Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fairholme Fund: 2011 Semi-Annual Report

Found via the Corner of Berkshire & Fairfax.

The Fairholme Fund’s outperformance over the past decade was based on seeking undervalued securities of companies perceived to be in extremis. Our inclination remains to run from the popular and embrace the hated where prices tend to reflect such mistrust. Often, we are ahead of the crowd, too early, and appear wrong for a time. However, performance awards over the years show that we eventually get it right by seeing beyond temporary conditions and by avoiding diversification that leads to mediocrity. Our history is to buy in bulk during blowout sales with the knowledge that market price volatility only measures short-term perception of long-term risk.

When prices fall off the proverbial cliff investors run fearing that the market is omnipotent. But, such plummets do not always mean death and destruction. This was the case in the early 1990’s, when studied banks and financial guarantors stabilized around five times normal earnings before their rise to all-time highs.

Today, we believe to be at a similar tipping point for financials with enormous cash flows and diminishing restructuring expenses for the illogical extremes of 2006/2007. Their pre-provision, pre-tax earnings power is compelling. A not unreasonable 1% return on Citi’s assets or 10% return on equity would yield $6 per share. A 1% ROA or 10% ROE for BofA would yield over $2 per share.

AIG common stock is similarly cheap, due mostly to market pressures caused by the U.S. Treasury’s desire to sell its 77% ownership. When a recovering icon trades at half of our understanding of intrinsic value for a reason that has nothing to do with its prospects, we swing big.