The Stingy News Weekly (03/14/2010)
Stingy News Flash
Our Graham stocks had a phenomenally good year. Leading the hit parade was the Canadian Simple Way which gained 151%, not including dividends. In the U.S., the Simple Way also fared well with an advance of 93%. The more conservative Dividend Way saw its Canadian stocks grow 78% on average and the U.S. crop gained 75%. Last but not least, the U.S. Defensive list scored a 115% return over the last year. Needless to say, we're extraordinarily pleased with these capital gains. The March edition of our Graham Value Stocks letter is now available exclusively to Rothery Report subscribers. Get your copy today! http://www.stingyinvestor.com/RR/store/order.shtml
You should get a bigger slice of earnings
"No investor can be certain that a company will be able to keep creating value in the future. Often, however, you can be sure that a company can safely distribute value in the present. It is high time for companies to cut shareholders a bigger slice of the pie."
Toyota hybrid horror hoax
"Journalism schools are supposed to teach that skepticism is paramount. "If your mother says it, check it out," goes the old adage. Yet comments on Web sites across the country reveal that practically everyone thought the Prius incident was a hoax--though they couldn't prove it--except for the media. They have been as determined to not investigate Sikes' claims as Sikes was to not stop his car. It's a Toyota media feeding frenzy and the media aren't about to let little things like incredible stories and readily-refutable claims get in the way."
Stop your spaniel eating the milkman
"As we know, one man once got on one plane in a pair of exploding hiking boots and as a result everyone else in the entire world is now forced to strip naked at airports and hand over their toiletries to a man in a high-visibility jacket. In other words, the behaviour of one man has skewed the concept of everyday life for everyone else. And we are seeing this all the time."
The yes-man problem
"The problem: Financial planners are yes-men and -women, asserts a report co-authored by Sendhil Mullainathan, a Harvard professor and top behavioral economist. Most planners, his report finds, reinforce our bad investment behaviors instead of fixing them. And the problem, he says, may be harder to solve than the fee issue."
Could investors use a little magic?
"Graham implied that he had back-tested this formula, saying that investors could expect a 15% or more annualized return plus dividends and minus commission expenses, but he didn't provide clear statistics in his interview for how his formula actually performed. However, according to investment firm Tweedy Browne's pamphlet "What Has Worked in Investing," finance professor Henry Oppenheimer ran Graham's screen for stocks listed on the NYSE and AMEX from 1974 through 1980. Oppenheimer found that an investor employing Graham's method over that time achieved an annual return of 38% compared with 14% per year return calculated by the Center for Research in Securities Prices, or CRSP, of NYSE-AMEX securities. A seven-year period doesn't completely prove the validity of a formula, but that time frame is arguably long enough to suggest that the formula may be onto something."
Is China actually bankrupt?
"The nation has erected a complex system for magically making its debts disappear, but a look up China's sleeve shows that its IOUs may equal its GDP."
The Greek debt bubble
"Seen in this comparative perspective, Greece is bankrupt today without a great deal more European assistance or without a much more drastic austerity program. Probably they need both."
Most medical studies are wrong
"In a survey of the recent literature, he found that 95 percent of the results of observational studies on human health had failed replication when tested using a rigorous, double blind trial."
Everything is dangerous
"Epidemiologists have as their statistical analysis/scientific method paradigm not to correct for any multiple testing. Also, as part of their scientific paradigm they ask multiple, often hundreds to thousands, of questions of the same data set. Their position is that it is better to miss nothing real than to control the number of false claims they make. The Statisticians paradigm is to control the probability of making a false claim. We have a clash of paradigms. Empirical evidence is that 80-90% of the claims made by epidemiologists are false; these claims do not replicate when retested under rigorous conditions."
James Montier interview
"Process is the one aspect of investing that we can control. Yet all too often we focus on outcomes rather than process. Yet ironically, the best way of getting good outcomes is to follow a sound process. The research shows that holding people accountable for outcomes tends to lead to suboptimal performance, generally because they spend all their time worrying about the things they can't control. I'd advise a far better approach to assess people on the criteria of adherence to process."
"Some contend that there is an inherent conflict between labor and capital, yet they fail to appreciate that without investment there will be no growth and no jobs. For there to be investment there needs to be an expectation of profit, and, for there to be an expectation of profit, there needs to be hope and belief in the future and confidence in the rules of the game."
The cost conundrum
"As America struggles to extend health-care coverage while curbing health-care costs, we face a decision that is more important than whether we have a public-insurance option, more important than whether we will have a single-payer system in the long run or a mixture of public and private insurance, as we do now. The decision is whether we are going to reward the leaders who are trying to build a new generation of Mayos and Grand Junctions. If we don't, McAllen won't be an outlier. It will be our future."
Lessons of a $618,616 death
"Terence's treatment was expensive. The bills for his seven years of medical care totaled $618,616, almost two-thirds of which was for his final 24 months. Still, no one can say for sure if the treatments helped extend his life."
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