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CoBF members 2018 returns


John Hjorth
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What is your return for 2018 ? [pre tax, after commisions, fees etc.]  

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  1. 1. What is your return for 2018 ? [pre tax, after commisions, fees etc.]

    • Return
    • -50%
    • -40%
    • -30%
    • -20%
    • -15%
    • -10%
    • -5%
    • 0%
    • +5%
    • +10%
    • +15%
    • +20%
    • +25%
    • +30%
    • +40%
    • +50%


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Here are the bench mark returns for the year from WSJ:

 

For the year, the Dow industrials were down 5.6%, the S&P 500 off 6.2% and the Nasdaq down 3.9%.

 

Stock markets elsewhere around the world fared even worse. The Stoxx Europe 600 shed 13% in 2018, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 declined 13% and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average fell 12%.

 

Meh [<- sorry, typo!] Me: Minus 3.1 percent, measured in my local obscure currency DKK, pegged to EUR. [My worst year so far.]

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Here are the bench mark returns for the year from WSJ:

 

For the year, the Dow industrials were down 5.6%, the S&P 500 off 6.2% and the Nasdaq down 3.9%.

 

Stock markets elsewhere around the world fared even worse. The Stoxx Europe 600 shed 13% in 2018, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 declined 13% and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average fell 12%.

 

Meh [<- sorry, typo!] Me: Minus 3.1 percent, measured in my local obscure currency DKK, pegged to EUR. [My worst year so far.]

 

 

Most people report their total return, so its only fair to compare to the total return of an index (if that's how one chooses to measure performance).

 

2016: 9.3%

2017: 32.06%

2018: -3.12%

 

Its surprising to me how closely I tracked the S&P given how much of my portfolio was in special situations this year.  Oh well.

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+11% USD, pre-tax

 

Last three years (USD, pre-tax):

2018: 11%

2017: 10%

2016: 22%

 

Last year I had alot of small to medium size winners and two big losers.  This year was the reverse.  Two big winners (Cambium Learning Group and Xpel) and almost everything else was down, several substantially so (Fortress Paper, Innovative Food Holdings, Keck Seng, Flybe, EZ Corp). 

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Mine are a bit sloppy to calculate as I liquidated to buy a house in Jan. Will try to calculate and post for completeness' sake

 

Looks like I'm up somewhere between 5-7%.

 

Pretty much sold everything late Jan and started reinvesting in Dec, so not really useful.

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Up ~15.3% for the year according to my brokerage statements (in EUR. ~10% in USD terms). That number is probably a bit too conservative because I like to collect tax credits, tax deductibles, CVR's, liquidation trusts, escrow payments and other non-traded assets that my brokers assign no value to. That stuff should add additional ~1.2% or something (based on last traded price) but I'll include those results when realized. Past few years:

 

2017: 22.7%

2016: 36.6%

2015: 11.9%

2014: 17.5%

2013: 24.1%

2012: 22.0%

 

I'm reasonably happy with how things worked out this year. My portfolio tends to be diversified (I guess I have ~50 positions now) with relatively high turnover so evidence is mounting up that I'm adding a bit of alpha. I think my portfolio is on the conservative side: diversified, an average ~15% cash balance and my core holdings tend to be boring asset plays. I like that composition: the market pays me to hold boring stuff and I play around with special situations to add (hopefully) a bit of alpha and to avoid getting bored myself. Compounding at 30% p.a. would be nice but I'm doing this full-time with my own money and would be perfectly happy with 10% p.a. and low volatility rather than aiming for the stars. My hope is that my portfolio is relatively market neutral and the past few months seem to indicate that that is the case: my portfolio only dropped ~3% or something and I managed to deploy a bit more cash. Pleased with that. No stress. Would be happy to see the market drop another 20%.

 

In terms of special situations LIME Energy was the coolest thing that happened this year. Obscure OTC merger where you had to figure out the exact merger consideration by going through a bunch of filings and making some educated guesses. I looked at it with a few other forum members (was an illiquid idea) and managed to buy a big position at $4.80 average. The deal closed a few weeks later at $6.36, very close to our estimates. Easiest money of the year. That was awesome. SIGM, CKTM, RENN, RSYS and RMGN were another few situation that worked out great. Although a few situation didn't work out I managed to avoid big losses. Overall I'm content with my position selection and -sizing this year. No big blowups like last year. For 2019 I expect the UWN and BDMS mergers to close soon and it will be interesting to see what will happen with Mitek and Northstar Realty Europe and how the Vulcan and Western One liquidations will work out, amongst others.

