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Fairfax or Berkshire?


FairFacts
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Well the piece is written by Geroge Athanassakos. His whole thing is about distressed value, Ben Graham type balance sheet investing. His program is also sponsored by Fairfax btw.

 

While both companies own insurance companies Berkshire's insurance operations are vastly superior to Fairfax's. Similarly, at least since GFC Berkshire outperformed Fairfax on the investment side. It's important to note that while following a similar ideology or model Berkshire and Fairfax are very different companies.

 

In the end, in my opinion honesty is lacking at Fairfax. Other reasonable minds may, and probably will, disagree. But that is my opinion based on their actions. I really do want to like Fairfax but Berkshire is the better company and will probably outperform.

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Yeah not a call I'd make with any confidence. I have more in Fairfax than Berkshire on the basis of deeper knowledge (mine), smaller size (Fairfax's), younger managers (Fairfax's), and the possibly dubious assumption that there are fatter gains to be made in value stocks than in operating businesses (which are an ever-bigger part of Berkshire) but I expect Berkshire to compound nicely too.

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Having once worked in one of Fairfax's companies, meeting Prem, and seeing the quality way in which the company and people were handled I'm comfortable with Prem's integrity. To me the difference maker in the two stocks going forward is Fairfax's international holdings. The nascent operations in India and Southeast Asia have huge upside potential IMHO.

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Simply put: Both wonderfull businesses - each with their own issues right now - some of those issues might be bugging you, others not so much ... I have never sold a share of any of them yet.

 

I'm leaning - quite heavily - towards Berkshire though.

 

If CoBF was a zoo -, in the meaning of the board members as visitors / spectators of all the fascinating "animals" [investment opportunities], Berkshire is to me considered this old & huge gorilla [many years ago a weak [old?] youngster] sitting on its butt in the corner, collecting all the bananas for insurance protection, if anyone inside the cave gets in trouble, giving a damn about every visitor /spectator.

 

[Every time that enormous gorilla moves just as much as an fingertip, the heat goes up in the Berkshire forum here on CoBF, btw! [: - ) ]]

 

Fairfax is more like that chimpanzee, being all over the place, steeling a hat, an umbrella or a pair of glasses now and then. [ : - ) ]

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If CoBF was a zoo -, in the meaning of the board members as visitors / spectators of all the fascinating "animals" [investment opportunities], Berkshire is to me considered this old & huge gorilla [many years ago a weak [old?] youngster] sitting on its butt in the corner, collecting all the bananas for insurance protection, if anyone inside the cave gets in trouble, giving a damn about every visitor /spectator.

 

[Every time that enormous gorilla moves just as much as an fingertip, the heat goes up in the Berkshire forum here on CoBF, btw! [: - ) ]]

 

Fairfax is more like that chimpanzee, being all over the place, steeling a hat, an umbrella or a pair of glasses now and then. [ : - ) ]

 

Interesting parallel. In a zoo, the wildness lies in wait.

 

From a book I read a few years ago:

 

"A good investor has the courage to make choices.  The stock market is a bit like a zoo.  There are all kinds of animals, there, from elephants to tigers to snakes to monkeys.  You only need a few of the best species to build a good diversified portfolio that will provide sustainable, low-risk, high compound earnings.  All you need to do is find them, buy them at reasonable prices, and make sure they stay on track.”

 

https://www.amazon.com/Investment-Zoo-Taming-Bulls-Bears/dp/2894722591/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524608563&sr=8-1&keywords=jarislowsky

 

The book may not be worth the read unless you want to learn about Mr. Jarislowski who has been a very successful investor as well as a Renaissance man.

 

What bugs me is that the title, when translated in other languages, used "jungle" instead of zoo.

 

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