I Got a Dollar

This morning I bought 7 shares of Dollar General stock for $110.57 a piece or 773.99 total. I am left with $5,949 to work with. I have invested just over 40% of my original 10K into 5 different companies. I hope to diversify a little more, making smaller positions going forward. I intend to buy somewhere between 12 and 15 companies total.

Why DG

As a dollar store, Dollar General sells cheap items providing great value to their customers. How can you make money selling things for a dollar? Well as it turns out DG is able to make a whole lot of money selling at discount prices. This past quarter they sold almost 6.5 billion dollars worth of goods and earned 407 million on those sales. By selling only a limited number of SKU’s and ordering in huge quantities the company can source products at bare bone prices. When they buy from a supplier, they are making an order for a company with over 14,000 stores. This leads to great economies of scale. Additionally, they only target small inexpensive items. Don’t expect to find a new car in a dollar general.

What separates Dollar General from their competition is their focus on location and on the customer experience. Instead of targeting large cities, they focus on small towns. Think of how Sam Walton built Wal Mart and his focus on rural america but at a micro level. These small towns aren’t large enough to support a Wal Mart or a Target and they are difficult to reach for Amazon. For Dollar General however they are moneymakers. DG builds out small stores, under 10,000 square feet and stocks them with brands consumers want. They also take great care in design. Every store is bright and welcoming, encouraging shoppers to come more often and spend more.

Financially, the company has performed superbly. While not the fastest grower, they have increased both sales and net income every year since going public in 2010. I particularly like the way Dollar General has been able to plow down their share count. At the start of 2014, DG had over 317 million shares outstanding. That number now stands at 266 million, a 16% reduction. This cutback is substantial. Each share now owns considerably more of the company, therefore a larger share of a growing stream of income.

The company is also becoming a free cash flow machine. This past year their cash flow from operations equaled 1.8 billion and had 640 million in capital expenditures, leaving them with almost 1.2 billion in free cash. They were able to use this free cash to pay a reasonable dividend, buyback a meaningful amount of shares and pay off a fair amount of debt. This free cash number should grow meaningfully over the years.

DG is now trading right around a 20 P/E. While not incredibly low, it is a fair price to pay for a strong and growing company. Remember as a GARP investor, I’m not looking for the cheapest possible company. I’m looking for a great company to hold for years into the future and if I can find such a company, I’m willing to pay a reasonable price. Dollar General has ticked my boxes and therefore I’ve decided to become an owner.

As always thanks for reading and subscribe on the side! Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @thegarpivnestor

 

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Tesla And The Horse Race

Elon Musk never ceases to amaze me. He is obviously brilliant and one of the great visionaries of our time. I respect his relentlessness and envy all that he has accomplished in such a short amount of time. That being said, his love of the spotlight might spell trouble for investors. He is volatile and such volatility can be scary. Who knows what he might tweet next? “I’ve decided to retire from Tesla and teach a heard of sheep to communicate through a series of blinks.” “My intern looked at me funny yesterday, I have removed the entire executive staff.” I don’t know what to expect next, but I do love the ride. It is incredibly exciting to watch, but as an investor I find it best to just steer clear of Tesla. They very well could become the world’s greatest company, it just isn’t worth the risk in my book. GARP investing is about compounding safely. We are playing a game of probabilities and there is a far larger than 0% chance this could all blow up and go to 0.

The Parimutuel System 

Investing is a lot like betting on a horse race. I’ll leave it up to the always cheerful Charlie Munger to explain, he is far wiser than I could ever hope of becoming. Here is an excerpt from his article

A Lesson on Elementary, Worldly Wisdom As It Relates to Investment Management & Business.

The model I like—to sort of simplify the notion of what goes on in a market from common stocks—is the pari-mutual system at the racetrack. If you stop to think about it, a pari-mutual system is a market. Everybody goes there and bets and the odds change based on what has been bet. That is what happens in a stock market.

