Interviews with Julian Robertson & Jim Chanos: Columbia Business School Newsletter ~ market folly

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Interviews with Julian Robertson & Jim Chanos: Columbia Business School Newsletter

We wanted to highlight the latest version of Columbia Business School's newsletter: Graham & Doddsville.  In their latest edition, they publish interviews with Tiger Management's Julian Robertson and Kynikos Associates' Jim Chanos,

Below are some excerpts we found insightful from the Tiger Management founder:

Julian Robertson on his investment philosophy: "I believe that the best way to manage money is to go long and short stocks.  My theory is that if the 50 best stocks you can come up with don't outperform the 50 worst stocks you can come up with, you should be in another business ... For my shorts, I look for a bad management team, and a wildly overvalued company in an industry that is declining or misunderstood."

Robertson on evaluating an initial idea: "The first thing is, is the management decent and honest?  A lot of people don't really care about that.  The way to look into that is to do some diligence."

On qualities he looks for in seeding funds: "Competitiveness.  Is he a competitor?"  He references that he often likes athletes due to their will.

Robertson's favorite plays (aside from Google and Apple): "I love WuXi (WX) which is a Chinese-based employment agency for PHDs, primarily in the drug industry ... the company's earnings are certainly increasing beautifully at about 20% a year and it still sells at 10x earnings."

Good insight from the interview with the Kynikos founder:

Jim Chanos on his early experiences in investing and lessons learned: "I recommended a short position in Baldwin-United at $24 ... the stock promptly doubled on me.  This was a good introduction to the fact that in investing, you can be really right but temporarily quite wrong."  (He started Kynikos with $16 million, $1 million of which was his own money.)

Chanos on long versus short: "I've learned there's a big difference between a long-focused value investor and a good short-seller.  That difference is psychological and I think it falls into the realm of behavioral finance ... if you're a short-seller, that's a cacophony of negative reinforcement.  You're basically told that you're wrong in every way imaginable every day.  It takes a certain type of individual to drown that noise and negative reinforcement out and to remind oneself that their work is accurate and what they're hearing is not."

On skills essential to succeed: "Start first with the SEC filings, then go to press releases, then go to earnings calls and other research. Work your way out.  Most people work their way in."

Chanos' current positions: Short natural gas industry in the US, betting against the coal industry.  He also thinks for-profit education business is flawed.  In his Opportunity Fund, he's currently short Chinese property companies and long Macau casinos.  We've also posted some of his other short positions.

The newsletter also features write-ups from MBA students on Avon Products (AVP), Ingersoll-Rand (IR), Legg Mason (LM), and H&R Block (HRB) as well as interviews with Tom Russo and Alexander Roepers.

Embedded below is the full Graham & Doddsville Spring 2012 issue:

For more on these particular investors, we've posted up:

- Jim Chanos on short selling: the power of negative thinking

- Charlie Rose's 1998 interview with Julian Robertson

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