Friday, November 12, 2010

Joel Greenblatt's Recommended Reading List

Teaching a class on Value and Special Situation Investing at Columbia's Business School, Joel Greenblatt provided a recommended reading list and we wanted to detail this below. Greenblatt is the founder of Gotham Capital, a noted value investor, and the founder of the Value Investor's Club as well. Here's his recommended reading list:

You Can Be a Stock Market Genius by Joel Greenblatt. Baupost Group's Seth Klarman also actively recommends this book as it examines catalyst based investing such as spin-offs, mergers, risk arbitrage, etc in an effort to exploit market inefficiencies.

Security Analysis on Wall Street by Jeffery Hooke. A great book we've also read that highlights how to analyze a stock in step-by-step fashion. If you're in the markets professionally or want to refine your valuation skills, this is the textbook for success.

New Finance by Robert Haugen. This book focuses on evidence, causes, and the history of overreactive pricing in the stock market.

Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond by Bruce Greenwald. This book is authored by another well-known Columbia Business School professor.

The Essays of Warren Buffett by Lawrence Cunningham. Self-explanatory and a great read.

The Little Book That Still Beats the Market by Joel Greenblatt. Application of a formula that seeks out good businesses trading at bargain prices.

Contrarian Investment Strategies by David Dreman. Teaches and advocates going against the crowd by buying stocks that are out of favor and selling the 'darling' stocks.

What Works on Wall Street: A Guide to the Best-Performing Investment Strategies of All Time by James O'Shaughnessy. Examines three decades of stock market data to demonstrate the viability of 15 of the most common investment strategies.

The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. Considered to be the best book on value investing out there, this title is also recommended by the likes of investing greats Warren Buffett and Seth Klarman.


That wraps up Joel Greenblatt's recommended reading list. This joins our coverage of other books advocated by prominent investors such as:

- Seth Klarman's recommended reading list (Baupost Group)

- Dan Loeb's favorite reads (hedge fund Third Point LLC)

- Hedge fund Blue Ridge Capital's picks

What We're Reading ~ 11/12/10

Interview with hedge fund legend Michael Steinhardt [Benzinga]

Analyst from Druckenmiller's fund preps new hedge fund [AbsoluteReturn+Alpha]

The latest on Phil Falcone's hedge fund [Forbes]

Clarium Capital down 17% this year [FINalternatives]

Rumors of death of mean reversion are exaggerated [StreetCapitalist]

Appaloosa Management's returns for this year [Dealbook]

Alumni of Stan Druckenmiller's firm starting new hedge fund [Bloomberg]

A slightly old but interesting interview with Galtere International's Renee Haugerud [Barron's]

Doug Kass says to short Fastenal (FAST) [TheStreet]

Klarman's Baupost Group returning some cash to investors [BusinessInsider]

The biggest lesson I learned from running a hedge fund [Forbes]

Study says big hedge funds generate less alpha [WSJ]

Soros Fund Management to open Hong Kong office [Reuters]

Junk bonds are getting pricey [WSJ]

Hedge fund FrontPoint cautioned manager on trades [WSJ]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Notes From Invest For Kids Conference: Ackman, Robbins, Whitney, Zell

The Invest For Kids Conference took place last week in Chicago and was a resounding success, raising over $1 million to benefit local children. We wanted to post up a quick summary of the event, including in-depth notes below from the prominent hedge fund managers that presented. Speakers included Bill Ackman (Pershing Square), Larry Robbins (Glenview Capital), Meredith Whitney, and more. Here are some of their latest investment recommendations:

Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management: Instead of doling out equity specific investment advice, Ackman instead turned to real estate. At the conference, he proclaimed his bullishness on the housing market and said to buy single family homes, citing home affordability at its highest level in many years. The low interest rate environment obviously helps this but he cautions rates won't stay low for long. This is the same recommendation as John Paulson who said to buy housing recently as well. Stay tuned next week as we'll examine Ackman's latest portfolio in our newsletter, Hedge Fund Wisdom. For our recent posts on the manager, head to Ackman's potential thesis on JC Penney (JCP).

Meredith Whitney of Whitney Advisory Group: Whitney harped on the issues found on the state and local government level regarding their fiscal problems. In short, she feels that municipalities are in trouble, especially New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan.

William Browder of Hermitage Capital: Browder focused on emerging markets and an inflationary environment. As such, he tossed out Koza Gold as an idea, a miner in Turkey. He cites their cheap valuation and cheap production costs at $320 an ounce. He also recommended Renhe Commercial Holdings, a shopping mall developer in China.

