Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fairholme Fund: 2009 Semi-Annual Report

We were able to outperform in the past six months as well as in the trailing one- , three- , and five-year periods because our policy is always to keep adequate cash on hand. Cash is defensive when the market goes into a tailspin. Cash also allows us to be opportunistic in snapping up stocks that get unfairly battered. When panic sets in, as it did many times over the last year, some market participants are forced to sell without regard to price.

Cheap stocks are not necessarily good investments. A cheap stock can become cheaper, as was proven over and over again over the past twelve months. Many once-unassailable blue-chip stocks were brought to their knees. World-class banks and financial companies required government assistance to weather the maelstrom. General Motors went through bankruptcy, which would have been unthinkable a decade ago.

Successful investing is about getting much more cash over time than you give. Buying cheap relative to expected cash flows is half the battle. Today, even though the market is up significantly from the March lows, the investments we own appear undervalued reflecting the market’s hangover from years of irrational exuberance.

At this time, healthcare and defense remain significant sectors for the Fund. We believe many companies in these sectors are undervalued as they offer essential services and products, have few if any substitutes and have strong cash flows. What’s more, their margins are high enough to assure a steady stream of profits but not so high as to draw in competitors. We believe they are in the sweet spot.