Wednesday, October 18, 2017

NAHL Group

People call National Accident Helpline after an accident because they have consumer brand appeal. NAHL Group (LSE: NAH) answers the call and diverts it to a lawyer that can help. They used to make money off referral fees, but in 2014 regulatory changes stopped that. Now they make money from subscription fees from law firms to whom they send clients, but again regulatory changes are causing them to have to shift models.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Things Fall Apart

You're just living your life as you do, as did your parents before you and their parents before them. But some new people make contact...people who look so different and yet also seem human. In Things Fall Apart, Achebe tells a story of how things may have gone following European landings near villages in Africa hundreds of years ago.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Karsan Value Funds: 2017 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.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Alliance Aviates Well

Just seven months ago, I opined on Alliance Aviation as a potential value play. Today the price sits more than 50% higher. I can't explain the dramatic price rise. The price was just plain silly back then, and serves as a reminder of just how weak the Efficient Market Hypothesis really is.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

American Kingpin

American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road should have been a boring book: A naive, nerdy guy starts a website that sells illegal goods, and the authorities seek him out and put him in jail. But it was one of the best books I've read in a long time.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Gone With The Wind

I've known nothing about "America's second favourite book" Gone with the Wind for most of my life, other than that it was some sort of chick lit. Now having read the book, I can attest that it is indeed chick lit, but it's also so much more.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hibbett Sports

Hibbett Sports (HIBB) sells footwear, sports equipment and apparel, among other things. The entire industry has gotten crushed lately - there is blood in the streets. HIBB is down almost 70% in the last year alone. Competitors like Dicks and Foot Locker are also getting crushed.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Disrupted

Tech unicorns that can't turn a profit are everywhere you look, getting substantial valuations by both market and venture capital investors. Dan Lyons is a fifty-something laid-off reporter that went to work at one of these wonder-companies in the hopes of cashing in like so many have done. Things did not go as planned. In Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble, he tells the tale.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

When The Moon Is Low

A typical Afghan family lives a typical Afghan life, until the Taliban rise to power. Immediately, life changes. Girls must be pulled out of schools, women must be accompanied on the street, and everyone must watch what they say...or else. When the Moon Is Low: A Novel is the story of one devastated family's quest for a better life, which takes them through various countries so that they may reach England and request asylum.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

ERA Group Pitching a Good Game

Asset prices in the US are pretty high at the moment, except for those related to oil and gas, which is one of the few depressed sectors. ERA Group (ERA) owns and operates helicopters that transport personnel to offshore oil platforms. That description is enough to turn off any mainstream investor who has read a newspaper in the last three years, which is what attracts me to the situation.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Matchmakers

If you're looking for a date, you've come to the wrong site. But if you're looking for a book about network effects, Matchmakers may be for you.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Small Data

There's no shortage of corporations talking up the possibilities of big data, where statistics can be mined to gain promising insights. Martin Lindstrom takes the opposite approach, finding behavioural clues by studying how *individual* humans behave with products. He appears to lead a very interesting life, having consulted with a number of companies that have sought a better relationship with their customers. In Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends he talks about his experiences.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Euronavigating the Treacherous Waters

Euronav (EURN) is the largest public company in the crude oil shipping business. The industry has taken a hit over the last two years amid overcapacity, but Euronav is a terrific operator that has remained profitable through this period. Nevertheless, it trades at a massive discount to book value and a P/E of just 6.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The 100 Best Stocks to Buy In 2017

The 100 Best Stocks to Buy in 2017 is part of an annual series written by Peter Sander. The title is a tad on the promotional side, but I've read such incredible books with promotional titles (e.g. this gem) that I've learned not to judge.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Clock Zero

We are all fighting against the distractions posed by our phones. Blinking lights and enticing notifications draw us into the time-sucking beast, and only those with the mental energy to fight the primary urges can remain productive. Clock Zero: I'm not my social feed is about a group of people tired of this way of life, and so they do something about it.

Ready...Aimia...Get Fired!

I believe the preferred shares of AIM (e.g. AIM-C) represent a very good opportunity, and so I have been buying them recently. Although they are preferred shares, the company recently cancelled the upcoming dividend payment because of a significant event, which caused the pref shares to tumble by 33% (from 12 to 8). These pref shares also fell 33% when the significant event was announced previously (from 18 to 12).

Friday, July 7, 2017

Cable Cowboy

John Malone is so popular among value investors, but I could never quite figure out what he was up to. I finally get it now, having read the fantastic Cable Cowboy: John Malone and the Rise of the Modern Cable Business.

Karsan Value Funds: 2017 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 4, 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ice Age

Charlie Munger called Ice Age "the best work of science exposition and history that I've read in many years!”, so I had to give it a shot. The authors don't waste any words, as the book clocks in at just 100 pages, but not for lack of content.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Shantaram

Shantaram is a terrific novel based on the author's true story as an Australian prison escapee who works his way through the slums and criminal underworld of India.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Hillbilly Elegy

Yale Law graduate JD Vance grew up poor, in a neighbourhood full of abuse and irresponsibility. In Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, he tells the reader what it was like to grow up in Middle America.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Preferred Shares of Dundee

Dundee is a holding company involved in a lot of businesses in Canada: real-estate, energy, wealth management and other investments. The market cap of the company is currently $160 million with a tangible book value of about 800 million.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Dreamland: Opiate Epidemic

I didn't quite know what to expect when reading Quinone's book about America's drug epidemic, Dreamland, but probably the last thing I would have anticipated is that it felt very much like a business book. The suppliers of drugs have evolved to emulate something like a highly efficient pizza delivery business, and this is their story.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Harvey Nash Goes Smash

