The Deipnosophist

Where the science of investing becomes an art of living

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Location: Summerlin, Nevada, United States

A private investor for 20+ years, I manage private portfolios and write about investing. You can read my market musings on three different sites: 1) The Deipnosophist, dedicated to teaching the market's processes and mechanics; 2) Investment Poetry, a subscription site dedicated to real time investment recommendations; and 3) Seeking Alpha, a combination of the other two sites with a mix of reprints from this site and all-original content. See you here, there, or the other site!

25 August 2009

The market's yawn

Reader Patrick McGahren writes...

While I appreciate Mr. Buffet's challenge to Congress, I do not believe he would bet his money that this institution will meet the challenge. How to protect assets from currency depreciation may be headline news two or three years hence.

For a relatively young currency, the Euro performed remarkably well during the "panic of 2008" and the EU can sign up countries relatively quickly that offer cheap labor, younger populations and the need for "know how" that will support maturing economies. Iceland just submitted their application!

I just returned from a few days in Paris, expensive and full of people from all over the world, few Americans. A trip there 20 years ago was cheap and full of other Americans. 10 years ago, about par on price but still full of Americans. Times have changed!

My guess is that Mr. Buffet makes good on his visit to Europe a couple of years ago and he begins to make sizable investments.

David, you have written periodically about the US dollar over the years. Care to revisit this comment from 16, May 2007?

"However, change in the markets does seem afoot. I predicate my top down analysis, as it is, on the movements, both intermediate and secular, of the US$. Somewhat self-aggrandizingly, allow me to say my 'calls' re the direction of the US$ have been uncannily correct. But all to no avail; despite my fears, the decline of the US$ has been met with a barely stifled yawn by the markets. At least the markets as capitalized in US$, which have rallied resolutely."
I would suspect that the markets would eventually "take notice" if the value of the dollar continues to erode. How would you address this risk in your portfolio?

Excellent comments, Patrick; thank you.

First, I stand by my ~2 1/2 year old comments you quote: the US$ declines, and the markets yawn. Well, kindasorta; who can forget 2008?

I believe that, in a world of fiat currencies and relative values, something, somewhere, somewhen must stand for fixed value; in that universe, it would qualify as a constant. I prefer that unit of measure be the US$, not because it is my home currency but because it is the world's reserve currency.

What I want matters little, though; the world keeps spinning and international trade still occurs -- despite the debacle of the past 2 years. So:
1) I invest in only the best investments, the crème de la crème;
2) I seek maximum transparency

Proportionate to the various risks

3) I size positions;
4) I time purchases and sales.

An old ad included the tag line, "Master the detail; manage the risk." Well, that same sentiment applies to your investments, and investing methodologies, and really is all any investor need know and do. Master the detail; manage the risk.
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist

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23 August 2009

How American Health Care Killed My Father

The Atlantic magazine (September 2009) includes the article, How American Health Care Killed My Father by David Goldhill, a studious, methodical dissection of the current (and parlous) state of American health care.

I consider Goldhill's admitted lack of direct, hands-on experience in any form of health care to qualify his insights as that much more profound. And while he might not have an insider's knowledge of health care, he has a firm grasp of economics, Austrian school included, which serves especially well his argument and objective.

The article begins...
"Almost two years ago, my father was killed by a hospital-borne infection in the intensive care unit..."
David Goldhill neither equivocates nor minces words; note he does not say, "... my father died...", but that he was killed, which ascribes responsibility and blame.

And so it goes, throughout the entirety of this lengthy article. Lengthy, yes, but one I prefer continue, for Goldhill writes compellingly. If I tired of anything, it would be my constant fact-checking; Goldhill's facts check out.

So rather than glow on, please go read Goldhill's absolutely brilliant, even seminal article. Read all the way to the stunning, startling conclusion. (But do not peek!)

And then return here to share your thoughts...
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist

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19 August 2009

The Greenback Effect

Warren Buffett contributes an Op-Ed essay in today's edition of the NY Times, which discusses an issue of exceeding importance.

In essence, for every action...

