Sectors & Corporate Performance

Cerno Capital Joins VW Lawsuit

By | 2017-01-19T13:13:13+00:00 January 19th, 2017|Cerno Capital Posts, Cerno Capital Posts, General Investment, Press & Media, Sectors & Corporate Performance|

Boutique wealth management firm Cerno Capital is participating in the litigation seeking damages from Volkswagen. James Spence, managing partner at the boutique, said that the following the emissions scandal, Cerno sold out of its position in the automotive company and joined an investors’ group to join in the litigation in Germany. Saying that it is the only litigation that the company has ever been involved in, Spence pointed out that he felt it was important to be in a part of it following the scandal. He said ‘We were investors in VW and when the emissions scandal broke we sold the position entirely and we are participating in the litigation against VW to seek compensation on behalf of investors. That grinds on. But we hope and expect to be successful on behalf of investors’. Last year, it was reported that fund management giant BlackRock had also joined a shareholder lawsuit, demanding €2 billion (£1.7 billion). The car manufacturer was slapped with damages claims totally €8.2 billion by investors in September. There are currently around 1,400 lawsuits against the company at a court in Braunschweig, Germany. Elsewhere, Cerno Capital has appointed Jane Tufnell, who co-founded Ruffer Investments, to its advisory board.She [...]

Health Care Stocks – Accessing the Demographic Dividend

By | 2016-02-26T14:19:50+00:00 February 26th, 2016|Bottom Up, Cerno Capital Posts, Cerno Capital Posts, Developed Equities, General Investment, Sectors & Corporate Performance|

In an endemically low growth world, prone to accelerating forces of disruption, it has become progressively harder to identify stocks to hold for the very long run. There is, though, a group of superficially boring healthcare stocks which are locked into long term palliative, chronic or geriatric pathologies where the demand profile is observably robust and their respective market positions pretty much unassailable. We hold six such companies within the Cerno Global Leaders Strategy, an equity investment program designed to identify and invest in companies for the very long term. The six are made up of three medical equipment suppliers, two chronic conditions specialists and one generalist. The healthcare companies we like have very simple, understandable products and services and are accessing large and growing patient pools. These companies typically operate in oligopolies where the competitive environment is relatively benign, where they are able to maintain stable market shares through high barriers to entry, switching costs and superior intellectual property, thereby sustain high margins for an extended period. We avoid complex and intangible businesses with high valuations and no proven cash generative abilities, for instance many new names in the biotech segment. A basic understanding of the key demographics is [...]

The onward march of the asset-light business

By | 2014-03-28T16:49:54+00:00 March 28th, 2014|Cerno Capital Posts, Cerno Capital Posts, General Investment, Sectors & Corporate Performance|

Of great interest to us are the internal workings of markets. These are often very good indicators of where we are in the ebb and flow of valuation cycles. Valuations work, provided you are patient. They especially work if the constructed relationship is mean reverting and also non-mainstream. Recently, we have been looking at equity valuation dispersions: that is, the gap between highly valued equities at one end and lowly valued equities at the other. It is unproductive to guess at where the natural relationship lies: it can be plotted and therefore a mean or average level can be observed, but does the average mean anything in this instance? Of greater interest is when the range relationship becomes distorted due to the radical re-pricing of one group, or a thematically linked group of stocks.     A glance at the above chart indicates that, in recent financial times, this happened most dramatically in the TMT bubble which burst in 2000. In 2000 the ratio of the book multiple of the high price to book value stocks ran up to a multiple of 2x that of low price to book value stocks. Bear in mind, this is a measurement of all [...]

Implication of industry structure on corporate profitability

By | 2013-09-05T11:39:30+00:00 September 5th, 2013|Cerno Capital Posts, Cerno Capital Posts, Sectors & Corporate Performance|

Industry profitability, as measured by a firm’s return on capital employed (ROCE), is determined by how successfully a firm can capture the value it creates for its buyers, which can differ depending on the structure of the industry.  When the structure is favourable, companies are typically able to retain a decent proportion of the value (e.g. medical supplies). Conversely, in an unfavourable environment, much of this value would be competed away to others (e.g. autos), be it customers (driving down prices), suppliers (inflating costs), substitute products (reducing differentiation) or potential or existing rivals (eroding market share). It is also important to distinguish between cyclical factors that affect short-term profitability, such as the weather or a particular business cycle, from the structural fundamentals that shape long-term profitability. This is manifested through the collective strength of the five key competitive forces (defined by the consultant, Michael E. Porter) that governs price, cost, and investment input required:   Often one or more of the five forces will take prominence in an industry. For example, in an industry with an oligopolistic market structure, natural barriers exist inhibiting new entrants via cost economies of scale. Further, these companies command superior pricing power as consumers have [...]