Can iRobot Reach 26 Million Households? (A Deep Dive on iRobot’s Stock)

Resources used in this article:

2018 10-k  | The 10-k starts on page 93. The preceding 92 pages are the proxy statement.

Financial statements | Income, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. You can’t edit, but you can copy and make your own.

• 2018 analyst day slide presentation.

iRobot (IRBT)

iRobot (IRBT) is the best known public company and market leader in the consumer robot category. Their most popular product is the Roomba(left picture).

Company overview

iRobot is a consumer robot company that designs and builds robots that empowers people to do more both inside and outside the home.

A more complete overview can be found in their 10-k; pg. 94 of the document. The first 93 pages of the PDF is the proxy statement.

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Twitter, Portfolio Update, And How to Get Wealthy (Over Time)

Good evening, hope your day has been well. On to the update.

Today | 7 items

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1. Twitter enters the S&P 500

On Monday it was announced that Twitter (TWTR) will be apart of the S&P 500 index, replacing Monsanto.

What’s the big deal?

Vanguard, State Street, and Blackrock own the three largest index funds that track the S&P 500. Collectively, those funds manage more than $700 billion in AUM(assets under management).

It’s a big deal because those funds will be required to buy Twitter shares. In other words, Twitter found a new group of investors.

Who determines what companies make up the S&P 500?

Before we get to how the companies are selected, it’s important to remember that the S&P 500 represents 500 of the largest companies(not necessarily the largest 500) whose stock trades on the NYSE or NASDAQ.

The components of the S&P 500 are selected by a committee. While not strictly rules-based, here are a few of the criteria they use when making their selections.

  • A market cap of $5.3 billion
  • Headquartered in the U.S.
  • At least a quarter-million of its shares traded in the previous six months
  • The majority of its shares in public hands
  • At least half a year since its IPO

Further reading

The head of the committee who decides which stocks are in and which are out is David M. Blitzer. The WSJ wrote a nice profile about him.

For a real doozy, you can read their full methodology. PDF

2. Twitter: position update

Enough time has passed that I feel comfortable sharing a position our members hopefully took in Twitter on October 30th of 2017.

This stock represents 5% of our portfolio. The position, not the portfolio, has gained over 85% since we entered.

I do not share this brag. I’ve had plenty of losing trades and will have more in the future. I share because I hope it brings value to your investing process.

Let’s walk through this trade.

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Cannabis Follow-Up, A Long-Shot, and Gold

Good Friday. Here is today’s memo:

Today | 4 items

1. How to invest in cannabis (reader question)


This is a new and developing market. If you are going to put money at risk it needs to be money you can afford to lose.

In addition, you need to have a 10 year+ time frame. If the upside in this industry is as large as people think it is, it will take time to develop and grow.

One thing to keep in mind.

In the U.S., while cannabis is legal in a handful of states, it’s still illegal at the federal level. Some banks and brokerages won’t take the legal and reputational risk of holding stocks that are illegal at the federal level.

Most of the investment products available for retail investors are based out of Canada and trade on their TSX exchange. Recreational marijuana will be legal in Canada sometime this fall, possibly August or September.

I am still new to this space and don’t have any insights yet. I will report what I am reading and a few investment options for you to look at.


The largest ETF in this space is ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (ticker MJ) with $300 million + in AUM. You can buy this ETF at most U.S. brokerages.

The management fee is 0.75% or 75 basis points. For every $100 invested, you pay 75 cents.

Here are the top 10 holdings:

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Grubhub | Chart Art

Yum Brands Buys a $200 Million Dollar Stake in GrubHub. (Bloomberg)

From the article:

And that highlights how much GrubHub and others of its ilk — Uber Eats, DoorDash, Caviar — are becoming powerful gatekeepers in the dining industry. Restaurants should not underestimate what a paradigm shift this is for them. In these digital marketplaces, the primary customer allegiance will be to the app, not to the individual restaurant.


That means restaurants will have to think hard about how to market and merchandise their offerings in what will essentially be a fiercely competitive digital food hall.

Also from the article:

Why does this consolidation matter for restaurant chains? In some ways, it makes their lives easier, because they can focus on making their relationship with one platform really great instead of trying to do business with a slew of them.


In other ways, though, it could make their situation harder. Less competition among delivery providers could make it easier for those players to demand bigger commissions from restaurants.

GrubHub has a large lead and I think this will become a winner take all market(see McKinsey study below).

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Spotify and Dropbox are Set to IPO


Hope your day has been great.

In today’s update:

  • Spotify and Dropbox
  • Newell Brands
  • Pipeline Companies
  • Oil Chart

Spotify and Dropbox: Love Us, We’ll Change. (Bloomberg Gadfly)

These are the two biggest IPO’s so far this year. Ben Thompson’s take on Spotify and Dropbox are a must read if you want to better understand these two companies.

In addition, check out his podcast on Dropbox and Spotify.

My thought bubble

I don’t have insights into either business, however, the Bloomberg article noted that both companies were pitching investors that how they would earn money in the future is different than how they are earning money now.

From the article:

All of the Dropbox customers featured in the video are businesses — tiny, medium and large — not the individuals who make up the vast majority of Dropbox’s paying customers. Businesses also were the featured customers in Dropbox’s financial prospectus to potential investors.

This makes sense. What they provide to individuals, storage, is largely undifferentiated from say Gdrive. I use both. Frankly, I like Gdrive better. It’s not to say individuals can’t make a good business, but in order to grow in the future, they have to find another source of revenue.


Key line from the article:

All stock market newcomers are coin-flip bets on potential rather than current circumstances. Facebook at the time it went public had almost no revenue from mobile advertisements, which now generate nearly all of its revenue.

The bold part is the money line. If you buy their stock(Spotify, Dropbox), you are betting on a different future than currently exists at both companies. Who knows, they both may pull it off.

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How Reinsurance Works

Hope your weekend has been relaxing. Here are a few of my notes from the previous week.


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Any opportunity in reinsurance stocks?

The WSJ carried a story about how reinsurers’ profits have been hit by two things:

  1. Losses from catastrophes($135 billion, this includes regular insurance companies) in 2017.
  2. Rising competition from other parties willing to assume catastrophic risk.
(Source: WSJ)

What is reinsurance?

Reinsurance insures the insurers. They are not consumer-facing companies.

For example: Blue Cross is a consumer-facing health insurance company. Say they have a risk pool(policies) of $10 million dollars. They might pay for the first $2 million dollars of claims out of their own pocket and lay the other $8 million of claims off to a reinsurance company.

In order to do this, they pay said reinsurance company a premium. How much will depend on the amount of risk they are keeping and the amount they are passing off to the reinsurance company.

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How to Trade Volatility

Our goal is to watch what other investors are doing and find a way to take a position against them if the risk/reward is favorable. We are looking for mispriced bets.

Betting on volatility

This article from the WSJ discusses who is making the bet.

From the article:

Donald Pierce, the chief investment officer of the $9.3 billion San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Association, has been trading volatility for about six years, most recently by buying options on stock indexes, often with trades equivalent to about $300 million of risk for the plan.


Sometimes, Mr. Pierce buys products betting on rising volatility. Other times he sells these products, depending on his view of where U.S., Japanese, Russian, Brazilian and other markets are headed. Mr. Pierce says his trading has saved the county millions recently and that he will continue to make volatility trades.

He is making bets based on “his view” of the world. We don’t do that. There are too many variables that affect asset prices. We watch other investors, like Mr. Pierce, who like to make bets based on what they think will happen.

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