Markel finishes 2017 in excellent shape!

February 10th, 2018 Comments off

Markel Corp. (NYSE:MKL) released FY and Q4 2017 earnings demonstrating that the speciality insurer finished FY 2017 in excellent shape!

Book value per share the most important ratio in the insurance business rose 12.7% from $606.30 at year-end 2016 to $683.55 as of Dec 31, 2017.

The combined ratio in the 4th quarter was 95% improving rapidly from the 134% in Q3 2017 due to the losses from the hurricanes.

The equity portfolio of Markel in 2017 contributed to the success in a remarkable way:

The portfolio climbed 25.5% outperforming the S&P500 not only this year but already for 3 decades.

Good news also came from Markel Ventures :

Operating revenue climbed 29.5% to $400 million in 2017, already including Markel’s majority stake acquisition in Costa Farms in August and net income jumped to $65.2 million from $6.7 million in the 4th quarter 2016.

In the 4th quarter Markel also completed the acquisition of property and casualty insurance services company State National, which adds a premier fronting platform and collateral protection coverages to their insurance operations.


At yesterday’s closing price of $1084.97 Markel’s stock is valued at a price/book ratio of 1.6

Not cheap but certainly a buy at any dips in this volatile market.

And do not forget that insurances and banks in general will once again be able to earn interest income when rates are continuing to climb.


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Colfax has become a difficult company to evaluate!

February 8th, 2018 Comments off

Colfax Corp. (NYSE: CFX) has become a difficult company to evaluate:

The company has a strong culture, is very cost conscious applying their Colfax Business System (CBS) tools. They are able to acquire and integrate rapidly complementary businesses.

But since 2014 the company struggles to produce significant growth which is reflected by the share price since then.

In 2017 they exited the fluid handling business selling it to Circor International Inc. and by that reducing debt and improving their balance sheet.


But the question remains: Will Colfax return to higher growth rates investors once were accustomed to?

Unfortunately the release of FY and Q4 2017 results did not provide any certain answers:

Sure, earnings on a pro forma basis beat market estimates by a penny but on a GAAP basis net income per share for the 4th quarter came in at only $0.10 per share.

From continuing operations Colfax even reported a loss of $1.53 per share.


Apparently the fabrication technology sector fared rather well in the 4th quarter. Colfax reported an organic growth of 7%.

But the Air & Gas Handling sector is expected to improve only in the second half of 2018 as CEO Trorotola explained on the Conference Call.

Reflecting the uncertainty Colfax gave guidance of FY 2018 earnings of $ 2 – $ 2.15 but once again only on an adjusted basis!

The market did not like what he saw and sent the share price down by 9%.


So what should shareholders do now?

Perhaps the best for the moment is a „wait and see approach“. In 2 quarters it should be clear whether Colfax’ end markets are finally recovering or not.

If not and if the share price continues to hover around today’s prices it’s perhaps the moment to look for better investment opportunities elsewhere!


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Colfax Corporation released FY and Q4 2017 results!

February 8th, 2018 Comments off

Colfax Corp. (NYSE: CFX) the fabrication technology and air and gas handling company released FY and Q4 2017 results which sent the stock 9% down on the day!

Colfax operates in an increasingly difficult environment

November 7th, 2017 Comments off

Colfax Corp. (NYSE:CFX) the air and gas handling and fabrication technology group released Q3 2017 results.

They missed the revenue estimate and the share price fell as much as 13% .

But Colfax confirmed its outlook of $1.65-$1.75 of adjusted EPS, which includes a $0.25-$0.28 full year contribution from its recently sold fluid handling business.

Reduced power market demand and project delays in oil & gas contributed to lower total orders. Colfax believes that oil & gas is a fundamentally improving market, but at the same time they are expanding Air and Gas restructuring actions „to support the business’ 2018 profit growth objective in a less certain revenue environment“.

This quarter Colfax sold its fluid handling business for $ 860 million in order „to strengthen the balance sheet and support the strategic growth program.“

Investors will watch whether the announced growth will be realized within the next couple of quarters as the environment of the oil and gas market in reality will remain difficult. A secular trend to electric mobility has already begun and will certainly reduce demand for oil products over the next years.

Colfax stock trades at a rather expensive p/e ratio of 23. Therefore Colfax remains a hold!

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Markel’s Q3 2017 results marked by catastrophe losses

October 30th, 2017 Comments off

Markel Corp. (NYSE: MKL) released Q3 2017 results last week.

Markel reported book value per common share outstanding of $ 641.20 up 6% from $ 606.30 at December 31, 2016.

The insurance segment incurred huge losses because of the hurricanes and the Mexico City earthquake.

