10 years ago this week, I made my very first post on the discussion boards here at the Motley Fool at the age of 13 years old. Fittingly enough, it was actually a stock-specific question directed to David Gardner, the Fool's cofounder and Chief Rule Breaker.
In the decade to follow, I wrote more than 6,300 posts on the boards and dedicated a good portion of my time to following and writing about stocks. In my senior year of college, what I first thought would merely be a lifelong hobby of researching and investing in stocks on the side quickly turned into my passion and, now, my livelihood.
Today I get to work with David Gardner -- pitching him ideas and learning from him directly -- along with our awesome Rule Breakers and Supernova teams within the investing group at Fool HQ. At times it's very surreal, but I'm loving every minute of it. I still have to pinch myself going into work every day.
I am thrilled to be taking on the leadership of Supernova's new Odyssey 2 mission, launching in January. One of my team members on Odyssey 2 is none other than Tom Engle (TMF1000), who is the person who told his boss at Fool HQ to look into hiring me nearly a decade ago (without realizing I was a teenager at the time). Now things have come full circle -- and I've outgrown child labor laws -- and I am so excited to get started with Tom and a stellar group of Fools managing a real-money portfolio.
Thanks to those of you who have supported me and helped me learn and grow for part or all of the past 10 years. Here's to the next 10 years!
A Fool for life,
David K [more]
Submitted a CAPS pitch for GoPro today: http://caps.fool.com/Pitch/GPRO/7271742/going-against-the-gr...
Going against the grain here. I think people are underestimating GoPro's brand power, vision, and overall social following. This is, in my opinion, the strongest brand we've seen in consumer electronics since Apple. A few reasons I am optimistic:
** Nick Woodman, founder and CEO who owns 42.5% (even after selling a portion of his stake at the IPO and secondary following) of the company. It isn't often you have a successful, invested, visionary, and downright passionate leader like Woodman. Not someone I would ever feel comfortable betting against. Also, one of his entrepreneurial principles is "evolve or die" -- GoPro will look much different in 3-5 years as a company.
** More than a camera. GoPro's cameras, software, and media components represent an entire ecosystem. The company's massive and growing social following is, and will continue to be (in my opinion), the envy of struggling electronics businesses like Polaroid, Sony, and Garmin. What GoPro has will be VERY difficult for anyone else to replicate, just as it has essentially proven impossible for companies to meaningfully penetrate Apple's brand power.
** Strong financials. After the recent secondary offering, GoPro has close to $350 million in cash with no debt. The company is producing positive free cash flow as well. Very strong financial position for a company growing as fast as GoPro.
** Record camera sales. The 3Q 2014 represented the first quarter -- outside of the fourth quarter -- that GoPro sold more than one million cameras. The new HERO4 cameras and entry-level HERO should make this holiday season -- and early 2015 -- a great couple quarters for GoPro. This is coming without much focus on international expansion, which represents a huge opportunity for the company.
** The media strategy is for real. People are quick to write off the media strategy, but GoPro is quickly hiring some impressive names to take the media component of the business to the next level. Tony Bates -- who comes from Microsoft/Skype, LoveFilm, and YouTube -- joined GoPro as president this year to head up the media segment. Zander Lurie -- who comes from CNET and CBS -- just joined as a SVP. The media strategy is still developing, but the cash coming in from camera sales gives the company plenty of time to continue developing the media segment.
These are just a few of the reasons I think people are underestimating GoPro. Nick Woodman, from what I can tell, is the rare combination of a young (39 years old), invested, passionate, and visionary leader. GoPro is changing how the world communicates by helping people capture and share their passions. GoPro is a social brand, not just a camera company.
I'm sure the stock will be volatile in the short term, but I also don't think the stock is as massively overvalued as people think. The company has more than $1 billion in sales and is growing the top line at a 40%+ clip (generating positive and increasing free cash flow in the process). This ride will likely have some bumps -- what fun would it be if it didn't? -- but I believe GoPro will be a $20 billion+ company in five years.
Outperform. Let's check back in 2019 and see how I did with this call.
This will be interesting!
David K [more]
I recently rated Arista Networks as outperform on CAPS. Here is my reasoning at this point: [more]
MWI Veterinary Supply, Inc. (NASDAQ: MWIV)
Industry: Medical Distribution
Business in One Sentence
MWI Veterinary Supply distributes animal health products for companion and production animals (including pharmaceuticals, vaccines, veterinary pet food, and supplies) to veterinarians across the United States and United Kingdom.
MWI connects animal health product producers/manufacturers to veterinarians, helping ensure veterinarians have the necessary products for animal health.
Competitive Strategy and Advantage
Currently MWI’s average sales per veterinary practice in the U.S. is roughly $56,000. MWI’s strategy primarily centers on increasing sales per customer through marketing efforts, boosting its sales force, adding products to its portfolio, and expanding value-added services available for veterinarians. Value-added products are the main differentiator in this space. MWI’s value-added products include an eCommerce platform, technology management systems, and special order fulfillment, in addition to things like pet cremation (that’s a thing now?). MWI also pursues selective acquisitions.
MWI may have an advantage thanks to its vast network of products for both companion and production animals and a sales force of more than 500 people. In fiscal 2013 MWI sold more than 41,000 different products sourced from over 700 vendors (22,000 products from 400 vendors in the U.K.). MWI claims to have maintained long-term relationships with key vendors including IDEXX Laboratories, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Elanco.
Other Business Details
-- 97% of MWI’s revenue comes from consumable medicines and supplies, making for a recurring revenue stream. 86.6% of sales came from the U.S. (up from 83.3% in 2011).
-- Independent veterinary practices have historically accounted for about 87% of MWI’s product sales.
-- MWI’s senior management has an average tenure of more than 15 years with the company.
-- 43% of MWI’s fiscal 2013 sales in the U.S. came online (up from 36% in 2011); 96% of U.K. orders are done electronically.
-- Operates 13 distribution centers in the U.S. and one in the U.K., offering next-day delivery service on products stocked in warehouses.
-- 59% of MWI’s U.S. sales came from companion animal market; 41% from production animal market.
-- MWI’s ten largest vendors in the U.S. account for approximately 70% of total sales. Zoetis alone accounts for 20% of sales (down from 24% in 2012 and 2011).
-- Veterinary clinics buy products from more than one distributor and vendors also sell their products to multiple distributors. On the surface there appears to be very little switching cost.
-- The need for the distributor middleman in animal health products disappears over time.
1. What percentage of MWI’s customers utilize the company’s value-added services? How has this number been trending in recent years?
2. What does MWI’s customer and vendor retention look like and what are their trends?
3. Are other distributors in this space offering similar value-added products?
4. How does MWI’s scale and product selection compare to other distributors?
5. Is MWI a necessary middleman?
This is an interesting market, but I am not sure an animal health products distributor (like MWI) is the most appealing opportunity to take advantage of increased spending in the pet industry. As you can see here, spending on pets is steadily increasing in the U.S.: http://www.americanpetproducts.org/press_industrytrends.asp This is a category worth watching, but I'm not sure MWI has a sustainable business model for the long haul. [more]