You might have noticed I haven't been posting as much as I have in the past. Sometimes when that happens it is because non-blogging duties consume my time, even when I find things I'd like to post about. Lately has been a bit different. Non-blogging tasks have consumed my time, but there also hasn't been much that I wish I could post about if I had the time.
Perhaps that's because nothing is going on (from the bottom-up prospective of a value investor) with the Labor Day holiday coming up. Or because everything got swallowed up by the Democratic Party convention in Denver. Either way, it just feels like we're muddling through and tolerating many stocks being underwater until investors at large see their value. And, with that, I offer up five items to read over the course of the three day weekend.
- Francis Chou has released his semi-annual report for 2008. His flagship Chou Associates Fund holds a fair amount of newspaper-related stocks, which he says he bought too early. I'm a fellow traveler in one -- Media General (MEG/NYSE) -- though he got in at a much lower price than me. Meryl Witmer's firm dumped their stake, but I'm holding because Media General is way too cheap here. I am confident of unloading it at a higher price, though I'm doubtful of this turning out to be a winner for the portfolio. On other matters Chou reports finding bargains in retail, media, cable and telecommunications and pharmaceuticals. He is staying away from financials.
- Chou's bullishness on newspapers is countered somewhat by this from Lauren Silva of Breakingviews. Much of her thoughts concern The McClatchy Company, a holding of Chou Associates Fund. Newspapers are either selling at the point of maximum pessimism (see John Templeton), or they're going the way of buggy whips. We're in the fog of war regarding that, meaning we'll be able to look back with 20/20 hindsight and clearly see the bargains of a lifetime or a black hole.
- Speaking of Francis Chou and Breakingviews, here's a negative consideration of Sears Holdings and Eddie Lampert. Sears remains a holding in Chou's flagship fund, and I note it is still worth more than his cost.
- Regulars here know I'm also a huge admirer of Mason Hawkins and Staley Cates of Southeastern Asset Management, home to the Longleaf family of funds. This New York Times piece on Longleaf investing in Sun Microsystems is worth a look. I don't own Sun or Dell, which the article mentions (Southeastern owns 7% of Dell, second only to Michael Dell himself).
- Eliot Wilson writes in The Spectator that the credit crunch has impacted Kazakhstan and its 15 million citizens: The economy is slowing — from over 9 per cent growth in 2006 to an expected 4 or 5 per cent this year. Leading Almaty-based lenders — notably BTA and London-listed Kazkommertsbank — are in all sorts of difficulties. Only the super-conservative Halyk Bank, also London-listed, has avoided the meltdown. Many bank staff haven’t been paid for months.
That's it for now. Here's wishing everyone in the US and Canada the best over the Labor Day weekend. And for readers everywhere, the hunt for value continues into September and beyond.