Zeke Ashton

Zeke Ashton

Last Update: 11-16-2015

Number of Stocks: 32
Number of New Stocks: 7

Total Value: $64 Mil
Q/Q Turnover: 21%

Countries: USA
Details: Top Buys | Top Sales | Top Holdings  Embed:

Zeke Ashton Watch

  • Zeke Ashton Sells Greenlight Capital and Vector Group, Buys Parker and Alphabet

    Zeke Ashton (Trades, Portfolio) is the managing partner of Centaur Capital Partners and manages the investments for the Centaur Value Fund.

    He manages a portfolio composed of 32 stocks with total value of $64 million and the following are his most weighted trades during the third quarter.


  • Zeke Ashton Comments on Blucora

    Our position in Blucora (NASDAQ:BCOR) takes the form of convertible bonds that mature in April 2019. The bonds pay us 4.25% interest, but include a convertibility function that allows us the option to convert into common shares at a premium to today’s price. This particular investment is one that we would categorize as low risk / low reward, but there is a possibility that the reward could turn out to be much better than that. Blucora’s primary asset is TaxAct, which is an online tax return business that competes with Quicken’s TurboTax and similar services. The company also owns a legacy search engine business as well as an integrated e‐commerce business that primarily offers consumer electronics at value prices. What we find intriguing about the bond is that we believe the company is a very high quality credit given that it has sufficient cash on the balance sheet to pay off the bonds and its business is highly cash generative. We therefore believe that credit risk is low, and we are quite confident that our capital will be repaid at maturity. The potential upside comes from the possibility that the business turns out to be better than the market currently perceives between now and 2019. We calculate that if Blucora simply generates cash at a rate consistent with 2014’s performance for the next several years and allowed that cash to pile up on the balance sheet between now and 2019, the incremental value could easily push the stock price to a figure well above the conversion price, thereby offering us potential equity‐like returns with bond‐like risk. The Fund had approximately 4.9% of NAV invested in the Blucora bonds as of April 30, 2015.

    From Zeke Ashton (Trades, Portfolio)'s 2015 semi-annual letter.  

  • Zeke Ashton Comments on NASCAR Companies

    The Fund’s largest investment takes the form of two publicly traded NASCAR companies, International Speedway (NASDAQ:ISCA) and Speedway Motorsports (NYSE:TRK). Between them, these two companies own virtually all the tracks that host the NASCAR racing events, and therefore represent somewhat unique assets. In NASCAR, unlike other professional sports, the venue owner receives a very healthy share of the revenue generated by the sport. NASCAR’s popularity has declined in recent years after hitting a peak in the late 1990s, but the sport still draws a very loyal fan base to its events. We believe that recent attendance figures may point to a modest rebound, given that the NASCAR fan base may only now be starting to emerge fully from the effects of the economic downturn. In addition, NASCAR signed a 10‐year TV extension that runs through 2024 that compares favorably to the prior deal and which provides significant revenue and profit visibility going forward. We believe the stocks are attractively valued and that at the Fund’s purchase prices, the market valuations were considerably lower than our estimate for the replacement cost for the tracks. At April 30, 2015, the two securities together comprised 9.5% of the Fund’s NAV.

    From Zeke Ashton (Trades, Portfolio)'s 2015 semi-annual letter.  

  • Zeke Ashton's Semi-Annual Centaur Total Return Fund 2015

    Dear Centaur Total Return Fund Investors:

    The Fund produced a return of 3.70% for the year ending April 30, 2015. Our primary benchmark, the Dow Jones U.S. Select Dividend Total Return Index, experienced a gain of 8.42% for the same period, while the S&P 500® Total Return Index returned 12.98%.


  • Zeke Ashton Sells 10 Stakes in Second Quarter

    As manager of Tilson Dividend Fund, Zeke Ashton (Trades, Portfolio) has overseen some impressive returns in recent years – 7.2% in 2014, 16.78% in 2013 and 17.94% in 2012. Ashton is also the founder and managing partner of value-oriented Centaur Capital Partners, a Dallas-based asset management company. Smaller than most gurus’ portfolios, Ashton’s portfolio got a little smaller in the second quarter as he sold 10 existing stakes and replaced them with five new ones.