Therefore the combined ratio came in at 134% for the third quarter of 2017 compared to 98% for the third quarter of 2016.

This was largely expected by the market as Markel announced the loss estimate of $mil 503 already in advance of the earnings release.

But income and performance of their investment portfolio and of Markel Ventures more than compensated for the payments to policy holders. As CIO and Co-CEO Tomas Gayner pointed out on the conference call: “… there are positive returns from two of our three engines that total well over $1 billion of pre-tax ins, compared to the $0.5 billion of pre-tax outs.”

Markel’s strong balance sheet and conservative loss reserve policy once again demonstrated their importance in difficult times which in the insurance business can occur at any moment!

Markel’s stock today trades at a price / book ratio of 1.7, rather expensive compared to the valuation over the last years.

For new investment perhaps wait for a lower entry point!


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Colfax sells its fluid handling business to Circor International Inc.

September 27th, 2017 Comments off

Colfax (NYSE: CFX) sells its fluid handling business to Circor International Inc. for $860 mil.

For Colfax this deal provides liquidity to grow its ESAB and Howden business as it exits the fluid handling business.

For shareholders this deal points to growing profitibility of Colfax going forward. They came to the conclusion not to be able to grow the fluid handling division enough by own means in order to be more profitable. So they decided to exit the business completely and to use the liquidity for acquisitions.

Certainly another interesting step of their Colfax Business System philosophy!

This news by itself did not move the share price but stay tuned until we get a clearer picture of their acquisition strategy!



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Colfax reported Q2 2017 results

August 1st, 2017 Comments off

Colfax (NYSE: CFX) the gas and fluid handling company reported good Q2 2017 results.

Adjusted earnings per share came in at $0.43

Net sales generated were $965.8 million, rising 0.9% year over year.

Colfax thinks that it will benefit from its organic and inorganic growth initiatives as well as from improving end-market conditions. It predicts the Gas and Fluid segment to witness organic growth in the third quarter.

The company increased its adjusted earnings guidance to $1.65−$1.75 per share from the previous projection of $1.60−$1.75.

This means that Colfax shares trade at a p/e of 24. Seems rather expensive with the still limited perspective of their industry. Colfax is not a buy at this moment!


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Markel is on an acquisition spree once again

August 1st, 2017 Comments off

Markel (NYSE:MKL) reported very good operating results in Q2 2017.

Book value/share outstanding climbed more than 6% from the end of 2016.

The combined ratio fell to a very impressive 89%.

But even more interesting this time was the acquisition activity:

After completing the acquisition of Sure Tec Financial Corporation in April, Markel now announced the acquisition of a majority interest in Costa in Miami, Florida, the largest producer of ornamental plants in the world.

And finally in July Markel announced the acquisition of the speciality property and casualty insurance services company State National (NASDAQ:SNC)

Markel’s stock trades at 1,7 times/book value per share, not cheap but perhaps a good moment to add some shares to existing positions!

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Markel reports Q2 2017 results!

July 27th, 2017 Comments off

Markel reported good Q2 2017 results!

Book value per common share outstanding, the all important metric of the insurance industry climbed to $643.37at June 30, 2017, up 6% from $606.30 at December 31, 2016.

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Markel had a decent first quarter 2017!

April 29th, 2017 Comments off

Markel Corp. (NYSE: MKL) the speciality insurer released Q1 2017 results.

Book value per common share outstanding at the end of the quarter was $620.30, representing 2.3% growth from $606.30 at the end of 2016 and up 5.2% from $589.86 at this time last year.

At first glance the combined ratio of 100% appeared to be a deterioration but it could be attributed enterily to the „Odgen rate“ as executive chairman Alan Kirshner explained:

“The combined ratio for the quarter ended March 31, 2017 included $85.0 million, or nine points on the combined ratio, of adverse development on prior years’ loss reserves resulting from the decrease in the Ogden rate, which is used to calculate lump sum awards in U.K. bodily injury cases.”

Markel’s investment operations had a good quarter: net investment income increased 9.9%, to $100.4 million, driven by a combination of dividends, higher short-term interest rates, and interest from Markel’s fixed income portfolio.

Unfortunately Markel Ventures’ net income to shareholders declined 0.5%, to $14 million but this can be attributed to the influence of the “cyclical related businesses which began to feel a bit of the topping out we expected to see in their normal cyclical pattern“ as CIO Thomas Gayner explained in the conference call.

Overall this was a decent quarterly result and Markel – as always – remains focused on building long-term shareholder value.

Markel’s stock ended Friday’s trade at $ 969.60 which means a price / book ratio of 1.6
Not cheap but not too expensive either to build up a long-term oriented position!

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