Over the past few days, Sui Chuan and myself have been busy in Hong Kong attending the Asia Value Investor Conference. Hence, we apologise for the lack of recent articles. The conference being the first of its kind within Asia, is focused on sharing investment opportunities within Asia. Other than the interesting investment ideas presented by each renowned speaker, there are many learning points that us investors can take away.
To me, investing has always been a never-ending pursuit to get better. The more I learn, the more I realise how much I do not know. While not every speaker may present ideas or investment philosophies that one may agree with, there is always something to be learnt. For example, we are invested in a company that deals with properties, financial assets and hotel operations. One thing that I never understood would be why the company is trading at such low valuations of P/B 0.1x and the book value is based on historical cost. While identifying cheap companies is one thing, understanding why it is cheap is another. Through the conference, I gained new insights on this matter, indirectly. This would be regarding on holding company discounts and how hotels being constantly depreciated has a greater discount placed upon it. When we feel that there is nothing more to learn about investing, think again. Being able to listen to such renowned speakers was something definitely worthwhile.
With such a conference, one key aspect many investors are looking for would be ideas generation. In each presentation, speakers would be presenting on their investment philosophy, perhaps backed up with a couple of case studies and offering some investment ideas that are currently in their portfolio. While the aim is to buying undervalued companies, everyone defines value differently. Hence, this is extremely insightful and beneficial to one's learning process. While not every idea may be ideal to us, there are many ways of skinning a cat. I would say that the biggest takeaway for me would be that there are so much more I could be doing in regards to understanding why a company is cheap. Talking to management, their competitors, suppliers and customers – essentially the entire supply chain. This is something that I believe is lacking in our investment approach and something we should be looking into.
Investing is quite an individual sport. Very often, we are just cooped up in our offices, reading Annual Reports, Magazines, Blogs, Biographies, etc. Though reading is important, it should not be a substitute for interaction and discussion with other investors. Given such a high profile event, it attracts many speakers and investors from reputable institutions. Hence, it offered a great opportunity of networking, exchanging of ideas and new friendships.
While it may not be cheap to attend this conference, especially factoring the airfare and hotel cost, I would say it is definitely value for money. There is a limit as to how much we can learn from books and investing ourselves. This is all about taking it to the next level.