Author Archives: Edward A. Studzinski

About Edward A. Studzinski

Ed Studzinski has more than 30 years of institutional investment experience. He was a partner at Harris Associates in Chicago, Illinois. Harris is known for its value-oriented, bottom-up investment approach that frames the investment process as owning a piece of the business relative to the business value of the whole, ideally forever. At Harris, Ed was co-manager of the Oakmark Equity & Income Fund (OAKBX). During the nearly twelve years that he was in that role, the fund in 2006 won the Lipper Award in the balanced category for "Best Fund Over Five Years." Additionally, in 2011 the fund won the Lipper Award in the mixed-asset allocation moderate funds category as "Best Fund Over Ten Years. Concurrently Ed was also an equity research analyst, providing many of the ideas that contributed to the fund’s success. He has specialist knowledge in the defense, property-casualty insurance, and real estate industries, having followed and owned companies as diverse as Catellus Development, General Dynamics, Legacy Hotels, L-3, PartnerRe, Progressive Insurance, Renaissance Reinsurance, Rockwell Collins, SAFECO, St. Joe Corporation, Teledyne, and Textron. Before joining Harris Associates, over a period of more than 10 years, Ed was the Chief Investment Officer at the Mercantile National Bank of Indiana, and also served on their Executive and Asset-Liability Committees. Prior to Mercantile, Ed practiced law. A native of Peabody, Massachusetts, he received his A.B. in history (magna cum laude) from Boston College, where he was a Scholar of the College. He has a J.D. from Duke University and an M.B.A. in marketing and finance, as well as a Professional Accounting Program Certificate, from Northwestern University. Ed has earned the Chartered Financial Analyst credential. Ed belongs to the Investment Analyst Societies of Boston, Chicago, and New York City. He is admitted to the Bar in the District of Columbia, Illinois, and North Carolina.

Behind the Curtain

By Edward A. Studzinski

“If you sit by the river long enough, you will get to see the bodies of your enemies float by.”

Variously attributed to Confucius, Sun Tzu, Samurai training and “Arabs.”

First, some housekeeping. As David Snowball mentioned some time ago and has confirmed recently, MFO as you know it will be going on a publishing hiatus during the New Year. My monthly contributions will also be Continue reading →

Value Versus Culture

By Edward A. Studzinski

“In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.”   

– Charles De Gaulle

One of the more interesting additions to portfolios, looking at various reports for the third quarter just ended, is that of Alibaba, the largest e-commerce company in China. Over the last year, the company has been in the news any number of times. There have been huge fines imposed on it by the Chinese government. The founder, Jack Ma, after giving a rather provoking speech in 2020, dropped out of view for a time, although he has now resurfaced. Over the last twelve months, the share price has Continue reading →

Between Scylla and Charybdis

By Edward A. Studzinski

“What is this optimism?” asked Cacambo.
“Alas!” said Candide, “it is the madness of maintaining that everything is right when it is wrong.”

~ Voltaire, Candide: or, The Optimist (1762)

Suffice it to say that September was not an easy month for equity investors. The equity markets entered the month overextended in terms of valuation metrics. And by the Continue reading →

Run-Away Train Coming

By Edward A. Studzinski

“It’s a scientific fact that if you stay in California you lose one point of your IQ every year.”

~ Truman Capote

Is THE MARKET overvalued at this point? How do share prices relate to the underlying fundamentals of the businesses they represent? Is inflation eating away the value of my savings (and our currency) now?

How should I invest to Continue reading →

Summer Solstice

By Edward A. Studzinski

“The predicament
You find yourself in,
Is not as dire,
As you imagine
The door you
Think is closed,
Is an illusion,
Self-imposed …”

By J.P. Niemeyer, 5/21/2021

One of the things I would suggest to people is that they broaden their horizons with regards to the things they read about Continue reading →

Currency Games

By Edward A. Studzinski

“Look straight ahead. What’s there?
If you see it as it is
You will never err.”
Bassui Tokusho

I’m probably not the person to weigh in on the issue of whether the indications of inflation that are surfacing in the economy are anything more than temporary as we are being told by the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. That said, at least in terms of energy and food, something more than anticipated seems to be happening. When the cost of gasoline Continue reading →

Chaff from Wheat

By Edward A. Studzinski

“The idea that a nation can tax itself into prosperity is one of the cruelest delusions which has ever befuddled the human mind.”  Winston S. Churchill, speech at the Royal Albert Hall, 21 April 1948

Yesterday I thought this would be a relatively easy piece to write. The Vanguard S&P 500 fund, according to Morningstar, closed out on April 30th with a year-to-date total return of Continue reading →

Scale Matters

By Edward A. Studzinski

“Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic of them.” Margaret Thatcher, interviewed on This Week, 5 February 1976

Another month of equities hitting new highs across the indices. In many instances, active equity managers, especially value managers, are again outperforming passive strategies. Sadly, the same has not been Continue reading →

Do As I Say …….

