October 31, 2014

Case Study: Read a Group of Stockholders Realize In Real Time They’ve Lost Their Entire Life Savings When GT Advanced Technologies Declares Bankruptcy

GT Advanced Technologies

Are you in the mood for a case study resource for your own investment policy manual?  If so, brace yourself because this one is heartbreaking.  You can learn a lot from it, and save your own family a great deal of tragedy, but it's going to involve surveying the ruins of the lives of others so you might want to steel yourself. I found it courtesy of one of you - thanks Andrew! - who sent this to me in the contact form.  I happened to see it while following up on a promise I made to a few of yo … [Read more...]

The Standard Life Insurance Demutualization (Or How 72,000 Former Policyholders in the United Kingdom Are About to Forfeit £113,000,000 in Unclaimed Stock and Cash)

Standard Life Demutualization

Imagine you have a policy with an insurance company.  This insurance company is mutually run, which means there are no stockholders.  Instead, the policyholders own the business and the enterprise is managed to give policyholders the best service, at the lowest possible price, as a cooperative undertaking.  Now, imagine that one day, the policyholders' representatives decide they want the business to become a for-profit corporation.  The representatives convert the company and send the polic … [Read more...]

Lewis David Zagor Leaves Behind an $18,000,000 Secret Fortune Amassed from Investing in Stocks and Mutual Funds

Park Avenue Millionaire

It's no secret that most wealth in the United States is so-called stealth wealth.  We now live in a country where roughly 1 in 5 families earns six-figures a year or more, which most people wouldn't believe, and for those who put aside money, something like 80%+ of millionaires hide their net worth from friends and family, who are clueless as to the capital they have amassed, often living in normal houses, driving normal cars, and doing normal jobs.  Interestingly, it is not just the six-figure f … [Read more...]

Dealing with Business Rejection, the McDonald’s Franchise Disclosure Document, and a $114 Million Coffee Fortune

McDonald's Counter In New Store Copyright Joshua Kennon

From time to time, I get messages from business owners or entrepreneurs who are discouraged and upset.  Their family, friends, colleagues, bank officers, or suppliers don't believe in what they are trying to do and they take it personally.  This afternoon, as I sat in a McDonald's restaurant having coffee and revisiting an excellent book called McDonald's Behind the Arches that details the historical rise of one of the world's largest real estate portfolio masquerading as a hamburger chain, I was … [Read more...]

Location, Location, Location

Capitalism Summed Up

Remember rule number one on late billionaire Estee Lauder's strategy list?  I just came across an exchange about the merits of Costco vs. Sam's Club on this thread.  It sums up capitalism, consumer choice, and individual economic autonomy perfectly. Whether building a military fort or a fast food joint, location matters.  Paying more for the better location is often the best strategy.  It's one of the few areas in life you don't want to try and take the low bid. … [Read more...]

15 Rules for Success by Estee Lauder

Estee A Success Story Estee Lauder Autobiography 1985

Estee Lauder couldn't get an ad agency to accept her company as a client because her budget was too small.  Facing rejection after rejection, she decided to take the $50,000 she had set aside for marketing and try something new.  Undeterred by the endless stream of "no", she mailed direct samples to consumers, launched a virtually unheard of "free gifts with purchase" promotion, and made donations to charity to raise brand awareness.  Over the years, it is this sort of thinking that turned her bu … [Read more...]

Warren Buffett’s $12 Billion Disney Mistake

Disney Cinderella 2015 Movie

I mentioned yesterday in the post about Japanese Gyoza that we had seen Maleficent twice this week in theaters.  With time to reflect on the film, I keep coming back to the economic power of certain types of enterprises.  It reminds me of a story from a speech Warren Buffett gave two decades ago to a group of college students in North Carolina detailing his worst investment mistake up until that point; a story he first began telling in 1991 when the damage had crossed $1 billion.  I heard it wh … [Read more...]

A Look at the Tweedy Browne Global Value Fund’s Stellar Long-Term Investing Record

Tweedy Browne Managers

After the post yesterday about the inheritance battle that waged for famed value investor Chris Browne's estate, I kept thinking about how truly exceptional the team he and his brother put together was.  Even when assets were much larger (they would periodically close the fund to new investors to protect their best ideas for long-term stockholders), they utterly crushed their respective benchmark over a 20+ year period, and that includes a fairly high management fee of 1.39%, a basket of … [Read more...]

An $8,000,000 Investment Mistake of Omission

Nike Stock

One of my favorite topics from mental model studies and investments are the tendency of people to focus on mistakes of commission rather than mistakes of omission.  This area has received some press in recent years as a result of people like John Bogle and Warren Buffett talking about the opportunity cost of spending too much on investment expenses, or walking away from a good holding.  Yesterday, Aaron and I went to Dick's Sporting Goods to look at golf supplies and as we made our way back to t … [Read more...]

Mail Bag: Honey Maid Graham Crackers Goes After the Entire $241 Million


The potential dangers and rewards of calculated marketing bets on race, gender, and tattoos are the focus of this response ... Dear Mr. Kennon, I'm trying to understand the rationale of the Honey Maid marketing team in taking on several social issues all at once that still divide America. If you aren't aware (I imagine you are given how much you read), they recently began making sure all married couples - including interracial couples, punk rock couples with tattoos and Mohawks, and gay … [Read more...]