Thursday, December 22, 2016

Superforecasting

Forecasts are everywhere. But surprisingly, few ask and receive the track record of the forecasters. As a result, we end up consuming a lot of bad forecasts, as we end up hearing from those who are better at entertaining than they are at forecasting. But there is a better way.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Off the RAIL

It feels like just yesterday that I was writing about the overly beaten down stock that is FreightCar America (RAIL)...because that's not far removed from the truth. Just last month, it traded at a massive discount to book value. But that discount is now almost completely erased.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Second Machine Age

There's a lot of doom and gloom out there about where our standard of living is headed. The Second Machine Age explains why the pessimists are wrong.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Dear Chairman

After a mid-year slump where I felt I wasn't getting enough from the books I was reading, I've been on a hot streak lately with some great ones. Dear Chairman is the latest book to get me fired up.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Losing the Signal

You've created a company that has taken the world by Storm®. You're the envy of the industry, having become a paper billionaire thanks to your founders shares. But then it all comes crashing down. A series of catastrophic events ensues, and at the end your product has become a laughing stock. Losing the Signal is the brilliant inside story of the spectacular rise and fall of Blackberry.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Bye-Bye, Beazer

Just 7 months ago, I brought up Beazer Homes as a potential value opportunity. This was a profitable home builder trading at an enormous discount to book value. While it's still a profitable home builder, the discount has eroded significantly.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Best Books of 2016

These weren't actually written in 2016 (most of them anyway), but rather I read them in 2016. I went through all the books I read this year, and have ranked them below, as holiday gift ideas for you!

Parenting With Love and Logic

Your adult child is an irresponsible brat; such is the nightmare of many parents. What can one do to prevent this? The authors of the Bill-Gates-recommended Parenting With Love And Logic have some suggestions.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Expectations Investing

You *could* try to estimate a company's growth rate and future margins in order to figure out what a company is worth. But in Expectations Investing, Michael Mauboussin and his co-author suggest reverse engineering the market's expectations instead.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

FreightCar America

FreightCar America (RAIL) manufactures railcars. This is a highly cyclical industry, thanks to high fixed costs (manufacturing facilities) and fickle demand.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Tiger

John Vaillant may have an obsession with big cats; The Tiger is the second book of his that I've read, following The Jaguar's Children.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Nobody Wants To Read Your Sh*t

Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t is a must-read for any aspiring writer. The title tells you the problem most writers have, and the rest of the book tells you how to fix that problem.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Buck GameStop's Here

I've owned video-game retailer GameStop more than once over the last 7 years. I've written about it many times. After a several year hiatus, this week I bought back in.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Ender's Shadow

Many thanks to the blog commenter who suggested I read Ender's Shadow...it was fantastic. It takes place at the same time as Ender's Game, but through the eyes of another character: Bean.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Servicing Moat?

I was sitting comfortably on the white plush couches at my local car dealership, enjoying a beverage and a playoff baseball game on the huge-screen tv when my "service advisor" called me with some troubling news. Apparently the routine servicing had uncovered something troubling: my car's gobbledygook thingamajig could use an aardvarking. At least, that's what it sounded like to me, someone who knows nothing about cars.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

The Hard Thing About Hard Things is a decent management book aimed at small-business owners. It purports to talk about the kinds of things that are not normally discussed in management books.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Triumph of the Optimists

Triumph of the Optimists is one of the driest books I've ever read. It felt like a reference textbook, and with that asking price, I'm sure it was intended as such. (Amazing how this industry is able to charge whatever it wants for a book simply as a result of a book becoming required for a course as stipulated by a professor, who is sometimes the author!)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Off Target at the AIM Market

UK stocks appear to offer much greater value than those in the US. Its political leaders may walk themselves into a recession, but not all companies will be affected equally. Needless to say I have become more interested in stocks in the UK of late, but I am having a heck of a time navigating the AIM exchange.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Karsan Value Funds: 2016 Q3 Results

Karsan Value Funds (KVF) is a value-oriented fund, as described here. Due to securities regulations, the fund is not open to the public at this time. Should that change in the future, there will be an announcement on this site.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Shoe Dog

I've felt like I've been in a book reading slump lately, as few of the titles I've read this year have captivated me. That slump was busted in a big way with two of my most recent reads, one of which is Shoe Dog by the creator of Nike.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Surging Forward

I have owned Surge Components (SPRS) for some time now, but it is finally getting some love from the market. Business is not all that great, but some of the company's shareholders have decided to begin a proxy contest, which has investors excited that the company may be in play.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Stealing from Steel Partners

