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M* Interview w/ Dennis Lynch & Bill Nygren: Tesla, Bitcoin, Zoom, Cathie Woods

edited January 3 in Fund Discussions
Interesting interview from Nov.

One gets a clear sense of the differences between these two fund managers but some similarities too… and even with dare I say Cathie Wood?

Favorite quotes:

“Lynch: I think it’s a tough business. Selling cars that are expensive for the average customer, that require financing, is a little different than selling Internet ads. We did own Tesla for about three years. It was a small, more of a speculative-size position back when the first consumer reports came out around the product, and the company was starting to have a real revenue stream in front of it. But the constant need for capital from the capital markets does put you in a position, potentially, during times of uncertainty of relying on the kindness of strangers to continue the business model. Cathie Wood would say it’s not just about selling cars. There might be more to it than that—energy storage, energy services, and things of that nature. Still, ultimately, it’s a car company, and there are a lot of other big car companies that scale. They do a lot of things differently that are interesting, but ultimately the capital intensity and the constant need for external financing for us became problematic.”

“ Nygren: When we weren’t able to be in the office, we were using Zoom as much as anybody else was, and as a consumer, I loved the product. The concern that we had was that Zoom was being priced as if it were going to be the dominant market leader for a long time. But one conference call would be on Zoom, and then the next one on Google Meet, and then Microsoft (MSFT) Teams and BlueJeans, and they all look just about alike as a user.” <— He’s absolutely right on this point.

BUBBLE? Stocks vs Bonds
Nygren: “ I’m not going to sit here and argue that it’s a generational opportunity to buy equities or anything like that. But given where interest rates are, owning an equity like the S&P that pays almost a 2% dividend yield and has earnings that are growing at 6% or 7% a year, compared to a long-term bond, is an easy choice to make.

Lynch: “ But all things equal, I would rather own smaller companies with smaller market caps that we think could be much bigger over time than some of the larger companies that exist today.”

Lynch: “ We talked about persistence earlier. Bitcoin’s kind of like Kenny from South Park. It dies every episode, and then it’s back again. As for adoption, it’s almost like bitcoin’s a virus and we’re all a little bit infected. Some people fully have gone there, and some people haven’t, but we all know about it. That’s interesting to me from a viral mechanism.”

“Reichart: Bill, you own a lot of financials. How worried are you about disruption in the financial sector?

Nygren: Most of the financial names we own are selling relatively close to stated book value. In a world where they get disrupted and their business goes down every year, they could liquidate for relatively close to the current stock. Brian Moynihan [CEO of Bank of America BAC ] said that the pandemic has pulled forward mobile banking by a decade. If you go into a bank to a teller, it costs them $4 to process your check. If you do it at an ATM, it’s 40 cents. And if you do it on your phone, it’s 4 cents. The big banks are a disruptor there because they are so far ahead in mobilization for their clients. I don’t see a big downside for most of the companies that we own.”


  • Thanks for sharing Jon. Some good analysis there on the banks.
  • Bill Nygren of Oakmark funds have done well in 2021 relative to their benchmark. He is a good value manager and he owed up to his mistakes (i.e. Washington Mutual back in 2008) while improved their risk management process to avoid the classic “value traps”. Their annual reports are worthwhile to read as well.
  • OAKBX -22.03 loss in 1Q 2020 eliminates my interest in the fund-perhaps harsh on my part,but still!
  • The COVID drawdown was rough on many mutual funds, even treasury. Many were down 10-40% within 2 weeks. Nevertheless, this drawdown recovered quickly comparing to the 2008’s drawdown that lasted several years. Since then value funds trail their growth counterparts for a long period. Oakmark funds are no exception until last year.
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