AMS PORTFOLIO REVIEW – December 2021
Happy new year folks!
BACKGROUND & OVERVIEW
I run investments in both the UK (an investment legacy from my UK origins focused mainly on stable high yield income producing investments) as well as here in Singapore, (where I have been living for approaching 12 years).
My Singapore investments are split between a US portfolio and an Asia portfolio (listed equities in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia). My US portfolio is principally a Saul style pure growth portfolio whilst my Asia portfolio is a mix of High Yield income producers (mostly REITs) and Asia located growth plays (e.g. Ali Baba, Meituan Dianping and Afterpay). This Portfolio summary will focus only on the US portfolio.
The US portfolio has produced outsized returns since discovering Saul’s board - I’m up ~300% since 2016 Year End (and that doesn’t factor in ongoing withdraws during the period whilst getting my own consulting business up and running with my business partner).
The portfolio has also gone through a considerable reconstitution. Going back 4 years I had 120+ stocks in my US portfolio and very low concentration amongst holdings, (my top 15 holdings were between 1.5% and 2.5% in value), I had a lot of long held positions with many investments under water and if I’m honest with myself a lot of equities where the investment thesis had changed and I had not acted accordingly.
As of today my US portfolio is down to ~40 positions with much more substantial investment sizes and higher overall concentration. My holding period has come down although I still own stocks for longer in duration than many on this board and will tend to stick with positions when conviction and investment theses remain strong even if there might be short term weaknesses in the share price or quarter to quarter transitions. Cloud and tech now dominate my portfolio in terms of holdings and value and I’m no longer allocating investment towards old economy plays no matter how favourable the situations or the tailwinds. I have also reduced my exposure to China considerably for a number of reasons, including; the tailing off of its hypergrowth emerging era, the delisting risk in the US and the availability of China plays on the HK market. In common with others on this board the position sizes are driven by a combination of performance and conviction – as a result positions are stratified into tiers within the portfolio. My investment selections, entries and exits are now financial/business performance driven as far as possible and there’s no room for story or narrative investing, turnaround speculation or value fishing. Key mega themes that I do pay attention to and am comfortable maintaining outsized exposure to include: eCommerce (~20%), Cybersecurity (~15%), Big Data (35%), Fintech (~5-10%) and throughout that – the Cloud. These mega themes are in part a function of secular tailwinds and in part the respective TAMs involved. I have also had exposure to Genomics although I have exited that sector for now.
Whilst my annual portfolio returns in terms of underlying holdings have varied over the years there has been a substantial and sustained improvement since discovering Saul’s board. When I look at the overall RoI on sales/exits by year (not accounting for length of time held – which if anything has actually reduced since implementing a Saul method), this has seen a night and day difference in results.
Overall RoI by of year of sell/exit
Exit Vintage (Yr) RoI (%) Comment 2012-16 21.0% Value & Growth At Reasonable Price (GARP) investing 2017 44.7% <<<Discovered Saul’s board 2018 35.0% 2019 55.0% 2020 79.6% All time high RoI vintage 2021 70.7%
The top tier ~8-17% positions include: Shopify, Crowdstrike, Datadog and The Trade Desk that represent my highest conviction holdings together with outstanding growth rates and market positioning and potential.
The second tier of 3-6.5% positions are high conviction strong growth plays including a mix of mature performers (ZScaler, MongoDB & Cloudflare) as well as younger rising stars (Upstart & Snowflake).
The third tier of 1-3% positions is a mix of: early stage positions (Monday, Digital Turbine, ZoomInfo, Palantir, Babylon Holdings and Exp World), deliberately lower exposure situations - either due to either lower conviction and/or lower growth levels (Nutanix and Pure Storage) or sector over exposure and self enforced limits (e.g. eCommerce in the case of MercadoLibre, SEA, DLocal & Global-e Online)
Outside the top 20, other notable and/or recent positions that I am: following with interest, considering building a more significant position in and seeing some high potential from include: SentinelOne, Amplitude, Bill.com, SoFi and FuboTV.
Confluence and a few gene sequencing players are also on my watchlist. SentinelOne, Amplitude, Monday, Babylon, FuboTV and ZScaler are positions I am looking to build with most interest (or re-build in the case of ZScaler).
