Best Articles on The Rational Walk

Published on December 5, 2016

Nearly 800 articles have been published on The Rational Walk since February 2009. The following articles are among those that have generated the most feedback or have been viewed the most by readers through early December 2016. The list is intended to help readers new to The Rational Walk access the most important articles in an efficient manner.

In the future, an updated version of this list will be maintained as a permanent page on the site accessible through the main menu.

Articles are listed by broad categories:

General Investment Topics
General Industry Topics
Berkshire Hathaway
Investment Ideas
Book Reviews

Within each category, articles are listed in descending order with the most recent articles listed first.

A full listing of all articles can be found on our archive page. Readers may also search for content by keyword by using the search box that appears nearby.

General Investment Topics

Getting in on the 50th Floor — Everyone wants to invest with the next Warren Buffett just as he or she is starting out but it might be more realistic to invest with proven winners at a later stage of development.

The Problem of Rational Capital Allocation — An essay on the perils and opportunities of capital allocation.

The Individual Investor’s Edge — Timeframe arbitrage is among the most powerful edges an individual has over professional investors who are accountable to clients.

Munger’s Prescription for Corporate Governance — Corporate governance, Munger style.

The Value Investor’s Guide to Value Line Investment Survey — A brief tutorial on how to best utilize Value Line.

Graham’s Advice on Relatively Unpopular Companies — Applying Benjamin Graham’s teachings to the investment environment of mid-2010.

The Dangers of Commitment Bias — One of the “deadly sins” of investing is explored but, of course, commitment bias can plague decision making far beyond investing.

Investors Must Take Responsibility for Executive Compensation — Investors must take responsibility for exerting their rights as owners and setting executive compensation appropriately. Pair with Exposing the Compensation Consultant Smokescreen, Motives Behind Value Destroying Mergers, and Kraft’s Executive Compensation Policies Reward Value Destruction.

The Value Investor’s Technology Dilemma — Personal reminiscences of the eBay IPO in September 1998 from an employee of another software company operating down the hall.

Strategies for Achieving Economic Moats — This is a general discussion of economic moats influenced by Charlie Munger, Philip Fisher, and Michael Porter.

The Virtue of Pessimism for Investors — Bruce Berkowitz refers to his research process as, in part, an effort to “kill the company” which essentially inverts the typical process employed by most investors. We explore some of the ramifications of this approach.

Net Current Asset Value Stocks — A brief overview of the cigar-butt method of security selection pioneered by Benjamin Graham.

Coping With Market Meltdowns — Written in early March 2009 very close to the bear market bottom, this article contains personal reflections on dealing with market declines.

General Industry Topics

Pitfalls in Oil & Gas Accounting — Much to our surprise, this has become one of the more popular articles on The Rational Walk over the years.

Rockefeller vs. Railroads: Regulatory Debate Heats Up in Washington — In this popular article, we discuss talk of revisiting the 1980 Staggers Rail Act and point out some interesting trivia related to the Rockefellers.

Robert Rubin: “I Did Not Want Significant Operational Responsibility” — Robert Rubin comments on what he thought his responsibilities were in exchange for $126 million in cash and stock compensation over a decade at Citigroup.

Greenspan: Those Who Predicted Housing Bubble are “Statistical Illusions” — In a bit of revisionism, Alan Greenspan explains away Michael Burry and others who foresaw the housing crash as statistical illusions.

Catastrophic Health Insurance and HSAs Can Control Costs — An editorial on the healthcare industry written on the eve of the passage of the Affordable Care Act (also known as “ObamaCare”) in March 2010.

Expand a Competitive Moat by Closing on Sundays? — The counter-intuitive step of closing on Sunday could provide a competitive edge for certain businesses.

How to Fail in Retail: Six Easy Steps! — How to fail in running a grocery store.

Can Traditional Print Newspapers Survive “Creative Destruction”? — It is interesting to look back at this article written in 2009, a time when the demise of print newspapers was further on the horizon than it is today, yet still quite apparent.