David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist
New York Times
August 19, 2009
The Greenback Effect

IN nature, every action has consequences, a phenomenon called the butterfly effect. These consequences, moreover, are not necessarily proportional. For example, doubling the carbon dioxide we belch into the atmosphere may far more than double the subsequent problems for society. Realizing this, the world properly worries about greenhouse emissions.

The butterfly effect reaches into the financial world as well. Here, the United States is spewing a potentially damaging substance into our economy — greenback emissions.

To be sure, we’ve been doing this for a reason I resoundingly applaud. Last fall, our financial system stood on the brink of a collapse that threatened a depression. The crisis required our government to display wisdom, courage and decisiveness. Fortunately, the Federal Reserve and key economic officials in both the Bush and Obama administrations responded more than ably to the need.

They made mistakes, of course. How could it have been otherwise when supposedly indestructible pillars of our economic structure were tumbling all around them? A meltdown, though, was avoided, with a gusher of federal money playing an essential role in the rescue.

The United States economy is now out of the emergency room and appears to be on a slow path to recovery. But enormous dosages of monetary medicine continue to be administered and, before long, we will need to deal with their side effects. For now, most of those effects are invisible and could indeed remain latent for a long time. Still, their threat may be as ominous as that posed by the financial crisis itself.

To understand this threat, we need to look at where we stand historically. If we leave aside the war-impacted years of 1942 to 1946, the largest annual deficit the United States has incurred since 1920 was 6 percent of gross domestic product. This fiscal year, though, the deficit will rise to about 13 percent of G.D.P., more than twice the non-wartime record. In dollars, that equates to a staggering $1.8 trillion. Fiscally, we are in uncharted territory.

Because of this gigantic deficit, our country’s “net debt” (that is, the amount held publicly) is mushrooming. During this fiscal year, it will increase more than one percentage point per month, climbing to about 56 percent of G.D.P. from 41 percent. Admittedly, other countries, like Japan and Italy, have far higher ratios and no one can know the precise level of net debt to G.D.P. at which the United States will lose its reputation for financial integrity. But a few more years like this one and we will find out.

An increase in federal debt can be financed in three ways: borrowing from foreigners, borrowing from our own citizens or, through a roundabout process, printing money. Let’s look at the prospects for each individually — and in combination.

The current account deficit — dollars that we force-feed to the rest of the world and that must then be invested — will be $400 billion or so this year. Assume, in a relatively benign scenario, that all of this is directed by the recipients — China leads the list — to purchases of United States debt. Never mind that this all-Treasuries allocation is no sure thing: some countries may decide that purchasing American stocks, real estate or entire companies makes more sense than soaking up dollar-denominated bonds. Rumblings to that effect have recently increased.

Then take the second element of the scenario — borrowing from our own citizens. Assume that Americans save $500 billion, far above what they’ve saved recently but perhaps consistent with the changing national mood. Finally, assume that these citizens opt to put all their savings into United States Treasuries (partly through intermediaries like banks).

Even with these heroic assumptions, the Treasury will be obliged to find another $900 billion to finance the remainder of the $1.8 trillion of debt it is issuing. Washington’s printing presses will need to work overtime.

Slowing them down will require extraordinary political will. With government expenditures now running 185 percent of receipts, truly major changes in both taxes and outlays will be required. A revived economy can’t come close to bridging that sort of gap.

Legislators will correctly perceive that either raising taxes or cutting expenditures will threaten their re-election. To avoid this fate, they can opt for high rates of inflation, which never require a recorded vote and cannot be attributed to a specific action that any elected official takes. In fact, John Maynard Keynes long ago laid out a road map for political survival amid an economic disaster of just this sort: “By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.... The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”

I want to emphasize that there is nothing evil or destructive in an increase in debt that is proportional to an increase in income or assets. As the resources of individuals, corporations and countries grow, each can handle more debt. The United States remains by far the most prosperous country on earth, and its debt-carrying capacity will grow in the future just as it has in the past.

But it was a wise man who said, “All I want to know is where I’m going to die so I’ll never go there.” We don’t want our country to evolve into the banana-republic economy described by Keynes.

Our immediate problem is to get our country back on its feet and flourishing — “whatever it takes” still makes sense. Once recovery is gained, however, Congress must end the rise in the debt-to-G.D.P. ratio and keep our growth in obligations in line with our growth in resources.

