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Bond Investing. JAMES Bond Investing.

Bond is back.  And so are the product placements.

Skyfall—the latest film in the James Bond franchise—opens in theaters next month, but the marketing blitz has already begun.  This week’s Economist opened with a two-page advertising spread for an Omega Seamaster watch—“James Bond’s Choice”—featuring Daniel Craig.

Not only does Craig endorse the Omega brand personally (see his Omega profile), but his movie character endorses it as well.  Per the Omega site,

“As James Bond appears for the 23rd time on the silver screen in SKYFALL, he will once again depend on the OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean as he takes down yet another onslaught of villains, all the while seducing the newest Bond girl the films are often so famous for.”

The Omega product page did not specify whether the new Seamaster fired laser beams or if its crown could be used as a grappling hook.

As I write this article, I cannot help but look down at my wrist and long to see an Omega watch on it. Perhaps it was the not-so-subtle implication that it would boost my appeal to women and help me to defeat the forces of evil.

I’m not alone. Every man secretly wants to be James Bond.  In Catch Me If You Can, Leonardo DiCaprio—playing real-life master con artist Frank Abagnale, Jr.—walks into a tailor shop and orders a suit exactly like the one he saw Sean Connery wear in Goldfinger.  Who could blame him?

In any event, I expect that Swatch Group (Switzerland:UHR), Omega’s parent company, will get a nice sales boost in the fourth quarter from the hype generated by 007’s latest adventure.  (I don’t know if I should be embarrassed or proud that I’ll probably be one of those sales.  And yes, I’ll get the exact same Seamaster model that Bond wears.)

Today, I’m going to take a look at a handful of other companies that stand to benefit from an endorsement by Britain’s most notorious spy.

Unfortunately, some of the higher-profile product placements—such as Bond’s Aston Martin or his bespoke Tom Ford suit—are not made by publicly traded companies (Aston Martin was recently sold by Ford to a group of private investors, and Tom Ford has never been public).

Still, we have quite a few traded stocks to choose from.  I’ll start with Dutch megabrewer Heineken (HINKY).  Bond purists may be a little disappointed to see 007 drinking a beer rather than his signature vodka martini, but Heineken forked over $45 million to ensure that he does.

To put this in perspective, Heineken’s paid product placement amounts to nearly a third of the movie’s $150 million production budget.  Having not seen the movie yet, I’m curious as to what exactly $45 million buys. I’m imagining a scene of Bond killing the villain with a blow to the side of his skull from a Heineken bottle.  Regardless, if viewers leave the theaters and stop to grab a beer on the way home, it might prove to be money well spent.

Oh, and as a bonus, in addition to being endorsed by Bond, movie junkies may remember that Heineken was also endorsed by the spoof agent Austin Powers in The Spy Who Shagged Me.  Yeah, baby.

I continue to view Heineken as an excellent long-term investment in the rise of the emerging market consumer.  When it is not quenching the thirst of British intelligence operatives, Heineken and its subsidiary brands are the beers of choice in much of Africa, Latin America and now, after its recent acquisition of Asia Pacific Breweries, Southeast Asia.

Next on the list is Sony Corporation ($SNE).  007 has toted a Sony mobile phone in the last several movies, and according to the website James Bond Lifestyle (yes, it really exists; try the link), he will be carrying a Sony Experia T.

Sony has fallen on hard times of late, and I doubt if even James Bond is charming enough to convince viewers to forgo an Apple ($AAPL) iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy S3.  But then, this is being written by a person who intends to buy an overpriced luxury watch precisely because he saw James Bond wearing it.  We shall see if Sony’s plight improves.

Finally, I’ll leave you with international spirits powerhouse Diageo ($DEO).  Though Heineken will be stealing the limelight in Skyfall, Bond is best known for sipping his vodka martinis—and shaken, not stirred.

Diageo’s Smirnoff—its most popular vodka brand—has long been a mainstay in the Bond film franchise.  Don’t be surprised if the general level of Bond buzz translates into higher sales of Smirnoff and of Diageo’s higher-end vodka brands like Ketel One and Cîroc.

Like Heineken, Diageo is a core holding in Sizemore Capital portfolios as a long-term play on the rise of the emerging market consumer.  I consider it one of the few stocks I would be truly willing to “buy and forget.”

Disclosures:  DEO, HINKY and UHR are held by Sizemore.  Charles Sizemore.

 

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only, as of the date hereof, and is subject to change without notice. This material may not be suitable for all investors and is not intended to be an offer, or the solicitation of any offer, to buy or sell any securities nor is it intended to be investment advice. You should speak to a financial advisor before attempting to implement any of the strategies discussed in this material. There is risk in any investment in traded securities, and all investment strategies discussed in this material have the possibility of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The author of the material or a related party will often have an interest in the securities discussed. Please see Full Disclaimer for a full disclaimer.

