Zeke Ashton

Zeke Ashton

Last Update: 05-15-2017

Number of Stocks: 22
Number of New Stocks: 5

Total Value: $47 Mil
Q/Q Turnover: 31%

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

Zeke Ashton Watch

  • Zeke Ashton Comments on IAC/Interactive Group

    IAC/Interactive Group (NASDAQ:IAC) is a leading media and internet conglomerate that has a multi-decade track record of developing valuable media companies, which have in the past included Expedia, TripAdvisor, Ticketmaster, and The Home Shopping Network. Today, IAC owns a collection of businesses that includes HomeAdvisor, the leading marketplace connecting homeowners with service professionals for home improvement projects, and Vimeo, a fast-growing video platform and video-on-demand marketplace. The most valuable asset at IAC is the company’s majority ownership interest in Match Group. Match is the world’s largest online dating services provider comprising 45 different brands that IAC took public through an IPO in late 2015. IAC continues to own more than 80% interest in Match (NASDAQ:MTCH), which we think is a unique and under-appreciated asset. We have been impressed with the company’s strong history of value creation and recent capital allocation savvy, and we believe that both Match Group and HomeAdvisor have reached a point of industry leadership following a multi-year “land grab” strategy and that both businesses are now demonstrating impressive profitability growth as the businesses mature. We think these businesses could combine continued strong revenue growth with expanding profit margins for several years, and we believed at the time of our purchase of IAC shares that the market price did not fully reflect the value creation potential inherent in these businesses as well as the company’s portfolio of other internet and media assets.


  • Zeke Ashton Comments on Cognizant Solutions

    Cognizant Solutions (NASDAQ:CTSH) is a leading provider of outsourced business processing and technology solutions, providing mission-critical services to a base of over 1,200 mostly large global corporate customers primarily in the areas of banking and insurance, healthcare, logistics, and manufacturing. As an indication of just how successful Cognizant has been, a quick review of the financials from 2005 to 2015 reveals a business that grew top-line revenue roughly 14-fold from $885 million to $12.4 billion. Even more impressively, cash flow profitability improved from $68 million to $1.8 billion (roughly 26-fold) during the same span as the company achieved scale and operating leverage. We initially began buying Cognizant stock following the “Brexit” vote. We added to the Fund’s position when the stock sold off further in late September after the company disclosed an internal investigation related to improper payments made by company personnel in India that could be in violation of U.S. anti-bribery laws. We made this incremental investment in the belief that this unfortunate situation is likely to be an issue that will ultimately be resolved without significant financial liability or reputational damage to Cognizant. The stock had already recovered some of its losses by the end of October.


  • Zeke Ashton Comments on Berkshire Hathaway

    Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.B) is of course managed by Warren Buffett (Trades, Portfolio), who is justifiably recognized as one of the world’s most successful investors and the torch-bearer for the value investing style of capital allocation. Unlike many stocks in today’s expensive environment, Berkshire Hathaway remains very reasonably valued on historical measures relative to earnings and book value, and we believe the company’s immense balance sheet strength remains a rare competitive advantage.


  • Zeke Ashton's Centaur Management 2016 Annual Letter to Investors

    Dear Centaur Total Return Fund Investors:


  • Zeke Ashton's Best-Performing Assets

    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 29 stocks with a total value of $52 million. The following are his best investments of the year.

    Brown & Brown Inc. (BRO) with a market cap of $6.28 billion has gained 41.4% year to date. The guru's stake represents 3.61% of his total assets.


  • Learning From the Biggest Mistakes of Institutional Investors

    Every investor makes mistakes. If someone tells you they do not, they are either lying or too inexperienced.

    Mistakes are a natural part of investing. Even Warren Buffett (Trades, Portfolio), who is widely considered the world’s most knowledgeable investor, has made some serious errors in his career. In fact, Buffett has said acquiring Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A)(NYSE:BRK.B) was his biggest mistake, and look how that turned out.


  • Zeke Ashton Reduces, Eliminates Multiple Positions in 3rd Quarter

    Zeke Ashton (Trades, Portfolio) is a managing partner at Centaur Capital Partners and manages the Centaur Value Fund. During the third quarter, the guru made the following trades:

    The investor reduced his position in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) by 50.94%. The trade had an impact of -3.9% on the portfolio.


  • Warning Signs Identify Value Declining Companies

    Among U.S. companies, Leucadia National (Trades, Portfolio) Corp. (NYSE:LUK) has declining profit margins and a weakened financial outlook. As the beef-processing company shows warning signs of potential bankruptcy, several gurus look elsewhere for growth and value.

    Brief discussion about the warning signs


  • 15 Questions With Tom Jacobs

    Today we are interviewing investing author Tom Jacobs. We talk about how he got his start in the market, the first stock he ever bought as well as the bargains he is finding in today's market.

    1. How did you get started investing?


  • Zeke Ashton Invests in 10 New Holdings

    Five of Zeke Ashton (Trades, Portfolio)’s top six transactions in the second quarter were acquisitions of shares in companies that are new to the portfolio.

    Ashton invested in 10 new holdings in all.


