Value Ideas Blog
My best book of the year: Superforecasting – The Art and Science of Prediction

On October 12, 2004 Yasser Arafat, the 75 year old leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, became severely ill with vomiting and abdominal pain. Over the next three weeks his condition worsened. On October 29, he was flown to a hospital in France where he fell into a coma. On November 11, 2004 Yasser Arafat, who survived several Israely attempts on his life, died. What killed him was uncertain. But even before he died there was speculation that he had been poisoned.

 

In 2012 researchers at the Lausanne University announced that they had tested some if Arafat’s belongings and discovered unnaturally high level of polonium-210, the same radioactive element that was found in the body of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.

 

In August 2012, Arafat’s widow gave the permission for his body to be exhumed and tested by two separate agencies, in Switzerland and France.

 

Now the question which you have to answer before you continue:

 

Will either the French or the Swiss inquiries find elevated levels of polonium in the remains of Yasser Arafat’s body?

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Back in 2013 we were invited to attend the Pabrai annual fund meeting to speak to Mr. Pabrai in person. Unfortunately it was not possible to meet him until six days ago. Thanks too my employer Fronteris, I was able to attended his annual meeting and a bike ride with him. In addition to this experience, I was able to meet with other great minds like Guy Spier, Rishi Gosalia (from Google), Haricharan Ramachandra (from Linkedin, who also run the great blog BitsBusiness), Adrian Warner (a fund manager from Australia) and many others.

 

Pabrai  

Highlights:

  1. Score keeping is Mr. Pabrai’s most important lesson to achieve success in life and investing. Especially, the track-record is important in investing and gaming. It can help you to track your mistakes and improve your knowledge.
  2. Has read the Poor Charlies Almanac 7 times and still finds new insights.
  3. Self-improvement is the most important thing, he would bet on the guy with less knowledge and less skills if he has a drive to self-improvement, over a lifetime he will bet the guy with more skills.
  4. Pabrai thinks that Fiat is highly undervalued. Minimum margin of safety is 50% and it has the potential to become a +4x. The spinoff of Ferrari will come in less than a month and it is still not considered in the share price.
  5. Pabrai currently holds: Fiat 42% of the fund , GM B Warrents >10% , POSCO ~10% , ~15% Horsehead Holding , ~10% Google
  6. Dhando Holding IPO will be delayed by 2-3 years, they are currently developing a Smart-Beta value ETF and an own direct small businesses Insurance company (GEICO for businesses)
  7. Stone Trust made an underwriting loss of 4 million this year (when the Equity was just 61 million)

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Welcome to a further piece of our ‘Value Essentials’ series. ‘Financial Shenanigans’ is written by Howard M. Schilit, PhD, CPA and Jeremy Perler, CFA, CPA. It presents an empirical journey through many accounting tricks in an entertaining way while teaching its readers what to look for when analyzing balance sheets. This blog post is by no means a summary of all the facts given in the book. It is merely meant to give you an idea and remind you of the key lessons. I would highly recommend reading it as soon as possible, as it is also part of our recommended reading list that you find on our website. After all, there are passages that show the recklessness of managers and the absurdity of huge frauds (that have stayed unnoticed for decades) which makes the reading experience quite joyful.

  financial shenanigans  

NOTE: In this post we directly quote the book. If you find this interesting, please consider buying it (e.g. via this link).

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