 

In terms of core positions not much happened. PD-RX is finally paying out all the excess cash and has been a great stock to own during the year. My largest single holding, Conduril, finally managed to clean up its balance sheet but the situation in Angola has been deteriorating. Remains to be seen how that works out. Deswell ran up nicely during the year and I sold my position (might be getting interesting again). Retail holdings still busy with its liquidation. Remains to be seen how they dispose their Bangladesh assets. Boring companies in Hong Kong are still cheap and stocks in Japan are still cheap too. Italian real estate funds are still liquidating. Asta funding is still dirt cheap but management is still questionable. I was a bit disappointed by Conrad Industries and Pardee Resources this year. There's not a single position I'm super excited about but all of the above are boring, cheap and well-capitalized.

 

The one thing I'm least happy with for 2018 is that I think I'm sometimes too focused on the balance sheet and that I have a hard time valuing GARP stocks or names that are cheap on a EV/EBITDA basis. Hemacare, Xpel, Cambium learning, Aimia preferreds, Viemed and Rumbleon were among names that I thought looked very interesting at some point this year but at no point could I get comfortable enough with my own valuations. So either I didn't buy them at all or I bought them and sold a few months later for a small gain, missing the big picture. I feel like my returns can be improved if I have a better grasp of how to value names such as the above and if I have the patience to hold them for a few years. These GARP-y things also tend to be more volatile so I think there's potential in this space even if your valuation work isn't top notch. Something to work on in 2019.

 

And the best part of the year (at least with regards to investing): I hope that this year I'll outperform my investing hero AlphaVulture for the first time ever!

 

Also the crypto collapse and the year-end stock market meltdown were very entertaining to follow during the year. Crashes make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Free outperformance :P .

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+22% after fees/costs, before taxes, in €. Was up by 30% at the end of November but fucked up my trading in the last two weeks, while i must admit that the volatility really helped my future trading. But I still have a lot to learn und stay more disciplined.

 

Over the past 5 years my portfolio outperformed the MSCI World by 5% per year with only half the drawdowns (-10%) and no loss years, while still testing a lot of stuff and wasting a lot of money on unnecessary speculations. Dividends now cover all my basic living expenses, so i am inclined to think that i am financially free now.

 

---------------------

Longs: (-4.6%)

-2.5% NCAV              (sold nearly all ncav stocks in H1, -16% if i didn`t make the switch)

-5.3% Dividend stocks  (increased the size from 20% to 97% of networth at the end of Q2, market performance -8.8% in that timeframe)

+3.2% Options (Bullish) (selling put options on single stocks, on margin, never more than +15% leverage)

 

Shorts: (+17.7%)

-3.0% Options (Bearish) (Short Stocks Experiment, 15 stocks from a portfolio123-system, bear call spread+put options) -> too expensive!

+3.7% Options (Bearish) (DAX Puts+TSLA bear call spreads)

+17% Trading futures    (short only, trend following approach using Dow Theory and Elliott wave analysis, max. 50%-100% short exposure, NQ+RTY,

                        ~320 Trades, 60% win rate (excl. break-even trades), profit factor 2.5, 50% of trades stopped out @ break-even)

 

+8.8% Currencies        (EUR/USD, MXN futures in H1)

--------------------

Numbers included in performance above:

Commissions, fees, interest: 2.7% (1% expensive trading accounts,1.2% Options,0.5% futures). OTC and british stocks most expensive. This was mainly because i liquidated the NCAV portfolio and tested shorting stocks with options, should be way lower next year.

--------------------

Achievements:

DAX forecaster of the year: https://www.informunity.de/dax_ranking.p?ST=Y

Best DAX forecaster over 5 years: https://www.informunity.de/dax_ranking.p?PO=0&ST=T

--------------------

 

Learnings:

 

NCAV:

- Don`t buy low quality NCAV stocks anymore. Check past earnings record. Only buy when price/(past earnings)<10 or ideally when current p/e<10. Maybe returns are lower, but the win rate is higher.

- Don`t sell quality netnets below NCAV, have more patience! (Sold PBSV @ ~0.65, it ran up to 1.2$.)

- Focus on developed markets like USA, Japan, Singapur and avoid debt. (EV<Mktcap)

 

Dividends:

- Reduce holdings to 15-20. (done already)

- Future growth rate is the most important input into valuation, so use all sources to get a good estimate. (analyst projections, guidance, own estimates)

 

Future trading:

- NEVER RISK MORE THAN 0.5% per trade! Had to encapsulate this, because my fuckups usually are a violation of this rule. One can always increase the number of contracts when the stop on the trade is on break-even.

