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Value investment gurus emphasize patience, courage

February 20, 2006

In the investment world, there is a lot to be said for keeping yourself informed. It is one of the only professions where, as an investor, you can have personal contact with the great minds in this field. The same cannot be said for the average scientist who, for example, would like to meet a Nobel Laureate.

The next panel included Mr. Miller and a few other well-known value investors. This was an interesting panel discussing their best investment ideas. Mr. Miller says he likes U.S. mega cap stocks right now as they have not done much in years. Another panellist mentioned that he favoured the Japanese market. He also looks for companies trading at a price to sales ratio of 1.2 times or less and mentioned a few technology companies that fit the bill. James Chanos, who made a name for himself betting against Enron stock well before its collapse had some different ideas. He noted that the recent online poker craze is a fad, and he cautioned that the companies that run these online casinos might go down in price substantially in the near future. He also mentioned an anecdote that he knows of a trading desk in London, which runs a poker algorithm on one of these websites for profit! How can mere mortals hope to beat a perfectly programmed computer?

Mr. Whitman, who has been in the investment business for 50 years, spoke about the evolution of disclosure in the investment business from the 1960s to today. He also discussed his view on market efficiency, basically saying that over periods measured in months the market is efficient while over longer periods of five years or more, the markets are highly inefficient. He mentioned that Toyota was the largest position in the fund he manages and he sees great things for the automaker on a go-forward basis.


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