Howard Marks Resource Page


“Markets are safer when fear balances greed, and when worry about osing money balances worry about missing opportunity. We don’t like it when fear rears its head and stocks drop, but certainly that creates a healthier environment in which to be a holder, and one which should offer better buying opportunities. Over the first part of this year (2010) it was easy to say prices had gotten ahead of fundamentals; all things being equal, that now seems less true.” –  Howard Marks

Howard Marks: Background & bio

Howard Marks is a full-time dedicated and expert American investor and has put a lot of effort to develop his successful career and hedge fund. He is a billionaire of the era. In 1995 he co-founded Oaktree Capital Management and is known for his “Oaktree memos” to clients which detailed his investment strategies and insight about the economy.

Howard Marks has a background of Finance as well as Accounting and Marketing. However he was always was more interested in Finance and Accounts. Marks earned  Bachelors of Sciences in Economics in 1967 from the Wharton School, which specialize in Finance.

After Warton, Marks went to the University of Chicago where he enrolled in the Graduate School of Business. In 1970, he completed his MBA degree with specialized skills in Accounting and Marketing. During his MBA Marks won the “The George Hay Brown Marketing Prize,” which is awarded to the University’s top marketing student.

Howard Marks is married and not only his he a successful  business person and investor but he is also a very sincere and extremely caring and a concern father. Along with his wife Nancy, they have two children; their one son, Andrew also works in the investment world.

Because of his efficient investment strategies, Howard Marks has developed a very strong and reliable reputation in the financial industry. In 1995 Marks co-founded Oaktree Capital Management and over the years the firm has grown almost exponentially. The firm is now responsible for managing about 100 of the 300 largest global pension plans, 75 of the 100 largest U.S. pension plans, just to name a few. Marks is an active member of the Los Angeles Society of Financial Analysts and a member of The Southern California Regional Advisory Board.

Before helping to create his own firm, from 1969 to 1985, Marks worked at  Citicorp as an investment research analyst and the Research Director. In 1978 Marks served as the Vice President and the Senior Portfolio Manager at the Citicorp Investment Management.

In 1985, Marks left Citigroup; he founded and became the Chief Investment Officer of the TCW group. However in 1995 he left the firm and  laid the foundation of The Oaktree Capital Management, LLC, where he currently serves as the chairperson of the company.

Since the start of his career, Howard Marks has been interested in helping students gain experience in the financial world and 1992 created several scholarships. From the year 2000 until 2010, he served as the Chairperson of the University endowment Fund and the Chairperson of the Trustees Investment Board in Pennsylvania. He also established “The Marks Family Writing Center” in 2009.

Although Marks is a successful investor, he is most known for his memos to his clients. His memos are highly acknowledged by other finance and investment related legends. Marks’ Oaktree Capital Group’s assets under management reached a high of $91.1 billion during 2014.

Howard Marks book named “The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor” was published by “Columbia Business School” in March 2011.The book has gained worldwide publicity. Warren Buffett has even suggested it as a must read said,  “This is that rarity, a useful book.”

In this book, Howard Marks has wrote all he learned from his more than 40 years of experience in investment business world.

Along with Buffet, other heavyweights who have recommended Marks’ book include:  Seth Klarman the Chairperson of the Baupost Group,Joel Greenblatt, Columbia Business School, founder and managing partner of Gotham Capital and Brenda Jubin, Stephen E. Roulac the owner of the New York Journal of Books, Martin Fridson the chairperson of the Barron, Alex Dumortier the CEO of The Motley Fool, John C. Bogle, the Founder and the former CEO of The Vanguard Group, Jeremy Grantham, cofounder and chief investment strategist, Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo and Peter Lattman, Wall Street Journal. Seeking Alpha also recommends reading this book and says that every investor either new comer or established legend must keep this book in his library.

Howard Marks: Track record

According to Bloomberg “Oaktree’s 17 distressed-debt funds have averaged annual gains of 19% after fees for the past 22 years — about 7% better than its peers tracked by Boston-based consulting firm Cambridge Associates LLC”.



According to Howard Marks, putting great words on to paper is a key to any success of the present century. He is famous for his wisdom converted in words through pen in the form of memos to the clients of the Oaktree Capital Management, LLC.

All of his memos to the clients of The Oaktree Capital management LLC from the year 1995 until the year 2011 are available at The Oaktree Capital Management, LLC official website. Howard Marks’ other official memos are also free available for public at t he site. His memos are uploaded as he completes them in the official website. Warren Buffett and Seth Klarman are also fond of his letters and are his regular reader and admirer.

Howard Marks believes that there is always a risk associated with any investment and he discourages taking unnecessary risks while investing. He says that trend of taking any sort of risk while making any investment is now entirely over from the finance and investment industry.

Howard Marks frequently comments that people have to asses their past failures before undertaking any future investment. He also said that many investors forget this one simple rule. Marks’ biggest advice to new investors is that  one has to update his knowledge on regular intervals and ponder over things entirely differently after a span of time. He further adds to now follow the majority, instead come up with your own unique ideas and ways of investment. When you find out that your mind is stuck in an old track that is  the time to expand your new knowledge and  think new ideas.

Howard Marks’ book The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor published by “Columbia Business School.  is full of beneficial advices for the investors of this era for one either new in the investment industry world or in already established legends. Warren Buffett recommends that every investor should follow Howard Marks’ golden rules.

Oaktree Capital Management, LLC

Howard Marks laid the foundation of Oaktree Capital Management, LLC Los Angeles and serves as the Chairperson of the company. Oaktree Management LLC has total assets of more than $90 billion in total. The firm employs more than 700 people world wide and has offices   in thirteen cities in the world including: Los Angeles (the firm’s headquarters), London, New York, Hong Kong, Stamford, Tokyo, Luxembourg, Paris, Frankfurt, Singapore, Seoul, Beijing and Amsterdam.

Oaktree Capital Management LLC specializes in high yield bonds, convertible securities, distressed debt, real estate and control investments. About Thirty% in total out of the firm’s assets are held by the public funds. Other assets are divided among corporate pensions, corporations, sovereign wealth funds, and a variety of charity foundations.

According to Oaktree’s website:

Investment Philosophy

The following reflects the investment philosophy and beliefs of Oaktree and its senior executives.

Oaktree provides investment management within a limited number of specialized niche markets where we believe the potential for reward outweighs the risk entailed. All of our investment activities operate according to the unifying philosophy that follows:

The primacy of risk control

Superior investment performance is not our primary goal, but rather superior performance with less-than-commensurate risk. Above average gains in good times are not proof of a manager’s skill; it takes superior performance in bad times to prove that those good-time gains were earned through skill, not simply the acceptance of above average risk. Thus, rather than merely searching for prospective profits, we place the highest priority on preventing losses. It is our overriding belief that, especially in the opportunistic markets in which we work, “if we avoid the losers, the winners will take care of themselves.”

Emphasis on consistency

Oscillating between top-quartile results in good years and bottom-quartile results in bad years is not acceptable to us. It is our belief that a superior record is best built on a high batting average rather than a mix of brilliant successes and dismal failures.

The importance of market inefficiency

We feel skill and hard work can lead to a “knowledge advantage,” and thus to potentially superior investment results, but not in so-called efficient markets where large numbers of participants share roughly equal access to information and act in an unbiased fashion to incorporate that information into asset prices. We believe less efficient markets exist in which dispassionate application of skill and effort should pay off for our clients, and it is only in such markets that we will invest.

The benefits of specialization

Specialization offers the surest path to the results we, and our clients, seek. Thus, we insist that each of our portfolios should do just one thing — practice a single investment specialty — and do it absolutely as well as it can be done. We establish the charter for each investment specialty as explicitly as possible and do not deviate. In this way, there are no surprises; our actions and performance always follow directly from the job we’re hired to do. The availability of specialized portfolios enables Oaktree clients interested in a single asset class to get exactly what they want; clients interested in more than one class can combine our portfolios for the mix they desire.

Macro-forecasting not critical to investing

We believe consistently excellent performance can only be achieved through superior knowledge of companies and their securities, not through attempts at predicting what is in store for the economy, interest rates or the securities markets. Therefore, our investment process is entirely bottom-up, based upon proprietary, company-specific research. We use overall portfolio structuring as a defensive tool to help us avoid dangerous concentration, rather than as an aggressive weapon expected to enable us to hold more of the things that do best.

