Monday, June 21, 2021

Update on PSTH

Bill Ackman posted a link to this presentation on Twitter. I have 3,000 shares or a 2% of net worth position. We also have 5,000 shares of PSH.L, Ackman's hedge fund that will be buying $1.5 billion of UMG shares by buying PSTH shares. Vivendi shareholders vote on Tuesday to approve the listing of UMG (hopefully) and presentations take place on Wednesday morning US time.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Investments Review: Part 8, Managed Futures

Managed futures have not performed well in recent years, but I am betting that they will make a bit of a comeback.

Macquarie Winton Global Alpha Fund. Share of net worth: 3.53%. IRR: -0.3%. This is a Macquarie Bank fund that provides access to the Winton fund management firm. Winton, Aspect, and Man AHL are all offshoots of the same original Adam, Harding, and Lueck team. Our profits in this fund pealed in August 2019 at AUD 29k and then fell to a minimum of AUD -19k in November 2020. Since then they have recovered to near break even.

Aspect Diversified Futures. Share of net worth: 2.04%. IRR: n.a. We hold this recent investment via the Colonial First State platform. It has performed better than Winton recently:

Investments Review: Part 7, Bonds

MCP Income Opportunities Fund (MOT.AX). Share of net worth: 1.75%. IRR: 14.8%. This fund invests in Australian private credit. It yields around 7% per annum. It performed better than other similar listed funds during the COVID crash. We use this to park cash that we don't need immediately as it pays more than our margin loans cost.

Ford. Share of net worth: 1.46%. IRR: 2.1%. We own two Ford bond issues that mature later this year. This is the tail end of the bond investments we made with the inherited money while we decided how to deploy it.

Ready Capital (RCB). Share of net worth: 0.77%. IRR: 5.3%. This is a so-called baby bond. These trade on US stock exchanges and usually have an issue and redemption price of $25. The distributions are considered to be interest but they have none of the other peculiarities of actual bond issues. They usually have high yields. This issue matures in July 2022 and has a "coupon" of 6.2%.

Investments Review: Part 6, Real Assets

In my usual reporting, gold is a separate category from real assets. I plan to put 10% of gross assets into gold and 15% into real assets. 10% would be in real estate and 5% in other assets, such as art.

Gold (PMGOLD.AX). Share of net worth: 12.10%. IRR: 15.2%. This is one of the more cost and tax effective ways to hold gold. The fund reflects rights to gold held by the Perth Mint. This is much more tax effective than using futures and less hassle than owning real gold, though Perth Mint provide some fairly easy options there. The IRR reflects our total gains on gold ETFs. The management fee is taken by the manager cancelling some shares each year. That means the price exactly tracks the Australian Dollar price of 1/100 of an ounce of gold.

WAM Alternatives (WMA.AX). Share of net worth: 4.32%. IRR: 16.9%. About 10% of this fund is in real estate and half in real assets, mainly water rights. The rest is in venture capital and cash. This fund was started by the failed Bluesky group and has now been taken over by Wilson Asset Management. The fund has traded deep below NAV. It has closed some of the gap but is still below NAV. I'm holding the fund mainly in the hope that eventually it trades at a premium to NAV. The underlying performance is not that good. In 2020 it lost 3 cents per share in NAV to $1.08 per share while paying out 4 cents in dividends. This year, so far it's gained 6 cents per share, which I guess is OK.

TIAA Real Estate. Share of net worth: 2.78%. IRR: 4.8%. This fund invests in US real estate - offices, retail, apartments, and industrial. It is in my US retirement account (403b). The IRR for this fund is low, but its returns are very smoothed and so it has a nominally high Sharpe ratio and a low correlation to my other assets. Based on my analysis, I'm hoping that the coming period is one of higher returns than average for this fund. It is easy to market time this fund due to the lag in revaluations.

