QVG Capital Management
The story driving equity markets (S&P500 -8.8% for example) through April was more of the same: higher inflation, higher commodity prices, higher interest rates and lower valuations ascribed to growth companies. Whilst we understand the optimal portfolio positioning for such an environment has been to own commodities, cyclicals and value stocks, we also understand that playing this game profitably requires an ability to dance close to the door as macro-economic variables can change quickly. If we were to bet the portfolio based on a guess of the future economic environment, we would do so with the knowledge that we are likely to be right as often as we are wrong. Instead, we focus on where we have an edge.
Unsurprisingly, attribution was characterised by some of our growth companies moving lower: Tyro, IDP Education, Block & Aristocrat. We did experience an offset from our short positions however, most of which contributed positively this month. The shorts are doing their job of cushioning the damage caused by the longs. This will help the fund recover from a higher base when, eventually, a recovery does dome. Special mentions for our short contributors go to the speculative, cash burning companies, many of which have no revenue. Covid winners that are now covid sinners such as e-commerce and healthcare companies also contributed to performance on the short side.
In terms of future opportunity, there are two key areas forefront of our minds.
The first is the businesses that exhibit all of the ingredients for superior long-term shareholder returns (i.e. high ROIC, durable business models with proven execution) are getting cheaper and therefore implying higher future returns. We feel the sting of having many of these already represented in the portfolio but nonetheless are enthusiastic to accumulate more shares in these companies at increasingly attractive prices.
The second area of opportunity are also companies that have seen recent share-price weakness but are distinct from the first group in that there is little to no fundamental value to support their valuations. These companies are often biotechs, aspiring resource producers or technology developers that lack a clear link between their cash burn and incremental revenue growth. Not only do these stocks do poorly when market sentiment becomes cautious, but they tend not to recover when sentiment returns due to a lack of execution and an investor base that has already moved on to the next shiny thing. Years of bullish share market conditions have presented a plethora of these opportunities and we continue to add them to our short portfolio.
The most obvious area of market speculation currently is in battery minerals. There is no shortage of these names on the ASX, however few are likely to have commercial operations. Unproven mining methods, chemical processes and or spicy jurisdictions that have never produced lithium before all loom as potential headwinds for these projects. Meanwhile, a lot of optimism has been built into projects that have a material chance of disappointing. Selectively and within risk tolerances, we have taken a short position in some of these names which worked in April.
Funds operated by this manager: