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Hosted by Tano Santos, the David L. and Elsie M. Dodd Professor of Finance and faculty director of the Heilbrunn Center, in this podcast you will hear from some of the world's greatest investors, their views on the investment management industry, how they developed their investment process and how they see the field changing over time.
Matthew McLennan - The Power of Selectivity and Patience
Today’s conversation is with Matthew McLennan, head of the Global Value team and a portfolio manager of the Global Value, International Value, US Value and Gold strategies at First Eagle Investment Management. Matt is interested in the field of education, and he is a trustee of the Trinity School in New York City. He serves as co-chair of the Board of Dean’s Advisors of the Harvard School of Public Health and as a board member of the University of Queensland in the United States of America. He is also a trustee of the Board of Directors for the Library of America. After sparking his interest in investing in boarding school, Matt went on to study at the University of Queensland where he was given a unique opportunity to take part in the management of a $10 billion pool of capital at the Queensland Investment Corporation. This was to be the first of many successful career moves as that experience positioned him perfectly to join the Goldman Sachs team in Sydney. After rising through the ranks at Goldman Sachs, Matt joined First Eagle in the heart of the global financial crisis and where he once again proved the importance of fundamentals, selectivity, and patience. On this episode, Matt and I talk about what sparked his interest in investing, why learning how to think is more valuable than specific finance theory, his investment approach, the role of temperament in investing, his career at Goldman Sachs, how joining First Eagle during the global financial crisis ended up being a blessing in disguise, why you shouldn’t try to predict market activity, and so much more!
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Joel Greenblatt - Investing Off the Beaten Path
Today’s conversation is with Joel Greenblatt, Founder and Managing Partner of Gotham Asset Management. Since founding Gotham in 1985, Joel and his partner Robert Goldstein have developed the firm into a large asset management company, well beyond the traditional hedge fund model and offering mutual fund products for the retail investor. Throughout his career, Joel has been a very successful adjunct professor here at Columbia Business School and has also published several successful books. Growing up, Joel intuitively learned about business from his father, a shoe manufacturer. From these dinner table lessons, his biggest takeaway was the idea that stocks are not simply pieces of paper that bounce around and to remember you own a piece of a business. After completing his MBA at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Joel started his investment career and quickly progressed from analyst to partner, and soon started Gotham where he has successfully bridged theory and practice for over 30 years. On this episode, Joel and I talk about his introduction to Ben Graham and value investing, why he switched from law school to a career in the investment world, his early role in risk arbitrage, why he decided to start his firm, how he turned a tough negotiation with Mike Milken into a win for Gotham, why he advocates for a value-based approach to investing, and so much more!
Leon Cooperman '67 - Looking For More For Less
Today’s conversation is with Leon Cooperman, billionaire investor and Chairman and CEO of Omega Advisors. After getting his MBA from Columbia Business School, Leon joined Goldman Sachs as a Junior Analyst and ultimately built up Goldman Sachs' asset management division, GSAM. In 1991 Leon decided to follow his passion for money management and started his hedge fund, Omega Advisors, which became a family office in 2018. Leon is a member of The Giving Pledge and he takes great pleasure in giving back to those organizations and institutions that made a difference in his life. From humble beginnings, Leon benefitted greatly from the public education system while attending high school and college in the Bronx. Intuition has always played an important role in Leon’s life. After years of hard work to fulfill his goal of becoming a dentist, he followed that intuition and dropped out of dental school after just 8 days, forfeiting a full year of tuition and expenses. That misstep into dentistry put Leon on the path that would lead to Columbia Business School and a job at Goldman Sachs right after graduation, which he credits with changing the trajectory of his life. On this episode, Leon and I talk about how Leon went from dreams of dentistry to a successful career in the investment world, Leon’s approach to value investing, Leon’s career path at Goldman Sachs, why Leon founded Omega Advisors, how politics affects policy, Leon’s take on the current state of the financial markets, Leon’s approach to philanthropy, and so much more!
Ross Glotzbach - The Power and Strength of Experience
Today’s conversation is with Ross Glotzbach, the CEO and Head of Research at one of the great names in value investing, Southeastern Asset Management, the firm founded by Mason Hawkins over 40 years ago. Ross is also the co-portfolio manager on Longleaf Partners, Small-Cap and Global Funds, as well as the Longleaf Partners Global UCITS Fund. Before joining Southeastern in 2004, he was a Corporate Finance Analyst at Stephens, Inc. after graduating from Princeton University. From a young age, Ross was fascinated with investing in businesses where he could turn 50 cents into $1. By the time he was starting college, Ross was introduced to the concept of value investing and got the opportunity to manage real money of his own, which he attributes as a key step on his path to becoming a value investor. Not one to take the passive route, Ross set out to learn as much about value investing as he could and determine whether it was the right strategy for him. After multiple internships and valuable experience working at Stephens, Ross joined Southeastern with their culture of “true value investors”. On this episode, Ross and I talk about his introduction to value investing, why he values his time at Stephens so much, his experience as an analyst at Southeastern, what it means to be Head of Research, why he places so much importance on having conversations with management, the engaged approach to investing, and so much more!
