Quitting at a loss to free up capital and the mind

Today, I’m writing about one of my (former) best stock ideas which didn’t play out as initially thought. Besides describing the case and the reason that led me to throw in the towel, I also want to use it to show why it’s important to regularly go over one’s portfolio and to cut the weeds.

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Paypal – despite –80%, I think it can fall another 50%

PayPal’s stock was without a doubt one of the highfliers during the 2020–2021 tech mania. At its top, PayPal was valued at around 15x sales, having a market cap of more than 350 bn. USD, despite only 6 bn. USD in free cash flow. Not so surprisingly, the stock came back from this unsustainable level, though many likely didn’t expect to see less than 15x earnings after a drop of 80%. Time for a turnaround? I think this is still a strong value trap, good enough to fall another 50%.

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Why I don’t like diversification

Buying either parts of or even entire other companies is a common way for businesses to grow. This inorganic route though is often used for empire building (higher salaries and bonuses), sometimes even to hide own problems inside the core business (presenting an external growth story) and more often than not destroying shareholder value by overpaying for the targets. Today, I’m discussing a company that is losing through diversification.

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A second look at tobacco stocks after BAT’s gigantic write-down

One the most heavily watched and discussed stocks last week was British American Tobacco after it released a trading update. While the headline read relatively okay-ish, on the following pages they admitted to take a hefty 25 bn. GBP impairment on their US operations with the next earnings. While many see this as a non-event due to not affecting cash flows, I’m looking at it differently. I rather feel confirmed with what I wrote earlier in the year about Altria.

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Today’s tech-leaders… can stop existing tomorrow

Tech stocks, “Big Tech” or the “Magnificent Seven” – the same the names get more stupid, the riskier investing in their stocks becomes. Many do not see it this way. For the bona fide investor these are core investments of their portfolios with great future potential. However, a critical look back at history tells us that the risk / reward ratio is not favorable. Size does not equal safety.

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“Fallen Angels” – why you should be cautious + new research report

No matter whether experienced or not, almost every investor is on the hunt for undervalued stocks to make money. What could be less welcome than a stock which has fallen in price and become cheaper? The problem is, “cheap” is not automatically “cheap”. In fact, buying cheap can become a costly mistake. I see a strict urgency to clean up with this dangerous myth that a stock only has to fall enough to become attractive.

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From hype to bust – the story of 22nd Century Group

Likely, everyone will know a story that kicked a stock into hyposphere, only to fall into dust later. The respective companies either did not recover anymore or went entirely bust. They all share one commonality: a nice story that catches the interest of especially retail investors. But where there is excessive greed without the support of fundamentals, the fall from grace is just around the corner. Here’s an example that was set to disrupt an undisruptable industry: tobacco.

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Not all that glitters is gold – a critical look at Barrick Gold

Everyone who engages with gold mining companies, very early stumbles upon Barrick Gold. It’s a household name and a darling of many. Even though the company describes itself as “world class”, the performance of the underlying business has been terrible – no understatement. There are so many myths about gold, silver and miners that I want to clean up with another such. It is not always the go-to strategy to just pick a household name, assuming size is all that matters.

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Why I am skeptical about the “safe copper bet”

Who hasn’t heard of it, yet? The price of copper, together with the respective miners, can only see one way: up, up and upper! This thesis is based on the ongoing electrification of our society. Where there is electricity, copper is needed. More electricity demand = more copper demand, right? What sounds plausible, has some weak points to it. Actually, I am even skeptical that this will play out in the way that the majority thinks, at the very least in the short to medium term.

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Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield – A steel at 0.3x property value?

Who does not dream of owning at least part of a city’s most valuable properties? And what about several prime locations? Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield is Europe’s biggest owner of mainly shopping malls, but also offices, in many metropolitan areas with high foot traffic. The stock is currently valued at a third of its “net reinstatement value”, i.e. its replacement or asset value as an investor would call it. 33% is less than Buffett’s famous “dollar for 50 cents” – is URW a buy?

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