Results 151–200 of 234 found.
Employer Mandate: A Pharma Bump in the Road
As long-duration value investors, we at Smead Capital Management have been very attracted to the conservative accounting, shareholder friendly dividends/buybacks and bright pipeline futures of major pharmaceutical/biotech companies like Merck (MRK), Pfizer (PFE) and Amgen (AMGN). Lately, there has been weakness in these shares and we’d like to review our best theory for recent fears and price weakness, while reviewing the merit of these high quality shares.
Win Ben's Money
From 1997 to 2003 a show called, Win Ben Steins Money ran on the Comedy Central Network. The last five years, investors in the US have been playing a very similar game we are calling, Win Bens Money. The new game stars Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Ben Bernanke. The object is to win the money the Fed creates via Quantitative Easing (QE) through macroeconomic analysis. In this missive, we will look at how these investors chased Bens Money and consider what to do going forward.
The Art of Low Turnover
We have argued vociferously that active managers have given up their preferred position in the investing marketplace to passive indexes because of high turnover. A recent Wall Street Journal article referenced 78% turnover as being the average among large-cap US equity funds. Studies have shown that as much as 144 basis points each year in return is chewed up by trading costs. Explaining turnover and its impact is one thing, but it is more important to ask a question. How do you practice low turnover while seeking maximal long-term performance?
Portfolio Comfort in Stock Splits
We have noticed that there has been a dearth of stock splits among the S&P 500 index companies in the last 5 years. Our observation is that the natural habitat for stock splits is normally a multiple-year market upswing and numerous stocks trading over $60 per share. What does the history of stock splits tell us about where we are in the long-term stock market cycle for the S&P 500 index? Who will the marginal buyer of common stocks be in the near term and what do stock splits teach us about who the marginal buyer is?
Cyclical Securities: Too Early?
We have been making a number of arguments about various asset classes over the last three years and we would like to keep our readers very aware of the progress being made in these markets. We have argued that a secular bear market is in place for commodities and US company shares which are attached to the commodity cycle. Additionally, we maintain that there is a secular bear market operating under the surface in emerging equity markets. We believe that July of 2011 was the beginning of the secular bear market involving a number of asset classes beyond just commodities and emerging markets.
Is There Value in Today's Stock Market
Due to the recent strength in the US stock market, we thought it would be helpful to followers of Smead Capital Management to understand the history of our core investment beliefs and where our portfolio is in relation to those core beliefs. A review of the ongoing tension between valuation mattering dearly and the enormous benefits of long-term business ownership is especially interesting after a significant upward move in the stock market. How do you keep turnover and trading expense low, while maintaining a meaningful margin of safety?
Yen Weakness: Buffett's "Shot Heard Round the World'"
We returned recently from the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder Conference. The most exciting and profound comment to us was what Warren Buffett said about the unprecedented actions the last three years by the Federal Reserve Board. Buffett was asked about the risks of the Federal Reserves current plan to buy Treasuries to keep interest rates very low.
Screaming Bear Market Rally"
In the summer of 2009, I was a regular guest on CNBC shows like Larry Kudlow. We believe we were invited to participate in those panel discussions because we were the token bull in the conversation and I am obnoxious enough to state my piece against significant mental and verbal opposition. The US stock market had bottomed in March of 2009 and rallied explosively into the late spring and early summer. What reminded me of this is the news coverage and expert reaction to the recent collapse in commodity prices, especially gold and corn.
The Road to Omaha: Volatility or Wealth Creation
This is the last installment in our five part series called The Road to Omaha. In this series of missives we have looked at the keys to the investing success of Warren Buffett leading up to the 2012 annual meeting.
The Road To Omaha
We have been discussing keys to the investment success of Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway as we approach the 2013 annual meeting. In this week’s edition, we are considering a company which might make a good “elephant” for Berkshire to buy.
The Road to Omaha: Own High Quality Businesses
We are spending the five weeks leading up to the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting focusing on investment keys which are important to both Warren Buffett and Smead Capital Management. This week our focus is on owning high quality businesses.
The Road To Omaha: Being a Business Owner
In this five-part series leading up to the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting, we discuss the keys to Warren Buffetts investment success. We believe these keys are available to all of us and are a part of the discipline of stock-picking at Smead Capital Management.
The Road To Omaha: Valuation Matters Dearly
Valuation is the topic that will begin a month-long series were calling, The Road to Omaha. In the next five weeks as we build to the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting, we will present a picture of Mr. Warren Buffet and his investments through the Smead Capital Management lens. There is one central fact on which Warren Buffett, efficient market theorists, and Smead Capital Management agreevaluation matters dearly.
