CMHC increasing mortgage insurance premiums

CMHC announced this morning they will be increasing mortgage insurance premiums on March 17, 2017.

The changes are significant for those interested in mortgages with a 10-20% down-payment:

Loan-to-Value Ratio Standard Premium (Current) Standard Premium (Effective March 17, 2017)
Up to and including 65% 0.60% 0.60%
Up to and including 75% 0.75% 1.70%
Up to and including 80% 1.25% 2.40%
Up to and including 85% 1.80% 2.80%
Up to and including 90% 2.40% 3.10%
Up to and including 95% 3.60% 4.00%
90.01% to 95% – Non-Traditional Down Payment 3.85% 4.50%

The changes were a result of the OFSI changing the capital holding requirements of mortgage insurance institutions in Canada (affecting CMHC, Genworth MI and Canada Guaranty) and I have telegraphed this well in advance in my previous analyses of Genworth MI.

It is quite probable that Genworth MI will follow suit and this will result in a substantial increase in premiums written for the company in the 2nd to 4th quarter of 2017. The market has not picked up on this at all.

Bombardier credit market completely out of the woods now

Bombardier’s bonds have traded considerably higher since their latest 8.75% bond issue (maturing December 2021) which is now trading at a premium to par.

They have to be looking at this and thinking about securing further long-term funding. It also gives them a lot more negotiating power with the Canadian government, who wants to inject some more money into the corporation (whether they need it or not) for political reasons.

Floating rate preferred shares are yielding 8%, while the fixed rate is yielding 9% (quite the premium to pay for a floating rate). Given the difference between the bond market and the preferred share market, I still believe the preferred shares are trading slightly cheap to what they actually should be.

The equity is also receiving quite a bid as of late, despite the massive warrants overhang in their earlier year government fundings. If they receive another large order for C-Series aircraft (something slightly larger than Air Tanzania), it is quite likely the stock will rise even further.

Details of Genworth Financial merger

There are lots of juicy details of the merger proposal with Genworth Financial in their preliminary proxy filing. In particular there are some hints that Genworth MI in Canada will get sold off whether this merger is successful or not.

Despite all short-sellers and naysayers believing that the Canadian housing market is going to crap, Genworth MI continues to appreciate post-Trump and is still trading 10% below their book value. They’ll continue to be mystified when the stock will break through its all-time highs it reached back in November 2014:

Not coincidentally, that’s when I last sold shares. I will note the price has been adjusted multiple times due to their rather large dividend (currently $1.76/share), and whether the Genworth Financial merger is successful or not, it is quite probable that Genworth MI Canada will be sold for as much as can be sought for it, because doing so before the Canadian housing market collapses is the only smart thing to do.

In terms of valuation, one can make a good claim for over CAD$40/share.

The market is also not appreciating at all the notion that mortgage insurance rates will be headed higher in early 2017 due to capital changes. The last time mortgage insurance rates went higher, the stock went up about 10%.

They are also somewhat buoyed by the “good politics, bad policy” decision by the BC government to extend a 5-year interest-free loan, matching dollar-for-dollar on the first 5% of a downpayment (for an insured mortgage). It would be a poor decision for a prospective buyer in BC to not take advantage of this, but they would need to pay mortgage insurance to do so.

Genworth Financial / Long-Term Care Insurance

For those of you that are interested in why Genworth Financial (NYSE: GNW) is willing to be bought out at US$5.43/share when their book value is far, far higher should take notice of this following Wall Street Journal article about the woes of another long-term care insurance provider that went belly-up.

Putting a long story short, there is an accounting mismatch – the liabilities on the book are less than what the actual liabilities will be.

There has been a lot of incorrect analysis (especially on Seeking Alpha) on the actual value of the holding company. In general when one sees sloppy analysis that is regarded as consensus, there is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for an investment decision in the contrary.

D+H Corporation slashes dividend

I looked at D+H Corporation’s (TSX: DH) last disaster of a quarter and predicted the following:

My guess is that the dividend is going to get slashed in half.

So, today, they announced their 32 cent dividend is going down to 12 cents. The stock is up today because the company says they are going to do a share buyback with half the amount that they wouldn’t have paid out in dividends, but given their leverage situation, I’d be skeptical.