 

Options:

- 30-40 days out, buy back at 50%. Don`t buy back because of gut feeling.

- Only buy options with >1 year to expiration. One exception: DAX put options in summer

 

So it looks like market timing is my niche, but i am still trying to get better at the other stuff. No experiments planned for 2019, so my R&D expenses should go down. Only speculation in 2019 will be the short on Tesla, because i think that the constant flow of information via Twitter gives me an edge here and i already made money on it in 2018 with good timing.

 

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Up ~15.3% for the year according to my brokerage statements (in EUR. ~10% in USD terms). That number is probably a bit too conservative because I like to collect tax credits, tax deductibles, CVR's, liquidation trusts, escrow payments and other non-traded assets that my brokers assign no value to. That stuff should add additional ~1.2% or something (based on last traded price) but I'll include those results when realized. Past few years:

 

2017: 22.7%

2016: 36.6%

2015: 11.9%

2014: 17.5%

2013: 24.1%

2012: 22.0%

 

I'm reasonably happy with how things worked out this year. My portfolio tends to be diversified (I guess I have ~50 positions now) with relatively high turnover so evidence is mounting up that I'm adding a bit of alpha. I think my portfolio is on the conservative side: diversified, an average ~15% cash balance and my core holdings tend to be boring asset plays. I like that composition: the market pays me to hold boring stuff and I play around with special situations to add (hopefully) a bit of alpha and to avoid getting bored myself. Compounding at 30% p.a. would be nice but I'm doing this full-time with my own money and would be perfectly happy with 10% p.a. and low volatility rather than aiming for the stars. My hope is that my portfolio is relatively market neutral and the past few months seem to indicate that that is the case: my portfolio only dropped ~3% or something and I managed to deploy a bit more cash. Pleased with that. No stress. Would be happy to see the market drop another 20%.

 

In terms of special situations LIME Energy was the coolest thing that happened this year. Obscure OTC merger where you had to figure out the exact merger consideration by going through a bunch of filings and making some educated guesses. I looked at it with a few other forum members (was an illiquid idea) and managed to buy a big position at $4.80 average. The deal closed a few weeks later at $6.36, very close to our estimates. Easiest money of the year. That was awesome. SIGM, CKTM, RENN, RSYS and RMGN were another few situation that worked out great. Although a few situation didn't work out I managed to avoid big losses. Overall I'm content with my position selection and -sizing this year. No big blowups like last year. For 2019 I expect the UWN and BDMS mergers to close soon and it will be interesting to see what will happen with Mitek and Northstar Realty Europe and how the Vulcan and Western One liquidations will work out, amongst others.

 

In terms of core positions not much happened. PD-RX is finally paying out all the excess cash and has been a great stock to own during the year. My largest single holding, Conduril, finally managed to clean up its balance sheet but the situation in Angola has been deteriorating. Remains to be seen how that works out. Deswell ran up nicely during the year and I sold my position (might be getting interesting again). Retail holdings still busy with its liquidation. Remains to be seen how they dispose their Bangladesh assets. Boring companies in Hong Kong are still cheap and stocks in Japan are still cheap too. Italian real estate funds are still liquidating. Asta funding is still dirt cheap but management is still questionable. I was a bit disappointed by Conrad Industries and Pardee Resources this year. There's not a single position I'm super excited about but all of the above are boring, cheap and well-capitalized.

 

The one thing I'm least happy with for 2018 is that I think I'm sometimes too focused on the balance sheet and that I have a hard time valuing GARP stocks or names that are cheap on a EV/EBITDA basis. Hemacare, Xpel, Cambium learning, Aimia preferreds, Viemed and Rumbleon were among names that I thought looked very interesting at some point this year but at no point could I get comfortable enough with my own valuations. So either I didn't buy them at all or I bought them and sold a few months later for a small gain, missing the big picture. I feel like my returns can be improved if I have a better grasp of how to value names such as the above and if I have the patience to hold them for a few years. These GARP-y things also tend to be more volatile so I think there's potential in this space even if your valuation work isn't top notch. Something to work on in 2019.

 

And the best part of the year (at least with regards to investing): I hope that this year I'll outperform my investing hero AlphaVulture for the first time ever!

 

Also the crypto collapse and the year-end stock market meltdown were very entertaining to follow during the year. Crashes make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Free outperformance :P .

 

Great record and great post.

