Monday, January 25, 2021

Incentives for Charitable Giving in Australia

As there is no estate or inheritance tax in Australia, I think it makes much more sense to give money to charity while you are alive rather than in your will. If I give money in my will, my children will have less but no tax benefit from giving money. If I give while I am alive then I can claim a tax deduction. Or am I wrong?

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Started SMSF Process

I made it my new year resolution to finally set up an SMSF. This is the next step in our financial restructuring process. The final step will be estate planning. The idea is to put relatively high tax investments into the SMSF. Also, we will put direct holdings of US stocks into the fund, so that they aren't part of our estate. Yes, there is a tax treaty between Australia and the US, which would mean that we wouldn't pay any tax at the moment. But it is likely that the threshold for inheritance tax in the US will be reduced under the Democrats and there is still paperwork to do.

I have now started the process with SuperGuardian who seem to provide a lot of service with a lot of flexibility and have very good recommendations. All I've done so far is send in the client engagement form. The decisions I made so far are to use a corporate trustee and to use a Macquarie CMA as the fund's bank account. Apparently, one third of SMSFs use a Macquarie CMA and SuperGuardian's representative said a lot of their clients do too. A corporate trustee is a little more complicated and expensive in the short run, but seems more sensible in the long run. An SMSF with only individual trustees must have at least two trustees, while the corporate trustee can have a single director. As I am 11 years older than Moominmama, it's likely that she will end up being the only trustee/director unless we bring our children into the fund, or she involves at outside person as an additional trustee. She would also have to deal with all that and she currently isn't at all interested in any of this financial stuff.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Berkshire Hathaway

 

I sold 2000 shares of the Boulder Income Fund (BIF) closing our position and bought 100 shares of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/B) instead. Berkshire is BIF's largest holding and seems to recently be outperforming BIF. Additionally, it doesn't pay dividends and so is more tax effective. Berkshire has a relatively low valuation by several metrics compared to the US stock market in general. I think the company could become much more valuable after Buffett steps down as CEO as I expect the future managers will break it up. The position is quite small (less than 1%) as our whole target US stock allocation is only 5% of net worth.

I have held Berkshire in the past, a long time ago.

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Hedge Funds Beat the S&P 500 in December

It's rare to see hedge funds beating the major stock indices to the upside these days, but that's what happened in December when the HFRI returned 4.47% and the S&P 500 3.84%. The MSCI World Index gained 4.68%. As a result our target portfolio actually returned 6.13% in US Dollar terms, though we still beat it, gaining 7.21%. In Australian Dollar terms it gained 1.26% rather than just breaking even as I reported a few days ago.

Contributions of Individual Investments 2020

 

As promised, here are the contributions of each of 62 investments to our annual investment return. Of course, these numbers (in Australian Dollars) depend on the size of each investment and I don't make any attempt to work out or compile the annual rate of return on all these investments (I do compute it for some). 

Compared to last year, gold again is a top contributor and Hearts and Minds and Pershing Square Holdings are gain near the top. Cadence Capital had a turn around this year for the positive and Platinum Capital for the negative. The large super funds did OK but last year they were the two top contributors.

There were two big disasters this year. Winton Global ALpha had a terrible performance losing 18% and Virgin Australia bonds were almost totally wiped out in the airline's bankruptcy.

The total number of investments was smaller this year as we gradually ran off our individual bond holdings and traded much less.


Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Annual Report 2020

Overview 
The main financial themes of this year for us was continuing to invest the money we inherited in late 2018 and surprisingly strong investment returns for the year after the sharp fall in markets in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In my academic career I was also surprisingly productive in the second half of the year following the struggle of dealing with closed schools and our move to online teaching in the first half of the year. We spent less for the year overall because of a reduction in spending during the lockdown and no travel. Our house fell in value, which was against the trend in the Australian housing market.

 
All $ signs in this report indicate Australian Dollars. As I did last year, I'll do a separate report on individual investments.

Investment Returns 
In Australian Dollar terms we gained 11.9% for the year and in USD terms we gained 23.2% because the Australian Dollar gained 10%. The MSCI gained 16.8%  in USD terms and the ASX 200 only 2.6% in AUD terms. The HFRI hedge fund index gained 8.9% in USD terms. Our target portfolio is expected to gain 6.8%. So, we beat all benchmarks this year.
 
This chart compares our portfolio to the benchmarks in Australian Dollar terms over the year:

 
We tracked the MSCI World Index very closely till May. After that we started to diverge. I posted equivalent Australian Dollar returns in the December monthly report. Here are annualized returns over various standard periods:



US Dollar returns are not very good over longer periods, but they still beat the HFRI, especially over the 3-5 year horizon. Here are the investment returns (currency neutral) and contributions of each asset class in 2020:
 
The contributions to return sum to the total portfolio return. Hedge funds and private equity had the highest returns and hedge funds by far the largest contribution to total return. Gold had the third highest return and the second highest contribution to total return. The rate of return on bonds is surprisingly good actually given the almost total loss of our Virgin Australia investment.

Investment Allocation
The main changes in allocation over the year was that we ran down our bonds allocation while increasing hedge funds, private equity, and gold mostly:
We started investing in art, which for the moment is grouped together with real estate.

Accounts
Here are our annual accounts in Australian Dollars:



There are lots of quirks in the way I compute the accounts, which have gradually evolved over time. There is an explanation at the end of this post. 

