Other Voices

    No one advisor or analyst has a lock on all the great ideas.  At Stanford Wealth Management, we tend to be voracious readers, researchers and analysts.  We give credit to others when their ideas are suggested at Investor’s Edge and we benefit from lively and often conflicting viewpoints on a particular region, nation, sector, industry or company.

 Of course we follow what Warren Buffett and other endowment, mutual and hedge fund managers and others beyond my circle of personal professional colleagues have to say.  But our most spirited discussions and rigorous analyses often comes from a smaller circle of competitors / colleagues / friends in the investment analysis business.  We talk to each other and often discuss each others’ recommendations with a critical eye.  Every one of these is a class act in the investment business. If you seek  disparate and worthwhile viewpoints, may we suggest you take a look at these, listed in the order of the time I’ve corresponded with and known them.

PAUL MERRIMAN was the founder and president of Merriman Capital Management as well as founder and co-portfolio manager of three Merriman mutual funds.  Paul has an extensive business and teaching background that goes back more than 40 years and includes running public and private companies.   He is recognized as one of the nation’s leading mutual fund and asset allocation experts.

Paul has now retired and is devoting his life to educating individual investors, in concert with PBS and other non-profit organizations.  He has published four books on investing and has now dedicated himself to his “How to Invest” series, all the proceeds from which will go to charity.  To learn more about Paul’s perspective on successful investing, visit paulmerriman.com.

A prolific writer, Paul just can’t seem to stop… and aren’t we glad?

Speaking of prolific, BOB HOWARD has to win the prize there.  I can barely keep up with reading what Bob writes; I have no idea how he finds the time to write it!  A former broker who specializes in working with money managers and brokers, Bob knows this business – from the “inside” out.  He started his newsletter, Positive Patterns, in 1992. The letter is primarily read by stock brokers and money managers, but is available to individual investors as well.

Bob covers individual stocks in depth…like 10 or more pages on a featured company! … with the long term in mind.   Bob believes that the best track records are built by those with patience  who under-trade. He looks for companies that dominate their industries, and enjoy a good moat around their markets. Bob and I regularly trade ideas on great companies.  Nobody has a better handle on the “Dominator” companies in the best industries for the long-term.

Bob doesn’t have a website “and never will” but if you e-mail him, Bob will either send you a recent copy or give you a great deal on a trial subscription. If he sends one for free, it may not be the current copy but, then, how many advisors do you know who pour their heart and soul into their investment letter, provide 30 PAGES in each issue, and still make time to give you frequent e-mail updates?  Contact Bob at positivepatterns@prodigy.net.

VIVIAN LEWIS is the most knowledgeable writer I know in the field of international investing.  She provides a specialized website devoted to the subject and is the editor-in-chief of the print publication GLOBAL INVESTING. Her primary website,global-investing.com, is the best place to become more knowledgeable about the tremendous investment opportunities in international markets.  

Quoting Vivian speaking about diversification, “I’m not talking just about diversifying into various types of instruments (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and so on) or just into different industry sectors. I’m talking about diversifying across whole economies across the world.”  She also provides a regular e-mail letter gratis for a limited time to interested investors.

GRAY CARDIFF’s monthly “Sound Advice” newsletter has been published for even longer than Investor’s Edge.  That makes it one of the oldest, and I believe best, publications in the country.   Gray’s investment philosophy is even more conservative than our own (OK, maybe “as” conservative.)  He, too, looks to discern the important turning points in secular cycles, using a unique real estate / stock market ratio and many other indicators to do so.   Always interesting and well-written, you can see snippets / teasers of some of the issues he’s looking at online at soundadvice-newsletter.com.
NATE PILE is the most recent of my circle of colleagues with whom I exchange newsletters.  I was attracted to his publication because he has a stellar track record, explains clearly his investment thesis, and has the strength of his convictions once he decides to initiate a position. 

As with us, “Nates Notes” is a monthly newsletter stressing growth over the long term  via a disciplined approach to investing.  Like our own Investor’s Edge, Nate’s emphasis is on identifying companies with best of class products/services and management teams, and then establishing positions.

Given Nates extensive background in computer sciences, hi-tech and biotech analysis, it’s no surprise that many of his picks  come from the high-tech and biotech sectors, but his purview covers the waterfront.  Also like us, he is willing to use inverse ETFs when conditions warrant.  I find his work refreshing and challenging, since I’m by nature closer to the Buffett school when it comes to hi-tech: “If it plugs in, don’t buy it!”  Whether you are technophobe, technophile or somewhere in the middle, you might want to take a look at Nate’s Notes. (notwallstreet.com)