Masterworks. Share of net worth: 2.63%. IRR: -0.28%. This fund provides fractional access to paintings, mostly works from the last few decades. I have now invested in nine paintings through the platform, investing USD 10k in each. Not much to report so far regarding performance. The downside of the platform I think, is that it isn't worthwhile for the manager to buy a painting for $100k or even $1 million. Buying a $10 million painting has a huge economy of scale for them. They are incentivised to make profits, but they could make it either by getting a lot of appreciation or less appreciation but more assets under management faster. Less expensive paintings that have a larger potential for gain cost them too much to offer.

US Masters Residential Property Fund (URF.AX). Share of net worth: 1.25%. IRR: -1.85%.This is an Australian fund that invests in residential real estate in metropolitan New York. The fund has had a quite disastrous history and now trades at less than 50% of NAV. The fund's underlying exposure to real estate is much larger than the value of the shares on the ASX. The fund has stabilized after refinancing its debt. Previously, it had assets in US Dollars and a lot of debt in Australian Dollars. My bet is that house prices rise in the New York area, that fund costs are now lower after the restructuring, and that the fund eventually trades nearer NAV.

Australian Unity Diversified Fund. Share of net worth: 1.17%. IRR: 28.2%. A recent investment in our SMSF. Invests in Australian office, retail, and healthcare real estate. This is unlisted property and so the price reflects the actual net asset value. Listed real estate provides much less diversification from stock market risk.

Domacom Investments. Share of net worth: 1.12%. IRR: 0.16%. Another recent investment in our SMSF. Fractional investing in Australian real estate. So far, I bought a small share in a farm, but the platform is very slow moving regarding new investments and most existing investments that are trading don't look like good bets.

Investments Review: Part 5, Private Equity

The private equity category includes both venture capital, buyout funds, and SPACs, which acquire private companies to take them public.

WAM Alternatives (WMA.AX). Share of net worth: 4.32%. IRR: 16.9%. About a quarter of this fund is allocated to venture capital (one quarter is in real estate and half in real assets, mainly water rights). This fund was started by the failed Bluesky group and has now been taken over by Wilson Asset Management. The fund has traded deep below NAV. It has closed some of the gap but is still below NAV. I'm holding the fund mainly in the hope that eventually it trades at a premium to NAV and for exposure to real assets like water rights. The underlying performance is not that good. In 2020 it lost 3 cents per share in NAV to $1.08 per share while paying out 4 cents in dividends. This year, so far it's gained 6 cents per share, which I guess is OK.

Aura Venture Fund I. Share of net worth: 3.05%. IRR: 20.0%. This is an early stage venture capital fund run by Australian/Singaporean company Aura. It invests in Australian start ups. This fund actually has a negative tax rate – fund earnings are tax free and you get a 10% tax offset on your investment contributions. This is part of the Australian government's policy to encourage start-up companies. None of its investees has failed, though some are now valued below the fund's initial investment price. Some have done really well. Shippit is the star. Some investees have already been exited or are on the way there. The latest is Superestate, which is a residential real estate super fund acquired by Raiz. Superestate has been struggling due to the incompetence of the ATO. The fund is receiving shares in Raiz, which is listed on the ASX, which value the company below the carrying value. Hopefully, Raiz will do well and the shares will gain in value.

Pengana Private Equity (PE1.AX). Share of net worth: 2.40%. IRR: 15.3%. This fund invests in mostly North American private equity (but also in Europe) via funds managed by its partner Grosvenor Capital Management. There are a LOT of fees in this structure, but when I attended the pre-IPO presentation I was persuaded that there was still upside for investors. Initially the share price performed very well and I made money trading the stock. But then the firm issued more shares and the price has settled at NAV. It has struggled to make headway due to the rise in the Australian Dollar negating the gains on the underlying funds. So, the IRR mostly reflects my earlier trading.

3i (III.L). Share of net worth: 2.06%. IRR: 13.8%. This is my oldest private equity investment. I first invested in 2008, during the GFC. By investing in this company, you invest in the business itself, but also in its investments. The firm invests its own capital as well as managing outside funds. When I first invested, the firm invested in venture and buyout. It has pivoted to invest in buyout and infrastructure. It also manages far less outside money than it did. I haven't really been following the company in detail recently until I had to write this report. The proprietary capital is mostly invested in private equity. The fund invests mostly in Europe (but also in North America).

