Bullish Thoughts: Investments of the Stomach…

Belated 21st February to you all…

Zimbabwe is an exciting country right now. But first, happy belated 21st February to you all, yes, Bullish Thoughts means belated Robert Mugabe Youth Day (kinda feels awkward to have these four words in one sentence though.) But well, who are we to say no to a “free” holiday…a chance to sit back and reflect on life and or do those extra stubborn errands that just have a knack for wanting to be done during regular colonial working hours. That holiday allowed Bullish Thoughts’ mind time to run wild from Blue Roof to Humanikwa thinking about what could have been. Talking of Humanikwa, given the sudden shift in bureaucrats’ speak of MRT as a man who changed the face of democracy in Zimbabwe, how about making Humanikwa and more specifically MRT’s homestead a national heritage site while we are still at it. That would attract some tourists both local and domestic. Maybe Bullish Thoughts has too much money think. Bullish Thoughts decided to take a trip to Gava, that traditional food restaurant in direct competition to Kapoto…quite interesting that these two places are always packed but Gava does leverage on the closure of Kapoto on Saturdays to maximise sales. He ordered the famous road runner and rice with peanut butter accompanied by green veggies and beans. The meal was enjoyable as ever and Bullish Thoughts wouldn’t mind another $11 trip back there. Service was fair considering the number of patrons on the day.

This eatery seems to be doing well judging by the foot traffic and the number of years that it has been in operation. If it was a chain spread across the city or country, it would be a good candidate for adding to a small private equity fund focusing on specialty cuisines. But then one also never knows with these restaurants…whoever thought the affable Garise would be out of tune in such a short space or that Da Eros would be history?
If NC and ED were investable financial assets…

Zimbos are well versed with the issue of “bhiza riri kumhanya” or the more aptly the horse that’s winning these dayspolitical landscape, NC ndiro bhiza riri kumhanya, never mind that party’s constitutional issues. Bullish Thoughts is just wondering what NC would be if he were a listed/traceable financial instrument: investment grade or junk bond, growth stock leveraging on the Youth demographic dividend or the ZSE Listing Committee would be convening to issue a corrective order and analysts would be requesting that earnings guidance (bullet trains or $15 billion) be in line with company fundamentals (party’s offering). But then this is politics and it’s such promises that give you volumes (read votes). Or you are one of those who would probably pick this exposure only when it’s a collaterised political security (cps) if there is such a thing! But then there is disruptive generation not conforming to basic tenets of what you are used to and evidence of that is everywhere from Austria to France. The youthful investors are excited…but do they have the means/funds to build the portfolio and participate in the desired upside/outcome. A BVR slip is one of the most priced possessions this year. If this piece of paper could be transferable in exchange for value, this would have been the most exciting year… At least it has sentimental value.

What of ED? Been in the system and done that and looking to be a reformist or (turnaround specialist!) Bullish Thoughts is of the view that this is what Benjamin Graham and later on Warren Buffet regarded as “cigar butts”: cheap and unloved stocks that had been cast aside like the sticky, mashed stub of a stogie one might find on the sidewalk…Graham specialized in spotting these unappetizing remnants that everyone else overlooked (Even ED’s boss overlooked him for quite some time…never mind the reasons). Graham coaxed them alight and sucked out one last free puff. Graham knew that a certain number of cigar butts would turn out foul, and thought it futile to spend time examining any individual cigar butt’s quality. The law of averages said most of them were good for a puff. In the case of ED, we can take his portfolio (ZPF and Cabinet) as the collection of cigar butts. Are investors (read voters) going to be buying at a discount (benefit of doubt really and promises of reforms to date) to that value as the “margin of safety” or the comfort of a 5 year election cycle will be the backstop against an underperformance? But then, that margin of safety has never worked in the past. Well, maybe it’s time to play Russian Roulette if that’s the sort of portfolio you are placing your money on.

While thinking about all this, Bullish Thoughts decided to take little Miss Bullish Thoughts for a lunch outing at Garfunkels Sam Levy’s Village Centre. The occupancy that he witnessed on a Sunday afternoon at Garfunkels where he was nearly threatened with a 90 minute wait for a table was amazing. The same occupancy was to be seen again on a Thursday evening! Bullish Thoughts managed to “grab” a table in the outdoor section of the restaurant which happens to be for smokers…luckily no one smoked. By the way, why is it smokers get the best seating places and the best views in every restaurant? Argrhhhh!

Anyway, for starters the team decided to share a bowl of chicken livers and tasty they were. Kuri kumusha chiropa chehuku hatibate yet they don’t even know, we pay $7 for 4 pieces of such here in Harare! For the mains Bullish Thoughts had a French fries with a record breaking 800g Tomahawk steak medium done and juicy and tasty it was.

