Value Investing Congress — Day One

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, September 16, 2013

As most of you are no doubt aware right now, one of our special features for the Irregulars is that when I attend an investing conference I try to write about all of the interesting ideas I learn about for you. Lately that’s meant I’ve been at the Value Investing Congress twice a year and shared dozens of short commentaries and pages of notes from those Congress presentations … as well as choosing a few favorite ideas from those Congresses to look at more closely and feature in our “Idea of the Month” articles. Some of those have been big winners that I no longer cover, like Flowserve (FLS) or Ferrovial, and for others like Rosetta Stone (RST) or Clublink (CLK.TO) from this past year the jury is still out. No idea which pick will rise to the top from this year’s crop, but it’s been fun to hear the first half dozen or so presentations and, as always, I’m continuing to learn a lot from some of the giants in value investing.

And, frankly, though I enjoy hearing from the real CNBC celebrities at the conferences like David Einhorn and Bill Ackman, it’s kind of a relief that there aren’t so many “household name” investors presenting this year — the quality is no lower, the investors are no worse, they’re just not quite as famous. That means CNBC isn’t in the lobby covering everything like they were last year, and hopefully it means not all of the stocks covered will get media attention in a meaningful (and value-altering) way over the next couple days. I’m not buying any of these stocks during the Congress, of course, since I’m writing about them for you — but I suspect that some of them will make it into my portfolio in the months to come, and even if they don’t I’ll be learning more about valuation ideas, red flags to look for, and whatever else comes along. Hopefully that will help me to do a better job for you in the future.

I’ll keep a running list of each day’s presentations and my notes on those presentations — do remember that these are notes, put together on the fly as I watch the presenters and think about what they’re saying, and they probably will contain the occasional typo or mistake. For the stocks that I cover in more detail in the months to come I’ll be more careful about double-checking and confirming things, but I probably won’t be going back to correct every mistake or typo I might have made in these notes.

So here’s the list for day one, it’s in the bag now and there are a LOT of presentations this year, so I’ll post tomorrow’s list in a second document once those notes are flowing from my fingers. I’ll try to name a couple of the companies below as well just to help identify the presentation, but don’t just run off and buy those without reading up on them and looking at the notes (and, of course, doing your own research) — some of them are cautionary tales or shorts.

Needles in a Haystack: More Small Cap Values (Guy Gottfried) — Glentel and Supremex

The Accounting Game (Michael Castor), Healthcare — Aratana and Genomma Labs

Inflections in Incentives (John Mirshekari) — AECOM and URS

Large Cap Concentrated Value (Alexander Roepers) — Baker Hughes, Faurecia, Itochu Techno-Solutions, Lanxess, Harman International

High Growth at a Value Price (Clifton Robbins) — Chico’s

Where do we go from here? (Mark Boyar) — Madison Square Garden

Thoughts on Value Internationally, and one Example (Charles de Vaulx) — Millennium & Copthorne

Some “Hard to Buy” Foreign Values in Mexico and Japan (Chris Mittleman) — TV Azteca, CMIC Holdings

“India is a Terrible Place to Visit” (Rahul Saraogi) — NMDC

Russia is better than you think it is, and this company is good and cheap (Harvey Sawikin) — Gazprom Neft

Notes from a Value Investing Legend (Donald Yacktman) — lots of picks … but really, if you like him, his Yacktman Fund mutual fund is open, inexpensive, and very good.

Two Overlooked Picks: Serial Compounders (COMPOUND Capital) — Ascent Capital Group, Covanta

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