3 holdings I would mention that sit outside of my US portfolio include:
Afterpay at ~10% of my US portfolio in value (which I hold in my Asia portfolio and via an Australia listing), up over 300% in 2020 and up over 500% for me overall. If the Square acquisition goes through then this will come into my US Portfolio as a Square holding.
Ali Baba at ~5% of my US portfolio in value (which I hold in in my Asia portfolio via an HK listing) and is probably a candidate for a 2-10 trillion $ franchise.
Meituan Dianping at 1.25% of my US portfolio in value with stellar returns to date (250%) and another potential trillion $ business in the making.
Buys & Sells in the Month
New positions: Bill & SentinelOne
Additions: Upstart, Monday
Sells: Pure Storage, The Trade Desk
Exits: Fiverr, Lightspeed & Innovative Industrial Properties
This has been an active month for me with 3 exit, two sells (a trimming of my TTD and PSTG positions), position increases for Upstart and Monday and the start of 2 new positions – Bill and SentinelOne. All of this has helped me take advantage of some price weakness in some key positions I wanted to enter or increase and at the same time take advantage of some relative strength in stocks that hadn’t been so affected or positions I was looking to exit altogether. Of these newer positions, Amplitude from November entry has performed atrociously and Bill.com has me nervous since it is valued as a triple digit grower (P/S of 84) but is producing only 78% organic growth.
Month US Port S&P Jan + 6.42% - 1.1% Feb + 0.16% + 2.6% Mar - 13.98% + 4.2% Apr + 4.93% + 5.2% May - 0.98% + 0.5% Jun + 16.48% + 2.2% Jul - 0.15% + 2.3% Aug + 8.71% + 2.9% Sep - 4.21% - 4.8% Oct + 10.31% + 6.9% Nov - 7.73% - 0.8% Dec - 9.25% + 4.7% YTD + 6.58% + 26.9%
My portfolio ended -9.25% on the month, having reached an all time high in late October early November (up 30% + for the year at that point). I ended +6.58% for the year to date, (accounting for withdraws), which is disappointingly lagging the index benchmark as well as many on this board although to a degree I have experienced less volatility than some, (only having a ~10% maximum exposure to Upstart insulated me from more extreme gains and losses).
Overall my portfolio performance in 2021 suffered from i) exposure to a couple of underperforming segments that saw a substantial reversal of fortune, including; eCommerce with Shopify, Mercadolibre, DLocal and SEA and digital advertising with Digital Turbine and FuboTV; ii) a fairly mixed record in some turnaround situations with MongoDB and Pure Storage coming good but Nutanix and Alteryx remaining underwater; iii) Late or mis-timed entry into some key positions, (the timing of my switch from Asana to Monday whilst comparatively early on this board and the right thing to do was about as catastrophic as a pair trade goes and I was late into Upstart and Global e Online) and iv) rapid growth deceleration in a few holdings along the way (Fastly, Zoom, Teladoc, Peloton, Crowdstrike, Fiverr, Lightspeed and Elastic), some of which I manage to exit in time some I failed to exit as swiftly as I should have. Anyhow lots to ponder on for the new year!