Any damn fool can see that a horse carrying a light weight with a wonderful win rate and a good post position etc., etc. is way more likely to win than a horse with a terrible record and extra weight and so on and so on. But if you look at the damn odds, the bad horse pays 100 to 1, whereas the good horse pays 3 to 2. Then it is not clear which is statistically the best bet using the mathematics of Fermet and Pascal.

The prices have changed in such a way that it is very heard to beat the system.
And then the track is taking 17% of the top. So not only do you have to outwit all the other betters, but you have got to outwit them by such a big margin that on average you can afford to take 17% of your gross bets off the top and give it to the house
before the rest of your money can be put to work.

To simplify, we are looking to find a misplaced bet. It isn’t hard to tell what horse is the biggest and strongest. What is hard is figuring out which horse is trading at the best chance of winning given their odds. Let’s examine Tesla’s horse racing situation:

Tesla itself is a fine horse. They create great products that consumers love. Elon Musk is a true visionary and therefore a very able jockey. That all sounds great, but this isn’t an easy horse race. They are up against some of the finest horses around. American companies GM and Ford are strong entrenched competitors, having been in business for over a century. They also must face off against technological juggernauts from Japan and the elite engineering of the Germans. Not to mention the dozens of other brands that have found their own footholds.

If that weren’t tough enough, Tesla is being priced for perfection. They are no longer a small start up worth a couple of billion dollars. They have a market cap of nearly 50 billion, larger than GM or Ford. They are priced to be the leader in car manufacturing without yet proving they can do so. Maybe they can, but that doesn’t mean I have to place a bet.

I prefer to bet on a race that doesn’t leave so much up to chance. What us GARP investors are looking for is a race with a dominant horse that is getting faster, led by a great jockey who has weak competition. This is the horse racing equivalent of a moat. The next step is to examine the betting odds. Everyone can identify when there is a leader with no competition and therefore the odds become unfavorable. Think about basketball for a second. If we bet on the Golden State Warriors to win another championship, our odds aren’t going to be great. Everyone knows they are elite and therefore the payout is minimal. Therefore we want misjudged odds where we can find value. If we can find those variables we should place our bet and bet big.

Conclusion

I find everything about Tesla to be fascinating. Musk is truly one of a kind and I can’t wait to see what happens next. That being said, I think it is wise to avoid investing in TSLA. I choose instead to look for stocks that are simpler and less risky.

As always thanks for reading and subscribe to see what’s next!

The Double Dip!

I’ve gone ahead and hitched my wagon to Mark Zuckerberg. I bought 5 shares of FB on Friday for $878.90 and another share on Tuesday for $168.94 after seeing the company fall another 3.5% for a grand total of $1,047.84. I broke one of my original rules, never go above 10% in one company. Rules however are meant to be broken, I saw an opportunity and jumped on it. Besides I only stuck a toe over that 10% line.

I also purchased 5 shares of IPGP, the premier laser company in the world. Shares were down over 4% today, so I used this as a buying opportunity. I got in at $161.74 a piece for a total of $808.70. I continue to love the company and consider this to just be a blip on the radar.

For those keeping track, I now own 4 stocks and still have $6,723 out of my original 10K with which to buy more!

Why Facebook?

Facebook is one of the most phenomenal companies of my investing lifetime. Started in 2004, they are already one of the largest companies in the world. They IPO’d in 2012 at a market cap of 104 Billion. They now sit at 412 Billion meaning they have come close to quadrupling in that time period. Will they quadruple again over the next 6 years? Most likely not, but I wouldn’t completely rule it out. I do however think they have a great chance of outperforming the S&P 500 over the next 5 to 10 years by a considerable margin.

Commonly lumped in to a group called FANG stocks, I actually think they share a lot more in common with Google and Microsoft than they do with Netflix and Amazon. I find Amazon and Netflix to be almost impossible to value. They are great companies that provide incredible products to their consumers. That being said, Netflix continues to be cash flow negative and Amazon is in a world of their own in terms of valuation. I’d rather just stay away. Facebook, Google and Microsoft can all be valued by traditional value investing principles. They create meaningful profits and turn those profits into incredible amounts of free cash flow.