    The sale with the greatest impact to his portfolio was his sale of his 102,500-share stake in Iconix Brand Group Inc. (NASDAQ:ICON), a New York-based brand management company, for an average price of $27.95 per share. The sale had a -4.81% impact on Ashton’s portfolio.


  • Zeke Ashton First Half 2015 Investor Letter From Centaur Management

    Dear Centaur Total Return Fund Investors:

    The Fund produced a return of 3.70% for the year ending April 30, 2015. Our primary benchmark, the Dow Jones U.S. Select Dividend Total Return Index, experienced a gain of 8.42% for the same period, while the S&P 500® Total Return Index returned 12.98%.


  • Zeke Ashton Makes Nine New Buys in First Quarter

    Zeke Ashton (Trades, Portfolio) maintains a modest personal portfolio, compared to most of the gurus we follow, with a quarter-over-quarter turnover rate of 35%. That is understandable. He stays busy as the managing partner of Centaur Capital Partners and manages the investments for the Centaur Value Fund. He is also manager of Tilson Dividend Fund, where his rates of return in the last three years have been 7.2% (in 2014), 16.78% (in 2013) and 17.94% (in 2012).

    In the first quarter, Ashton made nine new buys. The buy with the greatest impact on Ashton’s portfolio was his acquisition of 75,000 shares of Keysight Technologies Inc (NYSE:KEYS), a California-based electronics company that makes test and measurement equipment and software, for an average price of $36.04 per share. The purchase had a 3.89% impact on Ashton’s portfolio.


  • Fifth Street Finance Announced a Dividend Cut, But I Will Follow Zeke Ashton and Push the “Buy Button”

    In this article, let's take a look at Fifth Street Finance Corporation (NASDAQ:FSC), a $1.09 billion market cap company, which is a growing asset manager that provides credit solutions to small and mid-sized businesses.

    Principal hedge fund's activity


  • Zeke Ashton - Investment Success Via Risk Management

    Most days, Zeke Ashton (Trades, Portfolio) gets to work dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. His Dallas office facilitates depth of thought and logic as he, his wife and one analyst navigate the Centaur Partners investment partnership and the Centaur Total Return mutual fund. Their set up is intentionally as far from Wall Street as possible.

    Recently, the portfolio manager was kind enough to make the four hour drive to lecture my students at Texas Lutheran University.


  • Dillard's is a Sell, According to DDM Model

    In this article, let´s consider Dillard's Inc. (NYSE:DDS), a $4.89 billion market cap, which has a trailing P/E ratio that indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued (PE 15.70x vs Industry Median 22.30x).

    So in this article, let's take a look at a model which is applicable to stable, mature, dividend-paying firms and try to find the intrinsic value of the stock. Although the model has a number of characteristics that make it useful and appropriate for many applications, it is by no means the be-all and end-all for valuation. The purpose is to force investors to evaluate different assumptions about growth and future prospects.


  • Zeke Ashton on How Michael Burry's Advice Helped Him Become a Better Investor

  • Centaur Capital's Fourth Quarter Portfolio Reports Heavy Selling and Top Five Positions

    Zeke Ashton of Centaur Capital Partners keeps a fairly concentrated portfolio valued at $86 million. The guru had a heavier quarter in selling as he sold out of ten of his previous holdings. The guru added eight new stocks to his holdings, bringing his portfolio to 29 stocks. The following five companies represent Ashton’s top five holdings.

    Tetra Tech (TTEK)


  • Centaur Capital Partners' Third Quarter Top Holdings

    Zeke Ashton of Centaur Capital Partners keeps a fairly concentrated portfolio valued at $116 million. The guru sold out of four of his previous holdings and had a heavy quarter of buying as 13 of his 33 stocks were new buys. The following five companies represent Ashton’s top five holdings.

    First American Financial Corp (FAF)

  • ‘Net Seller’ Zeke Ashton Update, Centaur’s High-Impact Sells

    Like the mythological centaur, a brilliant investor is also, at times, both man and horse, both tame and wild. Using reason and passion, a dual-natured creature combines intellect and intuition to accomplish far better results than either man or horse could by itself, especially when investing in out-of-favor stocks. Centaur Capital Partners is an apt name choice for Zeke Ashton’s hedge fund, which he founded in 2002. Ashton manages Centaur as well as the Tilson Dividend Fund.

