Tag Archives: NYU

Case Studies on Buffett’s Investing: NYU Course This April

 The Fundamentals of Buffett-Style Investing

Learn the investment techniques of Warren Buffett, the world’s most legendary investor. Examine case studies of Buffett’s acquisitions in order to review the real-world principles that the “Oracle of Omaha” uses to pick companies. Topics include both quantitative methods, such as valuation metrics and cash flow analysis, as well as qualitative principles, such as competitive advantage and economic moats. As a final project, partner with a classmate to present a publicly traded company you believe Buffett would buy. At the conclusion, understand what Buffett means by a “great business at a good price.” This course is appropriate for beginners in the industry and for individuals with a broad array of backgrounds. The final session is taught synchronously from the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha.

More details

You’ll Walk Away with

  • An understanding of the investment techniques of Warren Buffett, the world’s most legendary investor
  • The opportunity to present a publicly traded company you believe Warren Buffett would buy

Ideal for

  • Students with little to no knowledge of investing
  • Professionals across the experience spectrum in regard to investing


CSInvesting Editor: Let me know if you attend.  Several readers took the class last year and enjoyed it.

I received this email:

Dear Mr. Chew,

You were very kind last year to post a notice about our Buffett investing class on your website.  We had several students from your site, all of whom were excellent and dedicated. According to end-of-semester student surveys, the students enjoyed the class quite a bit. You clearly attract a high caliber of investor to your online community. We would be very grateful if you would consider posting a notice of this year’s class, which starts April 1st.
See below:
New York University’s School of Professional Studies is offering an online class focused on the time-honored techniques of value investing, as practiced by the world’s most legendary investor, Warren Buffett.
By examining case studies of Buffett’s acquisitions, students will explore the real-world principles that Buffett uses to pick companies. The class starts online April 1st and is open to the public for registration.

The instructor, James Berman, is available to answer questions. He can be reached at 212.388.9873 or jgb4@nyu.edu.


If it’s about value investing, I’m interested. I run a global equities fund that invests in the United States, Europe and Asia. As the president and founder of JBGlobal.com LLC, a registered investment advisory firm, I manage separate accounts for high-net-worth individuals and trusts. As a faculty member in the Finance Department of the NYU School of Professional Studies, I teach Corporate Finance and the Fundamentals of Buffett-Style Investing. My book, Lessons from the Lemonade Stand: a Common Sense Primer on Investing, winner of the 2013 Next Generation Indie Award for Best Non-Fiction eBook, is a guide for the first-time investor of any age. I received a B.A. from Harvard University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. My wife, daughter and I live in Greenwich Village where I find the lessons of value investing as useful with life as with money.

An article from the Instructor on Buffett

The One Word Missing from Buffett’s Annual Letter

 These days, can anyone tweet, converse or goose-step–let alone write 28 pages–without using the five letter word: Trump?

Warren Buffett just did.

As a value investing aficionado and Berkshire shareholder, I anticipate the annual missive from the Oracle of Omaha with bated breath. When it popped online today, I knew enough not to expect much commentary on the economic or the political. A secret to Buffett’s success has been an agnostic view on the too-many moving pieces of the macro scene. By avoiding the human obsession with the short-term and fortune telling, Buffett has always concentrated on the only thing that matters: buying wonderful businesses at fair prices. As Peter Lynch says: “If you spend more than 13 minutes analyzing economic and market forecasts, you’ve wasted 10 minutes.” I myself have found no other investing mantra more important.

But really? No mention of the greatest threat to the democratic process and the rule of law since Nixon–or beyond?

Geico is mentioned 22 times, Charlie Munger 17 times, hedge funds 12 times, table tennis once. Trump zero.

In April of 2016, Buffett went on record saying that Berkshire would do fine even with a Trump presidency. But that was at last year’s meeting–well before the election, and well before anyone thought it was a serious concern. And Buffett made some further post-election comments in December about still buying stocks, but this letter was his first major written opportunity to hold forth.

He even mentions the worthwhile contributions of immigrants but somehow never calls out Trump by name. Perhaps the silence is deafening. Buffett was an ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton in the election and his failure to mention Trump may be the most damning maneuver of all.

Or not.

Because if there’s one thing I wanted as a Buffett follower, it was a reasoned and sober commentary–refracted through the prism of his extraordinary, eminently sensible brain–on what this erratic, errant president means for our country, our markets and our lives.

James Berman teaches The Fundamentals of Buffett-Style Investing, an online class starting April 1 offered by NYU’s School of Professional Studies.

Buffett Warning

Where is he now? http://ericcinnamond.com/buffett-1999-vs-buffett-2017/

Buffett 1999 vs. Buffett 2017

This may sound awful coming from a value investor, but I don’t read Berkshire Hathaway’s annual reports cover to cover. I did earlier in my career. In fact, I’d eagerly await its release, just as many investors do today. However, over the years I’ve gravitated more to what makes sense to me and have relied less on the guidance from investment oracles such as Warren Buffett (see post What’s Important to You?).

While I know significantly less about Warren Buffett than most dedicated value investors, it seems to me that he has changed over the years. I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising as we all have our seasons. And maybe I’m the one who has changed, I really don’t know. But I remember a different tone from Buffett almost twenty years ago when stocks were also breaking record highs. It was during the tech bubble when he went out of his way to warn investors of market risk and overvaluation.

I found an old article from BBC News with several Buffett quotes during that period (link). The article discusses Warren Buffett’s response to a Paine Webber-Gallup survey conducted in December 1999. The survey showed that investors expected stocks to rise 19% annually over the next decade. Clearly investors were extrapolating recent returns far into the future. Fortunately, Warren Buffett was there to save the day and help euphoric investors return to their senses.

The article states, “Mr Buffett warned that the outsized returns experienced by technology investors during 1998 and 1999 had dulled them into complacency.”

“After a heady experience of that kind,” he said, “normally sensible people drift into behaviour akin to that of Cinderella at the ball.

“They know that overstaying the festivities…will eventually bring on pumpkins and mice.”

I really like and can relate to the Warren Buffett of nearly twenty years ago. If I could go back in time and show the 1999 Buffett today’s market, I wonder what he would say. I’d ask him if investor psychology and the current market cycle appears much different than the late 90s.

Similar to 1999, have investors experienced outsized returns this cycle? From its lows in 2009, the S&P 500 has increased 270%, or 17.9% annually. This is very close to the annual returns investors were expecting in the 1999 survey, when Buffett was warning investors.

Have investors been dulled into complacency? Volatility remains near record lows, with every small decline being saved by central banks and dip buyers. Investors show little fear of losing money.

Are today’s investors not Cinderella at the ball overstaying the festivities? It’s the second longest and one of the most expensive bull markets in history!

There are of course differences between 1999 and today’s cycle. While valuation measures are elevated, today’s asset inflation is much broader than in 1999. The tech bubble was extremely overvalued, but narrow. A disciplined investor could not only avoid losses in the 1999 bubble, but due to value in other areas of the market, could make money when it burst. Given the broadness of overvaluation in 2017, I don’t believe that will be possible this cycle. In my opinion, it will be much more challenging to navigate through the current cycle’s ultimate conclusion than the 1999 cycle.

The broadness in overvaluation this cycle makes Buffett’s recommendation to buy a broadly diversified index fund even more difficult for me to understand. Furthermore, given the nosebleed valuations of many high quality businesses, I’m not as confident as Buffett in buying and holding quality stocks at current prices. It again reminds me of the late 90s. At that time, there were many high quality companies that were so overvalued it took years and years for their Es catch up to their Ps. But these are important (and long) topics for another day.

Let’s get back to Buffett 1999. I find it interesting to compare him to Buffett 2017. Surprisingly, Buffett 2017 doesn’t seem nearly as concerned about valuations this cycle. Buffett writes, “American business — and consequently a basket of stocks — is virtually certain to be worth far more in the years ahead [emphasis mine]. Innovation, productivity gains, entrepreneurial spirit and an abundance of capital will see to that. Ever-present naysayers may prosper by marketing their gloomy forecasts. But heaven help them if they act on the nonsense they peddle.”

You can include me as a naysayer of current prices and valuations of most risk assets I analyze. Based on the valuations of my opportunity set, I’ll take the advice from another naysayer – the Warren Buffett of 1999. As he recommended, I plan to avoid extrapolating outsized returns and will not ignore signs of investor complacency. I plan to remain committed to my process and discipline. By doing so, when the current market cycle concludes, I hope to achieve two of my favorite Warren Buffett rules of successful investing – avoid losing money and profit from folly.

Course on Buffett-Style Investing from NYU


Hi John,

New York University’s School of Professional Studies is offering an online class focused on the time-honored techniques of value investing, as practiced by the world’s most legendary investor, Warren Buffett. We thought you might be interested in knowing more about this class, and perhaps in sharing this information with your readers.

By examining case studies of Buffett’s acquisitions, students will explore the real-world principles that Buffett uses to pick companies. The class starts April 2nd and is open to the public for registration.

For more information, please see the attached press release.

Thanks so much,

Details: Fundamentals of Buffett-Style Investing_PR2016 (3)
Email with questions: jgb4@nyu.edu

Alisa Koyrakh
Assistant to James Berman

JBGlobal LLC
41 East 11th Street, Fl 11
New York, NY 10003


Berkshire Letter_2015   The Recent Buffett Letter

John Chew (Editor, csinvesting.org) I am not endorsing this class per se because I don’t know the professor or the details of the course material, but for those of you who seek a more structured learning experience then perhaps this class is for you.  Let me know if you take the class, so I can share your experience with others.  Also, remember that if you use the search box at csinvesting.org, you can find dozens of Buffett case studies for FREE.

Just remember that trying to copy Buffett will NOT work, but applying the Buffett principles of investing to YOUR OWN methodology will help you.   Be the BEST YOU can be not a second-rate copy of another. 


More reading of interest:


Ben Graham’s Valuation Technique; NYU

One often thinks of prices as determining values, instead of vice-versa. But as accurate as markets are, they cannot claim infallibility.–Ben Graham

Notes on a Lecture on Valuation Technique by Ben Graham in 1947

These notes are a supplement to our previous and ongoing discussion of valuing growth stocks found here http://wp.me/p2OaYY-1se

Old set of notes:graham_valuation_technique or retyped notes for easier reading: Valuation Technique by Ben Graham from Class Notes

Despite being a brilliant man or because of his insight into himself and human nature, Graham had the ability to remain humble and accept his limitations of analyzing securities, especially growth stocks. He felt picking growth stocks required shrewdness which could not be considered a typical trait for an analyst.

Graham asserts that there is no definite, proper value for a given bond, preferred, or common stock. Equally so, no magic calculation formula exists that will infallibly produce a specific intrinsic value with absolute accuracy.  (Source: Benjamin Graham on Investing by David Karst)


Los Angeles hedge-fund manager Jamie Rosenwald has launched a value-investing class at New York University. Smart lessons, savvy stock picks.

For years, Sudeep Shrestha, 31, a native of Nepal who works at one of Wall Street’s most prominent hedge funds, watched the investment action from the sidelines. For an accountant in the private-equity division, there was no easy path from the back office to the fist-pumping and cork-popping in the front. When his business-school catalog arrived, including a class in value investing, Shrestha sat up. He waited about two seconds before logging on and enrolling.

The class, at New York University’s Stern School of Business, would make a table-pounding case for stock-picking—in particular, seeking undervalued, underloved issues—at a time when the efficient market hypothesis had convinced a big swath of investors that it was impossible to beat the market. The teacher was a little-known hedge-fund manager from Los Angeles who promised to bring his friends to class to help with lessons. By the time Shrestha completed Global Value Investing: Theory and Practice, he was sold on value investing, and convinced that the market is very inefficient, indeed.

To win, “you need to buy $1 for 50 cents, buy $1 for 50 cents,” he hummed to himself, over and over. So did the two dozen other M.B.A. candidates in the class taught by Jamie Rosenwald, a first-time teacher and co-founder of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Dalton Investments. If the lessons learned translate into market-beating returns, NYU’s first value-investing class won’t be its last by a long shot.

VALUE INVESTING TRADITIONALLY has been associated with Columbia University, 112 blocks to the north. Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing, taught at Columbia; Warren Buffett was his student, and the Columbia Business School runs a popular value-investing program through its Heilbrunn Center for Graham and Dodd Investing. (David Dodd co-wrote Security Analysis, the bible of value investing, with Graham.)


Makoto Ishida for Barron’s

Rosenwald, of Dalton Investments, and his wife donated $1 million to NYU’s endowment. A tenth of it will be invested in one or two stocks a year, based on recommendations made by the students he teaches.

Still, plenty of renowned value investors attended NYU. Larry Tisch, the late co-chairman of Loews (ticker: L), was a graduate and major benefactor. Joe Steinberg, president of Leucadia National (LUK), went to NYU, as did Bill Berkley, founder of insurer W.R. Berkley (WRB). Rosenwald, an engaging 54-year-old, attended NYU, too. “I was jealous that Columbia had street cred,” he says.

Although value investing is undergoing one of its periodic lapses in favor, Rosenwald knew it could beat the market over the long haul. He had only to point to nine of Graham’s successful protégés, discussed by Buffett in an influential 1984 article titled, “The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville.”

Waiting for the market to come around to your way of thinking is a long game, and Rosenwald has it in his genes: His grandfather was Graham’s financial-services analyst. When Jamie was 12, Grandpa Rosenwald made him fill out spreadsheets, using graph paper and a slide rule, as an exercise in assessing company valuations. A couple of years later, he made Jamie read Fred Schwed’s jeremiad against Wall Street, “Where are the Customers’ Yachts?”

THE LESSONS STOOD ROSENWALD  in good stead. Dalton, with $2 billion under management, runs value-oriented hedge funds, and its principals have a reputation for investing in profitable contrarian situations—California apartment buildings after the savings-and-loan crisis, Shanghai real estate after SARS, and distressed mortgages. Now they are backing a fund investing in apartments in hard-hit markets such as Las Vegas. “In chemistry terms, Jamie is the activation energy,” says a fund manager who asked not to be named. “When a reaction should happen, he’s the catalyst.”

Rosenwald steered a fund investing in Japanese management buyouts that produced nice returns despite a tough slog. Eventually, he merged it into Dalton Asia, which he runs with his young co-manager, Tony Hsu. Since its January 2008 inception, Dalton Asia is up 45%, versus a 23% decline in the MSCI Asia Pacific benchmark.

When NYU gave Rosenwald the green light to develop a class, he thought about how best to structure it. There would be six sessions of three hours each. The bulk of the grade, he figured, would reflect attendance, since life is mostly about showing up. The final would be a stock pitch. Rosenwald and his wife, Laura, would stake $1 million for NYU’s endowment, a tenth of which would be invested in one or two stocks a year, chosen based on students’ recommendations.

Rosenwald believed that students, like the companies they would invest in, needed skin in the game. At the first session, he made the enticing offer of a tuition refund if they didn’t learn at least three important things from the class. But since value investing pays off over the long term, they would have to wait 20 years to get their money back. The students grinned.

By definition, most investors can’t beat the market. But market-beating practices can be taught, beginning with a change in one’s mind-set. Over succeeding weeks, Rosenwald laid them out. The key was to think of yourself as an owner, choosing managers and making sure the numbers were in your favor. He explained to the class Graham’s principles, among them the need to choose stocks that have a margin of safety, and trade at prices that are low relative to book value and earnings.

Rosenwald also walked his students through Buffett’s investment requirements—that businesses be simple and understandable, have a history of predictable earnings, and generate high returns on equity as well as high and stable profit margins. The best companies have so-called economic moats: assets that warrant premium prices. They also have trustworthy managers who actually buy the company’s shares. Students had to think like owners from Day One; Rosenwald himself won’t buy a stock without meeting management first.

Rosenwald added a twist: Overseas markets, he told the class, were a good place to hunt for bargains.

Other lessons: Buying companies at 50 cents on the dollar dramatically lessened a risk of loss. Intensive research also abridged the risk, and  reduced the need to diversify. As day follows night, stock prices eventually reflect fundamentals. The students waded through Berkshire Hathaway’s annual reports and shareholder letters from renowned investor Seth Klarman of the Baupost Group.

One night, a young man who worked for a big property developer asked Rosenwald if he should diversify. Rosenwald’s eyes grew round. “Are you making so much money in your late 20s that you can afford to diversify, or are you making a small amount of money now that will grow over time?” he asked.

The latter, the student acknowledged. “Then there’s zero reason to diversify,” Rosenwald counseled. “You should bet it all on black, where you have done your own research.”

Even if the investment didn’t pan out, the student would have learned a valuable lesson about the importance of thorough research. The great investor Leon Cooperman, Rosenwald told the class, believed that outstanding investors had the following characteristics: They were intense, wanted to be the best, and knew the P&L (profit-and-loss statement) cold. They could identify their own comparative advantages and capitalize on them.

To bring the lessons home, he invited his fellow value investors to class. David Abrams of Boston’s Abrams Capital, who got his start with Klarman, told about an early and costly mistake, when he persuaded his boss to buy a fifth of a company that turned out to be a fraud. “Be very wary of book value,” Abrams warned the students. “The problem with Excel [spreadsheets] is that [they] give you a very false sense of precision.”

Bob Robotti, another prominent investor, got his start as an accountant. “You have to understand the numbers,” Robotti said. “But you don’t have to be Warren Buffett to do this right.”

THE LAST DAY OF CLASS was a festive one: Rosenwald’s colleague, Tony Hsu, would listen to student pitches and decide which stock the NYU endowment would buy. Then, Rosenwald would take everyone to dinner. Each stock should return 10% a year plus inflation, a bogey that Rosenwald lifted from another celebrated investor, Mason Hawkins of Southeastern Asset Management.

First up was Shrestha, whose pleasant, square face beamed above his crisp blue shirt. He pitched Leucadia, “a minor Berkshire” that invests in undervalued companies. Unlike Berkshire, however, it turns them around and sells them. He pulled up Leucadia’s Website, whose stripped-down look is eerily similar to Berkshire’s.

“Sudeep, it trades at $22 a share,” said Rosenwald. “What is the value exactly?”

Shrestha pointed out that Leucadia’s mining investments had turned off investors. As a result, it traded at a discount to book. In the past 30 years it had traded at a discount only three times. The chairman and president collectively owned a fifth of the company. One issue, he pointed out, was that they were elderly. (A few weeks later, Leucadia addressed that concern by buying 71% of the investment bank Jefferies Group [JEF] it didn’t own; Jefferies’ CEO would become CEO of the combined company.)

The students lined up enthusiastically to pitch. One touted the contingent value rights of the drug company Sanofi (SNY);  another pitched Genworth Financial (GNW), and still another talked about the value in American Residential Properties, which did a private offering over the summer.

Then came Neil Dudich, a portly, well-spoken student. Dudich described the charms of trucking company Arkansas Best (ABFS), whose ability to compete during the recession was curtailed by an ill-timed contract with its unionized workforce in 2008. Since then, the stock had collapsed by 80%, to 0.6 times tangible book, a fraction of its 10-year average. The market value was now about equal to the price Arkansas Best paid for a logistics firm early this year. Arkansas Best was about to negotiate a new union contract that Dudich believed would be more favorable, and the market was “losing sight of the mid- and long-term.”

Dudich, 35, thought that he knew what he was talking about. He worked for the union representing movie and TV directors. In the following days, Hsu picked Arkansas Best and Leucadia for the NYU endowment.

THE NEXT WEEK, ROSENWALD was on a plane to Asia to check on investments such as Transcosmos (9715.Japan), a Japanese outsourcing company whose founding family “lives for dividends,” and Fosun International (656.Hong Kong), often referred to as China’s Berkshire.

The investments were outside the U.S. but followed the same principles: “Find something worth $1 trading at 50 cents; research, research, research; and then buy it and sit on it,” Rosenwald says. “I wouldn’t want to be taught that there’s no way to make extra money in the world, that all knowledge is known and in stock prices. My grandfather would say that’s ridiculous.”