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July 21, 2013

Intresting Annual Report

Please look at the interesting snaps shots of annual report of small cap Vikash Metal & Power Limited.

How can news channel skipped this masala news of more than 90 crores robbery ?  Why not RGV making movies on it ? But , I believe it has enough material for Madur Bhandarkar to make Corporate -II .  What's your thought ?

July 7, 2013

Value Investing Queries Answered by Charlie Munger

            Failure sure is the best teacher as long as we learn from our mistakes.
Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. I have faced few failures by net net value investing. I would like to do investing more intelligently by moving from net-net of Ben Graham to Charlie Munger’s invest in quality business for very long time investing.

       In an article he published in 2006, the magnificent Munger describes the “Art of Stock Picking” . This article gives answers to lots of curious queries in mind of value investor.I am trying to answer those queries by “Art of Stock Picking”  article of Charlie Munger. It is Gita and the bible of value investing. These are just answered I interpreted from the article and not actual conversation with Charlie Munger.

Why net-net of Ben Graham is not working for an Indian value investor like me ?

Charlie Munger : Graham was, by and large, operating when the world was in shell shock from the 1930s ‑ which was the worst contraction in the English-speaking world in about 600 years. Wheat in Liverpool, I believe, got down to something like a 600-year low, adjusted for inflation. People were so shell-shocked for a long time thereafter that Ben Graham could run his Geiger counter over this detritus from the collapse of the 1930s and find things selling below their working capital per share and so on.
     And in those days, working capital actually belonged to the shareholders. If the employees were no longer useful, you just sacked them all, took the working capital and stuck it in the owners' pockets. That was the way capitalism then worked.

      Nowadays, of course, the accounting is not realistic because the minute the business starts contracting, significant assets are not there. Under social norms and the new legal rules of the civilization, so much is owed to the employees that, the minute the enterprise goes into reverse, some of the assets on the balance sheet aren't there anymore

Warren Buffett was considered as Graham’s student and a great follower of the Graham in his early days . How much Berkshire Hathaway made by following the value investing style similar to Graham’s ?
Charlie Munger : The bulk of the billions in Berkshire Hathaway have come from the better businesses. Much of the first $200 or $300 million came from scrambling around with our Geiger counter. But the great bulk of the money has come from the great businesses.And even some of the early money was made by being temporarily present in great businesses. Buffett Partnership, for example, owned American Express and Disney when they got pounded down.
        However, if we'd stayed with classic Graham the way Ben Graham did it, we would never have had the record we have.

How did you evolve from classic Graham way investing to great business investing?
Charlie Munger : Graham didn't want to ever talk to management. And his reason was that, like the best sort of professor aiming his teaching at a mass audience, he was trying to invent a system that anybody could use. And he didn't feel that the man in the street could run around and talk to managements and learn things. He also had a concept that the Management would often couch the information very shrewdly to mislead. Therefore, it was very difficult. And that is still true, of course human nature being what it is.

    And so having started out as Grahamites which, by the way, worked fine we gradually got what I would call better insights. And we realized that some company that was selling at 2 or 3 times book value could still be a hell of a bargain because of momentums implicit in its position, sometimes combined with an unusual managerial skill plainly present in some individual or other, or some system or other.
       And once we'd gotten over the hurdle of recognizing that a thing could be a bargain based on quantitative measures that would have horrified Graham, we started thinking about better businesses.
       We've really made the money out of high quality businesses. In some cases, we bought the whole business. And in some cases, we just bought a big block of stock. But when you analyze what happened, the big money's been made in the high quality businesses. And most of the other people who've made a lot of money have done so in high quality

Tell us something about the lousy textile business of Berkshire Hathaway ?

