Portfolio composition (Snazzytime)

Following on from riccie, I’ll bear my soul with my portfolio percentages.

I’ve taken a very different approach but happy to receive any comments, critical or otherwise.

These positions are as at the end of Q1 2021.

BOO 4.7%
KWS 4.6%
BVIC 4.1%
AVON 3.8%
AUTO 3.6%
Fundsmith 3.6%
JOUL 3.5%
VCT 3.5%
SMDS 3.3%
IOM 3.2%
SOM 3.1%
CHRT 3.1%
MRL 3.0%
DOM 3.0%
LTG 2.9%
NCC 2.9%
BME 2.9%
ABDP 2.7%
ITV 2.7%
SUS 2.5%
DVO 2.6%
PAY 2.4%
GNC 2.4%
INL 2.3%
EQN 2.2%
VTU 2.1%
ESNT 2.0%
ACSO 1.3%
MTVW 1.3%
BVXP 1.2%
SYS1 1.1%
Cash 12.4%

Snazzy

2 Likes

Hi Snazzy,

Many thanks for the list! I am familiar with about a third of the shares, having looked at BOO, AVON, VCT, SOM, DOM, ABDP and ACSO for SharePad and owning SUS, MTVW, BVXP and SYS1 myself. I am vaguely aware of most of the others, but some I do not know.

My first thought is whether 31 holdings with none greater than 4.7% is likely to outperform in any significant way.

Mind you, you have said you are a relative novice so a good spread of shares is understandable. And you may have trounced the markets anyway!

At the moment I struggle to see an over-riding theme or stock-picking approach at play here, other than a bias towards small- and mid-cap shares.

But I think over time you may gravitate towards a particular investing style and perhaps concentrate on your best ideas with fewer holdings. Keeping with 31 names of no more than 5% may in the long run give a performance similar to holding some small/mid-cap funds, but without the aggro of worrying over individual shares.

Would be useful to understand if you have a weighting limit in place, where anything over, say 5%, is trimmed and recycled into something else and thereby keeping the weightings quite low. How would you enjoy the returns of a Games Workshop-type multi-bagger?

How will the 12% cash be deployed? More positions, or top-ups of existing holdings?

Maynard

Thanks for your advice Maynard.

I fully expected that very valid overview and cannot disagree.

Agree - best to say that I’m still feeling my way although I have tended to have an appetite for growth over income but mindful of the higher risks.

Yes I have had in mind a weighting limit of 5/6% having been badly burnt in the past holding onto (for me) a sizeable holding of bank shares during employment which represented around 60/70% of my ‘portfolio’ at the time. It ultimately cost me dearly when the 2008 banking crash arrived. That was quite a wake up call.

I have tended to do some top slicing and re-allocate across my best existing ideas or a new watchlist share. Currently I open a position with cash cost of 1.5%-3% of portfolio (depending on confidence) and top up along the way but with a maximum cash investment per share of 5% of current portfolio total.

I am aware that if I am to achieve superior returns I will need to develop a more concentrated portfolio. Ultimately I need to reach a balance of increased concentration but still being able to sleep comfortably. That is of course a very personal sweet spot to hit.

Of course we all strive to have a Games Workshop multi-bagger in our portflio. Indeed I should own one (Boohoo) but due to lack of confidence / experience I sold at 60p when it double bagged. I bought in again at 175p but the lesson was learnt.

I do have some double baggers which may yet have the legs to become multi baggers (KWS / AVON / MRL / ABDP / SOM) so I’ll be looking to run my winners in future, unless the investment thesis radically changes.

Cash will be used to top up existing holdings when opportunities arise. I regard my current 30 equity holdings (plus Fundsmith) as being a maximum. Ideally I intend to reduce this over the next 12/18 months to a maximum of 20 and increase my maximum individual holding to around 10%-12%.

Snazzy

1 Like

Hi Snazzy

I’ve looked at Somero in the past and found myself lacking enthusiasm. The metrics are great in terms of ROCE, CROCI, EBIT margin and FCF conversion but…

Revenue and EPS grew for 3 of the last 4 years but dropped last year to the level of 4 years ago. Meanwhile the share price has been oddly unlinked, growing for 2 years, then going back to base in 2019, when the company was growing. Then the shares have climbed since the start of 2020, while the financials went into decline. Covid-19 seems to have knocked them hard. Is it the talk of stimulus spend that makes you believe the company will get back on a growth trajectory?

1 Like

hi Diogenes

I like the metrics, strong returns and strong cash position. Excellent yield including special dividends.

Their strength is in the North American market which appears to have healthy pent up demand. Stimulus likely to help and their product range appears to have a ‘best in class’ standing with high barriers to entry.

I first bought in 2017 and have since topped up along the way. If I include the dividend (including another special) due to be paid on 30/4 then I have already had a shade over 20% of my capital returned via dividends. Add to that a capital appreciation of 40% then what’s not to like? I’m happy to run this one while the North American market remains in good shape.

The real dogs in my portfolio are EQN and ESNT, both of which I have held for 4/5 years and which I probably should have pulled the plug some time ago. They are currently showing losses of 48% and 40% respectively (including dividends received).

Snazzy

I

1 Like

@Snazzytime I saw your post and thought of this video. It might be useful watching for you

the video I was initially after was one where Mark makes the point if you have a 1% portfolio position ( say something you once held and it has tanked by 90%) then it is far better just to sell and move on, to clear it out and free up your head space. Because even for such a share to double in price in future would have an immaterial impact on your portfolio. His main point was to ‘get rid of the noise’

Apologies I cannot find this video but I felt the above was also relevent to your portfolio which at first glance appears quite diversified. Perhaps you will let me know if it was relevent content.

I do very much rate this guy’s perspective.

Edit: it is this video at 11:48, but worth watching the first 11 mins to get context https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vS4xikmIlfQ

1 Like

Thanks riccie

I watched the 2nd video (the one you originally intended to send) which was very interesting. Some observations:

  1. The long tail of small investments doesn’t really apply to my portfolio as my range is very narrow, unlike his example which had a spread from 0.1% to 20%+. Non of my holdings is below 1% and some of my smaller holdings are just an initial opening position. However the point is well made that these small and rather irrelevant holdings are best disposed of unless you have the conviction to add new money to them.

  2. Having an ‘at cost’ limit for any one holding is excellent advice as I have learnt to my cost. My two largest ‘at cost’ holdings in the past 7 years have both been failures. In both cases I should have ceased averaging down much earlier. I now apply a 5% maximum ‘at cost’ limit.

  3. Even if you apply strict selling criteria, it still wont stop you making some bad decisions. For example I sold to take a loss on HIK a couple of years ago only to see the stock recover and more than double in fairly short time. I think you just have to accept that mistakes will be made - you simply have to minimise them.

  4. I think the biggest cause of delaying selling is holding on in hope of recovery even though deep down you know things are going in the wrong direction. You know you should sell but what stops you is the fear of missing out on the (hoped for) recovery. Hope rarely comes riding to your rescue in such circumstances.

Snazzy

3 Likes

If I can add to this thread…

The size of a portfolio and their individual weightings is to a large extent dependent on an investors’ experience and knowledge.

It’s nice having a large portfolio for the sake of safety if it is constructed across a reasonable number of sectors. This minimises the risk of significant financial loss and also, provided you have time, the opportunity to analyse different types of companies and build your experience. It allows you to ‘stay in the game’ for a long period.

Downside is that it also means returns are highly likely to be mundane; you are trading a large portfolio for the ability to learn about investing in shares. I remember in the early days I would have a spreadsheet generating a few financial ratios and a couple years later those few becames best part of fifty financial metrics.

However for making money the best number of shares to have is one. One share only. Except it has to be the highest gaining share in the market. A somewhat impractical proposition.

A more practical proposition is to own 10 - 15 shares. But those shares need to be well researched and over the long term should produce significant market beating performance. 10 - 15 shares is as much as one person can reasonably expect to keep on top of.

3 Likes

Thanks guys, I’m finding this really useful. I think it’s about time to clear out some of the small, no-hoper stocks that I have and get the funds working for me

Enjoying this thread and thought I would share my experience. Intellectually, I’m for portfolio concentration. Who wouldn’t argue with backing your best ideas? I have often vowed to concentrate my portfolio more.

In practice, though, I am a diversifier. You may have come across the Share Sleuth portfolio I managed for Money Observer magazine and now run for interactive investor. It is a model portfolio but I do own all the shares myself. The portfolio has 26 shares. The reason it has so many is that when I have some spare cash to invest and I have a choice between adding a new share that I have researched and feel confident about or increasing investment in an existing holding I also feel confident about I almost always chose the former.

If I look back at the big winners in the portfolio over time (it has been running for nearly 12 years), they only seem like my best ideas in hindsight. At the time, I didn’t have a strong conviction that they were lots better than the other shares. However I do believe that if I own a portfolio of 20-30 shares in companies that produce something useful and have decent strategies run (usually) by owner managers thinking about the long-term there will be some really good ideas in there!

My experience so far is it is possible to prosper with a medium sized? portfolio and from a personal perspective I enjoy being involved in a wide range of companies though I accept that in general more concentrated portfolios will produce more extreme results.

It used to be said of Peter Lynch that there was never a stock he didn’t like. He did OK!

3 Likes

Interesting thoughts Richard.

