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Q&A with Francois Chou


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This is excellent. Chou mentioned that q-ratio was the best indicator of a stock market bubble, it's near all time hight atm....

 

I'm not very knowledgeable about these fancy ratios, but looking at this:

 

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/q/qratio.asp

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobin%27s_q

 

It sounds like the kind of thing that should be around all time highs these days because a lot more of the earning power of our economy is now found in things other than physical assets (intangibles, intellectual capital, software, networks, websites, patents, etc). Looking at physical assets might have been a good indicator back before financial, technology, pharma, and other services businesses grew to be such a big part of the economy, but I have a hard time seeing how it could be a good indicator today, unless it was seriously recalibrated to take the changes into account.

 

http://i1.wp.com/www.philosophicaleconomics.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/EPSshare.jpg

 

What am I missing here?

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Ackman should introduce Lampert to his friend who tells him "stay away from retail" every time they see each other :D

 

Haha. :)

 

I guess to be fair to ESL, though, he has had a tremendous amount of success in the retail space in the past.  AN and AZO were grand slam home run investments.  GPS was a great buy, and he also almost stole Restoration Hardware during the financial crisis.

 

But that doesn't mean he can successfully become Bezos with SYW. 

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Ackman should introduce Lampert to his friend who tells him "stay away from retail" every time they see each other :D

 

Haha. :)

 

I guess to be fair to ESL, though, he has had a tremendous amount of success in the retail space in the past.  AN and AZO were grand slam home run investments.  GPS was a great buy, and he also almost stole Restoration Hardware during the financial crisis.

 

But that doesn't mean he can successfully become Bezos with SYW.

 

True, good point.

 

But I wonder, if Sears doesn't ultimately work out, will Lampert lose almost everything he made in AN and AZO?

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Ackman should introduce Lampert to his friend who tells him "stay away from retail" every time they see each other :D

 

Haha. :)

 

I guess to be fair to ESL, though, he has had a tremendous amount of success in the retail space in the past.  AN and AZO were grand slam home run investments.  GPS was a great buy, and he also almost stole Restoration Hardware during the financial crisis.

 

But that doesn't mean he can successfully become Bezos with SYW.

 

True, good point.

 

But I wonder, if Sears doesn't ultimately work out, will Lampert lose almost everything he made in AN and AZO?

 

Doubtful that he will lose everything if you believe in the MOS story with regards to the real estate, which I do. 

 

Also, his cost basis in SHLD is very low because it is the latest iteration of his Kmart BK investment (which was another retail investment success for him).  So I think it might be difficult for him to actually lose money on the investment.

 

Having said the above, the real question is what his opportunity cost was with SHLD.  Imagine if he had used all the cash that he spent buying back stock and building up SYW for building up a position in AMZN.  Now that would have been an awesome way to continue investing in retail.

 

But c'est la vie. 

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Doubtful that he will lose everything if you believe in the MOS story with regards to the real estate, which I do. 

 

Also, his cost basis in SHLD is very low because it is the latest iteration of his Kmart BK investment (which was another retail investment success for him).  So I think it might be difficult for him to actually lose money on the investment.

 

Having said the above, the real question is what his opportunity cost was with SHLD.  Imagine if he had used all the cash that he spent buying back stock and building up SYW for building up a position in AMZN.  Now that would have been an awesome way to continue investing in retail.

 

But c'est la vie.

 

I wasn't trying to restart the arguments for and against Sears. Just making a hypothetical in the "it ain't over until it's over" vein; past success in retail doesn't mean that in the end, he'll be a successful retail investor if the money made there is reinvested in something that fails (that's the hypothetical, we're not there yet, but so far it isn't exactly a great success).

 

But yeah, a lost decade for someone who has a track record of compounding at 30% has a huge opportunity cost. Just thinking of the kind of returns that Sears would need to make going forward to make his whole investment have a good yearly CAGR is pretty intimidating...

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That was a good interview.  Francis is a smart character and doesn't pull punches.  I am surprised the interviewer got him to speak as much as he did.

 

I believe it was reader questions e-mailed to FC. He then chose to answer all of them through copy and paste. Gurufocus also interviewed Greenblatt in a similar format, but Greenblatt only answered some of the questions.

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How do Francis Chou's comments on commodities square up with his investment in Resolute Forest Products?

 

Wasn't he a debt holder of Resolute? He may have hedges in place.

 

I also wondered, unless I misunderstood his answers, he said he wouldn't invest in mining companies but another question he answered, he said they weren't cheap enough yet.

So he will if they're cheap enough?

 

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Guest 50centdollars

He said that for smaller mining companies, it's like there's a promoter sitting atop an empty hole.

 

Where'd you see the "not cheap enough" answer?

 

1st paragraph he says they are not cheap enough. 

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He said that for smaller mining companies, it's like there's a promoter sitting atop an empty hole.

 

Where'd you see the "not cheap enough" answer?

 

1st paragraph he says they are not cheap enough.

 

Yes. But I missed him saying "base metals".

 

The other 3 times Gurufocus asked what he looks for the cut and paste answer was no mining or IT.

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