, really, check this out. This is what S&P index looks like YTD:

880) S&P index.jpg

That’s a freaking 20.31% return YTD!

This means that if you’re sitting on say, 18% returns currently, it’d be a winner in most years, but in 2019, it’d be considered a pretty poor performance.

I think a lot of local SG investors fail to consider this.

Really.

Most don’t.

Maybe cos it’s painful to admit that a simple, idiot proof S&P index like SPY is whacking you.

But there’s also a pretty solid argument for using the perennially underperforming  STI ETF as a benchmark instead. If you’re an average retail investor, you’d feel more comfortable staying in SG shores, no forex risks, easier to understand the companies, no geographic risk etc. Sure. I get that.

US/Global exchanges are also where many landmines exist IMO. I watched happily as CHK rose almost 20% in a single night sometime last week… but there were days where it fell like 10%++ in a single night as well. It’s stuff that just doesn’t happen in SGX, at least not for a non-penny stock.

If the YTD chart didn’t look impressive enough, check out how it looks like when we zoom out:

881) S&P

After all’s been said and done, we are really still snapping at the all time highs. It’s pretty amazing.

The flood of monies entering passive instruments like SPY (S&P 500 ETF that I use as a benchmark now. I’m trying to mix it up with the big boys eh.), does mean that we have to be cautious here. Michael Burry recently proclaimed that there’s now a bubble in these passive instruments. How so?

Basically some of the smaller constituents of the ETF may have low liquidity, without much investor attention to these companies. Because of the wide spreads, you can also sometimes see large price volatility.

Yet, because of the flood of monies into passive instruments, these low liquidity companies that by themselves, account for a tiny proportion of the index itself, are now suddenly accounting for the fortunes of a large amount of liquidity.

It’s kinda like a leveraging up process. Suddenly now, any volatility in these small constituents, may end up affecting the value (I say value, but it’s really just the prices), of these ETFs that’s tagged to this index.

Yet, this can go on and on and on and on for god knows how long. Personally, I suspect we are along way from this bubble bursting, i.e. there’s much more inflating to go. Simply cos, there are actually people talking about passive instruments as a bubble. We need to wait till it gets so crazy that folks like u and me, are tempted to throw everything into SPY.

That’s when it bursts.

LOL.

Which leads me to another bubble that’s probably going to burst sooner.

BEYOND MEAT.

Now, as the title suggests, I really wanted to write up my investing thesis. But got carried away at the start of this post, and anyway, I’ve come to realize that I don’t really need to impress on anybody why BYND is a bubble.

Everybody seems to know it!

There are already tons of esteemed authors writing about BYND and how it’s way overvalued. Check these out. I’ve read and re-read all of these, but some are now locked up so you can only see the titles, and some snippets. (The comments are fun to read though, and some of these guys are really witty!)

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4288925-beyond-meat-expensive

882) BYND 1.jpg

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4283932-beyond-meat-dramatically-overvalued

884) BYND 2.jpg

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4283512-opinion-beyond-meat-tilray-tale-2-bubbles

885) BYND 3.jpg

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4282108-targeting-36-percent-return-betting-beyond-meat

886) bynd 4

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4275006-beyond-meat-reductio-ad-absurdum-valuation

887) BYND 5

AND MANY MORE…

At this stage, finding an article that’s actually positive about BYND, is like finding a pink diamond.

It seems like the WHOLE PLANET is negative towards BYND, yet the share price just keeps grinding upwards crazily, and despite coming down recently of late, still stays stubbornly high.

As I type this, the share price of BYND is USD 154.77.

I remembered punching in some numbers, scratching my head, and muttering that the world has gone crazy, that the numbers absolutely don’t make any sense………….. when the share price was at USD 100+.

This is as bubblish as my kids’ bath tub when they are left to their own devices.

I won’t illustrate why I think BYND is disgustingly over valued, even now. No investing thesis here. Cos everybody already knows the conclusion, why would I waste my time to illustrate it?

It has come down from the ridiculously high USD 220+, but it’s still dumb nevertheless.

Everybody knows it’s mad to do so, so who exactly is buying? If nobody’s buying, what’s keeping the share price elevated?

The answer lies in the low liquidty and float.

For the record, I agree with ALL the esteemed writers, talking about how BYND is an obvious short. Sure.

But because of the low float, the share price is kept high via a series of repeated short squeezes.

Borrowing costs for BYND is as crazy as it’s valuation:

888) BYND borrowing costs

And this is already a much better situation for borrowers. About a month or so ago, you couldn’t borrow any BYND shares to short AT ANY COST.

Zero.

The shares were the MOST EXPENSIVE to borrow in the entire US, across all exchanges.

This makes shorting BYND an extremely risky endeavor and 1 whereby the risk-benefit ratio is highly stacked against the shortists.

Upon every 1 tiny bit of positive news, the share price rockets up, and the sudden jump in the share price forces shortists to cover at an increasing price. The rush of buyers to cover at the elevated price, further causes the share price to spike up, and that brings in a new bunch of poor shortists who were forced to cover.

Now, I say they were FORCED to cover, cos it’s exactly that. They really were forced to.

For some, it’s simply cos they shorted on margin, and were squeezed out. For others, it’s cos the losses hit their risk limits, and they had to cut loss and cover their shorts.

But even if you weren’t in either scenario, even if you had all the capital in the world to back your short positions, even if you decided to stare down the world and short BYND till it’s grave… you couldn’t.

The lack of shares for borrowing means that you’d be forced to cover, regardless!

And that’s the sole reason for the bubble inflating and inflating and inflating.

Anyone talking about “business fundamentals”, or “revenue growth”, or “growth in market share” or “proprietary intellectual property” or whatever, is being naive..

It’s pure emotions, and a unique set of conditions resulting in a bubble that’s unseen for a long while.

Despite agreeing with all the short articles above, and the many more that I didn’t paste here, I gotta say that most, if not all, have been unprofitable. Most of those folks have lost money for the reason that I’ve described.

Having shorted earlier (and covered quickly), I was 1 of those folks above. The logical bunch. The rationale, data driven,  intellectuals. The smart money, so to speak.

Yet, my BYND shorts were overall, loss making. (Note the past tense! :) )

Not anymore.

The tide has turned, and nett nett, my overall BYND shorts have finally, turned a profit.

Much of it is due to pure dumb luck, having shorted by selling naked calls at somewhere near it’s peak:

889) BYND short est.jpg

Implied volatility then was something like 90%, and the premiums were absolutely crazy to reflect the uncertainty just prior to ER.

On a side note, I’ve also made a ton coincidentally.

BYND announced a tie up with APRN, and that resulted in a single day jump in APRN’s shares of something like 15%.

I thought it was absolutely ridiculous and shorted APRN as a result, expecting to hold that for a couple of months until the fad dies off and/or the underwhelming numbers come in.

It took a couple of days instead. Literally a couple.

2 days:

890) APRN.jpg


So what’s next?

I’m still not borrowing any BYND shares to short. Borrowing costs are still crazy, and it just doesn’t make any sense to try to swim against the tide.

Even if one has high conviction that you’d beat the tide… we gotta rem that we have to swim against the tide… and STILL swim faster than our dear benchmark S&P. And as I’ve illustrated earlier, S&P is a damn fast swimmer!

In short, there’re just better and easier ways to make some money huh.

I’m currently short BYND, having sold a bunch of calls. All of the calls are expiring in 2 weeks, and I really don’t envision any of them getting exercised. If they are, I’d be covering them on the same day. No taking on a direct short position overnight….

until the lock up expiry.

You see, as part of BYND’s IPO, the insiders and major shareholders have their shares locked up for 6 months.

Supposedly anyway. BYND management and insiders “unlocked” this lock up and sold a bunch of shares themselves recently in a secondary offering. That’s something I’ve never seen personally, but anyway, that’s another story altogether.