Jenny Wallace '94 - Identifying Value at the Summit
Today’s conversation is with Jennifer Wallace ’94, a wonderful expositor to the main ideas of value investing, but also a very deep thinker when it comes to the interaction of value investing and the market at large. Jenny is the co-founder of Summit Street Capital Management, where she is the portfolio manager of the US equity value fund. She's also a Columbian through and through as she holds a BA from Columbia College and an MBA from Columbia Business School. Jenny is a member of the advisory board of the Heilbrunn Center for Graham & Dodd Investing and a great mentor to me. While working towards her MBA, Jenny joined the first cohort of students to take the value investing class offered by Bruce Greenwald. After being introduced to value investing, it became clear to Jenny that to be successful she needed to develop a skill set that would allow her to assess businesses, independent of conventional wisdom. To gain that perspective, she first went to work for McKinsey & Company. After leaving McKinsey, Jenny worked alongside investing legend Bob Bruce, before ultimately co-founding her firm. On this episode, Jenny and I discuss her studies at Columbia Business School as a student in the first cohort of the value investing class, her early career with value investing legends, how Summit Street was started, how Jenny developed her investment philosophy, her approach to data analysis, the impact of the growth of the passive investing industry on active managers, and so much more!
Connecting Theory and Practice through the 5x5x5 Student Investment Fund
Today’s conversation is with Tom Russo, the master of consumer brand investing, and two of our best students, Jeffrey Johnson '19 and Michael Allison '19. We’re talking about the 5x5x5 Student Investment Fund and having a deep discussion about some of the specific stocks in the portfolio. The concept for the 5x5x5 fund came out of Tom’s concern that conventional investment funds for students offered limited learning potential due to their short-term nature and was made possible by a generous gift given by him and his wife, Georgina.
The 5x5x5 fund is run by the students of the Value Investing course at Columbia Business School, with ideas being submitted by the students each year. Students then have the opportunity to connect value-oriented investment theories to real-world practice as they participate in the management of the fund. Importantly, they are also connected with alumni and are afforded valuable networking opportunities. At the end of five years, the inflation-adjusted original amount is invested back into the fund and any other gains will be used to support scholarships for traditionally under-represented members of the class.
On this episode, Tom, Jeff, Mike, and I discuss how the 5x5x5 Student Investment Fund got started, how this fund differs from student funds at other schools, what goes into the investment decisions, how participation in the fund benefits students, why some of this year’s investments were selected, and so much more!
Taking a Top-Down Approach to Value Investing
Today’s conversation is with international value investor, Jean-Marie Eveillard. As portfolio manager of the Société Générale International Fund, later becoming the First Eagle Global Fund, where he returned an annualized 15% for over 25 years. In 2001, Jean-Marie and co-manager Charles de Vaulx were named Morningstar International Stock Fund Managers of the Year and later in 2003, Jean-Marie was chosen as one of the two inaugural awardees of the Morningstar Fund Manager Lifetime Achievement Award.
Shortly after starting as an analyst with Société Générale, Jean-Marie became exposed to Ben Graham and the principles of value investing. Despite his passion and insights, it was many years before he was given the position of portfolio manager and finally able to put those principles to work. During his tenure as portfolio manager, Jean-Marie has been at the helm during some of the most challenging times for value investors. His ability to adapt his investment approach to the changing conditions has been key in his ability to produce above average results.
On this episode, Jean-Marie and I talk about his changing roles over his years at Société Générale and then First Eagle, why he was so intrigued by Ben Grahams and Warren Buffet’s investment approaches, the lessons he learned about client management while his fund was underperforming compared to market, and so much more!
Investing with Curiosity:
Find out why investor Christopher Davis thinks the extreme disconnect between financial statements and the underlying reality of businesses matters.
Chairman of Davis Advisors, Christopher Davis oversees approximately $30 billion of client assets worldwide. On this podcast episode of Investing with Legends, Christopher and I talk about the importance of finding the right investing style for you, why he placed so much importance on developing a strong accounting foundation, why Wall Street needs to embrace globalization and his approach to assessing competitive advantage We also tackle managing a fund including working with family.