We earned $128k after tax in salary, business related refunds, medical payment refunds, tax refunds etc. This was down 13% on 2019 because Moominmama worked less and we had large tax bills due to investment income (investment income is reported pre-tax). We earned (pre-tax including unrealized capital gains) $370k on non-retirement account investments. The latter number was up on from last year. The former number continued its decline. The investment numbers suffered from the rise in the Australian Dollar ($67k in "forex" loss). Total current income was $498k. Not including mortgage interest we spent $121k. Total spending was down 18% on 2019 due to reclassifying mortgage interest as an investment cost since we paid off and redrew the mortgage and reduced spending due to the pandemic. Not counting mortgage interest, spending was down 9%.

$10k of the current pre-tax investment income was tax credits – we don't actually get that money so we need to deduct it to get to the change in net worth. We transferred $45k into retirement accounts from existing savings in "non-concessional (after tax) contributions. I list $2.4k of "inheritance". This is mostly due to adding the value of a painting I inherited, which I already had but hadn't included in net worth. The only other "things" included in our net worth are our car, a gold coin, and our house.

 
The change in current net worth, was therefore $324k. Looking at just saving from non-investment income, we dissaved $37k. So, before the transfer to retirement accounts we saved about $8k from salaries etc.

The retirement account is a bit simpler. We made $44k in pre-tax contributions (after the 15% contribution tax) and made an estimated $65k in pre-tax returns, which was strongly down on 2019. $8k in "tax credits" is an adjustment needed to get from the number I calculate as a pre-tax return to the after tax number. Taxes on returns are just estimated because all we get to see are the after tax returns. I do this exercise to make retirement and non-retirement returns comparable. Net worth of retirement accounts increased by $146k.

Finally, the housing account. I estimate that our house lost $34k in value. As our mortgage is now included in the current investment account there are no other entries in the housing account now.
 
Total investment gains were $401k, up 8% on 2019.

Total net worth increased by $436k,  which was up 12% on last year. $51k of this was from saving from non-investment sources, up 7% on last year. Thanks to employer superannuation contributions this was 30% of our total after tax non-investment income. Including investment gains our savings rate was 78% of our comprehensive after-tax income.


How Does This Compare to My Projection for This Year?
At the beginning of the year, I projected a gain in net worth of $425k, which turned out to be almost exactly correct. The baseline projection in my spreadsheet for 2021 is for a very high 19% rate of return, a 6% increase in spending, and flat other income, leading to an $800k increase in net worth to around $5.7 million. A more sensible projection would be for another $400k increase to around $5.3 million. Of course, anything could happen.
 
Notes to the Accounts
Current account includes everything that is not related to retirement accounts and housing account income and spending. Then the other two are fairly self-explanatory. However, property taxes etc. are included in the current account. Since we notionally converted the mortgage to an investment loan, mortgage interest is counted in current investment costs. So, the only item in the housing account now is increases or decreases in the value of our house. This simplified the accounts a lot but I still keep a lot of cells that might again be used in the future.
 
Current other income is reported after tax, while investment income is reported pre-tax. Net tax on investment income then gets subtracted from current income as our annual tax refund or extra payment gets included there. Retirement investment income gets reported pre-tax too while retirement contributions are after tax. For retirement accounts, "tax credits" is the imputed tax on investment earnings which is used to compute pre-tax earnings from the actual received amounts. For non-retirement accounts, "tax credits" are actual franking credits received on Australian dividends and the tax withheld on foreign investment income. Both of these are included in the pre-tax earning but are not actually received month to month as cash.... 
 
For current accounts "core expenditure" takes out business expenses that will be refunded by our employers and some one-off expenditures. This year, there are none of those one-off expenditures. "Saving" is the difference between "other income" net of transfers to other columns and spending in that column, while "change in net worth" also includes the investment income.

Closing Plus 500 Account

 

 

I opened a CFD trading account with Plus 500 in Moominmama's name in order to hedge Bitcoin trades over the weekend and do other trading experiments with small position sizes. I no longer need the account and they are charging monthly inactivity fees. So, I tried to withdraw the cash in the account. But they wouldn't transfer the money to our joint Commonwealth Bank account. They also refused to transfer the money to Moominmama's Interactive Brokers account, even though it has a BSB and bank account number. So, I opened a new bank account in her name at HSBC. But now we have to wait a month to get a statement that would be acceptable to Plus 500... To be continued

Aura Venture Fund II Still Accepting New Investors

Recently, I invested in the Aura Venture Fund II. There was a "first close" but the fund is still accepting new investors before a final close. From my experience with Aura Venture Fund I, these later investors will need to pay interest together with their initial investment to account for possibly benefiting from the funds initial investments that were made before they joined. You can get more information about the fund here. Usually, you will need to be qualified as a wholesale investor and the minimum investment is likely AUD 250k. Note that you will only need to invest a fraction of that at first with capital calls then spread over the life of the fund. My initial investment was AUD 62.5k.

My IRR on VF I is 27% so far, but of course there is no guarantee that the new fund will perform as well or that the final IRR will be that high for VF I when all investments are wound up. A big advantage is that the tax rate for Australian investors on early stage venture capital investments is negative. There is a 10% offset on your investments and zero capital gains or income tax. Also, investment in the fund may make a foreign investor eligible for an investor visa to immigrate to Australia.

Monday, January 04, 2021

December 2020 Report

The rallies in the Australian Dollar and the stock markets continued this month. The Australian Dollar rose from USD 0.7361 to USD 0.7725. The MSCI World Index rose 4.68%, the S&P 500 by 3.84%, and the ASX 200 rose 1.27%. All these are total returns including dividends. We gained 2.16% in Australian Dollar terms or 7.21% in US Dollar terms. The target portfolio is expected to have gained 0.07% in Australian Dollar terms and the HFRI hedge fund index is expected to gain 2.03% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed all benchmarks. In recent months, we have been tracking the target portfolio quite closely but with a positive alpha:
 
 
The target portfolio is a mix of indices (ASX200, MSCI World, HFRI, price of gold, Australian Dollar, private equity indices) and actual funds (TIAA Real Estate, TIAA Bond Market, Winton Global Alpha). If I was more industrious, I would use indices for the latter too... Hopefully, we can continue to beat the target portfolio by selecting better than average hedge funds etc. 
 
