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  • JGWPT Holdings - A Strong Moat In A Niche Industry With 50%-Plus Upside [View article]
    Yes, I think they could technically raise the discount rate to whatever they want, but at some point will that have an impact on the demand for their services?

    On the surface it would seem that the higher the discount rate, the less people will be willing to part with their settlement.

    But if we could think of these settlement holders as rational actors (and investors), then technically they would be willing to pay a higher discount rate because they could invest the proceeds at a higher market interest rate.

    Or more realistically, they will be willing to pay a higher discount rate because the interest rate on their personal debt is also higher.
    Jan 28, 2014. 03:01 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • JGWPT Holdings - A Strong Moat In A Niche Industry With 50%-Plus Upside [View article]
    Thanks for providing further details. This has been a popular one of late.

    I wonder about the impact of rising interest rates on the profitability of new business. Is their any ability to charge clients more than the 11% discount rate in order to maintain its spread if funding costs increase?
    Jan 28, 2014. 12:01 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Leverage Is Pointless [View article]
    My disagreement with this article is the defintion of risk that is used. Risk is essentially being equated to volatility here. Volatility, in my mind, does not equal risk. Volatility refers to the deviation of a stock's price movement around its mean in EITHER direction (up or down). Real risk, at least the risk I am trying to avoid, is the potential for the investment to move from the upper left to the lower right over time.

    And this article appears to argue that you should increase your exposure to your less volatile positions, even if you are leveraged, using historical volatility as an indication of risk. Well, if you have very large positions on historically low volatility investments, and something changes and those investments become high volatility (which they can ... see LTCM), now you're broke.
    Jan 24, 2014. 10:23 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Leverage Is Pointless [View article]
    No question that leverage is a powerful tool, but it can also be a tool for devestation ... and diversification is not necessarily the answer to protecting yourself. While you seem to discount the possibility of all your positions moving against you (and I agree, at any point in time, it is a fairly low probability event), as you say, there is absolutely the potential for you to be entirely "wiped out" ... ZERO ... and it is mathematically impossible for you to EVER recover.

    And, while there is magnified gains on smaller movements to the upside, there are magnified losses as well. Using you're examplle, all your positions would have to lose only 10% for you to be "wiped out" ... and even if you gain on some positions, the loss on your other positions could be substantially greater than 10% and you could still be "wiped out".

    and if you diversify in low risk investments, your return on those investments likely won't be enough to cover the cost of borrowing.

    the only true ways to use leverage safely and successfully are to 1) lever up at the exact market bottom 2) take out an interest free loan with no terms of repayment (kinda of like an insurance company)
    Jan 24, 2014. 10:17 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • AMC Networks: Is This Really As Good As It Gets? [View article]
    I will have to play devil's advocate here by pointing out that, to me at least, it seems the core of your argument is faulty. You say that technology as proliferated cheap access to an essentially unending amount of content and that "strong overall competition for programming should support overall demand for popular content" ... and that this "dynamic should benefit content providers".

    I would suggest that the opposite is in fact true. More competition (from the largest studios to anyone with a $30 webcam and an internet connection), able to provide more content to viewers cheaper, should make it harder for content providers to capture additional profits.

    And I don't believe the availability of content impacts the demand for content. People only have so many hours in the day to watch videos, so the pie is relatively fixed ... and the pie is being sliced up between more and more competitors charging less and less for their service.

    These don't strike me as favorable industry dynamics.

    AMC has certainly been on a major run the last few years and they should be commended for it, but I think history has often shown that it is very difficult to continuously crank out the most popular content. NBC is a perfect example. They ruled the 90s. Now they are an also-ran.

    With that sort of potential downside, stock seems pricey to me.
    Jan 21, 2014. 10:05 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Canadian Imperial: The Best Of The Big Banks [View article]
    I also question the statement that Canada "has a more stable operating environment." This may be true from a historical perspective, however, the go forward is a very different picture. Present household debt levels in Canada are WELL above those in the US in 2007/2008, energy prices appear to have stabilized at prices not conducive to outsized growth in the oil segment, other resource plays are depressed, and the country's once strong manufacturing base has been decimated by a high USD/CAD (though this trend is reversing). I think Canada's best years are behind it.
    Jan 17, 2014. 02:06 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Cherry Hill Mortgage Investment Corp.: A Favorable Bet On Rising Interest Rates [View article]
    Instead of simply using comparables, if we were to model the cash flows of the MSRs, we would need some predictive model for prepayments as they relate to interest rates and also default rates as they relate to both credit quality and ALSO interest rates. All else equal, at some point, higher rates should lead to greater defaults.

    Is any of this kind of information readily available, either through CHMI or some other source?
    Jan 6, 2014. 09:34 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Cherry Hill Mortgage Investment Corp.: A Favorable Bet On Rising Interest Rates [View article]
    this is my major question mark on this investment ... even if the assets it just purchased ARE quality ... there's nothing to stop Middleman from using it as a dumping ground in the future.

    Couple questions:

    1) What is the BoD composition like? Any independent directors or directors unrelated to Freedom?

