Monday, January 17, 2022

Australian Unity Merger Terminated

Australian Unity Office Fund (AOF.AX) announced that the merger with the Australian Unity Diversified Fund has been cancelled. It's odd that it is large shareholders of the listed fund who scuppered the deal when I thought the merger was disadvantageous to the unlisted fund members.

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Annual Report 2021

Overview 
The biggest development this year at Moomin Valley is that we set up the SMSF. We also finished investing the money we inherited in late 2018. I also reviewed all our existing investments to decide which to drop. Investment returns were again very strong. We exceeded the net worth projection in last year's report, which at the time I thought was crazy. In my academic career, I didn't feel very productive. Mainly I worked on completing research projects started in previous years, though there was one project that started right at the end of last year that we have already submitted for publication. I was frustrated with online teaching in the first half of the year and then with the second lockdown in Canberra in the second half of the year. Luckily, we could send our younger child to daycare throughout the lockdown this time. The estimated value of our house rose sharply in line with market trends and we closed some of the lag to the general housing market that we have experienced since buying here. At the end of the year, we went for our first trip outside our local region since the pandemic started, to South Durras, NSW:
 

All $ signs in this report indicate Australian Dollars. I'll do a separate report on individual investments. I do a report breaking down of spending after the end of the financial year.
 
Investment Returns 
In Australian Dollar terms we gained 18.8% for the year and in USD terms we gained 11.7% because of the decline in the Australian Dollar over the year. The MSCI gained 19.0%  in USD terms and the ASX 200 only 19.5% in AUD terms. The HFRI hedge fund index gained 12.4% in USD terms. Our target portfolio  gained 17.4% in AUD terms. So, we only beat the target portfolio benchmark this year. This is expected in a strong bull market.
 
This chart compares our portfolio to the benchmarks in Australian Dollar terms over the year:


We tracked the target portfolio quite closely and ended the year with a similar return to the ASX 200 but less volatility. This is the goal of our investment strategy. We had no down months. The ASX tracked the MSCI till the middle of the year and then lagged. The S&P 500 was strong throughout. Here are the same indices in US Dollar terms with the target portfolio replaced by the HFRI hedge fund index:

The ASX 200, HFRI and to some degree MSCI, all stagnated in the second half of the year. I ended up with a similar performance as the median hedge fund, but with more volatility because of the translation into US Dollars. If we targeted low volatility of US Dollar returns we would need to short non-US Dollar currency, whereas going long foreign currency achieves low volatility for Australian Dollar investors. US based investors are, therefore, more likely to hedge out foreign currency exposure, while we seek it.
 
Here are annualized returns over various standard periods:

Both our returns and the benchmark returns have increased over time. We have a better performance than the ASX 200 over the last two years and similar over 5-10 years. We beat the HFRI over all the longer time horizons. We had a similar performance to the MSCI over the last two years, but much worse over longer horizons. Whether you think our performance is good or bad depends on what you think the default alternative investment is. If it is an ASX 200 index fund, then we are doing OK. If it is a global stock index fund then not so good. If you think it is our target portfolio (not in the table) then we are doing a bit better than that over 10 years and about the same over shorter horizons.

Here are the investment returns and contributions of each asset class in 2021:
 
The contributions to return sum to the total portfolio return in gross asset terms. These returns are currency neutral and because of leverage are lower than the returns reported above for net assets. The portfolio shares are at the beginning of the year. Hedge funds and private equity again had the highest returns. Hedge funds had by far the largest contribution to total return. Gold was the weakest performer. The rate of return on bonds was surprisingly good. Returns to long-only stocks were surprisingly poor compared to market indices.

Investment Allocation
The main changes in allocation over the year were that we continued to reduce our bonds allocation while increasing real assets and private equity mostly:
 

The blip in the early part of the year is when we transferred funds from Colonial First State to the SMSF. The CFS funds were all converted to cash.

Accounts
Here are our annual accounts in Australian Dollars:


Percentage changes are for the total numbers. 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 $166k after tax in salary, business related refunds, medical payment refunds, tax refunds etc. This was up 17% on 2020 because Moominmama went back to work. We earned (pre-tax including unrealized capital gains) $485k on non-retirement account investments. A small amount of the gains were due to the fall in the Australian Dollar (forex). We gained $278k on retirement accounts with $37k in employer retirement contributions (more details below). The big difference to last year, is that instead of the value of our house falling, I estimate it rose by $246k. As a result, investment income totalled $1.008 million and total income $1.211 million.
 
Total spending (doesn't include mortgage payments) was up 12% on 2020, which saw a fall in spending. Combining the two years, spending is rising at 3% per year.

$19k 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 $374k into retirement accounts (ultimately the SMSF) from existing savings.
 
The change in current net worth, was therefore $1234k. Looking at just saving from non-investment income, we dissaved $344k. So, before the transfer to retirement accounts we saved about $31k (19%) from salaries etc.

We made $37k in pre-tax contributions to retirement accounts (after the 15% contribution tax) and made an estimated $278k in pre-tax returns. $20k 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 apart from the SMSF 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 $668k.
 
Total net worth increased by $1.038 million,  which was up 218% on last year. $67k of this was from saving from non-investment sources, up 95% on last year. Thanks to employer superannuation contributions this was 33% of our total after tax non-investment income.

