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December 12, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 24

Introducing the Grant’s Supermodel Credit Portfolio

Credit is what we are bullish on--cast-off residential mortgage-backed securities, senior bank loans, convertible bonds and corporate debentures, high-rated and middling. And it's credit that fills the new Grant's model portfolio. Expectantly, we call it our Supermodel Portfolio. May it deliver superior returns for 2009 and beyond.

Beating the band

A discussion of the Treasurys and gold... The 2008 Investor of the Year award goes to a man who, through December 8, earned 26.9% by investing in exactly those assets on which Grant's is most bearish. . .

‘Intelligent Investor’ redux

The bear market has coughed up the names of eight companies that meet the exacting criteria that Benjamin Graham laid out in 1973 for stocks that a defensive investor might buy with confidence. To scan the requirements--seven in all--you wouldn't suppose that a single company could measure up. They are (1) adequate size, (2) a good balance sheet--current assets greater than two times liabilities, (3) 10 consecutive years of net profits. . .

Never before seen

Unprecedented, according to an electronic search of the financial press, is the frequency of the use of the word "unprecedented" to describe the crisis on Wall Street. Living eyes have never seen the likes of it. And no observer, living or dead, has ever witnessed a greater scale of intervention by any government to refloat a sinking economy than the one being mounted in Washington. Now begins an attempt to see the crack-up of 2008 as our financial descendants might eventually see it. . .

Sell the renminbi

"Some investors are so keen on [Middle Eastern] economies that they think the currencies have nowhere to go but up." So speculated The Wall Street Journal back in May, a time so distant that the oil price was actually rising. As 2008 deflates to a close, the currencies of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar (as expressed in quotations on their one-year forward swap rates) are tipped for slight depreciation rather than moderate appreciation. Let it be said, however, that one Middle East currency is still chugging higher against the dollar. The readers of Grant's will not gasp to learn that it's . . .

Ben Graham does Motown

House prices in Detroit had fallen by 12.5% from their 2005 peak when I visited in September 2007 in search of value-laden real estate. Prices have since dropped by another 18.6%. The declines are remarkable.

Global debasement play

All year, central bankers have been saving the world by inflating their assets, often in new and imaginative ways. The holidays can't come soon enough for them. In the past 12 unforgettable months (just try to forget them), the Federal Reserve's assets grew by 146%, the European Central Bank's by 58% and the Swiss National Bank's by 74%. But the Bank of England puts them all in the shade with year-over-year growth of 158%.

November 28, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 23

Inflation-yes, we can

A discussion of the current deflation and the pending inflation.

Somebody’s right

Record Treasury auctions are contrasted to the suspension of gold sales.

Opportunists apply here

Opportunities in convertible bonds.

Yields from Hooverville

A discussion of the high yield bond market.

All chase Treasurys

A comparison of the real estate and Treasury markets.

November 14, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 22

Bullish on credit, bearish on money

A discussion of opportunities and risks in the fixed income market.

Even gnomes do it

A discussion of recent actions by the Swiss National Bank.

More value restoration

A discussion of recent developments at a title insurer.

More debts than dollars?

A discussion of central banks balance sheet growth.

October 31, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 21

Opportunities in derangement

A discussion of opportunities in the fixed income market.

Karl Hill, R.I.P.

An obituary for Karl Hill.

What to short

A summary of Jim Chanos’s presentation at the Grant's Fall 200 Conference.

Yield to bonus

A discussion of commercial real estate.

Questions for Mr. Klarman

Time for value investors to remove hedges and play offense.

Inflation protection

Cheap options to protect against future inflation.

Bullish on stocks

Leon Cooperman’s reasons that investors can be optimistic today.

Bye-bye, then, $500 billion

Simon Mikhailovich updates the CDO market.

Paging Parson Malthus

Malthus’s scarcity thesis may prove correct 30 years after it was popular.

No house party

Ivy Zelman presents the case for continued troubles in the housing markets.

Bullish on the IMF

A discussion of sovereign credit.

October 17, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 20

Eat my bread, sing my song

Compares the government’s investment in nine major banks with depression interventions.

Bullish on loans

A discussion of the leveraged loan market. Keywords: leverage loans, high yield

'Dry powder,' reconsidered

Revisiting a company too expensive six months ago that has been become substantially cheaper.

Elegy on value

An update on a cheap company that has become cheaper.

Wall Street on the rack

A comparison of Congressional hearings today and in the depression.

Steak to hamburger

A discussion of monetary policy.

October 3, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 19

Uncle Sam's new fat suit

The initiatives to halt the credit crisis are sowing the seeds of future inflation.

'Uncle,' cries GE

A follow-up on GE.

Long subprime, short retail

The safety of an investment is dependent upon the price paid.

