Monday, September 14, 2020

Sixth Street Specialty Lending's Historical Value Creation May Offer Insights Into Its Future Returns

Sixth Street Specialty Lending, Inc. (TSLX) is a business development company, or BDC. The company primarily invests in companies with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, or EBITDA, between $10 million and $250 million, according to the company’s most recent earnings presentation. Almost all of Sixth Street’s investments are in the companies’ first-lien secured, floating-rate debt.

I recently wrote about another BDC, Prospect Capital (PSEC), that looks cheap because it trades at a steep discount to book value.

Sixth Street Specialty Lending does not look cheap. The company trades at a price to book ratio of around 106.5%, compared to the average P/B ratio for BDCs, which is around 83%. This means each dollar of stock buys only 93.9 cents in equity in Sixth Street, compared to around $1.20 in equity in the average BDC.

That said, as in life, in investing you often get what you pay for. In several recent articles, I’ve described two common types of investment opportunities:

  1. High quality companies trading at a modest discount to intrinsic value.
  2. More average companies trading at a much larger discount to intrinsic value.
In the long run, high quality companies compound an investor’s capital far more than average ones. To see if Sixth Street Specialty Lending, Inc. is a high quality company, we can use the methodology I used in my article about Prospect. We can look at how much value the company has historically created for shareholders. This will help us predict the company’s future value creation, and thus the company’s possibilities for future share price growth and dividends. (Read More)

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Dynex Capital's Historical Value Creation May Offer Insights Into Its Future Returns

Dynex Capital, Inc. (DX) is a mortgage real estate investment trust, or mREIT. The company invests in mortgage-backed securities, or MBS, securities whose income is based on the performance of pools of mortgages.

I’ve written two recent articles about mREITs Ladder Capital (LADR) and Anworth Mortgage (ANH). Both those articles were written because those mREITs look cheap. Dynex Capital does not look cheap. The company trades at a price to book ratio of 94%. In contrast, Anworth and Ladder have, respectively, P/B ratios a little over 60%. The market certainly seems to think it is a higher quality company than other mortgage REITs, given how much higher its valuation is.

To see if Dynex Capital is a high quality company, we can use the methodology I used in my previous mREIT articles. We can look at how much value the company has historically created for shareholders. This will help us predict the company’s future value creation, and thus the company’s possibilities for future share price growth and dividends. (Read More)

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Anworth Mortgage's Value Creation Since Its IPO May Offer Insights Into Its Future Returns

Anworth Mortgage Asset Corporation (ANH) is a mortgage real estate investment trust, or mREIT. The company invests in residential mortgages as well as mortgage-backed securities, or MBS, securities whose income is based on the performance of pools of residential mortgages. Those securities include both agency-backed MBS whose performance is guaranteed by Fannie Mae (OTC:FDDXD) and Freddie Mac (OTC:FMCC), as well as non-agency MBS whose performance is not guaranteed. According to the company’s most recent quarterly report, over 70% of Anworth’s investments were in agency MBS.

By several metrics, Anworth’s stock looks cheap. The company’s price to book ratio on August 13th was 63%. This means each share of the company’s stock trading at $1.81 a share corresponded to around $2.85 of the company’s equity. Anworth also has a dividend yield of around 11%.

In that context, Anworth’s cheapness raises a question. Is it a high quality company I can “buy and hold” forever while it compounds my investment?

To see if Anworth Mortgage Asset Corporation is a high quality company, we can use the same methodology I used in my recent article about Prospect Capital. We can look at how much value the company has created for shareholders since its 1998 IPO. This will help us predict the company’s future value creation, and thus the company’s possibilities for future share price growth and dividends. (Read More)

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Prospect Capital's Value Creation Since Its IPO May Offer Insights Into Its Future Returns

Prospect Capital Corporation (PSEC) is a business development company, or BDC. The company invests in middle market companies with an “enterprise value between $5 million and $1000 million,” according to the company's profile. Prospect invests in both the companies’ secured and unsecured debt as well as their equity.

By several metrics, Prospect’s stock looks cheap. The company’s price to book value ratio on July 31st was 63%. This means each share of the company’s stock trading at $5.01 a share corresponded to $7.98 of the company’s equity. Prospect also pays a monthly dividend of $0.06 per share, giving the company an annual dividend yield of over 14%.

Prospect Capital’s cheapness raises a question. Is it a high quality company I can “buy and hold” forever while it compounds my investment?

To see if Prospect Capital is a high quality company, we can use the same methodology I used in my May 2020 article about Ladder Capital. We can look at how much value the company has created for shareholders since its 2004 IPO. This will help us predict the company’s future value creation, and thus the company’s possibilities for future share price growth and dividends. (Read More)

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

SandRidge Mississippian Trust II Is Dissolving, Leaving Investors With Large Losses And Important Lessons

SandRidge Mississippian Trust II (SDR) (SDRMU) announced in late January 2020 it would dissolve by the end of 2020.