Let’s look at what makes Facebook so compelling. Over the last 5 years, sales have skyrocketed from 7.8 billion to 40.6 billion. This gives us a CAGR of 38.87%. EPS grew from .6 to 6.16 over the same time period, giving us a CAGR of 58.87%. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell this is phenomenal. FB now sits at a P/E of 23.65, a laughably low number considering how fast it has grown in the past. They are sitting on 41 Billion dollars of cash and short term investments without having a single dollar of debt. That is simply incredible.

The past however does not automatically promise future performance. We have to examine what Facebook’s future holds. After their latest quarterly release, the stock plummeted from fears of reduction in future growth. I find these fears unfounded. Of course FB has to slow down. If they continued to compound above 50%, they would be bigger than the entire S&P in a short amount of time.

In the short term, there will be pain. Just today, representatives of the company are testifying before congress about what they can do to stop meddling in the midterm elections. This once again represents short term thinking. Facebook is a platform that is singlehandedly strong enough to affect a US election. That power is only growing stronger. They have daily users that number almost 1.5 billion and monthly users above 2.2 billion. They have barely even started monetizing the platform. Just the talk that FB could get into dating caused dating juggernaut Match Group’s stock to fall 20% in a day. It is a platform of strength never before seen in US history.

Instagram

I have yet to even mention Instagram, one of the most popular social media platforms and one of Facebook’s chief “competitors.” You see, Facebook bought Instagram for 1 Billion in 2012, proving they have their eye on the ball in the acquisition space. Some estimate Instagram alone could be worth upwards of 100 billion, 1/4 FB‘s total market cap. Yesterday rumors abounded that Instagram is developing a new shopping app. This platform is still in its infancy, just figuring out ways to monetize for shareholders.

The truth is we don’t know what the future holds for this company. We can merely look at their past success and determine whether we think the future is bright. In my opinion Facebook will be a trillion dollar company in the not too distant future and who knows how large it could grow. Stop thinking in the short term, but determine whether you want to own a company for the next decade.

Lasers

IPGP holds a particularly soft spot in my heart. You see for a while, it was by far my best investment ever. Within a year of buying it in my personal account, I had gained over 200% more than tripling my initial investment. Of course, nothing is ever as good as it seems. While the business was going gangbusters, the Trump administration laid out tariffs that have caused Chinese companies(IPGP‘s largest customers) to reconsider how much they will spend on capital expenditures. You see, lasers powered technology are large up front capital requirements and given a trade war, companies don’t want to commit to large spending given the uncertainty. That 200% investment within one year has fallen to a 100% gain within two. Still not too shabby!

I’m willing to sustain some short term pressure to buy into a fantastic company with long term advantages. IPGP sells lasers that enable manufacturers to cut their costs. A business that allows their consumers to cut their own costs has a recipe for success. They are simply selling a better technology. Metal cutting and abrasion systems wear out, whereas lasers are more precise, cost less and last longer. This has translated into robust sales growth, which has in turn led to much greater profits.

Given how long I talked about FB, I didn’t want to get too far into the weeds with IPGP. Just know they are a great company with a long track record. They have a squeaky clean balance sheet and generate loads of cash. Who knows how long this trade war will last, but when its over, I expect IPGP to burst out of the gate at a sprint. I’m willing to hold on to this gem for the very long term.

As always, thanks for reading and subscribe!

 

Stock #2 (HII)

I logged on this morning and bought my second stock for the portfolio. Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) is a military shipbuilder and the leading supplier of the United States military. I got in today at $249.00 and purchased 3 shares for a total of $747.00. I still have $8,579.88 of cash left in my 10K Portfolio.

Why HII?

From a broad perspective, I often like to have an impetus behind an investment. You need to be able to tell a story and then focus in on the minutia. Looking at the Trump administration, I don’t think it is a stretch to say he favors a growing military budget. This set me on a quest to look at all the public military contractors. One thing I noticed is that they are almost all great companies. It is no wonder the US military spending is so large and growing. From there I determined HII was my favorite and have been following it ever since.

