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  1. From my post I said Here is the big stuff ... I purposely showed nothing below $100m in value as of 9/30 which left off many many holdings. They amount to another $1B of holdings, including ~$60m in XCO. My point was actually to exemplify the point that the US holdings are way overemphasized by investors. Owning 6.4% or whatever of XCO sounds like a big bet, but in the context of FFH's $8B+ portfolio of equities, it doesn't even register as relevant (especially after continued depreciation). I think this point is really missed by a lot of investors. We talk 10x more about XCO in the context of FFH than we do about Thomas Cook even though TC is 10x more relevant to FFH. As far as I can tell, it's because this is a North American focused board, and the 13F doesn't report foreign holdings (generally). Ben Ben, you're right, of course. Mea culpa. the problem sometimes with making brief, hasty comments is that what you omitted to say is latched onto more than what you did say. Its just that when I saw SD on your list I had a sort of reflex reaction that immediately tied XCO together with SD as being co.'s not only more or less in the same industry, but sharing similar risk profiles. I've always instinctively performed a bit a shorthand & mentally lumped them together. I am also aware that both these co.'s were purchased at much higher prices & probably averaged down on over time. Its what FFH has done many times historically. And they'll continue that pattern, generally. Maybe even with SD or XCO or both. Given that possibility perhaps it would be equally instructive to not only think in terms of the current value of FFH's largest known holdings above some threshold but also the cost of holdings at that threshold. Anyone that's been keeping a spreadsheet of updated portfolio values over time probably also has a decent estimate of portfolio holding costs.
  2. thx for the list, ben but we know ffh is also a 6.41% owner of exco resources (xco) as of 9-30-14 it amazes how much cheaper 'cheap' stocks can get when they are in tough industries or when their mngts are questionable
  3. thx, farnamstreet. that was a kind of a bittersweet trip down memory lane for me, I have to say. I still see the exceptionally talented business & investor side of him that I saw then, but most Buffett-like qualities of character that I 'imagined' back then have unfortunately morphed into something else with the passage of 6 yrs time, success, & the resultant tempting opportunity-sets that came his way seemingly for the grabbing.
  4. when you cite a significantly larger asset base, are you comparing them on an inflation adjusted basis? if not then its still apples to oranges.
  5. on 2nd thought, from one of parsads comments I think its much more likely to be a small cap, else there wouldn't be a concern about keeping mum for now in case it experiences another significant price decline from here & bringing it up to a 25% position hmmmm. back to the guess- it drawing board
  6. You want us to figure it out. Why else would you have posted this?! Yes, I do want you to figure it out...but I can't make it a "gimme". The only clue is that some of you are on the right track and some of you aren't. Cheers! I've been lucky once. lets try for twice: microsoft
  7. non event? yea, that's the question du jour. all bad news vis a vie the market seems to be a non event. suppose it all depends whether the bond rout has legs & continues to defy logic in the face of a weak global economy still struggling mightily under the auspices of scared central banks to throw off the specter of deflation. but its certainly been a non media event thus far for equities of the financial persuasion. seems to me that this is an area where losses hide in plain sight at first but is dismissed & rationalized away, so that it might grow & fester til its ready to unleash full-out contagion. bond gurus like gross & gundlach have had to eat some humble pie. could their stock market counter parts be next? or can Bernanke & co ratchet up QE-ternity to an even higher level & save the day of reckoning for yet another day? liquidity still flows in abundance as evidenced by growth in the monetary base, so we can still rest assured the fed is on our side ;) https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?id=WSBASE is the monetary base losing its allure for you, twa? haven't seen you post on it for a while.
  8. Interesting observation. I agree. I enjoy gio's posts very much. I hope he continues to kick the tires of ffh & his stalwart belief in its mngt every which way from sunday for as long as it remains controversial & polarizing in the current frothy investment regime. its not like he's having a conversation with only himself, belching out stillborn musings into the silent void. there's a whole lot of different opinions piping up at every turn. in a public forum an engaging thread is likely a long thread.
  9. ... And Why This Is Just The Beginning (from zerohedge): canary in the coalmine? or just a oneoff, cause it cant happen in the major developed countries there's a great study by BCG (boston consulting group) attached at the end http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-03-16/everyone-shocked-what-just-happened-and-why-just-beginning
  10. this, much more than the competition argument, expains why corp profit margins will/must mean revert, imo. without a healthy middle class w/ real income growth, i dont see how business can continue to thrive. how much more can they cut costs? how many more employees can they cut from their payrolls? jeff gundlach has some great slides & graphs pertaining to this issue in his investor cc presentations
  11. <<But, IF those conditions can be met, insurance 'float liability' that delivers underwriting profits IS BETTER than having the same amount of money in equity.>> I agree with most of what you’re saying but I wouldn’t go that far. Lets remember that an insurance co’s equity that affects its claims paying ability, after all. Float is still ultimately a liability, although its one that comes with benefits, like deposits do for a bank. It’s a prime source of earnings, along with equity via investments, & underwriting. If you think about it, it’s a lucky thing for consumers of insurance too. If it were ever mandated by regulatory govt agencies for instance that insurance co’s could only invest the float portion of their investments portfolio in 30 day treasuries then premiums would have to be jacked up pretty substantially in order for insurance co’s to just earn their cost of capital.
  12. Yes, however price performance of Y wasn't what I was referring to. I was referring to whether management is beating themselves up for nothing when instead they could play golf. The Alleghany management could have wound up it's operations ten years ago and instead put all of it's equity into Berkshire stock. BV at Alleghany would have compounded at 8% annualized (Berkshire's stock price performance). This despite the contraction of P/BV for Berkshire over the same period. The "look through" performance of Alleghany would be far superior of course -- not only because the "look through" BV would have grown at 10%, but because IV grew even more. This was even during a period when Berkshire's equities did relatively poorly (high valuations for the big blue chips). This isn't to say that Y can't do better, but if their goal is 7% to 10% and they merely achieve that, I'll reassert that they are wasting their efforts. y has had a policy of paying out a 10% stock dividend for yrs, so an adjustment is needed there. also,going from admittedly hazy memory i believe they spun out chicago title yrs ago. and they may have spun out a portion of darwin insurance more recently as well before it was bought out in its entirety. y's long term return on their investment portfolio has been comparable to that of mkl. this is not to argue that y has been much more than a solid if sleepy stock over the yrs. but there is a chance that y might have a much different looking future after their acquisition of transatlantic (big, maybe transformative) & the hire of joe brandon as pres of all their insurance co subs.
  13. Alleghany was actually founded in 1929, 1 year before Markel. I recommend reading the annual letters which are short: http://www.alleghany.com/annual-letters/ Here's a link to the 2012 annual letter: http://www.alleghany.com/annual-letters/2012/02/22/.pdf Regarding their investment returns, they have both beaten the S&P and the investment returns of Alleghany are quite similar to Markel. Markel has a diversified portfolio (>50 stocks?), while Alleghany seems to like a very concentrated portfolio (XOM, BNSF). That's not the only difference. Anyway, also note the following: Y P/B: ~0.9 MKL P/B: ~1.2 Tangible book value (according to Gurufocus): Y: $374 MKL: $291 Investments per share are basically the same for Y and MKL. I own both MKL and Y. the 1 wildcard for me is the recent hiring of joe brandon as pres of alleghany holdings (the insurance group). if he's as good as WEB seemed to think, at least from his praises of brandon (along with tad montross who stayed on at gen re, it should be noted), then Y's underwriting stands to benefit, possibly alot. and thats on on greatly enlarged insurance op over all.
  14. the fact that the musical is based on a great classic novel doesnt hurt. read it many moons ago & it still burns bright in memory. tom hooper also directed a fabulous version of queen elizabeth I starring helen mirren a few yrs ago. the man's got good taste in source matl as well as faithfull screenplay adaptations & great acotors that fit like a glove
  15. so, how does each co's op earnings plus amortization of goodwill charges added back in compare to growth of book over the same period look? not having done these comps myself (yet) my guess is brk trumps all of them tho, qualitatively, y has possibly increased its per share earnings potential going forward alot as a result of its acquisition of tansatlantic combined with getting joe brandon into the bargain as president of alleghany holdings
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