SDR owns oil and natural gas royalty interests in the Mississippian formation of southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma. These interests entitle SDR to royalty payments out of the income from 273 oil and gas wells drilled by SandRidge Energy (SD), the trust’s sponsor. Most of this royalty income is then distributed to the owners of the trust’s units (shares).

Once the trust is dissolved, SandRidge Mississippian Trust II’s unitholders will not get any more distributions. This will leave many of them, including investors who bought units in the trust’s IPO, with a large loss on their investment. This loss offers important lessons for future investors, especially investors in IPOs, the oil and gas industry, and in high yield stocks. (Read More)

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

2016 CLO Issuance Was Much Higher Than Expected

I recently read a May 2016 Wall Street Journal article about the recovery of CLO issuance after the early 2016 market decline.

CLOs, or collateralized loan obligations, are bundles of “loans from junk-rated companies” that are “[repackaged]…into securities that pay varying levels of interest based on which get paid off first if the underlying loans go bad.”

Because CLOs are a way to invest in financially stressed companies, their performance is highly dependent on the economy. When the economy is doing well, CLOs can offer high rates of return. When the economy does badly, the companies that take out the loans that go into CLOs are often the first to run into trouble, inflicting potentially high losses on CLO investors. Because of that, CLOs are popular when people think the economy is doing well and very unpopular when people think the economy is doing poorly.

A 2012 report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners shows this. CLO issuance peaked before the Great Recession and almost disappeared during the Recession:



What intrigued me about the WSJ article was the prediction near its end:
Few analysts expect CLO issuance to reach much higher than $50 billion this year…
Whenever I read a prediction like this in a past news article, I wonder if it came true. Thus, I looked up the total CLO issuance in 2016.

As it turned out, it was $72.3 billion. This was, of course, much higher than the $50 billion number “[few] analysts [expected] CLO issuance to reach” in 2016 according to the WSJ article.

I think the fact this prediction didn’t come true illustrates a valuable point. Economic and financial predictions are often wrong. This is true even when the predictions are about something only 7 months away. This doesn’t mean such predictions should be totally ignored. However, it is something to keep in mind when making investing decisions.

As a postscript, the prediction in 2019 was for “US CLO issuance…to fall in 2020.

Given the current economic situation caused by COVID-19, this prediction seems likely to come true, if for reasons no one expected back in November. That said, it will be interesting to see exactly how things turn out.

Disclaimer: The content here is not meant as investment advice. Do not rely on it in making an investment decision. Do your own research. The content here reflects only the author's opinions. Those opinions might be wrong. This content is meant solely for the entertainment of the reader and its author.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Comparing Whiting Petroleum's Post-Bankruptcy Enterprise Value To Its Reserves

On April 1st, Whiting Petroleum Corporation (WLL) announced it was going bankrupt. In late April, it announced how the company will be split between current lenders and shareholders after bankruptcy.

Based on the company’s bond prices, we can estimate the post-bankruptcy Whiting Petroleum’s enterprise value. We can then compare that enterprise value to the value of the company’s oil and gas reserves.

In doing so, we can see how the market is valuing those reserves. Using that valuation, we can guess what other distressed oil and gas companies’ reserves might be worth in bankruptcy. (Read More)

Friday, May 15, 2020

Alternative Financial Services Are A Major Source Of Earnings For Republic Bancorp

At first glance, Republic Bancorp, Inc. (RBCAA) looks like an ordinary regional bank. With $5,601 million in assets, Republic was Kentucky’s biggest bank at the end of 2019. Republic was also America’s 172nd largest bank.

Unlike most regional banks, though, Republic Bancorp earns around 30% of its net income from alternative financial services. The term “alternative financial services” covers products such as high interest loans and tax refund advances. Customers often use these services when they can’t access traditional bank services. Such customers are often poorer and pay higher costs.

Republic Bancorp’s Republic Processing Group (RPG) business is a big provider of these services. RPG has two segments. Tax Refund Solutions (TRS) offers tax refund advances. TRS also offers “refund transfers” that let tax filers pay for tax preparation using their refunds. Republic Credit Solutions (RCS) offers loans, mainly high interest lines of credit.

These two segments earned $28.246 million of the company’s $91.699 million in 2019 net income. It is very unusual for much of a bank’s earnings to come from alternative financial services. Since these segments are so important, we will analyze them to better understand their impact on the company. (Read More)

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

How Much Value Has Ladder Capital Created For Shareholders Since Its IPO?

