Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Vista Outdoor Catches a Bid

About eight months ago, I wrote about Vista Outdoor as a potential value stock. Since then, I have not loved the progress the company has made. Asset sales took longer than expected and at lower prices, restructuring costs ballooned, and revenues continued to plummet despite what looks to be a recovering firearms market.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Permanent Record

Edward Snowden rocked the world when he revealed the details of the US government's warrantless surveillance program on the world's population. In Permanent Record, he discusses these decisions that have led to his current exile in Russia.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Who Gets What And Why

Many different kinds of markets surround us: job markets, dating markets, stock markets, kidney exchanges, student acceptances/rejections, supermarkets etc. In Who Gets What ― and Why economist Al Roth discusses the factors that need to be set/controlled in order to make a market work.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Damn Right

I've a read quite a bit about Charlie Munger. But everything I've previously read has been about his thoughts. Damn Right: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger is about the person, his family life, his tragedies and triumphs.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Karsan Value Funds

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 1, 2019

Railroader

Hunter Harrison turned around four different railroads. Railroader: The Unfiltered Genius and Controversy of Four-Time CEO Hunter Harrison is the story of Harrison's career right up until his death less than two years ago.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Linamar Re-Visited

I've been following auto parts manufacturer Linamar for over a decade, but I hadn't owned any shares until last month. Its price finally fell to a level at which I believe I'm getting the kind of large margin of safety that interests me.

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Better Angels of Our Nature

Violence (defined as human on human violence per capita around the world) has been on the decline for decades and centuries, contrary to popular belief. The Better Angels of Our Nature explores this topic, first proving the premise to be true, then digging into possible causes for this decline.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Loonshots

Great innovations often come from small groups of people tinkering away at great personal risk. Once such great innovations are harnessed, however, the ability to continue to generate innovations seems to wither. In Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries, biotech executive Safi Bahcall discusses how organizations can maintain both the ability to strengthen it's existing businesses, while still driving innovations that will become its existing business in the future.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Birchcliff Energy With A Really Jerky Move

Birchcliff Energy held its annual meeting on May 16th, with shareholders set to vote on four items. But on the day of the meeting, only three of the four items were actually voted on, and the meeting was postponed by a week "in order to allow as many shareholders as possible to review and consider the Performance Warrant Resolution". In other words, the vote was not going management's way, so it gave itself time to drum up votes and get it over the hump.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Retail Disruptors

Every generation there seems to be a new type of grocery store that comes up with a new way to lower prices, in the process lighting the business models of the incumbents on fire. It doesn't feel like it was that long ago that it was Walmart that was the disruptor. But today it is playing defense against another set of disruptors: the so-called hard discounters. Retail Disruptors is about the spectacular rise and impact of these hard discounters that are taking the industry by storm.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Retreat of Western Liberalism

Populist leaders seem to be gathering strength around the world, with none more famous than the one currently domiciled in the White House. What is going on? In The Retreat of Western Liberalism, journalist and speechwriter Edward Luce attempts to explain it.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Migrant Refugee Smuggler Savior

Smuggling humans across borders is big business. The harder governments make it to cross a given border, the more criminal elements become involved. After all, demand is still present. But the price, the danger, and the requirements all increase. Migrant, Refugee, Smuggler, Savior is all about this industry.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Karsan Value Funds: 2019 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.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Bottle of Lies

Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom is one of the most shocking books I have ever read. It is a rare book that manages to change how I shop, but how I buy pharma products has completely reversed: no longer will I buy any generics that are made in developing countries like India or China until they commit to fixing their issues.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Sports Gene

While you can get better at anything by practicing, it's pretty clear that given the same amount of practice, some people will be way better than others at most sports. What accounts for this difference? David Epstein drills down into this question in his fantastic book, The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Alchemy

There are some fields (e.g. physics) where objective facts carry the day. But in fields involving human behaviour, perception is more important than reality. In Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life, marketing executive Rory Sutherland makes a case for why we pay too much attention to logic and not enough to perception when it comes to marketing.

Friday, June 7, 2019

The Art of Thinking Clearly

We think we are pretty rational, but our behaviour indicates otherwise. In The Art of Thinking Clearly, Rolf Dobelli discusses a number of our biases and suggests solutions for staying rational.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Misbehavior of Markets

The Random Walk Theory of prices does a half-decent job describing the behaviour of markets in general. But if you want to get specific, it does have a couple of key problems. First, it assumes price changes are independent of each other, which statistical studies have shown to be false. And second, the number of events taking place in the tails is underestimated; the bell curve assumed is far too simplistic for modeling actual market returns.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Neurologic

There are tons of books on human irrationality. I've reviewed many of them on this site! But NeuroLogic: The Brain's Hidden Rationale Behind Our Irrational Behavior is different. The focus is not so much on the irrational behaviour itself, but rather on what's going on inside the brain during this irrational behaviour.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Beazer the Pleaser

Last year, shares of Beazer Homes fell big-time on the expectation that rising rates would kill consumer appetite for homes. So I bought some, as discussed here. Last week, I sold the shares following an appreciation in the stock of over 50%.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Convertible Debentures: Online Again!