Huntigton Ingalls is a classic high moat company. They are the leading supplier of the US Navy, supplying over 70% of all ships. They are the only company capable of building and refueling nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and one of only two that can build a nuclear powered submarine. They were spun off from Northrop Grumman in 2011. Spin offs are often a good candidate for research, as they are not always properly valued. Seven years later, HII continues to gain market share and grow their earnings.

HII generates ample free cash flow each and every year. You might start to sense a theme, I prefer companies with lots of leftover cash ever year. This gives a company flexibility, they aren’t constrained to any one strategy. Should they see a good acquisition opportunity then great, otherwise they can pay out dividends or buy back shares of the company. The board recently increased the buyback allowance from 1.2 billion to 2.2 billion. If my math suits me correctly 2.2 billion is just over 20% of the entire company. They won’t buy it all back overnight, but the share count should fall dramatically over time.

While 2017 wasn’t quite a banner year, they more than made up for it in the first half of 2018. Due to lower taxes, a reduced share count and higher sales and margins earnings increased YoY from 3.21 to 5.40. That’s an increase of 68% in a single calendar year. While we can’t expect such growth going forward, that would be impossible. The company will continue to perform with precision.

Conclusion

Huntington Ingalls is a simple but extremely well run company. They will never be the fastest growing company, but they are almost guaranteed to grow at a decent clip over time. They have a growing backlog that will keep them busy for years to come. As of the end of 2017 their backlog stood at $21.4 billion. The company will continue to buy back shares and grow their earnings. They are trading at a reasonable multiple and over the course of 5-10 years the company will be considerably larger.

My First Purchase

Guess what? I bought my first stock this week for my 10K Portfolio! I am now the proud owner of 4 shares of the Lear corporation(LEA). I purchased 4 shares for 168.28 a piece for a grand total of $673.12. This still leaves me with a cash position of $9,326.88. Of course as soon as I bought it, the stock continued to fall. O well. If an immediate fall in price causes you trauma, I fear investing in stocks just might not be for you. Keeping an even temperament is probably even more important than a high IQ.

Why Today?

When I logged on to Robin Hood on Wednesday, I checked my watch list and saw that Lear was down almost 3.5%. Seeing that a stock I follow is down, I made a quick google check to see if there was any news. Turns out that there is increased worry about trade within the auto sector in NAFTA. The trade war is real and it may materially impact the earning power of the business. That being said, I think the company exhibits a strong moat and this is just providing an opportunity to buy a stock on the cheap. Would I have rather made my initial position even lower? Of course, but you never know when you will find the bottom. Buy in and if it falls lower, buy more.

Digging Deeper

Lear now sits at a P/E of 9.06. According to the Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 average P/E is 23.79. This means that on just a P/E basis, Lear is almost 1/3 the price of the S&P 500. Looked at another way, Lear’s earnings could be cut in half and their P/E ratio would still be noticeably cheaper than the S&P 500.

As mentioned in my Watch List post, Lear is a vertically integrated manufacturer of automated seats for automobiles. It is simply the best in the business, displaying a wide moat. In the last 5 years it has increased sales from 16.2 billion in 2013 to 20.5 billion in 2017. EPS grew even faster going from 5.61 to 17.66 in the same time period. In 2017, Lear generated just under 1.2 billion dollars in free cash flow. Based on the current market cap of 10.9 billion, it has a free cash flow yield of 10.9%.

I also like what management had to say in their most recent annual report.

We also have an outstanding record of returning cash to our shareholders. Since we initiated dividend and share repurchase programs in 2011, we have returned more than $4 billion to our shareholders, which includes buying back 42% of  our shares outstanding and steadily increasing our quarterly cash dividend.

I believe that this is a great time to invest in Lear. We have the strongest team in the industry, a focused strategy that is delivering superior results, a growing market share in both business segments, a footprint that is second to none, a well-established and growing position in china and a record three-year sales backlog of $3.2 billion.

Conclusion 

Lear is a classic GARP stock, growing at a fast rate and selling for a bargain price. Even if it is impacted by this trade war, they have the financial strength to withstand a couple of tough years. 5-10 years from now they will be a significantly bigger business which earns appreciably more free cash. The company should actually be rooting for the stock price to fall. Given that they spend so much on share buybacks, Lear could buy back considerably more shares should the stock fall or remain flat.