The point here is, the insiders deem fit to take profit and let go of a chunk of their own shares at USD 160. I’m not sure why ANYONE would think it wise to buy shares above USD 160. Or even anywhere near there.

You’d have to be a super genius, or super idiot, to believe that you can value it more accurately than the founder and CEO and entire management team.

Anyhow, come the end of Oct, the lock up expires and I just don’t see how the major shareholders wouldn’t be keen and itching to sell out at least a portion, to lock in their profits at the current valuation.

Right now, they’re probably like race horses at the start of the race, just waiting for the race doors to open.

When that happens, liquidity would be restored, and the market can finally function normally again. Shortists would not be unfairly squeezed out, and the weighing machine can begin to weigh BYND for what it’s truly worth.

Until then, my plan is mainly to sell naked calls as and when, the premiums make it worthwhile. But because it’s impossible to hold a direct short position, or rather, there’s no way I want to be caught in that situation, so the only naked calls I’d be selling are far OTM ones.

I think the climate and opinion has changed with the secondary offering. Sure, you’d still get some resilience cos the float is still pretty low… but the number of dumb buyers just hoping on the train hoping for a quick buck, has pretty much thinned out.

Once liquidity is restored, we’d see who has the last laugh.

After October though, I might look to start piling into the puts, provided I get a good price for them. I don’t think it’d take too long for this to play out: I’m pretty sure the large institutional SHs are also pretty keen and raring to get some shares liquidated, having seen the insiders and management team sell some of theirs themselves. So I don’t think it’s necessary to get the LEAPS.


I like this pic.

It’s basically a summary of everything I wrote above:

891) Wrong Buzzlightyear

Wrong. Buzz Lightyear.

TTI’s Portfolio Updates – End July 2019 + The Thanos Of Global Macro Funds Is Coming Back!

It’s been 2 months since the last update, and frankly, I’m just going to sorta rush through this post as well. Don’t intend to spend too much time here. So here goes.

As a continuation of the last post (TTI’s Portfolio Performance – May 2019 + Avenue Therapeutics Updates):

SG Markets

Total portfolio value in SG markets is SGD 291,294.

As stated at the end of 2018, I set out to shift my activities into global markets. The direction is clear, and I think I’ve executed on my plan thus far, shrinking the SG portfolio part to a fraction of what it used to be, as I moved capital into some of my biggest ideas at the start of 2019.

Bonds

Again, nothing much to talk about here, the bond portfolio is approximately SGD 550,000. I’m being very conservative in my accounting here, preferring to not include all the coupons that are already due and accumulated, since they are cumulative and payable at the conclusion of the term.

This means that come the day of reckoning, when the bond is finally due, I’d be expecting a blissfully big, obscenely obese, grotesquely glorious bump up in this component. 

Yes, in the mood for some alliteration there.

US / Global Markets

I’d let the charts do the talking as usual:

877) TTI returns July 2019

ROI has declined in the past 2 months, which has been rough. Compared to the high of 45% thereabouts, it’s been quite a drop.

Still, it’s sitting pretty at 28.07%, and if you’d offered that to me at the start of 2019, I’d take it without even giving it much thought.

Portfolio Size (US) has ballooned to USD 984,360.63, with YTD capital gains, excluding any cash infusions sitting at USD 117,464.70.

This is at least, part of the reason for the drop in overall ROI. The cash drag is serious, as the portfolio size has more than doubled since the start of the year, and I haven’t always had the chance to deploy the capital. Even as I type this, most of the capital hasn’t found a home sweet home just yet.

Yet, I make no excuses.

Cash drag is an excuse.

The other major reason for the dip in YTD ROI, is an ill-timed (well, actually, this is just a figure of speech, I didn’t even time it) short bet on Beyond Meat (BYND).

Having shorted BYND when it was trading at P/S of around…. I can’t rem exactly… around the ridiculously crazily insane number of 80x or something, I thought this madness must surely come to an end.