Increasingly our assets are in more illiquid investments that report with a lag. I am now using estimates for all of these:
  • Our house - we might change the value based on local sales up to a year after the month end! We will stick with last year's value until there is another local sale. Our house  isn't included in the calculation of the rate of return, though, only in our net worth calculation.
  • Aura VF1 - reports every 2 months and more than a month after the end of the month, I am using the IRR so far to project the return.
  • Aura VF2- reports every 2 months and more than a month after the end of the month. For the moment we will stick with the IPO price.
  • Winton Global Alpha - lag is only 2-3 days.
  • Cadence Opportunities - not sure how long the lag will be. I am using the historic alpha and beta to compute an expected return.
  • APSEC - seems to be 2-3 weeks after month end. I am using the expected HFRI return to project the return.
  • Masterworks - none of my paintings is yet tradable in the secondary market, so we are just using the IPO price.
Some of our other investments are listed on the market or quoted daily, but their NAV adjusts with a lag, such as Wilson Alternative Assets (WMA.AX) and TIAA Real Estate.

Here is a report on the performance of investments by asset class (currency neutral terms): 
 
Hedge funds added the most to performance followed by gold. Things that worked well this month:
  • Pretty much everything! But gold was the strongest performer in dollar terms, gaining AUD 28k.
What really didn't work:
  • URF.AX which invests in residential property in New York and New Jersey lost most – AUD 3.5k. Hearts and Minds (HM1.AX) had its first decline since March, losing AUD 1.3k. That's after gaining AUD 95k since the March low!
The investment performance statistics for the last five years are:
The first two rows are our unadjusted performance numbers in US and Australian Dollar terms. The following four lines compare performance against each of the three indices. We have the desired asymmetric capture for all three indices now and positive alpha compared to two of them. 
 
We moved further towards our long-run asset allocation. Real assets (real estate and art) are the asset class that is furthest from their target allocation (7.6% of total assets too little) followed by bonds (4.8% too much): 
 
 
We are now over-allocated to hedge funds, so will look to trim some positions over time. On a regular basis, we invest AUD 2k monthly in a set of managed funds, and there are also retirement contributions. Other moves this month:
  • I rebalanced my US 403b retirement account to 50% in the TIAA Real Estate Fund (direct real estate) and 50% in the CREF Social Choice Fund (balanced fund). I eliminated an allocation to the Money Market Fund and reduced the allocation to the Social Choice Fund.
  • I bought 5,000 Treasury Wine Estates shares.
  • I sold 1,000 CBAPI.AX Commonwealth Bank hybrid securities (convertible bonds).
  • I bought 3,000 shares of the IAU gold ETF, taking our position to 20,000 shares and finally around 10% of gross assets. 
  • I bought AUD 160k by selling US Dollars to get our currency exposure to 50% Australian Dollars and I bought GBP 25k by selling AUD.
  • I bought 1,000 Pershing Square Holdings (PSH.L) shares. This took me more overweight hedge funds, but I self-justified it by the fact that the shares are still trading at a big discount to NAV but the gap is narrowing. And anyway, the target portfolio weights are arbitrary, aren't they? I will look to trim the lower performing listed hedge funds once prices are nearer NAVs again.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Restructuring Baby Moomin's Portfolio

About one and a half years ago I opened an account for baby Moomin with Generation Life to invest the money he inherited from my mother. For this calendar year, the account made about 6.6% on a pre-tax basis.* 

 

This wasn't as good as our portfolio, which returned about 12% in Australian Dollar terms. So, I felt that it was time to make some changes. I decided to switch out of the Dimensional World Allocation 50/50 Fund and the PIMCO Australian and Global Bond Funds. I am switching into the Dimensional World Allocation 70/30 and Vanguard Growth Funds, 50% in each. This is my first time investing in a Vanguard fund! The Vanguard fund is better tax optimized, while Dimensional has more of a tilt to value stocks, which are maybe back in favor. This will result in a total portfolio that is 60% stocks, 20% bonds, 10% infrastructure, and 10% hedge funds.

* This assumes that 30% tax was deducted. Actually, the tax was lower due to franking credits and offsets for foreign taxes. The post-tax return was 4.65%.

Friday, January 01, 2021

2020 Performance of Interactive Brokers Accounts

Inspired by Financial Samurai's post, here are the track records of our two Interactive Brokers accounts over 2020.

Moominpapa (in USD and compared to the S&P500):

This is the kind of result we are trying to achieve with our investment strategy and why we don't just invest in index funds. The only ETF we invest in is IAU - a gold ETF.

Moominmama (in AUD):


On the IB platform, I can only compare this inappropriately to US Dollar indices. By comparison, the ASX200 gained only 1.27% for the year. At the end of March it was down 23% for the year and so probably fell about as much as this portfolio did at the worst point a few days earlier. This is a pleasing result, though less downside would be nice, but then this is just a relatively small part of our total portfolio.