  • Zeke Ashton Comments on Iconix Group

    As long‐time investors probably are aware, our strategy is highly flexible and from time to time we make investments in securities other than common stocks, most commonly convertible or high yield corporate bonds. In March the Fund purchased a modest position in a corporate bond issued by Iconix Group (NASDAQ:ICON), a company we are quite familiar with by virtue of having owned the common stock for two extended stretches in past years. Our track record on the equity is mixed: we made good money on it the first time we owned it as it de‐levered coming out of the 2008‐2009 crisis. The second time around we sold at a loss as the company re‐levered into the easy credit environment of 2014‐2015 and we became increasingly uncomfortable with the debt profile as well as other issues that we would consider to have been self‐inflicted by an overly aggressive management team. Iconix has since replaced its management, but entered the year needing to roll out a substantial amount of debt due to mature at mid‐year 2016. Though the company carries more debt than is healthy, the underlying business is in pretty good shape and the company generates substantial cash flow. We considered buying the stock, but despite a depressed price we elected to pass due to our long‐held aversion to owning equity when there is a large amount of debt in front of our ownership position. As we evaluated the credit structure, however, we found a risk/return profile we could get comfortable with and purchased junior bonds that are due to mature in early 2018. We bought the bonds at roughly 67 cents on the dollar in late March, at which time the annualized yield‐to‐maturity was in the mid‐20% range. Our purchase occurred immediately following the company’s announcement of a new five‐year credit agreement that would allow Iconix to repay its 2016 bonds, leaving the March 2018 bonds as the next issue in the maturity ladder. We believe these bonds are much safer than the purchase price would suggest, and we expect to hold the securities to maturity and collect the full par amount.

    From Zeke Ashton (Trades, Portfolio)'s 2016 semi-annual report.  

  • Zeke Ashton's Centaur Total Return Fund Semi-Annual 2016 Report

    Dear Centaur Total Return Fund Investors:


  • Zeke Ashton Purchases Stake in Dave & Buster's

    Guru Zeke Ashton (Trades, Portfolio) purchased a 45,000-share stake in Dave & Buster's Entertainment Inc. (NASDAQ:PLAY) in the first quarter.

    Dave & Buster's Entertainment was founded in Dallas in 1982 when two entrepreneurs, David Corriveau and Buster Corley, decided to combine their businesses to form a single entertainment business. Corley operated a well-regarded restaurant, and Corriveau ran a place for fun and games for adults. They decided their businesses should merge under one roof to form what is now known as Dave & Buster’s Entertainment.


  • Zeke Ashton Sells 13 Stakes in 4th Quarter

    Zeke Ashton (Trades, Portfolio), managing partner of Centaur Capital Partners, sold 13 stakes in his portfolio in the fourth quarter. It was only the second time since 2013 that Ashton’s quarterly sales of existing stakes have been in double digits.

    Ashton sold his 497,500-share stake in Kulicke & Soffa Industries Inc. (NASDAQ:KLIC), a Singapore-based semiconductor, LED and electronic assembly equipment company, for an average price of $10.94 per share. The divestiture had a -7.15% impact on Ashton’s portfolio.


  • Zeke Ashton Purchases 140,000 Shares of Tetra Tech

    Guru Zeke Ashton (Trades, Portfolio)'s Centaur Capital Partners bought a 140,000-share stake in Tetra Tech Inc. (NASDAQ:TTEK) in the fourth quarter.

    Tetra Tech is a leading provider of consulting, engineering, program management, construction management and technical services. The company supports government and commercial clients by providing innovative solutions focused on water, environment, infrastructure, resource management, energy and international development.


  • Zeke Ashton's Top Trades During 4th Quarter

    Zeke Ashton (Trades, Portfolio) is the managing partner of Centaur Capital Partners and manages the investments for the Centaur Value Fund. He is also manager of the Tilson Dividend Fund. He manages a portfolio with a total value of $35 million, and the following are his most heavily weighted trades during the fourth quarter.

    The investor acquired 38,500 shares in Apple Inc. (AAPL) with an impact of 11.7% on the portfolio.


  • Zeke Ashton Raises Several Stakes in 3rd Quarter

    The following are the stocks that Zeke Ashton (Trades, Portfolio) increased during the third quarter. He is the managing partner of Centaur Capital Partners and manages the investments for the Centaur Value Fund.

    The largest increase was FLIR Systems Inc. (FLIR). He increased his stake by 49.25% with an impact of 1.45% on the portfolio, reaching a total of more than 100,000 shares. The current stake is 0.07% of the company’s outstanding shares.


  • Zeke Ashton's Centaur Total Return Fund 2015 Annual Letter

    Dear Centaur Total Return Fund Investors:


  • Zeke Ashton Shares Philosophies on Value, Success

    Zeke Ashton (Trades, Portfolio) started his investment career after he dropped out of high school to work for Bear Stearns, where he gained an understanding about the financial market and learned how to invest in stocks. After he gained valuable experience working for Bear Stearns, he took a risk and moved to Europe where he got a job as a financial system consultant and further gained an understanding on the fundamentals for risk analysis.

    He worked in the European banks for six years then returned to the U.S. and started writing for the Motley Fool. Since then, he has started Centaur Capital Partners. Ashton has had tremendous returns in the market, especially in 2008 to 2009 when everyone else got crushed. Ashton put his investment values to the test and thrived proving the intelligence behind his investing strategies as his performance trounced everyone else.


  • Zeke Ashton Divests Himself of Stake in Greenlight Capital

    Zeke Ashton (Trades, Portfolio), managing partner of Centaur Capital Partners and manager of Tilson Dividend Fund, enjoyed a 7.2% return rate at Tilson last year. Many investors would be ecstatic to have that kind of success in last year’s uncertain environment, but Tilson was conditioned to expect better. Tilson’s returns were in double digits in 2012 and 2013.

    Ashton’s most noteworthy third-quarter transaction was his divestiture of a 93,700-share stake in Greenlight Capital Re Ltd. (NASDAQ:GLRE), a New York-based hedge fund best known for short selling Lehman Brothers just before its collapse in 2008. Ashton received an average price of $20.18 per share in a deal that had a -4.71% impact on his portfolio.


  • 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.


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