"Many a genius has been slow of growth. Oaks that flourish for a thousand years do not spring up into beauty like a reed." - George Henry Lewes

Investment Portfolio

The total investment portfolio is broken down into two segments, Growth and Core.

The growth portfolio is broken down into three sub-segments; Acorns, Saplings and Oaks, and holds mostly emerging, small and mid-cap companies. In general, Acorns are the smaller and younger companies with a long term story that is just getting started. In these names, we want to be early and are willing to take risk and be a first mover while we wait to see our investment thesis develop and play out. We accept that there is higher risk and mitigate this by keeping Acorn positions small. When an Acorn takes root and our investment thesis is proven correct and the story begins to unfold as predicted, we allocate more capital and the position grows into the Sapling segment. The Sapling positions make up the majority of the portfolio. Having a position transition from Acorn to Sapling is important as our patience has allowed us to build conviction and mitigate some of the early risks, thus providing us confidence to hold through future volatility. The third segment are Oaks. These are the Saplings that have fully grown into our expected valuation or target range. The growth cycle has matured, growth has slowed, and over time, the positions are reduced and reallocated into the Acorn and Sapling segments. Alternatively, Oaks can be moved into the Core portfolio.

The Core portfolio holds mature, large cap companies. We consider these to be some the best businesses in the world. These are companies that have displayed the key attributes that make up our definition of high quality such as stable cash flows, low debt or a sustainable competitive advantage/moat. The Core portfolio is buy and hold. Positions are never completely sold, but will be occasionally reduced on strength or bought on weakness. The Core portfolio has no scheduled re-balancing mechanism and positioning is opportunistic. If a company we love for the long term goes on sale, we will overweight the position until we believe the price has normalized to a more fair valuation.

In addition to the Core portfolio, we have a Core Plus watch list which contains companies that we love, but tend to be more cyclical, consumer sensitive, out of favor/downtrend, etc. These positions will opportunistically be added to the Core portfolio if and when prices become attractive.

Fundamentals

The investment universe contains mostly US domiciled companies that generate the majority of revenue in the US. We focus on the consumer discretionary and technology sectors where we believe high quality companies with enduring competitive advantages are often mispriced. The Core portfolio is made up of timeless American household brands while the Growth portfolio focuses on finding the next generation. We are always searching for established long standing businesses with stable cash flows and a strong MOAT or competitive advantage - selling at a discount.... or brands of the future with a long growth runway ahead - selling at a reasonable valuation. In general, we tend to focus on premium products with strong pricing power and an above average income end consumer. A combination of the below characteristics often lead to out performance in both up and down markets, as during periods of economic stress, the lack of financial leverage and steady/reoccurring cash flows help shield companies from negative cyclical impacts.

  • Timeless Franchise / Brand / household name (product recognized globally by any almost age)

  • Premium US customer (target customer above average discretionary income)

  • Reoccurring revenue (predictable cash flows)

  • Pricing power (ability to raise prices without losing customers)

  • Easy to understand business model (clearly identifiable growth opportunity)

  • Disruption / Trend (innovation, technology/services, changing consumer preference)

  • Dominant and durable intangible assets (difficult to recreate - innovation, customer loyalty, copyrights, network)

  • Low Capital Intensity / Clean balance sheet (no (low) debt)

  • High gross margins (ability to generate outsized profits in the long term)

  • High return on invested capital (ROIC) (compounder, growth funding growth (no dilution/interest expense))

  • Strong MOAT (competitive advantage, barriers for competitors to enter market, regulation, high switching cost)

  • Growth & market position (strong top/bottom line growth, growing faster than peers, gaining market share)

  • Attractive Valuation Metrics (PE, FCF, PEG, yield relative to comparables)

  • G.A.R.P. (growth at a reasonable price)

  • New product or revenue stream (potential for meaningful increase in revenue/earnings)

  • Strong Management Team (owner-operator, vision for growth, smart m&a, interests aligned)

  • Takeover target (valuation or strategic)

COMPOUNDERS & RETURN ON INVESTED CAPITAL

Compounding occurs when management is able to reinvestment the cash flow from the businesses operations back into the business wherever the best growth opportunity is. This is easier said than done and many management teams are incredibly poor capital allocators, whether it be a bad acquisition or capital return policy (buying back shares at a poor time, paying a special dividend). Companies that focus on hitting quarterly EPS targets and not investing for the long term ultimately end up destroying value and losing their competitive advantage. What the company is doing with the cash the business generates is essential to growth.

Technicals

We combine our fundamental approach with technical analysis, searching within the investment universe for attractive long term entries in often oversold or out of favor sectors/industries. Buying at depressed prices provides a "Margin of Safety" and flexibility to change investment horizon if needed. While most purchases are made with an intended 5-10 year holding period, we often achieve our price targets faster than expected resulting in a significant tactical approach in the short term.

 

This patience results in high risk/reward entries and often minimal draw downs. Our approach to technical analysis, similarly to our fundamental screen, is relatively simply. We identify support / resistance levels and trend lines and combine with sentiment data to identify extreme highs/lows with potential for mean reversion. Our favorite technical set ups target breakouts from long term periods of price consolidation and pullbacks to the 200 week simple moving average while fundamentals improve/stable.

  • Momentum and trend following (20dma)

  • “Margin of Safety” (discount to historic valuation or perceived intrinsic value)

  • 30-40-50% pullback to longer term support/trend while fundamentals improve (long term price consolidation)

  • Mean reversion (price reverts to long term trend from above or below)

  • Market Sentiment Extremes (capitulation, oversold/overbought conditions)

  • Price relative to major long term weekly moving averages (200w, 100w)

  • Technical buy indicators (lack of supply, short interest)

  • Significant Fibonacci retracement to support levels

M&A 

Every now and then, someone with deeper pockets and greater interests agrees with our view and buys our shares along with the rest of the company. We have been fortunate to have multiple transactions within the universe and portfolio over the years.

Ancestry.com (ACOM)

Allegan (AGN)

Homeaway (AWAY)

Annie's (BNNY)

Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD)

Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR)

King Digital Entertainment (KING)

LinkedIn (LNKD)

Madison Square Garden* (MSG)

Mulesoft (MULE)

Mazor Robotics (MZOR)

Panera Bread (PNRA)

Shutterfly (SFLY)

Sodastream (SODA)

Varian Medical Systems* (VAR)

Whole Foods Market (WFM)

Zipcar (ZIP)

Zoes Kitchen (ZOES)

Have any questions? Feel free to reach out using the form below, directly by email or through any of our social media accounts.

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New York, New York

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