Monday, December 21, 2020

2020 Update on the Yale Endowment

Inspired by Financial Samurai's latest post, I am updating my post on the Yale Endowment. They have released preliminary results for the 2019-20 financial year (ends 30 June) and so we can update with three years of data. They returned 6.8% for the 2019-20 financial year, which is just below the S&P500's 7.5%. On the other hand, HFRI lost 0.6% and I lost 0.1% in USD terms. In the long run, since the financial crisis they have tracked the MSCI index with a little extra return and a little less volatility:

Their asset allocation continues to evolve, with domestic equity now only 2.5% and private equity now 41% of the portfolio:

Natural resources are now down to 4.5%. This is much more extreme than the typical family office portfolio, which has 49% of assets in alternatives including rela estate and commodities vs. 78% of the Yale portfolio.

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Breakdown into Taxes, Spending, and Saving

Following up on yesterday's post on our spending over time in different categories, I made another pretty graph, this time of the breakdown of income into taxes, spending, and saving. Everything is in Australian Dollars:

 


Total income is our gross income on our tax returns plus superannuation contributions that are not on our tax returns. This means that it includes taxable investment income. As a result, current saving looks quite big, but saving from our salaries is much smaller than this, nearer to AUD 20k per year. Superannuation contributions include employer and salary sacrifice contributions and not "non-concessional contributions", which I treat as transfers from current savings totaling AUD 180k during this period.

Mortgage principal payments were low last year when I paid off and redrew the mortgage. Even though in my investment performance reports I now include mortgage interest as an investment cost, for the purposes of these posts on spending I include it in housing costs to make our numbers more comparable to other people's. Investment costs are mostly margin interest as well as other fees. Taxes include income and property tax.

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Spending Over the Last Four Years

The chart shows our spending over the last four Australian tax years. The 2020-21 figures are an estimate based on the first five months of the year:

This year's spending is predicted to be lower than last due partly to COVID-19 and a lack of major house maintenance expenditure this year. Travel and cash spending have gone from significant items in 2017-18 to almost nothing or nothing this year. I deliberately reduced cash spending when I started this tracking of our spending in order to make tracking easier. The category that seems to have increased the most is childcare and education, which is not surprising as we went from one child in daycare only a few days a week to two children for more days of the week. The childcare subsidies we got have also been reduced. 

Also of interest are restaurants, which are the tiny sliver above supermarkets, which also declined a lot this year for obvious reasons (I think I got food delivered from a restaurant maybe a couple of times ever in my life). In 2017-18, restaurants were very low because I would usually pay with cash then. Really, restaurant spending was much higher than shown in the first two years. Last year it was AUD 3k and this year is estimated to be AUD 1k. Travel only includes flights and accommodation.

Currency Exposures

 I took a more granular look at currency exposures:

So, actually I still have less than 50% exposure to the Australian Dollar. This probably still exaggerates Australian Dollar exposure. I couldn't find any information on the Australian vs. international bond exposure in any of four Australian balanced funds we are invested in. So I ascribed all their bond exposure to Australian bonds. I am always frustrated by the low level of disclosure regarding investments by most Australian funds in comparison to American funds.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

November 2020 Report

Stock markets rose strongly and the US Dollar fell this month. The Australian Dollar rose from USD 0.7036 to USD 0.7361. The MSCI World Index rose 12.36%, the S&P 500 by 10.95%, and the ASX 200 rose 10.32%. All these are total returns including dividends. We gained 3.83% in Australian Dollar terms or 8.63% in US Dollar terms. The target portfolio is expected to have gained 2.70% in Australian Dollar terms and the HFRI hedge fund index is expected to gain 2.82% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed the latter two benchmarks. Here is a report on the performance of investments by asset class (currency neutral terms): 
Hedge funds added the most to performance and gold detracted the most.
 
Things that worked well this month:
  • The following funds all gained more than AUD 20k: Tribeca Global Resources (TGF.AX), Hearts and Minds (HM1.AX), Platinum (PMC.AX), Pershing Square Holdings (PSH.L). Pershing and Tribeca both gained more than 18%. URF.AX (US residential real estate) gained 34%.
What really didn't work:
  • Gold fell 5.9% or AUD 23k. Domacom (DCL.AX) drifted down, losing AUD 5.5k.
The investment performance statistics for the last five years are:
 
The first two rows are our unadjusted performance numbers in US and Australian Dollar terms. The following four lines compare performance against each of the three indices. We have the desired asymmetric capture for all three indices now and positive alpha compared to all three of them. 
 
The next graph shows monthly performance relative to the MSCI and HFRI indices in US Dollar terms. Before COVID-19 we seemed to track the hedge fund index closely. Post-COVID-19 we are tracking the MSCI closely. We did take on more risk but it wasn't that big a change I thought. So, our investments must also be behaving differently.

 
We moved further towards our long-run asset allocation. Bonds are still the asset class that is furthest from their target allocation (8.4% of total assets too much) followed by real assets (real estate and art) (8.0% too little):
 
 
We are now over-allocated to hedge funds, so will look to trim some positions over time. On a regular basis, we invest AUD 2k monthly in a set of managed funds, and there are also retirement contributions. Other moves this month:
  • I applied for AUD 100k of shares in the Cadence Opportunities Fund.
  • The first capital call for the Aura VFII fund was made for AUD 62.5k.
  • General Financial called 760 of our GNFSL baby bonds. We still have 240.
  • I made a trade in E-Mini S&P call options around the US election. Got out for a small profit, but should have held much longer.
  • I bought another 1,000 IAU gold ETF shares. Still not at 10% of gross assets in gold!
  • I sold 5,000 Hearts and Minds (HM1.AX) shares, taking our position down to 40,000. This was because the stock was trading at a large premium to NTA.
  • I bought AUD 25k by selling US Dollars. We are now at roughly 50/50 in terms of Australian Dollar linked and foreign currency linked investments and so will probably not buy more Australian Dollars for a while.
  • I borrowed AUD 100k from Interactive Brokers and AUD 30k from CommSec to fund the new investments.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