'Looks' like a bottom

A discussion of Radar Logic's Residential Property Index.

California bidding war

A discussion of the San Diego real estate market.

Main Street contracts

A discussion of credit growth.

September 19, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 18

'Toxic Treasurys, super-safe mortgages'

The safety of an investment is dependent upon the price paid.

Procrastination can wait

A discussion of the inflation rate implied by the TIPS market.

Half-off energy sale

A discussion of an oil, coal and nuclear service company.

More trash for cash

A discussion of liquidity.

September 5, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 17

A little wonderful advice for Mr. Paulson

A discussion in how to narrow GSE spreads and how to invest if it were to happen.

Not your father's GE

A discussion of GE Capital.

A guiltier pleasure

A discussion of physical gold and junior gold miners.


A discussion of inflation and money growth.

August 8, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 16

On the subtlety of the obvious

A discussion of what value investing is and what it isn’t.

Don't wait up

A discussion of transaction dependent real estate companies.

Time's up, Mrs. Watanabe

The carry trade is in full force despite economic stress in countries with high yielding currencies.

Merrill's mortgage blowout

A discussion of Merrill Lynch’s CDO sale and the distressed CDO opportunity.

Wall Street's mortgages

A summation of mortgage exposure on Wall Street.

Howlers: a pair

Past issue corrections.

Inflation's vacation

A discussion of inflation.

July 25, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 15

Bearish on the biggest monoline

A review of the U.S. government’s finances and the implication for interest rates and the currency.

No bottom, no fish

A discussion of home prices and potential values in RMBS.

Remember India?

Last year’s high flying market turns down, Grant’s sees opportunities.

One for the team

A discussion of the Fed’s new balance sheet.

July 11, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 14

The trouble with Prosperity

A guide to investing in leveraged financial institutions in the eye of a credit storm.

Debt for dinner

A discussion of a restaurant that recently completed an acquisition that has resulted in a leveraged balance sheet.

Talker of the year

A comparison of central bank balance sheet growth.

Dancing in the dark

A comparison of 2005 and 2007 RMBS deals.

Creditors peer backwards

A discussion of the last 25 years in the U.S. Treasury market.

Reserve currency at bay

A discussion of inflation in countries with currencies tied to the U.S. dollar.

June 27, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 13

This time--really--it’s different

A discussion of the macro and micro repercussions from the straining American consumer.

Window shades, stocks, etc.

A description of a window shade manufacturer with a large hedge fund portfolio priced at a discount.

Moving targets

An update inflation targeting at various central banks.

The risk in ‘risk-based’

OFHEO adjusted the loss severity equation used by the GSEs.

Easy is as easy does

An easy monetary policy has yet to lift land prices in California.

June 13, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 12

Shame of the gnomes

A history of a banking giants’ ill timed foray into structured products.

'You get a double discount'

An interview with Jean-Marie Eveillard.

Default du jour

An update on CDOs and events of default.

Believe it, Hank Paulson

Inflation and currencies pegged to the dollar.

May 30, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 11

Walter Bagehot was wrong

Central banks accept an increasing amount of dubious collateral.

Cheap option redux

One financial company sees signs of optimism in housing.

Landslide report

A progress report on the housing bust. One company is beginning to find opportunities in raw land.

Monetary ugly contest

Currency speculators beware, inflation is not a one-way bet.

May 16, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 10

Hostages to house prices

A comparison of two large capitalization companies that have their immediate futures tied to house prices.

Still at the altar

A progress report on three failed leveraged buyouts.

Riddle by e-mail

A reader submits a riddle via e-mail.

Lessons learned? None

Another refinery is acquired with high leverage.

Calling all bond bears

Ways to make a bearish bet on Treasurys.

'Inflation' by any other name

Inflation continues to be imported.

May 2, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 09

The close of the era of peace and quiet

The era of disinflation caused by globalization is nearing its end.

The old drawing board

The International Association of Financial Engineers announces a meeting on the need for a second generation structured products pricing model.

Leverage unrefined

An update on Western Refining.

It floats, it sinks

The credit crisis has not yet produced compelling absolute value in the CLO market.

Hedge funds lite

The latest investment fad has been around since the 1920s.

Sunset for the euro?

The euro has come under pressure on lower than expected inflation reading in Germany.

April 18, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 08

It was the storage business, after all

The credit excesses of the previous cycle are still unwinding.

Not-so-silent partner

David Abrams attributes Bear Stearns downfall to leverage.

350 million chimneys

An examination of three Chinese companies discussed by Richard Chilton and Murray Stahl.

Power play of tomorrow

A company in a position to benefit from increased capital spending in the utility industry.

Discounting defaults

Steve Miller describes that the leverage loan market is pricing in excessive losses.

