Plunge in the markets

It is very obvious that there was a forced liquidation at the beginning of today’s market session and also parts of the morning. There are some securities out there that were clearly force-sold at the bid. Unfortunately when I am scouring the entrails of this market vomiting, I still don’t see anything terribly compelling that is at insanely clearance prices. There are discounts, but nothing on wholesale liquidation at present. While my expectations might be too high, I remember when Sprint corporate debt was trading at 30 cents on the dollar during the 2008-2009 economic crisis. I don’t expect these types of discounts on large cap corporations, but something close would be nice.

That said, I believe this episode of market panic will end shortly and we’ll probably get some form of a “dead cat bounce”. I find it interesting that despite the fact that Japan went through exactly the same thing that China is going through presently that North American equity markets continued to rocket upwards.

China’s Shanghai index also, despite everything happening recently, is still up year-to-date.

ssec

Days like today are a good reminder why one holds cash – even if you were invested in “safe” securities, liquidating safe securities in market panic situations is not easy – you will still receive adverse pricing due to the bid-ask spread.

Genworth MI Q2-2015 review

This is part of my continued coverage of Genworth MI (TSX: MIC). There wasn’t anything too remarkable about Q2-2015’s report other than that delinquencies in Alberta have not been materially increasing. Combined ratio is at 37% for the quarter, which is in-line, and the company wrote $205 million in premiums, which is significantly higher than the $160 million from the previous year’s quarter. As the premiums recognized is significantly less than this number ($144 million) as policies amortize, the revenues to be recognized will be increasing over time.

The conference call transcript would suggest that management is quite aware of the economic fallout with regards to oil prices and Alberta’s economy and also the mortgage fraud issues that Home Capital Group (TSX: HCG) disclosed.

Portfolio management moved out of common shares and into preferred shares – from the beginning of the year they moved about $190 million of capital into preferred shares in the financial and energy sectors. Considering all the carnage going on in that sector (please read James Hymas for his most brilliant descriptions of the Canadian preferred share market) this is probably a reasonable decision on valuation.

The company repurchased 1.54 million shares at $34.38/share during the quarter. Considering this is below their book value, share buybacks are an accretive transaction. The company’s ability to conduct share buybacks relies upon them being “modestly” above a 220% minimum capital test ratio (which was at 231% at the end of Q2).

With MIC.TO shares trading at $29 as of last Friday, any further share repurchases at this price range (in my humblest of opinions) would be a highly beneficial transaction for remaining shareholders and the company should be exercising another share buyback this quarter – basically at current prices every dollar they spend on a buyback is minting about 25 cents of value from thin air.

The market price is clearly trading on fears of some sort of downturn in the Canadian real estate market. With the carnage going on in China there may be some foreign liquidation of domestic land, but how much collateral damage this may cause in the broader market remains to be seen. Employment rates are the primary determinant of the ability for people to be servicing their mortgages and right now this is appearing to hold steady at 6.8%. Although the horizon appears to be stormy, there seems to be a reasonable economic buffer between the fundamental valuation of Genworth MI and the risks ahead concerning the mortgage insurance market. Cash generation is still immensely huge and combined ratios are incredibly low.

I have always likened Genworth MI to be a glorified bond fund with a housing-linked component that will boost returns providing the Canadian economy doesn’t implode (i.e. default rates will rise) beyond the 2008-2009 economic crisis levels. The current trading price is on the lower depths of my fair value range and I am eyeing it closely.

Search for yield – Dundee Corp

Dundee (TSX: DC.A) is an investment corporation. They are family-controlled (by the Goodman family) who control approximately 87% of the voting interest and 18% of the economic interest of the firm through a typical dual class share structure.

By virtue of owning Dundee Financial and other majority and minority-held investments, their consolidated financial statements are a mess to read. When pulling apart the components, they are diversified among real estate, energy, financial, mining and agriculture, in that order.

