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Latticework 2019 Investing Conference

Updated: Jan 30, 2020

On September 12th I attended an investing conference in NYC which was an amazing learning experience. I met a lot of great people and gained a lot of knowledge from a great lineup of speakers that presented at the conference.

The speakers who presented were:

Sean Stannard-Stockton

Arnold Van Den Berg

Charles De Vaulx

Rupal Bhansali

David Barr

David Marcus

Nigel Friend

Their presentations were all related to investing but each covered a different topic.

Below are some of my notes from the conference.

Sean Stannard-Stockton - "Capitalism Withouth Capital: Why Buffett Loves FAANG"

Tim Cook said, "We are no longer a tech company but a consumer product company."

Amazon predictive delivery. Sean ran out of k-cups one Sunday morning but he received them from Amazon in an hour. Sean says it turns out that Amazon already shipped k-cups to the San Francisco bay area because they were able to predict from their data that it is typical that people run out of k-cups on Sunday morning.

Capitalism Without Capital - Bill Gates says this is one of the best books he's read

Netflix has raised prices and hasn't lost lots of customers showing that they have been under pricing their product.

Landstar Network transfers trucking capacity and is the Uber of the trucking industry.

Sean thinks Disney Plus will be a huge success.

William Greene Interviews Arnold Van Den Berg on his Five Decades of Investing and Life

Arnold lived down the street from Anne Frank.

"If your principles are more important than your life, than you sacrifice your life.  If your life is more important than your principles, than you sacrifice your principles."

Learned to survive 45 years in the business by:

- Subconscious mind [My note: I believe he mentioned other ways he learned to survive but I missed them.]

Subconscious mind doesn't think; it acts.

65-70% of our thoughts are negative.

You have to be totally honest to get the most out of your subconscious mind.

Always repeat the things you want to become, the things you want to come true.

You can not do good and not get paid. Whatever you do right you will get paid.

Have the goal, have the vision, and have the belief. The belief is the single most important thing in life. It can influence your DNA.

Arnold gave his wife a $215,000 check before his business was successful and said to her, "One day you will be able to cash this."

Repetition is key for the subconscious mind.

You never go wrong doing the right thing.

You don't read Think and Grow Rich once. You read it 30 times.

Fear comes about when you don't know and don't have experience.

Intuition comes about when you have experience and knowledge.

Arnold sees inflation coming.

Commodities are really beat down. Arnold doesn't think we will have recession but does think we will have inflation.

Using Bloomberg Survey, Arnold says commodities are the cheapest in 50 years.

Arnold thinks one of the greatest opportunities is in the energy sector.

There is a 150-year relationship between oil and gold.

Money is flowing into U.S. because interest rates are negative in Europe so buying Treasuries gets 1-2%.

The best leading indicator of inflation is gold. Price of gold always sniffs out inflation. Price goes up before you see actual inflation.

Dr. Sarno back doctor. Arnold says back problems are healed from the subconscious mind because of the link between stress and how it affects the back.

Charles De Vaulx - Thoughts on Value Investing In a Changing World

Lack of a business cycle over the last 10 years.

Charles doesn't agree that the economic cycle is being abolished.

How should investing be practiced in these times?

- Ben Graham value investing principles

- Price-to-book

- Balance sheet debt

Mentioned Peter Bernstein interview with Jason Zweig in 2004 and Ed Thorpe book on beating casinos in black jack

How to deal with changing times?

- Focus on pricing power

- Focus on quality aspects of business and industry

Can't ignore macro picture with so much debt in the economy.

Spoke about Allied Irish bank being cheap.

Bank is overcapitalized.

BMW is 2nd cheap company he spoke about.

Selling at around 63.8 euros

70% of book value, 5.5% dividend yield. Based on sum-of-the-parts valuation, value could be north of 115 euros per share

Mentioned an interview with Bob Rodriguez.

Rupal Bhansali - "Perspectives on Non-Consensus Investing"

Biggest mistake is misunderstanding quality.

She thinks Apple will eventually go the route of blackberry.

Passive investing hasn't been tested.  It's a ponzi scheme. Money comes in and they just buy. 

Passsive now has more investing money than active so passive investing is now driving the market.

Passive has high exit costs as they all try and sell at once.

It's about asking the right questions in your research process.

Google doesn't report search engine growth so we don't know exactly what is causing that growth but Rupal is guessing it's due to the acquisitions they made like Youtube.

The biggest risk Rupal sees out there today is balance sheet risk.

She looks to own net cash companies provided they don't squander the cash.

David Barr - Small-Cap Value Investing - Prime Time for Catalysts

Massive outflow of active value funds. David knows 8 active managers who closed up their business.

"We're not seeing the liquidity there to make up for the ETF flows."

There is a perceived liquidity going on that doesn't really exist in passive investing. He mentions the low volume of the smallest companies in the Russell 2000 index.

David Marcus - Partnering With Great Owner-Operators in Public Markets

Focuses a lot on managers of the  businesses.

Thinks this is one of the better times to be a value investor.

He is betting on jockeys.

Talked about Exor and their investment in Fiat.

Owns Vivendi which owns Universal music. Universal has largest music library. Has Beatles, Taylor Swift, and part of Rolling Stones. "If you buy music, you are likely buying from Universal music."

Vivendi is selling 10% to Tencent with an option to buy 20%.

Market stays away from family owned businesses because market doesn't believe they will be sold, but David doesn't think they need to be sold; they just need to be managed well.

David says, "You can't screen for numbers, you have to screen for words." [My note: I believe he is referring here to Google search as opposed to running stock screens all the time.]

Nigel Friend - A Conversation on Creating and Unlocking Shareholder Value

CEO and CFO of Orca Exploration discussed their company with the host, Serge Belinksi.

Major asset on balance sheet is their cash.

License ends in 2026.

Looking to extend license with Tanzania government but government wants them to drill for more gas which would require capital expenditures.

600 million people in Africa don't have access to electricity.

Can possibly do compressed natural gas for cars.

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