What’s cheap?

Ouch. As of the 16 June, my portfolio is down 9.5% so far in June. Admittedly, my portfolio is leveraged (don’t try this at home, or arguably anywhere else!). Presumably at some point, it’s time to rustle down the back of the sofas, sell off the candlesticks, or forgo a weekend out and use the cash to start buying?

How many do I have to swallow?

Swallowing knives

I have been nibbling at falling things for a few months now. That’s partly how I’ve ended up in my predicament – my leverage is higher than it’s been since the halcyon days of 2016. Everything I bought cheaply earlier in 2022 has now dropped further. For instance:

  • In January I bought my first SHOP for just over $800 (40% down on peak – me spotting a bargain). A bottom-hunting Limit Order then bought more in March, at just over $500. Then I bought more in May at closer to $300. Today, it’s at $305. My January purchase is down over 60%.
  • In February I topped up ULVR, deliberating rotating into something ‘inflation friendly’. In February ULVR traded at around £38. Today my February purchase is down about 6% at £35.61.
  • In March I topped up MMM, a long term hold, at the price I first paid for it over 6 years ago – around $145. Back then its dividend was around $4.44; now the (ever increasing) dividend is over $6. That was a third more income for your money. But since March it’s down 10% at $131. That dividend is going to keep increasing though, you watch.
  • In April I thought HL had become cheap, at under £10/share (down from a peak of £24 in 2019). In 2019 that £24 bought you a dividend of 33p – a yield of 1.4%. But the share price has dropped in the last 2 months over 20% to £7.66. Now the dividend is over 40p – that’s a 5.2% yield. That’s 3.7x more yield in 2 years.
  • In May I’m hurting some, but stretch my margin / appetite / common sense and buy AMZN for (old money) $2200. In the last month it’s dropped over 6%, with a 20:1 stock split not making an appreciable difference. I also bought ADS, thinking branded trainers feel reasonably inflation proof too, on a dip at €180. In the same month, ADS is down 10%.

The tech sector is where the pain is most acute. The car dealing companies CZOO and CVNA catch a lot of headlines, both down over 90% since January alone. Unprofitable growth businesses have typically dropped 60-80%. The FTSE doesn’t have any of these, which has helped protect it. But AMZN makes far more profit than its critics ever imagined, as does GOOG and META and of course MSFT. These are all down 30-50%.

Tell me when this stops

At what point do we hit the floor? A big problem right now is knowing where the floor is.

Continue reading “What’s cheap?”

May 2022 – markets nearing my max drawdown

Australia has general elections every three years or so, and just had its latest one last month. How you can sensibly govern a country when your next election is either 1 or 2 years away always puzzles me, but the Australians have made a decent fist of it over the last 30 years – certainly better than the UK has.

Despite the frequency of elections, it is an unusual Prime Minister in recent times who makes it through to the next general election unscathed – Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott etc have all been replaced while in situ. In any case, ScoMo made it to the election, but then got replaced by the opposition – Tony Albanese, a centre left union figure. While his win wasn’t a big surprise, the strength of the defeat of ScoMo’s parties was a surprise. Some folks I know are horrified, but at this distance, he looks pretty similar to me.

Australian general election: One out, one in

The markets don’t seem to have much to report. Somehow I suspect not much will change – let the next less-than-3 years roll on.

Australian equities, bonds (cyan Vanguard line) and selected stocks, last 6 months

Meanwhile, up in the Northern hemisphere, London’s Crossrail Elizabeth line finally opened (it’s great!), and the markets have continued the volatile decline they have been on for a year now. My portfolio dropped 7% in January. February fell too, though the fall was recovered in March. Then April fell 7%. And, at points, markets were down almost 7% in May – see the S&P graph below.

Performance of S&P 500, shown as growth of (hypothetical) USD$10k, during May 2022
Continue reading “May 2022 – markets nearing my max drawdown”

Buying a 2nd home for nothing

A Coastal Folly

One thing has, after all, led to another. Against many years of better judgement, Mrs FvL and I have taken the plunge and bought a second home on the UK’s south coast. Our Coastal Folly.

This blog post tells the story of how I’ve paid for the Coastal Folly. I’ve surprised even myself with how it’s happened.

The Coastal Folly is expensive. Well over £2m of property. It is not a little 2 bed cottage 20 minutes drive from the sea. It is a premium piece of real estate, with uninterruptible sea views.

As a second home, it attracts additional stamp duty (the property transaction tax payable in cash to the government at completion) – for this value of property my stamp duty is well over 10%. A lot of people I know froth at the mouth at this level of stamp duty. Not me. My portfolio has benefited from low investment taxes. And most of what I spend my money on incurs 20% VAT. So having to shell out 12-13% purchase tax on a discretionary purchase, using money that has been taxed at 0% or 20%, doesn’t feel unreasonable at all to me.

Continue reading “Buying a 2nd home for nothing”