How Does This Compare to My Projection for This Year?
Last year my baseline projection for 2021 was 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. This just seemed like too much to me so I also made a "more sensible projection" of an increase of $400k to around $5.3 million. Investment returns matched the baseline projections very closely. The additional gain in net worth is mainly due to the estimated increase in the value of our house. Using the same methodology, the baseline projection for 2022 is for a 16% rate of return, no increase in the value of our home, flat other income, and 6% growth in spending. This results in net worth increasing by $800k to around $6.7 million. Again, 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 in the spreadsheet 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.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

December 2021 Report

 

Stock markets performed very strongly, with the MSCI World Index rising by 4.03%, the S&P 500 by 4.48%, and the ASX 200 by 3.15%. All these are total returns including dividends. The Australian Dollar rose from USD 0.7122 to USD 0.7261 reducing Australian Dollar returns and increasing USD returns. We gained 2.14% in Australian Dollar terms or 4.14% in US Dollar terms. The target portfolio is expected to gain 1.13% in Australian Dollar terms and the HFRI hedge fund index is expected to rise 1.90% in US Dollar terms. So, we out-performed three of the benchmarks but underperformed the S&P 500 and the ASX 200. Though I track performance against the S&P 500, it isn't really a benchmark, as I can't imagine investing all my assets in it. This month's numbers are very preliminary though. The returns for two of the top performing investments are just estimates based on historical internal rates of return. These venture capital funds only update valuations every six months and report the results more than a month after the quarter end.

The record-breaking run of winning months in Australian Dollar (and currency neutral) terms continued. We haven't had a losing month since March 2020. This is a 21 months run so far. We have had several monthly US Dollar losses in that time.

Here is a report on the performance of investments by asset class (currency neutral returns in terms of gross assets): 

Private equity had the best performance and contributed the most to the account. This includes estimated returns of venture capital funds that won't report the year end value till some time in February and so is very preliminary. US and rest of the world stocks had negative returns. This was because of the negative performance of the Hearts and Minds Fund (HM1.AX), which lost 7% for the month and had a 3.7% portfolio weight.

Things that worked well this month:
  • Venture capital funds Aura VF1 and VF2 are predicted to perform well. In reality VF2 might not be upvalued at all and VF1 revalued by more than predicted because of a strong funding round for Shippit, which is the largest holding in the fund. Pengana Private Equity (PE1.AX) gained AUD 15k, Tribeca Global Resources (TGF.AX) AUD 12k, Cadence Opportunities (CDO.AX) 10k, Fortescue (FMG.AX) 9k, and Pershing Square Holdings (PSH.L), 9k also.
What really didn't work:
  • As mentioned above, Hearts and Minds was by far the worst performer, losing AUD 14k.

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 over the last 60 months. We show the desired asymmetric capture and positive alpha against the ASX200 index. We are a little bit better than the median hedge fund levered 1.6 times. 

We moved a little bit towards our desired long-run asset allocation. We reduced the shares of futures and hedge funds in the portfolio and increased the shares of everything else. Private equity is the most underweight asset class and real assets the most overweight. Our actual allocation currently looks like this:


70% of our portfolio is in what are often considered to be alternative assets: real estate, art, hedge funds, private equity, gold, and futures. We receive employer contributions to superannuation every two weeks. In addition we made the following investment moves this month:

  • I bought a second Australian Dollar futures contract to hedge our foreign currency exposed positions.
  • I reduced our leverage quite a lot from 23% of gross assets (not counting our house) to 18%. This includes the mortgage on our house. The main reason was to reduce our most expensive debt – a margin loan from Commonwealth Securities. I also replaced a pile of AUD cash with the second futures contract and reduced our US Dollar margin loan from Interactive Brokers by selling AUD 66k. I sold the remaining 200 shares of the Ready Capital baby bond (RCB) to complete this delevering.
  • I invested in my twelfth painting at Masterworks. A David Hockney painting shown above. I just liked it. As usual, I invested USD 10k.
  • I sold 25k shares of Pengana Private Equity (PE1.AX) as the share price rose above NAV.
  • I sold 38k of Regal Funds (RF1.AX) shares I recently bought when the NAV hit AUD 4.02. NAV is now AUD 3.83. Still we made a profit of about AUD 3k on this trade.
  • I bought 1,000 shares of the China Fund (CHN) after they paid out a dividend that reduced the dollar value of my holding by almost as much.



    Monday, December 06, 2021

    Australian Unity Merger Deferred

     


    Australian Office Fund (AOF.AX) announces that the merger meeting is delayed till at least February because some large shareholders gave negative feedback on the proposal. That's strange because I thought the merger unfairly benefited AOF shareholders! Anyway, we will have to wait and see what changes are made or if the whole thing is cancelled in the end.

    Thursday, December 02, 2021

    November 2021 Report

    The MSCI World Index fell by 2.38%, the S&P 500 by 0.69%, and the ASX 200 by 0.37%. All these are total returns including dividends. The Australian Dollar fell from USD 0.7518 to USD 0.7122 boosting Australian Dollar returns and making USD returns very negative. We gained 1.52% in Australian Dollar terms or lost 3.83% in US Dollar terms. The target portfolio gained 2.15% in Australian Dollar terms and the HFRI hedge fund index is expected to fall 0.99% in US Dollar terms. So, we under-performed the target portfolio benchmark, the two international indices, and the HFRI but outperformed the Australian index.

    The record-breaking run of winning months in Australian Dollar (and currency neutral) terms continued. We haven't had a losing month since March 2020. This is a 20 months run so far. We have had several US Dollar losses in that time. This month was the 6th and worst decline. This graph shows returns since 2018 in Australian Dollar terms:

    As designed we are getting less volatility on average than the MSCI index in Australian Dollar terms. This month it was up though the index was down in US Dollar terms. If you are wondering why the scale is so wide on this graph, this is the reason:

    US Dollar returns are much more volatile. For Australians, holding foreign assets reduces volatility in Australian Dollar terms as the Australian Dollar tends to move with stock prices, raising the Australian Dollar value of foreign assets when stock markets decline. For Americans, holding foreign assets increases volatility... You really would need to short the US Dollar to get similar results in US Dollar terms.

    Here is a report on the performance of investments by asset class (currency neutral returns):

    Gold had the best performance and contributed the most to the account followed by large cap Australian stocks.

