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txlaw's Achievements


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  1. Joel, I for one think you're actually kind of an ass---- ...
  2. And not just a regular IPO. An LBO IPO exit. A Twitter finance community member just made the point that Carlyle has more than tripled their money with this IPO. And that speaks poorly for Dupont management. I wonder if this company is a potential acquisition candidate for Berkshire? Seems like it would be very beneficial to vertically integrate with all of the planes, trains, and automobile activity going on with Berkshire. Valspar apparently generates 15% EBIT margins on its coatings business, with what looks like a pretty high return on assets. If you folded Axalta into Lubrizol, could you get a best of breed transportation coatings companies that generates very high returns on investment? (Just back of the envelope musings, right now.)
  3. WEB and the Van Tuyl CEO did a long interview with Becky Quick today where they took questions on their plans for the auto group, among other things. There are too many videos for me to post the links to, so you'll just have to check the CNBC videos page until someone compiles all the links or posts a transcript. Also, it's definitely worth reading Glenview's take on auto dealerships to get a sense of why WEB bought into this dealer group: https://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/259928537
  4. Here's Dr. Lustig's latest mini medical school talk: It's long, but it's worth watching.
  5. I have no problem with active owners. I doubt WEB does either. But there's a difference between being an owner that keeps the principal-agent problem in check and being an activist who's focused on forcing corporate action to get Mr. Market to recognize value to the detriment of the actual intrinsic value of the company. For example, Jeff Ubben, an activist that I highly respect, was absolutely right to point out that Dan Loeb's push to sell off part of the Alibaba stake may have been a bad decision that primarily benefited Loeb and not the long term owners of YHOO. The question is, what type of active ownership does WEB not like? Clearly, he's cool with the 3G variety. Not so much with the buy 'em and flip 'em mentality that's all about earning that fee.
  6. That argument doesn't work. Who should decide what is good or not for my body? You? The government? Bill Ackman? This is a major problem today. Most people believe they are responsible for the decisions of other adults. When someone tries to take away another persons ability to choose they are treading on dangerous grounds for me. Personal responsibility is a huge problem in the west. If you don't want to hold individual responsible for their health why are you holding Coke responsible? You can't have it both ways. I would say a lot of harm is done to individuals when the government tells them they are not responsible either. Let me be clear. KO doesn't hold a gun to anybody's head and force them to drink their products, yet you want to hold a gun to KO's head... and claim the moral high ground in doing so. WEB is free to make whatever endorsements he wants. Do you want to hold the proverbial gun to his head too? Ultimately who should decide? It is very freeing when you believe that everyone is free to make their own decision and that they are also free to face the consequences of those decision. The government is in the business of removing consequences, for bankers to Coke. Great discussion... Thanks. Argument for what? You seem to have come to the knee-jerk conclusion that I am advocating for some "gun to Coke's head" policy. I did no such thing. However, since you brought it up, there probably are many government policies that I probably would advocate for that you might be opposed to. For example, banning soda machines from schools would be totally fine to me. Same with banning them in public sector workplaces. Beyond that, I haven't really thought that much about this issue and government policy. Taking the government out of the picture, I am all for better information being disseminated regarding the harms of ingesting too much of KO's product. WEB's "calories in, calories out" incantation is misguided and denies a lot of scientific controversy surrounding the detrimental effect of sucrose on public health. I'm not holding a gun to WEB's head. He can think whatever he wants to, but I'm "free" to criticize him on his views. As to the moral high ground, I most certainly can turn my nose up at WEB and his denial/advocacy. Same as how I can hold with disdain the denial of climate change by some people who should know better. Or the tobacco companies' previous campaign against the science demonstrating that smoking causes incredibly deleterious effects to health.
  7. I think it's fair to say, well, let's forget about Winters' incompetence and/or cynicism, and let's take a look at the actual facts regarding KO's comp. But you also have to acknowledge the ugly truth that Winters has distorted the facts in a way that undercuts his own arguments regarding the comp package. He has been pretty hyperbolic, no? Still, I agree that the comp package was excessive. But I'm one of those few people who thinks that pretty much all of the C-Suites in corporate America are overpaid. However, I don't know how to fix that problem. It seems like a one-way ratchet to me. As to diversionary tactics, WEB himself said that the comp package was excessive -- and he said so publicly. WEB just hammered Winters on CNBC for grandstanding and using WEB's name for the real world equivalent of "click bait." Hell, to me the big problem with WEB and KO is not his non-vote on the comp scheme. Instead, the problem is what Ackman brought up the other day. KO sells a lot of product that is terrible for most people's health. Yet WEB is in complete denial about this, IMO. I'm a big fan of WEB, but I can't help but turn up my nose at his public endorsements of sugar water and junk food as the food of the gods (and, yes, I'm purposefully being a bit hyperbolic).
  8. Well, I would agree that there is a marketing component to WEB's spiel. He definitely gets to play the good guy owner for prospective sellers. Still, I don't think selling people on the "BRK as perfect home" story is incompatible with actually believing that some of this increased activism is harmful because it is: (1) short term-oriented in nature, and/or (2) is unfairly brought in order to market one's investment management services as value-add. And I don't think WEB's fight with Seabury Stanton can necessarily be use to show that WEB is being a hypocrite. That fight was a long time ago, and WEB seems to have changed over the years, as many people do. (Even Uncle Carl is not the same person he was in the 80s.) Of course, given your screen name, I'm guessing you're not quite so perturbed by the "corporate raider" mentality as I am, haha :D
  9. I think another thing to consider with regards to WEB's proxy vote (or lack thereof) and his b---- slap of David Winters is that he is engaging in a bit of politics to discourage potential activist investors from unfairly targeting his investee companies, and to remind folks that he could be a "white knight" in these types of situations. As Munger said in his letter, we are in the "age of activism." There are really no size constraints anymore for activists. Nelson Peltz goes after PEP. Ackman goes after PG. Carl Icahn goes after AAPL. BRK is one of the few big dogs who could build up blocking positions in these types of large companies and vote in a way that sways the passive investors.
  10. I dunno. The underperformance slam may be a bit unfair. But didn't Winters go on record as saying that the KO comp deal (using his inaccurate numbers) was the biggest scandal since Enron? And then didn't he release some odd press release last month about KO issuing double secret probation bonus shares? I hate to say it, but Winters seems like he's either gone off the deep end, or is very cynically (and incompetently) playing the "activist" card in order to increase his profile and AUM. That should probably be worrisome to potential and existing investors.
  11. +1 I own both JPM and BAC. Those JPM warrants were damn cheap too.
  12. The Alleghany annual is out: http://www.alleghany.com/files/doc_financials/2014/Q4/2014-Annual-Letter_v002_m1ed53.pdf Their discussion of the global P&C market is a must read for anyone invested in insurance companies. ------- Early in my career as a security analyst following the property and casualty industry, an insurance executive at the time explained the business to me as follows: “The property and casualty business is a simple business: prices follow loss costs with a lag, usually about two to three years.” Over the past two years, the property and casualty industry has experienced low levels of natural catastrophe losses and casualty claims have generally emerged at lower-than-expected levels. The result has been that reserves established in prior periods have proven to be more than what is needed, resulting in “favorable reserve development” in the current period. We do not know – and never know with any degree of certainty – what the future trend in claims will be. Accordingly, at Alleghany we try to use conservative assumptions, trending past loss emergence even if the “loss curve” is flattening. At the writing of this letter, we are focused on the potential significant issues surrounding “deflategate.” Deflategate, of course, is our “term of art” which describes the deflationary pressures that seem to be the dominant force on a macro-level right now. If you had to pick a business that will hold its value in a deflationary environment, a property and casualty company would be high on the list. On the left side of the balance sheet you have, for the most part, high quality bonds. As interest rates fall, the value of these bonds increases. At the same time, if economic conditions are deflationary, the ultimate liabilities of a property and casualty business should shrink. The net effect of the two is a leveraged increase in equity. And although prices ultimately fall, they tend to lag the actual trend in loss costs. In a deflationary environment, property and casualty companies should hold their value. It should be no surprise that insurance and reinsurance prices, after increasing for the past several years, have stopped increasing and in some cases – large property exposures in particular – have begun to decrease. Among our insurance and reinsurance subsidiaries, price decreases are most pronounced in the global property catastrophe reinsurance business, and to a lesser extent, the U.S. primary property business. Casualty rates as of this writing are more or less stable, with the exception of California workers’ compensation and some specialty casualty lines, where rates continue to increase -- primarily because they have been deficient in the aggregate relative to loss costs. While mild deflation is positive for the net asset value of the property and casualty industry, it is negative for prospective returns. Our industry is being challenged by the extremely low nominal interest rate environment, both in terms of direct and indirect effects. Because a large portion of the industry’s economic return comes from investment returns generated on capital and float, lower nominal interest rates result in lower industry returns. With hindsight, one might even conclude that the industry for many years enjoyed “excess returns” because embedded portfolio returns were significantly above a declining rate of inflation. These are the direct effects. Indirect effects include increased and new competition from so-called “alternative capital” providers, including pension funds, hedge funds, and the like. According to Guy Carpenter, approximately 18% of global reinsurance catastrophe limits are now provided by alternative capital. Following six years of an appreciating stock market, the industry itself is flush with capital, resulting in excess industry capacity. Faced with these environmental challenges, the industry is consolidating. In order to generate reasonable returns, companies must be as efficient as possible, avoid underwriting mistakes, and add value where possible through the investment function. A company that is successful on all three of these items will still likely generate lower nominal returns, but real returns can remain attractive.
  13. This makes more sense. Once you had adjusted for the fair value of their associates, the stock only traded at 1.1x book from what I could calculate back of the envelope. Hardly an expensive price for a company that seems like it will do moderately well no matter what environment. Yeah, makes a lot more sense. Looks like a very nice acquisition to me.
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