“A division of profits between the limited partners and general partner, with the first 6% per year to partners based upon beginning capital at market, and any excess divided one-fourth to the general partner and three-fourths to all partners proportional to their capital. Any deficiencies in earnings below the 6% would be carried forward against future earnings, but would not be carried back.” (1961) The Buffett Partnership fee structure is a thing of wonder (albeit only for superior investors). The structure was: zero management fees with a 25% performance fee above a 6% hurdle. This allowed a real partnership to form with a sticky capital base as Warren wouldn’t get paid if he didn’t produce above 6% return. He structured the fees so that he would be under less pressure during the down years- the riskiest time for the limited partners to liquidate their partnership, allowing him to stay invested during lean times and even deploying more capital at the more attractive market prices. Note that this fee structure is gaining more popularity with boutique funds (Mohnish Pabrai, Li Lu) as it truly aligned all parties’ interest. Personally, I use this structure when managing my family’s capital with a high watermark structure. Continue reading →
I recently read Buffett’s early partnership letters from 1957-1970. It’s an amazing collection of letters that dispense wisdom in his typical folksy charm. His investment record was leaps and bounds better than the Dow Jones Index by the time he liquidated the partnership. When he started in 1957, his partnership began with capital of $105,100 (adjusted for inflation, it would amount to ~$900k). In 1969, the partnership had a net asset of ~$100m (~$700m in today’s dollar).
To show you how special he was even at this young phase:
Compounded results of 25.3% after management fees for 12 years
Operated predominantly by himself with no other investment team
He has said that in the early years, he had investment ideas “anywhere from 110% to 1000%” of the partnership’s capital.
One of the things that compelled me to first dip my toes in investing was reading Peter Lynch’s One Up on Wall Street. The straightforward prose of the book, as well as its key conclusion- that average investors can do as well as, if not better than the professionals inspired me. It is the first book I always recommend to friends who wants to learn how to invest in the share market. Of course, as many of you have experienced, the theory is a lot more difficult to practice. Especially in microcaps, individual investors have significant disadvantages to institutional investors. In saying that, there are some key structural differences that evens the playing field for the individual investors.
So, I have put together some pros and cons of individual investors in the microcap space.
Note: I am assuming that the investors here are long-only and invests with no margin. Continue reading →
This is another old article I wrote for my uni investment club. I’ve learnt a lot since I wrote this piece, especially after working part-time during uni in a extremely well run microcap fund. (Although I am currently working full time as a management consultant, my interest in stocks and investments have never waned). An update to the below article:
My previous thinking to the advantages of micro-caps and small caps to uni students are just plain wrong.
1)Cheaper brokerage cost per share does not create any advantages because on an absolute basis (the brokerage cost itself), there is no difference between microcaps and large caps. To effectively evaluate brok
erage cost, you have to see it as a % of total amount.
2) Amazing price growth potential is just looking at 1 side of the coin. Microcaps are by nature a more volatile and less liquid asset class than large caps. Hence, while it can have amazing price growth, it can also turn the other way very suddenly (as I have found out firsthand). The impact a large buyer/seller has on the share price is more pronounced in micro caps due to its illiquidity. Nevertheless, you can turn this proverbial lemon, into your lemonade. Due to the large swings in price, if you do your work and have patient money, you can find some undervalued gems.
Some large-cap fund managers found out the high volatility the hard way when large swathes of insititutional money came to the smaller end of the ASX markets over the past few years. Now, they have reversed the tide and pulled the money back to the large-caps, leaving large falls in price in some microcap shares.
The only advantage that I think microcap has is that due to its structure, it is more inefficiently priced and attracts less large/more sophisticated investors
My portfolio is now predominantly micro caps and is more or less a highly concentrated portfolio. I am in Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger’s camp:
“If you are a professional and have confidence, then I would advocate lots of concentration. For everyone else, if it’s not your game, participate in total diversification. If it’s your game, diversification doesn’t make sense. It’s crazy to put money in your twentieth choice rather than your first choice. . . . [Berkshire vice-chairman] Charlie [Munger] and I operated mostly with five positions. If I were running $50, $100, $200 million, I would have 80 percent in five positions, with 25 percent for the largest.” Warren Buffett
I hardly go into commodities investing. This is perhaps due to lack of research and my general laziness, but I have always found it a strange business where you can do everything right and have the lowest cost of production and the right deposit, but you are still at the mercy of the commodity price
It’s a bit of a long one, so without further ado here it is below…
This was an article I wrote when I was in university 6 years ago for the investing club (I am getting old…). I have learnt a lot more since then, but the core ideas in the article still stayed true. Some of the examples are outdated:
for BHP the mining boom has turned into a bust and is undergoing its mini-revival. The stock price of BHP has stayed flat (it is at $23.67 as of 10/3/17). You would have done better buying their South32 spinoff…at the right price of course (Forager Funds did a great write-up on it 2 years ago).
Warren Buffett has bought IBM, airplane stocks and Apple (another testimony of how much of a learning machine he is!)