Christopher currently serves as CEO and Portfolio Manager and Davis Advisors an independent investment management firm and one which wholeheartedly embodies the basic principles of value investing.
Christopher received an early education from his father and grandfather who shared their passion and enthusiasm for investing and business with the family but when it came time to start university, he decided to go in a completely different direction. From veterinary school to seminary, Christopher took the long way around before settling into a career in investing. From his first job at the State Street Bank, Christopher quickly found his own passion and has thrived in the field for the past 30 years.
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Applying a Fundamental and Value Oriented Approach to Investing:
Today’s conversation is with investor David Abrams, who was described by the Wall Street Journal as a “one man wealth machine.” David is the CEO and Portfolio Manager of Abrams Capital, an investment firm that he founded in 1999. Abrams Capital is unlevered and long-term oriented and currently holds over $9 billion in assets under management. David is notoriously private and is not keen on interviews and appearances so I’m especially grateful to him for sharing with us today.
After graduating with a BA in History from the University of Pennsylvania, David made an unplanned entrance into a career in investing. It was then that he discovered his love for the field and he went on to work with another value investing legend, Seth Klarman of the Baupost Group, before starting his own firm. David is a member of the Board of Trustees of Berklee College of Music and an overseer of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.
On this episode, David and I discuss how his experience working on merger and risk arbitrage transactions led to his decision to join the Baupost Group, what it was like to start Abrams Capital in the midst of economic uncertainty, why David prefers a generalist approach, the importance of the fundamentals in assessing investment opportunities, and so much more!
Overcoming Biases for Effective Decision Making:
Today’s conversation is with one of the finest intellectual investors and academic at heart, Michael Mauboussin. Michael is the Director of Research at BlueMountain Capital Management in New York and was formerly the Head of Global Financial Strategies at Credit Suisse and Chief Investment Strategist at Legg Mason Capital Management.
While rising to the top in his corporate career, Michael authored three books, including my favorite, More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places, which was named one of the best business books by Businessweek and which features prominently in today’s show. Michael has been an adjunct professor of finance at Columbia Business School since 1993 and is on the faculty of the Heilbrunn Center for Graham and Dodd Investing. He is also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Santa Fe Institute, a leading center for multi-disciplinary research in complex systems theory.
On this episode, Michael and I talk about the early epiphany he had that set him on the path to Chief U.S. Investment Strategist, the importance of teaching value investing alongside psychology, the main contributors to investment bias, the importance of cognitive diversity, the top three techniques you can use to mitigate against bias in your investment processes, and so much more!
The All Important Power of Consumer Brands:
Today’s conversation is with the master of consumer brand investing, Tom Russo. Tom is the Managing Member of Gardner Russo & Gardner LLC, Partner at Semper Vic partnerships, and he oversees more than $9 billion through separately managed accounts and Semper Vic partnerships. Tom is also a board member of the Heilbrunn Center for Graham & Dodd Investing at Columbia Business School.
Growing up in Janesville, Wisconsin, home of the Parker Pen Company, Tom saw first-hand the impressive prospects of family-controlled consumer brand with global appeal. Since then, he has become well-known as the go-to person for all things consumer brands. Whether you’re wondering about the development of a beer business in Africa or the strategy for developing a brand in a new market, Tom’s three decades of experience has given him extraordinary insight.
On this episode, Tom and I dive into how he developed his investment philosophy, what he learned about investing during his early years before starting his career, the huge impact Warren Buffet had on his career and specializations, the main investment principles Tom follows, what you need to consider about a company before investing, why under-spending is a key risk factor Tom looks out for, and so much more!
Welcome to Value Investing with Legends:
Today’s conversation is with the legendary Mario Gabelli, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GAMCO Investors, Inc., the firm he founded in 1977. A 1965 summa cum laude graduate of Fordham University's College of Business Administration, he also holds an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School, and honorary doctorates from Fordham University and Roger Williams University.
Since starting his firm Mario has been called “a prophet in the wilderness” by Forbes and strongly believes that the small, neglected stocks are where the money is going to be made in the future. With a focus on strong research and flexibility, it’s this foundation that has allowed the fund to successfully generate returns for clients even when facing a headwind in the market.
From his management technique to his investment rationale, Mario shares his perspective and strategies for maintaining positive results in an ever-evolving marketplace. On this episode, we talk about how Mario started out as a researcher, the benefits of a niche research focus, why it’s so crucial to build accumulated knowledge in your industries of focus, how Mario identifies investment and growth opportunities, and so much more!