Stocks Neat: American bourbon and business insights

Haven’t travelled in a while? Join Gareth Brown and I in Chicago for an episode of Stocks Neat, as we taste-test an American bourbon and recap our research trip in the US.

I was asked by a few of the CEOs about what things were like in Australia – talking about supply chain constraints and inflation. Certainly, in terms of listed companies, we hardly have a manufacturing sector in the economy and what we do have is almost not integrated with the rest of the world. The other part of our economy is commodities-related and whether that’s soft commodities like wheat, or oil and gas and iron ore, what’s happening in Russia and Ukraine is – unfortunately – very positive for the Australian economy.

Tune in as we reflect on the impacts of inflation and supply chain disruptions on businesses in the US, and why the Australian economy could become a beneficiary of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Transcript

Tamikah:

Hi everybody. Thanks for tuning into Stocks Neat – a Forager Funds Management podcast, where our CIO, Steve Johnson, and Portfolio Manager, Gareth Brown, talk sips and stocks with nothing watered down. Now, Steve and Gareth are currently overseas doing a little bit of field research, chatting to different management teams, getting a sense of what’s happening in the international landscape and what that might mean for the Australian landscape and, of course, what that might mean for our investments moving forward. So I’m just going to drop you guys into the current conversation. Hope you’re having a drink with us, hope you’ll enjoy, and thanks for tuning in.

Steve Johnson:

We are in Chicago in the United States of America. I’m joined by Gareth Brown, Portfolio Manager on our International Fund.

Gareth Brown:

Howdy, yo.

Steve Johnson:

We’re sitting in his very tidy, very tidy hotel room in Chicago. Being in America, we thought we’d make this whisky a bourbon instead of a whisky. We’re trying a Basil Hayden whiskey, which is from the Jim Beam empire of whiskeys. They call it “artfully aged”, which I looked up online and it says they don’t want to declare what the age is – apparently somewhere between six and nine years. We’ll have a taste of that later and come back. But maybe, just really quickly Gareth – what is the difference between a whiskey and a bourbon?

Gareth Brown:

So, bourbons are a kind of whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbons. To be a bourbon, it has to be made in the United States. Traditionally, it had to be made in Kentucky and ultra-traditionally, it has to be made in Bourbon County, which is just off Lexington there in the middle of Kentucky. This is not made in Bourbon County – this is made in Kentucky – and by convention, that’s the way it seems to work. If you make a whiskey outside of Kentucky, you call it whiskey. So Jack Daniels is a Tennessee whiskey, whereas Jim Beam is bourbon made in Kentucky.

The main difference from scotch, that I’m aware of, is the source of the grain. So you have to have sort of 51%, I believe, is a corn mash; that’s the source of the starches for the sugar to make the alcohol in the first place. They’ll often finish that with rye or other kinds of grains to provide either a more sweet profile or a spicier profile. And then they’re aged in American Oak barrels, charred American Oak barrels that are brand new.

So again, that’s another difference with whiskey; whereas with scotch whisky where they prefer a barrel that’s been used by a producer of something else in the first place to give it different flavour profiles, it must be a virgin cask and it’s charred. I don’t know exactly how that works in the Scottish whisky world, so I think that adds that kind of burnt flavour as well over time.

Steve Johnson:

Okay. Slightly different world, but related, I think you’d recognise the taste of both if you tasted both of them. But we’ve just come from a conference over south of LA; you, myself, and Harvey Migotti met with more than 60 companies over two days. It was a pretty hectic schedule. Gareth, the general mood there was a bit less upbeat than last year when we did it via Zoom.

Gareth Brown:

Yeah, correct. So, last year, the mark was much higher. I won’t name names, but I had one CEO that last year was very, very animated. I had a call with him over Zoom. He was very animated, very American, very excitable. His business has been going all right, so it’s not… It’s more of reflection, I think, of the stock price. But he was a lot more downbeat this year – just slumped shoulders and a little bit quieter about the whole thing.