KCG Holdings – Significant share buyback

KCG Holdings (NYSE: KCG) I’ve identified as a fairly good risk-reward candidate last month.

Yesterday they announced they came to an agreement with one of their major shareholders (whom were part of the recapitalization/reverse takeover of the predecessor firm after their major trading glitch on August 1, 2012) and have swapped 8.9 million shares of BATS for 18.7 million shares of KCG stock and 8.1 million at-the-money (roughly) warrants.

After this transaction, KCG still has 2.3 million shares of BATS – they did liquidate about 2 million shares on the open market over the past month.

This transaction has a positive double-whammy for book value – not only are the BATS shares accounted for at less than market value (which means the transaction will cause an accounting gain), but the KCG shares are being bought back for well under book value. Even when accounting for the not insignificant tax bill that will result (about a hundred million!), the final book value of KCG would be around $18.79/share after the transactions.

KCG will have about 67.5 million shares outstanding and 5.1 million warrants outstanding (strike prices of $11.70, $13.16, and $14.63, with each about 1/3rds of the warrants). These are likely to be exercised and shares sold in time – each of these warrants expire in July 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively.

The corporation is trading slightly more than 20% underneath tangible book value. They have historically made money, especially in volatile conditions. The word “volatile” is also used to describe the new President-Elect. Needless to say, this has potential.

The other note is that CEO Daniel Coleman owns 1,487,907 common shares, or about 2.2% of the company, which is not a trivial amount of capital. He also owns 161,132 warrants, and 1.7 million stock options at a strike price of $11.65/share (making the effective ownership about 4.8% assuming the exercise of warrants and options), plus stock appreciation awards at $22.50/share, due to expire in July 2018. There is some serious incentive for him to get the stock price higher.

Canopy Growth Corporation

Canopy Growth (TSX: CGC), specializing in the production of marijuana, has gone parabolic.


Today, 12.9 million shares traded (about 10% of the company) around a level that valued the entire entity at around CAD$1.5 billion.

Fundamentally, looking at their last quarterly report, they have sold $15 million of marijuana in the last 6 months.

If you (exponentially) extrapolate their revenue growth curve, they will be selling over $1 billion in marijuana in five years.

Somehow, I don’t think this will happen.

I am predicting two things:

1. Management is going to do a massive secondary offering. They did two of them earlier in 2016 (raising an 8-digit sum of money), but they will scramble to raise an even bigger amount of money which would pay for a lot of marketing. I’m guessing they’re going to aim for over a hundred million. I’d do the same if I were in their shoes, in addition to personally selling shares at the earliest possible opportunity.
2. Eventually, within the next six months, a lot of people are going to lose money on this stock.

Right now, if you are short, I can imagine the pain. Maybe those short on the stock should get a prescription of medical marijuana to ease the pain.

No positions, no intention to take any, but looking at this stock with amusement.

Genworth MI reports Q3-2016

Genworth MI (TSX: MIC) reported their Q3-2016 report. This was a very “steady as she goes” type report fundamentally, with little hidden surprises. Some highlights:

* Stated book value per share is $39.01 (means the company is trading 29% below book value, which is a huge discount – I will also point out there is about $2.48/share of goodwill, intangibles and the deferred policy acquisition costs, so the most absolute conservative valuation of tangible book value is roughly $36.50/share diluted).

* Loss ratio goes to 25%, up from 20% in the previous quarter mainly due to oil-producing (Alberta, Sask) delinquencies and defaults. Delinquency rate is still at 0.10%.

* Investment portfolio is up another $200 million in invested assets (3.2% average yield).

* Transactional written insurance premiums down 15% from quarter of previous year; portfolio insurance up 7%, which was somewhat surprising given the rule changes after Q2-2016 (quarter-to-quarter comparisons here are not that useful due to seasonality).

* Minimum capital test under soon-to-be-replaced OSFI rules went up to 236% from 233% in previous quarter.

* Dividend raised from 42 to 44 cents (I was expecting a 3 cent raise, but this is probably to ensure they keep raising capital levels for the new rule changes – market may not like this although in strict financial theory they’d do best to scrap the dividend and repurchase shares at current prices).

* Credit score increases of client averaging 752 from 744, gross debt service level is 24% (would lead one to suspect that absent of catastrophe, clients would continue to pay mortgages above all else)

* They seemed to figure out how to stop losing money on buying Canadian preferred shares. They really should just outsource this to James Hymas, who I am sure will be able to provide superior risk/reward on these investments.

