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Archive for the ‘Personal Comments’

How Do I Pitch an Idea That Actually Gets Heard?

December 04, 2012 By: webmaster Category: Personal Comments, Security Analysis

One of my favorite websites that has nothing to do with investing is Lifehacker.

Lifehacker is full of tips on how to improve productivity – many of which can be applied to the research process.  Most of the analysts I know (and this one in particular) are challenged with trying to figure out how to allocate their time in the most efficient and productive manner possible.  (One warning – spending too much time reading Lifehacker may not be the most effective use of your time.)

That said, Lifehacker just posted a fantastic article.  I receive many e-mails from aspiring analysts.  One suggestion I offer (and one that I used myself) is to write compelling, concise stock pitches and send them to anyone you want to work for and anyone who is connected to anyone you want to work for.

But how do you write a compelling, concise stock pitch?  How do you pitch an idea that actually gets heard?  Lifehacker gives some great pointers here.

Dear Lifehacker,

I have good, sometimes great ideas from time to time but I don’t really know how to get anyone to listen. Usually I start and I can see there attention fade away after a few minutes. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, or how to keep people interested. What can I do to make my pitches more interesting and get people to actually listen to them?

Pitch Imperfect

See: How Do I Pitch An Idea that Actually Gets Heard? via

A Few Holiday Laughs…

November 21, 2012 By: webmaster Category: Personal Comments, Sad But True wants to wish all of our American readers (and everyone else) a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving!

Enjoy the videos below to help kick-off a relaxing vacation. They are 4 of my favorites. I’m not sure whether they should make you laugh or cry. In any case, they make me thankful for being a value investor!

“I Want To Buy”

“What do you think the stock is worth?”
“More than what?”
“More than it is trading for.”

“PM vs. Analyst”


“The Facebook IPO – Part I”


“The Facebook IPO – Part II”

Two New Tools

September 06, 2011 By: webmaster Category: Behavioral Finance, Benjamin Graham, Howard Marks, James Montier, Personal Comments, Security Analysis, Valuation

Prior to 2008, it was normal for a value investor to have no particular “view on the economy.”   As Ben Graham said “Analysis should be penetrating not prophetic.”  In The Little Book of Behavioral Investing James Montier explains that “All Investors should devote themselves to understanding the nature of the business and its intrinsic worth, rather than wasting their time trying to guess the unknowable future.”

After 2008, several highly regarded value investors began to argue that while they still might not attempt a detailed economic forecast, they now found it more important to be aware of the economic environment and macro outlook.

As usual, my view is not as black and white.  Whether or not a value investor should have a “view on the economy” is still up for debate.  However, there is no doubt that investors must understand the the impact different economic outcomes can have on the intrinsic value of each stock they own.  Montier goes on to quote Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital who in 2001 wrote:

There are a few things I dismiss and a few I believe in thoroughly. The former include economic forecasts, which I think don’t add value, and the list of the latter starts with cycles and the need to prepare for them.

“Hey, ” you might say, “that’s contradictory. The best way to prepare for cycles is to predict them, and you just said it can’t be done.” That ’s absolutely true, but in my opinion by no means debilitating. All of investing consists of dealing  with the future .

. . and the future is something we can’t know much about. But the limits on our foreknowledge needn’t doom us to failure as long as we acknowledge them and act accordingly.

In my opinion, the key to dealing with the future lies in knowing where you are, even if you can’t know precisely where you ’re going. Knowing where you are in a cycle and what that implies for the future is different from predicting the  timing, extent and shape of the cyclical move.

As usual, I completely agree with Marks.  So how do we know where we are and how do we analyze the effect of a range of economic conditions on the intrinsic value of an investment?  I believe that the best way is to study the only thing we know for certain – the past.  I know, things change, the world is different, we have globalization, a major worldwide debt crisis, a housing market the likes of which we have not seen since the 1930s, and the list goes on…  That being said, we must start somewhere.

One of the important steps in my investment process is what I call “Exploratory Research.” In this phase, I try to arrange all of the data I gathered to analyze how it relates to both each other and also many different variables.  The goal of this exercise is to get as creative as possible, with the hope of developing an analytical edge.  At the very least, this analysis will help me to understand how a business might react considering a range of economic scenarios.

I used to find economic data on Bloomberg, Capital IQ, or dozens of different websites.   However, I recently discovered an incredible Add-In for Microsoft Excel.   It is called the “FRED Add-in” and is provided by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.  As described on their website:

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Economic Data (FRED) Add-In is free software that will significantly reduce the amount of time spent collecting and organizing macroeconomic data. The FRED add-in provides free access to over 30,000 data series from various sources (e.g., BEA, BLS, Census, and OECD) directly through Microsoft Excel.

Key Features:

  • One-click instant download of economic time series.
  • Browse the most popular data and search the FRED database.
  • Quick and easy data frequency conversion and growth rate calculations.
  • Instantly refresh and update spreadsheets with newly released data.
  • Create graphs with NBER recession shading and an auto update feature.

The best part is that the Add-In is free!  It is an amazing and powerful tool that you can download here.

A second resource I recently stumbled upon is which can be found here: .  It is another fantastic FREE resource to track insider buys and sells.  While I have found several websites in the past that provide insider buying/selling summaries, seems to be the most comprehensive free site.  As value investors know, insider transactions can be a great place to find new investment ideas or raise questions about existing holdings.

Remodeling in Progress

August 24, 2010 By: webmaster Category: Personal Comments

Please excuse the current remodeling in progress.  I hope to have the site back and better than ever by the end of Labor Day.

I must also apologize to many who have written me and not received a reply.  I am working on that as well.  If you did write and do not received a response by Labor Day (September 6, 2010),  I strongly encourage you to follow-up.

While Labor Day has come and gone, I have not yet finished cleaning up this site. Please accept my apology for the delay, but things should get back to normal shortly.  I have now made it infinitely easier to add new materials at a faster pace.  Keep checking back for updated resources.

I hope everyone is having a great end to their summer fall!


Dropbox: A Request

May 23, 2010 By: webmaster Category: Personal Comments

I have never really made any requests on this site but I am going to make a brief exception.  For those of you who have never tried Dropbox, I highly recommend that you try it out. It is the best way I have found to sync files between multiple computers.  I will paste the short details below, but you can go to to learn more.  Anyone who signs up can get 2GB of storage for free.  However, for each referral you make, you can earn an addition 250mb of free storage.  If you are interested in the program, I ask that you sign up by clicking this link: .  Once I reach 8GB I will take this post down.  Thanks for your help and I hope you enjoy Dropbox as much as I do.


From the Dropbox website:

Dropbox allows you to sync your files online and across your computers automatically.

  • 2GB of online storage for free, with up to 100GB available to paying customers.
  • Sync files of any size or type.
  • Sync Windows, Mac and Linux computers.
  • Automatically syncs when new files or changes are detected.
  • Work on files in your Dropbox even if you’re offline. Your changes sync once your computer has an Internet connection again.
  • Dropbox transfers will correctly resume where they left off if the connection drops.
  • Efficient sync – only the pieces of a file that changed (not the whole file) are synced. This saves you time.
  • Doesn’t hog your Internet connection. You can manually set bandwidth limits.

(Please remember to actually install Dropbox, or I don’t get credit for the referral.  I think you will find the program incredibly useful and thanks for your help.)

Back to Business

March 08, 2009 By: webmaster Category: Personal Comments

I apologize for the downtime.  Shortly after my last post, my wife and I were blessed with our own little 4pd 8oz holiday miracle.  I am just getting back to my ‘normal’ routine, and plan to begin updating the blog this week.

In the meantime, I am adding a tab that will list the resources I add to the site sorted by date added.  Since the primary goal of the blog is to organize the resources I find helpful as a securities analyst, I expect that updates to this page will far outweigh the number of posts I write.

I have really enjoyed hearing from so many like-minded investors who enjoy the site.  It was surprising to me how many people I have met as a result of my posts.  I hope you will continue to introduce yourselves.