I followed the herd and read Business Adventures (by the late John Brooks, originally published in 1969) over the summer like many others did after learning the book was Bill Gates’ favorite all-time business book (even better, it came recommended to him from none other than Warren Buffett). I previously posted some of my favorite quotes and notes from the excellent first chapter that covers the May 1962 crash, a flash crash of sorts of the time. Reading that post before or after my summary thoughts about Business Adventures that follow below is worth your time.
I’m going to see how posting a daily summary of my tweets goes. I’ve always felt that tweets are too ephemeral and despite the excellent information and leads that do get shared, there’s far too much action/noise/distraction on Twitter. There is at least a “favorite” button, but the weak search function and inability to bookmark and sort, is something I hope Twitter gets right, soon. I’m starting these summaries for my own benefit — a quick recap of what I tweeted, retweeted, and favorited — and I’m fine if it remains for an audience of one and would of course be thrilled if others benefit. Highlights:
The rent is too damn high and the weather is too damn cold. Can I interest you in an all-weather portfolio? All kidding aside, if not already in your possession, get Larry Cunningham’s Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values and enjoy the latest of Larry’s deep dives into Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B). To keep these posts short I’ll share some interesting Berkshire Beyond Buffett notes every few chapters or so. Continue reading
In John Train’s The Midas Touch (Amazon; recent post), published in 1987, he describes Warren Buffett as 85% influenced by Benjamin Graham and 15% by Philip Fisher. After re-reading Fisher’s Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and typing up 15+ pages of notes to substitute for a future re-read, I am convinced that Buffett is much closer to 85%-Fisher and 15%-Graham, and he was arguably already leaning more Fisher-like than Graham when Train began writing about him. Put Common Stocks on your reading list and consider a re-read if it’s already on your shelf.Continue reading
On Monday (Sept. 8), The New York Times’ DealBook carried a memo from Jefferies’ top brass, Richard Handler and Brief Friedman, addressed to the firm’s senior bankers concerning the treatment and talent cultivation of junior bankers. As a Leucadia (NYSE: LUK) shareowner — Leucadia acquired Jefferies in early 2013 — this was a refreshing memo and another instance in which I believe Handler means what he says. I became a Leucadia shareowner via the Jefferies acquisition because in November 2011 I was convinced after reviewing Jefferies financial statements and trusted Handler’s statements (not to mention his transparency) that there was scant evidence to support the amateurish and whorish short smear of Jefferies (whose shares quickly fell by ~50% out of fear the i-bank was another shitshow à la MF Global).Continue reading
The results of the latest Nomura survey of individual investors in Japan (August 14th) show Japanese investors are slightly less bullish — naturally given Ukraine/Russia, Iraq, Israel/Hamas, etc — though they are not getting spooked out of equities. Investors remain upbeat on the yen (correspondingly bearish on the euro) and they say they like Japanese equities best again (most bullish on capital goods and bearish on consumer goods). Continue reading
Like many others, I became aware of John Brooks’ Business Adventures after the recent WSJ essay by Bill Gates wherein Gates said the book was his favorite of the business genre and that it was Warren Buffett’s recommendation to him in 1991 when he asked Buffett for his best business read (the story goes that Buffett mailed Gates his personal copy and Gates has kept it to this day). I’m in the middle of chapter three (about the U.S. federal income tax) but wanted to share a few notes from the first chapter, “The Fluctuation: The Little Crash in ’62” [chapter two is a 50-page entry about the failed Ford Edsel, a rather quick, enjoyable and informative read].Continue reading
CNBC on Tuesday, July 8, 2014: “Watch out for asset bubbles developing: Sternlicht.” I read this with some interest considering Starwood Capital’s AUM ($36B) and focus on real estate. “[…] watch out for tail risk,” warned Barry Sternlicht, company chairman and CEO, who also said there is complacency risk among investors because there is such a dearth of yield.
Since there’s no yield … in corporates or governments — everything whether it’s farmland, timber — everything is yield proxies.
“Yield proxy” is an interesting term. I know all about “chasing yield” having watched and invested in Japan for so long (remember the yen carry trade) and seen the shitty products that banks sell their customers (10yr JGB yield: 0.53%, see Bloomberg bond tables). What really caught my eye in this CNBC piece (originally in video) is this admission by Sternlicht:Continue reading
In a recent article by IBD about the attractiveness of foreign stocks, Dennis Stattman (a manager of the $60 billion BlackRock Global Allocation — ticker: MDLOX), commented that there is a lot to like in Japan. Dennis cited upward earnings revisions; corporate managers starting shareholder-friendly policies; and attractive valuations. He believes Japan is in the very early stages of a multi-year bull market.Continue reading