How Should We Read Investor Letters?

In 1926, Benjamin Graham, a professional investor in his early thirties, was working in the Washington, D.C., record room of the Interstate Commerce Commission when he came across something he considered “treasure.” It appeared in the prosaic form of a twenty-page document detailing the financial condition of Northern Pipeline, one of eight pipeline companies established when the Supreme Court broke up Standard Oil, the monopoly created by John D. Rockefeller. Northern Pipeline’s shares were trading at sixty-five dollars, and the company generated an annual six dollars of earnings per share. That was generally known. What Graham discovered was that Northern Pipeline was sitting on a fat pile of holdings in other companies. According to his calculations, the company could make a one-off payment of ninety dollars per share to all its stockholders, without having any impact on its ongoing earnings. That’s as sweet a deal as you’ll ever find, so Graham, after an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the company’s senior managers to distribute the cash, loaded up on shares and travelled to the Northern Pipeline annual shareholders’ meeting, in Oil City, Pennsylvania.

filed under: Uncategorised

0 thoughts on “How Should We Read Investor Letters?”

Comments are closed.