And then I had another company that I talked to that I know quite well, and asked about an acquisition they made last year that we were quite sceptical of. And I said, “How do you think it’s going?” He said, “I spent $200 million on this, and that’s now my market cap. So how do you think it’s going?” So, yeah. There’s a lot of injected realism, I think, to a lot of the CEOs and obviously investors like us as well.

Steve Johnson:

Yeah. And this conference is mostly small-cap companies – so companies with a market cap less than $5 billion, with a couple of exceptions. But many of them less than $1 billion market cap. And that part of the market has been hit dramatically harder than the wider indexes would have you believe. There’s a lot of companies at this conference with their share prices down 70%, 80% and more. And there’s certainly a bit more humility around than there was last time.

I met with a guy who started a business called Stryve Foods. They’re actually trying to bring biltong, which is a South African dried meat product, to the US as a healthy alternative to the beef jerky that they eat over here. He came to market for via a SPAC and the price was a $10 deal in the SPAC. He’s now trading at $2 something. And he was actually quite angry about it, which I don’t know is particularly productive. I was brand new to his company – I’d never met him before. He’s got some other issues which I’ll come to later in the podcast, but he was just really… He had a really big chip on his shoulder about how the market was treating his business, and I think very little reflection from a lot of people that what we saw over the past 12 months was a pretty big bubble.

Gareth Brown:

I also spent a lot of my time on, I guess, beaten down sectors. They’re all beaten down. Everyone that… Just about every stock that’s there is down on 12 months earlier. But I had a particular focus on some of the gaming and gambling businesses, particularly online, but also a couple of casino – just straight-up casino owners – and also a particular focus on the cannabis industry, which new to me. And it’s an interesting one because 99% of Americans can’t invest in it because it falls afoul of federal law, but it’s legalised within the state. So it’s this interesting area that’s perhaps a little capital starved, and I spent a lot of time trying to get my head around it.

Steve Johnson:

Yeah. Legal in lots of states and lots of very big states, in terms of the size of their economies. But again, share prices have been absolutely whacked. And I felt that something that was interesting out of my conversations with a lot of people is how important that share price is to them personally, but also to the decisions that they make. And I think we are seeing a change across the wider market as share prices start to reward different types of behaviors.

So I had a meeting with Fathom, which is an online real estate agency that is a fairly meaningful investment in our International Fund. So we’ve owned this stock since its original IPO. The share price went up from $10 to $40, and it’s now all the way back at $11 or $12. And they are executing very, very well in terms of the business, but they have accelerated their growth quite dramatically by spending more money. So we were hoping this business would grow at 30% or 40% per annum. It’s been growing at 70% per annum. But it’s losing money now, whereas we had forecast that those margins were going to be increasing over the period of time that we’d owned it.

And I said to the CEO, “Are you happy with the decisions that you’ve made here?” And he said, “Look. To be honest with you, the market was rewarding that sort of behaviour. There were many different paths for us to reach where we want to get to. We could have done it slower. We could have done it more profitably than we have done it. If the market was in the environment that was in at the moment, we would have chosen a different path.” And I think we’re seeing a lot of that across the market, that people are starting to change their behaviours based on the fact that the share market is no longer saying, “Grow as fast as possible.”

Gareth Brown:

“Grow as fast as possible.”

Steve Johnson:

Yeah. “We don’t care about how much money you-”

Gareth Brown:

“Now we care about cash flows and…” One of those areas that I hope that there’s a shift here is some of the stock-based comp that’s being paid to staff. I believe that companies work better when all the people that work there are shareholders, or at least the senior management. But it’s been a source of a lot of giveaway over the last few years to the extent that now the economics are getting a bit tougher and people aren’t screwing down those stock-based comps. It really means that the company exists for the benefit of the staff rather than for the benefit of shareholders and staff. I think we’re yet to see any grand change in behaviour here, but my big mistakes over the last 12 months – something like a Twitter – it’s been that stock-based comp has gone from bad to worse, whereas I might have expected that to ratchet into a better situation by now.

