The Death-care Industry: Part 2 (on Trends)

Introduction This is Part 2 of my three-part “series” on the death-care industry (you can find part 1 here). Given the title of this piece, it probably should’ve been part 1, but that just goes to show I don’t really have a “plan” writing these; I like to think of these posts as a hodgepodge …

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The Death-care Industry: Part 1 (on Float and Trusts)

Introduction The concept of float has been widely popularized by Warren Buffett- I suggest you check out his annual letter where he describes the favorable economics of insurance float better than I ever could. The general premise is this: in the insurance business, you receive premiums today for policies that don’t need to be paid …

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Mall REITs: Simon is a Financial Fortress

Introduction Mall REITs are modern investors’ kryptonite. No one wants to touch them. In fact, the only real commentary I see on these names is from income/dividend investors. Of course, that just makes me want to analyze them even more. As Charlie Munger says. “Invert. Always invert.” Additionally, this WSJ article interested me. Aside from …

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Amerco: The 83-Year-Old Family Dynasty

Introduction U-HAUL probably has one of the craziest corporate histories in American history. U-Haul was founded by Leonard Shoen, whose google search profile picture is, interestingly, actually a picture of his son, Joe Shoen: Leonard founded UHAL in 1943 with his wife, Anna Mary. After World War II, during the so-called “Great Society” era of …

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Chemed and Private-Market Arbitrage

Introduction I want to talk about two seemingly unrelated companies that are nevertheless bound together by a common tread. About a year ago, someone told me, “A public shell is a very valuable asset.” I didn’t know what he meant at the time, but I would argue now that this strategy that I’ve dubbed “Private-Market …

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The Story of Air Products and Inflated Expectations

Introduction What got me interested in the gas industry? And by gas industry, I’m talking about the providers of oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, etc. Well, from this quote from Air Liquid’s 2009 Annual Report: “Since it was listed on French Stock Exchange in 1913, Air Liquide has always shown a profit.”Air Liquid 2009 Annual Report I …

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Rollins and the Roll-up Kings

Introduction There are few industries that are almost 100% insulated from the ravages of creative destruction. Pest control is probably on the list. There are many things to like about the pest control business: (1) its recession resistant- termites don’t care if the economy is in shambles, (2) it is controlled by a few very …

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The New Wave of Mattresses, Purple and the Rise of Direct-to-Consumer

Introduction The retail store was not simply a profit-center; it was an advertising mechanism. The value-add of places like mass retailers (Macy’s, Sears, etc.) and malls was the access to traffic. As a result, brands could focus on manufacturing and wholesale their products to one of these mass retailers. The plus is much lower marketing …

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Experiential Retail? Restoration Hardware and the Furniture Kings

Introduction Of the three buckets of competitive advantages- economies of scale, technological prowess and brand- creating a brand is probably the most difficult. Of course, these buckets aren’t mutually exclusive, and one may give birth to another (i.e. technological prowess giving rise to brand name of Microsoft); generally speaking, however, creating a brand in isolation …

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FairFax: Lemon or Floating Above Buffett’s Shoulders?

Introduction Warren Buffett made insurance sexy. I can think of a few other insurance companies besides Berkshire that are interesting in their own respect (Aflac comes to mind), but besides these few shining stars, the industry is boring. Most insurance companies can be boiled down to a book of debt securities, an ethereal “policy holder” …

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