ONCAP II Hits Home Run With Sale of Canadian Securities Institute

Canadian Securities Institute Global Education Inc. was recently sold by one of Onex’s private equity funds to Moody’s Analytics for $155 million Cdn.

ONCAP paid $25 million for a 91% stake in the company which was spun off by the securities industry back in 2006. Onex’s share of the company was 40%.

When the sale was made back in 2006, the multiple that ONCAP paid was somewhat frothy. However, closing regional offices, converting all exams to mutiple choice for quick computerized marking, coupled with 200% fee increases to take an industry exam made CSI extremely profitable on what can be considered a monopoly as an education content provider in the securities industry in Canada.

As an industry participant, one can only hope that Moody’s will keep fees reasonable as educational requirements keep increasing and double digit course fee increases seem to be the norm.

Your comments are always appreciated.

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Action List Worth A Look

Our Canadian research comes from National Bank. Since November, 2009, they have produced an Action list where their analysts provide their best ideas. In conjunction with their recommendations, they also recommend when to sell these holdings based on price appreciation or earnings surprises.

From November 30th, 2009 to June 30th, 2010, 27 names have appeared on the list with 13 still on the list. In the last quarter, five names were removed while six were added.

In the last quarter, the NBF Action List returned 3.76% vs. -0.33% for the TSX. Since November 30, the Action List netted 6.13% vs. 0.81% for the TSX.

The Action List is updated daily. To get the current action list, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we would be happy to email or send you a copy.

Have a great weekend. Your comments are always appreciated.

Life Settlements in Difficulty in Canada

I have seen some ads in the Calgary Herald advertising life settlements yielding 10%. The ads definitely peaked my interest as this was something different than real estate, commodities, equities or even the bond market.

To have a different asset class paying a 10% yield would be quite attractive. Of course, with the rash of real estate deals going south and ponzi schemes rearing their head, one can only be skeptical.

The underlying concept behind life settlements is that a company offers an individual that is diagnosed with a life threatening illness a lump sum while they are alive in return for the proceeds from a life insurance policy upon death.

The company raises money from individuals paying them the 10% interest rate. They are supposed to pay the individuals from the proceeds of the policies which is difficult to pinpoint as they cannot guarantee when a policyholder will die.

The industry is growing in the US with about $12 Billion in policies sold in 2007 according to an article in this weeks investment executive. In Canada, the purchasing of policies is illegal in most provinces so the ones being offered for sale are from jurisdictions outside of Canada.

The main issue that is now plaguing this sector is similar to other unregulated industries. The individuals selling the policies are not registered to do so and are not offering proper documentation to potential investors outlining the risks.

Two companies in Ontario selling these policies have been shutdown while one in Alberta is currently being investigated.

All one needs to do is visit the Ontario Securities Commission or Alberta Securities Commission websites and do a search on life settlements to get more details on some of the issues.

If you have had any positive or negative experiences in this area, your feedback would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

Bonds Are Not Stocks

Bonds are not stocks.

The title of this post seems quite obvious in nature yet the amount of calls we received after Manulife cut the dividend on its common shares and how it affected the pricing and interest payments on their corporate debt was quite astounding.

Earnings per share for the company increased to $1.09 in the second quarter compared to $0.66 for the same quarter last year which is a positive.

The dividend cut will save the company $800 million per year. The savings is a positive for bondholders as there is more money available to make interest payments on their debt and pay principal back at maturity.

Unlike common shares or stock where a company can cut the dividend as it sees fit, the company cannot decide to stop making interest payments as part of a change to its strategic plan.

This is why bonds of a corporation are safer than common shares of the same corporation. There is limited upside but you have layers of downside protection. So what happened to the bonds on the day of the announcement? Not much. Manulife’s 10 year bonds dropped about 1% compared to 15% on their stock.

Corporate bonds move up and down in value based on several factors including interest rates, creditworthiness, and the spread between government bonds moving up or down. To learn more about bonds and how they differ from stocks, you can click on the following link HERE on our website that has an educational piece on bonds.

Your comments are always appreciated.

Jobs Numbers Better Than Headlines Suggest

The latest monthly job numbers in Canada showed a 44,500 decline while the economic consensus was a 15,000 exepected decline. The National Bank Financial Economic & Strategy Group pointed out some figures that suggest some very good takeaways.

Half the job losses were in the food and accomodation area in Quebec. The decline was also among 15 – 24 year olds in the province as harsh weather conditions contributed signficantly to the decline.

Ontario on the other hand created 13,700 jobs, the best number since September 2008. The other very interesting number is that total hours worked in Canada increased for a third consecutive month by a robust 0.3% contradicting the job loss number.

These number suggest that Canada is on track to show 3% GDP growth for the quarterand National Bank expects the employment situation to improve in the next couple of months.

The moral of this post is that it is important to read more than the headline. Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated. Have a good weekend.

The Week Ahead – August 3, 2009

The TSX is poised to show a 5% + increase for the month of July with less than 2 hours to go in the trading day while the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up almost 9% for the month.

On the economic front next week, US ISM Manufacturing  numbers come out on Monday. US Pending Home Sales Month over Month and Year over Year for June will be reported on Tuesday, August 4th and June Factory Orders are being reported on the 5th.

In Canada, June Building Permits Month over Month are being reported on Thursday August 6th. The July Unemployment Rate, Net Change in Unemployment  and the Ivey Purchasing Mangers Index are all being reported on Friday.

It will be a very busy week on the earnings front with too many companies to list. For a complete list, you can click on the following link with the dates and earnings per share estimates.

Earnings Estimates

New Research Podcasts

Have a Great Weekend

Buffett Hits Home Run with Goldman Sachs

A short eight months ago, the media was asking whether Warren Buffett, the worlds most astute investor according to many had lost his touch after placing large bets on Goldman Sachs through his investment fund, Berkshire Hathaway.

Goldman Sachs reported a record profit for the quarter as its stock has gone from a low of $47.41 to its current high of $165  giving Berkshire investors a return of 44% in just  a few months. Ordinary investors shunned the thought of sinking funds into a US based financial firm and financial advisors would be fired by their clients for recommending such action.

Give credit to Buffett for placing his money where his mouth was. He was one of the few and these bets are why he continues to do well. On one of my previous blog postings, I attached a New York Times article that Warren Buffett wrote outlining his conviction for investing and Buying American which you can read by clicking here.

Only time will tell if he is right but 60 years of following his conviction and being one of the richest men in the world because of it provides some backing.

Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated. Have a good weekend.