Steve Johnson:

Yeah. I still don’t think investors are putting enough pressure on companies about the issue. The amount of companies that I spoke to, they’re talking about adjusted EBITDA to start with. So the first thing I say is, “How much is the depreciation?” And they’ve got a pretty good feel for that. But then you start talking stock-based comp, and they are literally ignoring it, and I think a lot of investors are ignoring it as well. And it’s a huge issue.

I said on the end-of-year Livewire videos that they ran for Christmas 2021 that a stock I had on my watch list was DocuSign, because it’s a business that I really, really like. I think it’s becoming entrenched in a lot of big corporates. And I wanted that share price to be under a hundred bucks for me to start doing more work. It’s fallen from $300 at its peak. I think it was $140 when I did that video at Christmastime; now 70-something dollars. And I just went back and had another look at it and they are reporting 18% profit margins; they’re saying operating profit margins, so before taxes.

Gareth Brown:

Adjusted.

Steve Johnson:

They’re making 18% of every dollar of revenue and profit and it is all going in stock-based comp. Every single cent of it is out the door in stock-based comp. And you don’t see that in cash flows, but in the case of DocuSign, they’ve actually doubled the shares on issue over the past three years.

Gareth Brown:

And so, all those shares have gone into staff hands.

Steve Johnson:

Yeah. There’s no acquisition or anything like that.

Gareth Brown:

It’s crazy, isn’t it? So if you did the maths on this correctly three years ago, you’re looking at the asset, you’re excited about the asset, but it’s not even a 50% discount. It’s a dramatically bigger discount you needed to apply, if they’ve given away 50% of the company in three years.

Steve Johnson:

Yeah.

Gareth Brown:

Like the Terminal, 95% belongs to staff if they keep doing that. Right?

Steve Johnson:

Yeah. It’s crazy. And I picked up the Q4 results, and expecting that maybe there’s… Given what’s happened with the business, given they probably haven’t hit their targets, that maybe these number are down quite dramatically.

Gareth Brown:

Yeah.

Steve Johnson:

And it was the biggest quarter ever of stock-based comp.

Gareth Brown:

So I think you might see some change still there. It will take time. If shareholders were looking at top-line revenue growth, it’s kind of an easy thing to stop, to not be focused on this; but as they start looking at the bottom line in particular, free cashflow generation after allowing for this, which ultimately they should be doing all along, maybe the focus comes back here. And as those growth rates slow down, I think the pressure will hopefully come on them, and tell them that some of these things are almost uninvestible.

Steve Johnson:

Yeah. And those KPIs the company has – they are internally incentivising people and rewarding them based on that same adjusted number; where you can just make a really simple calculation and say, “Okay, over five years, this is at least on a per-share basis.” Your revenue growth is 60%. We take that back to… diluted by the amount of shares that have issued, and it’s a much more modest number.

Gareth Brown:

Some of the younger kids won’t be aware of this, but there was a big fight in the late nineties; prior to then, you used to not have to expense the stock options that you gave away. So your net profit figure was just sort of fanciful.

Steve Johnson:

Yeah.

Gareth Brown:

And Buffett and several others made a big push to get it changed. It got changed early 2000s, I believe. And now, somehow we’ve just, we don’t… People don’t even look at the bottom, bottom line. The management just says, “Here’s the adjusted EBITDA or whatever figures they want.” And intelligent investors are making the calculations, but the market as a whole is sort of missing it.

Steve Johnson:

I think that’s maybe a topic for a different conversation. But one thing that all of these newer changes to accounting statements have done, is that you have to be making adjustments all the time. And that’s given management an excuse to say, “Okay, we’re all going to use adjusted numbers here.” Because there’s this crazy lease accounting, there’s market-to-market of a whole heap of things. Over here in the US, you’ve still got goodwill from acquisition amortisation; so a lot of companies that have done acquisitions are putting this expense through every year that is genuinely not an economic expense. So I think we’re really trying to tidy that up and get back to, “Let’s try and make this pretty close to-”

Gareth Brown:

Real economic earnings. Right? Yeah. The problem is that we are calling this an adjustment, even though it’s happening every year, and it’s a real economic cost, which is just not the same with as a goodwill amortisation.

