Golden Door Asset Management commentary for the second quarter ended June 30, 2017.
- Q2/H1 Hedge Fund Letters – Letters, Conferences, Calls, And More
- The July Ethereum Price Crash And The August Fork
- Asset Management Fees Fall For The First Time Since 2008
Fastenal: Why Being Cheap Works As a Business Strategy
The financial markets are calmly rising, continuing to show signs of prosperity. At Golden Door Asset Management, we closely watch three areas that drive economic growth: capital, labor, and technology. Our economy needs all three to achieve productive growth. As innovative technology is developed and wages rise, fresh capital will begin to follow suit.
This past quarter we found consumer facing companies to be attractive investments and deployed more capital accordingly. Consumer confidence is rising and the pillars of our economy are strong. As discussed last quarter, it is an exciting time to be invested in the American consumer. Below we cover two new positions in our investment portfolios.
Ubiquiti Networks (UBNT): Wireless technology is now accessible in most parts of the world. Years ago, this was not possible in many developing markets. We can thank Robert Pera, CEO of Ubiquiti Networks, for advancing the use of Wi-Fi across the globe. Ubiquiti designs and develops wireless network infrastructure products. For example, long distance wireless devices that send Wi-Fi signals in hard to reach places. Developing countries in Africa, Asia and South America have been able to skip landlines and go directly to Wi-Fi with this technology. A big step in connecting everyone on Earth.
The exciting part is the competition does not focus much on developing markets. Ubiquiti has been able to sustain +40% gross margins. The company’s moat comes from free software delivered with the best hardware, creating a very loyal customer base. The company has been delivering record quarterly revenues and growing net income at high double-digit returns. Pera owns most of the outstanding shares and is aligned with the other shareholders. It is very exciting to own a growth story like Ubiquiti.
Rent-A-Center (RCII): The rental business is a great cash flow model. But that is not the only reason we own this stock. Rent-A-Center leases durable consumer goods such as appliances and electronics. Durable is the key word since consumers are always looking for upgrades and the latest items. As a leader in the rent-to-own market for many products, Rent-A-Center has made it affordable for households to buy new durable products. The company’s mission is to increase ownership for the middle class. Increased consumer spending will result in higher cash flows for Rent-A-Center.
We found this stock when looking for high cash flow stocks in the small cap space. Fortunately, we are not the only ones getting behind it. Engaged Capital, an activist fund, owns +16% of the common stock and communicating directly with management. Early in July, RCII received a buyout bid from Vintage Capital for $800 million, or $15 per share. Management rejected the bid, believing it undervalues the company. We also believe that the company is worth more and are happy to see the market agrees with us. Stay tuned to see if any other investors decide to place a bid for this cash cow.
Politics will always be in the media but we won’t cover it in this letter. Next quarter, we will cover tax reform and the healthcare bill when the Trump administration makes substantial progress. No time for political volleyball right now.
It is interesting to note that market volatility has been at near lows while major indices are achieving all-time highs. We have seen a positive uptick in the market, leading to double digit growth in most indices this year. Low volatility suggests cheap option pricing in some areas, indicating good long-term buys. It may be attractive to own some long-dated options sometime in the future. We will have to see how the summer plays out and if the global economy continues to stay strong.
As the Federal Reserve begins to unwind its balance sheet, we can expect volatility to increase as supply imbalances begin to creep into the overall market.
Blockchain & Cannabis (alternative investments)
Many clients and prospective investors approached us this year about new alternative investments. The two most common themes have been blockchain and cannabis. Our team has done quite a bit of due diligence in these areas. We always keep an eye out for new and interesting opportunities. Below we provide our views on these themes.
A blockchain is a publicly, distributed ledger for cryptocurrency transactions that have been executed. New ‘blocks’ are created for every new transaction. Cryptocurrencies are built on blockchain technology. It has been all the rave for the past six months. This year alone speculators have driven up the prices of digital currencies at a significant rate. These markets have no equilibrium because of all the new money pouring into the digital market so quickly. Without regulators or market makers, digital currencies can and will be extremely volatile investments.
There are reasons why the United States has the deepest and most liquid capital markets in the world. Exchanges like the NYSE and Nasdaq are highly regulated to protect institutional and retail investors from fraud and insider trading. Regulations gives comfort to buyers and sellers, knowing that registered securities are scrutinized by compliance and regulatory officials. Safety of principal should always be an investors first concern.
Readers should try to understand the pros and cons of blockchain, the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies. The technology is currently in its initial stages of development and can have positive impacts in many industries such as healthcare and finance. Right now, it is best if venture capitalists take the risk and invest in this technology.
Also, there are too many cryptocurrencies in the market today. The crypto gold rush may end soon like many manias do. If you are looking to get involved with blockchain, please do your own due diligence. We recommend readers learn about Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”) and the new tokens built on Ethereum. You can find whitepapers on the subject that include advanced mathematics and proofs that support the technology. Not for the faint of heart if you don’t enjoy algorithms.
Cannabis & Medical Marijuana
The second theme is cannabis or medical marijuana related businesses. A few states have approved the use at the local level but federal approval is still in question. We are not doctors and have no insight if medical marijuana will be approved. Our concerns remain in the public securities market, which are readily accessible to retail investors. Most, if not all, of the marijuana related stocks have no substantial revenue stream. This may be because of the lack of approval on the federal level. Buyers should beware when it comes to investing in these stocks. This entire market moves in tandem, depending very heavily on what the government may or may not do. Too much regulatory and political risk holding back the market.
As always, we look forward to building a valuable investment portfolio and relationship with our partners. The Golden Door team is here to cater directly to your financial needs, so please do not hesitate to reach us at any time. If you are interested to learn more about these themes, please feel free to contact us at any time. Our focus as always will be on long-term value creation. If you or anyone you know shares that vision, we welcome you as a Golden Door partner.
Thank you for your trust in our firm and strategy.
Golden Door Asset Management