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 Renaissance’s Medallion Fund Became a Money Machine

The fabled fund, known for its intense secrecy, has produced about $55 billion in profit over the last 28 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, making it about $10 billion more profitable than funds run by billionaires Ray Dalio and George Soros. What’s more, it did so in a shorter time and with fewer assets under management. The fund almost never loses money. Its biggest drawdown in one five-year period was half a percent.

Source: How Renaissance’s Medallion Fund Became Finance’s Blackest Box – Bloomberg

Meb Faber Interviews Larry Swedroe – A Must Listen

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.

Source: Episode #28: Larry Swedroe “There is Literally No Logical Reason for Anyone to Have a Preference for Dividends” | Meb Faber Research – Stock Market and Investing Blog