Small Bank Frenzy

After a pause in action due to the post election run-up in valuations, it appears the action is opening up once again in merger activity.  One of the positions I initiated in October is the latest target.  I entered Stonegate Bank (SGBK) due to their US government sanctioned Cuban interaction as well as being a potential takeover target.  In fact, Vivianne (Well Rounded Investor) and I had this very discussion.  Low and behold, Home Bankshares (HOMB) saw the benefits that I did.

The terms of the deal are not purely defined probably due to potential market volatility.  It will be a cash and stock deal with the ratio defined nearer to close.  Per the 8-K, the combined stock/cash value is $49.00 per SGBK share.  Considering my entry point was $34.17, a roughly 43% gain over 5 months is not too shabby.  The only disappointment is the $49 total is a less than 6% current premium which would indicate HOMB believes a significant part of SGBK’s rise in share price was due to emotion (Trump rally) rather than fundamentals.

My intention is to take the money, retain the shares and perhaps buy a little HOMB on weakness as I believe my initial Cuba premise still stands.  Besides, HOMB being a $13B bank post acquisition places them in the arena of being a potential acquisition target themselves.

Recent Buy – AKO.B

ako

Keeping with my Coca-Cola bottler strategy, yesterday I added a new holding to my portfolio.  Embotelladora Andina S.A. is based in Chile with territory covering Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay in addition to Chile.  Their product line includes Coca-Cola products in addition to bottling and distributing outside brands including Amstel, Dos Equis (XX), Heineken and others.  They have an integrated operation, meaning they manufacture the bottles, cases and caps used in their bottling operation.

Andina has two share classes, the A shares carry greater voting power while the B shares pay a higher dividend.  As I don’t expect to accumulate enough shares to impact the board, I chose the higher dividend.  The shares are traded on the NYSE as an ADR administered by Bank of New York Mellon (BK), another of my holdings.  The ADR ratio is 6 shares of Andina-B (Chilean exchange) to 1 AKO.B (NYSE).

A dividend is paid almost quarterly (Feb, Jun, Sep, Nov) but is variable as the cycle is Provisorio/Adicional.  The company’s goal is to pay approximately 35% of earnings to shareholders.  The TTM for the ADR is $.70 which translates into a current yield of 2.88% at my $24.25 purchase price.  The forward (12 month) yield would be about 3.1% depending on actual declarations and the future exchange rate.

A also added to my TD holdings making it a full satellite position (1.5% of portfolio dividends) due to weakness (can you say Wells Fargo?).

Shifting Sentiments

Generally I put together a watch list quarterly based first on overall portfolio goals.  As an example, the first quarter typically is used to readjust weightings where they’ve gone a little awry – particularly in my anchor and core positions.  This next quarter has historically been goosing returns as its’ priority.  Meaning, adding to out of favor positions (depending on the reason) which carry the highest current yield.  You could say it’s a personalized Dogs Of The Dow approach.  As always, market valuations have the final vote on my actions.

In preparing the list for next quarter, I’m finding more compelling reasons to avoid sectors as opposed to buying:

  • Example 1 – The first legislative test facing the Trump team is today’s vote on health care.  Even putting campaign rhetoric aside which placed a spotlight on the likes of CVS, the actual bill aims directly at Medicaid and indirectly at Medicare recipients.  Assuming the bill passes in its current form (unlikely), estimates are roughly 20 million people will become uninsured.  The indirect impact to health care REITs could blindside some investors.  Using CCP for one, some providers to which they lease could face reimbursement issues.   Simultaneously, the DOJ is pursuing a case alleging Medicare fraud against AET, CI, CNC and HUM.  Then there’s fraud in diagnostics resulting in one bankruptcy.  I think I’ll let the dust settle in this segment before treading any deeper.
  • Example 2 – My expansion into Hong Kong encountered some headwinds.  Swire announced a dividend which was effectively a cut (still figuring the magnitude, but about 38%) primarily on the heels of their 45% ownership stake in Cathay Pacific (CPCAY).  At least the poor fuel hedge (that my analysis missed) expires next year.  And, no, my efforts to increase my diversification outside the US are still intact.  If only the Yen would weaken …

Perhaps a correction is on the horizon as UBS suggests. perhaps not.  But the one certainty is there is plenty of uncertainty – especially with earnings season set to begin again.  I guess I need to finish my taxes to see what the budget for purchases looks like.

My 2017 Strategy (Coca-Cola)

Usually during the third quarter of each year I analyze my portfolio’s performance, do a little tweaking and cast about for an underlying strategy for the new year.  2016 was especially difficult due to a couple of mergers wreaking havoc on my portfolio structure as well as the uncertainty caused by the election.  The easy fix is to add to my anchor, core and satellite holdings at reasonable price points to get them to their target weightings.  This is illustrated by my recent purchases of KMB, CLX and SBUX with more to come.  The more difficult issue was identifying potential value plays for an ancillary portion of the portfolio.

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Some Cracks Begin To Form?