Steve Johnson:

Yeah. For some of these companies, it is the most significant cost on their P&L and it’s being ignored. Look, another really common thing for me was supply chain issues across a lot of these businesses. I met with a little company called Impinge. You’ve probably come across its product even though you don’t know about it. They do RFID tags, and they’re more than 50% of the market for RFID tags. That is basically a substitute for the barcodes that you’ll see in a lot of retail companies. If any of you shopped at Decathlon in Australia, for example, you’ll notice that they can just chuck all of your, whatever you’ve purchased off the shelves, it goes into a bucket. They take it out of the bucket, and it adds up the value of everything that bought.

Gareth Brown:

It’s unreal, the first time you use it. Instead of getting 20 things swiped, just put your bucket into a little gap, and there’s your bill.

Steve Johnson:

Yep. So you can close on it. FedEx has just announced that they’re going to use RFIDs for all of their parcels in the US. That’s a massive adoption of the technology. It’s more expensive than a barcode. They’ve got it down to about 3 cents per item, but that’s still a lot more than slapping a barcode on something. There’s still some spaces where it’s very, very difficult to do, but the benefits are enormous. You just put the parcel in the truck. You take it out of the truck. You’ve got a record everywhere of where that parcel is going, and it’s in real time. So this is an interesting little business that we’ve followed for some time.

Gareth Brown:

And like a 50% market share in that.

Steve Johnson:

In the US.

Gareth Brown:

In North America, right?

Steve Johnson:

In production of the RFID tags.

Gareth Brown:

Yeah.

Steve Johnson:

I think that’s globally.

Gareth Brown:

Right. Okay.

Steve Johnson:

I might check that.

Gareth Brown:

And so, what’s the supply chain issues that they’ve been running into?

Steve Johnson:

So, they’ve got semiconductor chip issues. They’ve got demand that’s growing going like crazy, and a whole bunch of things that lead into their input where they have actually had to restrict supply of RFID tags to their customers, which is a massive drama. They have completely halted all new rollouts; so a customer that’s currently just using barcodes can keep using barcodes. They’ve got Delta Airlines as a customer. If you don’t have RFID tags for the bags that are going around, it’s going to shut the whole airline down. So they are prioritising the most important customers first, but they are literally unable to deliver all of the RFID tags to the people that they would like to deliver. And that was pretty common. I’d say that the disruption was a bigger issue for people that I spoke to. They’re related to inflation, but I think the disruption – more people were talking about, “I actually just can’t meet the demands – ”

Gareth Brown:

For the products.

Steve Johnson:

“…there for my product,” rather than worrying about –

Gareth Brown:

Well, it’s the same with the chips. Right? It’s not the price that I’m sure they’re inflating, but it’s just inability to access them. Isn’t it amazing? I’ve really just not experienced anything like this since I was a very young child; it’s a sort of a ’70s story, right? Not a…

Steve Johnson:

Well, I remember Greg Hoffman, at Intelligent Investor, writing an article about just-in-time inventory being seen as something that was the Holy Grail – that you run, the whole world running very, very efficiently, that there is a trade-off between efficiency and redundancy in any system. And any engineer will be able to tell you that probably over and over again. But, well, I think we’re really seeing some of the disadvantages of having a very, very tight supply chain.

And a few companies that I spoke to were saying they’ve had to source alternate suppliers or things from elsewhere and that long term, they think that’s going to be a very good thing for their business. They now have three or four people that can supply by the same thing. And they can use that a) for negotiation on price, but b) just feeling that they have a lot more redundancy in their business. So I think we’re going to see very long-term changes here to the way people run their businesses.