At the end of the day their stated book value is about $1.45 billion dollars, trading at a market capitalization of about $540 million. There are good reasons to believe the book value will be impaired simply due to their slowness in writing down some investments that clearly will not perform, but even assuming a 50% write-down (which seems appropriate) this brings the entity down to a liquidation value that is still well above its market capitalization.

On the liability side, the holding company has $92 million in term facility debt and subsidiaries make up approximately $100 million more in non-recourse debt. The leverage is not huge. The term facility is good for $250 million total and expires in November 2016 which is salient to the discussion below.

I generally have an aversion to controlled corporate structures as a minority holder unless if there are significant reasons why one would believe there is an alignment of interests. There also needs to be some reasonable assurances there isn’t a cesspool of conflict of interests in the other subsidiaries / operating companies that would cause shareholders to believe they are being taken to the cleaners with. I don’t get this element of confidence with Dundee, so I would steer away from the common shares. This is also found in companies with similar capital holding companies, including firms that have been on and off my radar (let’s be specific: Pinetree Capital is one of them – trading at around 50% of reported net asset value!).

On a more humorous note, Dundee’s logo also looks like the Blackberry logo, which is kind of disturbing considering how Blackberry has fared:

At least their logo is pointing upwards instead of flat.

I am writing not about the common shares, but rather the preferred share securities of Dundee. They have a series of preferred shares (Series 4) which has a par value of $17.84/share. The reason for the unusual par value was because Dundee split off DREAM Unlimited (TSX: DRM) which partitioned the original preferred share series issue (into DC.PR.C and DRM.PR.A). The shares have a coupon of 5%, paid out quarterly.

The preferred share series has an interesting feature: they are redeemable by the holder for $17.84/share after June 30, 2016. They are also retractable by the company indefinitely (at $17.84/share cash) and convertible into common shares at 95% of TSX market pricing or $2/share, whichever is more until June 30, 2016. The aggregate value of the preferred shares at par is $107 million.

This creates a rather interesting situation where an investor can purchase shares today (trading at roughly 97 cents on the dollar) and force a redemption in about 10.5 months’ time, skimming a 5.15% preferred yield and a 3% capital gain. One clear risk is whether the common shares will be trading above $2/share by June 30, 2016, which would seem to be a likely bet even if the underlying asset value of Dundee’s oil and gas companies are seriously impaired. It also does not help that most of their operating entities and equity-accounted entities are losing money, but the question is how much money will they actually end up losing between now and June 30?

There is also sufficient management interest in ensuring that their (not trivial) 18% economic stake in the firm is not diluted with a share conversion, coupled the with the fact that their operating credit line appears sufficient to pick up the bill (in addition to the $87 million cash they already have on hand in the holding corporation).

The preferred shares are extremely illiquid and trade in a narrow range that is presumably due to the redemption/retraction feature.

It is an interesting gamble that seems like it is reaching out for yield, but with an element of security given the pre-existing credit facility and 80% distance between the existing common share price and the $2 floor for preferred conversion.

In relation to the tax-preferred status of an eligible dividend coupled with a (presumed) capital gain at the end, one is looking at a functional tax-preferred 8% with a reasonable amount of asset security (although the security is implied by redeem-ability, definitely not direct security!), contrasted with a fully-taxable 1-year GIC at 1.2% (without liquidity) or 0.85% with liquidity. The spread seems to be a reasonable compensation for risk.

I would like to thank a comment poster by the name of Safety, who on May 25, 2015 posted about this in one of my prior rantings. I was indeed quite surprised at the quality of this person’s comments and hope he can chime in here again.

Anyhow, I finally picked up a few shares.

Purchased Bombardier Preferred Shares – Investment Analysis

Bombardier (TSX: BBD.B) has been on my radar screen since the beginning of the year when the pulled off a secondary offering that was force-fed to the public.

Over the past week I have bought Bombardier’s preferred shares. Specifically I have bought the preferred shares BBD.PR.B and BBD.PR.C, which have somewhat different characteristics.

