Thor Industries Stock Analysis

Over the past months I have received more than 10 emails from various investors about how Thor Industries is a great, cheap, value investment.

1 stock price tho

Source: CNN Money – THO

The first emails started coming in when the stock price fell from above $150 to around $120. Since then, the stock fell another 50% to the current $60. Ouch.

In this article I want to talk about this because it is an excellent example of how many value investors get trapped.

How value investors get trapped?

We have:

  • An extremely cyclical industry that makes the fundamentals look amazing at cycle peak

You would look and see amazing growth selling for a PE ratio of just 15 or lower as it was the case during 2018 when the earnings were $8.14 and the stock price was between $150 and $100.

2 thor fundamentals

Source: Morningstar

However, then reality struck. Earnings halved, revenues declined and the company took a lot of debt to buy an European RV produces at cycle peak.

They did make $1.6 billion in operating cash flows in the last 10 years, but they also spent $927 billion on acquisitions not including the last acquisition.

cash flows

The acquisition and positive RV environment in the US allowed for nice growth. Investors usually look at the past and think the same story will continue, but it doesn’t have to be so. In a highly cyclical industry things change fast. The company’s last quarter shows a loss and if there are more troubles or costs from the recent acquisition, the decline in sales continues, we could see negative earnings for 2019 which would not make this look like a bargain anymore.

3 second quarter

I think the same story happened with TATA Motors, when many saw it as cheap with a PE ratio of 7 and a high dividend yield.

4 tata motorst stock

The long term chart of TATA is similar to Thor’s. The only difference is that the exuberance with THO was much shorter.

5 thor stock price

On the chart, many just look at the drop from $150 to $60 and invest on the hope it will go back there. If you look at a chart when you invest, please also look that the stock was trading around $50 from 2014 to 2016 which doesn’t make it look like a bargain. I get probably 10 emails per week about how this stock is cheap because it fell 50%, nobody sees that it went up 200% prior to that. Another trap unexperienced value investors fall into.

Is Thor a good investment now?

I recently listened to an interview with Howard Marks and he put is very simply. When investing you have to look at where we are in the cycle now. Nobody can predict the future but you can see where we are now.

The first thing is to look at inventories, and those are high with dealers.

6 inventory correction

Let’s take a look at the industry.

8 industry

Even if there is no sign of a recession, just the small increase in interest rates will lower sales by 20%. If there is an economic slowdown or if interest rates increase further, I would expect sales to drop another 20% per year for a few years. Interest rates increased from 4% to 5% and already sales dropped.

7 interest rates

Source: FRED

Plus, an RV is really a luxury purchase, one that can be postponed easily and when the market contracts there is also a lot of inventory to be dealt with. RV dealers go bust, fire sales can make the environment very tough. From 2006 to 2009 sales dropped 60% for the industry. I think we are now in 2007 for the RV cycle, the peak has passed and the growth turned into a decline. Those who wanted an RV, probably bought one in the last 5 years as the conditions were perfect, long lasting economic growth, low interest rates on investments, high stock levels, a lot of money etc. It is really a discretionary purchase.

Then, they made a big acquisition in Europe at cycle peak too. The environment isn’t growing, there is a lot of competition from glamping or from mobile homes crated by the camping sites and I don’t see a positive for RV in Europe in the long term.

9 europe

For example, German tourists used to buy an RV and go to Croatia for the summer. However, now, RV space is replaced with small homes already there. It is more convenient, similar experience and you don’t have to do a thing.

10 camps

On the bigger picture you can see how more than half of the camping site has been closed with these kind of homes.

11 camsp

So, we are in a place where the trends in the industry in the US are negative but probably still above cycle average. The average in the US will be around 300k units sold, still 40% down from where we are now.

In Europe the average will be 160k and declining but we are now at 200k. Forget about growth in Europe.

In the US, the management discusses 77 million households camping and how they should all buy an RV.

12 promise

But they forget that 500k units per year sold quickly brings you to 5 million that saturates the market soon as not all campers want to own an RV.

Plus, consumer confidence is usually at its peak in the late part of the cycle. When it declines, RV sales erode.

13 consumer confidence

When RV sales erode you need to have strong financials and no debt. THO didn’t have any up till the Hymer acquisition.

14 debt

Now the company has about $3 billion in debt which should cost them $150 million in interest per year. If I take 2015 as the average cycle year, the cash flows have been $200 million which makes it just $50 million now.

15 average cycle

Conclusion

I don’t see growth in Europe as the market is changing fast. Trust me, Europe is not the place to go around with large RVs and travel.

The debt is a certainty, there is high risk of firing back and then things get ugly as those are getting now.

What would be an average cycle price value? Let’s say $3 to $5 per share in free cash flows leading to a valuation between $30 and $50 from a value perspective. Want to buy it with a margin of safety? Then we are looking at a price below $20. Am I crazy? It was trading there in 2011, 2009 and 2003.

The conclusion – look at the long term average in the cycle for the company, this will give you a good indication o the value and the investment potential with a margin of safety. Remember, where are we in the cycle now?

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To Buy or to Sell Stocks with Crash Coming? Doesn’t Matter for Value Investors – Buy Value

I received this very interesting comment from a subscriber as I bought my 5th stock for my lump sum portfolio which is now 50% invested. So, I invested 50% of my portfolio over the last 3 months that might surprise people scared of the upcoming crash or recession.

stock market crash

I have 3 points to answer this question:

  • I can’t predict the future, nobody can

Nobody knows what will happen with the market, we have the last two crashes in our mind that were close to 50%, but that doesn’t mean it will happen again. Nobody, and I mean nobody knows.

  • A recession is always around the corner

There are recession predictions for 2019 and 2020, but the same could had been said in 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and especially 2010 and 2009. There are many out there that have been waiting on the side-lines since 2009 or they just got in in the last few years. No need to mention the missed opportunities.

For example, my largest position in January 2018 was Nevsun Resources.

3 nevsun

In January 2018 there were fears about China slowing down leading to a copper crisis etc., fears of a recession and market crash over the next two years with Ray Dalio saying there is a 70% chance for an U.S. recession. I would have been better in cash than investing in a copper miner, right?

Well, all depends on value, if you find it, even if a recession happens, your returns are delayed by a year to 3. The point is that if you buy value, you will survive those bad years and get ahead after the crash. So, I, as a selective investor, simply buy when I see value and when I am happy owning the business. It has rewarded me very well in the past no matter the possible crashes. And yes, I lost money in 2008, but it is not comparable to what I made from 2009 onward and from 2002 to 2008.

Index fund investors

For those who invest in index funds, just invest on a monthly basis, just dollar cost average and forget about stocks, don’t even think about it, you will get your returns whatever they will be, own your home, invest in another property, diversify and you will be well off. Your wealth doesn’t depend on the market, but mostly on you and you not doing stupid things like most did, I.e. selling in 2009 march.

3) Highest possible return long-term

I know if there is a recession my portfolio will get hit, but I also know that the highest possible return I will get is when I buy value when I see it. So, in good years I will have great returns, in a bad year, I don’t know how I will do. There is a nice passage in the book Margin of safety by Seth Klarman discussing how when you buy value, real value, it often offers downside protection as it is already depressed in price and the price can’t go much lower. All my current 5 stocks trade below book value, mostly tangible book value, have high earnings yield and potential. So whatever happens, I am a happy owner, owning assets and that gives me a margin of safety.

To explain in an easy way what margin of safety investing is, I’ll make the next video article apple.

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ADM – A dividend stock to own for the long term

Contents

ADM company overview

Investment strategy

A few notes from the last conference call

My personal opinion

I analysed Bunge, as it seems like the cheaper stock between the two, but ADM looks like a better business.

ADM company overview

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Source: ADM investor presentation

Unlike Bunge, they grow by acquiring smaller players and including them into their business model and possibly scaling the smaller acquisition.

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Source: ADM investor presentation

Operating profits are stable.

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Source: ADM investor presentation

And earnings per share too.

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Source: ADM investor presentation

The return on capital is 300 basis points (3%) higher than Bunge’s and 200 basis points above their cost of capital.

