Slowing growth in China, the world’s second largest economy, coupled with uncertainty surrounding the prospective normalization of interest rates in the United States sent tremors through global equity markets over the last several months. After a rather short lived and furious correction in late August and early September, global equity markets regained their footing and, as we write, have taken back much of the ground they lost as summer came to an end.
For value investors such as ourselves, it remained business as usual through this turbulence, although we would admit to a certain counterintuitive satisfaction as equity markets began their long overdue retreat. After six and a half years of relatively smooth sailing, setting aside a brief hiccup in 2011, it had become quite a challenging environment for value investors. Bargains had become increasingly scarce and many of our existing holdings were trading at or near our estimates of their intrinsic value – consequently, we were selling and trimming back a number of those positions. As a result, cash reserves had increased and our returns were somewhat diluted while the bull markets and their associated benchmark indices raged on. We were able to take some advantage of the markets’ downside volatility in late summer. However, it did not last long enough, nor was it steep enough, for us to make significant headway in putting our cash reserves to work. Continue Reading »