Unchecked carbon emissions will likely cause icebergs to melt. Unchecked greenback emissions will certainly cause the purchasing power of currency to melt. The dollar’s destiny lies with Congress.

Warren E. Buffett is the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, a diversified holding company.

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16 August 2009

Reading Minds and Markets - a review

I begin with the end: Reading Minds and Markets, by Jack Ablin (with Suzanne McGee), is worthy of your time and money; for it, unlike many investment books, captures especially ably the dynamic nature of the investment markets.

From his view "30,000 feet from the ground," Jack Albin shares his insights re investing and investments. Rather than provide a simple list of investment rules, Jack takes his readers on a schematicized journey through his investment career; along the way, he subtly disabuses this or that methodology, fundamental, technical analysis, valuation, and Nassim Taleb's Black Swan included. What worked, what did not work, what methodologies he disposed of and why, and which methodologies he retains to this day.

Jack's investment methodology is atypical of most investment managers, due to its humility...

"Your edge [as investor] lies, ironically, in your willingness to acknowledge that as an individual investor you're at a big disadvantage when it comes to unearthing not only the stock market's buried gems but even the most straightforward and solid investment strategy. Firms like Fidelity Investments... can well afford to pay six-digit salaries to each of their 150 or so in-house research analysts in the hope that each of them will find at least one brilliant idea amid the thousands of global businesses..."
The passage above reminds me of Peter Lynch ("Buy all the stocks in a sector, if you like the sector." Etc.), which Jack confides one page later.

A few quibbles, despite this book's overall excellence. The author confuses:
• "May" for the correct might;
• "Like" for the correct such as;
• Subjunctive tense (or mood);
• The plural form of index (indices, not "indexes");

• Attempts, not altogether successfully, a Warren Buffet-ish folksy manner.

But those quibbles are just that, quibbles. More important is his confusion re the Super Bowl indicator. In fact, it is the dichotomy between the original NFL vs AFL, not the re-configured NFC vs AFC. But of no matter, for it is a silly indicator.

Jack admits he has little use for fundamental, valuation, or technical analysis. Why should he if he buys entire groups and sectors, even asset classes? It is beyond the scope of this review to
defend any of these methods of analysis, but I have always wondered why otherwise intelligent people recoil at the mere mention of technical analysis.

I believe I finally understand, though. Technical analysis places crowd behavior (which it measures and quantifies) to be superior to the insights and actions of a single investor. While possibly smarter than anybody, he or she is not smarter than everybody -- and thus offers no tangible differential advantage -- and which I suspect galls intelligent people. "I am intelligent, so I must stand apart from the crowd." The oddity for Jack Albin is that fully 80% of his primary methodology is technical analysis.

Despite this quirk, I end where I began: You will not regret your decision to buy and read Reading Minds and Markets. The book helps readers learn what they might not already know, and reasserts foundational principles and methodologies for more experienced investors.
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist


12 August 2009

Stock Reflex

StockReflex allows a person to back test and thus hone his or her trading skills by simulating historical stock behavior. So a person could use this as an authentic stock behavior simulator and a "student" could test his skills as the simulator moves through time.

From the company website...
StockReflex lets you hone your trading skills by replaying years of real historical stock data in minutes. Simply click when you want to buy or sell and get an instant read on how your decisions would have played out.
• Refine your technical analysis skills
• Learn to trade without emotion
• Experiment with multiple trading strategies
• Improve your ability to "gut feel" a stock
• Teach yourself when to cut losses and protect gains
• Relive stock trading decisions you made in the past
• Analyze patterns and trends in various market sectors to apply to future trading
• Compare your scores against other traders
• Test if your skills and instincts beat buy and hold

Good luck!
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist

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11 August 2009

When I say pull, PULL!

Even after seeing it with your own eyes, you still will not believe what Criss Angel achieves...

Simply magic!
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist


Have a passion for wine...?

Would You Like to Win Your Own Wine Label...?

PBS is launching a new reality TV show called, The Winemakers. And you could be one of the next cast members on this exciting new show. Whether or not you've ever had an interest in making wine or you are an expert you could be a participant.