    Things that worked well this month:
    • Gold was the star performer. Gold started the month very strongly but then collapsed after Jay Powell was appointed for another term as Federal Reserve chair. But it then ended the month a lot ahead. We gained AUD 31k. In fact the US Dollar price of gold fell slightly but the fall in the Australian Dollar provided all the gains as we hold our gold as PMGOLD.AX. Runners up were Fortescue (FMG.AX) at AUD 12k and Regal Funds (RF1.AX) AUD 10k. The Fortescue position is relatively small. It gained 15%.
    What really didn't work:

    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 over the last 60 months. We show the desired asymmetric capture and positive alpha against the ASX200 index. We are a little bit worse than the median hedge fund levered 1.6 times. 

    We moved a little bit away from our desired long-run asset allocation. Private equity is the most underweight asset class and real assets the most overweight. Our actual allocation currently looks like this:


    Roughly two thirds of our portfolio is in what are often considered to be alternative assets: real estate, art, hedge funds, private equity, gold, and futures. We receive employer contributions to superannuation every two weeks. In addition we made the following investment moves this month:

    • I closed the small positions we had in Pengana Capital (PCG.AX) following the distribution in specie from PE1.AX and sold 10k shares of PE1 I recently bought when the stock price was below NAV.
    • I bought back 4k shares of RICA.L that I sold to participate in the RF1.AX rights issue.
    • I bought 36k Regal Funds (RF1.AX) shares when they announced a jump in NAV to the share price on the hope of the premium to NAV coming back. I don't plan to hold this for the long term. I've already sold 17k of them.
    • Cadence Opportunities IPO-ed (CDO.AX). I moved the shares into Moominmama's Interactive Brokers account and planned to sell stuff there to pay down some of my CommSec margin loan. I try to keep a balance of contributions in her IB account to match money we deposited there from the mortgage redraw.
    • Planning for that move, I sold 12k MOT.AX shares, an Australian private credit fund.
    • But then WCM Global Long-Short (WLS.AX) announced that they have redone their accounts and now the post-tax NAV is the same as the pre-tax NAV, which is also higher. I thought it was a good opportunity to increase our holding in that fund to around a 2% position and bought 44k shares, which used up the cash in the account...
    • But I did sell all our holdings of Scorpio Tankers (SBBA) and most of our Ready Capital (RCB) baby bonds in her account and bought AUD 65k helping increase our holdings of Australian Dollars and reducing US Dollars.
    • I also sold our position (4k shares) in Argo Investments (ARG.AX), which was suggested by the investment review.
    • In order to hedge some remaining foreign currency exposure and get back closer to a 50/50 Australian Dollar/Foreign Currency exposure balance, I bought one Australian Dollar futures contract.



      Friday, November 26, 2021

      Defined Benefit vs. Defined Contribution Update

      Each time I was given the choice to be in a defined benefit scheme or a defined contribution superannuation scheme, I chose defined contribution. So, now and then I like to check whether I made the right decision. I worked from 1996 to 2001 in the Australian Higher Education sector. In fact, at the same employer I now work for. Originally, defined benefit was the only option. But then they gave us the choice to switch. In 2001, I rolled over my account to Colonial First State and then this year to our SMSF. I have now worked out how much that money is now worth. I estimate that it is AUD 410k. In 2009 I started working at the same employer again and opened a new Unisuper defined contribution account. It now has AUD 477k in it. So, in total I have AUD 888k. Including the 5 years that I worked from 1996 to 2001 my defined benefit lump sum would now be AUD 473k. We are going to need to have a big crash to make those numbers equal...

      Wednesday, November 24, 2021

      Save, Inherit, and Invest

      I love reading the Millionaire Interviews at the Earn, Save, and Invest Blog. One of the questions they get asked is "What would you say is your greatest strength in the ESI wealth-building model (Earn, Save or Invest) and why would you say it’s tops?" Compared to many of his interviewees, our earning has not been that strong. Despite my salary putting me in the top 5% of Australian earners, it's only nominally about USD 125k per year. On the other hand, our household income including superannuation contributions and net investment income is nearer USD 250k per year. Historically, I would have said that our strength was in saving. Before we bought the house and had children, we had a very high saving rate. But, in the last few years, our investment profits have really taken off. Now the sources of our net worth are roughly 25% saving, 30% inheritance, and 45% investment returns.

      I've posted earlier versions of this crazy chart before:


      It separates net worth into saving and investment returns in superannuation and non-superannuation accounts, inheritance, and housing equity. Part of housing equity is saving and part gains. Maybe, in the future I will split that up in the graph. Only recently is that difference becoming significant.

      Up till the end of 2014, we saved a lot apart from the meltdown following the dot.com crash. Since then we moved savings into housing equity and superannuation, resulting in negative current savings. More interesting is that after the first transfer to housing equity the growth rate of savings (i.e. the slope in the segments without a transfer) is much lower than before 2015. On the other hand, retirement contributions remain strong.

      P.S. 25 November

      So, I made a chart showing just total savings, inherited money, and investment returns:

      Investment returns are the gap between net worth and the other two categories. As investment returns went negative a few times, plotting them in the same way as the other two sources would be confusing. This graph shows that savings continue to increase but at a slower pace than they did in the first part of the previous decade.


      Friday, November 19, 2021

      Cadence Opportunities Starts Trading

      I had decided not to buy more shares in the Cadence Opportunities (CDO.AX) IPO. But the stock closed at AUD 3.00 on the first day, up from the IPO price of 2.77, so perhaps I should have. Still haven't got our holding statement yet and it's not on Boardroom's website so it will be a while till we could actually trade it. They tried to raise AUD 52 million and only raised 15 million. So, it's surprising that it is trading above the IPO price, really.

