I can’t believe how fast this year has blown by, but alas here we are at the beginning of Q4. I suppose life always feels like it is moving along at a blistering pace, but maybe due to turning 30 this year, I have started seeing things a bit differently. If the the first week of the 4th quarter is any indication, we may be in for a bumpy ride. Volatility is up and the news feels rather incendiary lately. Time will tell how things shake out.
Bitcoin is nearing an all time high, NFT’s are all the rage, yet I continue to invest in “boring” companies like Google and Facebook. Imagine saying that a decade ago, things sure do change. I continue to root against Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but this is mostly just a personal vendetta. I dislike watching anyone get rich in what I consider to be the easy way. Of course for many, that path was anything but easy. Investing in an incredibly volatile asset class is taxing on the soul.
I have come around to believing that Bitcoin has become a digital replacement for gold. A store of value that doesn’t come with the burden of being heavy to carry and expensive to house. Given that the market cap of gold is now over $10 trillion, I can understand why there is such a desire. The total crypto market cap hovers around $2 trillion, with Bitcoin comprising about half of that. Should Bitcoin supplant gold, we could see that gap close or Bitcoin could one day even eclipse gold . Will that happen? I have no idea, but it wouldn’t shock me. For that reason however, Bitcoin makes for an absolutely horrendous currency. Why would you ever want to spend a Bitcoin if you anticipate the price to rise in the future? This is a classic example of deflation. Deflation encourages hoarding, as each unit will become worth more in the future. Inflation however does the opposite, it encourages spending, which is what makes our economy go. This is the reason the fed targets a 2-3% annual inflation rate.
That all being said, I’ve never been a big proponent for investing in gold. Gold is pretty to look at, but comes with virtually no utility. It produces no cash flow and provides society with very little benefit. Call me old fashioned, but I like to invest in profitable cash flowing assets. Maybe I’m a man of a previous age, but I’m going to continue down the GARP path. I’m trying to temper down my biases and just applaud those who have made great fortunes in crypto or gold for that matter. They can make money in their way and I can make it in mine, the two need not be in competition.
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As of 10/1/2021, my 10K portfolio climbed to $17,550.72. When I started on 8/19/18, the SPY had a price of $285.06 and my account started with $10,000. As of 10/1/2021 the SPY had a price of $429.14. In reality, the SPY has done even better due to dividends given out, so I have accounted for dividend reinvestment in the return calculation.
|||10K Return(1)||SPY Return(2)||Difference(1-2)|
Thankfully, my outperformance has continued. Q3 was particularly strong, as I was only beating the SPY by 1.76% at the midyear. This improved to a 4.99% delta by the end of September. I’m now beating the S&P index by 16.42% since inception. While no year had a huge outperformance, the gains have been steady. This has translated into more than satisfactory results .
As usual, this wouldn’t be complete without mentioning what has happened with the Nasdaq, that damned tough competitor. I might need to call up Tonya Harding to get some advice on taking out the competition. Beating the S&P is great, but if you lose out to the other big index are your returns all that great? I’d say no. In the same time frame I’ve been investing this account, I could have put my money in QQQ and done a hell of a lot better. Since inception, QQQ with dividends reinvested is up 103.96%, a whopping 28.46% above me. Just know if the tide ever turns and I start beating the Nasdaq, perhaps start building your ark because we know the world must be coming to an end.
We can see my cash value has dropped to $33.35 meaning I am now almost fully invested.
NTDOY– Nintnedo is a company most of you probably know. As for myself, they have literally been a part of my entire life. My brother’s NES was located in my bedroom from the day I was born(we used to share a room.) I grew up playing their games and never really stopped. They are probably the best known and most storied video game company in the world. The created iconic IP like Super Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong and Kirby amongst a host of so many others. Maybe most importantly, they own a significant percentage of The Pokemon Company. Pokemon is an entity with near limitless possibilities. 2019 brought us the movie Detective Pikachu, which I believe to be just the beginning of Pokemon’s world dominance in all entertainment facets. I think without a doubt, Nintendo owns the best collection of video game IP in the entire world.
