Reading the Markets’ Brenda Jubin reviewed my new book Deep Value: Why Activist Investors and Other Contrarians Battle for Control of Losing Corporations (hardcover or Kindle, 240 pages, Wiley Finance) in her post Carlisle, Deep Value:
Tobias E. Carlisle, co-author of a book I put on investors’ “must read” list—Quantitative Value, is back with another compelling volume, Deep Value: Why Activist Investors and Other Contrarians Battle for Control of “Losing” Corporations (Wiley, 2014).
The most public face of deep value investing is Carl Icahn, known for his “battering-ram personality,” who has had a long, storied career as a discount options broker, arbitrageur and liquidator of closed-end mutual funds, corporate raider, and activist investor. In 1976 he wrote a memorandum, which his biographer dubbed the “Icahn Manifesto,” in which he stated: “It is our contention that sizeable profits can be earned by taking large positions in ‘undervalued’ stocks and then attempting to control the destinies of the companies in question by: a) trying to convince management to liquidate or sell the company to a ‘white knight’; b) waging a proxy contest; c) making a tender offer and/or; d) selling back our position to the company.” (p. 4) By the way, the last option, known as greenmail, in which the company in effect pays a ransom by buying back the raider’s stock at a premium to the market price, is now illegal.
Few people have the qualities necessary to be the next Carl Icahn. But they can still profit from the well tested principles of deep value investing.
Carlisle traces out the evolution of deep value investing, beginning with Benjamin Graham’s notion of net nets, companies whose “market capitalization was net of the net current asset value.” That is, these companies had a surplus of current assets (cash, receivables, and inventory) over all liabilities (current and long term) and had market capitalizations no higher than two-thirds of their net current asset value.
Warren Buffett viewed the acquisition of net nets as foolish “unless you are a liquidator.” He essentially rejected deep value investing with its strictly quantitative metrics and its cigar butt investment philosophy. He incorporated qualitative considerations into his company analyses and famously said that “It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.”
Read the rest of Brenda’s review here.
Buy Deep Value: Why Activist Investors and Other Contrarians Battle for Control of Losing Corporations (hardcover or Kindle, 240 pages, Wiley Finance) from Wiley Finance, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.