      Tuesday, November 16, 2021

      Ruffer Investment Company Rights Issue

      Ruffer Investment Company (RICA.L) launches a 1 for 4 rights issue at NAV. The stock has been trading for a small premium. This isn't very exciting and is a bit annoying as I just bought 4,000 shares for £3.05 a share. I had sold those shares for less than that to buy into the Regal Funds (RF1.AX) rights issue. I sold some Pengana Private Equity (PE1.AX) shares and used part of Moominmama's concessional contribution for the year to buy the shares. We have a total of 8,000 shares in the SMSF.

      I don't think I'll be taking up the rights in the SMSF as I'd have to sell something else or make another retirement contribution. Maybe in Moominmama's account where we have another 8,000 shares.

      Monday, November 15, 2021

      Update on Australian Office Fund / Australian Unity Diversified Property Fund Merger

      I have been planning to vote no on this merger for a number of reasons. The explanatory booklet for the merger has been released to the ASX. This provides details on the options to exist the fund. Though the unitholder meeting will be on 10 December, we have to decide by 8 December whether we want to exit the fund. However, we can choose to withdraw only if the merger goes ahead, so that is OK.

      They are also offering to redeem a minimum of AUD 24.8 million of units if people want to redeem that much and maybe more than that if the merger is approved. If the merger isn't approved the cap will be at AUD 8.6 million. So, I plan to submit a withdrawal notice now and vote no. My guess is that only part of our investment will be redeemed if the merger doesn't go through. Anyway, we could always apply for more units again if we really wanted to in that case.

      After reading all these details I am happier than I was about the proposal, but really would have preferred if they raised more capital instead. I would have been happy to invest in more units.

      Auction in Our Development

       

      After a few recent sales in the neighboring development, finally two houses were listed in ours. One was auctioned on Saturday. I went to the auction. The price was AUD 971k, which was a 66% increase on the original 2008 price. It is a record for our development both in dollar and percentage terms. The previous highest price was 850k back in 2015. This confirms that the recent sales in the neighboring development weren't flukes. There is another, smaller house for sale. It's one of those "by negotiation" ones. Neither an auction nor a listed price.

      Sunday, November 07, 2021

      Changing Target Asset Allocation Again

       I still think it is useful to have one...

      Reducing the bond allocation and moving it to the equity allocation including hedge funds.


      Thursday, November 04, 2021

      Headhunter

      I was contacted by a head hunter today for a senior government position on the borderlines of research and policy. Normally headhunters approach me about academic positions, so this was a bit different. I wouldn't have to move for the job and I could plausibly apply for it. It would pay about double what I get now. I had a look at the "selection criteria", the current holders of the same level positions, and some reports they put out. I was already thinking that I would have a lot less freedom in such a position. The upside is I am a bit bored again with my career and it would be a new challenge. I felt positive when I saw the backgrounds of some of the people in those positions. But when I looked at the reports I felt mind-numbingly bored. Typical government reports with heaps of recommendations. I just don't think I could do it. So, I told the headhunter no, but recommended someone else.

      Wednesday, November 03, 2021

      October 2021 Report

      The run of winning months in Australian Dollar terms continued. We haven't had a losing month since March 2020. This is a 19 months run so far. As this was only a slightly positive return, it could become negative when all the unlisted investments report.

      The MSCI World Index rose 5.36%, the S&P 500 by 7.01%, and the ASX 200 fell by 0.09%. All these are total returns including dividends. The Australian Dollar rose from USD 0.7227 to USD 0.7518. We gained 0.07% in Australian Dollar terms or 4.10% in US Dollar terms. The target portfolio is gained 0.68% in Australian Dollar terms and the HFRI hedge fund index is expected to rise 2.54% in US Dollar terms. So, we underperformed the target portfolio benchmark and the two international indices but beat the HFRI and Australian indices. Here is a report on the performance of investments by asset class (currency neutral returns):

      Private equity had the best performance but hedge funds contributed the most to performance followed by private equity. Several asset classes lost money. Gold performed worst.

      Things that worked well this month:
      • Pershing Square (PSH.L) gained AUD 26k and Tribeca Global Resources (TGF.AX) gained AUD 25k. Both, and especially PSH, are still well below their net asset values.
      What really didn't work:
      • Regal Funds (RF1.AX) lost AUD 27k following the rights issue and placement. Issuing more shares at NAV is sure to depress the stock price. Cadence Capital (CDM.AX) lost AUD 11k. The fall in the price of The Metals Company post-IPO is probably weighing down the share price.

      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 show the desired asymmetric capture and positive alpha against the ASX200 index. We are doing a bit worse than the median hedge fund levered 1.6 times. 

      We increased our distance from our desired long-run asset allocation a little mostly due to the RF1 placement increasing our allocation to hedge funds. Private equity and bonds are both underweight and hedge funds and real assets overweight. I think having an allocation does make me think harder about overweighting in a particular direction but right now I am thinking of changing the allocation again by reducing the bond allocation to 5% from 10%. Our actual allocation currently looks like this:

      Roughly two thirds of our portfolio is in what some consider to be alternative assets: real estate, art, hedge funds, private equity, gold, and futures. We receive employer contributions to superannuation every two weeks. In addition we made the following investment moves this month:

      • We participated in the Regal Funds (RF1.AX) rights issue and placement, buying 17k shares.
      • To help fund this, I sold 4k shares of Ruffer Investment Company (RICA.L). This was a bad move, as it immediately finally started increasing. 
      • I sold 25k MOT.AX shares (Australian corporate debt fund). The idea was to fund buying shares in the Cadence Opportunities IPO. But then I changed my mind about that.
      • I made a concessional contribution to the SMSF of AUD 20k for Moominmama for this tax year. This replaces her previous salary sacrifice contributions to PSS(AP).

        Saturday, October 16, 2021

        Moominpapa's 2020-21 Taxes

        I am finally able to submit my taxes for this year. 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. Of course, everything is in Australian Dollars.

