Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Investment Case for PMACA

Finally, I get to post some research. The following piece is an updated and expanded version of the research that I have been pitching to anyone and everyone who will listen. The last time I liked a P&C insurance company this much the company was IPC Holdings and Buffett/Berkshire made a bid for it before it got taken out by another company. Very simply, this microcap stock is under-followed and unloved and the market has yet to fully notice that the company has removed the overhang that has clouded the stock since about 2005.

I know this stock is not for everyone, but I think the valuation is compelling and the risk-reward is very attractive at the current price. As usual, I have kept the document in Scribd format in order to preserve the formatting of the charts. If anyone would like a PDF of the research, please feel free to email me. Also, I welcome any comments or questions.

PMA Capital Corporation (PMACA) Research

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Summer Internship

Dear Readers,

I hate to do this, but given the wonderful state of affairs in the market for jobs in investment management, I am running out of options. For those of you who do not know me, I am currently a first year MBA at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. I went to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania for undergrad. After that I spent about four years working for my family in commercial real estate before my inoculation into the value investing world. From there I was fortunate enough to work at two small, long/short hedge funds in the New York City area, focusing mainly on financials. I think I understand the banking and P&C insurance sectors the best, but I have had plenty of exposure to other sectors. Specifically, the time I spent focusing on financials was mostly based on the market environment that included very attractive short opportunities (October 2007 to early 2009) and then compelling long opportunities (March-April 2009).

Right now I happen to be looking for hidden value among financial companies that have been left behind by this improbable and seemingly bulletproof market rally. I have been pitching both Synovus (SNV) and PMA Capital Corp. (PMACA) to just about anyone who will listen. They have both had very nice runs since I started recommending them but I still believe that they both offer long term, patient investors significant upside potential. If anyone would like to see my research on either company feel free to check out this post on SNV but stay tuned for my updated research on both companies.

I am looking for an internship position this summer that will help me become a better analyst and a better investor. To be honest, I am not focused on working for a "big name" fund. What I care about is working for a smart manager who can help me improve my research skills and for whom I can add a lot of value. I now am going to say something that people are never supposed to say: I don't care about being paid this summer. I am much more interested in finding an opportunity to learn and to potentially secure a full time position for when I graduate in June 2011. Clearly, I would rather not work for free because I know my research has the potential to help boost returns, both on the long and short sides. But, in the grand scheme of things, 10 weeks of salary will be just about meaningless if I can get one step closer to living my dream of being a portfolio manager.

So, I am looking for help from readers and from those in the value investing space. Anyone who has seen my recent notes from the Berkshire meeting, the Wesco meeting or the Value Investing Congress can see that I have a passion for investing. I am dedicated to making securities analysis a part of my life for the long run. Accordingly, if you know of anyone who could use a diligent and disciplined value-biased analyst for the summer, I would appreciate your willingness to keep me in mind. I am happy to email out copies of my resume and even sample research to anyone who might be interested.

Thank you for your time and for anything you can do to help.


Ben Claremon
The Inoculated Investor

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Classic Value Investors


I thought that I would introduce you to another talented member of the value investing clan who I believe has a lot to offer both new and experienced investors. His name is Mariusz Skonieczny and he runs the site called Classic Value Investors. He has also written a very comprehensive book entitled Why Are We So Clueless about the Stock Market?. I have read the book and have told Mariusz that it should be required reading for all incoming MBA students. As many of you know, I am getting my MBA currently at the UCLA Anderson School of Management in sunny, southern California. It probably won't surprise you to hear that my knowledge and passion for financial markets and investing make me a little bit unique. In fact, many of my classmates do not have a formal business background and initially have trouble with relatively simple concepts and vocabulary as a result of not being exposed to finance previously. This is where I think Mariusz's short, but comprehensive book could really add value. If students were required to read it before they started taking classes, they would be much more familiar with the concepts and would not struggle to learn the terminology and the technical concepts at the same time.

