Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Warren Buffett's wisdom to guide ICAP shareholders to vote properly.

Feeling lost and unsure what to vote in the coming Bhd's AGM ? Do read what Buffett have to say, and i really hope Mr Tan Teng Boo will read this and act in the interest of the share owners, NOT JUST SAY (like mentioned by Buffett below).

"The companies in which we have our largest investments have all engaged in significant stock repurhases at times when wide discrepancies existed between price and value.  As shareholders, we find this encouraging and rewarding for two important reasons - one that is obvious, and one that is subtle and not always understood.  The obvious point involves basic arithmetic: major repurchases at prices well below per-share intrinsic business value immediately increase, in a highly significant way, that value.  When companies purchase their own stock, they often find it easy to get $2 of present value for $1.  Corporate acquisition programs almost never do as well and, in a discouragingly large number of cases, fail to get anything close to $1 of value for each $1 expended.
The other benefit of repurchases is less subject to precise measurement but can be fully as important over time.  By making repurchases when a company’s market value is well below its business value, management clearly demonstrates that it is given to actions that enhance the wealth of shareholders, rather than to actions that expand management’s domain but that do nothing for (or even harm) shareholders.  Seeing this, shareholders and potential shareholders increase their estimates of future returns from the business.  This upward revision, in turn, produces market prices more in line with intrinsic business value.  These prices are entirely rational.  Investors should pay more for a
business that is lodged in the hands of a manager with demonstrated pro-shareholder leanings than for one in the hands of a self-interested manager marching to a different drummer. (To make the point extreme, how much would you pay to be a minority shareholder of a company controlled by Robert Wesco?)

The key word is “demonstrated”.  A manager who consistently turns his back on repurchases, when these clearly are in the interests of owners, reveals more than he knows of his motivations.  No matter how often or how eloquently he mouths some public relations-inspired phrase such as “maximizing
shareholder wealth” (this season’s favorite), the market correctly discounts assets lodged with him.  His heart is not listening to his mouth - and, after a while, neither will the market."

Surprisingly, this 3 paragraphs was written by Buffett in 1984 letters to his Berkshire Shareholders. [ Source: ]

Mr. Tan Teng Boo, if you're reading this, i'm sure Warren Buffett don't mean you since he wouldn't know what's going to happen 28 years after writing that article. But don't you agree his words of advice is timeless?


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Dirk Kettlewell

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