Podcast & Book Reviews

December 24, 2020

Livewire | 10 Business and Investing Podcasts for the Holidays

By Robert Miller | Portfolio Manager at NAOS Asset Management

The pool of learning resources has never been greater; according to The Podcast Host, there are currently over 41.9 million episodes published in Apple Podcasts, as of December 2020.  With so many great listens on offer, we thought we'd put together some of the most interesting business, investing and general podcast episodes that we at NAOS Asset Management listened to throughout 2020. Happy listening!

1. Bill Ackman: Getting Back Up [The Knowledge Project Ep. #82]

We have always admired Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital, not least given that he adopts a highly concentrated portfolio approach in a similar way we do at NAOS.

In this candid podcast, Bill talks about how he believes success never happens in a straight line noting that “almost all successful people I know have experienced some form of hardship along the way”.

He also talks in detail about why he invests in a concentrated way and how he gains a time advantage over other investors. Like NAOS, Pershing Square utilises a listed investment company as the chosen vehicle for the majority of their assets under management. The key reason for doing this is to gain a time advantage over other fund managers.

By managing money in a long-dated, closed-end vehicle it means the fund is not subject to redemptions when the market falls and therefore isn’t forced into selling at the wrong time. In a concentrated fund, selling part of a position at the wrong time can significantly damage the returns for other investors.

Bill is someone who has been incredibly successful, but he has experienced huge challenges along the way which other investors can learn from. In our opinion, his insights are always worth listening to.

2. The Pomp Podcast: Ian Cassel on Micro Cap Investing

Ian Cassel is a micro-cap investor I started following on Twitter recently and have already learned a huge amount from his investing process. Ian is the founder of the MicroCap Club which is a members-only website where investors will pitch stock ideas on a regular basis. He is also the CIO of Intelligent Fanatics Capital Management.

In researching companies, Ian looks for four key attributes;

  1. A company that can grow through a recession
  2. A balance sheet that can weather a storm and act with occasional boldness
  3. A stock which can conservatively double based on fundamentals over 2-3 years
  4. Intelligent, fanatic leadership

He also delves into his investing mistakes and the lessons he has taken from them, as well as discussing one of the most difficult questions in investing of “when to sell?” I think most investors of all levels of experience will get a lot out of this podcast.

3. Gregory Zuckerman – Decoding Renaissance Medallion

Capital Allocators Podcast by Ted Seides

Gregory Zuckerman is a critically acclaimed financial journalist who has had a long career writing for the Wall Street Journal. He is the author of a recently released book called ‘The Man Who Solved The Market – How Jim Simons Launched The Quant Revolution’. In this podcast interview, Zuckerman discusses his book on Jim Simons and Renaissance Technologies.

Renaissance Technologies is a US hedge fund founded by Jim Simons in 1982. Prior to its establishment, Jim Simons was not only a brilliant mathematician but also a code breaker in the Cold War. Renaissance Technologies was established to be a multi-asset class quantitative operation, which ventured into equities in 1988 with the establishment of the flagship Renaissance Medallion Fund.

The Renaissance Medallion Fund is arguably the most successful hedge fund of all time having returned approx. 70% p.a. gross of fees since inception. Capacity has been capped for a long time and funds are regularly returned to those lucky enough to be unitholders. The fund also charges a 5% management fee and 44% performance fee.

Renaissance Technologies is known for being a very secretive operation. Zuckerman provides, for the first time, insights into the history and culture of Renaissance Technologies, paints a picture of the man behind it all, and digs into the Renaissance quantitative process which has worked incredibly well over a long period of time.

4. Impossible Foods: Pat Brown by How I Built This with Guy Raz

Pat Brown, 12 years ago and at the age of 60, set out to find an idea that would solve one of the largest problems facing Planet Earth. Fast forward to today, and he has created a successful, multibillion-dollar company which is doing just that; Impossible Foods (and has allegedly knocked back a takeover offer from Google).

Pat was already highly successful and had the right attributes to create the ‘impossible’. He is a long time vegetarian, a successful biochemist professor at Stanford University, and has created a globally recognised not-for-profit organisation for the science industry called the Public Library of Science (PLOS).

Leaving this all behind, he set out to find a way to recreate all the characteristics of meat (taste, texture, flavour, smell, etc) without using meat. His driving force was the knowledge that the livestock industry is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions as well as the opportunity cost of the land on which the livestock industry depends to operate. He also wanted his creation to taste better than the traditional alternatives.

This podcast gives you a great understanding of his thinking and ambitious plans for Impossible Foods. Nowadays there are just a handful of companies creating meat-like alternatives, similar to Impossible Foods. You can find these in the form of burgers on the menu at numerous fast-food chains in Australia. They are definitely worth a try!

5. Business Battles | Monopoly: Winner Takes All by Wondery

This podcast gives the listeners the unexpected history behind the most popular board game of all time.

