Insider buying at Colfax!

September 23rd, 2015 Comments off

In these days we are watching share prices going lower and lower. Especially industrial activities take a hit by fears about a slowdown of the Chinese economy followed by a slowdown of the whole global economy.

No wonder that the share price of Colfax Corp. (NYSE: CFX) behaves in synchronicity reaching lows not seen since August 2012!

But wait! Someone sees the decline as a buying opportunity:

Mitchell P. Rales, one of the founders of Colfax in August bought 261’600 shares of Colfax for $10 mil for his family.

As a general rule investors shouldn’t rely to much on insider activities but sometimes they are a helpful hint especially after a change of the CEO as happened at Colfax this summer.

Colfax shares are priced at a p/e of 17 (Dec. 2015) and a p/e of 15 for Dec. 2016 respectively. Not expensive at all. Investors should consider this for adding to their position!



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Markel’s Q2 2015 results came in solid!

August 8th, 2015 Comments off

2015 Q2 results from Markel Corp. (NYSE: MKL) the diversified insurance holding company came in solid!

“While our underwriting results were positive, our investing results and our growth in book value were impacted by an increase in interest rates during 2015” CFO Anne Waleski pointed out on the conference call.

Book Value/Share the most important metric in the insurance business was $554.97 up 2% from $543.96 at Decmber31, 2014.
Total operating revenues grew 4% to $2.6 billion in 2015 from $2.5 billion in 2014. Other revenues, which include Markel Ventures, were up 34% to $510 million from $380 million last year, primarily due to the acquisition of Cottrell in July 2014.

The combined ratio improved to 96% for the second quarter of 2015 compared to 101% for the second quarter of 2014 mostly driven by more favorable development on prior accident year’s loss reserves in 2015 compared to 2014 and even as insurance market conditions continue to be very competitive.

On the investment side Markel made a modest return of 1.5% in the equity portfolio for the first six months and was flat on the fixed income portfolio, as a slight rise in interest rates offset the modest coupon income from the portfolio.
During the first six months of the year, the equity holdings as a percentage of the shareholders’ equity rose from 54% to 56% as volatility in the markets offers some good prices.
The Markel long term approach is clearly at work and will reward shareholders in the future.

Markel Ventures the private equity arm, finally enjoyed better times!
For the first six months Markel Ventures reported EBITDA of $46.8 million compared to $35.1 million a year ago. “This is a 33% increase and not bad. The EBITDA this year of $46.8 million, though, comes after a charge of $17.6 million, stemming from a recent acquisition that is actually doing better than what we expected when we purchased it” as explained CIO Thomas Gayner.

So what can shareholders make out of this quarter?

It was certainly a solid quarter by all meanings, all insurance divisions produced positive results, Markel Ventures improved and the equity portfolio promises above average results for the future.
The share price closed Friday at $ 868.63 which translates into a price/book ratio of 1.6
This is above Markel’s average of the last years but not unreasonable even after the 27% runup of the share price this year.

The shares of this high quality company are a buy for the long term especially if the share price declines further within the next days or weeks!

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Markel reports strong second quarter 2015 results

August 6th, 2015 Comments off

Markel Corp. (NYSE: MKL) reported strong Q2 2015 results:

The most important metric in the insurance business, book value/share rose to $ 554.97, up 2% from December 31, 2014!



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Colfax names new CEO when headwinds are strong!

July 26th, 2015 Comments off

Colfax (NYSE: CFX) released its Q2 2015 earnings and at the same time announced a new CEO!
The edited transcript of the conference call was published by Thomson Reuters.

The second quarter of 2015 was a difficult one for Colfax!

Adjusted EPS was $0.50 per share, a 4% increase compared to last year.
The increase was driven by continued margin improvement in the gas and fluid handling segment, non-repeating one-time expenses experienced in the prior year and lower interest expense, which were largely offset by continued volume weakness in the markets.

Net sales were $1.025 billion for the second quarter, a decrease of 15% over the same period last year. This consists of 5% organic volume decline and a negative 12% impact from foreign exchange, partially offset by 2% growth from acquisitions, as explained the outgoing CEO Steve Simms.
Especially weak has been the fabrication technology business, which saw an 8% organic drop in sales. But fluid handling too was hit by a sharp fall off in commercial ship building activity.

As the company sees a continued weak market environment they lowered guidance for the rest of the year: they now expect revenue between $4.035 billion and $4.11 billion, and adjusted operating profit between $405 million and $423 million. Adjusted earnings per share should come in per between $1.83 and $1.93.

Given this situation Colfax is aggressively cutting costs, reducing capacity and implements other measures like p.e. increasing the aftermarket share.

As Steve Simms put it: „While we’ve not changed our perspective on the long-term growth of our serve markets, we expect the weakness we are seeing to continue for the near-term.“
And with regard to acquisitions he added:
„In line with our ongoing plan to strengthen each of our platforms, we’re deeply committed to our strategy of bolt-on acquisitions and remain confident in the strength of our M&A pipeline, especially in the gas and fluid handling space….We’re working on attractive deals that align with our financial discipline, match our organizational capacity to execute and could be announced later this year.“

The new CEO is Matt Trerotola. He spent most of his career at DuPont, Danaher and McKinsey.
Since 2007 he knows well the „Danaher Business System“ after which is modeled the „CBS – Colfax Business System“.

What does this all mean for shareholders?

After this earnings release and the lowered guidance Colfax stock hit a low of $39.50 not seen since the end of 2012!
Colfax works in industries like p.e. gas ond oil or equipment for commercial vessels which have other cycles than the economy in general. So shareholders clearly need a long term view here.

