A Man For All Markets

A Man for All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market by [Thorp, Edward O.]

A Man For All Markets is Edward O. Thorp’s autobiography. I was looking forward to reading that book I wasn’t disappointed. Even though he is an icon, Edward O. Thorp might not be familiar name, so who is he? Thorp was an absolute intellect that despite his success he managed to stay under the radar. He didn’t subscribed to widely accepted views such as you can’t beat casinos or Wall-Street and he did. The first half of the book is his story. The 2nd half is filled with advice and insights. Plus Nassim Taleb wrote the foreword. So what are some of Thorp’s accomplishments?

  • Thorp figured out how to win at blackjack using card counting. Check. Thorp published the classic book Beat the Dealer. That book launched a revolutions in Vegas. If you like this kind of stuff you will love Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions. These MIT guys took Thorp’s strategies and feed it roids.
  • Thorp then built the world’s first wearable computer and used it again to beat the house at roulette. Check. The computer used physics to calculate the momentum of a roulette wheel.
  • Play bridge with Warren Buffett. Check.
  • Thorp discovered what is known today as the Black-Scholes option formula, before Black and Scholes. Check.
  • Discovered that Bernard Madoff was a cheat in 1991. Check. Madoff got busted in 2008.
  • Beat Wall-Street. Check. Then wrote Beat the Market (Out of print, copies are going for $700+). He was the first modern mathematician who successfully used quantitative methods for risk taking.

This is a story of Thorp’s odyssey in science, mathematics, hedge funds, finance and investing. Thorp is not a guy that’s after money or fame. He is a very wealthy man but if he wanted to he could have been extravagantly more wealthy. To preserve his quality of life and to spend more time with his family, he decided not to pursue a number of very profitable business ventures. He like the exploration of ideas. He likes to solve problems. He like mental challenges. That’s what fuels him to beat the dealer and Wall-Street.

Thorp is 85 years and still very sharp. You can listen to him on Masters in Business podcast: Ed Thorp, the Man Who Beat the Dealer and the Market. He reminds me a lot of Buffett and Munger. They might be in their 80s and 90s, but their brain haven’t display any sign of aging.

This is a great book. Read it. Give it. Share it. Enjoy it.

 

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Response to Justin Trudeau comments “I want to be clear: people who make $50,000 a yr should not pay higher taxes than people who make $250,000 a yr”

I didn’t write this letter but it’s really good so I wanted to share it. Peter MacIntosh a partner at White Kennedy LLP wrote it. I don’t know him nor that I have any links to him. The letter express the feelings a lot of people have out there.


To the Liberal Members of Parliament,

I recently read a Globe and Mail article reporting on the Liberal caucus meetings held in Kelowna. In the article the Prime Minister of Canada, and the leader of your party, was quoted as follows; “I want to be clear: people who make $50,000 a year should not pay higher taxes than people who make $250,000 a year Mr. Trudeau told his MP’s”.  I have never been a politically active person but feel compelled to respond to this comment.

First of all, I am a tax partner at the largest independent accounting firm in the southern interior of British Columbia. For the last 25 years we have assisted small business owners and primarily owners of private corporations. As a result, I can speak from first hand knowledge and experience. We have thousands of clients and I can state that the situation the Prime Minister has described does not exist. It does not exist because under no scenario is this possible. If your leader is describing the proposed tax changes to you in this way then I strongly suggest your are being misled and lied to.

Continue reading “Response to Justin Trudeau comments “I want to be clear: people who make $50,000 a yr should not pay higher taxes than people who make $250,000 a yr””

The Story of French – A little bit of background on Quebec

I’m reading this random book, The Story of French by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow.  First, I should mention that you don’t need to have an interest in the French language to enjoy the book.  It’s a book that somebody gave me to give somebody else and I started to flip through it – And none of them are French. It’s actually very interesting and very well researched. It’s more of a history book and the role of French in shaping it. It’s really by accident that I started reading it. Sometimes randomness brings you the best moment.

Here are some screen shots on the Quebec chapter.

The Story of French Quebec 1 Continue reading “The Story of French – A little bit of background on Quebec”

Trying to Understand Cheniere and Its Parts

On the surface Cheniere Energy (LNG) can be a difficult to understand. But if you break it down in small parts it’s not so bad.

I’m trying to understand the gap in price between LNG and CQH. LNG owns 80% of CQH and CQH owns 48.9% of CQP. Is LNG more risky than CQH? LNG owns Corpus Christi but like CQH/CQP it has long-term contract to guarantee a certain cash flow. LNG owns 80% of CQH which owns 48% of CQP. CQP owns Sabine Pass/LNG terminal, 5 LNG storage tank, 2 dock, and long-term agreements with Chevron and Total that pays CQP $250 million a year.  I believe there’s 10 years left to the agreement and from my understanding they are not even using the infrastructure. They are paying a lot of money for nothing. This suggest that the contracts are rock solid. CQH is basically a holding company with CQP has its only underlying asset. CQH was formed to hold the Cheniere Partners limited partner interests that are owned by Cheniere, thereby allowing Cheniere to segregate its lower risk, stable, cash flow generating assets from its higher risk, early stage development projects and marketing activities.