Larry Robbins of Glenview Capital: Robbins has been presenting the case for McKesson (MCK), Express Scripts (ESRX), and Life Technologies (LIFE) as of late. This conference was no different as he again pointed out the attractiveness of each investment. ESRX is well positioned for the generic drug boom in 2012 and Robbins likes their $6 billion in cash. He fancies LIFE due to its valuation and thinks the company should buyback shares. MCK is attractive due to the company's use of cash to accelerate EPS growth. He also cautioned about mortgage put-backs and appears to be short two banks with high exposure there. Head to our Hedge Fund Wisdom newsletter to view the rest of Glenview's portfolio. We also recently detailed how Glenview increased its position in Punch Taverns.

Joshua Friedman of Canyon Partners: Friedman's suggestion was to play the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy but cautions that it's a complex situation, to say the least. More detailed thoughts are found below.

John W. Rogers of Ariel Investments: Rogers offered three ideas: CBS (CBS), Viacom (VIA), and Gannett (GCI), the last of which he likes the best. He believes a natural move for CBS would be to go private later on as Sumner Redston ages. He also believes Redstone could push VIA private as well. Of the two, Rogers says VIA is cheaper and has solid upside. On GCI, Rogers argues that despite the unpopular print media business, he has been buying on the way down. In a sense, this is an economic recovery play as ad sales pick up.

Doug Silverman of Senator Investment Group: Possibly the most telling information from Silverman's presentation was the fact that they had previously focused on credit the past few years but are now focused on value equities. In terms of specific recommendations, Senator likes rental car companies at present. He referenced the bidding war for Dollar Thrifty (DTG) and sees consolidation in the space. Senator owns 6% of Avis Budget (CAR) and then a lot of Hertz (HTZ) shares as well. You can read his detailed thoughts below.

Numerous other speakers presented at the Invest For Kids Conference and we highly recommend reading the full set of notes attached. Embedded below are the notes, courtesy of Simoleon Sense:

You can download a .pdf copy here.

Overall the second annual conference was a resounding success, raising over $1 million to benefit local children. And, the various hedge fund managers that spoke presented some interesting investment ideas.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Patrick McCormack's Tiger Consumer Starts Skechers (SKX) Stake

Patrick McCormack's hedge fund Tiger Consumer Management has just filed a 13G with the SEC regarding Skechers USA (SKX). Due to portfolio activity on October 28th, Tiger Consumer has revealed a 5.69% ownership stake with 2,060,317 shares. This is a brand new position for the hedge fund as they did not own shares as of their last SEC disclosure on June 30th. Other activity out of McCormack's fund includes an increase in their Medifast (MED) position a few months ago.

What's interesting about McCormack's Skechers stake is that it's not the first time he's owned it. Tiger Consumer showed a position in SKX back in the first quarter of 2010. But then in the second quarter, disclosures revealed they had sold completely out of the position. But now in the fourth quarter, they own SKX again so we'll have to see how long they own it this time around.

Tiger Consumer is one of the many firms seeded by Tiger Management founder, Julian Robertson. And as its fund name implies, Tiger Consumer focuses primarily on the consumer sector.

Taken from Google Finance, Skechers "design and market Skechers-branded contemporary footwear for men, women and children under several lines. addition to Skechers-branded lines, the Company also offers several designer, fashion and street-focused footwear lines for men, women and children. These lines are branded and marketed separately from Skechers and appeal to specific audiences. Its brands are sold through department stores, specialty stores, athletic retailers, and boutiques as well as catalog and Internet retailers."

Eric Mindich's Eton Park Capital Raises Lonrho Stake (LONR)

Eric Mindich's hedge fund Eton Park Capital have increased their long position in Lonrho (LON: LONR). Due to trading in UK markets on October 29th, Eton Park has boosted their stake from 5.97% of Lonrho shares outstanding up to a 9.42% ownership stake. LONR is an interesting play on Africa as the company owns numerous businesses on that continent. Regarding other recent activity from Mindich's fund, you can see an update on Eton Park here.

