Unconventional Investments

Posted on 11 CommentsPosted in Portfolio Management, Shareholder Letters & Reports, Warren Buffett

I was glancing through the Berkshire letters from the late 1990’s because I recall Buffett briefly mentioning his large silver position he acquired and I was trying to see if Buffett referenced the specific cash cost of production. He didn’t in the letter—only mentioning that Berkshire acquired 111 million ounces. He has mentioned in other interviews that silver was in fact below the cost of production—a supply/demand imbalance that can persist for a while, but not forever. Buffett felt comfortable […]

Buffett on Taxes (1965 version)

Posted on 6 CommentsPosted in Investment Quotes, Portfolio Management, Warren Buffett

“One of my friends—a noted West Coast philosopher—maintains that a majority of life’s errors are caused by forgetting what one is really trying to do.” – Warren Buffett, 1965 BPL Partnership Letter I’ve read a few things lately discussing the benefits of designing a “tax-efficient” investment strategy. I’ve said this before, but I think there is a significant misunderstanding on the tax benefits of a low-turnover portfolio, and there is an even larger misunderstanding on the concept of turnover itself. […]

Drivers of ROE in the Context of Portfolio Management

Posted on 16 CommentsPosted in Portfolio Management, Think Differently, Warren Buffett

Someone on the Corner of Berkshire and Fairfax board recently posted this comment referencing Buffett’s well-known piece on inflation from 1977. In the article, Buffett describes the variables that drive a company’s return on equity. There are only five ways that a company can improve returns: Increase turnover Cheaper leverage (reduce interest charges) More leverage (increase the amount of assets relative to a given level of equity) Lower income taxes Wider margins Notice three of the five drivers of ROE have […]

Focus on the Key Variables of an Investment

Posted on 10 CommentsPosted in Case Studies, Investment Quotes, Warren Buffett

Earlier this year I watched Lang Lang play Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor—one of my all-time favorite pieces of music. The concerto is a monster—full of big octaves, virtuosity, excitement and power. It has around 30,000 notes, but the music is tied together with a simple 10 note melody that is repeated throughout the piece. I am currently working on a few different investment ideas that have numerous moving parts, but as I conduct my research, I continue coming back to […]

Risk and Portfolio Management Similarities between Joel Greenblatt and Stanley Druckenmiller

Posted on 6 CommentsPosted in Case Studies, Investment Philosophy, Joel Greenblatt, Portfolio Management, Superinvestors

I have been busy over the past couple of weeks. My wife gave birth to twins about two weeks ago, and now that I am back in the office, I am catching up on some reading. While we were in the hospital for about a week, I did have some time to do some reading, and I have some comments on two annual reports of current holdings of mine—JP Morgan and Markel—which I may turn into brief posts. But briefly, […]

Things You Didn’t Know About Buffett’s Strategy

Posted on 6 CommentsPosted in Investment Philosophy, Shareholder Letters & Reports, Superinvestors, Warren Buffett

Last weekend I spent a couple hours reading through Buffett’s old partnership letters (again). I was looking for something specific that I remembered him talking about, but then as I was flipping through them trying to find this comment, I just decided to read them again. I’ve always found it extremely valuable to read Buffett’s letters. Although I’ve read both the partnership letters and the Berkshire letters multiple times, I feel like I pick up something new each time I […]

Portfolio Turnover–A Vastly Misunderstood Concept

Posted on 51 CommentsPosted in Case Studies, Superinvestors, Think Differently

A while back I wrote a post about how the gap between 52 week high and low prices presents an opportunity for investors in public markets. I mentioned that this simple observation (the huge gap between yearly highs and lows) is all the evidence you need to debunk the theory that markets are efficiently priced all the time. I think the market generally does a good job at valuing companies within a range of reasonableness, but there is absolutely no […]

The Simple Concept of Intrinsic Value

Posted on 22 CommentsPosted in Ben Graham, Investment Philosophy, Warren Buffett

“The newer approach to security analysis attempts to value a common stock independently of its market price. If the value found is substantially above or below the current price, the analyst concludes that the issue should be bought or disposed of. This independent value has a variety of names, the most familiar of which is “intrinsic value”. – Ben Graham, Security Analysis (1951 Edition) Graham went on to say this about the definition of intrinsic value: “A general definition of intrinsic […]

Buffett Thoughts on GEICO in 1976

Posted on 8 CommentsPosted in Investment Philosophy, Warren Buffett

I’ve been spending the vast majority of my time working on a number of new investment ideas, but I do find time to catch up on reading the paper. Earlier this week I came across a post on one of the Wall Street Journal blogs that posted a copy of an old letter that Warren Buffett sent to George Young at National Indemnity (a Berkshire owned insurance subsidiary) regarding his thoughts on GEICO. I’ve written a few posts on Buffett […]

Some Thoughts on Investment Strategies and Buffett’s 1966 Disney Investment

Posted on 11 CommentsPosted in Investment Philosophy, Superinvestors, Warren Buffett

There seems to be a strange dichotomy in the value investing universe: those who buy so-called compounders, and those who buy so-called cheap stocks. I want to own businesses that are building value, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about valuation. I pass on probably 99% of the ideas I look at, many of which are great businesses, simply because the current price won’t allow my investment in the stock to compound at the rate of return that I’m […]