From last November 13:

Want to visit a smart website for smart value investors? Click here. It will be closed to guests at some point, but in the meantime you may find some great ideas. And if your own ideas are sharp enough, you may become a member of the club.

Half a year later, so far, so good. Here’s what the current Barron’s had to say about this site:

Savvy value investors like Mario Gabelli and Warren Buffett have been known to host private get-togethers where they swap stock picks and generate new ideas. Now value investors can host such get-togethers on the Internet: the Value Investors Club, a Website where smart investors “audition” to share their best value-stock ideas . . . The site’s founders are former hedge-fund managers Joel Greenblatt and John Petry of Gotham Capital. Under founder Greenblatt [whom I count as a friend, and about whom I’ve written before], Gotham ran up annual average gains of 50% — over nearly 10 years, ending in 1994 . . . “This is the right kind of market for a renaissance of value investing,” says Greenblatt. “A lot of the ideas our members posted have worked. We have a lot of happy campers.” He points to Alliance Gaming, written up on the site by a member when it was trading at $2.50 a share; it now trades around $28. Another member made a compelling case for Westmoreland Coal, now at $18, when the stock was at $4.75 in September. Abercrombie & Fitch was written up last year around $12; the retailer has since rocketed to $40.’

Bill Davis: ‘You wrote . . .

We suddenly have an energy crisis. Into the fray rush oilmen Bush and Cheney. The Bush budget calls for:

    • a 49.9% cut in hydropower research
    • a 53.7 % cut in solar energy research
    • a 48.2% cut in wind energy research

. . . Please share with your readers the specifics of these bullet points.”

☞ Sure.  The data from which those percentages are derived comes from Page 14 of the Energy Department Budget Highlights, Department of Energy:

Total Solar Energy:
FY 2001:$92,681,000
FY 2002: $42,932,000
FY 2002 vs. FY 2001: -$49,749 (53.7% cut)

Total Wind Energy:
FY 2001: $39,553,000
FY 2002: $20,500,000
FY 2002 vs. FY 2001: -$19,053 (48.2% cut)

Total Hydropower:
FY 2001: $4,989,000
FY 2002: $2,500,000
FY 2002 vs. FY 2001: -$2,489,000 (49.9% cut)

As I’ve said before, this is a grand time to be an oil man, or to own stock in Enron (as chief Bush strategist Karl Rove does) or in aluminum companies (which consume so much cheap electricity that they’ve been selling some of it, instead, into the power grid, making more money that way than by making aluminum) as Treasury Secretary O’Neill does.  Put more broadly, it’s just a wonderful, wonderful time to be rich and powerful.  Even more than usual.  As billions are drained from California consumer pockets to Texas energy pockets, the President sees no reason to step in with short-term measures.  But as Alan Blinder and others – who generally deplore price controls (as do I) – have pointed out: he’s wrong.  This is one of those instances where the right kind of short-term market interventions are definitely called for and in the interest of the nation . . . though not in the interest of Enron.


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