Taken from Google Finance, Lonrho is "a pan-African company with a portfolio of investments in agribusiness, infrastructure, hotels, transportation and support services. The Company's agribusiness sector include Rollex 51% holding. Its infrastructure portfolio of investments include Luba Freeport Limited 63% holding and KwikBuild Corporation Limited 70% holding. Its transportation portfolio includes Fly540 Angola 60% holding and Fly540 Ghana 60% holding. Its hotel portfolio include Hotel Cardoso in Mozambique 59% holding plus management contract and The Grand Karavia Hotel in Lubumbashi 50% holding plus management contract. Its support services include Bytes & Pieces 65% holding, Lonrho IT 50% holding plus board control and CES Zambia 45% holding plus Board control."

You can scroll through all our past coverage of Eric Mindich's hedge fund here.

Hedge Fund Lansdowne Reduces Short Position in Aviva

UK based hedge fund Lansdowne Partners has reduced their short position in Aviva (LON: AV). Paul Ruddock and Stephen Heinz's hedge fund have gone below the -0.25% shares outstanding threshold, meaning that they no longer have to disclose the position to UK regulators.

Just because they've reduced the short position does not mean they've covered entirely. In fact, they've gone below this threshold once before already this year. Here is a timeline of Lansdowne's short in Aviva (AV):

February 2009: Short -0.34% of shares outstanding
March 2010: Short reduced below the -0.25% reporting threshold
June 1th, 2010: Increased short position to -0.49% of shares outstanding
November 2010: Reduced below the threshold again

So, it's anyone's guess as to whether they've just reduced position size or covered completely here, we won't know unless Lansdowne comments on the position or adjusts their size again. In the past, we've taken a look at Lansdowne's other short positions as well.

As noted in our latest hedge fund performance update, Lansdowne was -3.87% for the year at the end of September. In terms of other portfolio activity from the hedge fund, we saw them acquire a position in Central Asia Metals (LON: CAML).

Taken from Google Finance, Aviva is "engaged in the provision of financial products and services, focused on long-term insurance and savings business, fund management and general insurance and health."

To see what else this hedge fund has been up to, check out all our posts on Lansdowne Partners here.

Louis Bacon's Moore Capital Starts New Collins Stewart Position

Louis Bacon's global macro hedge fund Moore Capital Management has disclosed a new position in Collins Stewart (LON: CLST) traded in UK markets. Due to trading on the 2nd of November, Moore now holds 3.29% of CLST's shares outstanding. It must also be noted that Bacon's entire position has been acquired via the Contract For Difference market (CFDs). If you're unfamiliar with this instrument, we've penned a primer on CFDs here.

Though we haven't seen their investor letters as of late, we detailed Moore's first quarter letter here for those interested. Moore is one of the premier global macro funds out there as Bacon has been fixated on risk management as the path to success.

Regarding other hedge fund activity in UK markets, we just posted up that Larry Robbins' Glenview Capital raised its stake in Punch Taverns (PUB) and that Odey Asset Management disclosed a short position in Provident Financial (PFG).

Taken from Google Finance, Collins Stewart plc is "a United Kingdom-based company. It is an independent financial advisory group servicing corporates, financial institution, private equity houses, private clients, governments and quasi-governmental bodies.

The Company's services covers institutional stockbroking, United Kingdom, European and United States research, corporate broking, corporate finance, debt capital markets, restructuring and debt advisory services and private client wealth management. The Company has four operating divisions: Wealth Management, Securities, Corporate Broking and Advisory. Wealth Management is a portfolio manager and stockbroker with a focus on administering assets. The Securities division offers a research, sales and execution service to institutional clients across Europe and North America. It is a distributor of small and mid-cap equity, both primary and secondary, and specializes in raising such capital. Its corporate advisory firm Hawkpoint, provides advisory services."

Find out what other foreign positions hedge funds have moved into with our coverage of UK markets.

Tom Brown's Second Curve Capital Almost Triples Position in Banner Corp (BANR)

Tom Brown's hedge fund Second Curve Capital has filed a 13G with the SEC regarding shares of Banner Corp (BANR). Due to portfolio activity on November 2nd, Second Curve has disclosed a 5.3% ownership stake in with 5,865,000 shares. This almost triples their position size as they owned only 2,000,000 shares back on June 30th. In terms of other portfolio activity from this hedge fund, we detailed how Tom Brown was buying more CompuCredit (CCRT) as well.

Taken from Google Finance, Banner is "a bank holding company. The Company is engaged in the business of planning, directing and coordinating the business activities of its wholly owned subsidiaries, Banner Bank and Islanders Bank. Banner Bank is a Washington-chartered commercial bank that conducts business from its main office in Walla Walla, Washington."

To see the latest stocks hedge funds are buying, stay tuned to our daily coverage of SEC filings.