Timely crisis

Marty Cohen discusses the credit contraction and commercial real estate.

No earnings, no yield

A discussion of why gold and Treasurys are on the new high list together.

Globalization taketh away

Globalization has now become an inflationary force.

April 4, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 07

A short treatise on good intentions

The Federal Reserve’s recent actions, dropping its target rate by 3% and accepting dubious assets onto its balance sheet, has unintended consequences around the world and on its currency.

Modest proposal

A proposal that the U.S. Government purchase prime mortgages outright.

Hair of the dog

The private sector is de-leveraging while government sponsored enterprises are being asked to re-lever with troubled assets.

Limits of leverage

Two California S&Ls are struggling with non-performing loans issued during the height of the recent real estate speculation.

Bonfire of the currencies

The world’s central bankers can all agree on one thing – the desire for a weaker currency.

March 21, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 06

Hoover without the Depression

Historical review of how America’s monetary and financial arrangements have led to Depression-like distress without a depression, and how one might profit from the inevitable attempts to set things right.

Not so preferred

Fannie Mae is ‘adequately capitalized’ according to OFHEO, but that is a result of preferred stock issuance not the performance of the underlying business.

Up with Banco cheapo

Bladex is a supranational trade-finance bank headquartered in Panama with a conservative balance sheet trading below its book value.

Name that central bank

The Federal Reserve Bank credit has been growing 2.2% annually. The ECB is growing its balance sheet at an annual rate of 22.3%.

March 7, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 05

Fill in the Suez Canal

Prior to the Federal Reserve, productivity growth led to lower prices. Today, lower prices resulting from productivity are confronted by monetary stimulus.

‘Essentially stale money’

Newmont Mining shares have not participated fully in the gold price rally and cheap compared to its peers.

Bullish on AIG

AIG announced further market valuation writedowns in its insured multi-sector CDOs creating another opportunity to invest in a great company at a reasonable price.

Trophy tranche

The CMBX triple-A 4 has been sold by banks to hedge other risks and by hedge funds to speculate on deterioration in the commercial property market. Selling of the index has carried beyond the underlying fundamentals.

Ace in the hole

The deterioration in ACE Securities 2005-HE5 continues in this update.

Regime change

Gulf countries have declined to remove their pegs to the U.S. dollar despite rising inflation. Hungary removed the forint’s trading band against the Euro.

February 22, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 04

The people’s wrath-delayed

The lack of a backlash against Wall Street is surprising given the scope of the current credit crisis.

Material strength

AIG’s recent announcement of a material weakness in it’s accounting has created an opportunity to invest in a great company at a reasonable price.

Not so contained

description: Eastern European banks have continued to offer mortgages in low interest rate currencies adding currency risk for borrowers.

Whose preference?

Non-cumulative preferred stock issuance has risen, but interest payments are at the board’s discretion.

Junk-grade central bank

The most leveraged financial institution in New York is the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and it is accepting low-rated CDO tranches at 80 cents on the dollar as collateral.

February 8, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 03

Many countries, one interest rate

The FED and the ECB set one interest rate for multiple countries. The FED ignores the 'dollar bloc' countries at the risk of inflation.

'Free mortgage business'

This company. was set to be acquired for $31.50 a share. The deal fell through and now investors can buy one business and receive 2 other businesses for nothing.

Company to let

This company was set to be acquired for $34.50 a share. The deal fell through and now investors can buy the company at 6 times forward earnings.

Kravis was right before

This company was set to be acquired for $120 a share. The deal fell through and now investors can buy the company at two-thirds off.

Peak oil, peak dollars

Shad Rowe relates how Boone Pickens has used his belief in peak oil to compound returns in BP Capital.

Improbable sources of strength

The weak dollar ahs led exports to account for a large proportion of GDP.

January 25, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 02

Value restoration at a gallop

Market volatility may yet produce investment values as the ideas of the recent bull market – decoupling, the Great Moderation, and “inflation vigilantism” – retreat.

What grows on trees

Grant’s discusses a profitable timber company. The company is selling at a discount to its peers and has a more conservative balance sheet.

Invest--then investigate

A CDO squared recently sold at a large discount. As investors realize the complexity of the structures, expect the discounts to get larger.

Old Europe creaks and groans

description: Club Med countries have seen the sovereign CDS spreads widen and the sovereign debt widen versus German bunds.

January 11, 2008, Vol. 26, No. 01

Sell the man, sell his money

Central banks’ responses to inflation have changed over time.

Dime on the dollar

CDO asset liquidations begin and price discovery begins.

Western Refining redux

Western Refining has become cheap again.

Enough distress to go around

High yield debt begins to show distress, expect defaults to follow.

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