Overall portfolio allocation rankings, theme & YTD returns
**# Holding Portfolio(%) Previous Mth (%) Mega-Theme YTD-SP-Change(%)** 1 Shopify 16.9% 17.0% eCommerce/Fintech/Cloud + 24% 2 The Trade Desk 9.8% 10.7% Digital + 18% 3 Datadog 9.2% 8.4% Big Data/Cloud + 82% 4 Crowdstrike 8.0% 7.7% Cybersecurity/Cloud - 1% 5 Upstart 6.3% 6.9% Digital/Fintech +281% 6 Snowflake 5.5% 4.5% Big Data/Cloud + 21% 7 Cloudflare 4.0% 5.2% Big Data/Cloud + 75% 8 MongoDB 4.0% 3.4% Big Data/Cloud + 48% 9 ZScaler 3.0% 2.9% Cybersecurity/Cloud + 63% 10 ZoomInfo 2.8% 2.4% Cloud + 34% 11 Monday 2.6% 2.5% Digital/Cloud + 73% 12 Pure Storage 2.6% 2.9% Big Data/Cloud + 44% 13 Elastic 2.6% 2.9% Big Data/Cybersecurity - 15% 14 Palantir 2.5% 2.6% Big Data/Cloud + 21% 15 MercadoLibre 2.5% 2.0% eCommerce/Fintech - 19% 16 Digital Turbine 2.2% 1.8% Digital + 11% 17 Sea 2.1% 2.4% eCommerce/Fintech/Cloud + 13% 18 Nutanix 2.0% 1.9% Big Data/Cloud + 1% 19 Global-e 1.9% 1.9% eCommerce/Fintech +140% 20 eXp World 1.8% 1.8% Cloud + 9%
NB 2021 YTD SP Change are share price changes not portfolio position gains
Total % gain rankings
**# Holding % Gain Thesis Check Conviction** 1 Shopify 2088% On Track High 2 The Trade Desk 1273% On Track High 3 MongoDB 478% On Track Medium 4 Cloudflare 316% On Track High 5 Datadog 261% On Track High 6 Cloudstrike 256% On Track High 7 MercadoLibre 198% On Track High 8 Pure Storage 80% On Track Medium 9 Elastic 71% On Watch Medium 10 ZScaler 59% On Track High 11 Snowflake 26% On Track High 12 Sea 24% On Track Medium 13 Palantir 19% On Track High 14 Digital Turbine 19% On Track Medium 15 Zoom Info 14% On Track Medium 16 eXp World 9% On Watch Medium 17 Global-e Online 8% On Watch Medium 18 [Bill.com](http://Bill.com) 5% On Watch Medium 19 Upstart 2% On Watch High 20 SentinelOne 1% On Track Medium
NB Gains are actual gains of investment holdings in aggregate within my portfolio not % change since beginning of the year or since first purchase.
BUSINESS SCALE, PERFORMANCE, VALUATION AND POTENTIAL OF TOP HOLDINGS
Size, Growth, Valuation, TAM & Penetration Rates for Top Holdings
**# Holding MCap($bn) RevGr(%) TTM($bn) P/S(TTM) TAM($bn)Pen(%) DBNER Margin(%) RPO($m) RPO(%) LFLGr(%)** 1 Shopify 175 46% $4.21 42 250 1.7% NA 12% NA NA 46% 2 The Trade Desk 44 39% $1.12 40 725 0.2% NA 26% NA NA 47% 3 Datadog 56 75% $0.88 64 24 3.7% 130% -2% $719 127% 75% 4 Crowdstrike 47 64% $1.29 37 37 3.5% 120% -6% $1900 78% 67% 5 Upstart 12 250% $0.62 20 92 0.7% NA 18% NA NA 250% 6 Snowflake 105 110% $1.03 103 84 1.2% 173% -73% $1804 94% 111% 7 Cloudflare 43 51% $0.59 73 86 0.7% 124% -11% $545 60% 54% 8 MongoDB 36 51% $0.78 46 73 1.1% 120% -32% $353 62% 51% 9 ZScaler 45 62% $0.76 59 72 1.1% 128% -28% $1710 97% 62% 10 ZoomInfo 26 60% $0.67 39 70 1.0% 108% 28% $712 56% 60% 11 Monday 14 95% $0.26 52 45 0.6% 115% -59% $117 80% 95% 12 Pure Storage 10 37% $1.97 5 50 3.9% NA -4% $1248 27% 37% 13 Elastic 11 42% $0.73 15 70 1.0% 129% -16% $832 29% 41% 14 Palantir 36 36% $1.43 25 119 1.2% NA -38% $874 172% 36% 15 MercadoLibre 67 62% $6.27 11 50 12.5% NA 9% NA NA 73% 16 Digital Turbine 6 338% $0.71 8 369 0.2% NA 15% NA NA 63% 17 Sea 119 122% $8.30 14 150 5.5% NA -15% NA NA 122% 18 Nutanix 7 21% $1.46 5 90 1.6% 124% -37% $1470 22% 23% 19 Global-e 9 77% $0.22 41 40 0.6% 172% -17% NA NA 77% 20 eXp World 5 95% $3.30 1 22 15.0% NA 1% NA NA 95% RevGr = Latest Quarter Year on Year Revenue Growth Pen = Penetration of TTM Revenues as a % of TAM DBNER = Dollar Based Net Expansion Rate Margin = EBITDA Margin % (I felt GM doesn't really differentiate much between our investments and this better shows progress of operating leverage) RPO = Remaining Performance Obligations $m Total and YoY Growth % LFLGr = Underlying Latest Quarter YoY Revenue Growth normalised for acquisitions, one time exceptionals and FX variations
One of the observations I would make looking at TTM revenues is that our SaaS companies are starting to reach the $1bn run rate mark in FY2021. I am monitoring Market Cap and historic P/S for my holdings in this exercise as I want to keep an eye on relative size and valuations and keep scale relative to growth and valuation and potential all in view together. Whilst I have kept notes on the definitions of the TAM, for the purposes of these reviews I have added latest DBNER as and when it is published and depending on the business model. I have also added RPO $ and growth %, underlying EBITDA margin and underlying like for like revenue growth as additional indicators and metrics that I feel that we should be tracking.