Yet, the repeated short squeeze due to the tiny float meant I had to throw in the towel and cover.

Fortunately, having sold options on both sides, (both calls and puts), the premiums have buffeted the losses nicely. And with the recently ER and subsequently secondary issue, BYND is FINALLY about to go my way.

Well, the float is still ridiculously tiny, even with the secondary issue, so I’m not outright shorting it just yet. Learnt my lesson here.

My guess is that the share price can’t exactly tank from here (It’s trading at USD 175 right now), but neither can it move up significantly since the secondary issue is at USD 160.

Coupled with the high IV right now, it’s a great time to be selling options on both ends with a WIDEEEE leeway.

Anyhow, back to the chart above.

There’s a more important lesson to be gleaned here, so much so that I’d reproduce the chart here again:

877) TTI returns July 2019

For a few days, the blue line (which is TTI, yours truly), actually dipped below that of the green line (SPX).

Well, of course I don’t consider myself infallible, but oh come on, how often do you see a 20%++ ROI lose out to a passive index?!

Yet, there we go.

SPX is on a roar this year. Despite dipping this week, it’s still around the 18% ROI mark.

That’s pretty crazy for a totally passive instrument.

I’ve seen, read, heard of many folks waving their successes around this year like a light sabre. (Most of which are not even calculated properly)

Well, hello guys, come back to reality. A semi idiot chucking his funds into SPX on the 01/01/2019, would’ve beaten many such geniuses, despite not having read a single financial statement or drawn any squiggly lines.

A rising tide floats all boats. Float it enough, and some boats may even think they can fly.

It’s just not as easy as what the typical retail investor thinks.

But ah well, I have resolved to not concern myself with all this. It’s hard enough bothering about my own portfolio.

Alright. Back to some math:

Total Portfolio

Taking a USD-SGD forex rate of 1.37165,

Total portfolio value sits at SGD 2,191,492 

(I’ve decided to change the format of previous reportings slightly by rounding out the cents. As the portfolio size increase, too many numbers make it confusing)

Real Estate

In my previous post, I spoke about real estate. I’ve since done quite a bit of work here… but with little results to show for. Many viewings, no real deal that I can find.

Yes, I’m extremely particular, but what’d you expect? I’ve just 1 silver bullet here, better make it count.

Anyhow, in the midst of my DD, I’ve come to realize that the last “en bloc fever” was around 1 – 1.5years ago, and many of the previous owners are now probably still flush with cash.

And these same guys are now in the market, standing on the “demand” side, and providing TTI with stiff competition.

Yea, well, I’m a loner and like to be in the “blue ocean”. Everyone else pls go ahead, I’d just stay out of this “red ocean” until the crowd thins a bit.

So there. I’m still sitting pretty and waiting for the crash that increasingly looks like it’d never come.

(If you haven’t realized, I’m referencing a very famous business book here)

https://www.blueoceanstrategy.com/what-is-blue-ocean-strategy/


Now, the 2nd part of this post is more exciting.

It’s just an…. announcement.

The Thanos of global macro is returning…..

This is 1 of the most read posts ever on SG TTI:

Lessons From A Super Investor – A Personal Friend Of TTI

Actually, it IS the most read one, despite me writing it 2.5yrs back, dating from Feb 2017.

Well well, guess what?

Asia Genesis Asset Management is coming back!

(OK, right now, I can’t rem if the newly incorporated company is Asia Genesis Asset Management or is it Asia Genesis Fund Management… we did have a couple of drinks when he told me the news……….)

But yes. The Thanos of global macro funds, Mr Chua Soon Hock, is coming back after a…. 10 yr hiatus.

And don’t bother googling it, the news is so hot, it’s not even off the press yet.

It’s interesting cos I always thought that if you are at a certain level, it’s always impossible to stay away forever.

Where’s the fun and excitement right?

So yeah, welcome back.

Godspeed.