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Up ~15.3% for the year according to my brokerage statements (in EUR. ~10% in USD terms). That number is probably a bit too conservative because I like to collect tax credits, tax deductibles, CVR's, liquidation trusts, escrow payments and other non-traded assets that my brokers assign no value to. That stuff should add additional ~1.2% or something (based on last traded price) but I'll include those results when realized. Past few years:

 

2017: 22.7%

2016: 36.6%

2015: 11.9%

2014: 17.5%

2013: 24.1%

2012: 22.0%

 

I'm reasonably happy with how things worked out this year. My portfolio tends to be diversified (I guess I have ~50 positions now) with relatively high turnover so evidence is mounting up that I'm adding a bit of alpha. I think my portfolio is on the conservative side: diversified, an average ~15% cash balance and my core holdings tend to be boring asset plays. I like that composition: the market pays me to hold boring stuff and I play around with special situations to add (hopefully) a bit of alpha and to avoid getting bored myself. Compounding at 30% p.a. would be nice but I'm doing this full-time with my own money and would be perfectly happy with 10% p.a. and low volatility rather than aiming for the stars. My hope is that my portfolio is relatively market neutral and the past few months seem to indicate that that is the case: my portfolio only dropped ~3% or something and I managed to deploy a bit more cash. Pleased with that. No stress. Would be happy to see the market drop another 20%.

 

In terms of special situations LIME Energy was the coolest thing that happened this year. Obscure OTC merger where you had to figure out the exact merger consideration by going through a bunch of filings and making some educated guesses. I looked at it with a few other forum members (was an illiquid idea) and managed to buy a big position at $4.80 average. The deal closed a few weeks later at $6.36, very close to our estimates. Easiest money of the year. That was awesome. SIGM, CKTM, RENN, RSYS and RMGN were another few situation that worked out great. Although a few situation didn't work out I managed to avoid big losses. Overall I'm content with my position selection and -sizing this year. No big blowups like last year. For 2019 I expect the UWN and BDMS mergers to close soon and it will be interesting to see what will happen with Mitek and Northstar Realty Europe and how the Vulcan and Western One liquidations will work out, amongst others.

 

In terms of core positions not much happened. PD-RX is finally paying out all the excess cash and has been a great stock to own during the year. My largest single holding, Conduril, finally managed to clean up its balance sheet but the situation in Angola has been deteriorating. Remains to be seen how that works out. Deswell ran up nicely during the year and I sold my position (might be getting interesting again). Retail holdings still busy with its liquidation. Remains to be seen how they dispose their Bangladesh assets. Boring companies in Hong Kong are still cheap and stocks in Japan are still cheap too. Italian real estate funds are still liquidating. Asta funding is still dirt cheap but management is still questionable. I was a bit disappointed by Conrad Industries and Pardee Resources this year. There's not a single position I'm super excited about but all of the above are boring, cheap and well-capitalized.

 

The one thing I'm least happy with for 2018 is that I think I'm sometimes too focused on the balance sheet and that I have a hard time valuing GARP stocks or names that are cheap on a EV/EBITDA basis. Hemacare, Xpel, Cambium learning, Aimia preferreds, Viemed and Rumbleon were among names that I thought looked very interesting at some point this year but at no point could I get comfortable enough with my own valuations. So either I didn't buy them at all or I bought them and sold a few months later for a small gain, missing the big picture. I feel like my returns can be improved if I have a better grasp of how to value names such as the above and if I have the patience to hold them for a few years. These GARP-y things also tend to be more volatile so I think there's potential in this space even if your valuation work isn't top notch. Something to work on in 2019.

 

And the best part of the year (at least with regards to investing): I hope that this year I'll outperform my investing hero AlphaVulture for the first time ever!

 

Also the crypto collapse and the year-end stock market meltdown were very entertaining to follow during the year. Crashes make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Free outperformance :P .

 

Great record and great post.

 

+1. 

 

Writser:  Really great work.  How many hours/week do you spend on your investments?

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Returns are hard to quantify: had two big withdrawals that luckily happened when the portfolio was doing well. If I assume those withdrawals weren't there at the beggining of the year (and forget the leverage it offered), return was about 6,4% (it was actually 11% because someone manipulated the year end quote of my biggest holding). So:

 

2ndhalf 2011 and 2012:  20%

2013: 30%

2014: 50%

2015: less 5%

2016: 50%

2017: 160-170%

2018: 6% (adjusted downwards for the leverage and for the quote manipulation... Must do the opposite adjustment next year, otherwise I'll have to take the dishonest 11%)

 

Results before taxes but after all other costs.

 

Since my core holdings are now much cheaper than they were before, i actually feel much richer than I was, since I now have more upside and less downside on those holdings.