        On the income side, Australian dividends and franked distributions from managed funds are  up strongly. My salary still dominates my income sources but is not growing. Interest is Australian interest only and is zero due to no longer holding Australian bonds.

        Unfranked distributions from trusts is down strongly because the distribution from APSEC was exceptionally large last year. I have now moved the APSEC fund to our SMSF. Foreign source income is from foreign bond interest and distributions and dividends both from directly held foreign investments and from Australian managed funds. Other income is gains on selling bonds. These aren't counted as capital gains. As we have few bonds any more the amount is small. I used most of my carry forward capital losses this year reducing the net capital gain to zero. I am still carrying forward $28k to next year.

        In total, gross income fell 2%.

        Increased deductions are mostly due to writing down the loss on my Virgin Australia bonds. This isn't counted as a capital loss and can be deducted immediately. Dividend, foreign source income, and trust deductions are all mostly interest on loans.

        Total deductions rose strongly, and as a result, net income fell 9%.

        Gross tax is computed by applying the rates in the tax table to the net income. In Australia, you don't enter the 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. This time because of the Virgin Australia loss and the ESVCLP offset I should get a large refund.

        I estimate that I will pay 24% of net income in tax. Tax was withheld on my salary at an average rate of 31%.

        Thursday, October 14, 2021

        Cadence Opportunities IPO


        Another "corporate action" to consider. Cadence Opportunities Fund attempted an IPO about three years ago, which failed. I invested in the fund at a second fund-raising. Now it is again attempting an IPO and attempting to triple funds under management in the process. I was thinking to buy more shares in the IPO and even moved money from one account to another to do so, but then had second thoughts. Don't get me wrong, this is so far a great investment. I have a 50% internal rate of return on my investment. But after reading the independent report I became concerned that the price might trade below the IPO price and so it would be better to wait to buy shares on market. On the other hand, if the fund keeps performing so strongly, the increase in the NAV might outweigh an illiquidity discount... But given we have 3% or so of net worth in the fund already, I think I will give it a pass.

        Wednesday, October 06, 2021

        Corporate Actions

        Two current "corporate actions". Regal Funds (RF1.AX) announced a 1 for 3 rights issue at the net asset value of AUD 3.79 per share. Price prior to the announcement was AUD 4.47 per share. I plan to fully take up the entitlement. The question is what do I sell in our SMSF to take up the offer as I only have AUD 27k in cash and will also need to pay taxes etc some time... The rights issue will cost AUD 55k.

        Australian Unity Diversified Property Fund announced that they plan to merge with the ASX listed Australian Unity Office Fund (AOF.AX). The joint fund will continue to be listed on the ASX. There are four reasons I will vote against this merger:

        1. The reason I invested in an unlisted property fund is to not be exposed to stock market fluctuations in the value of the fund.

        2. We will receive shares in AOF according to the current NAV of that fund. Its price on the ASX is much below that. That means that the market value of our shares will instantly fall.

        3. I invested in a diversified fund because I didn't want to just be exposed to office property. The new fund will be dominated by offices.

        4. The reason for the merger is supposedly to allow easier capital raising for the development pipeline while not increasing the gearing of the fund. The gearing will actually fall. I wanted to be in a geared fund.

        P.S. 28Oct21

        I just read the AOF annual report. It is much less profitable than Australian Unity Diversified Property Fund despite not charging performance fees. Or maybe because of that? It's surprising that they are looking to give up those fees! That is a fifth reason to vote no. I will withdraw our investment prior to listing if the merger is approved. According to the fund we get six days to withdraw after the meeting. Two of them are a weekend. But usually they only allow a maximum of 2.5% of the fund to be withdrawn per quarter. So, now I am seeking clarification on that. The merger document is a bit vague on how much withdrawals will be allowed.

        Saturday, October 02, 2021

        September 2021 Report

        This month world stock markets finally declined. But we gained a little in AUD terms,* showing the value of our alternative assets strategy. In Australian Dollar terms we haven't had a losing month since March 2020. This is an 18 months run so far. The previous longest runs were the 10 months ending in September 2019 and the 10 months ending in April 2013. It could be that one of my late reporting investments comes out negative enough to overturn the positive result, but I'm not expecting that.

        The MSCI World Index fell 4.09%, the S&P 500 by 4.65%, and the ASX 200 by 1.49%. All these are total returns including dividends. The Australian Dollar fell from USD 0.7314 to USD 0.7227. We gained 0.11% in Australian Dollar terms or lost 1.08% in US Dollar terms. The target portfolio is expected to have lost 1.27% in Australian Dollar terms and the HFRI hedge fund index is expected to fall 1.86% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed all benchmarks, which is exactly opposite to what happened last month (again). The most important reasons for outperformance were the gains in hedge funds. Here is a report on the performance of investments by asset class (currency neutral returns):

        Futures had the best performance but hedge funds contributed the most to performance followed by private equity. Australian large cap had the worst performance and detracted by an equal amount to gold.

        Things that worked well this month:
        • Regal Funds (RF1.AX) gained AUD 30k, Pengana Private Equity (PE1.AX and the spin-off of PCG.AX shares) gained AUD 17k, and Tribeca Global Resources (TGF.AX) gained AUD 15k.
        What really didn't work:
        • Gold lost AUD 18k, Cadence Capital (CDM.AX) AUD 18k, and Fortescue Metals (FMG.AX) AUD 12k.

        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 show the desired asymmetric capture and positive alpha against the ASX200 index. We are doing a bit worse than the median hedge fund levered 1.6 times. 

