Friday, February 28, 2014


When a corporate scandal is ongoing in real-time, we outsiders haven't a clue as to what's going on behind the scenes. The involved parties clam-up to protect themselves while simultaneously launching public relations campaigns to come across as innocent. But the details do come out later.

Two years ago, the Olympus scandal rocked the corporate world. Olympus' CEO at the time has now written a tell-all book called Exposure detailing how the whole thing went down.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed The Art Of War

Great men get a lot of air time, and often deservedly so. But sometimes a great man doesn't get the recognition he deserves. In John Boyd's case, he worked for an organization (the US Air Force) that deemed his work as classified. He didn't suffer fools, no matter how powerful they were, and thus made a lot of enemies who didn't want to give him credit. As a result, few people know who he is. I was blown away by his accomplishments, as told in Robert Coram's book Boyd.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dacha New And Improved Management

For a few years now, Dacha Strategic Metals (DSM) has languished at a massive discount to its book value, and with good reason. Its previous management was a one-trick pony, having invested the bulk of the firm's assets in rare-earth metals. While this made them look like geniuses in the 2011 rare-earths bubble, the subsequent bursting of that bubble revealed these speculators for what they are: poor capital allocators.

If this same management team were still in charge of Dacha, I would probably not be invested in this company, despite the greater-than-50% discount to book value at which it trades. (Note that the bulk of this book value is made up of cash and a bunch of rare-earth metals valued at current market prices, with no leverage involved.)

Fortunately, however, shareholder activism led to the ousting of the destroyers of capital.Read more...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Different: Escaping The Competitive Herd

Harvard Business School Professor Moon provides us with an interesting take on the direction of corporate competition in her book, Different.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Manage Your Day To Day

For some workers, measuring their productivity is easy. If you went from 12 widgets a day last year to 11 widgets a day this year, you know you're going backwards. For knowledge workers, however, it's not that easy to tell if our productivity is improving or getting worse. With the proliferation of e-mail/sms communication and the growth of social media, I'm pretty sure my productivity was going backwards for a while there. I thought this problem of getting constantly interrupted was a problem unique to me, but it's not. With the help from others who have written on this subject, I believe I was able to take some steps to not only reverse this problem, but also create more productive time for myself. Glei's Manage Your Day To Day is useful for anyone looking to get a head start on conquering this issue.

Friday, February 14, 2014

LICT Corp Is Far Too Cheap

The fixed-line telephony business is one that should experience negative growth in the coming years, as competition from wireless carriers renders many land lines useless. As such, the market accords companies in this space low multiples, and perhaps deservingly so. But some great opportunities arise when the market paints all companies within an industry with the same brush, without regard to what may be occurring within each business.

LICT Corp (LICT) is a cash-cow that Mr. Market appears to have left for dead. But within LICT Corp is a growing telecom business that is now driving total company revenue higher, which should result in excellent risk-adjusted gains for long-term investors.Read more...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Income Opportunity Satisfied

Income Opportunity Realty Trust (IOT) is run pretty poorly by an apathetic management team that is poorly incentivized. So it was with much hesitation that I brought it up on this site as a potential value investment a couple of years ago, and you guys roasted me in the comments section accordingly. But somehow, this investment actually worked out to the point where I'm happy to sell and move on.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Technique For Producing Ideas

Since most of you come here for the stock ideas, I should preface this post by saying this is not about producing stock ideas (enough of those are available here). Rather, it's about the book by James Young about producing ideas in general. He aims it at marketing people, but it is so general that I think it is useful for anyone that innovates, including people in product development, engineering, software etc.

Friday, February 7, 2014

hhgregg's Sell-Off Is Overdone

Contrarian investors know that it is the least popular stocks that make for the best long-term investments. It is difficult to find a sector that is less well-liked than consumer electronics retail, where competition has taken a bite out of the profitability of many of the industry's players.

One retailer in particular has been particularly unpopular recently. Shares of retailer hhgregg (HGG) are down over 50% in just the last two months, as the company has been severely punished by the market for reporting sales and profits that have been below the market's expectations. However, the company remains profitable despite temporary problems the company has faced. Furthermore, hhgregg continues to shift its business towards products in which the company has a competitive advantage, which should allow it to return to comparable store sales and profit growth over the next several quarters. Read more...

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

And The Money Kept Rolling In (And Out)

It is hard to believe that a few decades ago, Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world. At present, it would appear as though the country has little hope of getting back there. Crisis after crisis, caused not by Mother Nature but rather by Man himself, now seems to ravage this country every few years. A particularly noteworthy depression occurred from 1998 to 2002. In And The Money Kept Rolling In, Paul Blustein describes the environment and the events that led to the major crisis.