One of my favorite investment bloggers, Clark Street Value, recently wrote about mortgage real estate investment trust (mREIT) Ladder Capital (LADR). Ladder mainly invests in commercial mortgage backed securities (CMBS), or pools of mortgage loans to businesses.

The post described how Ladder is well positioned to survive the current downturn due to its high quality assets and use of unsecured debt to fund those assets. It provided much information about both topics; I encourage interested readers to read it.

As an investor, though, I am not just interested in how well a company might survive the current downturn. I am also interested in the long term value the company can generate for me if I invest.

This is especially important since downturns offer two common types of opportunities for investors:
  1.  High quality companies trading at a modest discount from normal prices.
  2.  More average companies trading at a much larger discount to their intrinsic value.
In the long run, high quality companies compound an investor’s capital far more than average ones. This is true even if those average companies are purchased at much cheaper valuations.

In that context, after reading Clark Street Value’s post, I was curious which type of company Ladder Capital is. Is it a high quality company I can “buy and hold” forever while it compounds my investment? (Read More)

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Equinor, One Of The Greenest Oil Majors, Could Be Undervalued

Norwegian company Equinor (EQNR) (STOHF), once named Statoil, is one of the greenest big oil companies. Morningstar’s January 2020 report “Understanding the Emissions Challenge” evaluated each of the oil majors based on several metrics for carbon emissions reduction. Equinor was the only company to score in the top third in each metric.

In that context, I wanted to look at the company’s investment value. Equinor has three sources of value. The first is its Exploration and Production (E&P) operations, which explore for and produce oil and natural gas. The second is its Marketing, Midstream, and Processing (MMP) segment, which transports, processes, and sells oil, gas, and electricity. Finally, the company’s Other segment develops renewable energy projects and new oil and gas technologies, and also handles other corporate functions.

By adding up the value of these three parts, we can calculate the Equinor’s valuation. That valuation turns out to be around the same as the company’s enterprise value, which means Equinor could be undervalued. (Read More)

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Southwestern Energy Might Have Difficulty With One Of Its Debt Covenants At The End Of The Year

In my two most recent articles, I described how anyone considering an oil and gas investment right now must answer two questions:
  1. Is it cheap?
  2. Is it likely to survive the current downturn, especially without diluting investors?
In an earlier article, I answered the first question for Southwestern Energy (SWN). I described how the company looks cheap when you compare its enterprise value to the value of its underground oil and natural gas reserves.

In my last article, I began answering the second question for Southwestern. I looked at how the company’s hedging contracts might affect its estimated 2020 revenues. By estimating the company’s revenues for this year, we can see if the company will earn enough to service its debts.

There are two areas of concern here:
  1. Will the company have enough earnings to cover its interest expenses?
  2. Will the company have enough earnings to meet its debt covenants?
If Southwestern can answer “yes” to both questions, it is likely to survive the current downturn, at least through the end of 2020. If the answer to either question is “no,” the company’s survival will be in the hands of its creditors. (Read More)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A Look At Southwestern Energy's 2020 Hedges

In my last article, I described how anyone considering an oil and gas investment right now must answer two questions:
  1. Is it cheap?
  2. Is it likely to survive the current downturn, especially without diluting investors?
In that article, I answered the first question for Southwestern Energy (SWN). I described how the company looks cheap when you compare its enterprise value to the value of its underground oil and gas reserves.

To answer the second question for Southwestern, we need to know if the company will earn enough this year to service its debts. There are two areas of concern here:
  1. Will the company have enough earnings to cover its interest expenses?
  2. Will the company have enough earnings to meet its debt covenants?
If Southwestern can answer “yes” to both questions, it is likely to survive the current downturn, at least through the end of 2020. If the answer to either question is “no,” the company’s survival will be in the hands of its creditors.

To calculate Southwestern’s 2020 earnings, we need to look at the company’s price hedges. Those hedges are meant to protect the company from oil and gas price declines, and may be key to giving the company enough earnings to service its debts. Only if we know the impact of those hedges on the company’s revenues will we be able to calculate the company’s earnings. (Read More)

Friday, April 24, 2020

A Look At Southwestern Energy's Reserves

With the recent fall in oil and gas prices, many investors are looking for bargains in the industry. One company that has drawn interest is Southwestern Energy (SWN).

For an oil and gas company such as Southwestern to be a good investment right now, I think it must answer two questions:
  1. Is it cheap?
  2. Is it likely to survive the current downturn, especially without diluting investors?
Answering the first question tells an investor if they might earn above average returns by investing in the company. Answering the second tells an investor how likely it is they will earn those returns, rather than losing most or all of their money.

To answer the first question for Southwestern, we will compare the company’s enterprise value to the value of its underground oil and gas reserves. (Read More)