 

 

Building a Watch List

Before you can buy a stock, creating a watch list is vitally important. A proper watch list focuses your attention and lets you weed through most of the junk. I am attempting to put together a list of companies that could be interesting should they hit a reasonable price. That’s not to say you should automatically buy them, but they deserve a closer look. For that matter, they may already be at a perfectly reasonable price, but there is no rush to buy in. I am looking to buy stocks for the long run. If you intend to hold a stock for 10+ years, waiting weeks or even months before you pull the trigger isn’t all that important. It is far more important to make sure you pick the right companies rather than picking the right price.

5 Stocks to Look at:

Here are 5 stocks I’m currently looking at. Each of these companies displays classic GARP tendencies. They grow revenue and earnings each and every year, employ limited amounts of debt and can be found at reasonable P/E ratios. My own personal list is over 40 companies long, but I don’t have the time for a write up on each of them.

ODFL

Old Dominion Freight Line is a less than truckload freight company. An essential part of the economy, trucks are always in need. While rail is still the cheapest way to ship coast to coast, you need a way of getting items to and from the warehouse. ODFL is best in class for smaller orders, where a full truckload isn’t quite necessary. A classic capital compounder. Since they went public in 1991, this stock has gone up over 70x. Last quarter YoY revenue growth of 23% and EPS YoY growth of  65.8%. Can’t ask for much more than that.

LEA

Lear Corp. manufactures a product you all have probably sat on and never even thought about. They are a vertically integrated world leader in automated seats for automobiles. They really only do one thing, but they do it incredibly well. They generate a tremendous amount of free cash flow, which enables them to buy back shares of the company in droves. At the start of 2014 they had 81 million shares outstanding. That number now stands at 66 million. Every shareholder should be happy to now own significantly more of the company.

IPGP

The leader in laser technology, IPG Photonics creates laser powered technology that is sold to manufacturers around the globe. These lasers enable manufacturers to produce items at a lower cost, which encourages more spending on CapEx. These lasers are used in all kinds of fields ranging from car manufacturing all the way to medical devices. The total addressable market is massive. They have hit a bit of a hiccup lately due to the Trump administration trade war, given that their main customers are foreign manufacturers. For that reason I think it is best to wait and see how this trade war plays out.

APH

Amphenol develops small components and connectors used in complex electronic machinery. They are a company no one would ever think of, but sells more every single year. They sell to virtually every industry imaginable. Like others on this list, they generate ample free cash flow. They use this free cash every year to make acquisitions, buy back stock and pay a growing dividend. A classic compounder, since going public in 1992 they have been a 200 bagger.

FB

Given that we’ve gone over a bunch of really well known names, let’s look at one nobody has heard of. Just kidding of course. Facebook is one of the biggest, strongest companies on earth. They have fallen a bit lately due to fears of slowing growth rates and falling margins. I feel these fears are short sighted. Looking years into the future, we simply don’t know how strong a network Facebook could be. They already have daily average users of nearly 1.5 billion, a number that is still growing rapidly. Given how many people are on the platform, monetization is only just beginning. They make their money primarily through advertising, but could start making money through any number of different avenues. How about the fact that they also own Instagram? 10-20 years from now I think we could legitimately be looking at Facebook as a multi trillion dollar company.

Thanks for reading. Comment any companies you have on your own watch list. As always follow along and subscribe!

 

 

The 10K Portfolio

For my first project on this blog I’m starting a real life portfolio and showing you step by step how I go about constructing it. I am contributing $10,000.00 out of my own pocket into a Robin Hood account. I plan on never adding a dime, so all gains(I hope) will be due to prudent investments.

Why 10k and Robin Hood?

