Sunday, July 31, 2005

Walmart - The Value Pick, and odds and ends

Coming on the heals of Buffett's comments below about Costco, see this link on Wal-mart, and who owns it now. Bloodied and battered, the value boys and girls like it. Personally, I have recently shopped at the big three (Costco, Wmt and Target along same stretch near Norwalk CT) and Costco and Target were beyond pleasant, and Walmart was exceptionally unpleasant. WMT reminded me of the Sears store located near me on the South Side of Chicago while growing up. Out of stock of a number of items (where is that computerized stocking system...?), unhelpful staff, difficult to find items... You name it. Still, it's cheap.

My favorite stock that I have been recommending to my non-investment friends who need a good long term runner -- Navteq (NVT). Pricey, but you tell me when the asset they spent 17 years building (digital turn-by-turn map of USA, powering mapquest, google, you name it) becomes obselete... And my phone will soon be giving me directions. Our cars already do.

Click here for a good reading list for summer vacations for investment types out there. I have been plugging two of those for a while now, and it is nice to see others on the drumbeat: two must reads, Greenwald's On Value Investing and Cialdini's Persuasion. Another list of books recommended by the Berkie duo, here.

Good note on anchoring, and where to start when valuing a stock. Ie, don't look at the price.

When asked what he stays away from when valuing a company, Buffett replied, "I don't want to know the price of a stock as I value it. Knowing the price anchors your thoughts."

Here is a nice comment on holding periods and, in particular, why it might have made sense for Buffett to sit on his hands while KO traded at 65x. Read here about Buffett and utility stocks, and why Rich Bernstein still keeps his day job at ML.

I've recently joined the bull side of the aisle, joining Bill Miller and a few others. (Though I haven't been brave enough to buy Google yet, though my brother did...) For anyone looking for a reason, note cash levels at mutual funds are at a historic high -- a historically reliable indicator. Or maybe I've been watching Asia too closely. The Post reports on it here.

Buffett now owns an RV maker with 1.3bil in sales last year, here. I note the propensity for Indiana firms of late (e.g. dental insurance).

Anyone looking for a good insurance stock to put in the portfolio? How about WTM or MRH (note here on MRH). I wouldn't bet against Jack Byrne -- have you seen his new e-surance ads? Better than the Gecko, that's for sure. And for a recent comment on the manufactured home industry, here, on why Clayton is still looking good, but a couple industry peers are starting to show better numbers. I expect Clayton to be doing the same.

If you thought rugs weren't cool, Mary & Kate Ashley have a new line linked with Shaw Brothers. Maybe they'll come to the next Annual Meeting?!? Buffett embraces wind power, here, and plans to spend $5b capex on PacificCorp if the merger goes through.

Cousin Jimmy is making a movie, here. Hopefully it will be on sale next year in Omaha too.

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