Monday, March 30, 2015

The Great Influenza

It is believed that a flu virus managed to kill 5% of the earth's population around 1918. In The Great Influenza, John Barry puts us there. The reader travels with the bug across the world, gets a glimpse of the terror it caused among the population, learns how the virus works, and meets the scientists who try to fight it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hornbeck Offshore

Under normal conditions, I tend to avoid investing in anything related to energy and other commodities, precisely because they are prone to the type of manic price crashes that we have seen in the oil industry over the last couple of quarters. But following crashes, there may be opportunities to pick up some babies that have been thrown out with the bathwater. I believe Hornbeck Offsore Services (HOS) may offer just such a chance, with some downside protection to go along with upside as the price of oil eventually (even if it's many years away) reverts to the all-in cost of a marginal barrel.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bull of Heaven

In Bull of Heaven, Nawar Alsaadi takes us through his life as an investor, with a particular focus on his activist fight with Equal Energy. For me it was a real page-turner, as I enjoyed reading about Alsaadi's adventures growing up in Iraq (and his family's clashes with the Saddam Hussein regime) and his many financial adventures in the stock market.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I Double You, G!

A stock I have been buying recently is IWG Technologies (IWG), a producer of aircraft water systems. The company is the "world’s leading provider of flight-certified potable water treatment units, on-demand water heaters, aircraft water pumps, a compact water module, and innovative potable water components", with more than 3000 of its units installed on airplanes worldwide.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Red Notice

Bill Browder's Red Notice was a difficult book to put down. It's the real-life story of Bill Browder's Russian hedge fund, but it feels like fiction: what happens to Browder and his associates feels straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster thriller.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Selling Dover Downs

Just over three months ago, I wrote about Dover Downs Gaming (NYSE:DDE) as a potential value idea. Since then, the stock has run up almost 50%. Considering not much has changed from a business standpoint, I felt it prudent to sell my shares and apply those funds instead to situations where the market is pessimistic rather than optimistic.Read more...

Friday, March 13, 2015

STT Enviro

For a company with a net cash position, STT Enviro (STT) may be the most volatile stock I've seen. But that price volatility is a good thing, as it allows investors opportunities to buy this company at a discount to intrinsic value.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


I do it several times a day, and apparently so do you! Lying is endemic in our society, but Sam Harris believes things don't have to be this way. In his book Lying, he tells us why and how we are better off if we stick to the truth in all but the most extreme circumstances.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bad Science

Ben Goldacre's Bad Science is your guide to debunking "hacks, quacks and big pharma flacks". I thought it was an excellent book that exposes a big part of the healthcare industry for what it is: nonsense.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Data Group's Debt Doesn't Reflect Improved Performance

A year and a half ago, I wrote about Data Group's debentures as a potential value opportunity. At that time, they traded for 58 cents on the dollar with maturity in less than four years, for a yield to maturity of 20%. Today, those same debentures trade at 71 cents; but as maturity is now just over 2 years away, the yield to maturity is even higher, closer to 25%! This is despite the fact that business conditions for the company have improved markedly. Read more...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Underperformance or Outperformance?

I did not expect to see the day that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway would underperform the S&P 500 in 5 out of 6 years, but that's basically what has happened. On the other hand, over the last 7 years (and also for any period longer than this), Berkshire has still handily outperformed this same benchmark! This is the more important indicator, in my opinion.