Sunday readings...

Some articles, including some important ones summarizing the Berkshire Hathaway meeting held a few weeks ago.

  • (Highly Recommended) Warren Buffet 2011 shareholder meeting notes (Ben Claremon for GuruFocus): Very detailed and extensive notes from last week's shareholder meeting. Too bad it's in scribd format (am I the only one on the planet without a Facebook account yet? ;) )
  • (Recommended) Summary of Warren Buffett 2011 shareholder meeting (Epic Investor): Another pretty lengthy summary of the shareholder meeting from earlier in the month.
  • (Recommended) TV interview of Warren Buffett and Ajit Jain (NDTV via GuruFocus): First time I've seen the publicity-shy Ajit Jain... I wish someone would ask Buffett to walk through one of his past investments. The canned questions and short TV-oriented questions have been repeated a million times and are a complete waste of time for people like me. Oh well. Maybe Alice Shroeder will write an investment book soon.
  • (Recommended) "What makes a good business?" (Geoff Gannon for GuruFocus): An important question. The ideal business is a non-capital-intensive business but it's more complicated than it seems. Many capital intensive businesses have high barriers to entry and tend to be "cheaper" so they are not necessarily bad investments. But if you are Buffett-Prime-type investor, one should seek non-capital-intensive businesses since you are potentially holding them forever.
  • Canadian REITs paying out more than they earn (Report on Business magazine): Not a pretty sight when companies pay out more in dividends than they earn. Generally the only winners in such a scenario are the employees and management of those firms, while investors end up with destroyed wealth.
  • SuperValu and its misaligned employee compensation (Barel Karsan): "Last week, SuperValu announced an incentive program from 2012-2014 that will see employees participate in increases in the company's market cap. Specifically, employees will receive up to 4.8% of the company's market cap increase! There are a few major problems with this compensation structure. The first is the sheer size of the amount. If the stock price just returns to its 2007 level (so shareholders who have owned the stock over this period would end up with no gain), the bonus payout could be around $250 million. This is more than the company has generated in operating income over the last four years combined!"
  • Steve Jobs on leadership (Business Insider): When you join the managerial class, just like when you become a politician, leadership starts to matter most. You will be held accountable for results irrespective of the cause. For example, the CEO of BP was blamed for the Macando well blow-up even though he has little visibility into the hundreads of wells that are being drilled by BP. Steve Jobs comments on what happens when you cross into management: " 'When you're the janitor, reasons matter,' Jobs tells newly minted VPs, according to Lashinsky.'Somewhere between the janitor and the CEO, reasons stop mattering,' says Jobs, adding, that Rubicon is 'crossed when you become a VP.' In other words, you have no excuse for failure. You are now responsible for any mistakes that happen, and it doesn't matter what you say."
  • Charlie Rose interviews Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO (Bloomberg Businessweek): It's always insightful to hear what the leaders of disruptive technologies have to say.
  • The golden age of drive-through fast-food restaurants (Bloomberg Businessweek): Fast-food drive-throughs are kind of like movie drive-ins from the 60's. They are innovative and a sign of the times. Future generations may never know what they really are. This article talks about Taco Bell, a popular fast-food restaurant in America and Canada, and how they are almost like the modern assembly line.
  • Job search tips for new grads (Bloomberg Businessweek): Basic stuff but some of you may be interested.
  • The evolution of product placement in television and live media (The Globe & Mail): As media evolves, so does the advertising.
  • Somali pirates are earning 100x ROI on their pirating activities (Bloomberg Businessweek): Not sure if the priates from the 1700's earned quited the same loot back then.
  • Brazil's emergent middle class goes on a debt spree (Bloomberg Businessweek): If the incomes are stable and can back the debt, the increasing levels of debt should be ok. The difficulty in figuring out Brazil is that it is fairly cyclical and vulnerable to a commodity bust.
  • South Africa and its 25% unemployment problem (Bloomberg Markets magazine): It remains to be seen how South Africa adapts as their historically-strong mining (in gold, copper, etc) sector declines to almost nothing and chaos in neighbouring regions drive labour costs down.
  • (non-investing) "The Double Game" (New Yorker): Writing for The New Yorker, Lawrence Wright chronicles the outcome of America's funding of Pakistan over the last 50 or so years... (On a different note, there is also an excellent article by Malcolm Gladwell about the invention of the computer mouse and how Apple was influenced by Xerox PARC in this week's New Yorker. Unfortunately it's not free... Another interesting story for those interested in film is an essay by Anthony Lane on Pixar. Again, not free.)
  • (non-investing) "Silver or lead" (New Yorker): "The drug cartel La Familia gives local officials a choice: Take a bribe or a bullet." An article written almost an year ago, William Finnegan provides an in-depth look at one of the most notorious drug cartels, La Familia Michoacana, which is famous for carrying out torture and essentially being inhuman.

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1 Response to Sunday readings...

February 23, 2013 at 2:08 AM

Theirs some great values in chinese stocks.

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