The big question is the looming impact of regulatory changes, an issue previously discussed on this site. Some snippets:

* On the issue of OSFI capital calculation changes, the “new” target is 150% (from 220%), and in the new framework, they are at 155-158%, the previous June 30, 2016 quarter had it at 153-156%.

* Impact of BC announcement of 15% property transfer tax on foreign buyers in Vancouver area:

As of August 2, 2016, foreign individuals and corporations will be subject to an additional 15% land transfer tax on the purchase of residential property in Metro Vancouver. The Company does not expect these changes to have a material impact on its business, as foreign borrowers are typically not eligible for high loan-to-value mortgage insurance.

* Impact of the mortgage changes and applicability of transactional and portfolio insurance on various mortgage properties:

After the Company’s review of the mortgage insurance eligibility rule changes announced October 3, 2016, it expects that the transactional market size and its transactional new insurance written in 2017 may decline by approximately 15% to 25% reflecting expected changes to borrower home buying patterns, including the purchase of lower priced properties and higher downpayments.

As the result of clarifications provided by the Department of Finance after the October 3, 2016 public announcement, the Company now expects that portfolio new insurance written in 2017 may decline by approximately 25% to 35% as compared to the normalized run rate after the July 1, 2016 regulatory changes for portfolio insurance. The new mortgage rules prohibit insuring low loan-to-value refinances and most investor mortgages originated by lenders on or after October 17, 2016.

Notes: I had anticipated transactional insurance would drop by 1/6th (so this is within the 15-25% estimate), and I thought portfolio insurance would get completely shot up (which is going to be the case).

Basic calculations would suggest that if transaction insurance gets dropped 20%, the annual run-rate is about CAD$521/year, plus whatever insurance premium increases that will happen in 2017 as a result of heightened capital requirements. I had originally given some conjecture that this number would be CAD$570 in the end – which is still a pretty good number even if the combined ratio goes up to 60% or so – you’re looking at a very, very, very profitable entity.

Portfolio insurance will taper down and contribute about $60 million/year in written premiums.

Going forward, Genworth MI should produce about $570-580 million/year in written premiums, without increases in mortgage insurance premiums.

Cash-wise, at a 50% combined ratio (30% loss and 20% expense) and a 26% tax rate, shareholders are looking at $210-215M/year or about $2.32/share in operating net income. A $6.2 billion investment portfolio at 3.2% blended yield gives $1.60/share, taxed at 26%. Combined, the entity would still pull in cash at $3.92/share – considering the $27.86 share price currently, this is trading at a P/E of 7, at a book value of 30% below par… needless to say, an attractive valuation.

I generally do not care about the top-line revenue number as this just represents an amortization formula of the unearned premium reserve. However, analysts and uninformed members of the public do tend to care about this since revenues translate into bottom-line results, and this number will continue to rise over the next year above the $162 million they booked this year. The only thing that will change this is a change in claim experience and time – for any given insurance policy, more of it gets booked in the earlier stages of the policy than the later ones. The increasing revenue number will result in higher amounts of higher reported net income, and higher EPS.

Questions for conference call:
– Impact of Genworth Financial’s acquisition on Genworth MI – what restrictions would there be on equity repurchases – and asking about the out-right sale of the MIC subsidiary (which, at current values, has to be put on the table);
– Ability/willingness for Genworth MI to repurchase shares at extremely discounted book value per share prices;
– Regulatory impact of private mortgage insurance $300 billion cap (currently at $275 billion for all private entities, MIC at $221 billion);
– What the MCT internal target will be with the new OSFI capital regime.

Final thoughts: Right now, repurchasing shares of Genworth MI is such a no-brainer shareholder-enhancing decision. I hope management can snap on it. The common shares are trading on the basis of Canadian real estate fear and not in any regard to the underlying financial reality which show an entity that is generating a massive amount of cash.

KCG Holdings – very inexpensive risk-reward ratio

KCG Holdings (NYSE: KCG) is probably best known as previously being “Knight Capital”, which was one of the top-tier US market-making firms back in the days when the Nasdaq traded in quotations of 1/16ths.