Naysayers of this market (of which I include myself to a degree) have been voicing a concern regarding market valuations.  When reviewing my February results I noticed the average size of  dividend increases was lagging last years’ pace (12.3% in 2016 vs. 7.96% YTD 2017).  One could say it’s too early to make an assessment and that could be true.  But it could also be said that companies are being cautious due to uncertainty in regulations, taxes, inflation and economic growth.  If this were a one-off issue, that would be one thing.  On the other hand I’m starting to see some parallels to times when bubbles existed.

Exhibit #1 – SNAP

When was the last time an IPO was launched successfully with an increased price, profitability uncertain, a twelve month lockup for outside investors and founder retention of roughly 88% of the voting rights?  If so inclined, the safest play is through Comcast (CMCSA)’s roughly 5% ownership of Class A shares.  Can we say dot-com revisited?

Exhibit 2 – Target

Target (TGT – #19) whiffed on earnings and guidance last week.  On one of Lanny’s posts, my comment How many were blindsided by TGT’s report yesterday, how many updated their forward estimates and how many incorporated the fact (illustrated by mgmt) that a turn around was (minimally) two years out and would incur additional costs in store conversions and IT expense?  raised the question Did you, by any chance, seize the opportunity, by the way, at TGT? Or waiting for some dust to settle?. 

The short answer is no and not likely near term.  All retailers are struggling against Amazon (AMZN).  I have exposure to Wal-mart (WMT) through a trust I manage.  WMT is about a year ahead of TGT via their Jet acquisition but still significantly lag AMZN.  The good news is TGT now recognizes a problem.  My question surrounds their execution (and time required).  Yet several bloggers bought this dip.  They may be correct but this one currently carries more risk than reward in my book.

Exhibit 3 – Caterpillar

It’s always disconcerting to have Federal agents raiding corporate offices.  To have it broadcast live on television raises the stakes.  Caterpillar (CAT – #32) experienced this treatment last week.  Not overly surprising as CAT has been embroiled in a dispute with the IRS regarding alleged shifting of profits offshore to a Swiss subsidiary.  What I found interesting was that FDIC regulators participated … which perhaps raises a new question of money laundering?

Exhibit 4 – Costco

Sliding back to the retail space, we have another DGI darling illustrating how customer loyalty should be rewarded.  Costco (COST- #156) reported Y/Y revenue growth due only to new stores and membership fees.  Their response?  Let’s boost revenue growth by raising membership fees further!  Talk about a counter-intuitive response.

These are but a few reasons I believe this market warrants an abundance of caution.

Long: CMCSA, WMT (trust).  Ranking based on DGI popularity list.

Feb 2017 Update

February saw DOW 20,000 being attained (again) then forging a streak of 12 days of record closes.  Uncertainty remains in areas of the ability or  time required to effect change through the legislative process – in particular tax reform, healthcare and border adjustment taxes.  This month The S&P gained 3.72%.  while my portfolio recorded a gain of 0.05%.  The index had a decent earnings season (until TGT) as its tailwind.  After two months, my performance lags the S&P by 1.95%.

Headlines impacting my portfolio:

  • 2/6 – BUSE acquiring FCFP
  • 2/7 – AMC prices secondary
  • 2/10 – BX buys AON HR assets
  • 2/14 – PYPL buys TNCGF
  • 2/17 – KHC announced pursuit of UL
  • 2/21 – PNC acquires US assets of ECNCF
  • 2/21 – JNJ buys Torax (pvt)

Blog Updates:

posts under consideration for Mar are My 2017 Coca-Cola strategy outlined

Portfolio Updates:

  • Added to LB prior to ex-div (a little gamble on earnings that failed)
  • Added to SBUX on weakness prior to ex-div
  • Added to CHD prior to ex-div and the day before the UL/KHC sector bump

Subsequent to the KHC/UL announcement, I made the determination to divest my UL holdings.  Unfortunately over the holiday weekend the offer was withdrawn so my opportunity to sell at a premium evaporated.  So – no sale.

Dividends:

  • February delivered an increase of 24.89% over February 2016.  12.96% of this increase is attributable to purchases with the remaining 87.04% a result of dividend increases.
  • February was flat over the prior quarter (actually $0.01 lower due to exchange rates and a cut).
  • Declared dividend increases averaged 8.06% with 30.64% of my portfolio delivering at least one raise (1 cut – YUM).
  • Dividends received were 14.3% of total 2016 dividends and if the current run rate is maintained would exceed 2016 around October 15th.

Spinoffs:

The MET spin (Brighthouse Financial – BHF) remains pending.

Mergers:

Agrium/POT, JNS/HGG.L remain pending

Why I’m Like Trump (and …

 you could be too)

After an election season, inauguration, semi-messy transition and a weird first month it appears the dust is beginning to settle and a state of normalcy is beginning to take hold.  There remain plenty of pitfalls and Team Trump seems determined to find them all.  Uncertainty and chaos have traditionally been bad for stocks yet the markets have soldiered on powered by promises and hope although the expectation timeline begins to be extended.  Through all this, I’ve remained steadfast in my belief that at its core there is a logic that investors can incorporate into their strategy.  I believe this nugget has been identified and it’s called diversification.

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