Aura Venture Fund II. Share of net worth: 1.40%. IRR: n.a. Based on the success of Aura VF I, I invested 2.5 times as much money in their next fund. It has not yet made any investments. The initial investment is 25% of the total. So, this would be about 5% of our current net worth when fully invested (not counting any returns on top of that).

Pershing Square Tontine Holdings (PSTH). Share of net worth: 1.35%. IRR: n.a. My newest investment. Pershing announced that they are going to acquire a 10% stake in Universal Music (UMG), which Vivendi is taking public in the next couple of months. But that will leave cash in PSTH and Ackman has a convoluted plan for keeping the company going as a private equity company, acquiring private companies and taking them public. Investors didn't like the UMG deal, but I think it is worth being in on the potential upside of future deals.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Pershing Square Tontine Holdings

This video was posted on Reddit and endorsed by Bill Ackman on Twitter. I had been thinking about buying into Pershing Square Tontine Holdings in the last few days since the Universal Music deal was announced. I now took the plunge, buying shares in our SMSF. I'm still pretty unclear about the details or what it means for Pershing Square Holdings shareholders like us, but I'm figuring that this should have a higher value. 

I'm going to classify this as private equity, which now totals 9% of total assets.

BTW, Neri Oxman denies that she was Brad Pitt's girlfirend.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Investments Review: Part 4, Hedge Funds

Regal Funds (RF1.AX). Share of net worth: 5.63%. IRR: 45.7%. This is a multi-strategy hedge fund listed on the ASX that has performed very well since the COVID crash:

It has a beta of one to the stock market but has added a lot of alpha. The downside is that it has a trust structure and, therefore, pays out all profits in the form that they were earned in. So, it is not very tax-effective. We have now moved our holding to our SMSF. The stated focus is on Australian stocks, but they hold a lot of foreign stocks too.

Tribeca Global Natural Resources (TGF.AX). Share of net worth: 5.57%. IRR: 19.2%. This a global resource sector focused hedge fund listed on the ASX. From launch the price collapsed from $2.50 to under $1. They also lost a lot of money on a large loan to a US based coal mining company. They now have revised the investment guidelines to prevent a recurrence. The NAV is now above the IPO price and the stock price is almost there. We have gained a lot by buying when the price was depressed as well as in after-tax terms by selling when the price was depressed to take a tax loss.

Pershing Square Holdings (PSH.L). Share of net worth: 5.33%. IRR: 39.8%. This fund is listed on the London stock exchange but managed by Bill Ackman, a famous US hedge fund manager. The fund is very focused. They invest in around 10 large cap mostly US stocks at any one time. It is mostly a long fund. But they gained during the COVID crash by putting on a credit -ased hedge. Almost perfect market timing. The history of Pershing Square Holdings has been a bit erratic but since we invested it has been very good. The fund is still trading a lot below net asset value. Pershing Square Tontine Holdings has been in the news recently following its deal to buy 10% of Universal Music. I'm still not clear what will be the pay-off for PSH.L holders from this deal. Both PSTH and PSH fell on the news.

Cadence Capital (CDM.AX). Share of net worth: 3.80%. IRR: 10.2%. This is a long-biased long-short fund that mostly invests in Australian stocks. I invested in this fund when it had been performing well. Then, soon enough, it started to perform badly. Since the COVID crash it has done well. They also invested in a private investment in DeepGreen Minerals, which will be taken public by a SPAC for a huge gain on Cadence's investment price. I am thinking to trim my exposure to this fund once the price has built in the value of the DeepGreen Investment. There is no reason to hold both this and the Cadence Opportunities Fund, and this is also the worst performing of the hedge funds that I have held for at least a few years.

