In their latest episode of the VALUE: After Hours Podcast, Bill Brewster, Jake Taylor, and Tobias Carlisle discuss:
- Bull, Bear, And Benign Return Paths From Here
- 3 Different Strategies For Completing The 1968 Golden Globe Race
- You’ve Got To Re-Underwrite What You Own
- How Long Should You Look Back To Forecast Forward?
- Gold Supply Disconnect
- One Way To Get Low-Risk High Yields
- Is Spotify A Buy In 2002?
- Are We In The Eye Of A Hurricane?
- Time For Investors To Do Something Else – Charles Munger
- Utilities Are At 25 Times P/E More Than Google
- Vale Julian Robertson
- Hedonic Adjustments To Inflation
- Warren Buffett Never Sell
You can find out more about the VALUE: After Hours Podcast here – VALUE: After Hours Podcast. You can also listen to the podcast on your favorite podcast platforms here:
Tobias: I think it’s no– Here we go. Live streaming. What’s up?
Jake: And we’re alive.
Tobias: It is 10:30 AM on the West Coast, 1:30 PM on the East Coast, 3:30 AM Australian Eastern Standard Time, something UTC.
Bill: Shoutout to the dude that’s listening.
Jake: [laughs] Hey, dude.
Tobias: It’s Value: After Hours. I’m Tobias Carlisle, joined as always by Jake Taylor and Bill Brewster. What is happening, fellas? Anything interesting in the markets?
Bill: I have no idea. I’ve been moving.
Tobias: Did I [crosstalk] by–?
Bill: I don’t know, if you guys listened to William Green and Jim Grant. That was a nice conversation.
Tobias: I have to listen.
Jake: I’m about a quarter away into that one so far.
Bill: It’s quite long.
Jake: Yeah, it’s like [crosstalk].
Bill: Whoever thought long form audio is good idea.
Jake: Who is these idiots doing long for? [laughs]
Bill: But I liked it. It was quite good.
Jake: Speaking of good and long form, I enjoyed Scott Reardon on The Business Brew.
Bill: Scott’s cool.
Jake: Yes, that was fun.
Bill: He knows some pretty cool guys, too, and he lived with one, which is wild. I don’t know who that guy is.
Tobias: Who do he live –?
Bill: Some value investor.
Jake: Lived near somebody, right?
Tobias: Did [unintelligible [00:01:22] to go. Had a wife.
Bill: I thought you guys are roommate.
Bill: No. In LA, I never know. You’ve got a wife and kids and you still got to live together.
Tobias: It is true.
Bill: It’s not cheap out there.
Tobias: I was telling JT before we came on the median house price in Los Angeles. Only 10% of Los Angelenos can afford the median house price. I don’t know how that works.
Bill: Yeah, it’s going higher.
Tobias: Yeah, for some
Jake: Or lower, one of those.
Bill: That’s true.
Tobias: I’ve got to give some shoutouts to all of the– Braunschweig, I think that’s a place the Caribbean, Netherlands, Nashville, Boston, Toronto, Santa Monica, what’s up? Milton Keynes, Ottawa, Katmandu, Port Dover, Townsville, Norway.
Jake: My God.
Tobias: Leeds, UK.
Jake: Oh, wow.
Bill: I still don’t know how many people have 10 computers VPNing on this, but I appreciate the perception of a larger audience than we have.
Jake: [laughs] Yeah, the guy that’s in Kansas, but his VPN is putting him in Katmandu.
Bill: Yeah, Ian Cassel ended up hiring a couple of people to help him out making it appear like we’re bigger than we are.
Jake: These are bots. Yeah.
Tobias: Lisbon. Could you turn on your mic a little bit, please? I think he means Bill, maybe. I don’t know.
Tobias: I don’t know. Sounds all right to me, but I can’t tell.
Bill: Yeah, I don’t know. How’s this?[laughter]
Jake: What’s on tap for today, boys? What do we got?
Tobias: I got a Man Institute paper. Kind of interesting. They looked at the last four recessions or the last four crashes rather. And then, looked at what the earnings did, and what the multiple did, and then they’ve just said, “What happens if you apply that range to this? Where do we end up?”
Jake: Yikes. I’m going to guess it’s not bullish.
Tobias: Well, there’s a range. They’ve got a bull-benign average and bear. And so, I’m just going to get through those.
Jake: Ooh, I like that’s the new. Bull benign–
Jake: You got to call average base, right? Bull-benign base bear, four Bs?
Bill: Base would be that– Yeah, then you would imply that we’re going lower, if that’s your base, right?
Tobias: Just for the alliteration. I think that’s what JT was saying.
Tobias: Yeah, they did. They missed that opportunity. Should have consulted with you. Better marketing.
Bill: Just the base. I’ve been thinking a little bit about runways and how things can appear quick, actually trying to think through TAM. I don’t have any good thoughts, but it’s what I’m thinking about.
Jake: All right.
Tobias: What do you got, JT?
Jake: I’ve got a little segment on maintenance and three different stories about these different sailors, who competed in this sailing around the world competition that is telling about the approach to maintenance and what that can mean for your investment process. So, I’m actually pretty excited about this and I think it’s going to be pretty good.
Jake: And I’m not usually excited about these. [laughs]
Bill: Do we have any animals in this particular one?
Jake: One animal.
Bill: A sperm whale?
Jake: No. But-
Jake: -it does end up killed.
Tobias: Better give the people what they like.
Bill: No, that’s a shame.
Bill: So, the SPCA or Green Peace, they’re not going to appreciate this one.
Bill: Do you want to start out with this, if you’re very excited or no?
Jake: Yeah, we can– [crosstalk]
Bill: Feels like we could probably refer off this one. Let’s go.
3 Different Strategies For Completing The 1968 Golden Globe Race
Jake: Let’s do it. All right. So, getting into it. Shoutout to 1 of the 10, Justin Giancola, who sent me this article and it’s writeup by Stuart Brand. I don’t know, if you guys have seen him before. But he writes for several things, but one of them is the Long Now Foundation, which is just trying to basically get humans to think in longer intervals than what we currently seem to do.
But this story is about the 1968 Golden Globe Race, which was basically a solo sailboat race and around the world, basically from London and then you sail south out down along Africa, you hang a left, and you sail under Australia, under New Zealand along the Pacific, and then around the Cape of Horn in South America, back up the East Coast of South America, and then you finish back in England. And it’s 30,000 total miles and most of it is along the latitude of the roaring 40s in the southern hemisphere, which is pretty damn rough seas. So, there was a prize. The key thing is that– [crosstalk]
Bill: How big are these boats? Sorry.
Jake: Like 32- to 40-footers.
Bill: Whoa, that’s not very large.
Jake: No, not crazy big. But you’re a solo, sail– [crosstalk]
Jake: No physical assistance, no fuel, no food, no water, no equipment taken on board after the start of the race. You’re isolated. No going into port, there’s nothing. You got to just sail. At the time, it was a £5000 prize, which is about $100,000 today.
Tobias: How long ago?
Tobias: Okay, okay.
Jake: You have to remember– [crosstalk]
Bill: I would die. Zero probability Brewster lasts more than three days.
Jake: [laughs] Yeah, no, these are for legit sailors. But one thing to remember, on most of this route, there’s very few ships who are traveling on these this route. Back then, there’s no GPS, there’s no electronic auto pilots, there’s no radar on smaller boats like that. You are sailing like old school with sextant and trying to basically– [crosstalk]
Tobias: How do they prove that they actually went the route? Okay, sorry.
Jake: Great question. We’ll get to some of that. There were nine total people who attempted this nine boats and three of them became these famous stories in their own right. So, we’re going to jump into these three. The first one was this guy named Robin Knox-Johnston.
At the time, he was 29 years old, a fairly experienced sailor, but he was pretty underfunded for this project and he had this wooden 32 foot boat and his guiding principle to maintenance and to doing this was, “Make do and mend.” He packed his boat with all kinds of materials, tools, everything he could imagine that he would need for this 10-month trip.
One month in, he’s down off the coast of South of Africa. He discovers that he’s got a serious leak in his boat. There’s these two long gaps in the planking on each side of the keel. He dresses in a dark shirt and puts jeans on. The reason he does this is, is to hide his white body from potential sharks seeing him in the water. He dives under it, and he examines it, and he figures out like, “Okay–” He gets these canvas strips basically, and he’s under there with a hammer and a snorkel tacking this underneath his ship, and he has to keep coming back up for air after every tack, because you can only basically have the oxygen to take some multiple hours to do it.
While he’s in the process of doing that, a shark starts circling around the boat. He gets on board, he gets his rifle, he shoots the shark, and then it gets back to work nailing these things under. So, again, Brewster’s to your survival percentage.
Bill: That dude is gangster. Did he pull the shark into the boat, do we know?
Jake: No, no. He shot it and then it he saw drift down off into the– [crosstalk]
Bill: Okay. Yeah, it went away. He’s not going back in with bloody shark stuff around him, right? The shark is gone now.
Jake: He was worried that the blood might attract more sharks.
Bill: Uh-huh? More sharks. Yes. Okay. So, I’m following. This guy is nuts.
Jake: Yeah, this guy, he’s pretty hardened. Another thing is that the hatch covers that he had were poorly fitted. And so, they were just constantly leaking. Water would come in and dripping on his bed, he’s never dry. It just sounds like absolute misery. The boat was constantly breaking due to rough weather. You’re in just some really tough sea. He wrote that, “Necessity is the mother of invention and I’m always quite happy to leave things until I have to cope with them and then throw myself happily into the problem.”
Basically, he neglected things until they needed to be fixed. That was his solution. At one point, he had no working engine, no radio, and the self-steering rig that they had broke off and sank. He figured out that he could arrange his for sales in a way that would allow him to keep course with the wind while he was sleeping.
At one point, and this is how bananas it was. He’s says, “You’re looking at the stern and you see an 80-foot wave breaking at the top stretching from horizon to horizon. Don’t tell me you’re not a little bit scared. As the wave was breaking, I knew it was going to sweep the boat and I realized I could not get down below where I was safe. So, I just climbed the rigging, and the wave covered the boat, it was me and to mass, and nothing else in sight for about 1,500 miles in any direction. Then she popped up. The hatch had been knocked open. So, I spent the next three hours pumping out three tons of water.”
Literally, the boat gets covered with water and he climbs up to the top of it, the mask basically to stay up out of the water, this giant 80-foot wave. [laughs] These guys are insane, right?
Tobias: All right. That’s our sailor number one. Sailor number two. This guy named Donald Crowhurst. And his specialty was actually electronics, and he was a brilliant innovator. But he was pretty hopeless when it came to business, because he was just infected with this over optimism. He fell behind in his planning process getting ready for it and he ends up setting sail at the last permitted moment to enter the race.
And so, his boat basically wasn’t ready and he accidentally left behind all kinds of materials that he needed to repair the boat. But what he did bring was abundance of electrical parts and tools, because that was his passion, right? You’ll start to see that this guy is like a man with a hammer. Not too far into it, he realized that he wouldn’t be able to finish the race, because stuff was breaking, and he didn’t have the materials.
And so, he realized also that maybe he wouldn’t have to finish the race. At one point, the water had rushed in, and destroyed his generator, and his radio was down, and his bilge pumps didn’t even work because they were missing the piping that was specialized that he needed that he’d never installed.
So, he was bailing out with a bucket. But he gets his generator working again. Because he’s such an electronics wizard, he is able to actually spoof, where the radio transmissions are coming from, so that he’s reporting that he’s further along in the race than where he actually is. He can plot out where he would have been, where that radio is going to be.
Meanwhile, he’s just basically dawdling in the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean, but he’s not actually going anywhere. At one point, he discovered a real serious leak in his boat and he snuck ashore into Argentina, lied about who he was, got it repaired, and then went back out there.
Meanwhile, he’s sending out all these cheery reports about how he’s just cruising, and crushing it, and it’s all working. Another thing. To stay motivated, whenever he completed something that he thought was pleasant, he’d reward himself with a drink. And so, he’s basically drunk half the time. He got as far south as the Falkland Islands and then he started heading back toward England and the finish line.
