Half of the Price of a Common Stock is “Fashion”

One of the best interviews with the Kahn brothers was with the Ivey Value Investing Class in 2005 and there’s one part in particular that encapsulates the mindset required to be a successful value investor. Here’s an excerpt from that interview:

25.57 The only thing I can say is we maintain a really strict contrarian approach. So if something is very popular and everybody loves it and we’re buying it we have to say to ourselves what are we doing wrong here. Because I’d say half of the price of a common stock is ‘fashion’ basically so what we’re doing is we’re buying long skirts at the thrift shop when mini skirts are in favor. So we’re buying the long skirts for a dollar or two and then waiting till long skirts come back into Saks and if you can do that you’re halfway home you know you’re almost halfway home if you can just stick to being a contrarian.

 

Source: The One Thing All Value Investors Can Do To Get You Halfway Home – Irving Kahn

Find out What Four Legendary Investors Think of Market Valuations Today

Art Samberg, Mario Gabelli, Leon Cooperman and Russell Carson share their thoughts on today’s market valuations and the economy at the Columbia Business School’s 2017 Reunion Weekend.

Assessing Durable Competitive Advantage in Businesses

Successful investors know that finding a business with a high barrier to entry, a moat in Buffett parlance, is the key to creating long-term wealth.  Identifying businesses that have a competitive advantage that is sustainable and durable, will deliver the greatest rewards to the owners. Continue reading

Mohnish Pabrai Explains Why Charlie Munger Says “Pay Attention to the Cannibals”

In an article over at Forbes, Mohnish Pabrai lays out a strategy he calls the “Uber Cannibals” based on buying the 5 companies with the biggest share repurchases.

Dividends are a tax-inefficient way to get money back to shareholders; neither company pays a dividend. Buybacks work a lot better.

Source: Move Over Small Dogs Of The Dow, Here Come The Uber Cannibals

Portfolio Housecleaning

A great article from Meb Faber on how it can pay to look at your portfolio with the objective of getting rid of legacy positions that no longer merit being in the portfolio.  The opportunity cost to investors of these legacy positions can be enormous.

In essence, you’re forcing yourself to start with a mental clean slate. In a perfect world, how does your ideal portfolio look as of today, going forward? To the extent the actual holdings in your portfolio fit into your vision, they remain. Those that don’t get the axe.

Source: The Zero Budget Portfolio | Meb Faber Research – Stock Market and Investing Blog

Faith and Feedback in Investing

NYU Professor Aswath Damodaran is a well known expert in valuation, but he is also an investor in many of the companies he values.  His investment style is to look for companies in the market that are currently trading at a discount to what his valuation analysis shows is its intrinsic value.

He is kind enough to post these valuations and importantly the narrative and assumptions used in valuing the subjects in detailed posts and videos on his blog.  He is the ultimate teacher, who loves to instruct and puts all of his intellectual property online for free for anyone who wants learn.

In his recent post on his valuation and investment in Valeant Pharmaceuticals, he highlights an important and much overlooked part of investing.

Faith and Feedback

In both my valuation and investments classes, I spend a significant amount of time talking about faith and feedback and how they affect investing.

Faith: As an investor, you are acting on faith when you invest, faith in your assessment of value and faith that the market price will move towards that value. If you have no faith in your value, you will find yourself constantly revisiting your valuation, if the market moves in the wrong direction (the one that you did not predict) and tweaking your numbers until your value converges on the price. If you have no faith in markets, you will not have the stomach to stay with your position if the market moves against you.

Feedback: As an investor, you have to be open to feedback, i.e., accept that your story (and valuation) are wrong and that market movements in the wrong direction are a signal that you should be revisiting your valuation.

Source: Musings on Markets

How Bad Could Bond Market Losses Get?

A few years ago Vanguard performed a study to see how the Barclays Aggregate Bond Index would be affected by an overnight 3% rise in interest rates (something that has never actually occurred). They calculated what would happen if rates suddenly rose from 2.1% to 5.1% and showed the impact going out 5 years:

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You can see the immediate loss would be around 13% (they also noted that the worst 12 month loss ever in bonds was -13.9% in 1974). But because the yield on bonds would now be much higher, the expected return going forward would now be around 5.1% annually, meaning the breakeven would be just over 3 years. So not exactly a crash of epic proportions.

Source: How Bad Could Bond Market Losses Get?