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Beer Stocks: The Keg Party is in Emerging Markets

Back in April, I wrote favorably about Molson Coors ($TAP) (see “Beer Stocks: Crack One Open”), noting that the brewer was significantly cheaper than Anheuser Busch InBev ($BUD) and SABMiller (SBMRY) and that it paid the best dividend of any major brewer.  At 3.1%, its dividend yield at the time was nearly double that of Anheuser Busch InBev.

Since then, Molson Coors is up a modest 10%, more or less in line with the S&P 500.  Meanwhile, BUD has rallied by more than 20%.

But looking longer term, we see an even starker contrast.  Since the beginning of 2010, Molson Coors has trailed its “Big Beer” peers by a wide margin.  Anheuser Busch InBev, SABMiller and Heineken (HINKY) are up 66%, 50%, and 30%, respectively.

But Molson Coors?

TAP has been flatter than a three-week-old keg, actually showing a slight loss over the past two years.

So, what gives?  What explains the lack of investor interest in Molson Coors?

It’s really quite simple.  Molson Coors missed the party in emerging markets.

Prior to its June acquisition of Eastern European brewery StarBev, Molson Coors had negligible exposure to emerging markets.  Its business was limited almost exclusively to North America and the UK, where beer brewing is a slow-growth business.  And outside of its trendy Blue Moon brand, Molson Coors had also largely missed out on the one promising growth outlet for the North American market: upscale premium microbrews.

The company found itself selling low-margin, mass-market beer to an aging and shrinking North American and British market.  Molson Coors faced relentless competition from both Budweiser and Miller at the mass-market level, and from innumerable up-and-coming foreign and premium brands at the higher end.  Not the sort of scenario that would make investors thirsty for more.

Even after the StarBev merger, Molson Coors will only sell about 14% of its volumes outside of North America and the UK.

Meanwhile, take a look at BUD.  Anheuser Busch InBev sells more beer in Latin America (34% of volumes) than it does in North America (32% of volumes).  Overall, emerging markets make up more than half of all beer sold.

And BUD isn’t even the best positioned of the group.  Heineken is a long-term recommendation of the Sizemore Investment Letter precisely because of its exposure to emerging markets and specifically to Africa, the next great growth market.  Heineken gets 21% of its profits from Africa already, and this figure is set to skyrocket as African incomes rise and millions of Africans join the ranks of the middle classes.  Rival SABMiller is also a major player in Africa, and particularly in South Africa.

Heineken also made a major expansion into Southeast Asia this year with its purchase of Asia Pacific Breweries.

So, where does all of this leave Molson Coors?

With the global beer market already well on its way to consolidation, there are not a lot of attractive acquisition targets left to snag, and those that do come up are not likely to go cheaply.  Realistically, Molson Coors will be primarily a North American seller of suds for the foreseeable future.

This isn’t all bad.   While the Echo Boomers—the large generation of Americans in their 20s and very early 30s—do not slosh the stuff as enthusiastically as previous generations (they tend to prefer vodka-based mixed drinks), there are signs of life in the domestic market.  U.S. beer shipments are actually up this year, after falling slightly for the past three years in a row.  Mass-market brewing may no longer be a growth business in the United States and Canada, but it is generally pretty stable.  We don’t have to worry about any of the major brewers facing financial distress any time soon.

Looking at Molson Coors’ financials, I continue to believe the stock has value as a cheap income stock.  TAP trades for just 11 times expected 2013 earnings and pays a dividend of 2.9 percent—the highest of all major beer brewers.  This isn’t a “home run” stock, but it’s one that is priced to offer decent returns going forward.

Bottom line: If you want growth, Heineken remains my favorite brewer.  But I consider Molson Coors a worthwhile choice for a long-term dividend-focused portfolio.

This article first appeared on InvestorPlace.  Sizemore Capital is long HINKY.

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Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only, as of the date hereof, and is subject to change without notice. This material may not be suitable for all investors and is not intended to be an offer, or the solicitation of any offer, to buy or sell any securities nor is it intended to be investment advice. You should speak to a financial advisor before attempting to implement any of the strategies discussed in this material. There is risk in any investment in traded securities, and all investment strategies discussed in this material have the possibility of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The author of the material or a related party will often have an interest in the securities discussed. Please see Full Disclaimer for a full disclaimer.

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Charles Sizemore on Bloomberg TV: Investing in Europe

Charles Sizemore gives his thoughts on how to invest in Europe to Bloomberg’s Guy Johnson, live in London.  To watch the interview, see Emerging Market Exposure via Europe


Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only, as of the date hereof, and is subject to change without notice. This material may not be suitable for all investors and is not intended to be an offer, or the solicitation of any offer, to buy or sell any securities nor is it intended to be investment advice. You should speak to a financial advisor before attempting to implement any of the strategies discussed in this material. There is risk in any investment in traded securities, and all investment strategies discussed in this material have the possibility of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The author of the material or a related party will often have an interest in the securities discussed. Please see Full Disclaimer for a full disclaimer.

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