Berkshire Hathaway

Berkshire Hathaway in 2026 — A forward looking assessment of Berkshire’s prospects over the next ten years from the perspective of April 2016.

Revisiting Berkshire Hathaway’s Acquisition of BNSF — Looking back at the BNSF acquisition from the perspective of late 2013.

Assessing the Past Decade at Berkshire Hathaway — A view of Berkshire Hathaway’s ten year history as of early 2012.

Sokol’s Resignation Raises Questions Regarding Lubrizol Transaction — We covered David Sokol’s resignation from Berkshire Hathaway in considerable detail. Mr. Sokol claimed that he shouldn’t have shared his idea with Warren Buffett and there were also contradictions that surfaced in his subsequent interview with CNBC. Ultimately, Mr. Sokol was not charged with any violations of securities law.

Video Interview with Ajit Jain — A rare interview with Ajit Jain from early 2011.

Buffett Seizes Opportunities During Financial Crisis — An essay describing Warren Buffett’s opportunistic side during the financial crisis.

Berkshire Likely to Pay Dividends Eventually – But Not This Year — The perpetual dividend discussion from the perspective of early 2011.

What We Known (And Don’t Know) About Berkshire’s Succession Planning — The known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns of Berkshire Hathaway’s succession planning as of late 2010.

The Collector: 1977 WSJ Article on Buffett Strikes Familiar Themes — A discussion of one the first major articles on Warren Buffett published in the Wall Street Journal.

Highlights From Buffett’s Partnership Letters — Berkshire shareholder Frank Gifford provided The Rational Walk with detailed notes on Warren Buffett’s partnership letters at a time when little information regarding the letters was available to the public. Pair with our subsequent review of Warren Buffett’s Ground Rules.

Charlie Munger’s Latest Parable: Basically It’s Over — An optimistic account of the future beneath the gloomy surface.

From Cigar Butts to Business Supermodels — An account of the evolution of Warren Buffett’s early investment style.

Berkshire’s Misunderstood Derivatives — Written in early 2009, this article explores common misconceptions regarding Berkshire Hathaway’s derivatives exposure. Although derivatives have become less important to Berkshire over time, some exposure will remain for several more years.

Investment Ideas

Company Profile: DaVita Healthcare Partners — Profiling one of Ted Weschler’s favorite stocks in October 2016.

Company Profile: TransDigm Group — A classic “outsider” run company is profiled in April 2016.

Company Profile of Expeditors International — A profile of Expeditors written in early 2016. We soon followed up with a profile of C.H. Robinson.

Examining Progressive’s Competitive Position — A profile of GEICO’s main competitor written in early 2016.

Markel Corporation at $800/share — We examine Markel Corporation at a key psychological milestone in mid 2015. We revisited Markel in May 2016 with a focus on Markel Ventures. We again revisit Markel Ventures and the valuation of the company as a whole in November 2016.

Contango Oil & Gas: Compelling Opportunity for Natural Gas Bulls — An ill fated write up (and investment) in the oil and gas industry written in September 2012 with a follow-up in October 2012. Following the announcement of a merger with Crimson Exploration and the untimely death of CEO Kenneth Peak, we concluded that the facts had changed and invalidated the original thesis.

Joy Global: A Misunderstood Cyclical? — Inspired by an article in the Graham & Doddsville newsletter, we examine the track record of Joy Global in mid-2012.

Loews Corporation: Cheap on Sum-of-the-Parts Basis — A 2012 view of the Rodney Dangerfield of value stocks with a subsequent follow-up in 2013. We presented another follow-up in early 2016 when, as seems perpetual, Loews was still cheap on a sum-of-the-parts basis.

Daily Journal: Declining Publisher or Rising Hedge Fund? — A discussion of Charlie Munger’s “other company”.