Monopoly was originally known as The Landlord’s Game and was created by a lady called Lizzie Magie in the early 1900s. She created the game founded on an idea to spread awareness of economist Henry George’s highly progressive single-tax theories. That idea didn’t work particularly well and it remained underground for many years. Throughout the ensuing years, The Landlord’s Game was primarily used as a teaching application by a socialist professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School.

After many fascinating twists and turns, including trademark issues and arguably regretful decisions, it was eventually purchased by Parker Brothers Corporation in 1935 who made a fortune from the game. Fast forward to today and Monopoly has sold over 250 million copies and is owned by the $10bn US listed corporation Hasbro Inc (who purchased Parker Brothers Corporation in 1991 for $500m).

6. Speculation vs. Investment: Ben Graham's definition, Geoff's definition

This Focus Compounding podcast series picks the brain of co-host Geoff Gannon, a successful ‘Buffett style’ US investor.

At NAOS, our investment process is centred around long term investing. This episode provides a useful and modern-day adaption of the definition of investing and highlights the clear distinction between the practices of both speculating and investing. The lessons are practical and simple but are certainly worth a listen for any investor.

7. Frontier Investing with Kiyan Zandiyeh by The Investor's Podcast Network

What is frontier investing? Whilst there is no hard and fast definition, it is generally a step up the risk curve from investing in emerging countries such as Brazil, Russia, India or China. The philosophy behind frontier investing is to find countries which are considered to be on the right track to one day being an emerging country, which comprises of many factors – political, economic, population, resources, geographic positioning, etc but for most people, they might be currently too small, illiquid or risky to invest in.

Kiyan Zandiyeh is the CIO at Sturgeon Capital, a specialist frontier investment house which focuses on investing in Uzbekistan & other Central Asian nations. This podcast provides insights into their investment process, where they prioritise their local presence on the ground within these markets and are focused on bringing business ideas that have worked elsewhere and applying them to these frontier markets.

Unsurprisingly Sturgeon Capital’s minimum return hurdles are very high to match the investment risk. Kiyan believes the key to success is not to apply new thinking or management to an existing hard asset business such as manufacturing, mining and infrastructure (which can only improve so far), but rather to create and invest in intangible value companies such as technology and software companies which have more scalability.

8. The Economist asks: Bill Gates by Economist Radio

It’s never a bad idea to listen to what Bill Gates has to say. This podcast is a matter-of-fact interview with ‘Mr Microsoft’ for his latest insights into the COVID-19 pandemic. Recall that Bill Gates had been publicly advocating for health pandemic preparedness for over 5 years.

Due to his understanding of diseases through his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he has an objective view and real-life experiences dealing with diseases. His views on the likeliness & timeliness of vaccine success are very positive for us all. The realities and practicalities of vaccine distribution are another matter and a topic which has not been discussed to the degree it should’ve been to date, but will be a problem which needs solving, hopefully in the not too distant future.

9. Nikola Tesla by Historical Figures

The phenomenal rise of Tesla Inc. has allowed credence to be paid to one of the most important inventors in history; Nikola Tesla. ‘Who is Tesla named after?’ is an often googled term. This episode of the Historical Figures podcast explores the life of Nikola Tesla.

Until the arrival of Tesla Inc, Nikola Tesla was always overshadowed by the inventor of the light bulb, Thomas Edison, who also doubled as both a one-time mentor and long-time rival. The rivalry between Tesla and Edison in the late 19th century involved the financial backing of some of the most notorious figures in the history of Corporate America.

Tesla not only invented some of the core building blocks of the modern-day world, similar to Leonardo Da Vinci, he predicted the invention of others.

Listen to this podcast and you may have a different level of appreciation for the next Tesla car that you see on the road.

10. Night of the Midget Subs — Sydney Under Attack by ABC

This podcast is not related to investing whatsoever but is nonetheless a very interesting story in Australian history. Most people would be somewhat aware that Japan attempted an attack in Sydney Harbour during WWII, and this ABC Conversations episode recounts the details of what happened.

The Japanese Imperial Navy launched a midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour during WWII on May 29th, 1942. Garden Island was seen as very strategic given it had become one of the largest supply & repair depots for the allied forces in the Pacific War. At the time there was a large US cruiser boat docked at Garden Island, the USS Chicago, which was the main target.

There is no doubt the attack caught everyone by surprise, despite some apparently very obvious signs of reconnaissance by the Japanese Imperial Navy in the days leading up to May 29th. To fathom the events that occurred and the sheer occurrences of luck involved is very hard to believe. For example, the first midget submarine was uncovered by a civilian in a rowboat, and the fact that some torpedoes launched did not detonate.

The loss of 21 lives was tragic however it could’ve been exponentially worse. The foreshore of Sydney Harbour would look very different today if this attack had been executed as planned. Thankfully it wasn't.

"An investment in education always Pays the highest returns"

Published on Livewire December 23rd



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