Perhaps you want to become a contestant? Watch the YouTube video below to view one of this year's contestants.

Good luck!

-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist


10 August 2009

34 years on...

For the past ~11 years, I have viewed the market to be in a high level consolidation, described often on this blog, and most recently yesterday in the post, Da parvis grandis acervus erit. In fact, readers and other investors should recall my frequent mention of the 1966-1982 'bear' market as my template for the current market environment.

The surprising, startling market rally of the past 9 months neither surprises nor startles me; I expected it. (Which does not mean the market plummet did not frighten me, as it did you.) So the news that journalists and other investors now, finally, see what I have seen all this time -- or at least one portion of it -- is gratifying.

Seems, then, an auspicious moment to begin a correction (whether of price or time), what with the increasing numbers of bulls.
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist


09 August 2009

Da parvis grandis acervus erit

The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.
-- Samuel Johnson

While there are many tactical methods to make money when investing, there are only two primary strategic methods: top-down and bottom-up.
Top down investors view the economy with a birds-eye perspective, and zoom in -- in this order-- on the national markets, then asset classes, then sectors and groups (for equities), then attempt to discern the companies that will benefit most from their expectations, and finally purchase the shares of those companies. (Read a better definition here.)
Bottom up investors ignore the big picture, and instead (attempt to) find the companies with a winning/leading track record, determine whether group and sector strength corroborates that company's individual strength, etc, and then buy the shares of those leading companies. (Read a
better definition here.)
I am both, and neither. While more closely in tune with bottom-up investors, I instead seek the leading stocks rather than the companies. Then I determine whether the group and sector corroborates that individual stock's strength, and finally investigate the company (or companies). The stock will make it on my Core Opportunities list if, and only if, the company itself passes muster. Solid fundamentals, low valuation, and high quality executive talent are among the hurdles the company must jump over to qualify. To buy a stock solely on the basis of its positive but ephemeral price action is folly, and defies sound money management.

Even so, I seek stock strength first for the company to even warrant my attention. I reckon, perhaps oddly to you, that the stronger the stock's price rise (see bullet points below), the better the long term picture. It matters not at all if I do not own the shares yet; I will. But I want to know whether the stock, and therefore the company, provides sustainable investment interest for other investors; institutional investors, in particular. You can witness this investment interest by...
• The speed in getting from point A to point B. (The slope of the pace rise.)
• The capacity to exceed upside, and thwart downside, expectations.
• Volume increases during up phases in prices and diminishes during decline phases. (Do not impose artificial start and end points, such as one day, on your analyses; do segregate discrete price moves.)

"Keep rising!" I say. And during the stock's initial price rise (maximum thrust, nigh vertical), I perform due diligence on the stock and company: Does the stock exceed upside price objectives? Does its rising trend exceed expectations? Does the company continue to exceed expectations? What is its product? What is the quality of its executive and management teams? Does its sector grow? Etc. All to the good, if yes.

Again, I seek strength on top of strength, fundamental (company) and technical (stock) -- even if I do not already own shares. The higher and stronger the rise, the better; at some point, the stock will correct, and build either an intermediate term (typically, 3 to 6 months) or a long term (months to years) base. And I will have my opportunity: a leading company, a leading stock -- a company and stock investors want to own -- and one that now moves temporarily against bullish trends down into my waiting hands.

One example would be (the previously mentioned) Colgate-Palmolive/CL...

[click on charts to enlarge]

Note the intermediate term base that builds now atop the massive long term base (1999 to 2007). My clients purchased Colgate-Palmolive/CL (at $58), once it became obvious (to me) that the stock would base rather than decline into a trend of lower highs and lower lows. (Which trend pattern I qualify to be a bear market.) Trends always change, but the opportunity to invest in a company of Colgate's caliber at a fire sale price excites me; I hope it did you, as well.

McDonalds/MCD also appears to build an intermediate term base atop a large 8 year long term base (1999 to 2007). I believe the stock's recent pattern to be a symmetrical triangle; stocks typically hesitate following the initial thrust from a breakout before continuing in the direction of the primary trend. Thus, the ultimate resolution of McDonalds/MCD's recent hesitation points out and up. I have begun to accumulate the shares, albeit slowly.