Charlie Munger : We were in the textile business, which is a terrible commodity business, we were making low-end textiles which are a real commodity product. And one day, the people came to Warren and said, "They've invented a new loom that we think will do twice as much work as our old ones." And Warren said, "Gee, I hope this doesn't work because if it does, I'm going to close the mill." And he meant it. What was he thinking? He was thinking, "It's a lousy business. We're earning substandard returns and keeping it open just to be nice to the elderly workers.But we're not going to put huge amounts of new capital into a lousy business." And he knew that the huge productivity increases that would come from a better machine introduced into the production of a commodity product would all go to the benefit of the buyers of the textiles. Nothing was going to stick to our ribs as owners.
That's such an obvious concept ‑ that there are all kinds of wonderful new inventions that give you nothing as owners except the opportunity to spend a lot more money in a business that's still going to be lousy. The money still won't come to you. All of the advantages from great improvements are going to flow through to the customers.
Conversely, if you own the only newspaper in Oshkosh and they were to invent more efficient ways of composing the whole newspaper, then when you got rid of the old technology and got new fancy computers and so forth, all of the savings would come right through to the bottom line.

       So you keep buying things that will pay for themselves in three years. And after 20 years of doing it, somehow you've earned a return of only about 4% per annum. That's the textile business. And it isn't that the machines weren't better. It's just that the savings didn't go to you. The cost reductions came through all right. But the benefit of the cost reductions didn't go to the guy who bought the equipment. It's such a simple idea. It's so basic. And yet it's so often forgotten.

What is “circle of competence” idea ?

Charlie Munger : Again, that is a very, very powerful idea. Every person is going to have a circle of competence. And it's going to be very hard to advance that circle. If I had to make my living as a musician.... I can't even think of a level low enough to describe where I would be sorted out to if music were the measuring standard of the civilization.
So you have to figure out what your own aptitudes are. If you play games where other people have the aptitudes and you don't, you're going to lose. And that's as close to certain as any prediction that you can make. You have to figure out where you've got an edge. And you've got to play within your own circle of competence. If you want to be the best tennis player in the world, you may start out trying and soon find out that it's hopeless ‑ that other people blow right by you. However, if you want to become the best plumbing contractor in Bemidji, that is probably doable by two-thirds of you. It takes a will.It takes the intelligence. But after a while, you'd gradually know all about the plumbing business in Bemidji and master the art. That is an attainable objective, given enough discipline. And people who could never win a chess tournament or stand in center court in a respectable tennis tournament can rise quite high in life by slowly developing a circle of competence ‑ which results partly from what they were born with and partly from what they slowly develop through work.
So some edges can be acquired. And the game of life to some extent for most of us is trying to be something like a good plumbing contractor in Bemidji. Very few of us are chosen to win the world's chess tournaments.

Why investors don’t always invest in great business stock when you say it is not hard to figure out the great business stock ?
Charlie Munger : The model I like to sort of simplify the notion of what goes on in a market for common stocks is the pari-mutuel system at the racetrack. If you stop to think about it, a pari-mutuel system is a market. Everybody goes there and bets and the odds change based on what's bet. That's what happens in the stock market.
Any damn fool can see that a horse carrying a light weight with a wonderful win rate and a good post position etc., way more likely to win than a horse with a terrible record and extra weight and so on and so on.But if you look at the odds, the bad horse pays 100 to 1, whereas the good horse pays 3 to 2.Then it's not clear which is statistically the best bet using the mathematics of Fermat and Pascal. The prices have changed in such a way that it's very hard to beat the system.
In the stock market, some railroad that's beset by better competitors and tough unions may be available at one-third of its book value. In contrast, IBM in its heyday might be selling at 6 times book value. So it's just like the pari-mutuel system. Any damn fool could plainly see that IBM had better business prospects than the railroad. But once you put the price into the formula, it wasn't so clear anymore what was going to work best for a buyer choosing between the stocks.So it's a lot like a pari-mutuel system. And, therefore, it gets very hard to beat.
The market is efficient as a pari-mutuel system is efficient with the favorite more likely than the long shot to do well in racing, but not necessarily give any betting advantage to those that bet on the favorite.