    2) You described what "recourse" CHMI has wrt prepayments (they get to service the new loan, if in fact there is one) ... but does CHMI have any recourse for defaults?
    Jan 6, 2014. 09:32 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Peregrine Semiconductor Warrants A Serious Look [View article]
    Do they need that cash to operate the business? If so, then you can't simply subtract it from the share price.
    Jan 6, 2014. 09:08 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • MTY Food Group Inc. - A Restaurant Stock For The Wallet [View article]

    Great article on a great company. I wrote a piece on MTY a couple years ago, back when it was trading at ~$10. Check it out here:

    I love the depth of brands, I love the smart acquisitions, I love the branding (and re-branding, in some cases) of their various banners, and I even love the food.

    BUT my big concern is your valuation and the use of a 20x multiple on F2016 earnings. MTY is running out of businesses to buy in Canada. At 2,500 locations, they are already the 3rd largest restaurant operator in the country, behind only Tim Horton's and Subway. They've already got 1,000 more locations than McDonald's! And the bigger they get, the less these bite-sized acquisitions will impact their growth rate.

    And as you've indicated, growing in the US or elsewhere is a much different animal. Canada just isn't as competitive.

    I respect your take on this, but I just don't think MTY will have the same growth going forward and, therefore, doesn't warrant the same multiple.
    Dec 18, 2013. 01:35 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Netflix: Reloaded [View article]
    John, I see where your coming from, but ultimately I disagree. You believe NFLX will eventually be the sole "channel" that all people use to consume content, imaging some scenario where most of the US population cuts the cord and uses NFLX exclusively. But I think this is faulty thinking for a couple reasons

    1) TV is not going to decline rapidly. It will be a long, slow demise similar to that experienced by wireline telephones.

    2) there will be plenty of competing "channels" online, generally all with access to different content. NFLX is not going to be able to secure ALL of the possible video content available in the world.

    3) people don't have a "median expectation" of cost for a service. they benchmark the value of a product offering against the best alternative. When the first $100/month cable packages were rolled out, there was no unending supply of online video content for people to watch. There were 4 broadcast networks. So they saw value in the $100/month to have access to a vastly larger chunk of content. This paradigm has reversed now, with unending amounts of content available entirely for free ... where is the value of a $100/month content cost?

    Instead I see a world where people cut the cord, take that $99/month and spread some of it among a number of different online channels, maybe an NBA League Pass subscription, an NFLX subscription, a HULU plus subscription, and whatever other channels emerge. Then take whatevers left and spend it on other things (maybe they'll pay more for movie theatres). A similar thing has happened in the music industry, where all of the money we used to spend on CDs, we now spend on concert tickets (which are insanely expensive today versus the past).
    Dec 2, 2013. 09:37 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Netflix: Reloaded [View article]
    The 41M subs is taken from page 5 of Time Warner's 2012 annual report ..... although I did see some newspaper articles stating it was closer to 30M. May be a difference in definition of "domestic" and "US" subs.

    A couple other points
    1) Time Warner did not break out the performance of HBO seperate from its other networks, so its difficult to know exactly what HBO's profit margin is. The contribution margin of their Networks segment is 33%, which would put them around 14% profit margin after corporate costs, interest deductions, and taxes.

    2) The number of subs doesn't really say anything about what their profit margins will be. WMT has alot more customers than a high-end retail boutique, and their profit margins are alot less. Profit margins are going to be determined by NFLX's ability to obtain and, more than ever, produce content ... and there is no reason to believe NFLX will be more proficient at producing content than any of the television networks. NFLX's innovations have been on the demand side, through its better user interface, than on the supply side (content). In particular, as NFLX starts producing more content of its own that is closer to the cost of the premium content of HBO, you could expect that NFLX would have lower margins than HBO because it charges alot less.
    Nov 28, 2013. 03:47 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Netflix: Reloaded [View article]
    thank you … yes, how it will end no one knows, only that it will end.
    Nov 26, 2013. 10:50 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Netflix: Reloaded [View article]
    1) I'm not sure that Piracy is declining all that much. And if it is, I would suggest that it will probably increase when/if the competitive pay products increase their prices.
    2) based on what reasoning? at just 10% yoy increase, NFLX's content costs are just 20% of revenue …. NFLX's content is going to get more expensive and probably won't cost them much less than what the networks end up paying for it.
    3) its true that the company is less profitable now because it is investing for overseas expansion, fair point … but the point regarding the DVD contribution margin IS relevant because the DVD business is in inexorable DECLINE, and that's going to impact the profitability of the future business.
    4) international content doesn't simply refer to internationally-made content … it refers to the purchase of rights to show US content internationally.
    5) im not so sure … you don't see the vast majority of people buying 2 or 3 phones … plus if people started adding all of the different providers that significantly impacts the costs savings they receive.
    Nov 26, 2013. 10:49 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Netflix: Reloaded [View article]
    hmmm … well, when you pick a "reasonable non-mature P/E" that represents future opportunities … you are essentially completing an analytical evaluation of the growth opportunities afar the 3-5 year time span.
    Nov 26, 2013. 10:42 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment