Whitney Tilson’s latest email to colleagues
Webinar for our Lessons from the Trenches investing bootcamp starts tomorrow at 7am; The Name is Buffett, Warren Buffett; The Demise of Toys ‘R’ Us Is a Warning; Surviving Prison as a Wall Street Convict; Secretary Quietly Amasses Fortune; Cyprus conf
Our first live webinar, our Lessons from the Trenches investing bootcamp, starts tomorrow at 7am (see attached for details). Rather than the three full days we teach when we’re doing it in person, we’re breaking it into nine 2½-hour sessions that will take place live every day from 7:00-9:30am NY time until Aug. 1 (no class on Sunday).
ValueWalk readers Pease use “VW10” for a discount!
Glenn and I are really looking forward to teaching this new way, as it offers big advantages for participants:
- No need to take time off of work: The webinar is only 2½ hours/day and takes place before work hours for those in the U.S., Canada & Latin America, and after work hours for most of Asia (India, China, Singapore, Australia). (Europeans will need to carve out time in the middle of the day.)
- No need to travel: Anyone, anywhere in the world, can take the webinar using a smartphone, tablet or computer.
- More affordable: Participants won’t incur any travel or hotels costs and, because we don’t have to pay for renting a room, providing meals, etc., we’re pricing the webinar at less than half of our normal tuition.
- It’s recorded: Anyone who misses a session or wants to go back and review something can simply watch the video afterward.
ValueWalk readers Pease use “VW10” for a discount!
You can register at: www.cvent.com/d/dgqdlz/4W.
We typically fill our last few seats at a steep discount for students and young/emerging investors, so if you’d like to join us on short notice, please email me and we’ll try to accommodate you.
2) I just came across this interview, which focused mostly on Buffett and Munger, that I did five years ago with a magazine in India. I think it's one of the best I've ever done. If only I had simply held the stock portfolio I had then, which included Netflix and Apple! The Name is Buffett, Warren Buffett, www.outlookbusiness.com/specials/the-name-is-buffett-warren-buffett/a-successful-investor-knows-when-to-be-arrogant-and-when-to-be-humble-1490. Excerpt:
He didn’t go and listen to Warren Buffett when he spoke at Harvard Business School where he was a student. That is how clueless he was about investing. His friend, noted hedge fund manager Bill Ackman of Pershing Square, was instrumental in the 47-year- old Whitney Tilson becoming an investor. Ackman advised Tilson to read all of Buffett’s annual letters since that was the only thing he needed to learn about investing. Tilson, deeply impressed by the Sage of Omaha, also read up on other noted investors, right from Philip Fisher to Charlie Munger and Peter Lynch. Tilson kickstarted his investment career in 1999 by co-founding T2 Partners and Tilson Mutual Funds. In 2012, he and co-founder Glenn Tongue began investing separately under Kase Capital and Deerhaven Fund, respectively. Kase has a concentrated long position in a particular conglomerate. No prizes for guessing, it’s Berkshire Hathaway.
Warren Buffett has been a big influence on you as an investor. Are there any Buffett principles that have you found difficult to imbibe?
The concept of intrinsic valuation and margin of safety is core to my investment philosophy. Though I haven’t followed it, Buffett’s philosophy relating to the analogy of a punch card with just 20 punches is an interesting intellectual framework. I try and make one good investment a month. So that’s 12 in a year, but multiplied over many years, it’s more than 20 in a lifetime. But then Buffett, too, has made thousands of investments over the years. So, it’s more of an intellectual framework rather than a hard and fast rule. But there are plenty of people who only made one investment decision in their lifetime and are worth an awful lot today. They bought Berkshire Hathaway stock and did nothing else.
Outside of investing, Buffett’s phrase — I don’t know whether he coined it originally — goes as follows, “The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” It’s all the little things, the habits every day over time that make who you are. That is what I mean when I say Buffett has been a role model and influenced my life far beyond investing. He has helped me think about being a better person and that has made me happier and more successful outside of the world of investing.
3) This article in The Atlantic makes a powerful case that private equity ownership has destroyed (or at least hastened the demise of) many retailers: The Demise of Toys ‘R’ Us Is a Warning, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/07/toys-r-us-bankruptcy-private-equity/561758. Excerpt:
The so-called retail apocalypse felled roughly 7,000 stores and eliminated more than 50,000 jobs in 2017. For the spate of brands that have recently declared bankruptcy, their demise is as much a story about private equity’s avarice as it is about Amazon’s acumen.