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Source: ADM investor presentation

They plan to increase the dividend pay-out ratio by 30% in the medium-term range.

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Source: ADM investor presentation

The increased dividend payout should lead to constantly higher dividend yields. Thus, what is now 3.24%, could quickly become 5%. 

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Source: ADM investor presentation

The last dividend is their 349th consecutive quarterly payment and an uninterrupted record of 87 years.

Net debt is smaller than Bunge’s and the available liquidity allows for flexibility. 

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Source: ADM investor presentation

Investment strategy

If ADM continues to grow as it did in the past given that it has the foundations to do so, plus the acquisition potential, I would assume its operating profits could reach $5 billion per year over the next 10 years.

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Source: ADM investor presentation

This also means that distributions to shareholders would be 50% higher than in the last 10 years where the dividends paid out were $5.5 billion and buybacks $6.1 billion. Thus, over the next 10 years, allowing for the normal cyclicality in the food sector, I would say ADM could return at least $15 billion to shareholders. That implies a 6.5% dividend and buyback yield. 

Also, if profits increase 50%, we could estimate the stock price to increase accordingly. So, in 10 years the stock price will probably reach $60 at some point. This adds another 4.1% yearly yield and makes ADM a probably double digit investment over the long term. 

If food prices increase significantly, processing margins improve, there could be exuberant periods like it was the case in 2007, 2014 and 2018.

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The total shareholders equity is $18 billion on a $23 billion market cap giving some margin of safety, but the accumulated depreciation is $15 billion. We could assume that some things can still be used even if the accounting value is zero. The replacing value could be much higher than the $10 billion carried on the balance sheet. 

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Source: ADM Morningstar

There is also the 24.9% stake in Wilmar, a $15 billion company traded in Singapore. The value there is $3.75 billion. 

A few notes from the last conference call

The plan is to save $1 billion from efficiency improvements and digitalization. I remember when I worked for Dow Chemical, there were all these little projects and I can tell you those improved small efficiencies cumulate over time. I see Dow did manage to improve margins over the last decade, the plan is that ADM could save $1 billion.

They expect higher interest payments as they are investing now for the long term, something Bunge can’t do as it has to deal with its issues which makes it another advantage for ADM.

In 2019 they will complete the acquisition of a French animal feed business, Neovia for $1.8 billion in cash. Neovia’s target was to reach $230 million of EBITDA by 2025, perhaps they will reach it sooner now.

ADM is a growth story with more than $7 billion in growth investments over the last five years including key investment like WILD for Taste ($3 billion), Biopolis for Health & Wellness, Neovia for Animal Nutrition, Algar in South America and Chamtor in Western Europe as well as other bolt-on additions and organic investments

My personal opinion

I target an investing business return of 15%. ADM’s average earnings and cash flows point to a 10% investing return so I have to be patient and put this on the watch list. You never know what can happen, but around $30, this might be a very interesting investment. For now, it looks like a good one. 

Also, as ADM’s CEO said, low interest rates allow for high investments that leads to high competition and food oversupply, consequently leading to low margins for processors. ADM is doing fine in this environment, if the environment changes over the next 10 years, ADM might do even better so something to keep in mind. We have been having 5 years now of bumper crops thanks to good weather globally. 

On $3.4 billion in operating profits, $1 billion in capex and about $350 million in interest expense I get to cash flows of around $2 billion. On a $23 billion market cap, that is a 9% return. Given the possible future growth of 4% per year as demand for food grows, I would look at this and compare to my other holdings at 12%. So, ADM’s market cap should be around $16.5 billion for me. That is another 30% down to $30 for the stock price. It is highly unlikely that it ever gets that low, but you never know. Let’s put this on the watch list. If you are happy with the exposure to food, like 10% per year, ADM looks like a stable and shareholder rewarding option. 

Less aggressive investors could wait for opportunities below $40 but anything below $45 seems like a good buy for 98% of investors. 

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Source: ADM investor presentation

Earnings per share are $3.19, we can assume growth of 4% over the long term and a terminal value at a PE ratio of 12.

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If the stock price drops to $30, we would have a 7% return from the stock which would bring this to 11%. 

