Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No good news?

I was listening to Squawk Box while shaving this morning. I know better than to listen to CNBC while shaving, or anything, for that matter. Driving, shaving, or operating machinery while listening to CNBC is, in my opinion, about as dangerous as gets, dangerous as texting, reading email or blabbing away on your PDA while driving. I have been stupid enough to shave and listen to Squawk Box before; I've got a styptic pencil, too.
This morning was sort of different.  After Ned Riley, of Riley Asset Management, said a few wise words (he’s as baffled as anybody is over why investors, who couldn’t get enough of Stock A at 21 times earnings yielding 2.5%% a year ago wouldn’t want to buy shares of Stock A by the truckloads, now that it’s down 50%, at 11 times earnings and yielding 6%).  After Ned wrapped up his talk, Joe, Becky, and Carl (above) said they had scoured everywhere this morning, (everywhere to them was the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, and Investors’ Business Daily) and couldn’t find anything good, anywhere. 

Done with shaving and all the Squawk Box I could stand, I finished dressing, took the dogs out, and headed to my 7:00 am meeting.  Justin and I were first on the agenda at a meeting of the board of directors of Gate City Rotary Club, to which I belong.  To build up an endowment to provide capital to reinvest in the people, projects, and values we hold dear, we formed our own 501(c)(3) corporation.   Although we've been buying investments for a little less than a year (a non-meaningful span, performance-wise), the board wanted a progress update.  And so with the help of the Investment Committee, we did our best to explain why what we owned was in alignment with our value philosophy, and to say that our relative outperformance, in this period way to brief to be meaningful, was not due to any brilliance on our part, but to our slow to act style, plus a healthy dose of good luck.  And while many investors, I am sure, watched and worried through the remainder of Squawk Box, wondering when this unrelenting, ravenous bear market would find a bottom, 11 Rotarians committed to service above self reflected on what 80 years of wealth creation looked like through all the wars, invasions, recessions, crises, and panics. One steps back, takes a deep breath, and feels a sense of gratitude upon realizing a value approach is inherently sound and that a long-term investment policy for maintaining and growing wealth will remain long after we're all gone. And despite Joe, Becky and Carl saying they couldn't find anything good this morning, we knew this was good.

When I got in to work, I overheard Anne saying she too had heard Joe, Becky and Carl on Squawk Box this morning report how they couldn’t find anything good anywhere. 

And there it was, the first thing I saw, and in honor of Veteran’s Day, too, Service Dogs Give Hope, and Help to Wounded Veterans.  Be sure to check out the slideshow.

Gratitude, the healthiest of human emotions, seems to have a way of finding whatever is good.   Maybe that’s why good news is so scarce.  If you know a Veteran, why don't you call or write them this week and tell them how grateful you are for them, and that you live in a free nation. And the next time someone says they can't find anything good anywhere, don't believe them.

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