BBD.PR.B gives out a dividend that is adjusted according to the prime rate given by the various big banks. Right now prime is 2.7% on a $25 par value, so that works out to 67.5 cents per share, paid out in monthly installments. At today’s market value it is trading at a yield of 11.1%. The shares can be converted to BBD.PR.D in August 2017 at a rate that is to be previously declared by management that is a function of the 5-year Government of Canada bond yield. In August 2012 it was 220% of the 5-year bond yield. Generally speaking with bond yields as they are at present I would not expect too much of a fixed premium to be assigned to the conversion.

BBD.PR.C gives out a 6.25% dividend on a par value of $25, so $1.5625/share paid in quarterly installments. At today’s closing price that works out to a 13.1% yield. This series of preferred share can be converted by the company into BBD.B equity at 95% of the closing price of the shares over a pre-determined time span or $2/share, whichever is more.

Both series of preferred shares are cumulative.

So why buy into something so obviously risky? The short story is that this appears to be a high risk / very high reward situation. There are a few reasons to believe that the risk is higher than what the market is perceiving.

On a technical basis, it is clearly obvious that investors have given up on the company. Anybody sitting on the preferred shares since the beginning of the year has lost about half their equity and the same can be said for the common shares. While this is a relatively unscientific comment, sentiment as seen through the stock graph is horrible. The sentiment could get even worse (i.e. go to zero) but despite what most retail financial literature specifies, portfolio returns are highly magnified if you can avoid catastrophic time periods and likely most of Bombardier’s catastrophic period is in the past. Price and volume suggest panic and it is best to invest in a panic situation.

I can’t see people within various pension funds and institutional investors credibly recommending to their investment committees the purchase of Bombardier at this time. The risk has simply gone too high. As a result, the shares (both common and preferred) have cratered. The question at this point is assessing whether sentiment can get worse (resulting in lower prices) or has bottomed.

Operationally and in terms of sentiment, the mass media has focused on the consistent delays on the C-series airplane that is designed to compete against others in the 100-149 person segment. The development of this aircraft continues to cost the company considerable amounts of cash – debt has risen to $9 billion at the end of March 2015 compared to $5.4 billion at the beginning of 2013.

In fairness, the cash balance between those two time periods has also gone up, from $2.6 billion in January 2013 to $4.7 billion in March 2015. The net debt position would be $4.3 billion which is not terrible.

In the last raising of capital, the company forced through a bond offering that functionally extended their nearest term maturity out to 2018. They managed to get a 5.5% coupon on 3.5 year money and 7.5% on 10 year money.

Investors that bought into the 10 year bond would doubtlessly be pleased to know that what they had bought at par is now 83 cents on the dollar (or approximately 11% yield to maturity). The 3.5 year maturity issue last traded at 94.7 cents (or 7.6% YTM).

Their yield curve would still suggest they are not going to be shut out of debt financing.

bbdyieldcurve

So they have a couple years to figure things out. Considering they have seemingly gone through a whole host of management changes in the first half of the year, presumably there will be a renewed focus to solve the issues the company is facing. I also do not know of any aircraft projects that were ever delivered on time and budget.

The company has a profitable transportation division which they are planning on bringing public. This would also give the underlying entity a bit more market value than what is being prescribed (a 3.8 billion market cap plus $4.3 billion net debt position gives an enterprise value of approximately $8.1 billion). For a company doing $20 billion a year in revenues, one would pause to think if a more rational valuation were prescribed to the firm on the basis of revenues.

It is likely any recovery in the company would clearly result in equity appreciation for the company, but also as the credit profile improves, preferred shareholders (especially the BBD.PR.B series) would see considerable capital appreciation, nearly in line with the common shares, with the added bonus of the income payments on the side.

If interest rates rise, BBD.PR.B investors would receive a small bonus. I’m not holding on my breath for an increase in interest rates, however. However, I do believe that 0.5% is the lowest the Bank of Canada will go.