Disavowal of market timing

Because we do not believe in the predictive ability required to correctly time markets, we keep portfolios fully invested whenever attractively priced assets can be bought. Concern about the market climate may cause us to tilt toward more defensive investments, increase selectivity or act more deliberately, but we never move to raise cash. Clients hire us to invest in specific market niches, and we must never fail to do our job. Holding investments that decline in price is unpleasant, but missing out on returns because we failed to buy what we were hired to buy is inexcusable.


Oaktree Capital Management, LLC top five holdings as of 09/30/2014

  1. Star Bulk Carriers Corp.(NASDAQ:SBLK)
  2. First Bancorp (NYSE:FBP)
  3. Dynegy Inc. (NYSE:DYN)
  4. Ally Financial Inc (NYSE:ALLY)
  5. Masonite International Corp (NYSE:DOOR)

(Note form 13F-HR does not include cash balances.)

Current holdings

Howard Marks: Articles

Howard Marks: Videos

Howard Marks: Newspaper cuttings

  • Waiting On Troubled Times
  • Lake Lawn Lodge, Airfield Sold To Los Angeles Pension
  • New Owners For Spiri
  • Resort Expansion Planned

Memos To Clients Of Oaktree Capital Management LLC

All the memos to Client of Oaktree Capital Management LLC, by Howard Marks can be obtained from Lists of all memos to Client of Oaktree Capital Management LLC, by Howard Marks from the year 1995 until the year 2011 are listed as below, or if you prefer the memos from 1990 to 2009 are presented within one document here: Howard Marks: Oaktree Capital Memos 1990 – 2009.




















Excerpt From A Memo To Oaktree Clients

When I was a boy, as I recall, owing money was considered undesirable and debts were generally expected to be paid off.  When people bought homes, they put down 30% and took out thirty-year mortgages to finance the rest.  They made level payments that included a substantial principal component that grew over time, eventually extinguished their debt, invited their friends over for mortgage-burning parties, and owned their homes free and clear in time for retirement.

But attitudes toward debt underwent significant change, and in the last forty years we have seen the following:


  • Vast expansion of the use of credit cards, the balances on which are never expected to be paid off
  • Innovative mortgages requiring little or no principal amortization; reverse mortgages, where you owe more at the end than the beginning; declining down payment requirements; and eventually the availability of mortgage loans is exceeding purchase prices.
  • Home equity loans enabling owners to drain off any equity in their homes.  Fifty years ago these were called second mortgages, and people who had them were considered by their neighbors to be in financial trouble.
  • Growth in corporate debt, and the extension of borrowing power to companies with “speculative” credit ratings
  • The development of the commercial paper market, where companies could access “permanent” capital with maturities measured in days, on the assumption that the paper could always be rolled over.
  • Creation of highly levered investment entities.
  • Vastly increased steady-state borrowing on the part of nations, whereas, previously, deficit spending had been limited to occasional efforts to fight recession through stimulus.

Howard Marks: Quotes

“We’re disappointed because we believe that Florida’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act would certainly support Sultaana Freeman’s position that she doesn’t have to remove the veil for a driver’s-license photo.”

“The state of Florida would have never required her to take her veil off if 9-11 had not occurred.”

“There’s nothing magical about those years. But that’s enough time for some bad things to happen.”

“This is laying the groundwork for distressed debt opportunities. We think it is analogous to the stacking of wood for a bonfire.”

“We had our greatest single opportunity in the summer of 2002,”

“Nothing in the world raises prices like an excess of demand over supply.”

“We’ve been doing this for 17 years, and when we talk about potential returns, we’ve never talked about lower returns than now. We’re waiting for ’07.”

“Acclaim Games is passionate about gaming and committed to delivering the best online games available to the world. These games were created to captivate gamers and provide the exciting multiplayer experience that youth users demand.”

“Opportunities are not great for the private equity industry. The risk of losing money is very high. Thus caution should be the watchword. ”

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