Assuming you've gotten over all the excitement resulting from yesterday's stock purchases -- 2 in 1 day! -- here are some things that you may (or may not be) find interesting.
John Dorfman's latest Bloomberg column is about him stealing stock ideas from other professional managers. He mentions Mason Hawkins and Staley Cates of the Longleaf Funds and their owning 5.5% of General Motors stock (as of 6/30/05):
"Conventional wisdom says that General Motors has been losing market share for three decades, makes cars inferior to those of Japanese competitors, is saddled with large pension and health-care obligations, and will be crippled by rising interest rates. There is bankruptcy talk, in Barron's magazine among other places.
"As investors buy into this grim scenario, GM shares sell for only 0.09 times revenue and 0.68 times book value. That's cheap even for a stock like GM that is rarely expensive."
Regular readers of this site know I've always thought Longleaf's ownership of GM shares (and that of Brandes Investment Partners) was a more reliable sign of the company being undervalued than Kerkorian getting into the picture. Hats off to Dorfman for making a good point regarding the auto giant.
What's more, while on the subject of GM, Bloomberg's Doron Levin has written an even-handed piece on the modern realities facing the UAW.
In the "for what it's worth" department, Nikko Cordial ADRs (NIKOY/OTC) are now the largest position in the portfolio. This is partly because GM and Fairfax Financial (formerly dueling it out for top honors) have come down a bit, but also because Nikko Cordial has benefitted from the recent good news in Japan.
This isn't surprising. Nikko Cordial is Japan's 3rd largest broker and heavily engaged in investment banking. So the company's fortunes (and stock price) have risen as both the Japanese and the world rediscover the slowly improving landscape of what used to be called "Japan Inc.".
Japan still has problems -- deflation, debt and credit issues. Yet Nikko Cordial is perfectly situated to benefit from the near-term incremental improvements being made in the country. The fact that it has a solid balance sheet, is increasing its dividend payout and buying back stock is pretty cool, too.
Investment Manager Holdings
All the above brings something to mind. My hunch is that the vast majority of this blog's readers look at what their favorite money managers own. I know I do. And I know managers look at what other managers own.
But you can't just go by that -- because they all buy different things while remaining true the value orientation. (That's something Warren Buffett pointed out in his "Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville".)
Besides, if you and I were just buying everything that, say, Mason Hawkins and Staley Cates were buying for the Longleaf Partners Fund, we might as well just invest in the fund itself (when it reopens to new investors).
Take the topic of investing in Japan. Famed value players like Longleaf, Tweedy Browne, Peter Cundill and Marty Whitman have ALL invested heavily in the country beginning in the last half of the 1990s. (Interestingly, Buffett and the Templeton folks weren't.)
Yet, as much as I like Nikko Cordial, the only major value manager I've noticed investing in the company is Cundill.
Why aren't the others? I have no idea.
What does it mean? For us, it means it's sensible to see who owns what. But at the end of the day we have to make up my own minds.