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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
REITs have been the darling asset class for the last few years, they out performed all other asset classes in 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015 and the first half of 2016. After being up 13.7% through June 30th of this year they have almost entirely wiped out that gain and are about to go negative for the year.
The Vanguard REIT ETF which tracks the MSCI US REIT index is currently yielding 3.92%, not much of a premium over the riskless US 10 year Treasury at 2.35%.
REITs have benefitted from investor’s search (reach) for yield and low borrowing rates on properties. That could be coming to an end with the rise in the 10 year Treasury, a looming rate hike by the Federal Reserve in December, and rising defaults on commercial mortgages.
Buyer beware, we could be looking at a repeat of the Master Limited Partnership (MLP) debacle in the second half of 2015.
Head over to the Mebfaber.com website and listen to a master class on factor investing (smart beta). Two of the best quantitative researchers on the subject do a deep dive into their findings and how most investors don’t implement the strategy correctly.
Larry believes there are 5 rules to help you evaluate factors: 1) Is the factor “persistent” across long periods of times and regimes? 2) Is it “pervasive”? For instance, does it works across industries, regions, capital structures and so on. 3) Is it “robust”? Does it hold up on its own, and not as a result of data mining? 4) Is it “intuitive”? For instance, is there an explanation? 5) Lastly, it has to be “implementable,” and able to survive trading costs.
The guys then switch to beta. Larry mentions how valuations have been rising over the last century. He references how CAPE has risen over a long period, and points out how some people believe this signifies a bubble. But Larry thinks this rising valuation is reasonable, and tells us why. Meb adds that investors are willing to pay a higher multiple on stocks in low-interest rate environments such as the one we’re in.Next, Meb directs the conversation toward a sacred cow of investing – dividends. He asks about one particular quote from Larry’s book: “Dividends are not a factor.” Larry pulls no punches, saying, “there is literally no logical reason for anyone to have a preference for dividends…” He believes investors over overpaying for dividend stocks today. He thinks it’s unfortunate the Fed has pushed investors to search for yield, inadvertently taking on far more risk. Dividend stocks are not alternatives to safe income. There’s plenty more on this topic you’ll want to hear.