        We maintained about the same distance from our desired long-run asset allocation while the allocation to hedge funds rose. Real assets equity is the asset class that is now furthest from its target allocation (3.6% of total assets too much). Our actual allocation currently looks like this:


        Roughly two thirds of our portfolio is in what some consider to be alternative assets: real estate, art, hedge funds, private equity, gold, and futures. We receive employer contributions to superannuation every two weeks. In addition we made the following investment moves this month:

        • USD 35k of Ford bonds matured.
        • I sold 5k RF1 shares as their price spiked.
        • I bought 20k TGF.AX shares based on insider buying and thinking that the price was about to break out above the IPO price. It didn't yet.
        • I bought 31k CDM.AX shares following the IPO of TMC. TMC promptly tanked. So neither of these hedge fund purchases was a good idea so far.
        * The first version I posted of this month's accounts showed a small loss because I accidentally included an AUD 14k margin loan in our Australian Dollar cash, making it smaller than it should have been. I knew there was a mistake somewhere because the implied change in the value of the portfolio due to exchange rate movements was much too big.

        Saturday, September 25, 2021

        Moominmama's 2020-21 Taxes

        I finished Moominmama's taxes for this financial year. I still need the details of my venture capital investment tax offset to complete mine. The post about last year's taxes is here. Here is a summary of Moominmama's tax return:

        Her salary was down steeply as she went back to work part time after being on maternity leave at full time, though the full time pay was only paid for part of the year she took off. Dividends managed fund distributions, and foreign source income were all up steeply. A quirk of the system is that foreign gains are treated as income and losses on trading foreign instruments are recorded as deductions. Capital gains were up 148% and dominated her income. This was largely due to recording capital gains on investments that we transferred into our SMSF. On the deductions side, other deductions includes interest for foreign source income and trading losses.

        Net income increased 55% and tax 110%. The latter is my estimate of the tax she owes. You don't need to calculate this number on an Australian tax return. Her average tax rate was 20%. Remember, that there are no state income taxes in Australia. Only AUD 2,808 was withheld from her salary. We paid AUD 3.886 in quarterly installments. I calculate that we still owe AUD 11,203.

        Wednesday, September 22, 2021

        FI or FIRE?

         

        I wrote about FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) at least once before. The Retire Early bit is the problematic bit. It makes much more sense for people to use financial independence to do what they want to do rather than just stop working.

        A while back I heard that Mr Money Mustache got divorced. Seems his wife wanted to spend more money given their high income. But that wouldn't fit with his frugality message. Now here is a FIRE blogger who retired with a small nest-egg - so-called "lean FIRE". His wife got tired of not spending much either and of having too much leisure time and not making "progress" in life. And here is another blogger who is tired of not having enough money. Many FIRE bloggers who supposedly retired actually work on their blogging business. They stopped being an employee and became self-employed. This is great.

        With a net worth of approaching AUD 6 million we are financially independent by any reasonable definition. But I'm not planning on retiring. As I mentioned before, I like my job, at least the research part. I am hoping to not ever teach more than one course a year again. I am sacrificing more than AUD 40k to take long-service leave next year to reduce my teaching load. After that I am planning to take on a "leadership role" for a while and once I turn 60 I hope to go part-time. Also, I don't want to sacrifice the "prestige" and become a nobody. Unless we plan on moving somewhere else, it seems to make sense to do my very flexible job.

        And actually I am thinking that our money isn't enough. Our older child is going to private school and the younger one probably will too. The alternative is to move to a top public school catchment area. My wife isn't happy with the public schools here, though I think they are fine. With the way the property market is going that means an AUD 2 million + house price. Or maybe move to Sydney because the best public schools in Sydney are better than the private schools here. My wife puts a big weight on education. I thought Jewish parents like my parents and me were into education. Chinese parents are at another level.

        And, actually, I did the retire early bit already. I just wasn't financially independent.

        Saturday, September 04, 2021

        August 2021 Report

        It was another month of increases in world stock markets. The MSCI World Index rose 2.53%, the S&P 500 by 3.04%, and the ASX 200 rose 2.75%. All these are total returns including dividends. The Australian Dollar fell from USD 0.7350 to USD 0.7314 We gained 0.51% in Australian Dollar terms or  0.01% in US Dollar terms. The target portfolio is expected to have gained 1.89% in Australian Dollar terms and the HFRI hedge fund index is expected to gain 1.23% in US Dollar terms. So, we underperformed all benchmarks, which is exactly opposite to what happened last month. The most important reasons for underperformance were losses in Tribeca Global Resources (TGF.AX), Fortescue Metals (FMG.AX), and Hearts and Minds (HM1.AX). Here is a report on the performance of investments by asset class (currency neutral returns):

        Hedge funds had the best performance and contributed the most to performance despite the bad performance of TGF.AX. Large cap Australia stocks were the only asset class with a negative performance.

        Things that worked well this month:
        • Cadence Capital (CDM.AX) was the top performer, gaining AUD 16k (or 9%) with good performances from Pershing Square Holdings (PSH.L), Regal Funds (RF1.AX), Unisuper, PSSAP etc.
        What really didn't work:
        • The worst performers were Tribeca Global Resources (-AUD 22k or -10%), Fortescue Metals (-AUD 16k, -17%), and Hearts and Minds (-AUD 11k, -5%). The latter two have regained most of their losses so far in September.

        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 show the desired asymmetric capture and positive alpha against the ASX200 index. We are doing a bit worse than the median hedge fund levered 1.6 times.  

        In Australian Dollar terms we haven't had a losing month since March 2020, which must be a record. It feels like this can't continue, but on the other hand, Central Banks continue to print money. I long projected that we would reach a net worth of AUD 6 million by my 60th birthday. We are now at AUD 5.7 million and the projection has gone up to AUD 8 million. This seems pretty crazy. But the way house prices are going and the probability that we might want to move means that I will continue to work full time for now. As long as my job doesn't stop us doing something else we want to do, I might as well do it, I think.