New Investment or Trade? Treasury Wine Estates

 

Today, I bought 5,000 shares of Treasury Wine @ AUD 8.42 a share. The stock has traded as high as AUD 20.20 in the last three years. The price has fallen since China put a huge tariff on Australian wine. The company's announcement seemed positive to me. This stock was also recommended at the recent Sohn Investment Conference by Jun Bei Liu of Tribeca Investment Partners. I don't think she was betting on such a high tariff.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Asset Allocation of Family Offices

 Here is the average asset allocation of family offices a couple of years ago according to UBS:

It's odd that they count commodities separately from alternatives. Perhaps it was used in a study about commodity investing. Here is our current allocation that was partly inspired by university endowments:

It's quite close, though we have more in commodities (=gold) and less in cash. Alternatives here includes private equity, real estate, hedge funds, futures, and art. As usual, the value of our house is not included.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Two New Investments

The second Aura Venture Fund finally closed this month and the first capital call was made for 25% of the investment. One of the things I like about these venture funds is that they gradually trickle money into the market. The others are that they have negative tax (a 10% tax offset on investments and no tax on gains or income) and the first fund has so far performed well. As I am committed to invest AUD 250k, this first payment was AUD 62.5k.

The second investment is the Cadence Opportunities Fund, which is an active trading equity hedge fund structured as a private company. When this fund was first floated and failed to IPO (instead it became an unlisted hedge fund), the main Cadence Fund (CAM.AX) was performing badly and so I decided not to invest. That was a mistake. The fund has gained more than 100% since launching. Now they have a rights issue and the opportunity for outside investors to obtain shares that aren't subscribed to by existing investors - the "shortfall". I put in a bid for AUD 100k in Moominmama's name.

Monday, November 02, 2020

October 2020 Report

Stock markets fell and the US Dollar rose this month. The Australian Dollar fell from USD 0.7156 to 0.7036. The MSCI World Index fell 2.41% and the S&P 500 by 2.66%, but the ASX 200 rose 1.94%. All these are total returns including dividends. We gained 2.35% in Australian Dollar terms and 0.63% in US Dollar terms. The target portfolio gained 0.22% in Australian Dollar terms and the HFRI hedge fund index is expected to lose 0.22% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed all benchmarks. Here is a report on the performance of investments by asset class (currency neutral terms):
Hedge funds added the most to performance and gold detracted the most.
 
Things that worked well this month:
  • Regal Funds was the top performer, gaining AUD 20.8k. Hearts and Minds gained AUD 14.4k.
What really didn't work:
  • As well as gold (down AUD 1.8k), London listed stocks 3i (2.6k) and Pershing Square Holdings (1.9k) were the worst performers.
The investment performance statistics for the last five years are:
 
The first two rows are unadjusted numbers in US and Australian Dollar terms. The following four lines compare performance against each of the three indices. We have the desired asymmetric capture for all three indices now and positive alpha compared to all three of them.
 
We moved further towards our long-run asset allocation. Bonds are still the asset class that is furthest from their target allocation (11% of total assets too much) followed by real assets (8% too little):
 

On a regular basis, we invest AUD 2k monthly in a set of managed funds, and there are also retirement contributions. Other moves this month:
  • I invested USD 20k in two new paintings at Masterworks. I now have USD 40k invested.
  • I bought 278k Domacom shares (DCL.AX).
  • I bought 25,000 Bluesky Alternatives shares (WMA.AX). 
  • I borrowed AUD 100k from IB and used it to reduce our CommSec margin loan and increase our offset account balance.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Masterworks Sells First Painting, Investors Make 32% in One Year

Masterworks sold a Banksy Mona Lisa for $1.5 million after holding it for one year. Investors gain 32% after all fees and costs. I don't think this would be typical but nice to see that this first deal worked out.

I've now invested in four paintings through Masterworks.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Adjusting Home Price Down

 

In the last couple of years I have used the Corelogic house price indices to update the value of our house. But this price has gotten more and more out of touch with sales prices in our development. Well, there was only one this year and it was a lot lot lower. So, I have now redone a regression analysis of all the comparable sales since we bought here. The dependent variable is the percent premium over the original sale price when the development was new and the explanatory variables are dummy variables for each year (0,1 variables that take the value one in the relevant year). This re-values our house at AUD 810k down from 852k last year. We paid 740k at the beginning of 2015 and so this hasn't been great investment-wise as it has appreciated a lot less than the average home in this city supposedly has.

This graph shows how the premium over the original price has changed over time:

In the last year prices have fallen quite a bit. I am not sure why there has been this trend, which is out of step with the rest of the city. One possibility is that the ongoing construction of a new large denser neighboring housing development in place of low rise offices has reduced the value of our development.


Saturday, October 03, 2020

September 2020 Report

Stock markets fell and the US Dollar rose this month. The Australian Dollar fell from USD 0.7380 to 0.7156. The MSCI World Index fell 3.19%, the S&P 500 3.80%, and the ASX 200 3.51%. All these are total returns including dividends. We gained 1.09% in Australian Dollar terms and lost 2.07% in US Dollar terms. The target portfolio is expected to lose 0.70% in Australian Dollar terms and the HFRI hedge fund index 0.17% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed the stock market indices and the target portfolio but not the hedge fund index. Here is a report on the performance of investments by asset class (currency neutral terms):
 
Hedge funds added the most to performance and gold detracted the most.
 
