Lee Ainslie Interview: Columbia Business School's Graham & Doddsville ~ market folly

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lee Ainslie Interview: Columbia Business School's Graham & Doddsville

Columbia Business School is out with the Winter 2014 issue of its Graham & Doddsville investment newsletter.  This time, they feature a rare interview with Maverick Capital's Lee Ainslie.

The hedge fund manager talked about how he's always trying to learn new things and how he's read every investing book he can get his hands on (if you need some ideas, check out all our recommended reading lists in the right-hand column on the site).

Some interesting quotes from the interview:

On portfolio positioning: "In terms of sizing, our average long is roughly twice the size of an average short at Maverick and our long portfolio is more concentrated than our short portfolio.  This construction allows us to maintain net long exposure typically between 30% and 60%.  The greater diversification of our short portfolio reflects the riskier nature of these investments and that these positions turn over more frequently, so having a deeper bench of such investments is helpful."

On valuation:  "So while we place great emphasis on valuation in our investment decisions, valuation alone should never be the driver of either a long or a short investment ... I believe it is important to identify a catalyst that should benefit the valuation ... The most commonly used valuation metric at Maverick is sustainable free cash flow in comparison to enterprise value."

On what he looks for in deep dives: "The most critical factor that we're trying to evaluate is the quality of management - their intelligence, competitiveness and, most importantly, their desire to create shareholder value."

On what he looks for when hiring: "The most important components we gauge include competitiveness, mental flexibility and emotional consistency - that last trait is surprisingly important."  These are pretty similar to what Julian Robertson looked for when he was hiring or seeding funds.

This issue also highlights talks with Jim Grant of Grant's Interest Rate Observer, Dr. Kenneth Shubin Stein of Spencer Capital and Geoffrey Batt of Euphrates Iraq Fund

Embedded below is Columbia Business School's latest Graham & Doddsville newsletter:

You can download a .pdf copy here.

For past great issues of this newsletter, check out their interview with JANA Partners as well as one interviewing Li Lu.

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