I own shares of Steel Partners (SPLP) at a price that makes me feel like a thief. I've followed this company for a few years, but finally got it into the portfolio as the company's discount to its assets has risen, in my opinion.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Uncontrolled, Man(zi)

Trial and error is a modus operandi in science, and has become a popular way of doing business as well. But it hasn't made enough inroads into public policy, leaving a lot of potential for societal gains untapped. In Uncontrolled: The Surprising Payoff of Trial-and-Error for Business, Politics, and Society, Manzi seeks to rectify this by discussing the challenges that the soft sciences present and how they can be somewhat overcome.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Dual-Momentum Investing

Part of what drew me to value investing were the statistical studies that showed low P/E (or EV/EBIT, take your pick) stocks have outperformed the market over basically any large time period. This makes it very clear that the inefficiencies that gurus like Buffett talk about are indeed real and in some cases rather easily exploitable. But value is not the only winner in statistical studies. Momentum seems to work too. I'm not about to abandon fundamentals and become some momo guy, but there may be some benefits to learning about what the statistical advantages are with momentum so that in overlapping cases (e.g. deciding when to sell after a value stock has run up), perhaps more profitable decisions can be made. It was with that in mind that I read Gary Antonacci's Dual Momentum Investing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Inevitable

It seems to me that a disproportionate number of people are pessimistic about our ability to continue to innovate towards better standards of living. This view is in contrast to what has actually happened over the last several hundred years, and since I view the causes of these innovations as unlikely to change, I don't subscribe to that view. So it was refreshing for me to read The Inevitable, which takes an optimistic view of the future and goes so far as to make some bold predictions about what it will look like.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Chastening

The Chastening is a book about the IMF's response to the financial crises in the mid-to-late 1990s that threatened to topple the financial systems of a number of countries.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Other Guy Blinked

The Other Guy Blinked is written by Pepsi USA CEO Roger Enrico about a brief period in the 1980s when Pepsi was winning the Cola wars. After a few great moves by Pepsi followed by a huge mishap by Coke, Pepsi Cola's sales where consumers had a choice (e.g. grocery stores, and not vending machines or restaurants that only sell one of them) were higher than Coke's, which prompted him to write the book.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Wealth of Common Sense

A Wealth of Common Sense is an investment book about simplicity. Investors can get all bogged down in the complexity of various investments, but much more important is getting the major decisions right by keeping them simple.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Einstein's Dreams

Einstein's Dreams is a novel that explores the universe's possibilities, through the unconscious thoughts of the great Albert Einstein.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Asian Godfathers

On a per capita basis, Asians earn far less and own much less wealth than North Americans and Western Europeans. And yet there are numerous extremely wealthy tycoons who hail from the region. How does this happen? Joe Studwell explains in Asian Godfathers.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Capital Returns

Despite a title better suited to a superhero sequel movie, Capital Returns made a big splash on my Twitter feed, so it became a must read for me.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Search OTC Filings in Real-Time

I've been using a tool I've built to search out key words in OTC filings that are news releases, and I've now finally gotten around to sharing it with all of you. You create the phrases you want to see in an OTC release (e.g. "shares are undervalued", "sales will increase" etc.) and if a a new release contains a phrase you created, you'll get an instant notification.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Vertu Motors

I recently purchased shares in a UK company called Vertu Motors (VTU). I have followed the company for a few years, but only after Brexit did it hit a price that had the margin of safety I was looking for.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Karsan Value Funds: 2016 Q2 Results

Karsan Value Funds (KVF) is a value-oriented fund, as described here. Due to securities regulations, the fund is not open to the public at this time. Should that change in the future, there will be an announcement on this site.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Nudge

Thanks to decades of research in human behaviour, we know we are systematically biased in manners that are often quite predictable. In Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, the authors apply these learnings to real-life situations in order to improve outcomes.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Friday, June 17, 2016

Exciting Times At Bracell

I wrote about Bracell 10 months ago as a potential value stock. What interested me was the oligopolistic industry in which Bracell was the low-cost operator. Temporary conditions of oversupply (which can last years) meant that Mr. Market had no interest in this company, which is where I like to come in.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Data Group Developments

There have been some interesting developments in the situation at Data Group (DGI) since I last wrote about them just 10 days ago!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Candide

Philosophy is well outside my circle of competence, and yet I still enjoyed the English translation of Volatire's Candide. It's a satirical novel that ridicules what appears to be the prevalent thought of Voltaire's time: that whatever happens, no matter how horrible, it is for the best.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Wright Brothers

