Friday, August 19, 2016

13F Fun

So, for fun, I wrote a script that grabs manager holdings and compares the portfolio since the last time a 13F was filed. This is available at places like but I wanted to be able to check out my own institutions that may not be superinvestors.

When I wanted to diff the 13F files, I used to download them to a spreadsheet and do it manually.  It was a pain because for companies like BRK who may have the same stock listed across subsidiaries, you had to aggregate the holdings. Many of you know what a pain that is.

Computer Stuff (uh, yes, it's a tangent)
Anyway, to make matters more interesting (OK, for most of you this part is irrelevant and not very interesting) I wrote this whole program on a Linux laptop (Ubuntu 14.04 at the time; I have since upgraded to Ubuntu 16.04) using the VIM editor (I used to use vi in a Unix environment a long time ago in my hedge fund days). Programmers know how much of a pain VI/VIM is until you get used to it. I had to refresh my memory but thought it was so cool to use vi again so I stuck it out and used it to write the whole program.  (Now I use mostly Geany on my Linux machine, Notepad++ on Windows machines, and Idle or Spyder (depending on project) for Python).

The program itself is written in PHP, and I used the XAMPP/Apache web server as my local host.  Anyway, something like this would have been much easier for me to write in Python, but I think I wanted some stuff on the web so wrote it directly in PHP.  I haven't worked with Flask/Django so wouldn't know how to put Python-generated content on a website (well, there are other ways; I do use Python to update google sheets and then use PHP to grab google sheet data etc. for some non-financial stuff I do).

All of this happened a few months ago, actually.

Linux/Open Source
...and here's another thing (another tangent off a tangent).  After turning my old, dead (or so I thought) Dell laptop (XPS M1710 that used to run Windows XP) into a Linux machine, I have really been loving the experience.

And what I noticed is that if you go to Barnes & Noble and look for computer-related magazines, you will see a bunch of them about Ubuntu, Linux and others.  I love those Linux magazines but they are expensive.  Why are they expensive?  Because they are all published in Britain!  Linux Voice, Linux Format etc... they are all published in the UK.  Even the website design/programming related magazines are all UK magazines.

If you have kids, the other cool thing these days (other than Pokemon Go) is the Raspberry Pi, which is basically just a cheap computer on a motherboard  (google it to see what it's about).  And that's a UK invention, so of course, all of the Raspberry Pi related magazines are published in the UK.

Maybe there is something about the publishing industry in the UK that make these magazines possible.  Or maybe there is too much commercialism in the U.S. for there to be support for anything open source (and therefore anything threatening Microsoft). I don't know. If it's open source, nobody is going to make money, and if nobody is going to make money, who is going to buy ad pages?  Maybe that's it.

But it makes me wonder.  As a geek into this sort of thing, it seems like the UK is a much more exciting place. Also, it seems like they are more committed to teaching coding in the schools.

This sort of makes me wonder where the next wave of great innovations will come from. But, OK, who am I kidding? I'm sure the U.S. will keep leading the way.

Anyway, that's straying too far from what this blog is supposed to be about.

Back to 13F's
Let's browse through some 13F's.  Most of this stuff has been seen and discussed already.  Many websites track 13F's closely and write about it, so I won't mention most of the big investors.

Having said that, let's look at BRK.


Namedollar amt%port#shareschange%chg
KRAFT HEINZ CO28,812,169    22.21%325,634,818
WELLS FARGO & CO NEW22,704,405    17.50%479,704,270
COCA COLA CO18,132,000    13.98%400,000,000
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHS12,329,439    9.51%81,232,303
AMERICAN EXPRESS CO9,211,866    7.10%151,610,700
PHILLIPS 666,250,563    4.82%78,782,0003,231,2554%
US BANCORP DEL3,430,598    2.64%85,063,167
DAVITA HEALTHCARE PARTNERS I2,981,889    2.30%38,565,570
WAL MART STORES INC2,937,332    2.26%40,226,402-15,009,461-27%
MOODYS CORP2,311,805    1.78%24,669,778
CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS INC N2,134,924    1.65%9,337,4919,337,491new
DEERE & CO1,779,577    1.37%21,959,246-1,321,748-6%
GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP INC1,628,365    1.26%10,959,519
APPLE INC1,455,768    1.12%15,227,7025,415,95555%
GENERAL MTRS CO1,415,000    1.09%50,000,000
VERISIGN INC1,119,894    0.86%12,952,745-32,255-0%
LIBERTY MEDIA CORP DELAWARE1,073,699    0.83%37,499,9967,499,99625%
U S G CORP1,051,494    0.81%39,002,016
LIBERTY GLOBAL PLC902,592    0.70%30,712,7396,903,84829%
VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC837,652    0.65%15,000,928
BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON CORP809,137    0.62%20,827,212
VISA INC759,438    0.59%10,239,160
COSTCO WHSL CORP NEW680,511    0.52%4,333,363
M & T BK CORP636,319    0.49%5,382,040
AXALTA COATING SYS LTD618,786    0.48%23,324,000
SUNCOR ENERGY INC NEW617,696    0.48%22,275,381-7,724,619-26%
KINDER MORGAN INC DEL496,708    0.38%26,533,525
MASTERCARD INC434,555    0.34%4,934,756
TORCHMARK CORP392,788    0.30%6,353,727
RESTAURANT BRANDS INTL INC351,030    0.27%8,438,225
GENERAL ELECTRIC CO333,233    0.26%10,585,502
WABCO HLDGS INC296,420    0.23%3,237,094
TWENTY FIRST CENTY FOX INC242,148    0.19%8,951,869
SANOFI163,461    0.13%3,905,875
VERISK ANALYTICS INC126,763    0.10%1,563,434
MEDIA GEN INC NEW59,672    0.05%3,471,309
GRAHAM HLDGS CO52,663    0.04%107,575
JOHNSON & JOHNSON39,677    0.03%327,100
NOW INC33,116    0.03%1,825,569
PROCTER & GAMBLE CO26,705    0.02%315,400
MONDELEZ INTL INC26,305    0.02%578,000
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE INC6,399    0.00%59,400
LEE ENTERPRISES INC170    0.00%88,863
CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS INC D0    0.00%10,326,803-10,326,803-100%
Total Sum129,704,731

(sorry, but my tables show adding and dumping Charter Communication, but that's due to change in the class of stock, I suppose, from the merger.  Name changes also show up like this in my tables so look at the whole table before assuming a position was dumped).

Buffett has really been accumulating PSX. It's been on my to-do list for a while, to make a post about it.  It is interesting because it is reasonably valued and doesn't seem to be impacted too much by crude oil prices.  They haven't been growing much, but their earnings have been pretty stable throughout a period when crude oil prices just tanked.  Their refining margins seem pretty stable too so it doesn't look like they are over-earning on excessive refinery margins either.  

You know that Buffett likes management as he has owned COP in the past. Maybe this is the good side.  

Buffett has been reticent, in recent years, about making comments about individual investments.  I remember he shied away from answering someone's question about why he bought DE, and didn't answer a question about PSX either.  He just said it's not a crude oil play. He used to talk up a lot of his holdings much more liberally.  I think the change came after IBM. He did explain why he liked IBM and it hasn't turned out too well. Maybe he didn't like the attention of talking up a name and having so many people focus on it as a big mistake (my view is that it's still too early to tell!). 

But we know that he likes managements that explain very clearly what they are going to do, and especially when they accomplish it. He is most interested in what management has in mind in terms of capital allocation; how much capex will be done, how much will be returned to shareholders in dividends and share repurchases.  And you will notice that PSX is very clear on those issues in their reports and presentations. 

Anyway, looking at the BRK 13-F, I was curious what it would look like if we exclude Buffett's big picks and looked only at Todd and Ted's excellent adventure. I just cut and pasted the above into a spreasheet and deleted what I thought were obvious Buffett picks.  Of course, that includes the big ones, and some other smaller ones.  This list may still include some Buffett stocks, but that's OK. 

Here's a look-see: 

Namedollar amt%port
APPLE INC1,455,7688.17%
GENERAL MTRS CO1,415,0007.95%
VERISIGN INC1,119,8946.29%
VISA INC759,4384.26%
MASTERCARD INC434,5552.44%
TORCHMARK CORP392,7882.21%
WABCO HLDGS INC296,4201.66%
MEDIA GEN INC NEW59,6720.34%
GRAHAM HLDGS CO52,6630.30%
JOHNSON & JOHNSON39,6770.22%
NOW INC33,1160.19%
PROCTER & GAMBLE CO26,7050.15%
Total Sum17,808,288

Anyway, the concentration in DVA, CHTR and AAPL etc. is very interesting. I am still not a big fan of AAPL, by the way.  But this is a long term thing, not a short term thing.  I know AAPL is evolving from a hardware, gadget company to a services company, but I am still not convinced this market cap can be maintained.

Plus, I saw a video about AAPL recently and the thing that struck me was how old all the senior managers are.  Now, age discrimination is not cool at all, and I love how companies are hiring older people; we need to keep older folks working, and many do want to work.  I love that sort of thing. Not to mention Buffett/Munger.  

But when you have a company in a quickly evolving industry, especially in tech, my impression is that youth is pretty important.  The AAPL senior management seems older than the IBM senior management back in the 80's and 90's when they were sort of stuck.  Those aren't the kind of guys that are going to be the leaders in innovation. 

Anyway, that's just my impression.  I felt like, holy cow, no wonder why they make some mind-boggling and strange decisions; they are a generation apart from a lot of their users. I think this will be an issue at some point. 

But then again, what do I know. I am not a tech guy, really. 

Moving on... 

SQ Advisors
Let's see what Lou Simpson has been up to.  He obviously still likes his main holdings, but look!  There's a new name!  Allison Transmission Holdings (ALSN).  This is an old Carlyle name, and ValueAct has a position. Carlyle is completely out, I think. 

ALSN seems like a good post idea here too; I may do that after taking a closer look.  Revenues haven't grown much, but the story is in the free cash flows from increasing margins.  They are generating tons of cash and are repurchasing shares etc.  A formula that we like.  This leads to another digression.  

Namedollar amt%port#shareschange%chg
BROOKFIELD ASSET MGMT INC395,284    16.73%11,961,690-979,557-8%
BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY INC DEL356,730    15.10%2,432,332-222,699-8%
AMETEK INC NEW344,723    14.59%7,456,694-484,585-6%
SCHWAB CHARLES CORP NEW292,606    12.39%11,560,900-719,054-6%
WELLS FARGO & CO NEW275,483    11.66%5,820,464-381,628-6%
LIBERTY GLOBAL PLC249,859    10.58%8,685,850-505,729-6%
ALLISON TRANSMISSION HLDGS I129,536    5.48%4,588,6044,588,604new
WABCO HLDGS INC128,135    5.42%1,399,310-102,928-7%
CROWN HOLDINGS INC74,230    3.14%1,464,961-1,496,522-51%
US BANCORP DEL62,431    2.64%1,548,005-413,603-21%
VALEANT PHARMACEUTICALS INTL48,868    2.07%2,427,903-163,496-6%
BROOKFIELD BUSINESS PARTNERS4,632    0.20%243,059243,059new
Total Sum2,362,517

Share Repurchases
There was an article the other day in the New York Times about how bad share repurchases are. I was scratching my head throughout the whole article because we sort of like share repurchases. This is a typical problem with the press.  Something is either good or bad. Corporations are good or bad. All banks are good or bad.  Moslems are good or bad. Cops are good or bad. 

Anyway, I don't want to spend much time getting too much into this, but I think most of us here agree that there are good share repurchases and bad ones.  If you buy shares under intrinsic value with excess cash flow, it's probably good.  If you overpay with debt-funded cash, then it might be bad.  Even still, it depends. 

The examples sited in the article were typical errors in thinking too.  Oftentimes, companies repurchase shares because there is no better alternative.  For example, companies that have very little growth potential will start to repurchase shares more. So you can mistake cause and effect. Someone may argue that they aren't growing because they are using their capital to repurchase shares. Managements will tell you that they are repurchasing shares because the growth opportunities are not that exciting. 

We can bash companies for repurchasing shares, but let's not forget that there was popular word in the old days called di-worsification.  I think that was a Peter Lynch word.  What about M&A? People keep reminding us that M&A's usually end badly. What about excess capacity? Building more factories with not much demand growth won't help anybody. As for retailers, do we really need more stores?

Share repurchases recycle capital back into the economy. It is not automatically good or bad. Look at Japan and their low returns on capital; largely because they don't want to return capital to shareholders. They would rather hoard the cash, make stupid acquisitions overseas, speculate, buy expensive real estate, diworsify into an industry they have no knowledge of, build unnecessary facilities for unnecessary employees etc...  

So maybe unbelievable to some, there are things far worse than share repurchases. 

Anyway, I am preaching to the choir here, so let's move on... 

This is a company many of us follow and like.  The equity portfolio manager, though, is relatively new and doesn't have much to do with Y's long term performance so there may not be much interest in picking apart this portfolio. 

But we are curious so we will take a look.  Who knows where the next great idea comes from? Anyway, it is kind of interesting to look at this as the characteristic of the portfolio seems to have changed from before. 

Notice GOOG at the top with an 11% position.  This is not what you would really imagine as a Y stock. But I like GOOG so it's fine with me. Not that I would second guess anyone. It is a relatively concentrated portfolio and I usually consider that a good thing. 

Namedollar amt%port#shareschange%chg
ALPHABET INC288,446    11.06%410,000
CVS HEALTH CORP205,841    7.89%2,150,000
MICROSOFT CORP153,510    5.89%3,000,000
BLACKROCK INC136,984    5.25%400,000175,00078%
ROPER INDS INC NEW136,429    5.23%800,000-25,000-3%
CSX CORP130,400    5.00%5,000,000
ALLERGAN PLC115,517    4.43%500,000500,000new
VISA INC111,255    4.27%1,500,000-1,500,000-50%
JPMORGAN CHASE & CO108,383    4.16%1,744,178
BARRICK GOLD CORP106,750    4.09%5,000,0005,000,000new
PPG INDS INC104,149    3.99%1,000,000-525,000-34%
WALT DISNEY CO102,711    3.94%1,050,000
DENTSPLY INTL INC NEW99,264    3.81%1,600,000
EXXON MOBIL CORP93,740    3.60%1,000,000700,000233%
VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC92,417    3.54%1,655,000-375,000-18%
DISNEY WALT CO83,148    3.19%850,000
EOG RES INC56,995    2.19%683,406-316,594-32%
AIR PRODS & CHEMS INC54,685    2.10%385,000
COMCAST CORP NEW51,817    1.99%795,000795,000new
OLD REP INTL CORP48,225    1.85%2,500,000-331,467-12%
ARAMARK46,628    1.79%1,395,000
BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY INC DEL41,986    1.61%290,000
HOME DEPOT INC32,561    1.25%255,000
DEVON ENERGY CORP NEW31,890    1.22%880,000
NEWELL BRANDS INC30,985    1.19%637,877637,877new
KIMBERLY CLARK CORP27,493    1.05%200,000
PEPSICO INC27,016    1.04%255,000
HESS CORP24,338    0.93%405,000
L BRANDS INC23,163    0.89%345,000
OCCIDENTAL PETE CORP DEL21,535    0.83%285,000
POLARIS INDS INC14,309    0.55%175,000175,000new
ARES CAP CORP2,674    0.10%188,3264,6603%
ARES COML REAL ESTATE CORP1,538    0.06%125,115
CONSOLIDATED TOMOKA LD CO578    0.02%12,16612,166new
ARES DYNAMIC CR ALLOCATION F131    0.01%9,5502242%
SABRE CORP0    0.00%1,890,000-1,890,000-100%
SMUCKER J M CO0    0.00%205,000-205,000-100%
PERRIGO CO PLC0    0.00%750,000-750,000-100%
JARDEN CORP0    0.00%740,000-740,000-100%
CHURCH & DWIGHT INC0    0.00%365,000-365,000-100%
ISHARES TR0    0.00%181,000-181,000-100%
Total Sum2,607,491

OK, this post is getting a little long so I will break it up. More to follow... 


  1. Could you write up a blog post on how you would do the script using Python? I've been trying to write out something like this in python and keep getting stuck.

    1. Hmmm... I will have to think about it. I am not a particularly good programmer so would be embarrassed to post my code. I can help you out here in the comments, though. Where do you get stuck? If you know how to scrape data off of a website and parse it, it shouldn't be too hard as the sec 13F's are in nice, clean, xml format; much cleaner than trying to get data off yahoo finance (which was messy).

      How far did you get and what are you having trouble doing, exactly?

    2. Ok no worries. I can scrape sites like finviz without any issues - but trying to get 13F filings seems to be different process than just going to the site and parsing the xml. Maybe it's because I'm going to the wrong page?

      Could you tell me what page of the sec site you go for the parsing?

    3. Yeah, I think you are looking at the wrong page. When you go to and search 13F, click the page that shows the xml (.xml) instead of the html (.html) page. For example, for MKL this is the page you want to scrape:

      Notice the .xml at the end. It's a very straight forward xml file that can be parsed with simple parsers. I use simplexml for php and beautiful soup for python.

    4. This is what I was looking for thanks a lot.

  2. Always appreciate your informative posts and the time you spend writing them. In the future, can you write an article on what your criterias are for what you look to purchase? When do you go after a growth or value stock? Are chart patterns ever used by you? How long do you typically hold? I've been using Gurus as guides, and then evaluating their largest % of portfolio holding and narrowing it down through research. You always seem to investigative and practical viewpoint! Thanks! And hope you keep on writing.

    1. Hi, thanks. Hmm... Those are interesting questions and hard to answer. I am all over the place in terms of what I look for. I don't box myself in anywhere, so if it's a Greenblatt Stock Market Genius-like idea, great. If it's deep value and I like it, great. If it's a growth stock and a little expensive, well, if I really like the business, then fine, I'll buy etc...

      One thing I can tell you is that I don't use charts at all. They're fun to look at but they are pretty meaningless. And my best performers are usually the ones I own for a very, very long time.

      As an investor, I am lazy so if I find something, I want something I can own for a long, long time and I want it to just sit there and compound.

      Otherwise, if there are interesting situations going on, I'll play those too (spin-offs etc)...

      So it all just depends. If it makes sense, I don't mind playing it regardless of what box it might fall into.

  3. If Apple did the same things as everyone else, they would have the same results as everyone else. Clearly, they never did in the past and they don't do in the present.

  4. Have you taken a look at CHTR? Your post on DTV a few years back was excellent

    1. Thanks. I do like CHTR and it's become one of the top holdings at Chase Coleman's Tiger Global too... I wrote about it in the past as Malone's vehicle. From here, it's up to how well they integrate Time Warner Cable and how much Rutledge can improve their operations etc.

  5. I get this information on, they seem to list everyone that reports, not just the super investor.

    1., typo in 1rst post

  6. Tech OT: Most of the big open source projects are mostly US based (although participation can be very international). And companies like Google and Microsoft (mostly since Nadella) release a lot of cutting edge open source software. So I think you are wrong that UK is more exciting place for geeky things (not that there's any need to hype Silly Valley). Though UK folks definitely try to do great stuff. And you could cite as another UK breakthrough. :)

    Raspberry Pi was likely done in UK because of the past Acorn and present ARM heritage. There were some similar projects in US, but Raspberry Pi seems to have hit sweet spot.

    Magazines - I personally don't know anyone who reads computer related magazines. Maybe I'm in the wrong too-much-in crowd. :) I don't know publishing in UK well, but some other European countries still have some costly paper magazines, so perhaps they survive on lower circulation but high cost.

    Great job with your scripts and nice to see you posting lately. :)

    1. Thanks for the color. It's silly to predict anything from the existence of a few magazines so I agree with you. And yes, these magazines I mention seem more geared towards the hobbyist (like me!).

  7. Would be interesting to slice Todd & Ted's excellent adventure by each's sleeve size, ie Ted' Charter position is likely >20% of his $9B+ sleeve

  8. It was an interesting to see a gold stock on Alleghany's holdings list. I've tried to stay away in general from resource names but I was pulled in this spring seeing names trade at EV/EBITDA of 2x in some cases (and some still do as the gold price has lifted). Do you every buy gold stocks or commodity stocks in general?

    1. No, not really. Gold stocks have done horribly during this whole gold rally (I'm talking about the since 2000, not the recent rally) because costs went up as quickly or more quickly than gold prices.

      Gold stocks are going nuts now because costs are tanking with steady to rising gold prices. And yes, they were really cheap recently. I think these are tough investments because of the wild volatility on both ends; revenues and expenses...

  9. With Google, one thing I am curious about is the artificial intelligence side. Just like Nokia has popularized GPUs for machine learning and deep learning, Google, with its tensorflow library contribution for AI (open source for the basic, but they keep the most cutting edge stuff to themselves), could also have viable IP with tensorflow processing units for deep learning. If tensorflow becomes popular for deep learning, that is.

    It's a small part of Google, of course, but it feels to me like a necessary piece of analysis to decide if it is cheap enough.

    Just like Microsoft, which is #2 in cloud and which is building that business off of Office 365. Power BI is a viable competitor to Tableau for BI and Azure looks like it makes parts of machine learning easy to do, which may make it a viable sales pitch for companies. Again, just a hypothesis.

    1. Not that I can afford any more hobbies, but machine learning is certainly something I am interested in. As for what happens within these respective companies, it's so hard to tell. Who knew Amazon would come to dominate cloud? Well, dominate may be too strong a word. The war is not over and will be ongoing. As unpredictable as tech is, these newer areas seem to me even more difficult to predict.

  10. Break? I wanted to read about Barrick, OK I will wait.

    Thanks for writing.

    1. Come on! You mention Ted and Todd's top 3, but not #4 GM which is basically the same size as AAPL?

      I get it I get it - auto manufacturing is a capital intensive, cyclical, overall crumby, totally un-berkshire like business.

      but doesn't that make it more worthy of discussion?!?

      We know that this is a Ted position, and we know that Ted tends to trade a bit more, but still, to own this name you have to have a view on either 1) where we are on the cycle or 2) what happens when the cycle turns south.

      I don't think a BRK name would depend on timing the cycle, so I think 2 is worth discussing.

      My quick thoughts are that new GM is a totally different animal than old GM b/c old GM was virtually gauranteed to bleed cash in any recessionary environment no matter how small, while new GM claims they can remain profitable through a MEGA recession on par with the "Great Recession."

      It seems clear that a cyclical that can remain profitable through a down cycle is more valuable than a cyclical that bleeds in the down cycle, so doesn't GM deserve higher multiples? What multiples do other "profitable through the down cycle" cyclicals trade at near the top of the cycle? Significantly higher than 5-6x, no? Any why does peak mean that decline is imminent? Plenty of historical evidence suggests that sideways for a few years is more likely, and sideways at 5-6x when the company is returning a ton of capital can lead to very big returns!

      The problem is of course that the market probably wants to see hard evidence that the company can perform through a down cycle, so to hold this you need to be comfortable with volatility... but we know the brooklyn investor is comfortable with volatility!

      anyway, sorry if that turned it to a bit of rant, but i'd be curious to hear your thoughts, even though i get that this is not your typical type of stock. keep up the great work!!

    2. Good points. Einhorn likes it too. I took a good look at it post-bankruptcy and it is very interesting. The only thing that gets me is the seeming over-capacity in the industry. I don't have figures but it just seems like everyone is just making more cars. Great in good times, but when the cycle turns, what happens to all this capacity?

      But yes, this concern is priced into the stock at a low multiple.

  11. With buybacks, even the standard of "intrinsic value" is a bit sketchy in that it conflates management and investor behavior. From management's POV, it might make sense to repurchase shares above intrinsic value because the broader universe of stocks is cheap relative to reinvestment opportunities. But if we judge buybacks, ex post, by looking at subsequent stock returns, then we implicitly credit management with the investor's decision to hold the stock.