2018 Book Reviews
The following briefly outlines our investment team’s reading over the year.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
by John Carreyrou
The author is the WSJ journalist that exposed the Theranos fraud through unrelenting investigative journalism. Much like Einhorn’s Fooling Some of the People All of the Time regarding Allied Capital, Theranos relied on misleading statements, wildly optimistic projections, and outright fraud to deceive large companies and otherwise smart individuals (e.g. Safeway, Walgreens, Theranos board members and investors). Carreyrou’s investigative work is a testament to the value of thorough research.
An enjoyable book in which Wachenheim shares his take on how investors can improve their investment practices.
Mastering the Market Cycle: Getting the Odds on Your Side
by Howard Marks
Noted distressed debt investor and author Howard Marks’ investment track record suggests an ability to put the “odds in his favor.” While some on staff hoped for a deeper dive into cycle analysis, Marks chose to keep the material at a high level. Successful investors must recognize how the odds shift as cycles unfold and position portfolios appropriately. Marks urges investors to consider the role of the credit cycle and current valuation levels when determining the “aggressiveness” or “defensiveness” of a portfolio.
My Father’s Business: The Small-Town Values That Built Dollar General into a Billion-Dollar Company
by Cal Turner Jr., Rob Simbeck
Written by Cal Turner Jr., the former CEO of Dollar General and the son of its founder, the book tells the amazing story of how the Turner family of Scottsville, KY grew Dollar General from its rural Kentucky roots into a national retailer with a $30 B market value. The experiences of Cal Turner Jr., his father, and grandfather provide many useful lessons in business management as they navigated the company through decades of change in the retail industry.
One Buck at a Time: An Insider’s Account of How Dollar Tree Remade American Retail
by Macon Brock and Earl Swift
Ever wondered how Dollar Tree sells everything for just a dollar? So did the three founders when they opened their first dollar store in 1986. Like a great value investor, co-founder and author Macon Brock searched around the world for ‘off-the-beaten-path’ quality merchandise at incredible prices that would surprise and delight Dollar Tree shoppers. The company has maintained the same $1 price point and the best margins in all of retail more than three decades later.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
by Phil Knight
A popular read among River Road’s investment team, Shoe Dog is a memoir by Nike founder Phil Knight about his earliest days at the company. The book highlights values we emphasize at River Road, including entrepreneurship, building passionate teams with complementary skill sets, and embracing innovation. The book also highlights the role luck plays in any fledgling venture.
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