        We moved closer to our desired long-run asset allocation by buying RF1 shares (a listed hedge fund) and investing in pre-IPO company IPS (see below). Private equity is the asset class that is now furthest from its target allocation (3.6% of total assets too little). This problem will solve itself as Aura Venture Fund II calls more capital. Our actual allocation now looks like this:

        Roughly two thirds of our portfolio is in what some consider to be alternative assets: real estate, art, hedge funds, private equity, gold, and futures. We receive employer contributions to superannuation every two weeks. In addition we made the following investment moves this month:

        • I bought 100,000 Australian Dollars by borrowing US Dollars.
        • I invested AUD 100k in a pre-IPO company, Integrated Portfolio Solutions.
        • I bought back 46,871 shares of Regal Funds (RF1.AX) after the price fell to a lower premium to NAV. I sold 20,000 shares of MOT.AX to help fund it.
        • I bought 1,000 shares of PMGOLD.AX, a gold ETF.

        Tuesday, August 17, 2021

        Most People Think They are Financially Average

        Well not quite. But people think they are more average financially than they are, on average.

        But the strange thing is that most people think they are more intelligent than average. Was just chatting with someone on Twitter who stated that the norm in Australia is to get paid weekly and most people don't own a house. In fact, 67% of homes are owner occupied and getting paid every two weeks is most common. On the other end of the spectrum, my wife thinks our financial situation is "normal", when according to the statistics we are in the top few percent.

        Monday, August 16, 2021

        Effect of Updates on Reported Returns

        The final numbers are now in for the first half of this year with the report of a venture capital fund for June. I was curious how different the final monthly returns were to the ones I reported after each month on the blog:

        There is a big change for the final month, mostly because of the strong return of the venture capital fund.


        Saturday, August 14, 2021

        Top Baggers

        Meb Faber refers to the total gain on an investment over time in terms of "baggers". If you invested $1,000 and made $9,000 then that is a 10-bagger.

        I was wondering what my best investment measured this way was. I previously calculated this using internal rate of return. But it is easier to get a high IRR on an investment held for a short time than one held for the long term. Which of my investments gained the most over time?

        If you invest $1,000 and now have $1,000 of profit it is easy to see that this is a 2-bagger. This is the way venture capital firms typical report the value relative to what they put in. But what if you added more to the investment over time? What if you sold out for a while and then bought back? Or traded in other ways?

        I realized we could get an approximation in these cases using the following pseudo-formula in Excel:

        Bags = (1+IRR)^(COUNT(X:Y)/12)

        IRR is the internal rate of return I already have. The count formula counts how many cells have an entry in them. I created a column with the following formula in it:

        =IF(Z=0,"",1)

        where Z are cells with the number of shares held each month. It returns a blank if the number is zero. We then apply the previous formula to this column (i.e. the range X:Y). 

        I've now applied this to all my currently held investments. The median investment is 1.42 (gold). The worst is 0.80 (PSTH) and the best is CFS Developing Companies at 9.69. I think my best ever investment is Colonial/Commonwealth Bank which scores 13.01. I bought Colonial shares at the demutualization. I haven't computed this for all past investments yet. Gold is also my current median investment by IRR (12.4%).

        So here are the top ten current investments using "bags", IRR, and total AUD gain :

        There is some overlap between the columns. Regal Funds and Pershing Square show up in all three. The IRR column though highlights several recent investments that have done well like WCM Global Long-Short (WLS.AX) and WAM Strategic Value (WAR.AX). The top two in the last column are our two superannuation funds that also appear in the bags column and have a lot invested in them.



        Tuesday, August 10, 2021

        Local Housing Market is Red Hot

        This morning I got a text from a real estate agent offering to send me an updated appraisal of our house's value because "prices are spiking". Then, on the way home from work I noticed a sale board in the neighboring development advertising an upcoming auction. In the corner, a small sticker had been stuck: "sold". When I tried to search for this house online, I found another one in the same development that sold last weekend pre-auction.


        P.S. 14 August 2021

        The price the second house sold for has now been posted. AUD 900k. That is a 100% increase on the original price, a new neighborhood record. It pushes the estimated value of our house to just over AUD 1 million.

        P.P.S. 31 August 2021

        Domain are now reporting that the first house (pictured) sold for AUD 976k or 124% above the original price! That would add another 6% to the estimated value of our house.

        Saturday, August 07, 2021

        New I Will Teach You to be Rich Podcast

         
         
        Ramit Sethi has started a podcast titled of course: "I Will Teach You to be Rich" and subtitled: "Real money stories from behind closed doors".  It's like a couples therapy session with Ramit as counsellor. It's great, but often the numbers don't seem to add up. For example, this couple makes USD 250k between them. Let's take off 1/3 for taxes etc. They say they spend just over 10% on housing and save 20%. They have "very low expenses". The guy scrimps and saves on everything. But, apart from what I listed, they would have to have another USD 90k in expenses. That's near what our family of four spends on everything including housing and private school and daycare. So, what is really going on here? Does the woman spend a lot of that on her own outside the household budget stuff? So this doesn't sound like "very low expenses" to me.

        Thursday, August 05, 2021

        July 2021 Report

        It was another month of increases in world stock markets. The MSCI World Index rose 0.72%, the S&P 500 by 2.38%, and the ASX 200 rose 1.11%. All these are total returns including dividends. The Australian Dollar fell from USD 0.7500 to USD 0.7350. We gained 2.96% in Australian Dollar terms or  0.90% in US Dollar terms. The target portfolio is expected to have gained 2.31% in Australian Dollar terms and the HFRI hedge fund index is expected to lose 0.33% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed all benchmarks. Here is a report on the performance of investments by asset class (currency neutral returns):

        Gold contributed the most to performance followed by real assets, Australian large cap, and private equity.