By Edward A. Studzinski

“Snow on the pines
thus breaks the power
that splits mountains.”

Otaka Gengo Tadao (大高源五忠雄,one of the forty-seven Ronin).

Last month, David Snowball opined on Morningstar’s John Rekenthaler’s requiem for mutual funds. And while David agreed with Rekenthaler that the end of the fund industry was not imminent, both feel that it is inevitable. I have felt that to be the case for some time. Rather than be the Cassandra Continue reading →

Which Way to Sherwood Forest?

By Edward A. Studzinski

Amateurs talk about strategy and tactics. Professionals talk about logistics and sustainability.

Robert Hilliard Barrow (1922-2008), a former United States Marine Corps commandant and general, interview published in the San Diego Union on November 11, 1979.

A year that started out gangbusters in terms of market appreciation, without regards to valuations, has subsequently started having hiccups on and off. That begs the question as to whether it is now recognized that valuations are stretched? Or perhaps it is a recognition that no matter how many stimulus packages are passed by Congress, flooding the market with money and Continue reading →

Another Year of Living Dangerously

By Edward A. Studzinski

“Finance is the art of passing currency from hand to hand until it finally disappears.”

Robert Sarnoff (1918-1997), creator of the RCA conglomerate

So, to paraphrase Churchill, are we actually at the end of the beginning, at least as it pertains to the war against the coronavirus? Well, maybe. In this country, there are two vaccines approved, and globally we are looking at Continue reading →

Holiday Reading List

By Edward A. Studzinski

“Imagine the Creator as a low comedian, and at once the world becomes explicable.”

        H.L. Mencken

We have come into December with November having been one of the best performing stock market months ever. S&P 500 Index products have generated a total return of approximately 14%. Active-managed funds have had returns all over the lot, with value-oriented funds having crept into the positive return range, generally single digit, as a result of strong monthly performance. Growth funds, depending on Continue reading →

The End of Many Eras

By Edward A. Studzinski

“A genius is the man who can do the average thing when everyone else around him is losing his mind.”

            Napoleon Bonaparte

For those who missed my comments last month, there were not any. I felt I had nothing new to say. And while the same may be true this month, I thought I would give it a shot.

The other day I was joking with Continue reading →

Feet of Clay

By Edward A. Studzinski

“Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.”

                    George Orwell, ch. 3, Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936)

I recently had occasion to speak with a long-term value manager who was lamenting how badly value was out of favor and how much it was hurting his and his firm’s performance and investor returns. The genesis of that sub-par performance, which one finds repeated across many value-oriented firms, is a departure from being attuned to the intrinsic business value of the firms invested in, replaced by a laser-like focus by his firm’s analysts and portfolio managers on what stocks are going up because the market Continue reading →

“He said what?”

By Edward A. Studzinski

“Why shouldn’t things be largely absurd, futile, and transitory? They are so, and we are so, and they and we go very well together.”

George Santayana, in a letter to Logan Pearsall Smith (24 May 1918) in The Works of George Santayana: The letters of George Santayana 1910 – 1920 (2002), p. 319

Another month of strong market performance. Another disconnect to what is going on in the domestic Continue reading →

Rebound, What Rebound?

By Edward A. Studzinski

“Historian: an unsuccessful novelist.” 

H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)

The S&P 500 just had the best quarter in terms of returns in more than twenty years.

But is it real? Although consumer sentiment is up, unemployment is at levels not seen since the Great Depression. Depending on whether another stimulus/support bill can make it through Congress, many Americans face a cash crunch by Continue reading →

What We Do Not Know!

By Edward A. Studzinski

“Pessimist: one who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both.”

                    Oscar Wilde

One wonders what fifty years down the road, people will say about this period and how we as a nation dealt with the challenges with which we were presented.

In this country, we have had the conflict between states that never really closed but recommended social distancing and states that fully locked down and shut-in their residents and shut down their economies. In the latter case, the initial goal was Continue reading →

The Sparrow’s Revenge

By Edward A. Studzinski

“The only way to success in American public life lies in flattering and kowtowing to the mob.” H.L. Mencken, “On Being an American” (1922)

Plague Investing

A question with which I am regularly peppered (and which I usually decline to answer) is how one should invest during this rather chaotic time. The short answer – circumstances continue to evolve so much, both from a public Continue reading →

Quo Vadis, America?

By Edward A. Studzinski

“Look straight ahead. What’s there?

If you see it as it is

you will never err.”

Bassui Tokusho, Japanese Zen Buddhist monk

Today we have little if any clarity as to where we are going with regards to the markets and the economy. We simply do not know, never having been here before. Much depends on when the numbers of people testing positive for COVID-19 peak and begin to trend downwards, as they seem to be doing now in Italy and South Korea. These are countries where one can Continue reading →