A real gem in the trash bond market of Europe

These days, I’ve been looking for high-yield bonds to diversify the overall exposure of my portfolio and also reduce the correlation to the US equity market. I’ve my own screening tools, which returned a bunch of bonds with over 20% YTM. Most of them were really junk, and the Yield To Maturity (YTM) is a real function of the implied risk.

I was intrigued by 300 mln KME bond ISIN XS1756722069 expiring on February 2023, 6.75% interest, and currently trading at around 67. It was trading at 35 during the pick of the COVID19 crisis. Wow, what’s behind this company? I did my research, and I figured out that KME is a pan-European industrial group and a global market leader in copper and copper alloy products. This sounded very interesting to me!

KME is profitable and a market leader in its segment. So why its bond is considered junk? Well, it is because of its outstanding debt (237 mln as of December 2019). I found out that KME 2019 EBITDA is around 86 mln, which means its net debt/EBITDA is approximately 3x, which doesn’t look so stretched to me. But Moody’s is currently rating this stock junk because it trades at over 7x net debt/EBITDA. What on Earth is Moody’s looking at? They are looking at the Staff Severance Reserve (SSR) around 218 mln and including it in the net financial position. But is that correct? I think it is not because SSR isn’t debt!

Eventually, they expect KME to collapse next year. How is it possible with copper price at its five years high? Frankly, I don’t know what Moody’s is looking at and, more important, I’m not interested in. I feel like a guy who found a rare gem! KME bond could deliver me more than 20% return per year over the next two years and a half! This is what matters to me!

What makes me even more confident is that the bond is guaranteed by KME plants in Germany and Italy, and it is callable at a modest par premium on February 21. Seriously, this is music to my hears!

Going deeply into my research, I also found out that KME is fully controlled by Intek, a holding company listed on the Italian stock market. I figured out that almost 90% of Intek NAV is represented by KME. Intek market cap is around 112 mln, which means that either KME is worth some 100 mln (but Intek balance sheet factors in 489mln value for KME) or that Intek company is trading at some 70% discount to NAV! I would bet on the second option.

Furthermore, Intek is an outstanding bond whose YTM is lower than the KME one. How is this possible if KME is Intek’s trophy asset pledged to guarantee the KME bond?

So, why not also buy Intek shares? Because these shares are not covered by any analyst, and there is no consensus. I’ve seen many stories like this one in the Italian market. These kinds of companies are managed by entrepreneurs (in this case, two entrepreneurs representing the Gotha of Italian capitalism) who think the sun shines just out of their asses and are willing to screw minorities. They know that Intek is mispriced and KME as well, but they don’t care about it as long as they continue doing their business.

To make a long story short, I believe I found out a mispriced asset where its owners are aware of such mispricing, which, for certain reasons, is also functional to their business.

I’m not interested in whether this mispricing would disappear at a certain point in time because I’m not buying Intek shares. I’m just interested in the fact that they will continue absolving their obligations on the KME bond.  I believe they will because KME assets pledged to guarantee the KME bond are the pillars of their castle!

About Antonio Velardo

Antonio Velardo is an experienced Italian Venture Capitalist and options trader. He is an early Bitcoin and Ethereum adopter and evangelist who has grown his passion and knowledge after pursuing the Blockchain Strategy Programme at Oxford University and a Master’s degree in Digital Currency at Nicosia University.

Velardo manages an 8-figure portfolio of his investment company with a team of analysts; he is a sort of FinTweet mentor, people interact with him online, and he has more than 40,000 followers after his tweets. He has built a fortune in the great tech years and put together a tail strategy during the pandemic that allowed him to take advantage of the market drop. “I did not time the market, and I did not think this was even a black sworn,” he says.

On the side of the financial markets, Velardo has a unique combination. He was a real estate entrepreneur that developed several projects in Tunisia, Miami, Italy, the UK, and many other countries and cities. But he has always been passionate about options trading. Still, contrary to the volatility player and quant trading, he always had a value investing touch in his blood. Antonio studied Value Investing at Buffet’s famous business school at Columbia University. Even though the central concepts of value investing are antagonists to the venture capital pillars, Antonio’s approach tries to bridge elements of both worlds in order to seek alpha. Velardo has learned the importance of spotting pure growth stories and taking advantage of their S-Curve position. This is an essential element of Velardo’s approach as he looks forward to embracing great tech stories at the right time of the adoption cycle. This applies to stocks but also to blockchain projects.