Mohnish Pabrai – If Your Investment Thesis Requires You To Fire Up Excel, It Should Be A Big Red Flag

I just finished re-reading one of my favorite investing books, The Dhando Investor, by Mohnish Pabrai. One of my favorite parts of the book covers Pabrai’s methodology when it comes to putting together an investment thesis. His thesis is in accordance with Buffett and Munger’s age old adage of keeping it simple.

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Mohnish Pabrai Indian-American businessman, investor, and philanthropist famous hedge fund investors, value investors, chai with pabrai, heads i win tails i don't lose, pabrai funds, Mosaic: Perspectives on Investing, clone investing, The Education of a Value Investor, The Dhandho Investor: The Low - Risk Value Method to High Returns, Zinc, Horsehead holdings

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

Simplicity is a very powerful construct. Henry Thoreau recognized this when he said, “Our life is frittered away by detail . . . simplify, simplify.” Einstein also recognized the power of simplicity, and it was the key to his breakthroughs in physics. He noted that the five ascending levels of intellect were, “Smart, Intelligent, Brilliant, Genius, Simple.” For Einstein, simplicity was simply the highest level of intellect.

Everything about Warren Buffett’s investment style is simple. It is the thinkers like Einstein and Buffett, who fixate on simplicity, who triumph. The genius behind E=mc2 is its simplicity and elegance.

Everything about Dhandho is simple, and therein lies its power. As we see in Chapter 15, the psychological warfare with our brains really gets heated after we buy a stock. The most potent weapon in your arsenal to fight these powerful forces is to buy painfully simple businesses with painfully simple theses for why you’re likely to make a great deal of money and unlikely to lose much. I always write the thesis down. If it takes more than a short paragraph, there is a fundamental problem. If it requires me to fire up Excel, it is a big red flag that strongly suggests that I ought to take a pass.

Article by Johnny Hopkins, The Acquirer's Multiple




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The Acquirer's Multiple
The Acquirer’s Multiple® is the valuation ratio used to find attractive takeover candidates. It examines several financial statement items that other multiples like the price-to-earnings ratio do not, including debt, preferred stock, and minority interests; and interest, tax, depreciation, amortization. The Acquirer’s Multiple® is calculated as follows: Enterprise Value / Operating Earnings* It is based on the investment strategy described in the book Deep Value: Why Activist Investors and Other Contrarians Battle for Control of Losing Corporations, written by Tobias Carlisle, founder of acquirersmultiple.com. The Acquirer’s Multiple® differs from The Magic Formula® Earnings Yield because The Acquirer’s Multiple® uses operating earnings in place of EBIT. Operating earnings is constructed from the top of the income statement down, where EBIT is constructed from the bottom up. Calculating operating earnings from the top down standardizes the metric, making a comparison across companies, industries and sectors possible, and, by excluding special items–earnings that a company does not expect to recur in future years–ensures that these earnings are related only to operations. Similarly, The Acquirer’s Multiple® differs from the ordinary enterprise multiple because it uses operating earnings in place of EBITDA, which is also constructed from the bottom up. Tobias Carlisle is also the Chief Investment Officer of Carbon Beach Asset Management LLC. He's best known as the author of the well regarded Deep Value website Greenbackd, the book Deep Value: Why Activists Investors and Other Contrarians Battle for Control of Losing Corporations (2014, Wiley Finance), and Quantitative Value: A Practitioner’s Guide to Automating Intelligent Investment and Eliminating Behavioral Errors (2012, Wiley Finance). He has extensive experience in investment management, business valuation, public company corporate governance, and corporate law. Articles written for Seeking Alpha are provided by the team of analysts at acquirersmultiple.com, home of The Acquirer's Multiple Deep Value Stock Screener. All metrics use trailing twelve month or most recent quarter data. * The screener uses the CRSP/Compustat merged database “OIADP” line item defined as “Operating Income After Depreciation.”