In April 2017, an analysis by Newsday found that of the 43 large retail or supermarket companies that had filed for bankruptcy since the start of 2015, more than 40 percent were owned by private-equity firms. Since that analysis, a number of others have joined the list, including Nine West, Claire’s, and Gymboree. An analysis by the firm FTI Consulting found that two-thirds of the retailers that filed for Chapter 11 in 2016 and 2017 were backed by private equity.
“Had these companies remained publicly owned,” Paulson said, “they would have had a much higher probability of being able to adapt, to invest, and to withstand” the ups and downs of the economy.
4) Definitely something to avoid! Surviving Prison as a Wall Street Convict, https://www.institutionalinvestor.com/article/b18b7g0qjk5pwb/surviving-prison-as-a-wall-street-convict. Excerpt:
For federal inmates, this is about as good as it gets. The Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, roughly 80 miles north of New York City, is one of several dozen minimum-security prisons — typically called camps — in the federal Bureau of Prisons system, where many white-collar convicts end up serving out their sentences. Unlike the low-, medium-, and high-security institutions where most inmates do time, camps are not fenced in. The doors aren’t even locked.
But criminal justice experts and former inmates say federal prison camps, while better than most prisons, are still no walk in the park — and forget about “Club Fed,” the nickname given to some minimum-security prisons in the ‘80s. These days, experts say, hard time is just that.
“There is no Club Fed — that’s so much B.S.,” says Michael Frantz, a former federal inmate of nearly three years for tax evasion and Medicare fraud. He’s since founded Jail Time Consulting, which helps future inmates prepare for prison life.
“Just the term ‘camp’ makes it sound kind of fun,” says Michael Kimelman, who served 15 months in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, on insider trading charges and wrote a book about his experience, Confessions of a Wall Street Insider. “In The Wolf of Wall Street, he’s playing tennis at the end. In the ‘80s I think there were a couple of places like that. There’s no place now that anybody semi-normal would ever want to go, period.”
5) I love stories like this! 96-Year-Old Secretary Quietly Amasses Fortune, Then Donates $8.2 Million, www.nytimes.com/2018/05/06/nyregion/secretary-fortune-donates.html. Excerpt:
Even by the dizzying standards of New York City philanthropy, a recent $6.24 million donation to the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side was a whopper — the largest single gift from an individual to the social service group in its 125-year history.
It was not donated by some billionaire benefactor, but by a frugal legal secretary from Brooklyn who toiled for the same law firm for 67 years until she retired at age 96 and died not long afterward in 2016.
Her name was Sylvia Bloom and even her closest friends and relatives had no idea she had amassed a fortune over the decades. She did this by shrewdly observing the investments made by the lawyers she served.
6) My friend Sophocles Sophocleous (email@example.com) hosts a conference in Cyprus that I hope to attend someday. This year it’s Oct. 4-5 – here are details:
2018 Cyprus Value Investor Conference
Sponsored by Thomson Reuters and with the support of the CFA Society of Cyprus, the event is a private, by-invitation gathering of investors to share investment ideas and network in a casual setting. Participation is capped at 40 persons.
When/Where: October 4-5, 2018 / Cleopatra Hotel, Nicosia, Cyprus
Video Testimonials from 2017 Event: https://vimeo.com/236784907
Additional info: 1-page summary
Some of the past participants: Robotti & Co, Firebird Mgmt, Veraison Capital, Pastel & Associés, Thistledown Inv Mgmt, Invesco Perpetual, Helsinki Partners, Quo Vadis Cap, Forum Family Office, SIM Ltd, etc
Agenda - October 4, 2018
08:45 - 09:00 Registration
09:00 - 09:30 Welcome Remarks & Awards
09:30 - 13:00 Investment Ideas & Topics
13:00 - 14:00 Buffet Lunch
14:00 - 17:00 Investment Ideas & Topics
19:00 - 24:00 Beer Festival
Agenda - October 5th, 2018
09:00 - 09:30 Thomson Reuters Networking Coffee
09:30 - 11:00 Investment Ideas & Topics
11:00 - 13:00 Networking Event
13:00 - 14:00 Buffet Lunch
14:00 - 18:00 Investment Ideas & Topics
19:00 - 20:00 Pre-dinner Entertainment
20:00 - 24:00 Greek meze dinner by the pool
REQUEST AN INVITATION: firstname.lastname@example.org
Participation Fee: € 200 (rate until Aug 15th with mention of KASE-LEARNING). Includes lunches, dinners, beer festival.
The above is indicative and subject to change.