He spent basically all of his time working on these radios like a man with a hammer at the exclusion of everything else in his boat. After, basically, seven months of lying that he was doing, he started to go crazy, and the pressure of being found out and potentially disgraced, and failing his wife and four young children, it became too much. His last logbook entry is really chilling.
It says, “It is finished. It is the mercy.” And he jumped into the ocean, was never seen again. He left behind the boat and the documents that he knew would reveal the truth of what had happened. And nine days later, a passing boat found his ship or passing ship found his boat and he had invested so much of himself in this illusion that when it shattered basically, he shattered mentally.
Jake: A little bit of a cautionary– [crosstalk]
Bill: That’s a bizarre downfall.
Jake: Yeah, isn’t it weird?
Bill: Yeah. You think you could just come clean.
Jake: Well, imagine the disgrace though and just the feeling of letting everyone down.
Bill: Is it worth dying over though?
Jake: Ah, I don’t know. The psychology of being alone like that for that long is also–
Bill: Yeah, that’ll drive me nuts.
Jake: That will drive me nuts.
Jake: Our third sailor is this guy named Bernard Moitessier. I think it’s a French name. He was 46-year-old and the most experienced of the sailors that we’re competing. And his strategy was just– [crosstalk]
Bill: He was just happy to be away from his kids.[laughter]
Bill: He’s like, “Shit, this is a vacation.”
Tobias: 10 months.
Jake: You’re actually not that far off as you’ll find out, His strategy was to deal with most of his maintenance issues in advance. He knew that once he was at sea, the need for maintenance had to be minimal. Everything had to be easy to work on. His boat was built out of heavyweight steel with watertight bulkheads.
He said that it was a boat that you could clean with a broom and a dustpan instead of a bilge pump. The critical maintenance issue with steel is corrosion. And so, his answer to that was just paint, paint, and more paint. Seven coats of the best paint before he left. And he focused on simplicity knowing that what’s complicated will eventually lead to problems. He hated electronics on boats.
Instead of the £300 of this noisy radio equipment, he used a slingshot, and he would launch like film canisters containing messages to passing ships and that was how he was communicating. Before leaving, he purged a boat of its engine, the dinghy, four anchors, 900 pounds of chain, all kinds of stuff that wasn’t a necessity. And even later at sea, he threw 400 pounds of food, and kerosene, and rope overboard after realizing he wasn’t going to need it for the trip.
Bill: Kind of messed up to pollute, but okay.
Jake: Yeah. Well, you know, the oceans big. You can– [crosstalk]
Bill: I get it. I like it.
Jake: He left two months after the first competitor, Knox-Johnston, but he was sailing so much faster, because he had a lighter ship that he was closing ground on him catching up. He kept his boat in tip top shape. He said, “My rule is a new boat every day. So, you don’t let things fester. If something was starting to fail, you fix it now before it fails at the worst moment like in a storm.” He was having such a good time on his peaceful trip and really towards self-actualization, like, you realize that he didn’t really want it to end.
Jake: And so, he actually started to dread the fanfare what happen if he won this race. And he liked the space, the pure air, the stars, the clouds, and the freedom of his little boat. He was really on pace to win this race very handily.
And the French were already planning a regalia to accompany him into the finish line and all this national glory. And yet, he’s off the coast of South Africa and he slingshots a message to a passing tanker and it says, “My intention is to continue the voyage still nonstop toward the Pacific Islands, where there’s plenty of Sun and more peace than in Europe. I’m continuing nonstop, because I’m happy at sea and perhaps because I want to save my soul.”
Knox-Johnston there, the first guy is the one who wins the race and the prize money and then he actually gets the prize money to Donald Crowhurst, the second guy’s bereaved wife and young children. There were no other competitors who finished the race.
And Moitessier ended up sailing back down again under south of Australia, under New Zealand, and he finally arrives in Tahiti and finishes his trip 303 days, total of 37,000 miles at sea. And so, the three different maintenance styles of these three sailors led directly to their different outcomes.
And so, Knox-Johnson style was, whatever comes deal with it and he did. Crowhurst was, hope for the best and it killed him. And then, Moitessier’s was, prepared for the worst and it freed him. Though that last little part was a passage that Brand had written which I thought was poetic and nice, like, copying it from him. Kind of fun stories, right, these three guys doing very different outcomes based on their maintenance– [crosstalk]
Tobias: What is the book called?
Jake: It’s not a book. It was just an article.
Tobias: What’s it called?
Jake: I don’t know, on maintenance or something like that.
Tobias: That’s amazing.
Tobias: Great story.
Jake: Fun stuff.
Bill: I like the guy then sending the money to the bereaved person’s spouse.
Jake: Classy move. Huh.
Bill: Yeah, that guy’s a man.
Jake: Yeah, I’m going to kill the shark and then sail– [crosstalk]
Bill: Swim in the water, nail some stuff to the bottom of my boat, and then when I get paid, I’m sending it to a widow.
Jake: There was this other story I left out talking about him. When it was in calm winds, he would hop out, and swim next to the boat, and then grab a rope, and pull himself back.
Bill: Of course, he would.
Jake: [laughs] Can you imagine you’re out in the middle of nowhere on the ocean? Would you even imagine getting out of the boat while it’s moving like that? [laughs]
Bill: Guy climbs to the top of a boat to wait avoid a wave? Get out of here. That dude is a monster.
Jake: Yeah, these are a different jib of man.
Bill: Yeah, poor beast.
Jake: [laughs] [crosstalk]
Bill: Yeah, I’d be like, “Oh, my callus.”
Jake: [laughs] I’ve got to subvert.
Bill: That’s right. It’s no joke.
Tobias: Well, how do we segue from that?
Bill: I don’t know. I’m just thinking about this–
Bill: Oh, no.
Jake: Yeah, just run with something, Toby. We will just transition.
One Way To Get Low-Risk High Yields
Bill: I guess I’m going to flip a little bit here. Part of what you said about being prepared, who knows what the hell happens from here? The time to get prepared was 2021, when everyone was doing cocaine every day in the market, but now, that some of us have had withdrawals, and maybe this is a decent time to rethink that, now that we’ve had a calm bounce. I don’t know. I’ve just been looking at– I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to bonds, to be perfectly clear.
Bill: But I think there’s a pretty high chance that you get paid back on TransDigm’s debt and it yields 5.5% percent. I think that there’s a very high probability you get paid back on Netflix, that yield’s north of five. It’s looks like five, six-ish. You got to take a little duration. Netflix, you got to go out to 2025 and TransDigm, you’re out to 2027. I understand that maybe you’re eroded in purchasing power to inflation, but the alternative is getting pushed out on the risk curve right now. [crosstalk]
Jake: Is [crosstalk] five?
Bill: Yeah, well, five, six. Yeah. Look, I think as a quasi-cash replacement, I don’t think you have a ton of downside. And every year that goes by, you have less downside. There’s a world where equities sell off enough that even if you lose a little bit to inflation, you have more relative purchasing power. Maybe there’s some opportunities out there to get a little more yield than has been offered in the past that can give you a little bit of a call option, should the world go to shit.
Are We In The Eye Of A Hurricane?
Jake: Yeah, I think just to go back to some of the ship and analogies there or boating, it’s not necessary, but it’s possible that this little bounce that we’ve been in is a bit of an eye of the hurricane and that you might expect that there’s some more storm after this. If that is true, then boy, shouldn’t you probably be planning on fixing whatever mental leaks are in your ship right now before that starts. Have a game plan. Having a new ship every day is pretty good advice, and do it while it’s a little bit sunny out right now before maybe you get the second half of something that is not as much fun to work on your boat in the middle of that storm.
Bill: Yeah. There’s some probability that some of the runup and some of the stocks that sold off recently was justified. Maybe this is the chance to rebalance into some things that could make your portfolio actually a little more diversified. I know that is not something that is very sexy, and we all want to run one-stock portfolios that outperform like the GOAT would have when he was young.
Jake: Yeah, go hard on the pain.
Bill: That’s right. I look at what Buffett has done with his life once he, I think, hit escape velocity. And I think I’m approximately 1/1000th as smart as him. If I can borrow some of his ideas and create a robust set of assets around me– I’m not sure how good my best idea is. So, diversification might actually be a good thing for me.
You’ve Got To Re-Underwrite What You Own
Tobias: How do you even set up a new boat every day in a stock portfolio?
Bill: I don’t know. Look, if I was a hedge fund manager, I’d be like, “You buy your portfolio every day.” I don’t know that I actually buy that. But that’s just because I’m not smart enough to play the game that others do.
Jake: Yeah, maybe not every day. But you do have to re-underwrite regularly, right?
Tobias: Yeah. Quarterly, right.
Jake: Maybe. There’s things that happen outside of the quarter. But yeah, typically, you get the most shot of new information on a quarterly basis.
Bill: Yeah, and I think to– Like cable’s one that I’ve been thinking about and what a real risk fixed wireless is and what can actually happen. I think if you’re not aware of the biases that you bring to the reanalysis, and you’re not trying to figure out what the other side of the argument is, and you’re just blindly like, “No, I’m right,” I think that’s a great way to get waxed. I have held cable through the drawdown. Altice is a definitive mistake on my part. But the Charter holding that I have, I’m still pretty comfortable with it.
I guess somebody said, “How can you own cable and not have seen this coming?” I guess the answer to that is like, “Well, I don’t know. Just because the stocks are down and the headlines of competitive risk have increased, were we really underwriting a world, where there was going to be zero competitive risk?” And I would argue, “When stock prices were quite a bit higher, yeah, that was probably my implication.” My dumbass sold out a charter and got into Altice, because of the multiple and that didn’t work out so hot.
Jake: Sounds a little bit like resulting though.
Bill: Well, a little. I think that holding on to an asset that is performing, and has solid operating metrics, and tangible results is probably a more sound strategy than trying to chase yield by going down to a crappier asset. I think what I did was the definition of getting pushed out on the risk spectrum and then risk happened. I think I deserved it. I don’t know. I guess it’s a long, convoluted answer to your question, but I just think you’ve got to re-underwrite what you own and try not to let the lens that you currently see the world through preclude you from seeing the world as it is.
Warren Buffett Never Sell
Jake: I read a nice little turn of phrase from Chris Pavese. He’s the chief guy over at Broyhill and a guy I like a lot actually. He had a little thing in his latest letter about, if it’s a regime shift now which some people are speculating that it’s now going to be profits over promises. I like that as a little turn of phrase.
Tobias: “If Buffet says he would’ve done better never selling, why is that not an option for us?”
Bill: Because when did he ever say he would have done better never selling?
Tobias: I think he’s said that particularly in relation to something like American Express. I think probably he mentioned in a few things that he’s rebought later at a higher price.
Jake: Disney, I think at one point he talked about.
Bill: I don’t know.
Jake: But there’s those were like, he bought it in 1952 and then bought it again in 1985 or something.
Tobias: Yeah, never sell– [crosstalk]
Bill: Well, the never sell thing, the thing about it is I think you have to do it on an asset that has a lot of tangential growth, and that growth has to be explosive. Otherwise, it’s very, very difficult to make the math work.
Jake: You were talking about runways before is one of your topics, which I think is interesting in this context of– I think it’s incredibly difficult to find the businesses that have that kind of generation-long runway of ability to deploy capital that’s going to keep producing high returns. I think it’s understated or underappreciated how hard that really is.
Is Spotify A Buy In 2002?
Bill: Yeah. The asset that I’m thinking about, to not speak in code, is Spotify. I’ve continued to try to figure out why I can’t get there with the math on it. I guess, at the end of the day, I did an expert interview, and the guy used to negotiate with the labels, and he is not bullish on their ability to improve their economics through music. Now, people can say, “Well, marketplace is going to do it. They can raise price,” whatever, fine. I think a reasonable amount of the bet has to do with what they can do monetizing the podcasts.
