Steve Johnson

Starting Forager Funds in 2009, Steve has grown the business to over $370m of funds under management. Offering an Australia and Global equity Fund, Steve focuses on long-term value investing of unloved and undervalued companies.

Expertise

A looming shortage in an essential commodity

Steve Johnson

We’ve been making our case on Livewire for investing in oil-related stocks since 2015. It’s been an arduous journey that dates back to 2013, but with the recent oil price strength, Livewire got in touch to get our updated thoughts on the sector. Show More

oil ASX:MCE ASX:MRM this time last year

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Scruffy Accounting at Greencross

Steve Johnson

Well that was an interesting update from pet and vet company Greencross (GXL). New CEO Simon Hickey only joined the company in February. So clearing the decks is not surprising. But this one is a doozy. Show More

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Timing a Plunge With Managed Funds

Steve Johnson

My advice has been consistent over the years: get your portfolio allocation right and let us worry about the timing. It’s fair to say it’s a piece of advice widely ignored. Show More

How to destroy a competitive moat

Steve Johnson

Too many companies are milking, not nurturing, their competitive advantage. That might help this year’s profits, but the long term impact can be damaging. Show More

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One Big Lesson from the Big Un Debacle

Steve Johnson

Some of the red flags at Big Un were obvious. Perhaps the biggest was the change in auditor, from PKF to the highly illustrious accounting firm Rothsay Resources. And the business model was sketchy. There were “characters” involved. The stock failed the sniff test. Show More

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Fragmenting Social Media and Facebook’s Withering Popularity

Steve Johnson

Fair enough. I haven’t used it for years. And I don’t like it. Which means I’m predisposed to seeing signs of decline when they don’t exist. But Facebook’s latest results at least give me some evidence to work with. Show More

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A new generation learns about nickels and steamrollers

Steve Johnson

You are probably wondering what the hell happened this week. Friday’s relatively minor retreat in global stock markets – apparently due to increasing concerns about inflation and rising interest rates – suddenly became violent. Show More

volatility XIV long term capital management

The Opportunity is in the Detail

Steve Johnson

Everyone wants to buy stocks for attractive prices. But why would anyone want to sell at that same price? Finding bargains is the key to successful investing, but it requires delving beyond the obvious. In this video, Forager's Alex Shevelev talks about some of the useful insights we glean from... Show More

ASX:JIN ASX:EGG Jumbo Enero

Animal Spirits to the Fore

Steve Johnson

In March this year, copper miner MMG announced that it had sold its Century zinc mine in Queensland for the grand total of $1. That $1 didn’t go far though. MMG agreed to pay the purchaser $34.5m to cover the costs of rehabilitating the depleted mine site over the subsequent... Show More

bull market forager long-term investing

Isentia Shows That “Good” Businesses Can be Risky Too

Steve Johnson

Isentia’s shares were trading at $3.50 this time last year. Yesterday the stock closed at $1.05. There’s nothing unheard of about a 70% share price fall. Forager investors have experienced a few of those over the years. What’s interesting about this one is that Isentia was supposedly a “high quality”... Show More

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The Looming Oil Shortage

Steve Johnson

Four long and mostly painful years. That’s how we feel when reflecting on for Forager’s investments in the oil slick. There have been a couple of successes, one disaster and an inordinate amount of volatility. Show More

oil forager funds

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A big lesson for Aussie investors

Steve Johnson

Reporting season is a circus. For most businesses, more than half of their net present value will come from cashflows more than 10 years into the future. Why do we focus so much on one six month period? Show More

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How to Retire Happy, Comfortable and Property Free

Steve Johnson

My parents, some investors, politicians and a large number of journalists seem very concerned about me. I’m one of the renter generation, and everyone seems worried about us because they think we are going to retire without a roof over our heads. Show More

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Why We've Sold Reckon

Steve Johnson

A few investors have noticed Forager’s recent sale of our substantial holding in Reckon (RKN). We will provide more details in our September Quarterly Report, but to head off a few questions we have been receiving, our rationale can be summarised into four reasons. Show More

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Macmahon's Indonesian Adventure

Steve Johnson

Mining services company Macmahon has been in the wars for most of the past decade. As the largest holding in Forager's Australian Shares Fund, we are anticipating the next decade being better. In this video we discuss our recent trip to Indonesia, new contract wins and the importance of Macmahon's... Show More

mining services value investing forager ASX:MAH

Amazon Turns Over the Grocery Cart

Steve Johnson

Online retail giant Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has announced an agreement to buy one of America’s most successful grocery retailers Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM). The acquisition signals Amazon’s latest move as it searches for the optimal business model to compete against its biggest rival, Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT). Amazon had recently... Show More

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Magic and Mistakes in Mining Services

Steve Johnson

My father used to take me to the horse races as a child. It became something of a father-son thing over the years – usually expensive but always entertaining. It never mattered which horse won. Dad had “looked at it” and “shoulda backed it”. It happened so often we started... Show More

mining services ASX:MND

Italy: Crowded Out

Steve Johnson

Italy has been a wonderful hunting ground for the Forager International Shares Fund since inception in 2013, especially among smaller companies where we most often find an edge. The country has many world-class businesses and they have been cheap, until recently. Show More

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Too late to invest in Europe’s recovery?