        Things that worked well this month:

        • Gold gained AUD 32k followed by WAM Alternative Assets (15k), US Masters Residential Property Fund (URF.AX, 14k). The latter gained 23% for the month.
        What really didn't work:
        • The worst performers, not surprisingly, were the two Pershing Square Funds: PSH.L (-AUD 12k) and PSTH (- 10k). The SEC stopped Bill Ackman's planned purchase of shares in Universal Music. Now the hedge fund, PSH.L, will have to buy more than planned and the SPAC, PSTH, will have to look for another deal. Third worst was, also not surprisingly, the China Fund (CHN, -7k).

        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 show the desired asymmetric capture and positive alpha against the ASX200 index. We are doing about the same as the median hedge fund levered 1.6 times. 

        We maintained roughly the same distance from our desired long-run asset allocation. Hedge funds is the asset class that is now furthest from its target allocation (4.7% of total assets too little). Our actual allocation now looks like this:

        Roughly two thirds of our portfolio is in what some consider to be alternative assets: real estate, art, hedge funds, private equity, gold, and futures. We receive employer contributions to superannuation every two weeks. In addition we made the following investment moves this month, which was a relatively quiet month:

        • I bought 10,000 shares of Pengana Private Equity (PE1.AX) around its announcement of a good gain in NAV.
        • I bought 1,000 shares of Scorpio Tankers baby bonds (SBBA).
        • I closed a losing soybeans trade.
        • I bought shares in another painting.
        • I transferred my shares in the Macquarie Winton Global Alpha Fund to our SMSF.

        Wednesday, August 04, 2021

        Coinvestment, Revised Target Allocation, and Rights Issue

        I'm making an investment in a pre-IPO company alongside a venture capital fund and other investors. I valued the company based on their forward projections for EBITDA and the multiples similar companies listed on the stock exchange have. Of course, the company could fail and so it is sensible to take a middle valuation between the extremes of zero value and the value if the company succeeds as planned. This still gave a good gain on the current valuation. In reality, total loss is unlikely as the company is already approaching profitability. The funding is for expansion. The worst outcome is more likely a sale for the current valuation or something less to a competitor. I am planning to invest about 2% of our portfolio in this company.

        This means I will have to raise my target allocation to private equity and reduce my allocations to hedge funds and long-only equities. To also take into account my future commitment to a venture capital fund I am increasing the private equity allocation of gross assets from 10% to 15%. I am reducing the hedge fund allocation from 24% to 22%, Australian large cap from 9% to 8%, US stocks from 6% to 5%, and rest of the world stocks also from 6% to 5%. I would be happy to have an even higher allocation to private equity if I had access to enough diverse good quality opportunities. So, changing the target allocation isn't just like the US government raising its debt ceiling every time they hit it :)

        By contrast, I am an investor in listed company Domacom (DCL.AX), which has been suspended from the ASX for a while, pending completion of a deal to effectively acquire a company called AustAgri. The ASX instructed them to raise more capital before relisting. I don't intend to participate in the rights issue, especially as the issue price is slightly above the last traded price of the shares on the ASX. Success of the company in the short-run really depends on this AustAgri transaction and it is still hard to be certain why it is so delayed and what will happen. Even after that transaction, the company will not be in anywhere near as good a position as this pre-IPO company.

        Wednesday, July 28, 2021

        Next Steps

        We have now executed a major part of the financial plans I developed in 2018. We deployed almost all the inherited capital - we still have some Ford bonds, which were intended as a short term investment, we have completed the initial set up of the SMSF and set up accounts for our two children. We have a much more diversified portfolio. So, on the investment front it will now be more business as usual going forward. I explored trading and made a little money but haven't got to the stage of setting up a proper system. This is something I will need to revisit very soon. To decide once and for all if that is a direction I want to take. If I do it, it would be in collaboration with some other people I know. The other major thing we haven't done is estate planning. I wanted to get the SMSF done first. So, we should really look at that seriously soon too.

        Tuesday, July 27, 2021

        Time-weighted Versus Dollar-weighted Returns

        There was an interesting comment in the latest Millionaire Interview at the ESI Blog:

        "I find it a bit silly how most people focus on their time-weighted returns instead of their asset-weighted returns... Your financial freedom is affected by your asset weighted returns, not your time weighted returns."

        I have thought about this before, but not exactly in these terms. This is an interesting way of putting this idea. 

        The way I thought about it is: When you start investing you will probably make mistakes. But you will have less money and so they matter less. What matters more is what your returns are when you have a lot of money.  So, you can afford to pay some tuition fees. I really paid too much tuition...

        This graph shows an index of my returns in Australian Dollar terms starting at 1000 in 1996:

        Initially, I did well. But then the dot.com crash came and I started losing, ending up below where I started. Then I rode the next bull market. I started getting out as the financial crisis began to appear. But I got back in again too early and crashed. I wasn't quite back to square one, but not far from it. Not much happened in the next few years following the crisis and then things took off from 2012 on. These are my time-weighted returns.

        In the last 10 years, my rate of return has been 11.1% vs. 12.0% for the ASX 200. In the last 20 years it was 4.8% vs. 10.6% for the ASX 200. Since "inception" the numbers are 6.2% and 11.2%. I got through the COVID-19 crash a lot better than the previous bear markets. Hopefully, that improvement will be maintained in the future.

        The following graph shows relative out-performance compared to the ASX 200 over every time horizon:


        The way to interpret this is: If you invested with me in 1996 then you would have under-performed the ASX 200 by 4-5% p.a. since then. However, if you invested with me in some months in 2012 you would have matched or just beaten the ASX 200 since then. Similarly, investing in the year before the COVID-19 crash you would now be ahead of the ASX. Investing with me in the year after the COVID-19 crash you would be behind the ASX and so forth.

        This graph shows my absolute profits in Australian Dollars:

        A simple way of showing dollar-weighted returns. Basically, things went nowhere till 2012. All the gains have happened since then. So, I "wasted" 15 years learning to invest while saving.