Accordingly, for anyone who is new to investing or who is thinking about making a career switch, I highly recommend going to and picking up a copy of Mariusz's book. I know that learning about the financial markets, especially given their global nature and the seemingly never-ending complexity, can appear to be a daunting task. However, everyone must start somewhere and in my mind there is no better place to start than with this book. I also urge you to go through his website (linked above). There is a lot of information on it about his investing strategy and how to invest with him if you are looking for a value-biased asset manager. I met Mariusz in Omaha a few weeks ago and was very impressed with the way he approaches investing. Since then multiple people have mentioned to me that they thought he was very intelligent and seemed to have the proper temperament required to be a great investor.

Please help me welcome Mariusz to the club by checking out his website. If you would like to learn more about him, I'm sure he would not mind if you emailed him at

I hope that everyone enjoyed all of the notes from the various events from the past few weeks. Thanks to all of you who sent me emails. I promise I will email each and every one of you back. It just might take a little time.

Stay tuned for my updated research on PMA Capital Corp. (PMACA). The stock is up but I think it is still severely undervalued.

Thanks for following me and I look forward to trying to create valuable content that resonates with everyone.


The Inoculated Investor

Sunday, May 9, 2010

2010 Value Investing Congress Notes


The following are my detailed notes from the 2010 Value Investing Congress in Pasadena, CA on May 4th and 5th.. The great list of speakers included Bruce Berkowitz, Mohnish Pabrai, Eric Sprott, Tom Russo and Whitney Tilson, just to name a few. Topics ranged from the merits of owning gold to the attractiveness of small caps to investing in India and China.

After over 33 pages and about 18,000 words I hope have I captured all of the stocks discussed as well as the unique investment philosophies and themes highlighted by the speakers. I also included all of the responses from the Q&A sessions after each one of the presentations.

Again, these were hand-typed in real time so I apologize for any errors or omissions. I want to thank John Schwartz and Whitney Tilson for allowing me to attend this year's Congress and to post my notes. I hope you all enjoy them.


A very tired of typing Inoculated Investor

2010 Value Investing Congress Notes

Friday, May 7, 2010

2010 Wesco Annual Meeting Notes

If you thought Munger was on fire at the BRK Annual Meeting, wait until you see the notes from the Wesco meeting. As with the BRK meeting, the following are my hand-typed notes from the Munger love fest that occurred on Wednesday in Pasadena.

Every time I hear him speak, I gain new appreciation for Charles T. Munger. His pragmatism and practical nature resonate with me. He also has a sense of fairness and an appreciation for what is right and what is wrong that makes him very unique. For those of you who were not able to attend the meeting, I hope this 8500 word recap captures some of the wisdom he bestowed on us all.

I hope you enjoy the notes and look out for Value Investing Congress notes to be posted in the coming days.

2010 Wesco Annual Meeting Notes

Thursday, May 6, 2010

2010 Markel Annual Meeting Notes

The notes just keep on coming. Here are my notes from the 2010 Markel Annual Meeting in Omaha that was held the day after the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. Both Tom Gayner and Steve Markel shared a lot of wisdom with those who were in attendance. For those of you who could not make it, enjoy the notes.

Also, stay tuned for notes from:
Day 1 of the Value Investing Congress in Pasadena
Day 2 of the Value Investing Congress in Pasadena
Wesco Annual Meeting in Pasadena

I have 25 pages of notes from the VIC that will be posted (with permission from the organizers) and 10 pages of absolute gold from Charlie Munger. Check back by the end of the weekend. I hope to have them edited for your reading pleasure by then.

Your loyal scribe,


Markel Annual Meeting 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

2010 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting Notes


I just got back from Omaha. Just as last year I tried to get down just about every word that was said by The Oracle and Charlie. Last year's notes were in outline form. This year they are in sentence form and the document is close to 15,000 words. I like to think that this is almost as good as being there. Well, except for missing Munger being absolutely on fire this year. Feel free to pass them along. If you click on the link above the notes you can download a PDF file on Scribd. Enjoy!

Berkshire Hathaway 2010 Annual Meeting Notes