I chose $10,000.00 as the starting amount for a reason. 10K is a large enough amount that it proves you are committed to saving over merely consuming. I feel that it is an amount attainable by most anyone. If you cut back on luxuries and dedicate yourself to saving, I really believe anyone can reach that amount. Whether it takes a couple of months or a few years, just keep saving. It is also large enough that it could one day turn into a huge amount if you let compounding work its magic.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with Robin Hood, but for those who aren’t the app allows you to make commission free trades. For a portfolio this small, this feature is vitally important. If I were to use another broker, commissions could quickly eat into my returns. Imagine using a broker with $10 fees for every trade. If you only bought stocks 10 times, commissions would total $100. $100 is already 1% of the total portfolio and that is only trading 10 times in an entire year. Hard to beat the S&P if you are being handicapped by commissions.

I will be benchmarking this portfolio against the S&P 500 index SPY which currently stands at 285.06. It is not enough to just make money, you can put your money into risk free government bonds and make a positive return. Rather, you have to outperform what you can get by buying an index fund, if you want to prove your merit. You will see in real time whether I’m successful or not. Copy me, berate me over my irrational picks or cheer me on. I’m in no way guaranteeing success, but I do have faith in my abilities to compound.

This portfolio’s performance will be judged over the course of years, not months. Don’t be surprised to see early underperforamance.  It takes time for a company’s market value to reflect their real intrinsic value. I’ll update results every quarter as well as an update any time I buy or sell a stock. I encourage you all to follow along, or even better create your own 10K portfolio and we can compare!

Keys To Success

  1. Long term performance over short term mentality
  2. No more than 10% into any one stock, diversification is important.
  3. Buy a great company at a fair price, rather than a fair company at a great price.

Thanks for reading!

Welcome!

Hey there and welcome to my new blog! As some of you might know, I used to run a blog called Tuckerinvesting.com. You can still find the site, I pay a menial fee to keep it up and running. I ran the blog for about a year, but ultimately gave it up when I failed to attract a meaningful following. I figured it simply wasn’t worth taking the time to write up a post if nobody was going to read it. Well, hell with it! After a long hiatus, this blog boy (shout out Kevin Durant) is finally back in action and better than ever.

Every now and then I like to reminisce and read some of my old writings. Sometimes I was right, sometimes I was wrong, but mostly I think I was young and naive. Naive in my thinking, naive in my belief that you could only invest the same way I do, and moreover naive in how easy I thought it would be to attract readers without doing any real marketing.

Why The GARP Investor?

Part of my problem was that I failed to identify my niche and therefore failed to find the right readers.  In order to be successful, every investor has to identify the style that fits their personality. There are all kinds of ways to be successful in investing. Some people focus on commodities, shifting in and out when they find price discrepancies. Others like to short companies, capitalizing on failing businesses. Some can even find success investing in cryptocurrencies(though you won’t find me barking up that tree.) None of these are necessarily wrong, they just don’t work for me personally.

After doing some soul searching, I finally arrived at my own style. It is commonly referred to as GARP investing or growth at a reasonable price. I’ll leave it up to Warren Buffett to explain it in his words found in the Berkshire Hathaway 1996 annual report:

 

To invest successfully, you need not understand beta, efficient 
markets, modern portfolio theory, option pricing or emerging markets.  
You may, in fact, be better off knowing nothing of these.  That, of 
course, is not the prevailing view at most business schools, whose 
finance curriculum tends to be dominated by such subjects.  In our view, 
though, investment students need only two well-taught courses - How to 
Value a Business, and How to Think About Market Prices.

Your goal as an investor should simply be to purchase, at a rational 
price, a part interest in an easily-understandable business whose 
earnings are virtually certain to be materially higher five, ten and 
twenty years from now.  Over time, you will find only a few companies 
that meet these standards - so when you see one that qualifies, you 
should buy a meaningful amount of stock.  You must also resist the 
temptation to stray from your guidelines:  If you aren't willing to own a 
stock for ten years, don't even think about owning it for ten minutes.  
Put together a portfolio of companies whose aggregate earnings march 
upward over the years, and so also will the portfolio's market value.

Astute investors will obviously notice why I have named this blog The GARP Investor. I am indeed paying homage to the grandfather of value investing, Benjamin Graham, who famously wrote The Intelligent Investor

With that, I encourage you all to follow along and subscribe.

Thanks for reading!