Cadence Opportunities Fund. Share of net worth: 2.76%. IRR: 41.6%. This fund was launched recently by the managers of Cadence Capital. This fund has performed extremely well. It is a long-biased long-short fund that trades more actively than CDM.AX. It was supposed to be listed on the ASX but the IPO failed and it became a private company. At the time I didn't invest. That was a bad decision. When a second opportunity to invest came up, I took it. Our IRR so far shows that was a good move.

Platinum Capital (PMC.AX). Share of net worth: 2.67%. IRR: 13.0%. I first invested in Platinum Capital back in 2001. Over time, we also held various unlisted versions of the fund. I have gained by trading the fund depending on whether the share price was above or below NAV. The fund's best performance was during the crash when I first invested in it. Most of the time since then it has underperformed the market but has also had lower volatility. In the last year, value investing has come back into favor and the fund has again been outperforming the market.

APSEC. Share of net worth: 2.07%. IRR: -7.5%. This is an unlisted Australian stocks focused hedge fund. They did very well in the COVID crash:

So, I invested in them, and then they haven't done so well since then.

Contango Income Generator (CIE.AX). Share of net worth: 1.41%. IRR: -11.9%. This is a very new investment, so the IRR likely is pretty meaningless. This listed fund recently changed strategy to a global equity long short portfolio managed by WCM Investment Management. This is supposed to be their track record:

This was the result of an activist campaign by Wilson Asset Management. It is supposed to be hedged into the Australian Dollar.

In summary, a bit more than half of our hedge fund exposure is to the Australian Dollar but there is definitely quite a lot more international than Australian equity exposure.

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Cancelled Moominmama's Income Protection Insurance

In 2019 I cancelled my own, but didn't know I could cancel Moominmama's. As she is 11 years younger than me, the premia were nowhere near as high yet but going up quickly. Like me, she has a year of sick and annual leave accumulated. It's hard to imagine her being so ill that she's off work for a year but not bad enough that she is still is planning on returning to work. Anyway, we wouldn't suffer any financial hardship if she stopped working. We would just be investing less and we already have more than AUD 5 million in net worth. Again, I still kept the death and disablement insurance, because the premium is not so much, though I'm not sure I should. I also learned more about disablement insurance in the process. In Australia, it turns out that it is a lump sum like life insurance, I didn't realise that.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

May 2021 Report

This was a month of consolidation as I tidied up the SMSF and its repercussions and launched a review of all our investments.

The Australian Dollar rose from USD 0.7725 to USD 0.7738. It was another month of increases in world stock markets. The MSCI World Index rose 1.61%, the S&P 500 by 0.70%, and the ASX 200 rose 2.13%. All these are total returns including dividends. We gained 1.96% in Australian Dollar terms or 2.10% in US Dollar terms. The target portfolio is expected to have gained 1.58% in Australian Dollar terms and the HFRI hedge fund index is expected to gain 0.80% in US Dollar terms. So, we outperformed all benchmarks apart from the ASX 200. Here is a report on the performance of investments by asset class (currency neutral terms):

Gold added the most to performance followed by hedge funds. and only Australian small cap had a negative return. Things that worked well this month:

  • Gold had a very strong performance, gaining 8.7% in AUD terms or AUD 43k. Next was Tribeca Global Resources (TGF.AX) gaining AUD 19k, and third was PSS(AP), which gained AUD 7k.
What really didn't work:
  • The worst performer was new investment Fortescue Metals (FMG.AX), which lost AUD 5k. It was followed by Pershing Square Holdings (PSH.L) and Hearts and Minds (HM1.AX) (-AUD 4k each).

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 and MSCI indices. We are doing a little worse than the median hedge fund levered 1.6 times. Interestingly, USD performance is now stronger over the last five years than AUD performance because the Australian Dollar has appreciated over that time.

We stuck close to our desired long-run asset allocation. Real assets is the asset class that is now furthest from its target allocation (3.0% of total assets too much). Private equity and futures are underweight. The former will solve itself over time as Aura make capital calls. We will fix the latter this month.


On a regular basis there are retirement contributions. I have stopped making regular contributions to investments outside of superannuation. This was a again a very busy month: