Tag Archives: Case Studies

Michael Burry Case Studies


Michael Burry Case Studies (Donated by a reader)

Videos of Burry


All investors can learn from Mr. Burry. I admire his success as a self-taught investor. He is just a guy sitting in a room reading and thinking for himself. Take his advice, “Try to be unique in your own way; don’t try to be like another.”

Burry buying land and gold.  He seeks unique special situations.

HAPPY 4th of July!

ValueUncovered Philosophy; Treat Everything as a Case Study


Treat Everything as a Case Study (Thanks to a reader)

I was driving past a Volkswagen dealer during a 15-hour drive from Miami to New Orleans when my 9- and 10-year-old kids excitedly pointed out the old Beetle that was parked alongside a row of brand-new models. Ah, yes, I said, a clear case of brand reinforcement through product differentiation: The odd thing stands out. At another point in the trip, their $8 headsets broke at the plug. We analyzed this as a case of defective design, probably the result of poor cost analysis.

The sight of gas pumps whose nozzles were covered with bags was a case of poor demand forecasting within the supply chain. Then we got talking about the odometer on my Nissan Pathfinder: Is a car that can go 300,000 miles a case of over-engineering or TQM excellence? It was a debate worth at least 40 miles.

It might be obvious by now that I had been playing HBR podcasts practically nonstop on that journey. If you listen to 50 consecutive business podcasts, as we did, everything starts to look like a business case study. Your way of seeing is transformed forever. You develop the Case Method third eye.

You start to question everything, and your questions start to disconcert people, just as Socrates’s questions upset the targets of his inquiries. But you must persevere. Questions help you connect the dots.

The security-company technician who was troubleshooting an alarm at my house discovered that the system wasn’t reliably transmitting to the local cell tower and needed to be replaced. I questioned him: Why wasn’t it connecting? The signal was too weak, he said. Then the zinger: Why did the company not measure the signal strength before installing the alarm in the first place?

A well-known furniture company with a nationwide network of showrooms said a chair I had ordered would take 12 weeks to arrive. Why so long, when it takes just four hours to build a car?

A colleague was setting up a PowerPoint presentation at work. Why PowerPoint? Why not Prezi or Keynote or SlideRocket or some other solution with potentially greater impact?

These questions hung in the air, unanswered, as do most of those I find myself asking during the course of a day, either to myself or whoever is with me: Why don’t all phone companies use the same frequency bands so business users can take their phones abroad? Why, with the advent of in-memory big data and high-frequency trading, can’t banks clear my personal stock trades instantly?

Often, the questions lead to debates. Just ask my kids: We debated everything (and still do). Is it better to amass frequent-flier miles or use them as you collect them, in case the carrier goes out of business? Is a supermarket’s “Buy one get one free” promotion a loss-leading marketing exercise or a tactic for achieving necessary volume? Can a product placement in a movie undermine brand credibility — eg, would James Bond really drink Heineken?

Ideally, the debates lead to imaginative problem solving.

Do this on your own for a while, or with your kids, and pretty soon you’ll sharpen up your questioning and debating and imagining skills. By adopting the “Everything is a case study” mindset and seeing the world through the Case Method third eye, you’ll learn to filter out the disinformation that life throws at you and uncover startling insights.

You’ll also increase your effectiveness at questioning your company’s strategies, processes, procedures, and methods of data collection. You’ll be able to grow in your ability to think about what you don’t know, rather than accepting the business-as-usual mentality.

This will help you assist your company in finding innovative solutions. And it might be good for your career. After all, CEOs hate canned, staid, boring, predictable answers to business problems (just as business professors hate canned, staid, boring, predictable responses to business cases). They crave creative, adaptive, innovative thinking.

Would the “Everything is a case study” view of the world have helped Eastman Kodak executives think through digital technologies earlier? Would it have prevented leaders in the British motorcycle industry from ignoring the commuter-moped market in the 1970s? Would it have stopped Xerox managers from showing off the company’s innovative technologies to the world before commercializing them?

Maybe. It certainly would have made their family car trips a lot more fun.

Original Article: http://feeds.harvardbusiness.org/~r/harvardbusiness/~3/w95-3LZKmRE/treat_everything_as_a_case_study.html

A Reader’s Question on Case Studies

Fall from Grace

On my good days, I think of Wall Street as one large promotion machine and on my bad days, I think of Wall Street as a den of thieves.–Jean-Marie Eveillard

Capitulation everywhere (risks rising): http://www.hussmanfunds.com/wmc/wmc130128.htm

A Reader’s Question on Cases

Hi John: Do you have a compilation of case studies that you’ve found extremely instrumental in learning from, that you’ve collected over time?

I got a lot out of reading your notes on Greenblatt’s classes, so thanks for
that. Last night I read a great small case study from Einhorn and I realized
that the few pages I read was far better than all the time spent studying for my CFA exams. Any good compilation you have would be amazing.
My reply:  Good question. Besides a relentless curiosity, learning how to learn is critical for your development. I believe subscribing to Grant’s Interest Rate Observer then downloading ALL 30 years of his letters while also downloading the SEC filings of any company he mentions over the past 30 years will repay you many times more than any MBA, CFA–if YOUR GOAL IS TO BECOME A BETTER INVESTOR.  You will learn financial history, valuation, about market psychology, business cycles. This is what I am currently doing. I have downloaded 1983 to 1993 newsletters. Now I just need the time to finish reading them!
OK, you don’t want to do that–shell out $990 or whatever–then go here:

Take the first link. Download a research report, look at the name of the company and date, then download the financials for the company mentioned and try to analyze the company BEFORE reading the report.   What do you see? If you don’t understand something, look it up in your finance or accounting textbook that you keep by your side. Then read the report–what did you learn or miss?   Note what you need to learn, then learn it, then go on to the next report.

Yes, this takes hard work, doggedness, and discipline, but you can do it. Not many will, so there is your chance to become great.

Spend time doing this rather than listening to CNBC. Yes, we all laugh when we hear Icahn call Ackman a loser (I was appalled and saddened), but how will THAT help you become a better invesstor?

I will post a link to more case studies tomorrow.   Good luck.

PS: I haven’t forgotten my reply to an investor seeking an answer on what to do with his/her money.

Back with Buffett Case Studies: Dempster Mills and Sanborn Map

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”–Aristotle

My Black Ops Ninja team was able to crack Buffett’s safe in Omaha and bring back these case studies for your enlightenment and study. Mr. Buffett was found passed out on his desk from a Cherry Coke drinking binge.  This video was running on his TV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0PrTkE5jG4&feature=related  Mr. Buffett is preparing for this weekend’s Buffett Lovefest.

Buffett’s Case Studies:

Dempster Mills

& Sanborn Map

Dempster_Mills_Manufacturing_Case_Study_BPLs What lessons are there here for us to build upon?

Uncivil Cola Wars: Coke and Pepsi Confront the Prisoner’s Dilemma–Case Studies

 He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.–Marcus Aurelius

Competition Demystified Chapter 9: Uncivil Cola Wars: Coke and Pepsi Confront the Prisoner’s Dilemma

Let’s keep moving on…..

Study Questions

  1. What are the sources of competitive advantages in the soda industry? Can you show this by financial metrics?
  2.  During the “statesmen” era of Pepsi and Coke, what actions did each of the companies take? Why did  they help raise profitability?

Cases to study:

Coke vs Pepsi A Case Study.pdf – 191.55 KB
Coke vs Pepsi a Hundred Years War.pdf – 454.92 KB
Expires: Files will be available for download until June 06, 2012 13:42 PDT

Link: http://www.yousendit.com/download/M3BtNU1FdGpuSlRMbjhUQw

Coke vs Pepsi and the Soft Drink Industry.pdf

Coke vs Pepsi in the 1990s.pdfFiles will be available until June 06, 2012
Link for two cases here:

 Fortune Articles

Kicking Pepsi’s Can http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1996/10/28/203906/index.htm

Crunch Time for Coke http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1999/07/19/263104/index.htm

You have about 100 pages of reading including pages 181 to 199 in Competition Demystified. This case is important for learning about an industry with an oligopoly structure.

My apology to you for piling on so much work-Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mI7ldxcio0&feature=related

Answers will be posted by next weekend. Good luck.