As we embark on another year of investing, learning, and friendship, I am pleased to report that the MOI Global community has never been stronger. Engagement within the community, both online and offline, has never been higher. Anecdotally, I am hearing from a record number of members who reach out to share their meaningful experiences within the community. Particularly gratifying to me is the role of MOI Global as facilitator of new, impactful relationships among like-minded investors — relationships that have the potential to grow into lifelong friendships. In a world that feels increasingly short term-oriented and transactional, our goal is to build an authentic, long term-oriented investment community.
I’m not sure I would have arrived at this path were it not for the wisdom of my friend Guy Spier, who has made the “compounding of goodwill” into somewhat of a life philosophy. Guy shared his insights with fellow members during The Frankfurt Conversation last November.
We recently hosted the seventh annual edition of the Best Ideas online conference. Best Ideas 2019 featured more than eighty instructors from the MOI Global community.
I am always amazed by the amount of “signal” that can be extracted from this event. While not all ideas appeal to my personal investment philosophy, I found more than just a tidbit of insight in every session.
With so many sessions, where to begin?
Start with what piques your interest or, alternatively, you can’t go wrong investing your time with some of our most veteran instructors:
Phil Ordway has earned a reputation for dissecting misunderstood industries and business models in addition to highlighting specific ideas. At Best Ideas 2019, he dives deep into the meaning of “doing capital allocation right”. Capital allocation is not just about repurchasing shares. Rather, it is ingrained in the culture of firms that happen to be the best capital allocators. It is visible in how those companies do investor relations and how they empower employees to put decisions through a capital allocations framework. Phil discusses case studies of companies that take the right approach — at least a few of those names will be new to you in this context.
Jim Roumell has been a mentor to the MOI Global community by virtue of his quiet, steady leadership on a number of fronts: Jim has talked instructively about resilience and character (“pressure is a privilege”), his investment approach focused on downside protection and upside optionality (“multiple shots on goal”), and the mistake he made some years ago of “trying to go big” in terms of scaling assets under management. You won’t find this kind of self-reflection and openness walking down Wall Street. Jim’s talk at Best Ideas 2019, while focused on a specific idea, contains much wisdom that is applicable broadly to the practice of value investing.
Amit Wadhwaney is like a rock on the international value investing scene. While the vast majority of global investors is swayed by the latest trends, fund flow statistics, or geopolitics du jour, Amit sticks with companies that trade far below a conservative estimate of net asset value. In doing so, Amit has weathered many macro storms, both at Third Avenue and more recently at Moerus Capital Management. Amit’s approach is eminently accessible — he has discussed it eloquently on numerous occasions, including in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018. The trouble is that most investors don’t have the psychological makeup to accept the very real possibility of looking foolish for a while. The idea Amit shares at Best Ideas 2019 is no different.
It seems like a prophetic coincidence that Amit’s “best idea” also happens to be the “best idea” of another MOI Global mentor and bona fide contrarian — Bob Robotti. Bob’s expertise and long-term investment success in the energy sector is well-known in value investing circles. Many of those in the broader investment community, who now proclaim that oil and gas is dead, were barely alive when Bob experienced an even bigger industry downturn several decades ago. The legitimate move toward alternative energy notwithstanding, the same way the industry recovered back then, it appears likely to recover this time around — driven by good ol’ “supply and demand”. The world consumes ever more energy, and it has to come from somewhere. Bob and Amit’s “best idea” for 2019 is a cheap, well-financed leader in an admittedly commoditized segment of the industry.
Another “veteran” of MOI Global online conferences, despite his decidedly shorter time in the investment business as compared to Bob or Amit, is Elliot Turner. I highlight Elliot because I have always found the “signal value” of his presentations to be top-notch. It’s no different in terms of his Best Ideas 2019 presentation, in which he discusses a familiar name (PayPal) and a less familiar one (Roku). Elliot’s differentiated thesis on Roku has led me to add it to my watchlist.
Glenn Surowiec is another long-time MOI Global instructor who tends to “fly below the radar” yet consistently impresses with his contrarian mindset and focus on the key drivers of an investment. I have rarely found someone who is quite as able to ignore the noise in order to focus on the key drivers of an investment as has been the case with Glenn. The kinds of transitory or tangential considerations that scare away other investors have no impact on Glenn. When he informed me that he did not have a compelling presentation to share at Best Ideas 2019, I was not going to take “no” for an answer, and Glenn generously agreed to have a conversation about his current take on market opportunities.
Finally, I’d like to thank Mr. Market for his recent mood swings. They have made numerous Best Ideas 2019 presentations more timely than they might have been otherwise. Happy fishing!
I am deeply grateful to our members for helping to shape MOI Global into a truly special kind of community.
JOHN MIHALJEVIC, CFA
Chairman, MOI Global
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