Gareth Brown:

Yeah, just in terms of redundancy.

Steve Johnson:

It wasn’t such a big issue with the companies you met with, Gareth?

Gareth Brown:

No. Focused on gaming, gambling, cannabis; they’re not high… A lot of the cannabis stores, they are a little bit nichey in that they have to produce within state – they can’t cross state borders. So they do do a lot of grow and manufacture. And some parts of it are labor intensive, but there hasn’t been issue with access to equipment and all that stuff. So I didn’t hear a lot of griping on that.

The other thing I just wanted to touch on – the strength of the US domestic economy. We’ve been going through airports that are pretty busy again. Everyone seems getting to normal. There’s a lot of talk of recession and it may come, particularly because of the price of gas at the gas station as they call it over here – you can’t live in most American places without a car.

I was talking to Steve about this; where we live, if the price of fuel gets ridiculous, there are alternatives. You can catch the tram or the bus and maybe halve your bill or stop driving to work, if you happen to be working in the suburban areas. I think it’s a little bit different in the suburbs – deeper suburbs of Australian cities, but it’s even more so here. Just about everyone drives miles to work and miles to the shopping centre. And it’s not… There’s nothing just around the corner. It’s all structured for cars. So we pay a lot more for fuel than they do, but the change for them has been dramatic.

The tax buffer doesn’t, so that… Because they don’t pay much in way of taxes on fuel, they’ve really copped that price rise significantly. So maybe that’s changing, but at the moment it feels like that pent-up demand after two years of being stuck in the house is really resolving. We’ve talked to taxi drivers, telling us that downtown Chicago on a weeknight is far busier than pre-COVID because people have just got the opportunity to it out and they want to take it. So there’s certainly a lot of pent-up demand for some things; whether the petrol price kills, that I don’t know.

Steve Johnson:

Yeah. We had the first interest rate rise from the Federal Reserve announced this week as well and they’re talking about as many as seven this year. So I think that explains it, the investment banks put out consumer confidence stats all the time, which are a bit of a leading indicator about, “How are you feeling?” Rather than, “What you’re doing?” And they’ve definitely deteriorated quite significantly over the past few months.

But everyone that I spoke to at the conference was saying, everyone’s telling me that they’re not feeling confident, but they’re still spending lots of money. And in the Fathom case, still buying and selling houses. They’re not… He even said all of his agents are worried, but they’re not seeing anything yet, in terms of leading indicators that the actual demand is slowing down. So it’s going to be interesting over the coming year, how those things factor together.

And now everyone that you speak to mentions the war in Ukraine, but like you touched on, it’s a big domestic economy here. And I don’t think it’s actually having much of an impact on the day-to-day, other than the price of gas.

Gareth Brown:

It will be interesting to contrast. I’m going to Europe next month. It will be interesting to contrast that, because they are much more integrated to… From where I lived in Vienna for seven or eight years, it was only a four hours’ drive to the Ukrainian border, maybe five. And you’re seeing it in, for example, the automotive space. There’s a lot of simple parts being done in Ukraine that then cross the border into Slovenia, and then cross the border into Germany, and then end up in an Audi. And a lot of that’s sort of… It’s more direct; whereas, there was not many Ukrainian parts in a Detroit vehicle. So it’ll be interesting to see how that’s different over there.

Steve Johnson:

I was asked by a few of the CEOs about what things were like in Australia – talking about supply chain constraints and inflation and things. And it just got me thinking about all of the companies we met through this Australian reporting season as well. Certainly, in terms of listed companies, we hardly have a manufacturing sector in the country and what we do have is almost not integrated with the rest of the world.

So I just don’t see the same issues around, “I can’t get this particular part for something that I need to pass onto someone else.” And it gets snowballed; it’s a very, very big services economy. And then, the other part of our economy is commodities-related – and whether that’s soft commodities like wheat, or it’s oil and gas and iron ore, what’s happening in Russia and Ukraine is, unfortunately, very positive for the Australian economy in terms of the prices of those things. And you touched on this the other day, but you would think if the world is going to wean itself off Russian gas, that Australia has to play a pretty significant role in that.