Given that our holdings are growing as fast as ever but now at scale, it does make me think that aside from just holding the positions until the underlying story changes, we might need to recalibrate our thinking of where we look for growth. Traditionally the small emerging players have offered us speedster growth opportunities but some of our holdings are now becoming large enterprises and in some cases profitable. We might be sleep walking our way into a mature high growth portfolio composition as opposed to the emerging super high growth portfolio we have typically been used to. On the other hand it is possible that in this digital global era the potential for scale is orders of magnitude higher than ever before and hyper growth can be sustained further than ever before ahead of maturity kicking in.
I guess it is a classic “this time it’s different”, but is it really moment. I know I have stuck with companies that have evolved into fully fledged enterprises with sustained growth and established profitability levels (such as Shopify and The Trade Desk), when Saul and others have opted for an agile strategy of switching to catch the next big wave that the hypergrowth swell is producing but we are looking at scale being reached in our portfolio almost across the board faster than we have ever experienced – the question becomes do we also hit the wall faster than ever before or is the runway for growth also elongated out. Unless our companies can add new products and new markets and unless the terminal growth of the end market TAM allows continued growth then we run the risk of share prices and multiples correcting and probably faster than ever before given the current stretch in multiples out there.
Comments & Notes
1) Shopify – cornerstone investment in a top class SaaS business with the largest TAM in the world providing the operating system for the future of commerce, supported by substantial tailwinds and expecting a future $1 trillion potential, watching for post covid new normal in eCommerce and 2021 laps with pandemic growth compares from 2020, as well as its pipeline of solution additions, entry into B2B and potential for increasing its take rate. The company has reached the $1bn/quarter run rate and is growing at 46%. Latest results showed a weak July (as per all re-opening impacted online players), but a bounce back in August and September. Will be watching to see if that bounce continues and can re-establish 50%+ growth. Shopify’s BFCM results at +23% YoY was best in class. Revenue Growth declining
2) The Trade Desk – A disruptor with a massive TAM & a strong moat, watching for dynamics between DSP and SSP, CTV progress and browser/device privacy measures. What I like the most about TTD is i) the massive near $1 trillion TAM ii) the outright leadership is has in the DSP space iii) that not only is this already profitable but all growth practically drops straight to the bottom line with incredible leverage in its business. The threats I can see are: i) Unified ID 2.0 or whatever replaces cookies not becoming de facto or not matching current programmatic ad profitability levels ii) walled gardens representing 50% of the market holding out & iii) some kind of SSP/DSP combination player coming through the middle of the market to seize an advantage. Revenue Growth declining
3) Datadog – best in class in the unified monitoring space. Maintaining strong growth rates but dropping, watching for de facto market leadership position, offering extensions and optionality as well as signs of declines in growth. Revenue Growth accelerating
4) Crowdstrike – One of the fastest growing companies in the rock solid cybersecurity sector with an expanding TAM, watching for competition and relative security performance from ZScaler and others. RPO are running at one of the highest levels in the SaaS universe and covering the annualised run rate by 1.5x. Crowdstrike has the enviable position of becoming the base platfom on which companies assemble their cybersecurity needs from both collaborating providers as well as an increasing range of Crowdstrike’s own set of solutions. Revenue Growth declining
5) Upstart – best in class AI disrupter of financial profiling and risk management across financial services and insurance industry. Looking for expansion into adjacent financing origination opportunities but concerned for market saturation and competition from fintech and big banking. Revenue Growth declining
6) Snowflake – Incredible technology supported by the big data mega theme of our time. Has potentially the greatest sales efficiency of any business model with expansion coming from underlying data storage and usage growth. Extraordinary leadership and cornerstone investors. Triple digit RPO/revenue growth rates. Looking out for potential emerging competition and growth rate declines vs ultra high valuation. Revenue Growth accelerating
7) Cloudflare – strong CDN player with high growth rates, improving competitive position, strong customer acquisition count and new solution/offerings emerging. Watching for maintaining continued growth, edge computing adoption and potential competition from Fastly. Possesses one the most stretched valuations in my portfolio. Revenue Growth accelerating
8) MongoDB – disrupting a sizeable space against an established player, benefitting
from strong big data tailwinds. Watching for continued penetration of Atlas which has just crossed the 50% of revenues mark and its stronger growth rate, competition from native AWS DB solutions and signs of declining growth rates. Revenue Growth accelerating
9) ZScaler – vying with Cloudstrike for the premier cybersecurity player.