Well, I think that the hang-up that I have is that you see the citation of gross margin expansion or gross profit expansion. First of all, it’s off of a low base. You would hope that you could expand off a low base if your enterprise value is $20 billion and you’re not really generating free cash without some dilution. [crosstalk] And then two is, I see podcasts networks that are bringing their advertising in house. I see hosts doing their own host read stuff.
So, how big is the real opportunity versus– Right now, you’re capturing a very low base and the growth should look good. The past, I don’t know, even a couple of $100 million, maybe something but in order to believe that the free cash flow is going to drop, there is constant need for reinvestment in R&D.
There’s constant sales and marketing. Part of that business is basically a podcast network. They bought the Ringer, they pay for the whatever to produce it. They pay Rogan. It’s kind of a studio. At the end of the day, I can’t get myself there on TAM and how long the runway is and– [crosstalk]
Jake: Does talent end up extracting all the economic surplus from the platform?
Bill: Well, if you were to dynamically insert ads into your Spotify podcast, Value: After Hours in a hypothetical situation, I think we’d get– [crosstalk]
Jake: [laughs] We are pre-revenue here.
Bill: $15 per CPM. They pay $100 million. You need 666,7000 million ad impressions.
Jake: Or, close to that.
Bill: Oh, well, I think you need that many thousand ad impressions actually. Man, you need a lot of people listening. That’s the only answer. I’m just doing this off the top of my head on the mic. So, I’m probably wrong. But when I start to think about the numbers of people that need to listen and then you discount it to today’s value, the math just gets hard on a lot of these things for me.
Tobias: Thanks for the shoutout– Thanks for whatever those things are. The tip, £20 from Modern Distressed Investing. Thanks very much.
Bill: Bang. Thank you.
Tobias: I should say– [crosstalk]
Bill: [crosstalk] If you’re ever at Berkshire, we’ll buy you beer with that £20.
Tobias: Yeah, we will.
Jake: We recycle all the money back into–
Tobias: Jacob’s, Philz Coffee or send me some comments. Thanks for [unintelligible [00:32:12] So, thanks very much for that, too. [crosstalk]
Bill: Does it say ” Philtered Coffee” with the ph?
Tobias: It does. Philtered Soul. Yeah, that’s funny. There we go.
Bill: I like it. There you go.
Tobias: Cheers, Jacob. Thank you. I don’t use Spotify. I use YouTube music and then I get the YouTube ad free. So, you don’t think competition is an issue for Spotify?
Bill: Well, I think that’s why they’re investing so much in the exclusive content. They’re trying to hope that people like Rogan enough that they won’t move from Spotify. I did think the expert when I was talking to him, the one thing that he said that I thought was funny is, “Allow me to introduce you to my big concept of the future.” I was really expecting something big and he’s like, “Bundling.”
Bill: I was like, “Yeah, I get the idea of a bundle, dude.” And then, he went on about how good he thinks YouTube is.
Tobias: Bundle in a bundle.
Bill: Yeah, that’s the issue. It doesn’t just have to be that asset. It’s a lot of these assets. I think one of the things that’s tough for me and I’m trying to open my mind to it, but the other thing is you only have really it appears to me one way out. Because it’s easy to be like, “Well, yeah, it could get taken out.” But if you’re relying on your takeout value, the probability that the execution was there is probably pretty low. So, you really only have one path.
Jake: Yeah. Who takes out Spotify? Apple?
Bill: Yeah, and what valuation and why. If Spotify needs to be taken out, there’s a good chance that business can exist.
Jake: They’re not so much– They haven’t been big splashy acquirers either. They’re not going to– [crosstalk]
Bill: They’ve done stuff like anchoring [crosstalk] stuff like [laughter].
Tobias: Beats headphones?
Jake: That’s a billion dollars. That’s nothing.
Bill: Well, Beats, that was Apple. Yeah, I don’t know. Yeah, I don’t know. I think Disney and Spotify makes some sense. But I don’t know how much. How many synergies do you get from letting people stream Frozen and getting a kickback from them? From me, you get a lot, because Frozen is a hot soundtrack. But I don’t know how many 40-year-old men are singing Let It Go to themselves.
Tobias: Not voluntarily, anyway.
Bill: I know you did. I’m certain you did at one point in your life. I know that’s been stuck in your head.
Tobias: I have a now 9-year-old daughter. So yeah, I have heard it a few times. It an earworm.
Tobias: You don’t want it in there. It’s hard to get it out. Should we do my–
Bill: Yeah, man.
Bull, Bear, And Benign Return Paths From Here
Tobias: This is a market-level analysis from Man Group, Man Institute, I think is their research arm or something like that. They looked at the last four crashes. COVID, GFC, dotcom. A lot of us remember those. 1990, 1991, don’t remember that one. This is the earnings just going backwards in terms of earnings evidently fell over 21% in, COVID, 39% in the GFC, 13% in dotcom, and 7% in 1990, 1991. And the multiple compressed in COVID, two points. GFC was five points. Dotcom was 10 points and 1990, 1991 was 2 points. And so, they characterize the dotcom crash as a valuation crash rather than a fundamental crash. And GFC and COVID are both fundamental crashes.
They take that and they apply it to our current scenario, and they say, “If June 16th was the bottom, then you would characterize this one as a valuation crash,” which would make it like the dotcom crash. There was only a three-point multiple– Sorry, sorry, that’s not right. There’s a six-point multiple contraction, there was a three-point multiple expansion since the trough. And if EPS follows the historical attachment to the ISM, which it seems to do, that’ll be 21% earnings drop off, which they say means that earnings for the S&P 500 will be 190 by June next year. And I think we’re at like 210 now, down from 230 may be at the peak. And so, then we’ve got these four scenarios– [crosstalk]
Jake: That makes them pretty expensive, right?
Tobias: Well, if these are the four scenarios.
Jake: [laughs] Okay.
Tobias: Bull benign, and as JT points, should have been base and bear. The bull is, let’s see, you get 190 on 23 times, which was the cycle peak for the one that we’ve just gone through. And that means that market is up 6% by June 2023. And this article is a week or so old. So, it might be less than more than that, but roughly it’s about 6% by June next year.
Jake: Treasuries are back at zero in that scenario?