Predictions of bull and bear markets have a strategic purpose that should inform your tactical decisions, and therefore have a place in your decisions. For example, any price trend, measured quantitatively and qualitatively, pauses sooner or later, so your timing of new purchases and sales should proceed accordingly. However, leading stocks rise and decline before the general market follows suit, so this timing thing becomes rather tricky and best left to professionals. Unfortunately, most investors allow their strategic outlook to become their tactics. For example, "I like the company and I really like the stock (action, of late), but because I believe the market trades in a bear trend, I will stand aside until lower prices occur." Sound familiar? The lack of a position holding, of any size, means no opportunity to profit. Sure, possible losses could become probable losses; temper this possibility by position size, timing, and the long term quality of the opportunity.

You would not have read this far, if you did not also want to know my perceptions of the market today. I view the market to be in a wide trading range, in existence since 1997, and one that continues today -- and should for several more years.

Correct chart analysis does not require you to know how to draw trend lines A & B (chart above) before even one data point occurs, but you should know how to correctly identify and delineate after the data points occur; it is the breach of the salient inflection points that create trend changes. Yes, I know that many bears hang their continuing bearish perceptions and expectations on the ferocity of the recent decline (the Great Panic of 2008), but that decline merely brought the market back to the less-than-stringently identified trend line B. B represents a sequence of inflection points (as does any line): a sustained breach would manifest a serious change of character for the market -- as would a bullish breach of trend line A. I repeat myself, I know, but this point is crucial.

The pattern is a high level consolidation (HLCs). High level consolidations, which occur surprisingly regularly, have specific rules by which they must abide, as do all chart patterns. (I have shared these rules in a previous post.) The first problem of analysis occurs for most investors when the pattern's simple appearance supplants its technical aspects. That remark aside, high level consolidations (or trading ranges) can endure for years, even decades, although its typical duration lasts for ~16 years. The horrid market conditions of the 1930s and the 1970s were circumscribed by HLCs, which I revealed in a previous post’s annotated charts.

Which all means that I perceive the market's decline of 2008 as nothing other than a rapid decline to the lower trend line of its high level consolidation, the same trend line that has contained all previous tests for the past 12 years. Moreover, the velocity of that decline is not really predictive of more declines to come; the passage of 9 months since the market hit bottom and the constant refrain of bad chart and technical analysis by the bears proves that point.

The cool thing about high level consolidations is that new bull markets frequently emerge, albeit in specific groups and sectors -- all while the general market meanders sideways (range-bound). To witness this truth for yourself, you need only break the market down into its constituent parts, aka sectors and groups, and you will find many potentially profitable opportunities that await your discovery; past, present, and future. The truly wonderful thing about the Great Panic of 2008 is that investors today can invest in (high quality) growth at value prices.

And consider how strong the market’s leaders will be when the market they drag higher finally rises of its 'own' power; the general market can assume its role as engine rather than caboose to a few leading stocks and sectors. Imagine the many companies that grow faster, and whose stocks rise more quickly than the two I mention in this post; they exist, and await your discovery. Begin by shedding your fear of the market. And profit accordingly.

Full Disclosure: Long the markets via many leaders, Colgate-Palmolive/CL and McDonalds/MCD included.

Dat rosa mel apibus
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist

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03 August 2009

Drain the Ocean

Drain the Ocean

This television special puts computer-generated imagery and digital mapping technology to imaginative use: It shows what the Earth’s oceans would look like if all their water were emptied through an imaginary drain. The result: a landscape far more dramatic than anything on dry land, including a 40,000-mile-long mountain range, the world’s deepest canyon and widest plains, and bizarre, bioluminescent life forms.

When: Sunday, 9 August @ 9pm
Where: National Geographic Channel

I do not know about you, but the description above makes this show sound way cool!

-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist

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02 August 2009

Full of Bull - a review

Stephen T. McClellan, the author of Full of Bull (Updated Edition): Unscramble Wall Street Doubletalk to Protect and Build Your Portfolio, was a Wall Street investment analyst for 32 years, covering high-tech stocks as a supervisory analyst. He was a First Vice President at Merrill Lynch for 18 years until 2003, and ranked on the annual Institutional Investor All-America Research Team 19 consecutive times...

