Friday, September 7, 2018

An Interview With The Trendlines Group

Recently, I had emailed 2 separate companies' investor relations department. Both of the companies are in my portfolio but only 1 had replied. I am still waiting for the other company to reply...

For those that have been waiting for this interview, sorry for the delay.

Here it is - An Interview with The Trendlines Group!

Do note that some of the questions came from other investors of The Trendlines Group.

1. Trendlines Group (aka Trendlines) has a decrease in the portfolio value as per the latest financial statement. May I know if it is due to writing off of companies?

No companies were written off in Q2 2018.

Only one company was written off in Q1 2018 due to lack of sufficient technological advancement and funding (amounting to approximately US$0.8 million - reported in the Notes to Income on page 14 of our Unaudited Financial Statements Q1 2018). The decrease was mainly due to a decrease of US$2.3 million in the fair value of Stimatix GI Ltd., which was because of a change in the net present value of projected cash flow due to an adjustment in the discount rate used to calculate the present value and increased sales model accuracy as we observe the product launch.

As explained in our press release, the external valuation company uses the average of the 10-year and 20-year Corporate Bonds (Aa/AA) Median Yield, for the discount rate. As the market rates fluctuate, unrelated to the Stimatix GI Ltd. product, the company uses the updated rates, which had an effect on the calculation, but not necessarily reflects what will happen in reality.

2. As per the past and present presentation PowerPoint, Trendlines has shown that many of the Top 10+1 companies have achieved FDA clearance. I understand that only with FDA clearance, then the product can be sold in USA. However, what happens if a product is unable to achieve FDA clearance? Will Trendlines still be able to sell in other markets?

Many companies apply for regulatory clearance in a number of markets – for example, CE for Europe, Amar for Israel and CFDA for China – depending on their marketing and commercialization strategy.

A company like ApiFix has multiple regulatory clearances in many countries and has performed over 230 surgical procedures (in Europe, Israel, Canada, Singapore) prior to FDA clearance.

3. In addition to the above question, what are the advantages and maybe the disadvantage of achieving FDA clearance?

The advantage is that receiving FDA clearance gives a company access to one of the biggest medical device markets (the US). I don’t think there are any disadvantages.

4. There are currently 49 companies in the portfolio. How many companies have been written off? Able to disclose the average amount of each company that was written off?

According to slide #16 of our investor presentation, which is available on the investor section of our website and updated every quarter, we have written off 30 portfolio companies since establishment.

We do not have a figure for the average amount of write-offs.

5. In addition to the above question, how many companies have Trendlines exited? What is the expected potential % increment for each future exit?

Trendlines has exited 8 companies. The details can be found on page #7 of our investor presentation and on this page of the investor section of our website: http://investors.trendlines.com/awards-and-achievements.

As to the expected potential percentage, as you can see by the table, it varies greatly depending on the company, its market and the stage it was sold. This makes predictions on future exits and their potential very difficult.

6. It is stated that Stimatix was valued at over fifty million in the annual report by independent valuer. Is the methodology disclosed? What are the assumptions and inputs to the valuation model, such as projected sales, market share, margins etc? Knowing these will provide investors with info to judge on the valuation.

The valuation of Stimatix that appeared in our annual report for 31 December 2017 was US$ 42.6 million. We cannot disclose the inputs into the valuation methodology since they would require us to reveal confidential B. Braun information.

In general, our fair value measurement is explained in Note 6 of the Financial Statements, page 110 of the Annual Report for FY2017.

7. How long will the royalties of Stimatix last? 10 years or 20 years? That will give us a rough guide of how much the dividend will be based on its current valuation of over 50M SGD.

B. Braun agreed to be disclosed as the acquirer of Stimatix GI, but not to disclose the terms of the deal. As we respect their right as a private company not to disclose this, we are unable to comment on this.

8. This is a question regarding one of the ostomy competitor's product, TIES, which uses a titanium ring implant. How is it comparable to Stimatix AOS 2000? In addition, is this a direct threat to their share in the ostomy market? Are there any other new products in the market that are affecting their Stimatix valuation?

The TIES product claims to be for ileostomy patients, while the Stimatix product is for colostomy patients; these are two different segments of the ostomy market. Moreover, the TIES product seems to require a surgical procedure since it is an implant, while the Stimatix product does not require any additional surgical procedure.

9. Apifix has applied for US FDA for its device Mid-C in April 2018, and a study (still recruiting) will be conducted within the period ending in 2022. Does that mean any exit will only come after it obtains the FDA?

Not necessarily. Other companies have exited prior to receiving FDA clearance, but FDA clearance is frequently considered an important inflection point.

10. How long is the average period between adding a company to the portfolio and then potentially getting an FDA and then exiting? 

Again, this is very difficult to predict as each company functions in a different market.

Some companies, such as Gordian Surgical received FDA clearance within 4 years of its establishment, but other may take longer. As noted above, FDA is not necessarily a perquisite for exiting.

11. 2 senior executives (CFO/VP BD) had left the company this year. Is it something related to restructuring or the actions taken by the company to strengthen strategic support by these senior roles? or the two left on voluntary basis?

As we noted in the announcements that we published, in both cases the cessation of their work at Trendlines was not connected to the restructuring or cost-reduction program. Gabi Heller and Moshe Katzenelson both left on a voluntary basis to pursue other professional directions.

12. The placement done last year to institutions/wealthy individuals' subscriptions at 14.03 cents were supposed to provide some support/or even boost the share price, but it obviously did not turn out that way - the price has further deteriorated since then. Are these institutions/private investors still hanging on?

We cannot release any information about our shareholders, other than what is publicly available.

13. Is there any share buy-back plan in place?

No, not at this time.

In Short

I do hope that. after reading this interview, investors will have a better understanding of The Trendlines Group. As of now, I am still vested in the company and mostly will stay an investor for some time. I guess, as I had said previously, do not expect short term gains if you are vested in this company. This is a very long term investment.

Please do your own due diligence before you invest this counter (if you knew what it is).

If you are interested to know more about The Ultimate Scorecard or Full Analysis, do visit the Fundamental Scorecard website for more information! 

We have also released the Moat Scorecard with InvestingNote. Do take a look!

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