Monday, July 21, 2008

Fooling some of the people all the time

I have been reading this book by David Einhorn - the most outspoken of the Lehman shorts - and it is terrific. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to spend a lot of time investing, for the following reasons.

1. This is probably the only book out there on how to build and research the short case on a stock. 99% of the investing books out there devote their attention on buying rather than selling.

2. This is a very good read for any bank analyst as to how financial companies can fudge numbers if they dont do mark-to-market (MTM). By avoiding timely writedowns and pushing NPAs out in the future, financial companies can engineer their stocks to remain high and raise additional capital at these inflated prices, so that problem loans become a small part of the overall capital base.

3. It is important to understand the true economics rather than the last quarterly financials - whether on the short side or the long side. I have not read a better account of financial forensics.

4. A short idea can also take a long time to play out. The investing philosophy is thus short and hold, rather than buy and hold. As the natural tendency of stocks is to go up, it is risky. So, one needs to be absolutely convinced of the investment thesis to do short and hold, much more than one is convinced on a long idea.

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