Why does this gap exist?

Cheniere Energy

Potential hypothesis and questions for the price gap between the two:

  • CQH pays a rich dividend that is likely to increase. LNG does not. CQH attracts a different shareholder base that likes its high yield.
  • There’s a potential price floor on CQH since LNG tried to acquire the 17.3% it doesn’t own. It abandoned the project back in December 2016 but a floor was created.
  • There’s a lack of volume/liquidity
  • Possibility the perspective that LNG is more risky by taking on other projects such as Corpus Christi. But that project also comes with long-term contracts. So who knows.
  • Is LNG undervalued or is it CQH that’s overvalued?
  • LNG is a complex company to understand.

I’m not a LNG pro. I’m just starting to explore this company. It’s definitely interested to learn more.  Here’s my back of the napkin attempt to figure this thing out. Please not that I left some stuff out (like the GP and Cheniere Marketing) but you will get the idea.

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My attempt to understand LNG/CQH.

Rare Henry Singleton 1982 Businessweek Article

Here’s the 1982 article Businessweek did. Singleton rarely did interviews. This was a fairly negative article. Most articles on Singleton and Teledyne are positives and are worth studying. This one is different. It looks at some of the problems Teledyne had. Anyway if you want to learn more about Teledyne from a different view, this is your article.

Henry Singleton of Teledyne – A Strategy Hooked To Cash Is Faltering (pdf)

Oil: Help!

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Crude Oil Prices – 70 Year Historical Chart

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Best Buy’s Successful Turnaround Lessons

Below is a preview of my latest article on Seeking Alpha. It’s short but good. Best Buy was considered dinosaur in 2012 and they managed to turnaround the business. How did they do it? They are now thriving.

I’m not a shareholder but I’m interested in the story.

*Note from the author: This is my first published article since 2016. I’ve received numerous great comments in the past, and some of my followers have asked where my next article was. Writing is a hobby for me. Here’s my breakdown on Best Buy’s turnaround.

For the full article click here.


Repost from Seeking Alpha
By Brian Langis

Every day it seems that I’m reading about a brick-and-mortar business heading for the slaughterhouse. If you have been out of the loop, here are some sample headlines just from the LA Times:

Source: LA Times

Despite what seems to be the retail apocalypse of the brick-and-mortar store, a success story has gone unnoticed and deserves more attention. You probably noticed that your local Best Buy (BBY) is actually not dead and is doing just fine. Best Buy, once a struggling business, managed to successfully turn around its business. The Best Buy turnaround story should be a case study. In it are plenty of lessons for the businesses looking to fight off the online juggernauts. This led me to further study how Best Buy managed to avoid the pitfalls that ailed many other brick-and-mortar retail chains.

A few years ago Best Buy was going down the tube like many of its peers (e.g. Circuit City, Radio Shack). Best Buy was a victim of “showrooming”; Consumers would show up in stores to check out the product to end up purchasing it online at a better price. As a result, sales and profits slumped, and Amazon would just take more market share. In this 2012 article from the LA Times, the author claimed he got a better deal for a fridge at Sears. When you are losing sales to Sears, you are in trouble. Below is the Best Buy five year chart:

Best Buy is up 4x since late 2012, far outpacing the broader market.

Back in 2012 Best Buy was trading at around $11 with a quarterly dividend of $0.17 per share. It’s now trading upward of $56 with a quarterly dividend of $0.34 per share. So how did Best Buy manageto quadruple its stock price, double its dividends in five years when many people (including me) thought this company was going straight for the cemetery, another victim of Amazon.com and other online sellers?

What are some the lessons?

For the full article click here.

Creativity Consultant

Creativity Consultant

Teledyne and Dr. Henry Singleton, Case Study in Capital Allocation

“[Warren Buffett] considers that Henry Singleton of Teledyne has the best operating and capital deployment record in American business.” – John Train’s The Money Masters

Below is a massive case study of Dr. Henry Singleton and Teledyne. The document states it was edited by John Chew from CSInvesting.org, a great blog to follow. All the credits goes to him. Not a lot of people have heard of Henry Singleton, a person that Buffets consider the best one the greatest capitalists and capital allocators of all-time. An investor who put money into Teledyne stock in 1966 achieved an annual return of 17.9 percent over 25 years, or a 53x return on invested capital vs. 6.7x for the S&P 500, 9.0x for GE and 7.1x for other comparable conglomerates. Here’s the document:

PDF: Dr.-Singleton-and-Teledyne-A-Study-of-an-Excellent-Capital-Allocator

To find out more about Dr. Henry Singleton, I did post this article last year: Henry Singleton Forbes 1979 Article

Dr. Singleton was also featured in The Outsiders by William N. Thorndike, among 7 other great investors. It’s one of the best investment book I’ve read and if you haven’t it should be on the top of the list.