The second reason why they are well-known is because due to a badly botched software upgrade on August 1, 2012, where their algorithms managed to incur $440 million in 30 minutes of trading losses before technicians were able to pull the plug. I am quite confident with an unlimited amount of equity on my Interactive Brokers account I could not manage to lose that much money using my fingertips and mouse.

The company was forced to recapitalize and what incurred after was a reverse-takeover by the algorithmic trading firm GETCO. The existing shareholders were massively diluted and this functionally served as a way for GETCO shareholders to liquidate their holdings (backed by General Atlantic). The combined entity was renamed “KCG” (yet another example of a firm acronym-ing their name) and what ensued was an internal purge of legacy Knight Capital personnel. The transition at this time is more or less complete.

The corporation still makes the bulk of their money through market making and related trade execution services. Their prime competitors include other high-frequency trading firms, including the newly public Virtu (Nasdaq: VIRT). In general, the firm makes money when market conditions are volatile and they operate at a loss when volatility is quite muted.


The July to September quarter was a disaster for KCG (and other market-making entities, including Interactive Brokers), while the April to June quarter was quite profitable (think about Brexit!).

Since the last quarter’s results, KCG shares have tail-spinned:


The business, quarter by quarter, is highly volatile. In the Q2-2016, they reported operating revenues of $280 million, and in Q3-2016 they reported $200 million. As you might tell by this seasonality, it creates volatility in the stock as quantitative algorithms that purchase and sell shares on fundamental data generally go wild with companies like these.

Profitability also varies. The corporation is still trying to cut costs and become lean and mean (like Virtu), but it is taking them time to get to that position where they can be profitable in a very low volatility environment like the last quarter. On the aggregate, they are profitable in the medium run, which means I do not regard them as much of a risk at this moment (unless if their programmers decide to botch up another software upgrade like what happened in August 1, 2012).

The balance sheet is a little more interesting.

Its tangible book value is $15.54/share at the end of September. The underlying corporation has $508 million in cash, and a whole host of financial instruments that vary from quarter to quarter as they maintain an inventory for market making purposes (13F-HR form attached for illustration). In addition, they also own 13.1 million shares of BATS (Nasdaq: BATS), which is presently in the middle of getting acquired by the CBOE (Nasdaq: CBOE) sometime in 2017. The BATS stake is worth a pre-tax amount of about US$380 million at current market value.

Where my accounting experience comes in handy is how this is reported. You would think that owning US$380 million in a publicly traded entity would be reflected as US$380 million on the balance sheet, but this is not the case with KCG’s BATS stake. Instead, it is reported under the equity method of accounting. I will leave out the complications and state that it is reported as $94 million at present on the balance sheet. As KCG sells their BATS shares, the differential between sale price and their carrying value on the asset side will be reported as a gain (subtracting a provision for income tax).

So there is actually about $285 million of pre-tax money that is bottled up and waiting to escape. After taxes, this will be about $200 million leftover (using 30% as a basis – the actual rate may be higher).

You can see why most people do not have the time or patience to go through this minutiae.

On the liability side, we have one significant liability – $465 million face value outstanding of secured senior debt, with an 6.875% coupon maturing March 2020. The debt restricts the corporation to repurchasing shares at a fraction of KCG’s income (if you care to read the fine print, it is available on this 8-K filing) in addition to other nitty gritty details that I will omit from this post.

KCG initially issued $500 million in debt, but decided to repurchase debt at a discount to market earlier this year, when their debt was trading at about 89 cents on the dollar.

Readers of this site perhaps would not be surprised to know that I decided to purchase a decent-sized block of debt at around 90 cents earlier this year. My first disclosure of that purchase is in this post. Unless if the corporation decides to do an August 1, 2012-style blow-up, I regard it as virtually impossible that they will be unable to pay back this debt.

The company has also been actively engaged with the repurchase of its equity (and warrants related to the GETCO merger) at values that have been below book. They conducted a dutch-auction tender last year with excess capital, and they have not made sufficient amounts of money this year to conduct further stock repurchases – their authorization after the previous quarter was a paltry $2 million. However, they can liquidate BATS shares and use those proceeds for equity buyback purposes.

Considering the firm is now trading at a 15% discount to tangible book value, any equity repurchases would be accretive to their book value, in addition to being an EPS boost whenever the markets are volatile enough for them to make money.