Mark Hulbert: Our Kindred Spirit
Mark Hulbert and I started in the investment business in 1980. He chose to create a business out of analyzing the results and psychological implications of investment newsletter writers. At Smead Capital Management, we formed a business to analyze publicly-traded US common stocks through the prism of our eight proprietary criteria. We enjoy his unbiased third-party opinions on current circumstances and his consistently good historical perspective.
The Constancy of Dividends
The payout ratio on the S&P 500 Index currently hovers around 30% of the after-tax profits of companies in the indexat the low end of the last 100 years. In comparison, the capital appreciation portfolio here at Smead Capital Management has a payout ratio of 27%. This is important because most studies show that over 40% of the returns provided by common stocks come from dividends over long stretches of time. With those figures in mind, we reasoned that this is a good juncture to remind everyone about our vision of the next ten years as it pertains to dividends.
What's Your Advantage?
In the March 9, 2013 issue of Barrons, writer Jonathon Laing wrote an excellent piece about Howard Marks. This article provides the base from which we can discuss the main components of investment portfolio composition. These components are information, analysis of information, and decisions made from information and analysis. In doing so, we will bring to light why we believe todays best opportunity is in long-duration common stock investing.
Harry Markopolos was working for a hedge fund of funds and attempting to put a portfolio together that would "smooth" long-term returns. In the process of marketing what his company was doing, he ran into a client who already had a money manager doing that for him. The money manager the client used was Bernie Madoff. When Markopolous looked at the long-term track record of Madoff's client, he instantly knew that it was mathematically impossible to have a return that high with as little year-to-year variance in the return. We at Smead Capital Management would like to ask a few questions.
2013, Losing the Bid
Many times in my 32-year career people ask me to comment on whether an established trend for a popular investment will stay intact. My answer is always the same. We don't know when the hot streak will end for the popular investment and we don't feel comfortable with popular securities. In our view, there is a dramatic difference in what you do with popular investments based on whether they areto use terms borrowed from Warren Buffett currency assets, unproductive assets, or productive assets. It has to do with the ability to sell and the liquidity you have when the popularity disappears.
Muscle Memory or Muscle Training
Interest rates have gone down on US Treasury bonds off and on for 31 years. This means that the coupon you are being paid has been joined by significant capital gains. Jim Grant argues that the only thing going for bonds is how well handlers of money have done on them; Warren Buffett calls it "rear-view mirror investing".
Our Job: Whether; Market's Job: When
Warren Buffett describes the stock market's purpose as being "a wonderfully efficient mechanism for transferring wealth from the impatient to the patient". We are reminded of this by a series of news reports and commentaries on subjects greatly influenced by basic economics. In today's missive, we consider what the law of supply and demand says about China, oil, and housing in the USA.
Too Active, Too Passive: Too Little Understanding
The wealth management and institutional consulting communities have allowed indexing to be called "passive" investing and stock-picking disciplines to be called active management. This implies a mindless approach to indexing and a great deal of busyness to stock picking. We at Smead Capital Management believe these labels are at the heart of a great deal of confusion about what works and what doesn't work in both equity mutual funds and separately managed accounts.
10-Year Shiller P/E Exposes Cyclical Overvaluation and Undervaluation
Last week we spoke to the Washington Hay Growers Convention in Kennewick, Washington. Those who grow hay have enjoyed a very similar boom in the last twelve years that wheat and corn growers have enjoyed. The parking lot was full of nearly new heavy duty trucks and the convention floor was packed with $400,000 to $700,000 farm implements from major manufacturers. These farmers have been feasting in the boom and it got me thinking about how to correctly value cyclical businesses, because at Smead Capital Management valuation matters dearly.
It's Not What Happens That Matters
Late in 2008 and in early 2009, a group of what we like to call "brilliant pessimists" hit the airwaves with their economic theories. The prognosticators' vision of the future was and is predicated on the history of similar situations and the mathematical realities of the huge debt overhang from the prior ten years of profligate economic behavior. They put very effective names on their visions like "new normal" and "seven lean years". They marketed their visions incredibly well to the point of shaming anyone who might disagree with their theories.
Things Can Only Get Better
As long-duration common stock owners, we at Smead Capital Management don't put much emphasis on predicting the year-to-year movements in the stock market. We expect at least a 10 percent or greater decline during each year and a greater than 20 percent decline at least once every five years. With that caveat in place, we will throw our two cents into the debate about what the US stock market will do in 2013.
How to Screen for Wonderfully Boring Stocks
In a December 7, 2012 piece for Barrons.com, Mark Hulbert shared the research from a study called "Low Risk Stocks Outperform within All Observable Markets of the World." The study, written by Nardin Baker and Robert Haugen, convincingly made the argument that boring stocks are wonderful for superior compounded returns regardless of which country you measure.