There are obvious risks. The chief risk is the company will suspend dividends and the shares would most likely drop to half of what they are trading at presently. The company suspended dividends on common shares earlier this year and may decide to drop preferred share dividends as they constitute a cash drain of CAD$23 million/year that they would want to otherwise save. They can also save half of this by converting the BBD.PR.C series into equity, a decision that I doubt they would make (they would rather suspend the dividend instead).

There are two good reasons why they won’t: they would likely compromise their ability to access the bond market, and the controlling family (that owns a majority of the votes in the corporation) would lose one more element of the privilege of controlling who is on the board of directors: declaring common share dividends. It does not seem likely at this time that they will suspend dividends unless if things get worse than present. There are other issues concerning the control issue that I will not write about in this post.

There are other positive and negative catalysts, most of which are not being priced into the market. I won’t go into those.

I have omitted a lot of the analysis (including the relationship between the various world governments and Bombardier), but I have written several elements to consider. While I am not too interested in the common shares, the preferred shares do give me interest, thus my purchase. This is not for the faint of heart – this is a high risk investment. If a stabilization comes to fruition and Bombardier manages to plod along, the preferred shareholders are good and will be earning significant income for the indefinite future.

Sleep Country Canada goes public – brief analysis of IPO

Sleep Country Canada (with the cutest ticker symbol on the TSX, ZZZ) goes public after they were taken private half a decade ago. The hedge fund that took them over is still up on a market capitalization basis, but they still have to liquidate approximately 47% of their holdings in the post-IPO organization. The hedge fund also lent the operating entity money which they received a slick 12% for (this is being converted into equity again and replaced with a more conventional credit facility post-IPO).

ZZZ raised a ton of money in the equity offering but it went to facilitate the internal takeover of the operating subsidiary and a partial buy-out of the hedge fund. There is also some equity remaining to pay off some debt of the operating entity so the business in general doesn’t look like a leveraged train wreck.

The underlying business within the holding company is of average financial profitability considering its retail business – very roughly speaking over 2012 to 2014 it has cleared a 9% profit margin before interest and taxes.

When doing the analysis, however, my question was not whether this company should be going public or whether it should be purchased, but rather: how the heck did they manage to get people to pay $17/share for this? On almost every valuation metric I can think of, I would not be interested in looking at this company until it reaches about $10/share (this is roughly 20% under a fair value estimate of $12.50/share). There are a lot of strikes against ZZZ at $17/share:

1. Its retail niche is not a growth market (despite what is claimed in the prospectus), especially considering its top-dog status in the Canadian market – thus not warranting any sort of real “growth valuation”.
2. The profitability of the market is not extreme (although one can make an argument that it will be more difficult to erode from the Amazons and big-box retailers compared to the retailing of trinkets) and one is very hard-pressed to find why existing margins will rise beyond economies of scale;
3. Investors should continue to pay a discount, not a premium, due to the fact that they are (nearly) minority investors in relation to the 46% owner (Birch Hill) sitting in the room looking for an exit;
4. Tangible book value after offering is going to be negative ~$142 million – this is purely a cash-flow entity one is investing in. If they were a growth company, why would they give out a planned 11 cents/share/quarter dividend?
5. I don’t ever invest in companies that have their ticker symbols not represent an abbreviation of their company name. Seriously.

At $17/share ($640 million market cap), I don’t have a clue why people would want to invest in this. Who should be congratulated are the insiders and the financial institutions that actually managed to find purchasers of this stock – well done!

Canadian interest rates

The Bank of Canada dropped their target interest rate from 0.75% to 0.5% today.

Canadian currency has taken a plunge in response. In addition the Federal Reserve Chair has pledged to start “normalizing” US interest rates by the end of this year which also puts downward pressure on all non-US currencies.

cdw

While I rarely have strong feelings on currencies, the “perfect storm” for the Canadian dollar is brewing (lowering interest rates, lowering GDP, lowering commodity prices, lowering external trade with China/USA, political uncertainty over the October 19 election) and it appears more likely than not that we’ll start approaching the point where we’ll see some sort of floor on Canadian currency (simply because the news could not get worse). I’m going to guess it will be around 72-74 cents, but we will see. I’d also expect this low to be reached around October and I may make a significant policy change on my CAD-USD holdings at this time given valuation levels.