So, cash flow return is 9%, stock plus dividend return around 7%. Thus, in line almost.

I am analysing the food sector and I must say, ADM looks better than Bunge, also better than Ingredion as it offers more stability thanks to scale. 

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Food Stocks Sector Analysis And Investment Strategy

Do food stocks offer a margin of safety?

Before discussing food stocks as investing opportunities, let me just tell you why I am researching the sector at the moment (March 2019).

I like to invest in sectors that offer businesses with a margin of safety. This means that:

  • there is a tailwind because of what is going on in the world (more people);
  • businesses are already profitable and established (dividends and positive earnings);
  • what will happen is relatively predictable (you are going to eat tomorrow);
  • there are moats with high barriers to entry (logistics, scale, legacy etc.).

On the other hand, you have also very interesting sectors like Software as a service that are bound to grow, but I have no idea which provider will be a winner and whether it has a moat strong enough to insure long term profitability. If we look at the price to sales ratios of such tech stocks, we can see that there is a long way to go before those become profitable.

1 software as a service

Source: Justin Swierczek

The main difference between the two investing approaches is the approach to risk. With a margin of safety, you try to limit your downside but you also limit your upside on a specific stock. However, you are not necessarily limiting your total portfolio return. Buying stocks with price to sales above 10, implies a big potential for a total loss while buying food stocks limits the downside in many cases. Therefore, I am researching the food sector with the hope that I find something interesting to follow and maybe buy.

Food stocks – sector overview

I always like to go through long lists when researching a sector. Looking at each individual company gives me a good comprehension of what is going on in the sector.

2 list

Just from a quick look at some food stocks traded on the NYSE shown in the above list, I have concluded the following:

  • There is a lot consolidation where 6 out of 30 businesses in the above list have been taken over in the last few years. Consolidation means two things, a young market or an aging market. In this case, it is the latter where companies like Campbell Soup, Kraft Heinz, Tootsie Roll are finding it difficult grow. This forces them into expensive acquisitions that are usually a poor allocation of capital.
  • The second thing I found is that brand strength is declining and people look for new, different things. This leads to declining sales and many value traps. One example that I discussed before the actual stock decline, is Kraft Heinz.
  • It is not easy to find a business that is really getting traction within the new trends, as those change quickly.

Investing in the food sector

So, what are the tailwinds in the food sector?

  • The decreasing availability of land;
  • An anticipated increase in commodity prices over the long term due to finite resources and a growing, increasingly wealthy, global population;
  • The shift towards meat based diets, increasing the need for grain based feeds;
  • The creation of markets in farm-related carbon credits and water rights;
  • The increasing levels of investment by land-poor and food-deficient countries, attempting to protect food supplies;
  • The increasing value of farmland.

I don’t know why, but I am not fully convinced about the above tailwinds. I look at food prices, and see them mostly go down.

3 food prices

Source: FAO

The keys here are technology and investments. Each country subsidizes food production, which leads to heavy investments and overproduction. Further, improvements in technology, GMO etc. leads to more production that leads to lower prices, especially if there is nice global weather as we have had the last few years.

So, again value investing comes in handy here. You have to look for an investment where, you win big if food prices increase, but you still win if food prices stay low for the next 10 years.

Also, something tricky when it comes to food prices is ethanol and biodiesel. Politicians can simply say we will have to use other forms of energy, or oil prices can stay low, and a big part of demand for food would vanish.

On the other hand, there are many different trends in the food industry that we cannot put them all under one hat and call them food. There are organics, ingredients, flavours, spices, processed foods, private labels etc.

Bunge Stock Analysis

BG is a food trader and processor, grains, soy, corn with some other adjacent businesses.

Many are waiting for a stock market crash to buy things on the cheap. Well, you have one here.

4 bg stockprice

Source: BG Stock Price 5-year chart

The business is 200 years old and has been constantly rewarding investors. Over the last 10 years, 50% of the current market capitalization has been returned to investors.

4 bg

Source: Bunge IR

They business model is focused on increased volumes in food trade and processing.

5 global trade

Source: Bunge IR

We have seen volatile food prices  in the past, consequently BG’s cash flows have also been volatile.

