Winmark & The Evolving Retail Industry

July 13, 2016 Moats 1 Comment

 “Retailing is a tough, tough business, partly because your competitors are always attempting and very frequently successfully attempting to copy anything you do that's working. And so the world keeps moving. It's hard to establish a permanent moat that your…

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MLPs: Be Cautious When The Boring Is Made Exciting

June 7, 2016 Moats 14 Comments

Companies and industries that are out of favor tend to attract our interest.  While we focus on franchise businesses with large moats and good management at a reasonable price, investing in cyclical companies has a certain appeal.  After all, it…

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The Sam Hinkie Resignation Letter

April 21, 2016 Moats 2 Comments

Sam Hinkie’s resignation letter from the Philadelphia 76ers has been generating a great deal of discussion in value investing circles.  Partially this is because he refers to no less than 11 value investing heroes over the course of the 13…

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Collectors Universe: The Poor Man’s Moody’s

April 15, 2016 Moats 21 Comments

Collector’s Universe (CLCT) is the kind of company value investors profess to love.  After all, it ticks most of the boxes on a value investor’s checklist.  It is a microcap[1] with years and years of reliable cash flow.  It has…

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A Closer Look at Live Nation’s Acquisition Strategy

March 21, 2016 Moats 3 Comments

Back in March 2015, I wrote a blog post on Live Nation Entertainment (LYV).  This is my most popular post to-date. I recently received an email from a reader who challenged LYV’s return on acquisitions.  This is a big issue…

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“Welcome to Adult Life”: American Express, Synchrony Financial & the Changing Credit Card Landscape

March 8, 2016 Moats 22 Comments

Two years ago, I investigated the moat around American Express’s (AXP) business.  I assessed the moat as wide and identified a positive feedback loop at the heart of it.  The loop ran like this: Spending on Amex cards is higher…

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Reconsidering OnDeck & Data Network Effects

February 12, 2016 Moats 5 Comments

In my post on OnDeck (ONDK) I included the collection of user data as key competitive advantage. Specifically, I thought ONDK benefited from “data network effects.”  What are data network effects?  As an online platform (such as ONDK< Google, Facebook,…

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An Ephemeral Form of Value: Thoughts on the 2015 Pershing Square Investor Letter

January 29, 2016 Moats 16 Comments

The 2015 annual letter from Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square makes for some interesting reading.  After seeing his fund decline by 20.5% in 2015 versus a 1.4% increase for the S&P 500, Ackman is prompted to undertake an assessment of what…

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Time Warner (TWX): A Compelling Short?

January 26, 2016 Moats 2 Comments

There is an interesting short thesis for Time Warner Inc. (TWX) on VIC. The author lays out one potential scenario for the outcome of competition between the cable networks and the OTT providers.  He sees the cable networks as obsolete…

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OnDeck Capital (ONDK) & The Re-Engineering of Small Business Lending

January 19, 2016 Moats 5 Comments

Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, warned in his 2014 annual shareholder letter in 2015 that "Silicon Valley is coming" for banking's bread and butter. It was a pivotal moment, because traditional banks are deep-pocketed monsters with large…

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