Harvey Nash Group (HVN) is a recruitment business. The company is diversified (no customer concentration risk) and operates in a number of geographies (e.g. UK, Europe, US). It trades for 56 million pounds, and I expect them to earn (based on their history) about 7 million per year. Since they have a net cash position of 5 million, this gives them an adjusted P/E of just over 7.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Canam Goes Private

It feels like just last month that I was discussing Canam Group (CAM) as a new potential value investment - because it was. Thanks to extraordinarily lucky timing, I no longer own any shares, as last week the company's management (in concert with private equity) decided to take the company private.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Destiny of the Republic

Relative to what I'd like to know, I know very little about American history. But I plan to spend the rest of my lifetime fixing that! Fantastic books like Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President really help.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Stagecoach

Stagecoach owns and operates buses and trains in the UK, and to a lesser extent in Europe and America.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dreamland

We spend a third of our lives sleeping, and yet we know so little about what goes on when we're under. I'm aware of countless studies that have demonstrated how important sleep is, and still I don't feel like I know enough to be getting the most out of it. It's with that in mind that I read Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Canam Group

Canam Group (CAM) is a previous holding of mine that has gotten very cheap again. I have written extensively about this stock in the past here.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Karsan Value Funds: 2017 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 30, 2017

The Selfish Gene

This Charlie Munger recommendation opened my eyes to a better model of natural selection than I've been using thus far. In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins introduces natural selection at the somewhat (you'll have to read the book to understand just how "some" and "what") gene level, and he shows it to be a powerful model for understanding life.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Shook Those STTs

Buying a stock I've previously owned is usually a lot of fun. I save time on research since I know the company already, and I get a psychological kick from knowing that I made a good decision to sell, since the price has come back down. Such was the case with STT Enviro, a repeat stock I talked about on this site about 1.5 years ago.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Prisoners of Geography

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to explain the world's current political state of affairs using just a few maps? That's what Tim Marshall attempts to do in Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World. I enjoyed the geography and history lessons, but I thought the author's conclusions were poorly supported.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

One hundred and fifty years ago, people who considered themselves moral, upstanding Americans suffered no cognitive dissonance in the ownership of other human beings. Today the concept of slavery seems ludicrous around these parts, but it took a while to get there. In the masterful novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain colourfully depicts the absurd situation as it was at the time.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Incredible Shrinking Alpha

I have seen a lot of recommendations for The Incredible Shrinking Alpha: And What You Can Do to Escape Its Clutches so maybe my expectations were too high, because I didn't like it. To me, it sounded like the same efficient market BS that one has been able to read about for decades.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Best of Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger hasn't written a book, but he may as well have, because there are those among us who have compiled his speeches into a 350-page text. The work is available here for free.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Selling Apple

When I bought Apple just over a year ago, I really thought it would end up being a long-term holding. A combination of 1) market pessimism - the market appeared so fixated on hardware numbers that it seemed the stock was destined to languish as hardware margins were sure to fall over time and 2) rising intrinsic value - the company's recurring revenues and share buybacks were likely to force me to continually increase my estimate of the company's value over time, resulting in an increasing margin of safety in my eyes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

When Breath Becomes Air

A lot of us spend our lives delaying gratification. Often, the reward is higher later if you can forego the pleasure today. Value investors know all about this. But there is a risk that tomorrow doesn't come. When Breath Becomes Air is written by a guy who spent his whole life deferring potential rewards, only to be cursed with terminal cancer just as he was about to graduate as a surgeon.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Spring Chicken

A long lifespan is great, but only if you're healthy enough to enjoy it. So how does one expand one's "health span"? This is the central theme in Bill Gifford's book, Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

Babies need naps. Unfortunately, they don't always agree. So how the $*#)@# does a parent appropriately deal with such a situation? Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child is here to help.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Alliance Aviation Services

I generally avoid cyclical companies: I don't think I can time when cycles turn, so I think there's always a big risk I'll become a bagholder. But there are exceptions. When negative sentiment is so pervasive that prices of even healthy companies fall to extreme levels, I think cyclicals can be great asymmetric opportunities.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Mark Twain was not a good investor. Though he made a ton of money, he managed to lose it on some terrible investments, and went bankrupt in the process. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have any redeeming qualities we can learn from. He eventually repaid his creditors in full, even though he had no legal obligation to do so. Oh yeah, he was also an author who has been called "the father of American literature".

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

IWG Technologies Goes Private

Two years ago I wrote about a tiny company called IWG Technologies (IWG) that makes water systems for aircraft. It had a net cash position, traded at a single-digit P/E for much of that year, and had decent growth prospects. The company was just taken private at a 75% premium to its price two years ago.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Algorithms to Live By

You peer through the windshield as you approach your destination. It's not far now, maybe 1 more block? Now that you're so close, do you take the first parking spot you see, or do you take the chance that maybe there'll be an open one right in front of your favourite restaurant?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The House of Morgan

Picture yourself as the owner of a promising business in early 20th century America. How do you finance your expansion? There are no capital markets you can tap. Your business, like pretty much every business, is too small to develop its own financing capabilities. (The transportation and communication networks we take for granted today didn't exist, making businesses much more local in nature than they are today.) Most of the money available for this sort of thing comes from Europe anyway. Who is your master in such an environment? Your banker!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Glacier's Stock Price is Ice Cold

Glacier Media (GVC) is a Canadian company that appears to be very cheap. Historically, the company delivers free newspapers with ultra local content, relying on local advertisers to generate revenue. As you can imagine, this is a business in serious decline, and so the company has been left for dead by investors.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Karsan Value Funds: 2016 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.

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