Represents the next generation of fully cloud based security. Growth reaccelerating and positive operational metrics looking stronger by the quarter. Supported by a massive RPO at 2x its annualised run rate Elite management calibre. Revenue Growth accelerating
10) ZoomInfo – a cloud based marketing information platform with high growth rates that is becoming indispensable as a lead generation and go to market tool and securing key integrations with SFDC etc. Revenue Growth accelerating
11) Monday – one of the leading productivity/project/collaboration management SaaS players with strong market share and position (overtaking Asana in 2021) and high growth rates coming from re-investment that is impacting the bottom line. Needs to fight off competitor providers (e.g. Asana and Smartsheets) and demonstrate path towards profitability. Revenue Growth declining
12) Pure Storage – storage market disruptor with strong underlying fundamentals having passed through a business model transition and has completely self healed and is supported by strong tailwinds. Looking for product set expansion and continued growth re-acceleration. Revenue Growth accelerating
13) Elastic – undervalued but proven track record in a sweet spot of multiple optionalities including security, application monitoring and big data and reaching profitability. This one is on watch though has latest quarter revenue growth dropped substantially. Revenue Growth declining
14) Palantir – AI disruptor and potential leader in commercial and military/govt
space. If Palantir can genuinely become either the de-facto operating system for the organisation or the de-facto AI operating system this might have previously un-imaginable potential. Top quality visionary leaders with a strong track record. Revenue Growth declining
15) MercadoLibre – the Amazon of LatAm with a strong moat and fintech business driving massive growth in a highly unbanked region. Watching for competition from Stone, Amazon and Sea as well as local market challenges in LatAm. Revenue Growth declining
16) Digital Turbine – uniquely positioned without direct competition with long term exclusive OEM and carrier contracts deriving revenues from preloaded apps and media advertising on Android mobile devices which is going through a massive 5G upgrade boom and at the sweet spot of Adtech, digital and mobile Has a $billion run rate thanks to some choice acquisitions, with every organic and acquired business growing at triple digits, has reached profitability and has one of the lowest market capitalisations and valuations out there. Revenue Growth declining.
17) Sea – in the sweetspot of eCommerce, mobile gaming and fintech and increasingly dominating SE Asia. Obtaining digital banking licenses and ramping up offsite & physical retail payment wallet/payment processing services. Expanding into India, MEA and LatAm. Backed by Tencent. Looking for continued triple digit growth and achieving profitability. Revenue Growth declining
18) Nutanix – under valued, under respected disruptor with a large TAM supported by strong tailwinds negotiating multiple business model transitions. Looking for growth re-ignition.
Vying for the position of THE operating system of the “cloud” vs VMWare. Revenue Growth accelerating
19) Global-e Online – a Shopify investment and partner company offering cross border ecommerce transaction and service solutions, growing at almost 77% with 17.5% take rate on cross border eCommerce GMV and already profitable and a growing gross and net margin. Growth about to benefit from Shopify installing Global-e Online as a native cross border solution for its merchants which has been cemented and augmented by the acquisition of Flow. Revenue Growth declining
20) Exp World – operating in a massive market (housing transactions) offering a cloud solution and supported by a ZIRP environment. Very fast growing and penetrating global housing market plus commercial real estate but concerned by market penetration and also the use of company stock for the basis of the sales incentive system. Revenue Growth declining