Things that worked well this month:
  • Bluesky Alternatives (soon to be Wilson Alternative Assets) gained AUD 13.5k followed by Regal Funds (AUD 10.4k) and Cadence Capital (AUD 7.4k).
What really didn't work:
  • Gold fell the most (- AUD 16.6k).
The investment performance statistics for the last five years are:
 
The first two rows are unadjusted numbers in US and Australian Dollar terms. The following four lines compare performance against each of the three indices. We have the desired asymmetric capture for all three indices now and positive alpha compared to two of them.
 
We moved further towards our long-run asset allocation. Bonds are still the asset class that is furthest from their target allocation:
 
 
On a regular basis, we invest AUD 2k monthly in a set of managed funds, and there are also retirement contributions. Other moves this month:
  • I bought 100k of Australian Dollars by selling US Dollars.
  • Woolworths (USD 25k) and Nustar (16k) bonds matured.
  • I invested USD 10k in a painting at Masterworks.
  • I bought 22,136 Domacom shares (DCL.AX) at 6.6 cents each. The company announced a deal that might get them about halfway from here to profitability.
  • I bought 25,000 Bluesky Alternatives shares (BAF.AX). 
  • I bought another 1,000 shares of the IAU gold ETF.
  • I was stopped out of the short 10 year treasuries futures position.
  • We reduced our Commonwealth Securities margin loan by another AUD 90k to AUD 92k. Ultimately, I plan to borrow mainly from Interactive Brokers who have a much lower interest rate and only use the Commsec margin loan or our home mortgage facility when there are particularly good opportunities.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Income and Tax History

Reading one of ESI Money's millionaire interviews I was inspired to track our income from previous tax returns (all on this blog). While I was at it, I added the tax as well:

Moominmama's income has actually been more consistent. From 2015-16 there was a fall due to taking maternity leaves and a spike last year due to trading income in her account. My income was low at first after we moved to Australia as I didn't have a job and was trying to trade. My tax was actually negative in those years due to franking credit refunds. My income rose to the $50k zone when I got a part-time academic research job and then very steeply when I became a professor. Since then it has drifted slowly upwards.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

2019-20 Taxes

I just completed our tax returns for this year. As usual they only took a few hours as I am very well-prepared with spreadsheets updated throughout the year. Preparing taxes is mainly a case of checking that all the spreadsheet links and calculations are correct and refreshing my memory about some of the details of what goes where on the tax form. Last year's taxes are here.

Here is a summary of my taxes (To make things clearer, I reclassify a few items compared to the actual tax form):

On the income side, Australian dividends, capital gains, and foreign source income are all up strongly. My salary still dominates my income sources but is not really growing and we have a pay freeze for next yea.

Interest is Australian interest only and is up strongly due to interest on Macquarie, Woolworths, and Virgin Australia bonds.

Unfranked distributions from trusts is up strongly due to the huge distribution from the APSEC fund I invested in just before the end of the tax year. That was a bad move. Foreign source income is mostly dominated by foreign bond interest and losses on futures trading. Other income is gains on selling bonds. These aren't counted as capital gains.

After recording a net capital gain for the first time in a decade last year, I again have zero capital gains and I am carrying forward around $150k in losses to next year. Foreign source income is mostly from futures trading and bond interest. 

In total, gross income rose 6%.

Increased deductions are mostly due to losses on selling bonds. Interest rates are historically low and most bonds that you will be able to buy have higher nominal interest rates. As a result, these bonds are priced above par. If you hold them to maturity you have a loss that is more than offset by the interest received.

Dividend, foreign source income, and trust deductions are all mostly interest on loans.

Total deductions rose strongly, and as a result, net income fell 2%.

Gross tax is computed by applying the rates in the tax table to the net income. In Australia, you enter he tax due in your tax return, but I like to compute it so that I know how big or small my refund will be.

Franking credits (from Australian dividends), foreign tax paid, and the Early Stage Venture Capital (ESVCLP) offset are all deducted from gross tax to arrive at the tax assessment. I again expect to pay extra tax.

I paid 30% of net income in tax. Tax was withheld on my salary at an average rate of 32%.

Moominmama's (formerly Snork Maiden) taxes follow:

Her salary was down a lot because of maternity leave. Dividends and capital gains were up strongly due to investment in various listed investment companies and Commonwealth Bank hybrid securities. Foreign source income was down strongly due to losing on trading this year rather than gaining last tax year. As a result, total income fell by 23%.

Deductions rose dramatically, because of recording trading losses as deductions and starting to deduct interest against dividends. As a result, net income fell 42%. Tax was 15% of net income. Tax withheld on her salary was really high for this income level.

Because income was very high last year, Moominmama had to pay tax installments every three months over the last year. As a result, her expected tax refund is almost as large as my expected tax payment. On net, we need to pay about $500 in extra tax.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Completed Internal Rates of Return

I posted recently the internal rates of return for 66 of my investments. I've now completed the calculations for all 94 investments that were held for more than one year:

Shaded returns are investments that I currently hold. The median rate of return is 5.1%. Most of the larger investments are above the median as are the majority of current investments. The median return of current investments is 9.1%.

Powertel and Looksmart were some dotcom era investments that worked out. DeepSkyWeb one that didn't. I can't even remember what FTS was. I held it in 2007-8. Newcastle was a mortgage fund that blew up in the GFC. Legend was a Joe Gutnick mining company that went to zero and HIH an insurance company that was the worst bankruptcy in Australia's history.


