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Greenwood Q2 – Gains On Whole Foods Buyout

By Steven Wood CFA. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Greenwood Investors letter to investors for the second quarter ended June 30, 2017.

Dear GreenWood Investor:

We’ve had a satisfactory first half of the year, but while results have been decent, we are not resting. In fact, we’ve never been busier. We are working hard to minimize opportunity costs and at the same time, take advantage of the buoyant market conditions. We continue to find numerous highly compelling ideas to reallocate capital towards. With the portfolio actions taken in the quarter, we’ve maintained a very robust risk-adjusted return profile. At quarter-end, our ratio of reward-to-risk stood at 38.3x, which is marginally better than the 38.2x at the beginning of this year. This was no small feat for us to achieve, but as we discussed in the fourth quarter letter of last year, this is our purpose. We continue to deliver a very actionable and timely portfolio. That is what we’re focused on, not short-term results.

Greenwood Investors

As we’re getting closer to our ten-year anniversary for the original composite, we believe it is far more useful to look at the long-term compounded results our investments have achieved. We believe highly satisfactory results can only be achieved through a concentrated portfolio of “best ideas,” which inherently produces lumpy results. Yet over the long-term, we believe we can generate results that beat the market by a long shot. We’re not investing in mega-cap fairly-priced multinationals. We go where there is extreme pessimism, controversy, low competition and structural inefficiencies. When our investments work, we typically measure performance in multiples, not percentage points. Of course, the timing of these results is the least reliable factor. But our roadmap we discussed in our third quarter letter last year has proved very helpful in improving our near-term performance.

Investing returns can be broken up into two very simple drivers. On a shorter-term basis, solid returns are primarily determined by one’s views differing greatly from that of the market’s. If the divergent view happens to be right, shortterm performance can be quite good. But over the long term, the qualitative factors of the investments will be the long-term drivers of our performance. These include their management styles, competitive advantages, the industry’s lifecycle, and conscious capitalist ways of treating stakeholders, among others. We look for a convergence of these high-quality performance drivers coupled with greatly divergent viewpoints about the near-term. We believe this is the best combination for the short, medium and long-term.

Last year our portfolio of companies had been showing great progress throughout the year, while the stock performance lagged the greater market. This was largely thanks to global investors’ views towards the European Union. Most strategists started to price-in a very high probability of the union coming to an imminent collapse. As this view has increasingly become almost laughable, markets have started to adjust to a more nuanced reality. Accordingly, the underlying performance of our holdings has started to become harder for traders to ignore.

In a similarly controversial call, we received plenty of pushback when we initiated our position of Whole Foods Market (WFM) last quarter. Yet the near-term performance of this key position has been highly satisfactory given the company’s take-out by Amazon in the quarter. Clearly the peak short interest and peak bearishness among sell-side analysts was a misread of the actual quality and fundamentals of the business.

We’ve used this roadmap to guide our efforts for over a year now, and this evolution has paid off handsomely. The greater the contrarian viewpoint, the greater the potential for the market to have misjudged reality by a wide margin. While the market has adjusted expectations closer to reality in the case of Whole Foods, it has been ignoring improving fundamentals at two other highly controversial companies – TripAdvisor (TRIP) and Ocado (OCDO LN). We initiated positions in both during the quarter, and are prepared to double each position on any near-term choppiness. We also took advantage of a significant adjustment in market expectations to New York REIT’s (NYRT) liquidating assumptions. We believe there’s very minimal downside in this short liquidation, with nice upside optionality.

Greenwood Investors

We were keen to make TripAdvisor a sizable core position. The company is a powerful influencer of demand in the gigantic $1.3 trillion travel bookings industry. In fact, numerous third party surveys suggest that TripAdvisor influences half of the demand in the industry, with this share growing at an accelerating pace. Yet, like other highly successful demand-focused companies, the company has innovated first on user-experience and only later focused on monetization. Accordingly, it is monetizing only a quarter of one percent of the business it generates. Yet, every month that goes by, the company is introducing new features and functionality aimed at closing this gigantic monetization gap. All of TRIP’s competitors are focused on the supply-side of the business. While both sides are important for a functioning market, only one company can adequately capture the demand. We believe influencing demand is more powerful than controlling supply, yet market valuations would suggest the opposite, with TRIP trading at the cheapest valuation in the industry. Recent results have shown that not only is the TRIP ecosystem growing quite rapidly, but engagement is accelerating. Revenue per hotel shopper has turned back to growth and the company is making solid progress in monetizing the >7 million places that are being actively reviewed on its website by over 3.5 billion annual users.

Wall Street’s view of the company couldn’t be any further from reality, with heightened short interest at 17% of the float, and sell-side sentiment reaching a fresh peak in pessimism. This peak pessimism is happening at a five-year low in the stock at the exact time the revenue and profitability are turning back to growth. While TripAdvisor’s setup reminds us exactly of the one Whole Foods faced in the first quarter, we sincerely hope the most obvious acquirer (Priceline) doesn’t make an approach soon. We believe we’re getting a very high quality company at a valueinvestor’s price point. This gives it a very attractive short, medium and long-term roadmap. Unsurprisingly, it’s already our third largest position and will become our largest with any incremental weakness.

TripAdvisor is a perfect example of what we seek to find in global markets today. Our global approach is a prerequisite to finding the rare company that we buy at a decent or even bargain price, and eventually end up owning as a long-term, high-quality asset. This ideal candidate is also perfectly exemplified in FCA, which we exited during the quarter. We bought FCA for less than a tenth of its replacement value, it roughly tripled, and we have ended up owning a long-term compounding position in Ferrari (RACE), in which our cost basis is zero. EXOR (EXO IM) is another related company that we seek to hold forever. In a similar vein, we believe TripAdvisor is a very small redwood seed that could potentially grow for a very long time. And it could get quite large.

We are still rooting for Fiat-Chrysler through our meaningful ownership of EXOR. Now that GM has finally awoken to the very lackluster auto environment in the US, it is perhaps only one to

The post Greenwood Q2 – Gains On Whole Foods Buyout appeared first on ValueWalk.

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Sign up today for an exclusive discount along with our 30-day GUARANTEE — Love us or leave, with your money back! Click here to become a part of our growing community and learn how to stop gambling with your investments. We will teach you to BE THE HOUSE — Not the Gambler!

Click here to see some testimonials from our members!