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Massif Capital, an investment management firm, published its first quarter 2021 investor letter – a copy of which can be downloaded here. The portfolio was highly volatile during the first quarter. A net return of 3.45% was reported by the fund for the Q1 of 2021. You can view the fund’s top 5 holdings to have a peek at their top bets for 2021.
Massif Capital, in their Q1 2021 investor letter, mentioned Lithium Americas Corp. (NYSE: LAC) and shared their insights on the company. Lithium Americas Corp. is a Vancouver, Canada-based company that currently has a $1.7 billion market capitalization. Since the beginning of the year, LAC delivered a 14.02% return, impressively extending its 12-month gains to 355.73%. As of April 15, 2021, the stock closed at $13.93 per share.
Here is what Massif Capital has to say about Lithium Americas Corp. in their Q1 2021 investor letter:
"Lithium Americas: The volatility noted above in LAC has resulted in solid returns via our options trades around our core equity position. At the current time, we are short calls on LAC, as we have done multiple times throughout the position’s life, expiring on May 21, 2021, at a $17.5 and $22.5 strike price. The volume of contracts sold at each strike corresponds to the size of the equity position we want should the calls expire in the money, and the underlying equity gets called away from us. The thought process behind this trade construction is that if we know the size of the position we want at a particular price point, there is no reason not to accumulate additional returns by pre-selling the stock we would have sold anyway.
High levels of volatility positively impact the price of options, increasing the premium we can earn from selling covered calls. To date, we have sold covered calls on LAC that have expired worthless four times, yielding a roughly 7% return on the equity position’s current value or 71bps for the portfolio overall. The outstanding covered calls appear to be trending towards a similar worthless expiration. If they do, the covered call trades on LAC will result in us owning the shares with committed capital of -$0.28 per share.
Although we believe in the fullness of time LAC warrants a $30+ valuation, the prices achieved in early January of this year were not justified by the underlying fundamentals. Some will argue we should have sold down our position. We had already established our option positions and believe LAC is an emerging major in the lithium mining industry. Thus, we decided to maintain the position unchanged. Although still relatively high, the current $15 per share valuation is not crazy compared to where we think the firm should be trading based on fundamentals, so we are no longer overly concerned with the position as is.
LAC management also took advantage of the volatility issuing stock on January 22 for $22 a share. The ~$400 million in proceeds will be used to develop Thacker Pass, the US-based clay lithium deposit, which will likely be the largest producing Lithium mine in America when turned on. In our opinion, the stock issuance could not have come at a better time. LAC management has advanced the project through various development stages (de-risking), but with the share issuance, they have significantly reduced the need to bring in an outside partner to develop the asset as the first phase of the project is expected to cost roughly $581 million. After-tax and at an 8% discount rate, the Thacker Pass project’s present value is approximately $2.6 billion (the firm’s current market capitalization is $1.5 billion). Although the share issuance was dilutive, increasing the total shares by 17%, we believe it will, in the long run, prove a forward-looking, value-additive decision by management.
The lithium market remains an area of interest and focus for us. This reflects our belief that the most exciting investment opportunities to capture secular trends in EV’s and batteries are found upstream in the mining industry. It is also a reflection that there is a greater diversity of lithium investment opportunities relative to other battery metals."
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Our calculations show that Lithium Americas Corp. (NYSE: LAC) does not belong in our list of the 30 Most Popular Stocks Among Hedge Funds. As of the end of the fourth quarter of 2020, Lithium Americas Corp. was in 12 hedge fund portfolios, compared to 3 funds in the third quarter. LAC delivered a -30.30% return in the past 3 months.
The top 10 stocks among hedge funds returned 231.2% between 2015 and 2020, and outperformed the S&P 500 Index ETFs by more than 126 percentage points. We know it sounds unbelievable. You have been dismissing our articles about top hedge fund stocks mostly because you were fed biased information by other media outlets about hedge funds’ poor performance. You could have doubled the size of your nest egg by investing in the top hedge fund stocks instead of dumb S&P 500 ETFs. Here you can watch our video about the top 5 hedge fund stocks right now. All of these stocks had positive returns in 2020.
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Disclosure: None. This article is originally published at Insider Monkey.