Like you I have tended towards adding a new idea rather than topping up existing holdings. The tendency towards more diversification rather than concentration is perhaps a reflection of a more cautious nature and wishing to sleep easily at night.

I accept this approach will not lead to any major outperformance of benchmark. I’m happy for now to settle for a modest level of superior performance and enjoy the challenge of achieving this.

We all seek to find multi baggers to bolster portfolio performance and indeed we all need 10% or so of our holdings to be extremely strong performers as these are the ones that drive the bottom line. Then you need to constantly consider how long to run your winners and whether to top slice - that’s a lengthy topic on its own.

But to take portfolio concentration to an extreme level I wonder how many people who, had they been fortunate enough to buy an early slice of, say, Microsoft as part of a highly concentrated portfolio would have had the nerve to hold on without top slicing and thus allowing that stock to dwarf all other portfolio holdings? I think such a person would be one of two - either an already wealthy person or a (reckless?) gambler, both of whom are capable of sleeping easily at night. I’m afraid neither is me.

3 Likes

Funnily enough, this echoes my experience. I want to build gradually to a few big positions but by the time I have the spare cash, a new idea has seduced me. But I think I am getting a bit better. It shows that it is actually difficult to run what fund managers call a process

Hi riccie

Not sure I would entirely agree with this. Surely you sell because of the likelihood of the business being permanently crippled and there being little hope of any recovery?

‘Getting rid of the noise’ suggests Mark is simply distracted by seeing big losers in his portfolio. The fact these losers are in his portfolio does not mean they are now guaranteed to be terrible investments – they could still recover well.

I am sure Mark has bought shares that have endured significant falls before he bought, yet he did not suffer head-space trouble then!

If Mark keeps his nerve and studies his losers, he may well find the companies signal the start of a recovery well before the wider market latches onto the turnaround – which in turn may lead to an investment opportunity.

I held Tasty all the way down to c1p, and at times I did wonder why I kept holding as bankruptcy was a risk. But holding on and following the news flow did point to the business surviving – and offered a possible punt on a recovery if I were brave enough! The shares have 6-bagged since the low.

Maynard

I think there are a few takes on this Maynard.

  1. there is nothing wrong with a 1% position.
  2. specifically I am trying to point out the dregs, things that have falledn so much they now represent 1%, so have seen a significant fall.

I think there is some sense( for me anyway) of getting rid of the noise. The constant red. Well, that is what I try to do.

The crux of the point being that for a small ‘tail’ positiion to have any meaninngful impact at all on your overall gains are very unlikely. You mention TSTY for example, and have held it down to c~1p It has since 6x bagged from 1 penny… But has that gain in itself made any substantial impact to overall portfolio performance (genuine Q? has it resulted in a material improvement)

I guess what we need to realise is that as investors we all have different takes on similar situations. There is rarely an absolute *thout must do this * rule, and I am hopefully not trying to sway @Snazzytime I respect what each perosn has put forward, and for them to manage it as they feel is best, to them. Rather the intent is ust offer an alternative, and some consideration of whether many smaller positions is a positive use of time, and funds.

For me, the thought of having loads of smaller depleted positions goes against my nature as now I want to be shot of such positions before they langusing as giant red losses in the PF, and also because it then adds extra time and burden in that I still have to check RNS, I still ahve to keep in the loop on the co, and I still have to regularly review these and say to myself "now this has dropped to a penny, do I load up with even more, or just sit it out and hope it will 5, 10, 20 x bag from here’

Indeed, I often start with 2% positions that allow me to scale in if I feel I am validated, and equally I am happy to have a 1% position in complete binary punts (now and again) but if I had a 1% position and let it halve… then I am trying to say to myself is it worth keeping this here…

good chats though - thanks

?

2 Likes

Hi riccie,

Low point for TAST was during November 2020 when it represented 0.4% of my portfolio.

My portfolio has since gained 24.5%, and I calculate TAST contributed 2.2% to that gain and the rest of my shares contributed 22.3%.

So not a meaningful amount, but the alternative was reinvesting that 0.4% into something else and (with hindsight) very likely to get a lower return on that 0.4% than TAST.

Ok, that’s fair enough. I have had only TAST as a depleted position, so my experience of holding on to sub-1% holdings is not vast (which I hope is a good thing!) But I do think assessing losers can sometimes point to buying/holding opportunities for recovery, which may in time perform better than simply getting rid and buying something else.

Maynard

hi Maynard

That’s always the dilemma. I also suffered with TAST and sold out at 14p which represented 0.25% of my portfolio. That wasn’t because I thought I could re-invest better elsewhere. It was simply that at the time I took the view that TAST was highly likely to fail so I cashed in what was left.