6 bunge dividend

Source: BG’s cash flow statement – Morningstar

On top of everything, there have been rumors that Glencore or Archer Daniels will acquire BG. As these things take time, perhaps it will push the stock price up in the short term but I still have to research it in depth and compare to other opportunities like the already mentioned ADM, Wilmar and some others food businesses traded around the world.

Conclusion

To conclude on investing is food, it all boils down, like in most cases, to the specific business, the quality of the management, the moat, the cash flows, the growth, risk and of course, the price you pay. So, there is no point in discussing what will happen, will we eat more of this or that, the focus has to be on the businesses and I am going to analyse a few businesses for you, to give you an indication of what can be found and what are the dangers.

BG is a completely different investment now at $50, then it was at $90. So, let’s continue looking at businesses and focus less on things we cannot know and forecast.

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Porsche SE is Undervalued – Volkswagen Stock Analysis

In the last few weeks I have received probably more than 5 tips from various sources to look into Porsche SE, because it is extremely undervalued and there is a lot of potential for the stock over the next few years. I’ve read a few hundred pages of reports and this article summarizes my conclusion.

Content:

Porsche SE ownership of Volkswagen and holding discount

Volkswagen stock analysis

Undervaluation – relative and absolute

Personal opinion and conclusion

What is the deal?

Porsche SE

Porsche SE (PAH3) is a company holding Porsche’s family stake into Volkswagen (VOW3). In 2007, Porsche tried to take over VOW, the didn’t make it and VOW took them over. As part of the deal the Porsche family got shares in VOW. The following is the holding structure:

1 porsche

Source: Porsche

It is important to note that the Porsche-Piëch family has all of the voting shares so you can only buy preference shares. (Also traded as ADRs on NYSE)

VOW3 – 501 million shares – 19 February 2019 price is €141.6 for a market cap. of €71 billion.

PAH3 – 306 million shares – 19 February 2019 price is €54.62 for a market cap of €16.7 billion.

PAH3 owns 30.8% of the subscribed capital of VOW3, thus €21.8 billion.

The discount is sometimes bigger and sometimes smaller as the stocks don’t trade in sync.

2 comparison

Source: Bloomberg

In any case, buying PAH gives you a 24% discount on VOW at the moment. The key is to look at whether VOW is worth buying in the long term and one can always debate about the holding discounts.

VOW stock analysis

VOW, like any other car company is a cyclical and you have to put it into that bin or folder. Cyclicals do very well when the economy is doing good and terribly when the economy is slowing down as companies buy less cars etc. However, you can only postpone a purchase for a year or two, sometimes a bit longer, but then buyers usually rush back to replacing their old cars with new ones.

Can we predict the cycle? Impossible to do accurately, especially with all the central bank interventions. So, what I prefer doing is simply estimate a recession every 5 years, see how an average one would hit the company, see how the company is doing when things are fine, like those have been in 2018, and get to average earnings that we can use to calculate intrinsic value.

In my book, Modern Value Investing, I analysed Daimler as an example, when writing the stock price was €70, my fair value was closer to €40 and fortunately for my book sales, the stock is closing in on the second price.

3 daimpler

Source: Bloomberg

As there are fears of a recession, the stock falls, when the sentiment is more upbeat, the stock is up. Therefore, one has to buy these stocks when there is blood on the streets. However, before buying, one must know what would be a good business price to pay for a decent long-term business/earnings return. Let’s see.

VOW group hopes to increase their return on sales by 1.5 percentage points by 2025. Given sales are €230 billion, it would not be a bad thing.

4 return on sales

Source: VOW

But, just to stay conservative, let’s say they don’t improve there. On the cash flow, they have their benchmark at €10 billion, a level they can achieve and have been achieving.

5 cash flow

Source: VOW

So, in a bad year, cash flows will probably be €0 to €3 billion, in a good year it will be €10 to €12 billion and 8 billion in an average year. In a cycle, we will have two good years, two so-so and one bad. I would say their net cash flows should be around €8 billion per year over the next 5 to 10 years.

The industry is highly competitive so, this is what one should expect. €8 billion on a €70 billion