    The updated portfolio of Ashton’s Centaur Capital Partners has 30 stocks, six of them new, a total value at $90 million, with a quarter-over-quarter turnover of 23%. The portfolio is currently weighted with three top sectors: financial services at 16%, consumer cyclical at 13% and real estate at 5.4%.  

  • Zeke Ashton's Top Second Quarter Portfolio Increases

    Over the duration of the second quarter, Zeke Ashton made seven increases to his positions in his portfolio. Ashton reported his largest increases in the following five companies. As of the second quarter Ashton holds on to 30 stocks valued at $90 million.


  • Zeke Ashton (Tilson Dividend Fund) Semi-Annual Letter To Investors (June 2013)

    We have a rather simplistic investment philosophy: we like to buy assets when the prices of those assets reflect a sizable discount to what we believe them to be worth. We like to sell those assets back to the market when the market is willing to give us what we believe is a full, fair price. The catch is often that in order to buy discounted assets, there usually needs to be some fear and uncertainty reflected in securities prices. As the old saying goes, you can have cheap prices or you can have good news, but you usually can’t have both. When it appears that all is well in the world and the market is driving asset prices higher, we tend to be net sellers. That has been especially true for us over the past year, in large part because there has not been a significant market sell‐off during that time that has lasted for more than a few days to allow us to make significant new investments. Our strategy greatly benefits from the occasional market break in order to re‐stock our portfolio with new investments that meet our Fund’s risk‐averse, income generating mandate. In a way, we need the occasional market volatility that accompanies fear and uncertainty in order to achieve our strategy’s full potential.

    It is somewhat unusual for mutual funds to let un‐invested cash build up in their portfolios, because it is an invitation to under‐perform the markets if the market appreciates in the near term. We suspect that very few mutual funds would be willing to let more than 30% of the assets sit fallow, particularly given the historically low rates on money market funds, but in our view the willingness to do so can be a competitive advantage in the right circumstances. The reason for this is that markets tend to run in cycles driven by fear and hope; when the market is going up, it feels like it will never come back down. The reverse is also true. Our view is that the best way to exploit the occasional bouts of market fear is to have an inventory of ideas that one is ready to buy at the right price, and the cash available to carry out that buying. One without the other is useless. The willingness to radically flex our invested balance up and down with market conditions (buying heavily into fear and uncertainty, selling appropriately into happy, fully‐valued market conditions) based on the availability of cheap individual securities or the absence of the same is likely to increase the chances of a good experience over time, and theoretically should reduce risk. The unfortunate reality is that following such a course can lead to uncomfortably long periods of under‐performance which can test the patience of both the Fund’s manager and its investors. It is for this reason that we are satisfied with the Fund’s recent returns that essentially matched the market’s strong performance. We are willing to endure a performance drag in the short term in order to achieve our longer‐term objectives, but it’s nice when we don’t have to.  

  • Zeke Ashton Presentation - May 6, 2013 Value Investing Congress

  • Zeke Ashton on the High-Quality Piece of Advice He Received from Michael Burry

    An interview with value investor Zeke Ashton discussing concentration when managing a portfolio.

    Ashton calls Burry a "homerun investor" in that Burry can handle a huge amount of volatility while he waits for an investment to play out.  

  • Zeke Ashton Discusses Managing a Portfolio and Position Size

    Rare video of value Guru Zeke Ashton of Centaur Capital Partners discusses value investing, portfolio management and how to think about position sizing.

    Here is the video:  

  • Rare interview with Value Investor Zeke Ashton

    Zeke Ashton is the founder of Dallas, Texas based Centaur Capital Partners. The firm specializes in value-oriented investing strategies with an emphasis on achieving excellent risk-adjusted returns. The Centaur Value Fund, a long / short, long-biased private investment partnership launched in August 2002, has been compounding at 16% per annum. Centaur Capital is also the sub-advisor to a retail mutual fund, the Tilson Dividend Fund (TILDX), launched in 2005 in partnership with Whitney Tilson and Glenn Tongue of T2 Partners. Morningstar has assigned five stars to the fund, which also ranks as #1 over 3 and 5 years in Morningstar's "Mid Cap Blend" category. In this interview, Zeke talks about: * Centaur Capital's investment strategy: The importance of finding a distinct niche * Outperforming with "neglected, hated and feared" stocks

    Here is the video:  

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