For ages, mankind tried to conquer the sky. Many had given up hope that it could ever be done. Few would have expected the breakthroughs to come from a pair of brothers from Dayton, Ohio. The Wright Brothers tells the unlikely story of the men who created air travel.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Data Group Dilutes Shareholders...Again

Shareholders of Data Group should not be surprised that they are getting poor treatment from the company's insiders, because this is consistent with the company's recent behaviour. Just a few months ago, the company essentially bankrupted its equity holders by converting debt to equity, rather than shore up the company's capital situation with a rights offering that CEO Michael Sifton originally agreed to backstop and then backed out of.

The History of Money

We take money for granted. Need to pay for something? We just whip out some piece of paper or some plastic card or some electronic device and see it done. Ledgers are debited and credited in the background without a second thought. But for most of human history, this medium of transfer that makes the exchange of goods so easy didn't exist. In The History of Money, Jack Weatherford takes us through money's evolution, from the first coins in ancient Greece, to the current electronic forms of money that are all Greek to me.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Follow The Money Managers

There are several thousand of you now getting company updates from conferencecalltranscripts.org. I'm pleased to announce that you can now follow money managers on the same site.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Stopwatch Gang

Bank robbers aren't normally the smartest bunch. They are looking to feed some habit, and don't think far enough ahead to do the kinds of things that would prevent them from getting caught. The Stopwatch Gang of the 1970s was different. They set records for their well-planned heists, and stayed out of or escaped from jail better than anyone else. Greg Weston goes the extra mile to tell us the story of The Stopwatch Gang.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ender's Game

This New York Times Best Seller is recommended by the US Marine Corp to its recruits. Ender's Game is a novel about human nature, war, ethics and other topics.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Money, Blood and Revolution

I loved Money, Blood and Revolution by George Cooper. Cooper examines a few fields (e.g. biology, geology, astronomy) that were off-track before a change in perception (thanks to some bright minds, often from the outside) led to knowledge revolutions. Cooper then makes the argument that economics is currently stuck in that "off-track" mode, and suggests the changes in perception needed to get it back on track.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Jaguar's Children

The Jaguar's Children is a novel that depicts the hardships faced by the poor in Mexico who try to illegally immigrate to the United States. A would-be migrant is trapped in a water tank in a failed border crossing attempt, and is desperately trying to seek help through a phone with little reception.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Rise and Fall of American Growth

American productivity growth used to be a lot higher than it is now. In the century between 1870 and 1970, and especially in the fifty years between 1920 and 1970, the American increased his productivity at a pace he has not been able to match since. Robert Gordon examines the history and the potential causes of American growth over different periods in American history in The Rise and Fall of American Growth.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Anglo American: The Fall and Rise

Just seven months ago, I wrote about Anglo American as a potential value opportunity. It subsequently fell a lot further from there, but has now come all the way back and then some. I have taken advantage of the recent optimistic sentiment to sell my shares.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Beazer Homes Looks Like Good Value

I've been nibbling on shares of home builder Beazer Homes (BZH) lately. The company is profitable and trades at a big discount to book value, most of which is made up of land and houses i.e. inventory.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Jungle

The most powerful books are the ones that change public policy, which was the case with Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. Sinclair was a journalist who spent 7 weeks working undercover as a labour hand in the meat packing industry and wrote this novel when he came back.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Data Group is Really Cheap

Data Group provides print marketing (e.g. direct mail) and other document management services for businesses, with six locations across Canada.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Karsan Value Funds: 2016 Q1 Results

Karsan Value Funds (KVF) is a value-oriented fund, as described here. Due to securities regulations, the fund is not open to the public at this time. Should that change in the future, there will be an announcement on this site.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Value Fail: hhgregg

Retail is a very difficult business. There are no customer switching costs, there are high fixed costs and there are few barriers to entry. One look through my Value Fail page makes it evident that a number of retailers have played a key role in my losses. And yet I just haven't learned this lesson fast enough.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Count of Monte Cristo

Though educational, non-fiction history books can be extremely dry. One can learn a lot from something like The Black Book of Communism, but one has to stay awake first! At times, therefore, I think it makes sense to learn from historical novels. Depending on the author's talent, these can make you live in a particular time and place, rather than give you the mundane facts about it.