And so on. No doubt about it: Stephen enjoyed a storied career. I obtained first-hand knowledge of Stephen's research while he and I were concurrently at Merrill Lynch in the early 1980s. Stephen's analyses were renowned for being in-depth, thorough, lengthy, and exhaustive. Some readers found fault in those qualities, others did not; I was among Stephen's fans. (I believe it better to have too much information than not enough.)

Full of Bull, though, is in desperate need of a good editor, for it is no less than two distinct books in one loosely-knit package. The book's initial chapters are chock-a-block full of Stephen's reminiscences about Wall Street research: its role, its history, its relationship to other company units (primarily, investment banking and retail brokerage) and to a firm's clients, etc. The middle chapters diverge into a primer for investors; the final chapters return to the starting topic of Wall Street research and the life of the research analyst.

Two words kept coming to mind while I read the book: disintermediation and contradictory. Disintermediation, because Stephen goes on at some length about the changes that wreak havoc with Wall Street today, brokerage firms' research departments included. Stephen was fortunate to live and work during Wall Street's halcyon days of the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, when the money flowed seemingly with no end. Whether that heyday will ever return is moot, but change is here and the easy money flow has stopped. Stephen spends many pages ruing these changes. I say, "Get over it."

More disconcerting, though, is Stephen's contradictory comments and advice. For example, on page 58 Stephen recommends, "Investors need to do some homework. Pay attention. Invest carefully. Be conservative. And take a long term approach." But on page 192, Stephen says, "... my daily investment regimen... I tune into CNBC and Bloomberg television every morning with my first cup of coffee. After poring over the sports page, I study the New York Times business section and the Wall Street Journal. Then I sit down at my computer to peruse my holdings and any pertinent company or industry sector news. On the weekends, I cannot live without Barrons. Forbes arrives every two weeks, and I read relevant articles in other investment or business magazines online. I tap into conference call replays in my car if I have a drive of at least 45 minutes. And on an Excel spreadsheet, I track key data on my stocks: date of purchase, original price, estimated dividends, yield, and gains and losses. My brokerage accounts are online, so I can monitor them easily. Day to day and week to week I strive to keep up with the market..."

Does this sound like a fellow who takes a "long term approach" or a day-trader? No doubt, Stephen "pays attention," as he also likely misses his 5am to 6pm workday, and fills it with... well, all the items he shares in the quote above.

I must stop and correct you, however, before you think I detest Stephen's book. Sure, it could have benefited from better editing. Sure it could have benefited from a tighter focus -- memoir of a research analyst or primer for investors? When Stephen focuses on an objective, though, his insights soar. For example, Chapter 3 (Chapter 1 of the primer for investors) offers the following guidelines...

● Find unique, focused companies leading a new or niche market
● Look for specialized, simple businesses
● Seek double digit growth or robust cash generation
● Pursue healthy, stable, or expanding profit margins
● Insist on a robust balance sheet and quality finances
● Look for all-around quality in executives
● Avoid arrogant, over-confident management
● Prefer smaller companies over giants
● Avoid weird stock structures or sweetheart management setups

(I copied above and below only some of the section headers, not Stephen's lengthy explanations and reasoning.)

Continuing in chapter 3, under Investment Strategies...
● Invest in themes and rising industry sectors
● Hold only a modest number of stocks choose familiar companies


Stephen whittles down to its essence his experiential wisdom, codifies it, and presents it to you. Much of this book will be familiar to readers of this blog, but do not let that stop you from appreciating Stephen's book; insights, especially investing insights, benefit from their being repeated and thus reified. Consider the question that Stephen poses on page 12, in which the investor's dilemma has never been more subtly or cogently stated, "Is an under-perform stock in an out-perform industry more attractive than an out-perform stock in an under-perform industry?"

Full of Bull, despite its diffuse presentation, is loaded with many examples of excellent advice and professional insights; Stephen really excels when sharing his years of experience as a highly-regarded research analyst and private investor.

Full Disclosure: Full of Bull deserves, and repays, your interest.

-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist


The benefits of steroids

Click here, for more pictures and remarks. Your comments welcome, as always.

UPDATE: Link repaired.
--- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist

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