We sang the Blues, we like the Blues - BUT we didn’t have the Blues

2018-01-19

We sang the Blues, we like the Blues - BUT we didn’t have the Blues

On November 23, 1936, in Room 414 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas, Robert Johnson recorded "Sweet Home Chicago".

On February 21, 2012, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama hosted, "In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues", a celebration of Blues music held in the East Room of the White House. President Obama began by describing the origins of Blues in the South and added "The music migrated north – from Mississippi Delta to Memphis to my hometown in Chicago". Later, encouraged by Buddy Guy and B.B. King, he joined in singing the first verse of "Sweet Home Chicago".

On January 19, 2018, at the Salle Belle Epoque in Morges/Switzerland, “7 Friends”, a local rock band, playing at a very special celebration opened with “Sweet Home Chicago” with yours truly singing along.  “Yes Mr. President, not just the first verse!”

Ok, but what’s that got to do with our Swiss equities strategy?

Well, we celebrated the Kid’s 10 year anniversary with 95 attendees including the Fund Investors, Representatives of the Swiss Companies in which the Fund invests, the Fund Management Company, the Custodian and many others who have been involved in the launch and life of the Fund.

The evening opened with a thank you and the recital of some words from William Butler Yeats, the Irish poet:

“Gratitude to the unknown instructors:

What they undertook to do,

They brought to pass;

All things hang like a drop of dew

Upon a blade of grass.”

This was followed by the annual celebration tradition of having one of the companies we are invested in doing a presentation.  CEO Anton Affentranger, presented Implenia, a company the Fund has been invested in since 2010. Tony gave a very compelling presentation of the building group, which since our initial investment has increased its international footprint, demonstrating the uniqueness of its business model & the accent it puts on sustainability.

Then we went down memory lane of the past 10 years, told in 10 defining moments.

And for the next Decade and beyond, I assured the guests that I shall continue to practice certain fundamentals of investing, inspired by Berkshire Hathaway’s illustrious Chairman, Warren Buffett, the Sage of Omaha, and that have served the Fund over the past 10 years:

1. Keep it simple

You don’t need to be an expert in order to achieve satisfactory investment returns. But if you aren’t, you must recognize your limitations and follow a course certain to work reasonably well. Keep things simple and don’t swing for the fences. When promised quick profits, respond with a quick “no.”

2. Understand what you do

Focus on the future productivity of the asset you are considering. If you don’t feel comfortable making a rough estimate of the asset’s future earnings, just forget it and move on. No one has the ability to evaluate every investment possibility. But omniscience isn’t necessary; you only need to understand the actions you undertake.

3. Invest, don’t speculate

If you instead focus on the prospective price change of a contemplated purchase, you are speculating. There is nothing improper about that. I know, however, that I am unable to speculate successfully, and I am skeptical of those who claim sustained success at doing so. Half of all coin-flippers will win their first toss; none of those winners has an expectation of profit if he continues to play the game. And the fact that a given asset has appreciated in the recent past is never a reason to buy it.

4. Forget the macro & what Mr. Market will do

Forming macro opinions or listening to the macro or market predictions of others is a waste of time. Indeed, it is dangerous because it may blur your vision of the facts that are truly important. (When I hear TV commentators glibly opine on what the market will do next, I am reminded of Mickey Mantle’s scathing comment: “You don’t know how easy this game is until you get into that broadcasting booth.”).

But the night was still young and so after the buffet dinner, the giant birthday cake, the “Sweet Home Chicago” performance, we danced to the music of the “7 Friends” band and DJ Ross. Starting with an Irish poet & closing with an Irish DJ – it was a night to remember and a fitting 10th Anniversary celebration!