In such circumstances I think your decision may be influenced by the length of time you have held the stock. As an example I have recently disposed of ESNT which has been a serial underperformer for me having held for 5 years. I took a capital loss of 39% (29% net of dividends) as I simply lost faith in ESNT Management.

I dare say had I only held ESNT for a couple of years I might have taken a different view unless there had been a major misstep or unwelcome change in strategy / thesis. I would always be looking to hold an investment for the long term but I think we all reach a limit of patience and in ESNT’s case that patience had been exhausted.

Snazzy

1 Like

Brief portfolio update.

I have disposed of further three long term disappointing holdings:

NCC - not enamoured with the acquisition strategy nor strength of management to successfully drive integration given past history. Sold out a shade early but 33% gain excluding dividends.

EQN - sold once formal bid made which reduced my losses to 30% but glad to get out.

GNC - has been a disappointing holding through disastrous US venture, re-organisation then Covid lockdowns. It looks a long haul before return to anything like pre-Covid profits will be seen. Sold at 22% loss. Has fallen further 20% since my recent sale so looks like the market agrees.

I have made one top up, Domino’s Pizza, where I view the new CEO as a breath of fresh air compared to his predecessor. Seems to be makng progress with the franchisees to resolve the ongoing dispute. Assuming a resolution is achieved this could trigger a re-rating. Disposal of the non UK businesses is almost complete and current trading remains strong. Have held for 7 years and am showing 133% return including dividends.

Have added one new holding - Argentex - following watching an excellent PI World interview with Ken Wotton in which at 40.18 he discusses Alpha FX v Argentex.

It looks the type of company that Maynard might well be atracted to - high inside ownership (50%+ including initial backer), profitable record, no borrowing and a strong Board chaired by Lord Digby Jones. Joint founders (two on the Board, one not) all have strong track record in the industry. Have taken a 2% opening position.

Snazzy

1 Like

Hi Snazzy,

Many thanks for the portfolio update.

I looked at Argentex (AGFX) last year.

Lots to like with the headline numbers and management ownership etc.

Ken W referred to AGFX’s P/E of 11. SharePad shows these forecasts, which at 125p do suggest a P/E of 11 for 2022:

I must admit I ummed and ahhed about AGFX at the time, but did not become entirely comfortable with the working-capital movements, cash collateral requirements and the risk the clients receive margin calls because of sudden/significant currency movements.

Ken W mentioned Alpha FX, and the obvious next step is to understand exactly why Alpha trades at 33x while AGFX is at 11. I note Alpha’s last results showed 6-month revenue to Dec 2020 up 42% and it recently said 2021 trading was ahead of expectations. AGFX meanwhile has said 6-month revenue to March 2021 was up 8%. So although both companies offer the same services, one seems to be exiting the pandemic at a faster pace than the other.

Maynard

1 Like

Thanks for your views Maynard. I didn’t realise you had previously looked at AGFX so thanks for that link too.

A valid point but the P/E gap does seem larger than one might expect. Also AGFX seems a more niche high end business than AFX who have branched out with their Alternative Banking Product.

I watched the interim results webcast and was impressed with the founder co-CEO Carl Jani. He has just returned from a short period of absence due to ill health so it is to be hoped that doesn’t become a recurring problem.

As you stated in your review this business isn’t for everyone and there is a high staff churn in their early employment period. However I do like the new staff commission structure which makes it hard for top sales staff to lead as their commission from customers is for life and hence after say 3/4 years employment that will be a very sizeable income. Once they leave all future commission incom reverts to AGFX.

Snazzy

1 Like

Reading between the lines I suspect there may have been some historic conflict and/or disagreements between the previous Co-CEO’s (both founders also). Recent chronological announcements at Argentex have been:

10/5/21 - Co-CEO Carl Jani returns to work following 4 month period of absence due to health reasons (did read somewhere that this was Covid related but not sure if it was accurate)

11/6/21 Carl Jani resigns with immediate effect. The other Co-CEO Harry Adams assumes the role of sole CEO. Chairman Lord Digby Jones thanked Carl for his ‘significant contribution to Argentex’. There was no comment from Harry Adams.

1/7/21 Full year reults announced. Lord Digby Jones commented ‘It would be remiss not to mention Carl Jani’s resignation as Co-CEO in June 2021, after the year end. I would like to thank Carl for his invaluable contribution to Argentex’. CEO Harry Adams commented ‘As communicated on 11 June 2021, my co-founder, Carl Jani, resigned. Carl had overseen the Group’s growth story with me from the beginning, culminating in the successful IPO’

No praise from Harry then. Even if there had been some disagreements between them this doesn’t give a good impression.

What to make of it all?

How effective will Harry be without Carl?

What does all this mean for Argentex going forward?

Snazzy

1 Like