#126 - Karen Finerman - 'Out-of-Favorness' Is Appealing. The Difficult Part is Timing

53 minutes

In Episode 126, we welcome entrepreneur, author, and investor, Karen Finerman.

The episode starts with an interesting connection – Karen and Meb’s wife both attended the same high school in Los Angeles, and apparently, it’s the only high school in the U.S. with a working oil rig on campus. From here, Karen gives us a brief walk-through of her history after graduating Wharton, heading to Wall Street, where she eventually launched her own hedge fund.

Meb asks about the framework she used in the hedge fund as she launched. Karen tells us they were fundamentally focused. Coming out of the savings and loan crisis, there were many smaller banks that had been unfairly stigmatized. Many were absurdly cheap with great balance sheets. Karen was able to take advantage, and developed an expertise in the space. She notes it was interesting how badly the market could mis-price an entire sector. She continues by telling us her strategy was mostly long focused. Her shorts were generally idiosyncratic, intended to hedge the portfolio. Beyond that, tax efficiency was a big focus.

Next, Meb and Karen dig into her methodology for evaluating specific investments. Karen gives us the details, mentioning fundamentals, growth at a reasonable price, users that tend to be inelastic on price, and various other details, culminating with a specific example of a company she likes.

Meb asks what Karen is seeing now. She tells us she’s a little spooked by the tariff situation. Perhaps a big exogenous risk. She then changes gears, going into details about a specific company she likes – Alphabet – noting what she finds attractive (and where she feels they could improve). But overall, she’s very impressed.

The conversation gravitates toward “selling”. After all, buying is generally the easier part – it’s when to get rid of an investment that can be tough. Karen tells us that if an investment hits their target return, they’ll lighten their position. These leads into a conversation about investment theses and how that plays into selling.

The years 1999 and 2000 come up, with Karen telling us she feels her group did the right thing then, avoiding getting sucked into the bubble. The new metrics at that time (stocks trading at a multiple of eyeballs) just didn’t make sense to her. She notes there are some similarities today, as there are certain companies that are losing lots of money despite posting growth numbers.

This dovetails into a discussion of Tesla. It turns out Meb and Elon Musk shared a few words about short-selling on Twitter on the morning we recorded this podcast. Surprising no one, Elon is not a fan of shorts. Listen in for the details.

There’s way more in this great episode: the ETF-ization of investing… Karen’s book… How to address the great investing education problem… and of course, Karen’s most memorable trade – actually, she shares two, a good one and a bad one. On the good side, there was an undervalued convenience chain in which Karen got involved at the right time and enjoyed a nice payday when Diamond Shamrock showed up at the buyer’s table. The bad trade relates to when United Airlines was supposed to go private. Karen didn’t factor in the possibility that the deal would collapse. Just how bad was the damage?

Find out in Episode 126.

More episodes from The Meb Faber Show

#207 - Jeremy Yamaguchi - It’s…One Of The Last Markets In The US…That Has Been…Resistant To Technology

In episode 207, we welcome our guest, Jeremy Yamaguchi, founder of Lawn Love. We kick off the episode by getting into Jeremy’s background as a son of missionaries, starting his first …

#206 - Meb’s take on Investment Plans, Building and Maintaining Wealth, How Meb Invests, and Investing in the time of Corona

Episode 206 is a Mebisode. Meb reads a few of his recently penned pieces. He covers the importance of being prepared for market turbulence with an …

#205 - Derren Geiger - E&P Companies Are Doing Whatever They Can To Achieve Cash Flow Neutrality

In episode 205, Meb talks with Cornerstone Acquisition and Management CEO and Portfolio Manager, Derren Geiger. Meb and Derren cover Caritas Funds’ …

#204 - Doug Hapeman and Matt Milford - We Have This Vision Of Recreating Mental Healthcare With Technology To Make People Happier and Healthier

In episode 204, Meb talks with Foresight Mental Health co-founders Doug Hapeman and Matt Milford. They discuss Foresight’s origin story and the …

#203 - Sanchal Ranjan - We Give You A Different Lifestyle To Work And Play

In episode 203, Meb talks with ZiffyHomes co-founder and CEO, Sanchal Ranjan. Meb and Sanchal discuss the story behind ZiffyHomes and how Sanchal and his co-founder are finding an edge in …

#202 - Joe Davis - The Idea Multiplier…We Believe It’s One Of The First Leading Indicators Of Commercial Innovation

In episode 202, Meb talks with Vanguard’s global chief economist and the global head of Vanguard Investment Strategy Group, Joe Davis.

Meb and Joe get into the broad framework of Vanguard’s …

How you can listen to this podcast

You can listen to episodes right here on the website, or if you prefer, in a podcast app. Listening in an app makes it easier to keep track of what you’ve already heard, listen without using your data plan and many other conveniences.

Recommended apps
Start listening to #125 - Tom Barton - The Biggest Problem Investors Have is Things Change...and They Don't Change
1:24:56
Start listening to #125 - Tom Barton - The Biggest Problem Investors Have is Things Change...and They Don't Change
1:24:56