Wednesday, September 09, 2020

August Investment Performance

As my performance statistics over the last 5 years are looking good again, I thought I would start posting them again :)

The first two rows give the average annual rate of return and the Sharpe statistic in the two currencies. These are the kind of numbers I would aim for... Until recently, I was performing better in Australian Dollar terms. Now it depends on which statistic you look at. 

The remaining four lines compare performance to the MSCI (global stocks), ASX200 (Australian stocks), and HFRI (Hedge fund) indices. The first two have all dividends and tax credits included. My portfolio has a subdued reaction to the first two indices (beta < 1) but is more volatile than HFRI. Alpha is the annual return after deducting the part explained by the index. It helps increase the upside and reduce the downside moves.

The final two rows show the same thing in a different way. Down capture divides the average return of the portfolio by the average return of the index in the months that the index went down. Up capture does the same in the months that the index rose. I have a positive asymmetry against all three indices.

Saturday, September 05, 2020

Internal Rates of Return

I have now computed the internal rate of return for 66 investments including all current investments. I excluded all trading involving futures, shorting etc and all names held for less than a month. There are still around a hundred closed investments that need to still be evaluated. In the meantime, here are the results:

  • The top performer was held for under a year. Probably, I should drop everything held for less than a year...
  • At the bottom are two investments that went to zero. 
  • The median return is 6.25%, but most of our larger investments are above the median.
  • I bought shares in Colonial in the demutualization and then it was taken over by Commonwealth Bank. This was my best investment in terms of rate of return.
  • Pershing Square Holdings is looking very good at #3.
  • AAPT was an Australian telecom that did very well and was acquired by Telecom NZ. I think I bought that in an IPO too.
  • I only held Qualcom for a short time.
  • Rounding out the top 10 are five recent investments that are strong performers.
  • A lot of the entries in the right hand column are bonds.


Friday, September 04, 2020

August 2020 Report

The US stock market continued to rise as the US dollar fell. The Australian Dollar rose from USD 0.7159 to 0.7380. The MSCI World Index rose 6.16%, the S&P 500 7.19%, and the ASX 200 3.09%. All these are total returns including dividends. We gained 3.03% in Australian Dollar terms and 6.03% in US Dollar terms. The target portfolio is expected to gain 1.89% in Australian Dollar terms and the HFRI hedge fund index 2.46% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed the latter two benchmarks and almost matched the stock market indices. Here is a report on the performance of investments by asset class:
The returns reported here are in currency neutral terms. Small cap Australian stocks performed best and hedge funds contributed the most to overall return.
 
Things that worked well this month:
  • Regal Funds (RF1.AX) was the top performer, up AUD30k, closely followed by Bluesky Alternatives (BAF.AX, 22k), and Hearts and Minds (HM1.AX, 19k).
  • Domacom (DCL.AX) doubled in price from 4 to 8 cents. Half my position was bought at 2 cents a share. But then the company voluntarily suspended its quotation pending an announcement about a major transaction. The trading halt started on 19 August and there is still no news, though the company did release its annual report.
  • The Aura Venture Fund reported that it performed very well in the June quarter. In retrospect, it was easily the best performing investment that month.
What really didn't work:
  • Winton Global Alpha Fund continued to lose money. The fund announced that a special meeting of unitholders will consider broadening the strategy and lowering the fees.
We moved further towards our long-run asset allocation. The share of hedge funds rose most while the shares of bonds fell the most:
 

On a regular basis, we invest AUD 2k monthly in a set of managed funds, and there are also retirement contributions. Other moves this month:
  • I bought small positions in URF.AX, CDM.AX, RF1.AX, TGF, AX, and PE1.AX in my Commsec account (for a total of 1% of net worth roughly) with the aim of getting better tax information on distributions than provided by Interactive Brokers.
  • I bought 13,719 shares of Platinum Capital.
  • I bought 25,000 shares of Bluesky Alternatives and 1000 shares of 3i to increase our private equity position a little.
  • I opened an account with Masterworks and bought 500 shares in my first painting for USD 10k.
  • USD25k of Goodyear bonds, USD25k of Safeway bonds, and USD28k of Xerox bonds matured.
  • I bought net AUD 60k and GBP 14k and sold net USD 61k.
  • I closed the 2 year-10 year US treasuries September futures spread and shorted 1 contract of December 10 year bonds  futures.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2020

    What is my Best Investment?

    I was just listening to a pod-cast where the host asked the guest (Karsten Jeske) what their best investment was and they could give an answer in annual percentage terms. Up to now, I have tracked returns of individual investments in absolute dollar terms. I can easily say which has been my best and my worst on that basis. The best was the Colonial First State Geared Share Fund and the worst has been the Tribeca Global Resources Fund. But dollar returns depend on the amount invested. I do have average monthly percentage returns for many investments, but properly taking into account transactions is hard. So, I thought that I could compute the internal rate of return. This does take all transactions properly into account. You need to compute each monthly net cashflow into the investment (which I already have in individual spreadsheets I keep on each investment) and then for the current month assume that the investment is sold at the current price. Excel has an IRR function that can be applied to the column of cashflows.

    I plan to do this slowly as I have invested in around 200 different things. The first three I did are gold (34% p.a.), China Fund (14% p.a.), and 3i (6% p.a.). 3i was surprising as this is a lot less than the average annualized monthly return of almost 14%, that I previously computed.


    Sunday, August 23, 2020

    Masterworks

    Masterworks are a fairly new firm offering securitized investments in artworks. They buy paintings by recent and living artists and then sell shares to investors. They charge a 1.5% per annum management fee and plan to charge 20% of profits when an artwork is sold. They also get a markup on the price that they pay, presumably to cover acquisition and offering costs. I am interested in investing a small amount and have scheduled an interview to talk to them. They interview all new clients. One thing that interests me is our family connection to art. My father's family were antique and art dealers before the Second World War in Germany. My brother is an amateur artist who has sold a couple of paintings, I think, and my mother painted as well. But this doesn't give me any particular insight on the financial side of the art market. I'd aim to diversify across the paintings they are offering.

