Shake-out welcome, but it’s not the end of the tech story: Munro

November 22, 2019

When Nick Griffin was preparing to take the stage at the Sohn Hearts and Minds conference last year, he was tempted to go for a relatively unknown but vitally important player in the tech process.

Dutch company ASML attracted his eye as an enabler of Moore’s law — the doubling of computing power every two years — as a manufacturer of the expensive precision machinery used to make the chips.

As Griffin, who is Munro Partners’ chief investment officer, sees it, Moore’s law has largely underwritten his funds management ­career and here was a company that made the machinery that makes the chips right on the cusp of an explosion of demand from the adoption of 5G.

Had he stuck with it, Griffin’s pick would be up more than 75 percent heading into the 2019 edition of the conference this year. But some issues around the stock and the introduction of a fund based on the best picks of the funds management stars at the Sohn pitch-fest steered him to a safer bet.

Amazon will bridge the two conferences with a gain of 17 percent, which will probably leave it with mid-table respectability.

“We picked Amazon last year because we knew it would make money and knew we wouldn’t win,” Griffin says.

“Amazon’s a very low-risk way of playing the extension of Moore’s law because they will continue to develop all these areas like cloud computing and e-commerce. There are higher-risk ways to play that.”

A lot of those were shaken out as a mini-correction in technology stocks took hold this year, ending a run that Griffin saw as investors getting ahead of themselves and applying tech valuations to non-tech stocks. Private markets were particularly hard hit with investors down 50-70 percent on some bets.

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