I sold my position in Clarke yesterday. I needed to create some room in my portfolio, so I looked at my portfolio and asked myself the question: “If I would start from scratch today, what stock wouldn’t I buy”. AIG was actually the obvious answer, but selling that stock wouldn’t solve my problem because I have a lack of margin room in my portfolio while my net exposure is still comfortably below 100% (my target). The main reason for this is a long/short trade where both legs are non-marginable (like most of the stock I own). In this group Clarke was the obvious sell.
Since I initiated my position in the company the discount between book value (adjusted for the unrecognized pension asset) and the stock price has shrunk from 27.7% to 14.4% thanks to aggressive share repurchases. Because the discount is now a lot smaller future share repurchases will add a lot less value while fixed overhead costs remain. As a result, the stock is in my opinion now trading fairly close to fair value which I estimate at ~CA$13.50/share.
Because of the share repurchases and the shrinking discount I made a 22.5% return in roughly six months while the underlying value of Clarke’s assets remained basically unchanged: Holloway is down a couple percent while Terravest is up a little bit. Not a bad result in my book!
No position in Clarke anymore