Happy New Year. 2020 was a volatile year, on both Wall Street and Main Street. Unprecedented action by the Federal Reserve released a fire hose of liquidity onto markets, which pushed risk-assets higher after the March lows. While many stocks seem to be at frothy valuations, I still believe value exists and I have been rotating into these stocks.
Looking ahead into 2021, I am cautiously optimistic that the market will continue to trend higher, although volatility will almost assuredly return at some point. But I still feel that stocks, and primarily value-stocks, are the best place to invest money in what should be an inflationary environment going forward.
That said, it is impossible for the current Fed accommodation to continue in perpetuity. At some point the proverbial "punch bowl" will be taken away and debt either needs to be repaid or restructured. While I don't see that as a near-term event, it is something that gives me underlying anxiety. But I learned early on to never take rides from strangers, and not to fight the Fed. So I think you have to dance while the music is playing. But my suspicion is that this party ends very badly at some point in the future.
The portfolio returned approximately 143% for the year, pre-tax. While this was nice performance overall, it was frustrating to be caught somewhat flatfooted during the March swoon. But the nature of investing in small companies is that many are illiquid, and you can't necessarily sell when you want to sell. When the market was melting down, many of these stocks got pummeled and bids essentially dried up. However, this created some unbelievable buying opportunities, and when the market started to recover many of these stocks went substantially higher.
Some of the winning investments from 2020 include: SPRT, SGRP, HIL, INWK, III, RRD, OTCQB:INBP, SPCB, MDCA, USIO, YVR, CETX, PPSI, CPSH, OTCPK:VASO, MGI, ATTO, OTC:EVOL, PERI, SMED, IEA, OSS, CREG, RCMT, KTCC, ETM, AESE, AEY, BBGI, HDSN, CRBP, SYPR, OTC:SEAC, AEHR
My top picks for 2021 include:
Spar Group (SGRP): Company is currently trading for $1.15, but earned $0.05 EPS last Q. I believe if they can continue on that trajectory, the stock should be valued in the $2-3 range based on a conservative P/E. The company also recently announced a share repurchase program. Company trades for around 2x EV/EBITDA.
Support.com (SPRT): Company currently trades for around $2.20, but has nearly $1.60 in cash and no debt. Company provides home-based tech support, which is attractive in the current environment. Company is generally profitable and added a new CEO from a competitor about 10x their size.
Hill International (HIL): I like this as an infrastructure play, especially if governments around the world commit to new stimulus. Company is profitable and reported EPS of around $0.04 last Q.
Integrated BioPharma (OTCQB:INBP): This one is a bit more obscure, as it trades OTC. The company is trading for less than a 5 P/E despite double digit growth. The quarter ending December is traditionally their best, so there could be a catalyst for a higher share price when those results are reported.
Thanks again for your continued readership. Here's to hoping 2021 will be a better year than 2020, as I'm not sure it could get any worse.