Does China Pass the Smell Test?
We at Smead Capital Management believe that prolonged faith in China's economy and the belief that emerging market growth will be an elixir for developed market multi-national companies is the erroneous gift that just keeps giving. If China's economy has been successfully soft landed from its boom, why is the internal Shanghai Composite index making new lows as recently as last week (November 29th, 2012)?
Economics 101: Little Return without Risk
A tremendous amount of energy and effort has been expended in the US on behalf of wealthy investors to secure returns while reducing risk. Like any useful endeavor, it started out as a wise thing and reached its stride in the late 1990s as a way to deal with a massive asset misallocation. As Warren Buffett always says, What the wise man does at the beginning, the fool does at the end. It appears to us that the efforts to eliminate risk in the US capital markets have reached the foolish point.
Argo and Ethel: America Has Never Been a "Rose Garden"
We recently had the pleasure of seeing a movie, Argo, and a documentary on HBO, Ethel. Argo is the story of the rescue of the six Americans from the Canadian Ambassador's residence at the time of the Iranian takeover of the US Embassy in Teheran. Ethel is a documentary which tells the story of Ethel Kennedy, the wife of Senator Robert Kennedy. It was produced, directed and narrated by Ethel Kennedy's youngest daughter, Rory. I rate both of these films highly and believe they tell US investors something they need to be reminded of.
US Olympic Swim Team and Warren Buffett: Buy and Hold
The US swim team has their own criteria for developing young athletes. We assume in every ten-year stretch that they support the swimming efforts of 25 to 30 young athletes in hopes of finding an occasional Mark Spitz or Michael Phelps. Most of them share the characteristics we described about Michael Phelps. The US Olympic team is the most successful swim team portfolio manager in the world. What can we learn from them as portfolio managers?
We at Smead Capital Management (SCM) believe that institutional and individual investors have moved their asset allocation away from large cap US stocks. Institutions are in exile in private equity, hedge funds and all things commodity and BRIC-trade related.
Great US Companies: Tomorrow's Foundation
Fears of a collapse in European economies and of a US recession subsided. Residential real estate appears headed for a comeback (Surprise?) in the US and nothing gives American consumers more confidence than knowing that their house is becoming more valuable.
Circle the Wagons on GLD
We spoke to two small groups in Spokane on September 21st, 2012. For better or worse, when I think of Spokane I think of my cousin Gary. It was 1981 and yours truly was a young stockbroker at Drexel Burnham Lambert. Gold had been in a wonderful bull market ride in the prior five to ten years. Gary was interested in participating in gold through a gold-mining stock traded on the Spokane Stock Exchange. Spokanes proximity to the Northern Idaho mining towns and closeness to the Canadian border made it a natural place for commodity traders and mining enthusiasts to gather to transact business.
The Predictive Power of Dividends
In an article published by Marketwatch.com on September 21, 2012, Mark Hulbert asks the question, "Where do you think the stock market will be ten years from now?" It was as a lead into the results of a predictive model from Rob Arnott, founder of Research Affiliates. His model argues that current dividend yields go a long way to predicting ten-year forward returns. Other than a big glitch in the 1990's, it appears to have some value.
US Stock Market Sentiment in a World of Wide Asset Allocation
Our long-time readers are aware that we are stingy when it comes to trading and big believers of keeping trading costs low at Smead Capital Management. Despite these natural inclinations, we do try to keep the pulse of sentiment in the US stock market.
How did the job of an asset allocator move from seeking out undervalued asset classes and securities to one of seeking to mitigate risk? Is risk mitigation a worthy goal or even possible without abandoning real return goals? When and why did wealth creation become wealth management? What opportunities exist today for those who seek wealth creation through intelligent risk taking?
Everyone wants to wait for the perfect time to buy into the stock market or into any major investment market. They want to enter at historically cheap prices or at "absolute values". We at Smead Capital Management believe that these people are kidding themselves and everybody else. At the time of historical lows and "absolute value" those same folks are too mortified to pull the trigger and always come up with the reason that "it's different this time". Inertia rules the day.
Oil: Does Supply and Demand Matter?
We believe the long-term demand for oil will be greatly influenced by where the world gets its best future growth. As the chart below shows, the US has cut by 50% the amount of energy which is required to generate each dollar of Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Stock Pickers: "Somebody I Used to Know"
Art has a tendency to express culture. One of today's catchiest songs does a great job of explaining the relationship between institutional/individual investors and US common stock picking. The song captures what has happened since the summer of 1999, when Warren Buffett warned investors about forward stock market returns because of a love affair that institutional and individual investors were having with US large cap stocks.
The Price of Glamour
The list of glamorous growth stocks getting hit by what we call "minefield" price declines is getting fairly long. Some of the more influential names which have suffered sharp, swift declines include Nike (NKE), Chipotle (CMG ), Facebook (FB), Coinstar (CSTR), Starbucks (SBUX) and the King of the Glam stocks, Apple (AAPL). Is there a pattern here that matters? If earnings growth is hard to come by, what are the most important themes for long-duration common stock investors?
One of our eight proprietary criteria for stock selection is shareholder friendliness. Buying another company whose industry has enjoyed unusual prosperity is not shareholder friendly. Recently, as an example, Microsoft (MSFT) admitted what most of us already knew. Microsofts online business is a massive destroyer of capital and shareholder value. They wrote down the value of their acquisition of aQuantive by $6.2 billion.
Math, History and Psychology - Part 3
Over the years, we have heard Charlie Munger state that Psychology is the most underrated and underutilized of the major academic disciplines in business and investing. Andy Grove backed this up in a Fortune magazine interview by telling about the best business advice he had ever received. His City College of New York professor told him, When everybody knows that something is so, it means nobody knows nothin.
Only the Lonely Can Play
Human beings prefer to buy shares of a common stock which have gone up in price recently. They prefer to participate in styles and sectors which have done better in the most recent five to seven years. Lastly, human beings prefer to make money sooner, rather than later. Fortunately for us, THE MOTELS wrote and performed a song back in the early 1980s (Only the Lonely), which explains what we need to do in the marketplace as we look out into the second half of 2012.
Math, History and Psychology - Part 2
Last week we wrote about the math of common stock investing and the effectiveness of mathematical discipline to portfolio management. This week we will focus on history and the importance of that academic discipline to us as common stock portfolio managers here at Smead Capital Management (SCM).
Math, History and Psychology
In my 32 years in the investment business, success in common stock investing seems to come down to math, history and psychology. At Smead Capital Management (SCM), we have built our investment discipline and our eight proprietary criteria around these academic subjects. With the stock markets gyrating wildly the last few weeks, we thought it would be helpful to see where we are today in each of these disciplines. We will start this week with our view on the math section.
Down and Out in Wenzhou
Much like in the US in 2006, the Chinese government officials and the worldwide media need to believe that what is going on in Wenzhou is not the first domino in a series of dominos which fall over the next two years. The Chinese economy and its miracle of the last 30 years were originally driven by the competitive advantage of cheap labor.
Rational Despair and Analogous Situations
Randall Forsyth of Barrons wrote a piece on May 31st, 2012 called, Irrational Exuberances Flip Side Seen in Low Bond Yields. It reminded me of the following and wise joke. A younger person asks an older person, How do you succeed in business? The older person says, Good Decisions. The younger person says, How do you make good decisions? The older person answers, Through experience. The younger person asks, How do you get experience? The older person answers, Bad decisions.
Gannett: Where Buffett Meets Zillow
You will be surprised to hear that I am somewhat addicted to keeping track of the value of the home we have in the Seattle area and the one in Scottsdale, Arizona. It seems that Zillow uses comparisons to recent sales as the primary vehicle to come up with their Zestimates. We believe at Smead Capital Management (SCM) that comps are a useful tool in valuing common stocks. They are even more useful if the transactions are recent and spectacularly useful if the comps come from a savvy buyer. We would like to run our version of a Zillow estimate on Gannett (GCI).
Were Off to See the Wizard
In October of 2010 we explained in a missive called The Wizard of Oz that investors had put too much confidence in the ability of a group of Chinese National, US-educated economists to manage the China economy. Thanks to the writing of Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in The Telegraph on May 13th of 2012, we can see just how successful the Wizard has been in perpetuating the myth that China can be the first major world economy to defy business cycles.
The Vision Thing II
In May of 2010 we wrote about how important it was for the companies which meet our eight criteria to have a strong vision and clear agenda for their business. We believe that every five to ten years those who manage money need to "cast a vision" of where they want to take investors and then backtrack from there to put a portfolio together to best take advantage of the vision cast. We believe there are three main roadblocks to the casting of a vision for the execution of a portfolio plan. In the absence of more attractive titles, we will call these roadblocks fog, bog and smog.
One Up on Wall Street
Peter Lynch went to the mall with his wife back in the days when he ran Fidelity Magellan. The purpose was to see what stores were getting good traffic and creating a buzz. Peter felt this was an advantage the average individual investor had over the professionals on Wall Street. We like to buy companies in the Warren Buffett-Charlie Munger tradition. We like to buy most during periods of pessimism ala John Templeton. We use our proprietary eight criteria for selecting. Finally, we get excited when the current evidence hints that we are onto something, getting good traffic and creating a buzz.
Results 151–200 of 234 found.