In the past, I have found a few gems among the Canadian convertible debentures, including PineTree and Data Group. So it was more than a little annoying that the National Post stopped maintaining their online listings of these securities.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Astroball

On a 2014 cover of Sports Illustrated, Ben Reiter predicted that the Houston Astros would win the World Series in 2017. They did. This is no small feat considering the salaries the large market teams are able to afford, and the armies of data analysts various teams employ in order to garner an edge. In Astroball: The New Way to Win It All, Reiter tells the story of how they did it.

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Dip

Some books can be shortened to the length of an article without losing anything. Seth Godin's The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit can probably be shortened to a sentence.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Game

I rarely read books a second time (though I plan to do more of it in the future), so when I do it's because I considered them great. The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists is definitely in that category. It blew me away in a number of ways when I first read it more than a decade ago, and so I decided to give it another go.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The CEO Pay Machine

In general, CEO pay is out of control and out of line with the value managers provide. I suspect that few people who don't benefit from this system would dispute that. Study after study has shown that CEO performance is not correlated with pay, and that luck plays a far more dominant role in company results than management prowess. And yet, the CEO pay scale has risen to astronomical heights, because company boards, who are supposed to be shareholder representatives, have been captured by company management. Since I already have this point of view, I thought there was little point in reading Steven Clifford's The CEO Pay Machine: How it Trashes America and How to Stop it, but it came so highly recommended that I read it anyway.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Starch Solution

My LDL cholesterol level (136) was far and above what my family doctor was expecting on a recent blood test. At first, he thought the number was so high that I must have a genetic abnormality, but after asking me a few questions he now pinpoints my low-carb diet as the problem. I've lost 40 lbs following a low-carb diet over the course of the last couple of years, and while my doctor says it's a great way to lose weight, he also says it's bad for my long-term health. He suggested I read The Starch Solution: Eat the Foods You Love, Regain Your Health, and Lose the Weight for Good! by McDougall. This book blew my mind!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Vista Outdoor

Shares of Vista Outdoor have been decimated as the company has been dragged through a deep industry slowdown. Shares are down 80% from their highs in 2016.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Karsan Value Funds: 2019 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.

Friday, March 29, 2019

21 Lessons for the 21st Century

There are few books I enjoy that don't support an overall theme, but this is one of them. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a collection of pretty much unrelated essays by a pretty smart guy. You might recognize him as the author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, which is a terrific book.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Hero To Zero: Interserve

It was with a great deal of confidence that I bought Interserve just over a year ago. My portfolio was running hot; I hadn't had any losers in a while. While I knew that this was probably just due to luck, I couldn't help but think (expect?) that I wouldn't have any losers for some time. That attitude no longer prevails. Taking a company from seemingly healthy to bankruptcy in just 13 months will do that.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Pre-suasion

Though I was a huge fan of Influence, I kept pushing Cialdini's latest book Pre-Suasion further into my reading backlog. I figured the first book pretty much covered the most important stuff so well that this new one was bound to be a disappointment.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Radical Markets

In recent decades in the West, GDP growth has slowed down, while inequality has risen. Radical Markets points out the inefficiencies with the status-quo version of capitalism we are familiar with, and recommends a wholesale change that is even more market-based than the one we have.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Mastering the Market Cycle

I did not want to read Mastering the Market Cycle, but it seems to be so widely read in value investing circles that I felt like I had to. Despite my low expectations, I was still disappointed by the book.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Friday, February 8, 2019

All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front is the story of World War I as seen by a teen aged German tasked with manning the front. It is a powerful story, written by a guy who served on the front lines. The Nazis banned and burned his books.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Rebel Allocator

I can't think of a single novel on the topic of value investing...until now. A Google search for "value investing novels" provides a comprehensive list of value investing books that are decidedly *not* novels. The closest thing I can think of is an obscure book a publisher once sent me about buying low and selling high in the shipping industry (creatively named "The Shipping Man"). So in The Rebel Allocator, Jacob Taylor is breaking new ground.

Monday, February 4, 2019

You Down With RFP?

A cyclical stock I have started to buy is Resolute Forest Products. They make many kinds of wood products including lumber, tissue and newsprint.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Billion Dollar Whale

Con men are all over the place. Often, they only get so far before they are discovered. But under the right (wrong?) set of circumstances, they can unleash a financial fury. Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World is the story of one such man, who bilked entire countries, top brokers, and investors for billions of dollars.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Secret of our Success

I think we pretty much all believe that it's our intelligence that separates us from other species. In The Secret of Our Success, Joseph Henrich makes the case that we are hardly more intelligent than primates, if at all, across a number of measures. What separates us is our culture.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Feast of the Goat

There are some books that I know I will never forget, because they have made an enormous impact on me. The Feast of the Goat is one of those books. It is a novel about a real-life cruel regime that ruled the Dominican Republic from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Modern Monopolies

Thanks to the reach of the internet, platform companies are everywhere nowadays. These are companies with monopolistic characteristics thanks to their network effects (e.g. Uber, Google Search, iOS, Facebook etc.). Modern Monopolies: What It Takes to Dominate the 21st Century Economy is all about discussing how to build them, what to avoid, and how to think about them.

Karsan Value Funds: 2018 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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