Colfax is still a high quality company with outstanding personnel but the new CEO has to demonstrate that he is able to really grow the company by excellent acquisitions which were already announced for a year or so but never materialized (except the small Roots Blowers & Compressors).

Colfax stock now trades at a p/e ratio of 21. The stock is a Hold until a significant acquisition will be announced.

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Colfax Q2 2015 Earnings are out

July 24th, 2015 Comments off

Colfax Corp. (NYSE: CFX) released its Q 2 2015 earnings:

Revenue came in at $ 1.03B and EPS at $ 0.50.

Both numbers surprised by beating estimates. Have a look!

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US Jobs market report and Greek crisis

June 30th, 2015 Comments off

Everyone in these days is talking and discussing about the Greek crisis.

But another danger is already looming on the horizon: At the end of this week the US jobs report June 2015 will be released. If it comes out strong (which can be expected) this could mean that the Federal Reserve can no longer withhold rising interest rates!

This would mean that finally after years the change of the interest environment has arrived and interest rates at least in the US $ would start to rise again. Some days ago the yield of the 10 y – US treasury bond has already been near 2.5%.

So if rising interest rates would spread to the Euro what would be the effect on highly indebted European countries beyond Greece?

Which interest rate will investors ask for in order to be compensated for the risk to finance p.e. Portugal or Italy  in an environment of rising interest rates backed by a strong US economy?

This crisis story seems to have more chapters than only the Greek one!



Colfax acquires Roots Blowers & Compressors

May 20th, 2015 Comments off

Colfax (NYSE: CFX) announced that it acquired the Roots(TM) blowers and compressors business unit (“Roots”), also known as Industrial Air & Gas Technologies , from GE Oil & Gas for a cash consideration of $185 million.

This business serves customers in the water treatment, chemical production, and power generation markets and will strengthen the Howden Business.

The stock price remained rather unimpressed as this is a rather small acquisition for Colfax. But investors should wait for more to come within the next months!



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Markel’s stock jumped 4% after releasing Q1 2015 results!

May 9th, 2015 Comments off

Markel’s stock (NYSE: MKL) jumped more than 4% after releasing Q1 2015 results, which is very unusual for this company. What happened?

„The company is off to a fantastic start in 2015 with our investing, underwriting and Markel Ventures operations all contributing to our success“ CFO Anne Waleski pointed out on the conference call (as usual the transcript has been published by Seeking Alpha).

Gross written premiums were $1.3 billion for the first quarter of 2015, compared to $1.4 billion from 2014. They were down because of the conservative underwriting politics of Markel within a still very competitive market.

Very impressive indeed the decline of the consolidated combined ratio, down from 95% in Q1 2014 to 83% this quarter, due to improvements in prior accident year’s and current accident year’s loss ratio and due to a 2% improvement of the expense ratio this year.

But finally after several difficult quarters the best news came from „Markel Ventures“:
Revenues jumped 43% from $ 171 million to $ 245 million this year. Net income to shareholders improved from approximately $ 1 million in Q1 2014 to $ 11 million this quarter. This impressive increase is primarely due to the acquisition of Cottrell and to improved results within other manufacturing operations!

General investment income increased to $93 million for the first quarter of 2015, compared to $87 million last year amidst the repositioning of the investment portfolio acquired through the Alterra transaction.

Book value per share, the most important ratio of the insurance industry was $564 at the end of March 2015, an increase of 4% since the end of 2014.

At Friday’s closing price of $780.43 the market values Markel at 1.4 price / book value per share.

Not cheap but not too expensive either: Markel remains a buy!

The results are improving rapidly after the Alterra integration and we can now see were Markel Ventures could be headed within a couple of years.

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2015 is off to a strong start for Markel!

May 7th, 2015 Comments off
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Colfax Q1 2015 – Still waiting for news from the acquisition pipeline

April 28th, 2015 Comments off

“Colfax (NYSE: CFX) adjusted EPS for the 2015 first quarter was $0.36 which represents a 16% decline versus the $0.43 per share reported last year, driven by foreign exchange translation and the timing of project orders, especially in gas and fluid handling.

Net sales were $911 million for the first quarter, a decrease of 14% over the same period last year. This consists of 10% growth from acquisitions offset by a negative 11% impact from foreign exchange, and a 12% organic volume decline.”

With these numbers Colfax’ CEO Steve Simms opened the conference call after the release of the Q1 2015 results. And arguably this is all the information you need to know about the quarter!

The economic environment remained difficutl and in addition there was the impact of the strenghtening US-Dollar:Foreign currency declines across the Board, but most significantly in Europe, Russia, and Brazil were an 11% drag on our reported revenue performance“ as CFO Scott Brannan explained.

So what is Colfax doing in this situation? “Strong operational execution and aggressive cost control“ as Steve Simms pointed out. They are getting there internal structure as lean and as efficient as possible.

For segment information have a look at the conference call transcript which was published as usual by Seeking Alpha!

Perhaps the most interesting was the short remark by Steve Simms at the end of the conference call:

We are also committed to our strategy of bolt-on acquisitions, and remain confident in the strength of our acquisition pipeline. I previously discussed a number of attractive opportunities that could be announced in the second quarter or early third quarter of 2015, and these opportunities remain active.“

Not very precise indeed. There must be due diligence problems with the acquisition candidates.

Colfax stock is trading at around $48 – $49. The market decided to wait and see and we all should do the same holding our positions!

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