This is not my first foray into video game industry investment, if you have been following me for some time, you will know I was previously an owner of EA. I didn’t like the trajectory I saw EA going, but I think the industry as a whole has never had a brighter future. According to USA Today, the global video game market is now bigger than the global movie and music industries put together and growth remains strong. Video games are so profitable and it makes sense when you think about it. A hit game can be produced one time for a relatively low fixed amount of money. Particularly when downloaded digitally, every new game sold has virtually no variable cost. If you can sell tens of millions of copies of a game at $50-60 a pop, you can’t help but make a ton of money. Animal Crossing: New Horizons for instance sold 31.8 million copies in 2020, netting Nintendo over $1 billion in sales on a single game. I can’t find how much it cost them to produce, but I promise you it is a whole lot less than it costs to produce a big budget superhero movie like Avengers: Endgame. Endgame cost Disney around $356 Million to produce(still very well worth it on Disney’s end.)
Nintendo’s stock has fallen a fair amount this past year due to fears over the console cycle. The switch has undoubtedly been a spectacular performer, but the question is how do you follow that up? In a previous cycle, the Wii sold incredibly, but the next generation Wii U was a disaster. It sold terribly and Nintendo struggled for an entire cycle. Could that happen again? Yes, but I think the strategy is slightly different today and the company has learned from previous mistakes. I believe Nintendo has taken a page out of the Apple playbook and has focused on continuous improvement and iteration, rather than replacement. They just released an OLED model, which is the exact same console, but with a better screen and longer battery life. Next year I expect them to release a Pro model, with all kinds of enhancements, but keeping the core setup and infrastructure in place. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. No need to reinvent the wheel, just keep making it better and faster. I didn’t touch on the numbers today and why I love Nintendo, but I hope to post a Twitter thread soon showing why they are such a great company.
While everyone knows Nintendo, unless you are in the investment world, nobody knows SS&C. SS&C provides the backend technology platform to financial and healthcare firms. Customers such as wealth management firms and hedge funds will buy their software and subscribe on a yearly basis. Much like why I love Constellation Software, switching costs in technology providers are high. A firm’s entire staff is trained on that platform and the platform has all the proprietary data. Switching becomes difficult because you would need to transfer all that data over and it very well may not be compatible with the new system. You would also need to retrain the entire staff on a completely new setup. As long as you aren’t being gouged on price, it is a whole lot easier to just keep the status quo. A new software would need to be much better to make a switch worth it, not just a little. Should that technology really be better, SS&C is the gorilla in the room. They are more likely to buy you out than let you supplant them.
Much like all companies I choose to invest in, SS&C is a cash flow monster. In the trailing 12 months, SS&C did over $1.3 billion in FCF. Capital expenditures were only $36 million. In 2016, that FCF number was roughly $350 million, meaning the company has nearly quadrupled in the last five years. It also costs virtually nothing to run the business. No expensive property or machinery to invest in. This allows them to funnel all that cash into other areas such as acquisitions. Management is always key and SS&C has a great manager. CEO and Founder Bill Stone started the company in 1986 out of his basement. He has been running the company longer than I’ve been alive. He has made himself a fortune in the process, but been a diligent steward of shareholder capital. I do not expect to see growth anywhere near the level we’ve seen this past five years, but that’s not necessary to make this a great investment. The stock currently trades at under 15x FCF. A fantastic company trading at a reasonable price, sounds pretty GARPy to me.
This quarter, I decided to turn on the dividend reinvestment plan. For those unaware, the plan automatically reinvests all dividends back into the giving company at current market prices. I previously believed it to be better to receive the cash and allocate it in the future as I best saw fit. Over time though, I noticed this to be a drag on my performance. I might hold onto cash too long and miss opportune entry points. By turning on the DRIP, it automates the process and removes my human foibles. Due to the small size of this account, the tiny purchases are a bit comical, but over time they will add up. For instance, on 9/16 I got a dividend of $6.64 from Home Depot. This was reinvested, so I am now the proud owner of an additional .02 shares of HD.
As always, I would like to thank you for taking the time to give this a read I know this was a long one! Feel free to leave some comments or questions. Best way to reach me is on Twitter, follow me @TheGarpInvestor.