I got an interesting e-mail from our beloved member Rishi Trivedi today, I thought I should share it on here (with his permission of course) Hope this helps some of the built up angst in IAG regarding the performance of our portfolios.
From: Rishi H Trivedi [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, November 23, 2005 2:30 PM
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Krish & Ming,
How's it going? I thought last week sparked some of the most involved debate at IAG in a while. Take what I say in this e-mail, don't take what I say, I don't care. The portfolios are seriously lacking this year. I guess you guys need the money for obvious reasons, we can't fund a lot of our stuff without it also it's been sort of a thing where we outperform the S&P just because. There are NEVER a lack of investment ideas.
First off Ming--if a company is a good buy at $5, then it is a good buy at every price below that. If information comes out and changes the value and say you think then the company is below $5, you should have never invested in it in the first place because your margin of safety wasn't adequately accounted for. It is a logical and rational error to say that at $5 it's a good buy but at $2.50 it's not and I rather not have IAG members walking around thinking otherwise. If you're willing to buy milk at $5, of course you would buy it at $4.99 and every price below. You do not buy stocks because they have risen, this is when you sell. You do not sell stocks when they have sunk, this is when you buy. This of course, all adjusted for margin of safety. Stocks are bought like groceries and not jewelry as Charlie would say. At a lower price, we buy a little more bread, milk (stock up), at a higher price we do not. Secondly Ming, what are you doing to look for companies?
Krish, you're holding a lot of cash, I'd like to see you do something with it. What are you doing to look for companies?
I was over the S&P 500 by 10% and before I resigned last year I told Ming to sell for a reason. Then Ming fiddled with it and brought us under the 10% mark. Please do get back to me, I'd like to hear your thoughts. I also want to know exactly what you are doing to look for companies and if you want to fill me in on how you start to analyze companies (again--how you start to analyze companies), then that would be nice too.
You can forward this along to anyone who you please.
Thanks for your input Rishi. We appreciate the concern you are showing regarding the performance of the portfolios. We love to let you know more about the portfolios and you are more than welcome to stay after the club at anytime to come talk to either of us and we'd be more than happy to address anything you have to say or ask.
Regarding the "good buy" at $5 theory, while it's true for a carton of milk that I will still buy it, it's not so when we have a time horizon like we do at IAG. Remember, the markets can stay solvent much longer than we can... and to add to a losing position no matter how much is goes down is suicide in the short term.
I know you like using the example of me fiddling with the performance of the initiative last year, so I'll use that example to illustrate the previous paragraph. When RURL and CHAR was bought last year, RURL was 5.50, and CHAR was 2.60. When the year ended, RURL dropped to 4.40 and CHAR dropped to 1.90. The initiative did indeed underperform because of that.
But throughout the summer, RURL has risen to about 10.00 and CHAR has risen to 6.00, right in line with our target prices.
Considering that they are good stocks, and they would have eventually performed the way we wanted them to, buying more shares then--as buying more shares now--would be suicide for the IAG time horizon. Now, I know you love using Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger as the guru of investment quotes, and I know how Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger has pulled through some hard times adding onto their losing positions, but keep in mind that they had an unlimited time horizon to wait it out, while we only have about 8 months. The Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger strategy of adding to losses will not work for IAG. If last year's initiative portfolio could have been carried onto this year, it will probably be outperforming by about 30-40%, but we don't have that fortune here.
About what I'm doing to look for companies, you can check out http://initiativeming.blogspot.com for more info http://allstarkrish.blogspot.com is Krish's in case you are wondering what he's doing. We are also available anytime after the club to talk to you personally.
Also, please keep in mind that the way you are conducting yourself might be considered inappropriate by some standards. Krish and I are both working very hard for the sake of earning IAG's keep, and we are always out on the markets scouring for ideas. We really appreciate you giving us your opinion, but we aren't quite particularly taken with the way that you do so. However, again, we do appreciate your concerns, and it serves us a much needed reminder of how bad the portfolio has been performing. But believe us, we are well aware of the consequences of bad performance as much as you do, and we actively monitor the portfolios, and constantly try to find good ideas the best we can. The next time you have concerns, please let us know personally, and not through e-mail, because writing something is much more damaging than saying something, and there are a million ways in which we can take your e-mail the wrong way, though we know your intentions are good.
Anyway, enough said, Thank you again for your input. I hope you have a great thanksgiving!