Tobias: Well, they have a little bit of color to what actually consists of what happens for the bull case for that to happen. They say, “Inflation moderates faster than expected. The central bank pivots. Return of secular stagnation. The Ukrainian situation calms. And the multiple returns to the cycle high 23, which was last seen 20 August.”
Tobias: The benign scenario.
Jake: Wait, what was the upside on that?
Jake: 6% is the best we can hope for? Is that what they’re saying?
Jake: Okay, keep going.
Tobias: [laughs] That’s the bull case. The benign case is you get to 21 times on the PE.
Jake: Oh, pretty lofty. Okay.
Tobias: Which is where it was at the end of 2021. And that’ll be down 3% from here.
Tobias: And in that scenario, even inflation moderates, central bank pivots, Ukraine stabilizes to get to that. This is the average. That’s 19 times, that’s down 14% from here. And this is what happens. “Recession concern persists, and the playbook of prior recessions plays out. Average of multiple troughs four months prior to the forward earnings trough therefore assume trough multiple this time around as February 2023.”
So, coming. “Historical average multiple compression of five points to June trough. We were at minus six points. Therefore, assuming we revert back to June level, which is 16 times by February 2023. On average, the multiple rises three points in six months following the trough. Therefore, assume that February to June 2023, it rises from 16 to 19,” and this is the bear. You ready? [laughs]
Jake: Yeah. Lay it on me. [laughs]
Tobias: The bear is a 12 times multiple.
Tobias: And that’s the dotcom low, and that’s down 45% from here.
Tobias: “In that scenario, inflation is stubborn, recession is fully priced, and multiple follows worst-case scenario dotcom bust compression of 10 points, multiple drops to 12.” So, that’s pretty cheery.
Jake: Buffett is shovelling money out the door like a madman.
Tobias: [laughs] I don’t know. I’m interested, whether that’s– It just seems to me like the risk reward is skewed the wrong way in a market in any case.
Jake: It does not seem like the asymmetry you’re looking for, is it–?
Tobias: No, even the benign case seems pretty optimistic. To me, the average is probably right, which is down about 14% from here.
Bill: Buy bonds.
Jake: [laughs] Buy bonds.
Tobias: Do you think bonds survive? What are they doing? They’ve got a pivot in that instance?
Bill: Well, if you minimize your duration, they’re not going to move that much. It’s their contractual obligation to pay.
Bill: You might have a drawdown and I wouldn’t go out to 2040. But if you keep it in 2027 and earlier, I bet in five years, you could have [crosstalk]
Tobias: Is that your attraction to bonds? You think that the equities [crosstalk] from?
Bill: I’m just trying to get better management out of my cash.
Tobias: That’s the basis. Okay.
Bill: And I have not been eager to buy and add additional exposure through this selloff, because I think this is a really confusing time. So, I’m just trying to get better yield and what I think will pay me back for my cash and not do anything stupid.
Jake: Don’t be a hero.
Bill: Yeah, which might be stupid.
Jake: It might be smart.
Time For Investors To Do Something Else – Charles Munger
Tobias: That’s a great book called The Long Way, which is on your story, JT.
Jake: Oh, yeah.
Tobias: Documentary about the sailing race. British BBC. Yeah, The Long Way. Also, the book.
Jake: Ooh, sounds good.
Tobias: Yeah, I find this market a little bit– I don’t see anything that’s screamingly cheap or screamingly good at the moment. We’re in no man’s land, I think.
Jake: It does feel a little bit finding a new narrative, perhaps. We’re in between narratives.
Tobias: The boring 20s.
Bill: I bet there’s cheap stuff in Europe.
Tobias: You had a good shot– was that this morning that showed the 15-year underperformance of–? Was that emerging or is that just non-US?
Jake: Yeah, I think it was just international, non-US that showed 15 years of underperformance against the US. That’s a long time.
Tobias: That is a long time.
Jake: That is a long time.
Tobias: What about the stats you had before about the number of the rallies and the troughs?
Jake: Yeah, just as fuel to the fire of the conversation about eye of the hurricane, dotcom crash, there were seven rallies that were greater than 17% and some of them 40% to 50%. All of them sold off to new lows.
Tobias: Yeah, 50% rally, that sells off to a new low. Ouch.
Jake: That’s going to wring out some excess. I think there’s still a fair amount of dip buying and non-capitulation-looking behavior in my humble estimation.
Bill: I just think there’s so many people that are in finance that know what to do with capital that I just don’t know that– I think that the ability to generate real return right now is going to be harder than ever and I just don’t know why capital is entitled to that ability. I find it particularly interesting. You listen to Munger and he’s like, “All you guys are sitting here–” He doesn’t say this exactly, but he basically says, “There’s way higher and better uses of your time and you’re basically all wasting brainpower doing what you’re doing.” I don’t know why– [crosstalk]
Tobias: What does he recommend? Find a young genius and give him all of your money and then–
Bill: Yeah, and do something better with– [crosstalk]
Jake: I think he said, “Go be an engineer.”
Tobias: Then read.
Jake: “Fix the world.”
Bill: Yeah. I think that maybe there’s a grain of truth in that and capitals had a good for a long time. Maybe capital hasn’t really bad for a while. But I don’t know that that means that multiples come down, so capital– I don’t know the path of it all, but I could see real returns being pretty shitty for a while. There’s a number of different paths that don’t end up in real returns being– [crosstalk]
Jake: Pot of gold? [laughs]
Bill: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Yeah. And they probably don’t end up in long-term starvation for capital either, but I think reducing your expectations has been good advice since the 2017 and remains so with the exception of the melt-up which was super fun.
Jake: And just get long the stupidest stuff you can find.
Jake: And ride it.
Bill: It should have been longer, dumber stuff.
Bill: Oh, well.
Jake: Get along, first order, thinking.
Tobias: NFTs must have been the bell. I haven’t checked that– [crosstalk]
Bill: It’s a pretty good sign. Pretty good sign.
Jake: How is your good–? [crosstalk]
Tobias: [laughs] Well, the comp was starting to look a little bit– The comps just going to swamp it in a moment.