Steve Johnson

In March I wrote an article for the Financial Review suggesting Europe was the last bastion of investment value. The three months since have been eventful, with a strong win for a progressive candidate in the French election and a shock setback for Theresa May’s conservatives in the UK. Most... Show More

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Don't Be Shaken from the Equities Tree

Steve Johnson

Fund managers are apparently winding up funds and returning cash to investors to avoid the coming crash. Bill Gross is telling us sharemarket risk is at its highest level since the financial crisis. You could be forgiven for feeling gloomy. Show More

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Hi Jim. The capital raising is real - I've never seen that part made up. I just wouldn't put too much faith in it as a positive sign. If fact, with something like Getswift, it can be a very effective way to cash in on the hype you have created. You can't sell your shares - that would freak everyone out and the founders are often restricted in any case - but you can use the high share price to get some cash in the bank. Even if the product turns out to be near worthless, Getswift's founders now control a company with almost $100m cash in the bank (for now).

On Steve Johnson: Get wary of GetSwift -

I hope you are right and I am wrong. I have no financial interest and the more Aussie tech successes the better. But don't think for a second that because there is institutional money involved it has to all be legitimate. Check out the 1PG announcements and capital raise from 2015 if you need a good example.

On Steve Johnson: Get wary of GetSwift -

I think most investors would prefer a 40c loss to a 45c loss. They new investors don't pay the performance fee, it was already accrued in the price they paid. You are right that 10c cash gets paid out, but on the day they invested they already got a 20c discount because of the accrued performance fee.

On More secrets… not all dirty -

Mostly valid points but your point on the accrued performance fees is incorrect. The gross value of the portfolio has fallen 25% in your example ($2.00 down to $1.50), whereas the investor has only suffered a 22% loss (1.80 down to 1.40) thanks to unwind of accrued performance fees. Had the fee been paid out prior to investment the unit price would have fallen to 1.35 instead of 1.40. The less frequent the payment of performance fees the better (for investors).

On More secrets… not all dirty -

Hi Hayden. We haven't been able to do anything different from others. We were kicked out of a place a couple of years back and moved to a better place 200m down the road. A hassle but a weekend's worth of hassle. We don't have children and neither of us have any interest in spending our weekends renovating ... so uniquely placed to be long-term renters. Depends who you are leasing from but my guess is a financial owner would be open to something longer as long as you were happy to sign up to annual escalation.

On How to Retire Happy, Comfortable and Property Free -

Thanks Karyn. Good points. My question is still whether that $1bn worth of their own infrastructure justifies the $6bn worth of intangibles implied by the share price. It might, I'm just asking the question. Btw a comment over on the Forager blog suggested they have thus far have only 16k active connections to their own FTTB infrastructure.

On Further thoughts on TPG -

Thanks Charles. That all depends on what I think they are going to do with the money they keep. If a company cuts its dividend and I think they are likely to fritter away the additional retained earnings then yes, it would decrease my valuation. But if I am confident they can reinvest at higher than my required rate of return, then my future cashflow stream (and valuation would be higher). Berkshire is a good example of a company that has never paid a dividend but has compounded the money internally at a very high rate. As I said to a reader on the blog though, it's important not to get too scientific about these things. If the stock is cheap enough it should be obvious. If you are adjusting discount rates or reinvestment rates to get an answer that works, then it probably isn't cheap enough. The general point was to focus on the business, not the share price. Cash returns are a great example of proof points, because you have the money in your pocket, but a company that had dramatically increased its sustainable earnings power would be just a good an example of a investment playing out to plan.

On How to Assess a Successful Investment -

Thanks for the comment Alan. Spot on. We write down a road map at the time of investment and review it every results. Sometimes we look fascicle but it is a worthwhile exercise.

On How to Assess a Successful Investment -

Fascinating stuff. I heard Kerr Neilson say something similar about his fund investors once. Has anyone done a broad study on the Australian market? We're probably self-selecting but our clients have historically put more money in during downturns.

On Buy high, sell low? -

The big issue with these statistics is that they should be weighted by accessibility. Did you try and get some Baby Bunting? Sealink perhaps? These offerings - which were clearly attractive investments - were massively scaled back (I'm talking 99%). So if you apply for every float, you will get lots of stock in the duds and almost nothing in the good ones. The average investor's return is not going to be anything like the average float return.

On The compelling story of Aussie IPOs -

Well ... whether it is good news or not remains to be seen! Let's call it a lucky start for now.

On Buy Hold Sell: Fallen Angels -

Just a quick caveat here. The share price was less than 40c when we recorded this video, 57c today. Not the same option value it was.

On Buy Hold Sell: Fallen Angels -

I still think it's a an interesting space at the moment. We're on the record as recent purchasers of S32 and are taking a good look a Whitehaven. Even if they are good investments from here, though, it won't change the fact that billions of dollars worth of shareholder wealth have been invested in projects that are never going to earn an economic return.

On BHP Billiton: Hole in the ground -