General Thoughts

Weekend Reading: WeChat’s Huge Moat in China

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This is just a quick post on some interesting articles I read over the weekend as I caught up on some newspaper reading. There were a couple recent pieces (one in the Economist and one in the NY Times) on WeChat, the Chinese messaging app that now boasts over 700 million users. WeChat is also generating a significant amount of revenue (unlike Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger apps that haven’t monetized their networks yet). WeChat is also estimated to be very profitable for its […]

General Thoughts

The Market Value Fluctuations of the 10 Largest Companies

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I thought I’d put up a quick post with an interesting chart that might provide some food for thought. Considering the volatility in the past few days that was created by the surprising results of the “Brexit” referendum where the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, I thought this might be a timely topic to think about. In the past I’ve discussed how sometimes even the largest cap stocks can get mispriced from time to time (see here and […]

General Thoughts

Apple vs. Exxon Mobil

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I read an article last week by Scott Fearon, who wrote the excellent book Dead Companies Walking (a good book about shorting stocks, which can benefit investors even if they don’t short stocks). The article basically posed a hypothetical question on whether Apple was a better investment than Exxon Mobil. Fearon goes on to explain why he thinks XOM is a better bet than AAPL over the long-term. His points: Apple is a consumer products company with the majority of revenues coming […]

General Thoughts

Warren Buffett 1998 Talk at University of Florida

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I spent some time traveling in the car last week. Whenever I am driving by myself, I always listen to something—usually related to business or investing. I keep a long list of videos of interviews or talks that I can pick from whenever I am in the car. On this particular short trip, I had got through two different videos. I listened to this talk from 2012 where Jeff Bezos talks about Amazon Web Services—the cloud computing services business that […]

General Thoughts

General Thoughts on Portfolio Management and Diversification

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“Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return. Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.” –Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 Investors have always discussed and debated the merits of diversification—apparently even as far back as the days of King Solomon (although his definition of diversification—7 or 8 “ventures”—might not sit well with modern day portfolio theory and mutual fund managers who often hold 30, 50, or 100 […]

Case Studies

Outerwall, Buybacks, and Activists

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Outerwall is a stock that has been struggling as the cash flows from Red Box are drying up much faster than investors have expected. Not only that, but Outerwall management has had the troubling habit of throwing good money after bad by “investing” in things like ecoATM–kiosks that allow you to turn in your old cell phones for cash, a concept that doesn’t seem to be gaining traction. This spending on business lines that were unlikely to succeed was all in an […]

General Thoughts

Long-term Thinking and Back to Basics

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When markets are tumbling, it’s time to get excited about stocks. This is often talked about, but rarely practiced. J. Paul Getty once said the key to getting rich is simple: “Buy when everyone else is selling and hold when everyone else is buying”. For the value investing community, Buffett’s famous “Be greedy when others are fearful” basically is the same gist. Commonly referenced and preached, but far less often practiced. I am lucky to have a great client base at […]

Case Studies

Focusing on the Investment Process

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“It is the basics. It is focusing on selection, low prices, and reliable, convenient, fast delivery. It’s the cumulative effect of having this approach for 14 years. I always tell people, if we have a good quarter it’s because of the work we did three, four, and five years ago. It’s not because we did a good job this quarter.” – Jeff Bezos, 2009 The new year is always a good time to review your investment process. The other day, […]

Books

The Misunderstanding of Peter Lynch’s Investment Style

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“I’ve never said, ‘If you go to a mall, see a Starbucks and say it’s good coffee, you should call Fidelity brokerage and buy the stock.’” – Peter Lynch I saw an article in Monday’s Wall Street Journal on Peter Lynch. Basically, it was a very brief piece where Lynch basically says that people are misinterpreting his advice to “buy what you know”. I like Peter Lynch and I like his writing. Although the first book I ever read on value […]

General Thoughts

Lessons Learned from A History of Oil

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Since oil prices were in the headlines yesterday after an 8% fall, I thought it might be a good time to comment on something I’ve been working my way through while putting in the miles after a day of looking for bargains. I’m about halfway through the excellent series of podcast called “A History of Oil”. It’s an outstanding series that starts by introducing George Henry Bissell—the father of the oil industry—who in 1853 began experimenting with “rock oil” that […]