See the end of the post for a full portfolio breakdown.
Since my last update I exited Radian Group, Arkansas Best and MBIA. The sales reflect a desire to redeploy cash in other opportunities as well as some lingering concerns about each company.
With Arkansas Best, its my uncertainty about the outcome of union negotiations. The negotiations were extended this week for a second time. An escalation to a strike does not seem out of the question. If a strike occurs the stock price may or may not get hit; while a positive resolution could be quite good for the stock in the long-run (see my original post about how Arkansas Best would benefit from a contract structured in a similar manner to the one that YRC Worldwide operates with) the uncertainty may drive panic selling. I’ve decided to wait this one out for a few weeks and see how it plays out. Read more
See the end of the post for Portfolio Composition and weekly trades.
A week of Significant Gains from RDN, MTG, MBIA
The last seven days have been extremely good ones for my portfolio. This has been primarily due to the price appreciation of MGIC, Radian Group and MBIA. As regards MGIC and Radian, I have written so much about these two names, done so much work trying to understand the business (and trying to understand how other people were trying to understand the business), that it is quite rewarding to see it play out the way that it has.
It is amazing to me that MGIC has more than doubled (from a $2.40 low to a $6.10 high) during 5 days when the only notable disclosure was that the company had the ability to raise capital. Someone with an interest in market psychology should really write a piece on MGIC – you could call it the Existential Security.
I reduced my position in both Radian and MGIC by a little more than half during the early part of this week. My sales of MGIC occurred around $5.20 while those with Radian were at a little over $10. I don’t have plans on selling any more of either.
I sold the positions down because they were getting very large (particularly in the case of MGIC) and because my thesis, that these companies would be able to survive, has now played out. What is going to drive the stocks going forward is the long-term potential of the mortgage insurance business and how well each company can capitalize on it. Read more
Over the last couple of days I lightened up on my position in Radian Group and added to my position in MGIC. While I am nervous that this runs contrary to the claims of analysts (which have been getting on board the Radian train lately) I can’t find a hole in my work and cannot ignore the value I see at MGIC.
A few weeks ago I worked through a “blue sky” estimate for both Radian and MGIC. I was pretty surprised by the results. The following is not intended to be 2013 estimate or really an any-particular-time-period estimate. It is simply a look at what earnings might be once defaults “normalize” and each company’s reserve additions revert back to being those on new delinquencies only.
I finished a post over the weekend giving some thoughts about the macro-environment and how it pertains to my portfolio. As a consequence of the conclusions drawn, my portfolio has been growing and my cash level decreasing, to the point where I have now been on margin for the last month and a half. Right now I have about 11% margin. While I am typically wary of using margin, when I look at what I own there are no stocks that I feel compelled to reduce. We’ll see if this turns out to be folly. This is, however, about as much risk as I’m comfortable with, so any stocks added hereon will have to be balanced by equivalent removals. And as per the strategy I profess, I will sell without remorse if the market turns abruptly.
On to some of the moves I made over the past 3 weeks. Read more
There was a piece published in Barrons this weekend on Radian Group. Barrons is free this weekend so anyone can access it here. The article. written by Jonathan Laing follows quite closely the arguments written in this SeekingAlpha piece. Honestly, there is so much overlap between the two articles that I would have hoped that the writer of the Barrons piece contacted OliverDavies, who wrote the SeekingAlpha article, before writing his.
In my post, Does Radian Guaranty have a liquidity problem?, I considered most of the arguments made by Barrons and even came up with my own spreadsheet model to see if they were valid I have yet to hear of any major errors in my analysis, and it is an analysis I have went over a number of times since then in order to verify. Thus I remain of the opinion that my analysis is fair and that my conclusion that Radian Guaranty will not run into a liquidity problem absent the drop of another shoe in the housing market.
I have to wonder whether Johnathan Laing ran his own cash flow analysis before publishing his work. Did he create a model that showed Radian Guaranty would run out of cash? I would love to see that model. I am not academic about this argument; if someone can prove me wrong I will sell my stock and move on. I really couldn’t care less whether I am right or not, I only want to make money on the opportunity. Read more
The turn in housing
– Michael Burry – Scion Capital
The housing market has turned.
Being that it is a huge, lumbering tanker, it takes a long time to slow down and redirect. The changes happen slowly enough that you can miss them if you are focused on the wrong details (price increases and to a lessor degree sales increases) and not enough on the right one’s (inventory). All that matters is that prices are cheap, rates are low, and inventory has come down to levels that leave many cities firmly entrenched as sellers markets. Once buyers stop seeing themselves in the drivers seat, their attitude changes from one of waiting for a better buy to that of getting in before its too late. The vicious circle is replaced by a virtuous one, and sales and price increases will follow. Nothing lasts forever, and the US housing collapse didn’t either.
Falling inventories had to lead the housing turnaround, and that is what we are seeing now. Nationwide in August housing inventories fell from 8.2 months of supply a year ago to 6.1 last month.
A couple of weeks ago a Seeking Alpha article was published that highlighted some problems on the horizon for Radian Group (RDN). The article was excellent and it introduced me to the idea of liquidity risk at a mortgage insurance subsidiary. That led me into a much more detailed investigation of the Radian Guaranty insurance subsidiary, which I will discuss below.
The liquidity of an insurance sub
Before getting into the issues specific to Radian, let’s talk a bit about liquidity risk. For some reason liquidity is not at the forefront of discussion during conference calls and in brokerage reports on mortgage insurance companies. Questions and comments focus on risk to capital ratios and loan loss reserve methodologies, which, while providing important clues, do not in themselves allow you to conclude whether a company will have the cash available to pay the claims. The author of the SeekingAlpha article, Darren Oliver, suggested that this was because the mortgage insurance industry is not very well understood. This could be the case, I don’t know. I just find it surprising.
As a mortgage insurer, the bottom line is that you have the cash available to pay claims and that the regulator who watches over you believes that this is the case. Over time, the cash and short term investments on hand plus the premiums paid need to be enough to pay out claims made as well as operating expenses incurred. If there is a concern that the cash and future premiums will not be enough to cover the expected claims, the insurer will either be taken over by the regulator or put into run off.