Jason Del Vicario's Top Picks
Jason Del Vicario, portfolio manager, Hillside Wealth Management, iA Private Wealth
FOCUS: North American and global growth stocks
Our thoughts never waver regardless of the macro backdrop; if anything, we favour challenging economic periods as this is when deals are most readily available. We seek to buy high-quality companies at favourable prices. Our key defining factor of a “high quality” business is one that consistently generates strong returns on invested capital. We run a concentrated portfolio of 29 global businesses that meet our strict quality criteria. Our top 10 positions represent 71 per cent of our equity weighting. We view multiple currency exposure as a strength (no hedging). We think and behave with a long-term mindset.
When one’s investment time frame is decades and not months or weeks, short-term factors beyond our control such as interest rates, inflation and geopolitics become irrelevant, as we assume we’ll encounter all sorts of macro regimes over time. We own a collection of businesses that we feel can compound shareholder wealth strongly over decades.
After sitting on our hands most of the year, we were finally able to deploy capital at favourable prices into existing holdings (Kakaku, Evolution Gaming, Bouvet, Calnex) in mid-October.
- Sign up for the Market Call Top Picks newsletter at bnnbloomberg.ca/subscribe
- Listen to the Market Call podcast on iHeart, or wherever you get your podcasts
Kakaku.com (2371 Tokyo):
Kakaku is a business we’ve owned since March 2020. It operates two main business lines: Japan’s largest price comparison website and Japan’s number one restaurant search/review/reservation website. Its price comparison site is struggling of late while Tabelog (restaurant review site) is doing very well. It also has an emerging jobs classifieds business (Kyujin Box) which is growing rapidly. This business is a spawner model of sorts. The company is one of the few we’ve come across that has a stated return on equity (ROE) target; a lofty 40 per cent no less. The company sports an asset-light business model, has no debt and has consistently returned capital to shareholders via dividends and buybacks. The stock traded down after its recent earnings release and we took the opportunity to increase our weight in Kakaku to 6.5 per cent at the 1,400 Yen level. We expect to hold Kakaku for decades. The current valuation is favourable in our view.
Kaspi.kz (KSPI London):
I’ve spoken about this company in the past. This is a Kazakhstan-based super app. Think Amazon, Paypal, Expedia, grocery delivery all in one app! Seventy-five per cent of adults in the country use the app on average twice a day. It is very embedded in everyday life. We have owned it since mid-2021. The stock trades at 11 times earnings with a healthy dividend yield of around five per cent. Shares will soon be listed on the Nasdaq Composite. Our most recent add was at $45 in May 2022. Due to the political risk in the region, we have a small weighting of nearly three per cent at this time. This is an exceptionally well-run company.
Calnex Solutions PLC (CLX London):
Scotland-based Calnex is another I’ve spoken about in the past. It designs and market tests instrumentation for networks primarily in the telecommunications sector. The company is founder-run/owned, has no debt and up until recently sported attractive returns on invested capital. As we noted earlier this year, it sells durable goods meaning that their results could be lumpy and we recently experienced some of this lumpiness! It is at the mercy of capital expenditure budgets of mobile operators and this seems to be somewhat cyclical and we are now in a period of decreased spending. The company has experienced no fewer than three such downturns since its inception with the most recent being 2014. In discussions with management, we were able to confirm our conviction that this is a short-term blip and the fundamental drivers of the business (people needing more, faster and reliable bandwidth) remain firmly in place. We recently added at three different prices (95, 67 and 41 pence) last month (October 2023). We believe current prices represent excellent value for the long-term-minded investor.
Games Workshop (GAW LON):
- Then: 5845.00 GBP
- Now: 10590.00 GBP
- Return: 81%
- Total Return: 81%
Fevertree Drinks (FEVR LON):
- Then: 844.50 GBP
- Now: 1079.00 GBP
- Return: 28%
- Total Return: 29%
Evolution AB (EVO STO):
- Then: 889.00 SEK
- Now: 1066.40 SEK
- Return: 20%
- Total Return: 22%
Total Return Average: 44%