Annual Review — TARP Warrants

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, January 16, 2014

I covered Altius earlier this week, one of the larger positions I own and one of the more interesting over the past month, but they’re moving up to the “Core” list as Sandstorm Gold (SAND) moves down to “speculative” (that’s a measure of how confident I feel about the company’s future, this isn’t a portfolio and it’s not an actual buy or sell — I haven’t sold Sandstorm and may in fact buy a touch more, I did already buy a few more Altius shares even though it’s not a a beaten-down bargain any more).

But what about the other stocks that have spent much of the past year on our “speculative” list of favorites? We’ll get to all of them and put the list together for your convenience when we’re done, but I’m putting these out piecemeal as I finish them just in case you’re interested. Let’s check in first with our non-traditional holdings, the TARP Warrants.

Two of my favorite speculations remain our TARP warrant holdings, the 2018 warrants on both Boston Private Financial Holdings (BPFH for the stock, BPFHW for the warrants) and PNC Financial (PNC for the stock, PNC-WT or PNC.WS or something similar for the warrants). I was waiting to share my updated thoughts about them until they reported earnings, and they both reported earnings today (January 16) … and both were spectacular, which gives a nice warm feeling in the belly as we enjoy the positive side of leverage. Kind of the opposite of the leverage we have “enjoyed” with Sandstorm Gold over the past year.

TARP warrants are the 10-year warrants given to the government by many banks (and a few others — AIG and GM among them), and they have both an unusually long life and unusually good terms that caught the attention of many investors in the couple of years since the government started selling these warrants off to the public markets where they could be publicly traded by you and me. Most of the TARP rescue funding deals took place in late 2008, so most of these warrants expire in the last few months of 2018. The warrants protect against dilution of warrant holders through either excessive dividends or share sales, which helps to provide some comfort, and many of them still look relatively appealing — though the rise in price of most banks means that you don’t ...

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