My working theory is that the US economy is going to have extreme difficulties adjusting outside of a zero-rate environment and the process of deleveraging will be a painful business when hedge funds can no longer obtain money for free (Interactive Brokers, for example, will happily lend you USD at 0.63% for more than a million and 0.5% for more than $3 million). Paradoxically if the 30-year treasury bond decides to spike up from 3.2% to around 3.5% yield levels, I would suspect that purchasing long-term treasuries are going to be the winning play over the next period of time – not any equity fund. Debt levels incurred by the US government are hideously high and with every quarter point increase that they face will be a disproportionate amount of interest expense going out the door.

This also does not factor in other entitlement spending (e.g. social security, medicare, etc.) that serves to effectively ramp up the net expenditures for public debt purposes.

Right now I am mostly cash (or near-cash). Some of my efforts to find a place to park cash have mysteriously yielded results that are relatively low risk and I’ll be able to realize a modest single digit percentage at the cost of a little bit of liquidity, but in the event there are better investment opportunities on the horizon I will be in a very good position to pounce.

Canadian Housing Financing Market

There are three companies that come to mind that are directly related to Canadian residential housing financing: Genworth MI (TSX: MIC), Home Capital Group (TSX: HCG), and Equitable Group (TSX: EQB).

I’ve done extensive research on all of them in the past and I am research-current with all three companies. I do own shares of MIC from the summer of 2012.

The first, which should be no surprise to regular readers here, deals with mortgage insurance. The second and third deal with direct financing of home mortgages (both first-line and refinancing). If a mortgage is required to be insured (which is usually the case for higher ratio mortgages and refinancings) then CMHC and Genworth MI get involved and charge a premium in exchange for the lender being able to give out a lower rate of interest.

HCG today announced that its mortgage originations were down from the previous year and its stock price cratered roughly 15% as of the time of this writing.

Genworth MI is down about 4% in sympathy, although Equitable Group is in the “white noise” range for the markets (i.e. relatively unchanged).

A downturn in mortgage originations will materially affect HCG and EQB’s profitability, while this has more of a muted effect on Genworth MI as cash proceeds from mortgage insurance are not accounted for as revenues until they are recognized according to prior experience (net of expected default losses).

The takeaway to this message is that if Genworth MI gets disproportionately trashed in the upcoming days, it is likely unwarranted as the fundamental profitability in Genworth MI is not through volume, but rather the solvency of the lenders in question. Genworth MI also has the advantage of being able to run off its insurance book and still receive a boost in market value as it is trading below book value, while HCG and EQB are trading above book value.

Option implied volatility does suggest that institutional interest suspects further volatility. Tread carefully as always!

General market overview

The past two weeks in the markets have seen the S&P 500 go down a whopping 3% from its rough highs of 2120.

While I do see some signs of margin selling, it is still quite light and I am still not interested in dipping my toes further in the market.

I would love to see evidence of large-scale margin liquidations in illiquid securities. That makes me salivate financially, but we are another 100 points away from the S&P descending further before this may happen.

A few other points:

* 30-year US treasuries seem to have peaked at 3.2% and are now trading at 3%. The 3% gain you would have lost in the S&P 500 you would have gained by investing in long-term treasuries.

* The Canadian currency has also been hacked to death and BAX futures are hinting, but not fully pricing in, the notion of another interest rate cut to 0.5%. If the Canadian currency slips further I will likely convert some USD to CAD, likely around the 76 cent level. This seems to be directly correlated to the drop in oil prices.

* If the technical glitch on the NYSE was determined to be caused by hackers, I am curious how this would be priced into the markets.