How can I get above average return in the Stock Market ?
Charlie Munger : One thing that all those winning betters in the whole history of people who've beaten the pari-mutuel system have is quite simple. They bet very seldom.It's not given to human beings to have such talent that they can just know everything about everything all the time. But it is given to human beings who work hard at it ‑ who look and sift the world for a mispriced be that they can occasionally find one.
And the wise ones bet heavily when the world offers them that opportunity. They bet big when they have the odds. And the rest of the time, they don't. It's just that simple.That is a very simple concept. And to me it's obviously right based on experience not only from the pari-mutuel system,but everywhere else.So you can get very remarkable investment results if you think more like a winning pari-mutuel player. Just think of it as a heavy odds against game full of craziness with an occasional mispriced something or other. And you're probably not going to be smart enough to find thousands in a lifetime. And when you get a few, you really load up. It's just that simple.
So the trick is getting into better businesses. And that involves all of these advantages of scale that you could consider momentum effects. How do you get into these great companies? One method is what I'd call the method of finding them small get 'em when they're little. For example, buy Wal-Mart when Sam Walton first goes public and so forth. And a lot of people try to do just that. And it's a very beguiling idea. If I were a young man, I might actually go into it.
Ideally and we've done a lot of this you get into a great business which also has a great manager because management matters. For example, it's made a great difference to General Electric that Jack Welch came in instead of the guy who took over Westinghouse ‑ a very great difference. So management matters, too. And some of it is predictable. I do not think it takes a genius to understand that Jack Welch was a more insightful person and a better manager than his peers in other companies. Nor do I think it took a tremendous genius to understand that Disney had basic momentums in place which are very powerful and that Eisner and Wells were very unusual managers.
So you do get an occasional opportunity to get into a wonderful business that's being run by a wonderful manager. And,of course, that's hog heaven day. If you don't load up when you get those opportunities, it's a big mistake.
However, averaged out, betting on the quality of a business is better than betting on the quality of management. In other words, if you have to choose one, bet on the business momentum, not the brilliance of the manager.
But, very rarely. You find a manager who's so good that you're wise to follow him into what looks like a mediocre business.

Should we always invest in stock with huge discount ?
Charlie Munger : Over the long term, it's hard for a stock to earn a much better return than the business which underlies it earns. If the business earns 6% on capital over 40 years and you hold it for that 40 years, you're not going to make much different than a 6% return even if you originally buy it at a huge discount. Conversely, if a business earns 18% on capital over 20 or 30 years, even if you pay an expensive looking price, you'll end up with a fine result.
But if you can find some fairly-priced great company and buy it and sit, that tends to work out very, very well indeed especially for an individual.

What is “untapped pricing power” of great business ?
Charlie Munger : Within the growth stock model, there's a sub-position: There are actually businesses, that you will find a few times in a lifetime, where any manager could raise the return enormously just by raising prices and yet they haven't done it. So they have the huge untapped pricing power that they're not using. That is the ultimate no-brainer.That existed in Disney. It's such a unique experience to take your grandchild to Disneyland. You're not doing it that often .And there are lots of people in the country. And Disney found that it could raise those prices a lot and the attendance stayed right up.
        So a lot of the great record of Eisner and Wells was utter brilliance but the rest came from just raising prices at Disneyland and Disneyworld and through video cassette sales of classic animated movies.

At Berkshire Hathaway, Warren and I raised the prices of See's Candy a little faster than others might have. And, of course, we invested in Coca-Cola ‑ which had some untapped pricing power. And it also had brilliant management. So a Goizueta and Keough could do much more than raise prices.It was perfect. You will get a few opportunities to profit from finding underpricing. There are actually people out there who don't price
Everything as high as the market will easily stand. And once you figure that out, it's like finding in the street ‑ if you have the courage of your convictions.

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