Thursday, October 1, 2020

What I Would Buy Instead of Tesla

When I started this thought experiment, Tesla had a market capitalization of $460 billion. It traded around 300 million shares (around $140 billion in value!) at that valuation level. But it has declined and is now a ~$400 billion market cap. So with ~$400 billion in hand, here is the shopping list of what I would rather buy. We can see how this alternative portfolio does over time.

  • Toyota Motor Corporation (TM) for $185 billion. Sell the worst automaker and be long the best. Earnings were $17 billion last year. Peak was $23 billion in 2018. Average from 2010-2019 was $13 billion annual. (They made money every year of the decade.) With a market capitalization of ~$185B that's 14x if we look at the ten year average like we do with the S&P as a whole. (Or, only 11x last year's earnings.) Pretty amazing that their net income is close to Tesla's entire revenue (maybe 2/3 of it), but Tesla's market capitalization is 2x higher. TM dividend yield is 3%.
  • The two U.S. based tobacco companies, Altria (MO) and Phillip Morris (PM) for $72 billion and $117 billion. PM earned $8 billion last year and MO earned $2.3 billion (excluding the Juul write-down). That's $189 billion which is the same market capitalization as Toyota and 47% of Tesla. The P/E of the tobacco companies is about equal to the price-to-revenue of Tesla!
  • Valero Energy Corporation (VLO) for $16.3 billion. The second largest oil refiner in the U.S. with 2.2 million barrels/d of capacity. They earned an average of $3 billion per year over 2018 and 2019. The hope here is that the oil refining industry will follow the path of the tobacco industry - a product still in demand but with concerns about the future that discourage entrants to the industry and additional capacity from being added. In this case, the electric vehicle mania is leading people to believe that gasoline demand is going away.
  • Royal Gold (RGLD) for $7.9 billion. A great business model - streaming/royalty interests on gold mines with no debt. Net income of $200 million for the past year is expensive, but it could/should grow as more mines come into production. (They have interests in 41 producing mines and 16 in development, plus more in the pipeline.) They do about 1 transaction a year but it's lumpy - they did none from 2006-2008 or from 2016-2018.
  • Texas Pacific Land Trust (TPL) for $3.6 billion. At $460, the market capitalization is $3.6 billion and the enterprise value is about $3.3 billion. (They have a net cash position.) They get a royalty from their land in the Permian and do not do any production themselves. No debt and royalty ownership protects against the risk of ruin in the scenario where there is "deflation first" before an inflation. In 2019, they did $318 million of net income. In the 1H of 2020, they did only $85 million (which annualizes to $170mm). It's a higher quality asset than companies that are more expensive. I think it's a better inflation hedge than precious metals. The big question to me would be whether we overpaid if there's an extended period of deflation. But at least it would be far more likely to survive than something like XOM which has 3x its EBITDA in debt.
  • AerCap Holdings N.V. (AER) for $3.3 billion. They are an aircraft lessor. This is a covid nothingburger play. It's high risk but high potential reward. It is highly leveraged: they have $35 billion of aircraft (at book value net of depreciation), $10 billion of other assets, and $35 billion of debt, for a net of $10 billion of shareholder equity. Current market cap is $3.2 billion, so very low P/B. The key question is whether the aircraft are worth their carrying values. This was trading for ~90% of book until covid hit. If air travel was going to take a multi-year hit, it would be conceivable that the airline lessees would go bankrupt, reject their leases, and the lessor would be stuck with planes that were worth much less than expected. But, for whatever reason, herd immunity seems to have kicked in far earlier than expected.The Boeing MAX problem is complicated, but if those planes are scrapped it would be bullish for the lessors because it would extend the economic life (and increase the residual value) of existing planes. They earned $246 million in Q2 2020 vs $331 million the prior year. So that is a double digit return on equity. And it makes the P/E about 3x! If lots of airlines go bankrupt, this is a zero. If things return to normal, it's worth close to triple.
  • Dorchester Minerals LP (DMLP) for $358 million. They own producing and non-producing mineral, royalty, overriding royalty, net profits and leasehold interests. They have no debt. Net income for 1H 2020 of $10 million vs $28 million for 1H 2019. Prices were obviously down during the covid crash, and operators also curtailed production. They bought back some of their own units during April.

So instead of Tesla's $25 billion in annual revenue and no profit (in fact, a cash burn of maybe $5 billion a year), you get revenue of about $400 billion (1x revenue, how about that) and net income of maybe $30 billion a year and distributable (as opposed to reinvested) income that's greater than Tesla's revenue.


whydibuy said...

This reminds me of Coca Cola of the late 90s.
I remember reading about how Roy Neuberger made the same argument that at the market cap of KO, he could have 4 of the largest industrial companies and their solid earnings. KO had good earnings and a brand name but the price was way too high to justify owning it. He was right. It saw a 50%+ decline over the next several years even as KO did decent earnings.
Its a reminder you can over pay even for great franchises.

CP said...

After the dot-com bubble burst, the reversal to favor value over growth was dramatic. It took only a little over 2 years for value stocks to completely reverse course. By February 2002, value had outperformed growth across large and small-cap stocks over the past 1, 5, 10, and 20 years. Investors that had given up on the value premium in 1999 to chase what was in favor at the time would have found themselves disadvantaged.

Anonymous said...

AER Q3 call:

Aengus Kelly -- Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director

I think it's fair to say that those people who have come into the sector, looking for yield over the last five years or six years, and thought this was a spread business, and they didn't need a full-scale operating platform to run the business, have found that, that is not a valid assumption. And that you most definitely do need a global platform to run this business. So we have already seen many able to take the decision, we are not going to build a full-scale operating platform. And in fact, it's too late for that.

So what I believe we will continue to see from those type of participants that they won't deploy further capital into the sector. So I think there'll be further -- there'll be less new capital coming into the sector than was the case over the last five years. And on the other side, I believe that we will have a greater demand for the aircraft leasing product. So that's how I would see it take shape.