Platinum Underwriters: Mining for Value in Reinsurance — An article accompanying a published report on Platinum and a follow-up in early 2014.

What Does Warren Buffett’s Valuation of GEICO Imply for Progressive? — Inferring Progressive’s value based on Warren Buffett’s valuation of GEICO as described in the Berkshire Hathaway 2010 annual report.

Investors Title Represents Value in Midst of Housing Turmoil — Title insurance was a fertile field for value investing in late 2010. Also see a follow-up post in early 2011 on hidden real estate value on Investors Title’s balance sheet. We later follow up (prematurely, in retrospect) and declare that Investors Title has approached intrinsic value.

Contango Ore: An Intelligent Gold and Rare Earth Speculation? — In a departure from value investing, we examine a speculative spin-off from Contango Oil and Gas.

Why Is Todd Combs Bullish on Western Union? — A look at Western Union after the announcement that Todd Combs would be joining Berkshire Hathaway as a portfolio manager.

Assessing Steve Ballmer’s Track Record at Microsoft — An assessment of Mr. Ballmer’s record three years prior to his resignation as CEO.

Tractor Supply Offers a Compelling Growth Story — A profile of a rapidly expanding niche retail concept.

Noble Corporation: Profile and Analysis — Short write-up of Noble Corporation in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. A follow-up article was posted in early 2011. See also other coverage of the oil and gas industry.

Examining Middleburg Financial: David Sokol’s Favorite Bank? — A discussion of Middleburg Financial written in early 2010.

George Risk Industries: A Potential Bargain With Limited Downside Risk — A net-net in a boring industry located in Nebraska sparked interest in early 2010 and generated reader questions. Also see this follow-up article written in mid-2010.

Book Reviews

For all book reviews published on the Rational Walk, click here. The following links represent the most important and/or popular reviews.

Berkshire Beyond Buffett — Lawrence Cunningham examines Berkshire’s prospects after Warren Buffett leaves the scene.

The Manual of Ideas — A review of John Mihaljevic’s investment classic.

Howard Marks on the Human Side of Investing — A review of The Most Important Thing which has become an investment classic over the past few years.

Using Checklists to Control Emotions During Market Meltdowns — A review of Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto and an application of the principles to the field of investing.

The Big Short Tells a Cynical Tale of the Subprime Fiasco — A cynical and timely tale of the subprime bubble.

Lessons from Andrew Ross Sorkin’s “Too Big to Fail” — A review of one of the first books to be published covering the 2008-09 financial crisis.

Pleased But Not Satisfied by David Sokol — A review of the Berkshire Hathaway executive David Sokol’s memoir. The article was written prior to his fall from grace in the Lubrizol scandal of 2011.

In-N-Out Burger’s Remarkable Moat — A review of Stacy Perman’s book on In-N-Out Burger, one of the most enduring and beloved brands on the west coast. Also see In-N-Out Burger: Building a Succession-Proof Business.

Greenblatt’s Advice on Special Situations — A review of Joel Greenblatt’s classic book on special situations, You Can Be a Stock Market Genius.

Personal History by Katharine Graham — A brief review of Katharine Graham’s bestselling memoir.

Selecting a Buffett Biography: Lowenstein vs. Schroeder — Brief review of both major Warren Buffett biographies currently on the market.

Thoughts on Graham and Dodd’s Security Analysis: Sixth Edition — Book review of a classic that requires no introduction.

How Can Value Investors Apply Philip Fisher’s Investment Principles? — A book review of Phil Fisher’s classic, Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits.

The Essays of Warren Buffett: Convenient Arrangement of Shareholder Letters — A book review of Lawrence Cunningham’s 2nd edition of his compilation of Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letters.

Madoff’s Weapons of Influence — A book review of Robert Cialdini’s masterpiece, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, and how Bernie Madoff’s leveraged psychology to manipulate the victims of his ponzi scheme.

Best Articles on The Rational Walk
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