It's with this intention in mind that I read Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, which is set after Napoleon had been ousted from France, but was making a comeback to re-take it! The book was outstanding.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Real-time SEDAR Keyword Search

I've built a tool that allows investors to search SEDAR filings in real-time for pre-set keywords. I plan to charge for this in the future, but for now you are helping me work out the kinks. In return, it's free for now. You can try it here

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Nurture Assumption

There is a societal assumption that parental behaviour towards children plays a huge role in how kids turn out, even as adults. In The Nurture Assumption, Judith Harris turns this assumption on its head. Unlike a lot of books on what influences children, however, this book is extremely heavy on evidence, and light on unsubstantiated statements, so not a huge surprise that the book is recommended by Charlie Munger.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Black Box Thinking

Why do some people learn from their mistakes while others don't? Matthew Syed tells us in his book Black Box Thinking.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Design of Everyday Things

I used to think I was a complete fool. However, as I've gotten older I've come to realize that thankfully I'm not alone. I would have such difficulty with everyday products (scissors that don't cut, food products that can't be opened without scissors, shampoos that can't be opened with wet hands etc.) that I figured, what's wrong with me? Now I know that these products are actually in many cases badly designed. Don Norman's The Design of Everyday Things helped me understand that.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison*

* God doesn't think he's Larry Ellison

The book's title makes it sound a lot more vitriolic than it really is. The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison appeared to me (purely as an outsider) to be a candid, two-sided description of the guy who started and runs Oracle.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Market Masters

Almost 30 successful investors were interviewed for Robin Speziale's new book, Market Masters. Speziale must be one heck of a salesman, as his book was endorsed by a lot of people you've probably heard of in the money management business like Ken Fisher, Guy Spier and Mohnish Pabrai.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy

I don't often read fiction, but when I do, it's because the book is highly recommended. In the case of The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy, there are just too many people who love this book for me to have ignored it any longer.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Biorem

I have been accumulating shares of Biorem over the past couple of months, as I believe it to be an undervalued company.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Birth of the Pill

I would have expected invention of The (birth control) Pill to be a top down kind of effort: Some pharma companies putting in a great deal of work to find glory and profit in a product that was sure to sell by the million. But the reality was completely different. In Birth of The Pill, Jonathan Eig tells the story of how this revolutionary invention was conceived.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Rational Optimist

It's a sea of pessimism out there, as a great number of people believe mankind has either begun or is on the verge of decline. Matt Ridley sets them straight in The Rational Optimist.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Extreme Ownership

What can the business world learn from Navy SEALs? In Extreme Ownership, Iraq war veterans from one of the most elite combat groups tell us how to be better leaders.

Friday, January 22, 2016

What I Learned Losing A Million Dollars

A fool doesn't learn from his mistakes. An average person does. But the wise man learns from the mistakes of others. Jim Paul tells you about his mistakes in What I learned Losing a Million Dollars, in the hope that you will not commit the same ones.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Smart Cuts

Why do some companies seemingly leapfrog out of nowhere to become overnight successes? In Smart Cuts, Shane Snow identifies the key success factors that have allowed certain innovators to accelerate the process of taking their startups from tiny to large.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin is one of the most impactful books of all time. It was the 2nd best-selling book of the 19th century, behind only the bible. When Abraham Lincoln finally met its author, he apparently said (though he may not have), "So this is the little lady who started this great war."

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Apple

I've watched Apple from the sidelines for what feels like forever. It's impossible to ignore this company, as even if you don't follow it, you will be inundated with news from this company. So I feel like I've tracked Apple for ages, waiting patiently for my opportunity to buy. Last week I took the plunge. Having missed the first million percent of this stock's growth since the company's renaissance under Steve Jobs' second stint, I'm now in it for the cheap, mature company with a moat that I believe it to now be.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Karsan Value Funds: 2015 Q4 Results

Karsan Value Funds (KVF) is a value-oriented fund, as described here. Due to securities regulations, the fund is not open to the public at this time. Should that change in the future, there will be an announcement on this site.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Misbehaving

Behavioural economics, where not everyone is presumed to be rational at all times, has gone mainstream. This is no doubt thanks to the fact that every esteemed behavioural economist seems to have at least one popular book out. While I wasn't expecting much different from one of the latest, Richard Thaler's Misbehaving, I was actually pleasantly surprised.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Softwar

Softwar is a book about Oracle and its main man, Larry Ellison. Ellison is an outspoken guy, and in this authorized biography he devotes a good chunk of space towards disparaging his rivals (e.g. Bill Gates), and praising his best friends (e.g. Steve Jobs). I came away from the book thinking Ellison and Jobs are rather similar.

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