Bill: My dad really liked the cars. He was just out in Monterey for that auction.
Jake: Oh, yeah?
Bill: Biggest auction they’ve ever had.
Bill: Not exactly things you usually see at bottoms.
Jake: Yeah, that’s a real inequality measurement there, huh? Number of attendees of the Monterey? [laughs]
Jake: Rare car auction.
Gold Supply Disconnect
Tobias: The things that are most interesting, I think, are the things that are the scariest, all the mining stuff. I don’t know how that all works, but it is cheap. My screens are full of them.
Bill: According to Jim Grant, the goldminers are at the biggest disconnection that they have been to physical gold in a very long time, if not ever. You can listen to hour two, I think, of the podcast is William Green to get that tidbit.
Tobias: That’s funny. Because when we went into the last 2007, 2009, they’re expensive and they’ll got hammered, didn’t do as well as gold. So, it’s possible that everybody’s got that in the back of their mind, [crosstalk] whereas valuation is probably the– [crosstalk]
Jake: The couple that follow too, Goddamn, the expenses side of the ledger is growing faster than the revenue side.
Bill: I was just going to say, energy is not great to mining.
Jake: So annoying.
Bill: If energy goes up quickly, that’s not fantastic for miners in short term.
Jake: No. Labor costs, energy, equipment, all just– [crosstalk]
Bill: Not ideal.
Jake: No. Not the operational leverage that you were looking for.
Bill: Yeah. It’s almost as if EBITDA is a useless metric in that industry.
Tobias: What’s your math at?
Jake: Yeah. [laughs] They pay a lot of taxes too, to all these whatever overlords that they report to.
Tobias: I think they got them. Can’t move that mine stock.
Jake: Yeah, you can’t. You’re physically stuck and you’re probably causing externality whatever leach waste and stuff. So, it makes sense. But it’s still like, “All right, where’s these margins at, guys?”
Bill: Evercore, it looks they’re calling for consensus 3Q to be raised. They say, “Given the economic strength so far in 3Q, it seems likely we ended up at a 228 per share of earnings in the S&P versus 223 consensus.”
Jake: Oh, every single analyst is way over– They’re all just projecting up though. Is that accurate?
Bill: As is, at Hyman is good at what he does, according to people that know. I don’t know. He always strikes me as a jovial guy. Outside of that, I don’t know his track record.
Jake: I don’t either. Outside of my bailiwick. I look at zero of those kinds of future projections of anything.
Bill: I like reading them. I like the people that send them to me. Thank you, people. Keep sending them.
Jake: Do not send them to me. [laughs]
Utilities Are At 25 Times P/E More Than Google
Tobias: “Utilities are 25 times PE, more than Google.”
Bill: Yeah, it makes sense.
Tobias: What’s the argument there?
Bill: Look, I think it’s the same with Coke. If you have wealth, utilities is not a horrible place to preserve it.
Tobias: Yeah, fair enough.
Bill: You may not end up with somewhat market beating return, but you may not really give a shit.
Jake: It’s probably a bond proxy.
Bill: Not everyone in the market is a 26-year-old looking to create a career that is the hall of fame career. There are people out there, believe it or not, that want cash flow and return of capital. Utilities can provide that.
Jake: Like we figure not where you went wrong.
Bill: Yeah, sometimes, I feel like– I don’t know, we worship at the edge of survivorship bias here. That’s the same thing with Coke. People are like, “How’s Coke trading higher than Google?” Well, riddle me this. If Coke can raise its price with inflation, and then the inflation is actually supply chain driven, and then that gets cleared up, and Coke’s input costs actually are long-term deflationary, what do Coke’s margins do? Five years out, a 26 PE may only be a 16 PE, and you own Coke.
Bill: That’s not horrible. You may not get rich with it, but you’re probably not going to lose wealth.
Vale Julian Robertson
Tobias: Oh, yeah. Thanks for the reminder. Julian Robertson passed away. Did you see that, just before we came on?
Bill: I did.
Tobias: [unintelligible [00:50:01] Julian.
Jake: How old was he?
Jake: 90? Okay. That’s a good run. [crosstalk]
Tobias: Young in this business.
Jake: Yeah, just getting started. [laughs]
Tobias: Just getting started.
Bill: Yeah. That’s sad. Then again, at 90, your days are numbered.
Bill: Grandma’s 93. I hope she passes away tomorrow.
Bill: I say it because I love her.
Jake: I don’t know if we should unpack that one.
Bill: Well, I think you get to a point where it’s like–
Jake: Slog at that age.
Bill: Yeah, you’ve had a lot of good years on Earth, you know? So, I don’t know.
Tobias: “John Wayne Bobbitt died, too, in a car accident.”
Bill: That sounds more tragic.
Tobias: He’s been cut short before.
Bill: I did see Chase Coleman is going to keep the hedge fund structure and not a family office, which I respect that. Make it back.
Jake: What does that mean? That means he’s not folding up his tent?
Bill: Yeah, that’s right.
Tobias: It’s a joke, Harmon says it’s a joke. Ah, John Wayne Bobbitt struggles on. Or not. I don’t know.
Bill: Oh, that’s the guy has– [crosstalk]
Tobias: That’s fake news. Yeah.
Bill: How was she driving down the street with the penis in her hand? That was a weird story. And also, how much does it shrink when you’re holding it? It’s got no blood. I got a lot of questions now that I’m thinking about this.
Jake: [laughs] [crosstalk]
Tobias: Probably, better for a different podcast.[laughter]
Tobias: Wait till we switch off the broadcast.
Bill: Well, I don’t know. Think it’s something to ponder.
Jake: That’s for After After Hours.
Bill: Yeah. Well, it’s an analysis of sorts.
Jake: Yeah. Scientific.
Tobias: I see Andrew Shapiro, you made the live. I know it’s After Hours. It doesn’t make any sense for us to record it and then put it out after hours.
How Long Should You Look Back To Forecast Forward?
Bill: Did we talk about a mailbag question about how many years should you look back and through cycle analysis? Did I bring this up last week or did we get cut off?
Tobias: No, that’s good one. Let’s do it.
Tobias: Like John Wayne.