Positions:

Happily majority cash.

Q2-2015 Performance Report

Portfolio Performance

My very unaudited portfolio performance in the second quarter of 2015, the three months ended June 30, 2015 is approximately +9.4%. The performance for the six months ended June 30, 2015 (year to date) is approximately +10%.

(An earlier version of this post had the 3-month performance at +9.6% and this minor calculation error has been subsequently corrected; this brought the year-to-date performance figure from 11% to 10% due to rounding).

Portfolio Percentages

At June 30, 2015:

22% common equities
2% preferred shares
1% equity options (net)
22% corporate debt
53% cash

USD exposure: 47%

Portfolio is valued in CAD;
Equities are valued at closing price;
Equity options valued at closing bid;
Corporate debt valued at last trade price;
Portfolio does not include accrued interest;
Cash balance adjusted for July 13, 2015 redemption of Pinetree Capital debentures (I did say this was “very unaudited”, did I not?).

Notification

I am still considering an e-mail subscription service for these updates. When I am in a position to do so, I may give an abbreviated summary of the report on the website, but send something more detailed through email.

Portfolio Commentary and Outlook

Mostly cash! This has to be the highlight of the portfolio. Cash earning zero yield. Instead of dumping the remainder in an index fund or long-term treasuries, I have opted to keep things as simple as possible and hold onto cash for better (or rather, worse!) times.

I am shocked that I am substantially outperforming the S&P 500 and TSX year-to-date. I have been running wildly dry for over a year now, so this quarter was a much appreciated break-out – albeit this breakout will strictly be temporary. I fully anticipate coasting over the year due to having a very high cash component to the portfolio.

The major action during this quarter was the liquidation of a substantial position in common shares as a result of a company’s dutch auction tender. I took the opportunity to liquidate most of the position during this time as the story in question (that I have been alluding to in the past couple years of these reports!) will have to wait for longer before it will turn into massive gains. This company will still be on my watchlist and I still hold a smaller position in it than I have in the past. Most of the shares were liquidated at a profit of about 40% from the cost basis that I acquired them at, but I was quite greedy on this position and thought it could go much, much higher (specifically I was looking for a low-risk double and with the help of some momentum, a triple).

Why not keep holding onto a large position if I still think they have potential? In an (hopefully not mistaken) attempt to time when the market will start to like them again, I do genuinely believe there are some technical matters within their ownership structure that need to be sorted out before they will appreciate. It is quite the piece of information for a tender offer to have all of your significant shareholders offer their shares. If they want to get out at a price that is relatively close to market, what makes one think it will go higher from this point until they’re all done liquidating?

I have probably given enough hints on this website for an astute person to figure out what stock this is.

I did pick up a minor equity position in a company that is now trading below a dollar per share. It used to be well above this and is primarily a perceived victim of the slump in the Canadian oil and gas sector. While I am not married to this position (nor am I married to any position in my portfolio!) the risk-reward scenario, especially when examining the financial statements and doing some basic calculations of what the industry should nominally look like in a normal financial state, seems to be quite favourable for a triple in share price over the next couple years. This is assuming some sort of moderation in the industry. Even if the common shares went 3x from present prices, it would still be well below its average trading price in history. Given the balance sheet leverage (which is not completely leveraged, but I would not call them conservative on debt either) this will likely be a binary situation where it will go to zero on a recapitalization, or stabilize and appreciate. If you get 2:1 odds flipping a fair coin, it is still wise to put some money on the outcome even though you may lose your wager. At present it is about 30% below my cost basis and thus it looks like a losing bet. I will not rebalance until I see Q2 financial statements.

My corporate debt positions have been pared down primarily through redemptions of Pinetree Capital debentures (TSX: PNP.DB). I’ve written enough about it in previous posts, but suffice to say, it is going to be very difficult to replace something with such an insanely high yield at a low-to-moderate risk level. Pinetree debt has been trading in the upper 90’s since the last redemption announcement, but it is far from an optimal vehicle to be parking cash (even though the coupon of 10% looks relatively attractive considering the debt is super-duper senior secured).