So this is a compelling business with a relatively wide moat (market-making is not as easy as initial perceptions may seem), a decent balance sheet, and reasonable prospects for much better business conditions (did I say anything about Donald Trump in my previous post?). It is a company that would find better business conditions when there are higher amounts of market volatility, and assuming they can keep some sort of competitive business edge on the algorithmic side of things, they should be able to generate positive cash flows.

In other words, the downside appears limited, but the upside is less defined.

A question of what their terminal value would be is an interesting study – one would think that if they decided to go private (which would be a legitimate avenue considering everything presented above) that they could do so at a share price obviously above the US$13.10 they closed at today. Management has made promotions of aiming for a “double digit return on equity” in 2017, which I believe is generous, especially on the operating side, but if they get anywhere close to this (or even half of it), the market should value this well north of US$13.10.

So I’m in. Both the equity and debt.

Looking back at Davis and Henderson

Once upon a time, I had invested some money in David and Henderson Income Fund, which was back in the days when a lot of viable corporate operations were structured in the form of an income trust. I made some reasonably quick capital gains, sold, and never looked back.

Davis and Henderson, similar to Kentucky Fried Chicken, Ernst and Young, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and many other establishments, decided to abbreviate their corporate name to their initials and become D+H Corp (TSX: DH). Considering that their previous business was the printing and processing of Canadian (paper) cheques, diversification of their business was correctly considered and for the most part, they made a fairly good transition into the broader realm of providing financial technology services for big banks.

You can see in the 10-year chart that this has really worked for them, and the market has been on their side, until recently:


What you don’t see is that in today’s trading, they fell 43% on a quarterly announcement (closing at $16.25/share, with a low of $14.97), bringing their stock price to levels frighteningly close to what I had invested back in 2010 with a cost base of $16.10 per unit. This was certainly a case of “back to the future” for Davis and Henderson.

The question of course is whether the six or so years it has been since I had last invested in them, whether they were worth taking another stab at again.

D+H’s fateful decision was the acquisition of Fundtech on March 30, 2015 (which closed a month later). In this acquisition, they issued many hundreds of millions of debt (in addition to doing a secondary offering at $37.95). Unfortunately, while the acquisition was designed to represent a diversification away from their traditional businesses, it has not materialized into anywhere that could be financially rationalized with the price paid. It has also bloated D+H’s balance sheet with the haunted scars of an additional $1.7 billion in goodwill and intangibles, and when considering their pre-existing goodwill and intangibles, they are sitting on a negative $1.3 billion of tangible equity.

Putting this into plain English, their balance sheet is a train wreck.

Train wreck balance sheets can only sustain themselves with positive cash flow, and continued good credit, as the generosity of lenders will be able to see them through.

For the first 9 months of the year, they have generated $167 million in free cash flow. A majority of this goes to dividend payments ($90 million), and the rest of it goes to debt repayment and acquiring other intangibles.

The problem is with the last quarterly result – it is quite evident that the corporation, on a consolidated basis, has flat-lined. While they still generate a very healthy amount of cash, it is obvious that they will be receiving future stress in the form of being able to repay debt as it matures.

They face the following debt situation:


They have an immediate maturity coming in June 2017, which they should be able to pay off with existing cash flow and/or their revolver without issues. The issue is what happens when they start getting into the bulk of their 2021-2023 maturities.

The math is simple – if they continue paying dividends at their current rate, they will have about $100 million a year in cash to acquire businesses (more intangible assets on the balance sheet) plus debt repayment. They will not have nearly enough to pay off the bond maturities without getting another extension of credit from bondholders.

Considering all of the bond issues and the revolving facilities are secured debt, you can be sure that the banks that supply the revolving debt are going to be nervous about using their money which is pari-passu to bondholders – which means that something is going to have to be negotiated in a couple years.

My guess is that the dividend is going to get slashed in half.

In terms of valuation, the balance sheet situation would make me quite uncomfortable as an equity investor. While I see the value in the cash generation potential of the underlying businesses (notwithstanding the fact that cheque processing is a dinosaur industry and is decreasing accordingly), I do not believe a leverage-adjusted valuation of this business is attractive at present prices.

For now, D+H is still a “pass” in my books. I did sell them at $21 back in the year 2010.