 

Edit: returns in euro

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~700% for the year. 20% allocation in applications building on blockchain infrastructure knocked it out of the park. Not much alpha from stocks this year (3%).

 

LOL. Get me some of this.

 

That’s also after 12000% last year so is this year humbling after a year like that? The portfolio must be well over a $100m now. Is that making it harder to find opportunity?

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2017:

 

Taxable 1:    12.5%, (11.2% annualized since 5/2013), this account runs hedged to a max 20% drawdown (via lots of puts), used to short, and owns puts that hedge taxable 2 so it's a little skewed downward but no excuses lol)

 

Taxable 2:    Whatever unhedged Berkshire did, more or less, no long term performance data, recently opened Fido account

 

IRA:            18.5%  (22.5% annualized since 10/2013), concentrated long only

 

IRA 2            ~16%, Fido account rolled over last year so no long term performance was a 401k in stable value previously

 

Roth IRA:    16.8%  (17.8% annualized since 10/2013), concentrated long only

 

 

Spent a lot on hedges and margin interest in my taxable (which is fine because that's the plan, I invest 100% of my paycheck in my taxable and borrow from it to fund living expenditures, basically I buy 100% of my takehome in hedged Berkshire. The IRA's underperformed but they are very lumpy and I'm okay with that.

 

Worst decision was getting rid of ~200 bps of BTC in 2016 "cleaning up portfolio".

 

2018:

 

All Interactive Brokers accounts (this is Taxable 1, IRA 1, and Roth consolidated into one performance because I'm lazy now):

 

1 yr: -2.41% with S&P and ACWI at -4.3% and -9.4%

3 yr: +14.9% / annum with S&P and ACWI at +9.3% and +6.6%

5 yr: +10.2% / annum with S&P and ACWI at +8.5% and +4.3%

 

Outperformance to S&P for consolidated IBKR accounts. I am US based and heavily biased to the US and real estate/financials.

1 yr: +1.9%

3 yr: +5.6%

5 yr: +1.7%

 

Oddly, this year (a down year) my best performing account was the taxable account that is levered long (on a cash basis) and pays a fair bit of margin interest but is hedged with puts to a max drawdown. That account was up 4.4%. The 100% long and unhedged accounts were down between 6 and 8%.

 

Thus far in my investing career, I don't know if I've added much value against the indices in terms of risk adjusted returns. 1/2 of my assets are in non-taxable accounts which makes me less concerned about adding value after taxes. I think my portfolio is less fundamentally risky than the indices but we will only know over time. I know that from 2011-2013 (before opening IBKR accounts) I outperformed by about 20% cumulatively, so this would improve the since inceptions a bit, maybe to like 3-4% outperformance / year.

 

My Fidelity accounts don't seem to have a readily available performance calculator. I'll have to look into this. IBKR is over 2/3 of assets.

 

My work 401K (~8% of asset) was all in stable value then all in REIT index as of February/March (which was a profitable trade) then all in EM Index (which has given a little bit of performance back). The sum of that was a +5% return from index/market timing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I just added the poll. -Please take it! [ : - ) ]

 

- - - o 0 o - - -

 

Maximum votes per user: 1,

Run the poll for : 90 days,

Allow users to change vote: Yes,

Result visibility : Show the poll's results to anyone.

 

- - - o 0 o - - -

 

I hope I haven't screwed up anything here.

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Well the starting portfolio in 2017 was roughly 75k USD then factor in the taxes and you'll be at ~1/3rd of that number.

 

As for finding opportunities there's 2 ways to look at it. If I continue to fish around the same holes I've been doing then yes the capital becomes a drag. On the other hand now I have capital to fund a developer team to grab the market opportunity that many aren't seeing at the moment so now I become the market in a way. Blockchain infrastructure is unlocking new ways to do business and provide a better experience for the user, but you gotta find your spots.

 

There's always the traditional capital markets, but putting in the effort to get +7% alpha over the S&P500 index is horrible ROI on time invested when you consider the greenfield opportunity.

 

~700% for the year. 20% allocation in applications building on blockchain infrastructure knocked it out of the park. Not much alpha from stocks this year (3%).

 

LOL. Get me some of this.

 

That’s also after 12000% last year so is this year humbling after a year like that? The portfolio must be well over a $100m now. Is that making it harder to find opportunity?

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Sad year for me. First year of under performance -10%. Peak for year was plus 16%.

 

I've had times mid year where I was under performing as poorly and that was

when it would have been a great time to buy my portfolio.

 

Either I'm more wrong than usual or I should have a great 2019.

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