Rare Interview with Irving Kahn

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Most people probably have never heard of Irving Kahn; he is 105 and still managing money (currently close to $1 billion). He is one of the few original disciples of Benjamin Graham still alive.

Below are his top ten holdings from http://www.gurufocus.com

TickerCompanyIndustrySharesValue ($1000)% Weighting as of 2011-06-30 Share # Change from Last PeriodTrade Impact to Portfolio (%)Holding History
NYBNew York Community Bancorp Inc.Banks3,687,06655,2699.6482%-0.49%-0.05%History
PFEPfizer Inc.Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology2,634,04054,2619.4722%+0.03%0History
MRKMerck & Co. Inc.others1,442,02050,8898.8835%-0.55%-0.05%History
BMYBristolMyers Squibb Co.Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology1,674,25848,4878.4641%-0.31%-0.02%History
SEBSeaboard Corp.Food & Beverage15,52037,5256.5507%-0.81%-0.05%History
SLMSLM Corp.Financial Services1,987,97933,4185.8337%+10.25%+0.54%History
HOLXHologic Inc.Health Care Equipment & Services1,623,09432,7385.7149%-2.7%-0.17%History
ORIOld Republic International Corp.Insurance2,676,87931,4535.4907%+0.56%+0.03%History

I found this very interesting interview with Kahn from Guru Focus (he very rarely does interviews or speaks).

The stock market is imploding, Europe is on the brink, and, if the doomsayers are to be believed, we could be headed for a double-dip recession.

None of that worries Irving Kahn, perhaps the world’s oldest working investment banker. “There are a lot of opportunities out there, and one shouldn’t complain, unless you don’t have good health,” says Kahn. At 105, he might well be the last man on earth who can speak authoritatively on both longevity and making money amid a historic market meltdown.

In 1928, at the age of 23, he went to work on Wall Street as a stock analyst and brokerage clerk. By the tail end of the Great Depression, in 1939, he’d made enough money in the market to move his wife and two children out of public housing and into their own house in the suburbs.

Kahn is still in the game, waking every morning at 7 and going to work as chairman of Kahn Brothers, the small family investment firm he founded in 1978. Until a few years ago, he took the bus or walked the 20 blocks from his Upper East Side home to his midtown office. “For a 105-year-old guy, it’s pretty remarkable,” says Thomas Kahn, Irving’s 68-year-old son and the company’s president. “I get tired just thinking about it.”

Perhaps his closest rival for the title of oldest person working in the securities industry was the financier Roy Neuberger, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 107. But Neuberger had retired at 99. Two of Kahn’s older sons, both in their mid-70s, have likewise retired.

Small and gnomish, Kahn counsels patience in hard times as he holds forth on market distortions and the roots of economic unrest, which he pins on “a bunch of gamblers going crazy on the floor of the exchange.” “Wall Street,” he adds, “has always been a very poor judge of value.”

The depths of the Depression turned out to be a useful time to learn that lesson. At Columbia Business School, Kahn served as an assistant to economist Benjamin Graham, the value-investing guru whose principles of caution and defensive investing inspired a cadre of disciples that includes Warren Buffett.

It’s an investment strategy born of the beating Graham had taken in ’29, and Kahn adopted it as his own. “I stopped wasting time on what people claimed a stock was worth and started looking at the numbers,” he says. “This may surprise you, but there were a large number of valuable buys during the Depression.”

Link to the full article: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/08/15/irving-kahn-105-perhaps-world-s-oldest-investment-banker-says-economy-in-downturn-just-a-blip.html

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