I have three other corporate debt holdings which are single-digit percentages. One is senior secured, the other two are senior unsecured and all of them are trading below par and are priced at a higher risk level than what I believe their financial statements warrant.

I’ve been desperately trying to find places to park cash to earn something beyond zero. Other than the obvious (GICs at 1%), I have not found any luck with the risk-reward parameters that I am looking for. There are a lot of creative institutions and securities out there that will tempt you into ways to locking your money, but removing liquidity must demand a higher price for the investment and I am refusing to sacrifice liquidity. In this instance, I am keeping very liquid.

My largest equity position is now Genworth MI (TSX: MIC) once again. Historically I took a large stake back in 2012 when it was trading below $20 and I see no reason why I should change my position at present. I did dump some shares in the high 30’s and low 40’s last year. From a fundamental perspective if it goes below $30/share I might start looking at repurchasing shares again if my perception of how the market is pricing in Canadian housing risk is more severe than my well-informed perception of what the reality is on the ground.

There is an omnipresent risk in the entire Canadian market that isn’t directly being talked about, and that is the upcoming October 19, 2015 federal election. Since the NDP (who have vowed to increase corporate income taxes, amongst other taxes) are in a position in the polls whereby they could conceivably be in government, the markets are going to continue be dicey for government-sensitive corporations out there. In particular this also does not bode well for domestic oil producers (which will likely be under further regulatory scrutiny). The election of an NDP government in Alberta has already resulted in their government promising in the throne speech higher taxes for corporations (the provincial corporate tax rate will go up from 10% to 12%), individuals earning $125,000 and above, and down the line, a probable implementation of a carbon tax.

As a result of the high cash balances, I do not seriously anticipate portfolio performance will be deviate much from -5% to +5% for the subsequent quarters unless if I can find a suitable place to deploy those cash balances.

I have quite a few targets on the watchlist, but they are at prices that are sub-optimal in terms of risk-reward. An example of this is Rogers Sugar (TSX: RSI) which at $4.70/share is not something I’d put in my portfolio, but if it goes below $4.00 I will look at it again.

As for now, at current prices, right now I am out of ideas. So I wait.

Genworth MI repurchases shares

Genworth MI (TSX: MIC) recently disclosed that they repurchased 1,454,196 shares in mid-May for roughly $34.38 per share, a repurchase representing $50 million.

The buyback algorithm they employed was less than subtle, mainly the repurchase of 137,210 shares per day for 10 days and 82,096 shares for the last day. As 57% of the shares outstanding are owned by Genworth (NYSE: GNW), they supplied 57% of the liquidity for these transactions. 620,818 shares were taken out of the public float.

This repurchase was executed at slightly less than book value, which means it will be mildly beneficial to book value per share – my estimates are that based off of end of Q1-2015, the transaction would add 3 cents of book value per diluted share.

Of course, the transaction will be hugely accretive to earnings – the buyback represents 1.56% of shares outstanding, which means this will add a couple pennies a share to the quarterly EPS figures. In addition, the buyback also means that the company will not have to give out an extra $2.3 million a year in dividends.

At the end of Q1, the company had $200 million in surplus of its own internal buffer, which is 220% of the minimum capital test required to operate. The company reported 233%.

As the company typically book about $90 million in income a quarter, the buyback likely represents a “cash neutral” policy of balancing dividends (est. $36 million in this upcoming quarter) and share buybacks, at least with its current market value. If their market value remains suppressed below book value and they keep executing buybacks on a quarterly basis, I foresee higher equity prices in the future.

Long-time readers here will remember that I disagreed strongly with management’s decision to repurchase shares at $40/share back in 2014. May 2015’s repurchase I completely agree with – a shame they could not execute it in March, but still, they (and shareholders) will receive good value for this $50 million repurchase.

I continue holding Genworth MI shares since mid-2012.