Bill: Somebody at my alma mater is being taught to do– I think they’re doing models with three years of backwards financials and then forecasting for five, and he was curious to have us riff on that a bit.
Jake: Yeah. I think there’s probably like the Lindy effect is a reasonable assumption here to invoke? The longer that look back, the further that you can probably project off of that, knowing nothing else about it. So, I would probably not try to forecast further forward than I am looking backwards as a general rule.
Bill: I like that.
Jake: It’s like taking a beam off of or a board off of side of a building. You don’t put just the edge of it on the building and then walk away out on the edge of it.
Bill: Yeah, that’s fair.
Jake: It’s better to have just a little bit of it sticking out in your projection and a lot of it behind in the historical.
Tobias: We tested that in quantitative value and found no advantage over, but that’s an aggregated–
Bill: Hold up, hold up, finish your sentence. You didn’t finish your sentence. You found no advantage over– [crosstalk]
Tobias: Looking back through the Compustat data to ’63 taking an average of EBIT, earnings, whatever we were looking at on every different metric that we tested, which was about, I think, five, or six, or seven, something like that, there was no advantage consistently to adding more years. You get just as good a result in your estimation on the TTM as you do at the eight-year average.
Jake: Really? Interesting.
Tobias: It sounds nuts. But the problem is that some stocks get these funny years, where they just get something– It’s like a factor more than they’ve ever earned. But it doesn’t help you to average that over a few years. It still makes it stand out. I don’t know if that information is particularly helpful. I prefer not to use TTM figures as well, but that’s the case. There’s no advantage. There’s no consistent advantage. There were some instances of five years being better, eight years being better, but it wasn’t consistent across the lot.
Bill: Sort of like my beloved Qurate. Rest in peace.
Bill: You wouldn’t want to take 2020 and say, “Okay, well, I could just spread this over 10 years, because that’s a once in a hopefully lifetime event,” right?
Tobias: All the bits that were spun out from that, is it still down after all of the–? [crosstalk]
Bill: Yeah. It’s a shame. They’re working on it. We’ll see.
Jake: You see that a lot with– some companies will have one big revenue contract that’s coming due and it’s a lot of question marks like, “Oh, God, are they going to get this re-signed or not?” Oftentimes, it’ll sell off big time relative to the current earnings that it’s showing.
Jake: That happens a fair number of times. I could see where that wouldn’t really look much probably different between TTM and five years or something.
Tobias: Keith Hillman says, “Throw out best and worst years per decade.” Winterization. I don’t mind something like that. it could work.
Jake: Yeah, it’s not bad.
Tobias: I like the– [crosstalk]
Bill: Throw out the best four and the worst four every eight years.
Jake: It’s like the Olympic scoring system for that, right?
Jake: You throw out the highest and lowest scores, the Russian judge.
Bill: I think the thing that’s tough when you’re looking back to the global financial crisis is, economically, it was slow, but it’s all up into the right. So, how do you actually [crosstalk]
Tobias: That’s the other problem that we have. There’s no recession in the data going back. So, you have to go back a lot further to see– That was one of the things I used to do, how does this thing fare when it went through a recession, or does it completely shut the bear or does it sort of struggle through and it’s okay? Because if it’s one of those ones that falls over, then any debt becomes lethal in that scenario. But it’s been so long now that, to get a good comp, you go back to 2008, starting to get those businesses that reinvest a little bit. They’re vastly different businesses now.
Bill: Got to do a money supply overlay to find out real recession. You dig now that we solved the businesses.
Tobias: Yeah, it looks like we have.
Jake: Permanent plateau.
Bill: I got a question. For anyone that knows about gas trading or energy, I was with my gas trader buddy, and he went all Rain Man on me, and I couldn’t follow him, and he said that there was right around the time that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve got released, I believe it was the bases spread, which is I’m pretty sure how much you have to pay to move something from one location to another as bases. I’m pretty sure.
He said that the New Orleans basis spread blew out wider than it did in COVID to the downside and New York blew out wider to the upside. He’s never seen anything like it in his entire career. He thinks it was Valero and some of the big refiners just selling futures to lock in their margin, because– basically Biden hit them, they responded, then you never heard anything about it again.
He said right around that time, this move happened, if anyone wants to go conspiratorial deep dive with me, [crosstalk] me, I’m happy to have you on the pod. I want to like research this, because I’m interested to see how that stuff works. That’s a tangential thought on policy. But in the short term, it seems we’ve done a reasonably good job with taming inflation. That said, I know it’s still crazy high. Somebody just spit their coffee out. I get it.
Tobias: It was 0% at the last reading. I saw the press conference.
Bill: Sir, that was one of–
Bill: I’ll tell you what. The tweets out of the White House these past five years have been interesting.
Tobias: The tweets since the invention of Twitter have been interesting.
Bill: Yeah, that’s fair. [crosstalk]
Hedonic Adjustments To Inflation
Jake: I did see something that said, “If we used 1981 methodology for inflation measurement, then it would be showing today more like 12% to 13%.”
Tobias: That was the Cam Harvey interview with Meb Faber and Rob Arnott. Yeah.
Jake: That’s a fair amount more than eight and a half and way more than zero.
Bill: Yeah, but dude, you can just– [crosstalk]
Tobias: Nobody spills their coffee.
Bill: And you see hamburgers. No one needs steak. You can eat hamburgers.
Tobias: Brian said, “Nobody spit out their coffee. Have you seen the price of coffee? I’m not rich enough to spit it out.”
Jake: Yeah, good point.
Bill: Fair. He got a [unintelligible 00:59:32].
Jake: I think it had to do it monkeying with the rent equivalent housing component.
Tobias: That’s right.
Tobias: Those hedonic adjustments are–
Jake: Just make it whatever you want.
Tobias: Yeah, it turns out there’s a lot of leeway in it.
Bill: Yeah. Hmm.
Tobias: Thanks for making it. Adelaide, Australia. It’s the end of the show. It’s 11:30. Thanks, amigos. We did it. We’ll be back next week.
Jake: Cheers, everybody. [laughs] Oh, so weak.
Tobias: One time, one time.
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