Miss Bullish Thoughts had 500g rib rack with French fries as well accompanied by a spinach cream sauce. The ribs looked and possibly tasted heavenly…

Bullish Thoughts was not allowed to even touch one of them.

Bullish Thoughts wound down with a ginger base cheese cake while Miss Bullish Thoughts chose Waffle with honey and ice cream. A worthwhile bonding adventure it was!
When someone decided to speak out and the markets didn’t move…at the least the financial markets

…for the political markets certainly moved if the acres of space granted to anyone willing and able to proffer and opinion about the speech “which was in a sense deemed the wrong one” followed by an official government response a day later. Even Twitter was blazing about that speech. Maybe the ZSE has decided to have a life of its own decoupled from this sort of politics or one could argue that whatever move the former excellence has up his sleeve has since been priced in. Bullish Thoughts had always thought (sic) that only Warren Buffet could cause some seismic waves when he spoke. Bullish Thoughts currently doesn’t yet afford the $2.7 million price tag for lunch with Warren Buffet currently but supposes that someone is willing to pay for an opportunity to speak. Bullish Thoughts reckons it’s too late now to charge a premium though but is of the view that a derivative on speeches can be made by having someone speak by proxy and apparently the proxy in mind has value of its own. But that’s a deal conversation for another day. Right now there is need for some cooling off…but there could also be value for the one who will broker the requested talks…
While everyone was worrying about the speech that couldn’t be found in the digital world, Bullish Thoughts was being spoiled by his better half at Garfunkels eatery AGAIN or is it restaurant.

Bullish Thoughts decided to have crumbed Haloumi Cheese with a sweet chilli reduction for starters while the purse master went for crumbed button mushrooms. For the mains, Bullish Thoughts chose settled for a humongous combo of 500g pork ribs with 1/2 chicken extra hot and French fries. The ribs were lovely (as usual) while the baby chicken spiced just the way Bullish Thoughts likes it.

The better half settled for 250g T-bone with ribs combo and mashed potatoes with side dish of Greek salad.

Cheese cake was again the dessert of choice…so full but just couldn’t resist ammortising someone’s promised outlay!
Terrible service at Casa Mia…

First the drinks came in fairly good tie but out of the six of us the Malawi Shandy didn’t come. The starters took forever to come and the generous portions of Haloumi cheese were just way too salt. No way that was part of the chef’s secret recipe

Bullish Thoughts ordered a supposedly “manly” mixed grilled comprising a well done egg, medium rare steak which surprising was sprinkled with barbecue sauce without consultation (Bullish Thoughts would have enjoyed it much more had it come without the sauce), a tasty mini sausage, two pork ribs and a drumstick.

And wait for it…another order was missing again and it so happened to be for the colleague whose Malawi Shandy didn’t get served. Maybe the waiter and the dude have some prior history over the fairer sex species…just maybe! The waiter didnt even bother apologizing and instead chose to insist that maybe “mataurira pasi”…like really, which waiter gets a table of 6 people and finds himself with only 5 orders for both drinks and mains except for starters and does find that odd? Anyway after lodging a complaint with the “manager” the order was processed in a record 5 minutes. Bullish Thoughts is tempted to say someone else’s similar order was nicked.

The fillet steak was fine, the ox tail juicy but there was general consensus that the pork ribs were dry…they came nowhere what Garfunkels serves. There was nothing about the drumsticks except that they were roasted.

The whole crew decided to skip dessert on account of only having ice cream as the selection and not wanting to hazard another inordinate delay in the serving of it.

This is an Italian style outfit so maybe we ought to have ordered pizza or some other Italian themed cuisines.

The patronage was just average for the 2.5 hours we were there despite one of the waitresses indicating that it had been good and some patrons had already left after having had an early lunch from 12pm there about. Will give it the benefit of doubt.

But Bullish Thoughts is of the view that if he were to venture into restaurant businesses like Shingi Munyeza, this is not the sort of outfit or service that would be wanted and tolerated in the portfolio. It may just turn out to be toxic and have contagion effect to all other businesses.

In the meantime, enjoy the earnings reporting season for period ended 31 December 2017. Some interesting growth numbers there, most in line with parallel market rates movements (and mostly by a factor of 50% of the rate).
Garfunkels is at Sam Levy’s Village Centre just opposite Zimoco. You may want to make a booking as getting a table during peak hours may be a challenge.

Gava’s Restaurant is at Belgravia Sports Club. Usually no prior bookings required unless of you are a huge entourage.

Casa Mia is at corner King George Road and Aberdeen Road in Avondale.

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