    This investment is more equivalent to private equity buyout rather than venture capital. It doesn't make sense for the firm to buy a painting for $10k or $100k by an unknown artist hoping that it will appreciate because they make a separate special purpose vehicle filed with the SEC for each of their offerings. So they are buying paintings at around $2 million or so a piece.

    P.S. 25 August

    I had my interview today with a representative from Masterworks and was approved to start investing. I learnt that there is a USD10k minimum investment for the primary offerings. I now made my first purchase and have transferred the money using OFX. Based on the spot exchange rate, it cost 1.45%. I tried using my US bank but couldn't work out an online method that works.

    Thursday, August 20, 2020

    Aura Venture Fund

    The value of shares in the Aura Venture jumped from AUD 0.75 to AUD 1.28 in the June quarter. This turned our performance for June from a negative Australian Dollar return to a positive 0.84%.

    The 75 cents price reflects that only 75% of the capital was called at that point. Since then there was a further 10 cents call. This big increase moves this investment from a losing investment to our 7th best of all time in dollar terms. And the gains are tax-free. Of course, all such valuations are somewhat theoretical until they actually exit the investments, but it makes me feel better about this investment and my commitment to invest in their next fund. On the other hand, the portfolio value was upvalued based on the announced acquisition of one investee company at around 2 times the entry price and a funding round at another that reflected a valuation 109% premium over the fund's entry point.


    Monday, August 17, 2020

    Adjusting the Target Portfolio

    Given the continued underperformance of managed futures, I think I am going to again lower my allocation to this asset class to 5% from 10%. I've never gotten above 5% in managed futures funds anyway. In place of this, I could raise the allocation to real estate to 15% or raise both real estate and gold to 12.5%. Or is there something else I should allocate capital to?

    Wednesday, August 12, 2020

    Investing During the Pandemic

    Financial Samurai's blogpost got me wondering how much I had taken advantage of the decline in asset prices earlier this year to add to my investments. So, I put together a table of all my exchange traded investments that aren't bonds plus the APSEC fund I recently invested in.  Not included are bonds, other unlisted funds such as Winton Global Alpha,  Aura Venture Capital, our Colonial First State Funds, the Everest Fund that recently wound up, and all our superannuation funds. The idea is to capture where I have made deliberate rather than automatic investments. 

    The table presents snapshots on 1 February, before the pandemic had effects in Western countries, and today. The number of shares held is self-explanatory. Investment is the net cash invested in that investment. So, making an investment increases the number and withdrawal reduces it, but dividends and distributions that aren't re-invested also reduce it. All the numbers are in Australian Dollars and so the numbers also declined for 3i, Boulder, China Fund, and Pershing as the Australian Dollar rose. Investment per share is the investment number divided by the number of shares.

    In total, I added $334k to these investments over this period. Most of this money came from maturing bonds. There are a lot of different patterns though. I might have made a mistake in investing the most in funds that were trading at the biggest discount to net asset value rather than what turned out to be the strongest funds. I didn't invest anything in Hearts and Minds and not much in Regal. I got a lot of extra shares in Cadence and Tribeca, which is a bet that they'll do better in the future. I increased my Pengana investment mostly because I thought I needed to invest more in private equity and because the fund had been trading at a big premium to net asset value. It's partly a bet that the premium will come back.

    In general though, I have been cautious investing during this period because I invested a lot in early 2008 after the initial fall in the market, only to lose big later in the year. 




    Wednesday, August 05, 2020

    July 2020 Report

    The US stock market continued to rise as the US dollar fell. The Australian Dollar rose from USD 0.6884 to 0.7159. The MSCI World Index rose 5.33%, the S&P 500 5.64%. The ASX 200 only rose 0.50%. All these are total returns including dividends. We gained 1.76% in Australian Dollar terms and gained 5.82% in US Dollar terms. The target portfolio gained 1.57% in Australian Dollar terms and the HFRI hedge fund index 3.24% in US Dollar terms. So, unusually, we outperformed all benchmarks. Here is a report on the performance of investments by asset class:
    The returns reported here are in currency neutral terms. Gold performed best and futures worst. Gold contributed most to the total return.

    Things that worked well this month:
    • Gold gained AUD 39k as the metal hit a record high. It is now our fourth best investment ever in dollar terms. Only the CFS Geared Share Fund and the Unisuper and PSS(AP) superannuation funds have made us more money.
    • Tribeca was the next best performer gaining AUD 15k.
    What really didn't work:
    • Pengana Private Equity lost AUD 4k.
    • My Virgin Australia bonds lost AUD 3k. In the coming month we'll find out how much they are really worth.
    We moved further towards our long-run asset allocation. The share of private equity rose most while the shares of bonds and futures/cash fell:



    On a regular basis, we invest AUD 2k monthly in a set of managed funds, and there are also retirement contributions. Other moves this month:
    • We participated in the Pengana Private Equity (PE1.AX) rights issue buying 18,000 shares.
    • I bought AUD 50k of Australian Dollars and used 40k to reduce my margin loan at CommSec.
    It was a fairly uneventful month.
     
    P.S. 8th August
    I just realized we hit a new high net worth in US Dollar terms this month, exceeding the previous high in December. Details are at NetworthShare Quite remarkable given the circumstances. In Australian Dollar terms we are 3% below the January high.