Case Studies

Sears and Seven-Foot Hurdles

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A few weeks back I came across an article that someone had posted on Sears. It is a fascinating read for a few different reasons. One, I think Sears is an excellent case study of the retail industry and the difficulties of investing and allocating capital in that type of business, and two, the article was written in the summer of 1988. This post is not a prediction of the demise of Sears, or an indictment against those who find value […]

Case Studies

Importance of ROIC Part 5: A Glance at the Last 42 Years of Wells Fargo

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“Experience, however, indicates that the best business returns are usually achieved by companies that are doing something quite similar today to what they were doing five or ten years ago… a business that constantly encounters major change also encounters many chances for major error. Furthermore, economic terrain that is forever shifting violently is ground on which it is difficult to build a fortress-like business franchise. Such a franchise is usually the key to sustained high returns.”   –Warren Buffett, 1992 Shareholder […]

Case Studies

10 Years of Google and the Importance of Long Term Thinking

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“Google has a huge new moat. In fact, I’ve probably never seen such a wide moat.” – Charlie Munger, 2009 Google celebrated the 10 year anniversary of its IPO last week. Google is a company that I’ve never owned (unfortunately), but really admire. There are a few businesses I almost root for, like a fan of a football team. Costco, Fastenal, and Walmart among others are on the list. These are really high quality businesses that have made their shareholders wealthy […]

Case Studies

Buffett’s PetroChina Investment: Finding Large Gaps Between Price & Value

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“You don’t have to know a man’s exact weight to know that he’s fat.” – Ben Graham I was reading through some notes from the 2008 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting and one of the questions grabbed my attention. The question was pertaining to Warren Buffett’s decision to purchase stock in PetroChina back in 2002. Basically, the questioner was surprised that Buffett made such a sizable investment after a seemingly small amount of due diligence saying “all you did was read the annual report… […]

Ben Graham

Buffett’s Early Investments

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“The highest rates of return I’ve ever achieved were in the 1950’s. I killed the Dow. You ought to see the numbers. But I was investing peanuts then. It’s a huge structural advantage not to have a lot of money. I think I could make you 50% a year on $1 million. No, I know I could. I guarantee that.” – Warren Buffett, 1999 Most Buffett fans have seen that quote. I recently had a few questions and comments that […]

Ben Graham

Net-Nets: A Riddle Wrapped in Mystery Inside a Cigar Butt

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I received a couple questions/comments from readers lately regarding Buffett and some previous comments I made on strategy before and after the Berkshire annual meeting. I always enjoy interacting with readers. The vast majority of my days are spent researching new investment ideas, so I can’t always respond to everything, but please feel free to email me questions/comments to john@sabercapitalmgt.com. I read all my emails even if I don’t always have time to respond. When possible, I’ll respond individually, or […]

Case Studies

Importance of ROIC Part 2: Compounders and Cheap Stocks

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Update: For those interested, I wrote a 5-part series about the concept of return on incremental invested capital and also a few other writings that discuss ROIC.  This is part 2 of my follow up thoughts on compounders, cheap stocks, and the importance of returns on capital. Part 1 is here. Also, some previous posts before that are relevant to this post as well: Thoughts on Return on Capital and Greenblatt’s Magic Formula Part 1 Thoughts on Return on Capital and […]

Case Studies

The Importance of Pricing Power

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“The single most important decision in evaluating a business is pricing power. If you’ve got the power to raise prices without losing business to a competitor, you’ve got a very good business. And if you have to have a prayer session before raising the price by 10 percent, then you’ve got a terrible business.” –Warren Buffett, 2011 (Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission) I wrote a post about Amazon a couple weeks ago. I don’t own it, and I don’t really know […]

Case Studies

An Exercise on Thinking Differently and a Great Business

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I came across an excellent presentation that I wanted to share because it sparked some thoughts. It is not about a current—or even prospective—investment, but one that exemplifies the art of thinking differently. I spend a fair amount of time reading annual reports about businesses that I have no intention of owning. Typically, these businesses are high quality companies that—although maybe too expensive to offer attractive investor returns—are great entities to study and learn about. Studying businesses that have a […]

Case Studies

A Few Key Links From 2013

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It’s the last day of the year, and everywhere you look are various “Top 10 lists”, “2013 Best Posts”, etc… Despite the title, this post is not such a list… I thought I would re-post some links to just a few things that I have read recently that I found interesting. It is more coincidence that I’m posting this on the last day of the year, and this is far from a comprehensive list of valuable things I’ve read this […]