Gareth Brown:

Yeah. I think it’s a good opportunity. My understanding of the… You taught me this, but my understanding of most of the contracts is they’re linked to oil price. I think we do. Our Australian companies are going to receive fairly direct benefit from high gas prices. But when we think of the traded gas market, what Russia exports is not LNG – it’s on a pipeline straight from the gas field. We have to liquefy it first. But just in terms of traded gas, if we’re not going to use Russian gas, Europe’s going to have to import. They import some Qatari gas now via LNG. Australia, whether we directly export to Europe, or whether… But all up, we’re in a very good position to benefit from it, and maybe some longer-term stuff as well. So maybe some… We’re fairly high in the gas production costs; maybe some new sites get developed that wouldn’t have otherwise.

Steve Johnson:

Yeah, absolutely. And probably, I think more political and social license to play that role in the world. I think there’s been a lot of global warming-related pressure on companies not to develop more of those big gas deposits or offshore Australia, and more trains to liquefy the gas. You’ve had Europe coming out and saying they do see gas as a relatively friendly transition source of energy over the next twenty years.

Gareth Brown:

It differs by country; so, Germany’s on it. Spain, for example is not. But they’ve got the sun and the wind down there, so you can see why politically they’re maybe opposed to it.

Steve Johnson:

Yeah. It’s actually was an article in The Economist. They’ve got a lot of re-gasification terminals for LNG in Spain, but they can’t get it across the Pyrenees.

Gareth Brown:

Yeah. They’ve got very tiny … through the mountains, so it’s kind of a silly system; but it sounds like Europe’s got to do a lot of investing even to go to LNG over shipping in gas straight from Russia and some of their alternates. You can build more wind farms and solar, but you need base loads – so maybe nuclear is part of it. But they’re all sort of fairly long-term stories.

And the other part that where Australia is the direct beneficiary of is soft commodities. As tragic as it is, there’s not a lot of wheat going to be planted in the Ukraine – possibly not even in Russia or parts of Russia over the next few months, which is when its due to go in the ground, I believe. And they’re a big part of seaborne wheat production.

Steve Johnson:

Well, they’re 30% of the world’s wheat production full stop.

Gareth Brown:

Yeah, right.

Steve Johnson:

And most of that gets exported to other parts of Europe and places like –

Gareth Brown:

Like Ukraine’s 30% or the two together are 30%?

Steve Johnson:

I think the two together.

Gareth Brown:

Yeah. They got that really nice black soil there.

Steve Johnson:

I sent an article about this. My parents run a farm, two farms – and my brother, they’re all working it together out in central New South Wales. And they do grow wheat and they grow canola and they have cattle. And the price of fertiliser at the moment is two, three times what it was a year ago. So they were planning on cutting back their cropping this year.

Gareth Brown:

Further exacerbate the issue.

Steve Johnson:

Well, potentially from exacerbating the issue. But I sent an article from the Financial Times; we’ve got a family group chat on WhatsApp, and I just put it up saying, “Wheat shortage – it’s going to be boom times for wheat.” Any mother called me on the side, “You do not need to be encouraging your father to save money.”

Gareth Brown:

Well, it’s difficult. Right? Because all of these properties are your choices between raising cattle and cropping wheat a bit. And the price of beef is so high as well, so there’s alternates for them. And what we should be worrying about is the ability to feed the world, because there’s a lot of cereal grain that won’t be produced this year. But financially, it could be a big benefit; Australia could be a big beneficiary of that, although us as consumers that don’t grow wheat are going to be hit in the pockets.

Steve Johnson:

That CEO of that Stryve company I was talking about earlier that’s making the biltong… He, that company – I don’t know whether it’s him, but has struck a bunch of deals with Costco and Wal-Mart that are effectively fixed price for a couple of years. And 90% of his input costs are beef. And it’s gone from, in his terms $260 a pound to $4 a pound.

