The V20 Portfolio Week #24: A Change Of Heart

by: General Expert


The V20 Portfolio declined by 0.9%, while the S&P 500 climbed by 0.8% over the past week.

MagicJack remains undervalued, yet a significant stake was disposed.

It is important to recognize fundamental changes in your holdings.

The V20 portfolio is an actively managed portfolio that seeks to achieve an annualized return of 20% over the long term. If you are a long-term investor, then this portfolio may be for you. You can read more about how the portfolio works and the associated risks here. Always do your own research before making an investment. Read the last update here.

Note: Current allocation and planned transactions are only available to premium subscribers.

Existing holdings: CONN, SAVE, I, CALL, OTCPK:DXMM, ACCO

While volatility is not something to which we should pay too much attention, it is nevertheless a possible indicator of material fundamental changes in our holdings. Over the past week, the V20 Portfolio declined by 0.9% while SPY (NYSEARCA: SPY) rose by 0.8%.

Conn's (NASDAQ: CONN) will be reporting earnings in a little under two weeks, meaning that the portfolio will likely experience higher than normal volatility. As investors, we look forward to earnings for guidance, to verify if our initial assumptions are correct. For Conn's, much of the market's concern revolves around the company's credit operation. Despite a sound retail division, the market is still quite apprehensive about lending money to Conn's. While improvements in the credit division has been foreshadowed by falling delinquency rates, earnings will shed more light on the details, hopefully providing more assurance to the market.

Over the long term, whether the market recognizes the company's value today or tomorrow is irrelevant, assuming that the management allocates capital correctly (i.e., seize growth opportunities, repurchase shares when conditions are favorable, etc.). Thus far, the management has been committed to their plan by buying back shares and expanding the store count.

More on MagicJack

Ultimately management's actions will directly influence the company's financial results. In MagicJack's (NASDAQ:CALL) case, capital allocation policy took a drastic turn (see my premium article here). The gist of it is that the management decided to use half of the $80 million cash pile to acquire a company at 8-10x cash flow, when MagicJack itself was only trading at 2x cash flow. In previous quarters, the management did the right thing and created a lot of value by buying back these discounted shares. Unfortunately, as this acquisition has shown, the management has failed to choose the optimal method of capital allocation.

Because the original investment thesis depended very much so on what the management has chosen to do with the cash (in a sense all investment thesis revolves around cash, but in this case it is particularly important as much of the value is tied to the cash at hand), it is unfortunate that things turned out the way it did. While the company itself is still extremely cheap, it is critical that we identify material fundamental changes in our holdings (such as changes in capital allocation policies) and evaluate them accordingly. As John Maynard Keynes is rumored to have said: "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

As with anything in life, there is a certain degree of risk in investing. Financial results will fluctuate, but people's thought process changes as well. While one can make an effort to understand the financials, there is no foolproof way to understand human psychology. This is why Buffett values a good management team so highly. As outsiders, the best way to analyze the quality of the management is by looking at their past actions, not their words. But as MagicJack has demonstrated, even that may not be enough.

Many investors tend to focus on the result, not the process, of an investment decision. Unfortunately (and sometimes fortunately), the right decision can lead to a bad outcome, just as how a bad decision can lead to a good outcome, simply as the result of luck. Nothing frustrates a poker player more than a bad beat, yet professional players recognize that it is just a part of the game, and it is the initial decision that matters.

Performance Since Inception

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Disclosure: I am/we are long CONN, CALL, SAVE, ACCO, I, DXMM.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Editor's Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $1 per share and/or with less than a $100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.