Gareth Brown:

It’s pretty …

Steve Johnson:

Sounds like not, and he’s actually losing money. It is the OneTel of global biltong, where the more he sells, the more he loses. Yeah. It’s going to be a really interesting year, here, Gareth. I think we’ve had a very vicious stock market response at the small end. I’d say a lot of stocks where there’s almost an assumption of a coming recession priced in and some pretty attractive prices, I think, for some of these small companies that are growing very well.

We’re undoubtedly going to have some missteps in the space – just going through this last reporting season, meeting with all these companies. Some of them are fairly young and I think it’s going to be a space where we’ve got not relatively low weightings in our portfolio, but we’re going to get some multi-baggers in there for sure and they’ll be offset by a few losers to some extent. But the prices have come way, way, way, way back to levels that I think are extremely interesting in that small-cap space.

Gareth Brown:

Yeah. And I think that was one of the great things about a conference like this, where I hadn’t met a lot of these companies before, and I got a chance to meet with 22 of them over two days. I’ve got a couple of really high targets now that I might not have run into, if not for the chance to meet so many people in a short period of time. And as you said, it’ll mainly be replacing other things in the portfolio that perhaps in a similar risk/reward range, but the chance to upgrade the ID.

Steve Johnson:

Yep.

Gareth Brown:

That’s the aim anyway, rather than to make the portfolio riskier.

Steve Johnson:

All right. Well, let’s have a taste of this bourbon, Gareth, and let us know what you think.

Gareth Brown:

A lot of the whiskies, especially ones that I drink from the Whisky Society that come in at 60% alcohol – they have a real burn. This doesn’t burn much.

Steve Johnson:

Well, this is 80 proof, so I think it’s 40%.

Gareth Brown:

Yeah. That’s normal for… That’s sort of standard for a shelf whisky of any sort. But I’m not getting any sort of strong… I’ll get flavours, but I’m not getting any of the burn at all.

Steve Johnson:

Yeah.

Gareth Brown:

I detested bourbon when I was younger; I really did not like it. And that’s probably because it was some idiot who meant to buy me a scotch, bought me a Jim Beam and Cola or something like that. And I think drinking West Coast whiskeys helped change that, because they’re the very peaty ones, and then drinking the scotch grain whiskies also perhaps changed it. So I can quite appreciate a good bourbon now; and this one’s quite nice. It’s not super premium or anything, but it’s a nice…

Steve Johnson:

I still get a tiny, tiny little bit of that detergent taste out of it. Just a… It’s nice and it’s drinkable, but I get a tiny little bit of that-

Gareth Brown:

There’s something barbecue-y about it as well. So this is like the American sauces – their obsession with barbecue. I think it’s maybe the charred barrels that’s creating that. But again, I’m no connoisseur.

Steve Johnson:

My Scottish grandfather will be turning in his grave, me just drinking it.

Gareth Brown:

Fair enough.

Steve Johnson:

I’ll stick to the scotches, I think, over this one – but it’s drinkable.

Well, we will wrap that up there, everyone. We’ll keep it nice and short for this week, as we’ve got plenty to move on to. We’ll see you next month when Gareth – you’ll be back in Australia, but I still won’t be. I’m off on a holiday after this trip with my wife back to visit her family in South Africa. So very, very much looking forward to that.

Gareth Brown:

Enjoy your time, and make sure you switch off for a few weeks.

Steve Johnson:

I’ll do my best. Thanks for tuning in.

Gareth Brown:

Thanks everyone.

Thanks for tuning in!

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Steve Johnson
Founder & Chief Investment Officer
Forager

Steve began Forager Funds in 2009, and now manages approximately $470m across two funds. Offering a listed Australian Shares Fund (FOR) and an unlisted International Shares Fund, Steve focuses on long-term investing in undervalued companies.

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