10 Years of Value & Opportunity – 10 Highlights, 10 LESSONS & 10 Books

Again, time flies. Exactly 10 (!!) years ago on December 15th, 2010, I started this blog

FJ-10-anniversary-logo-cropped-236x179

As every year a very special “Thank You” goes  to all readers, especially those who actively contribute either by comments or mails. I need to keep on mentioning that the interaction with readers is really driving the motivation to continue the blog in this format.

In this post I will reflect mostly on writing the blog, highlights and lessons over the last 10 years plus my 10 all time favorite book reviews. There will be a 10 Year investment/performance review in the beginning of January 2021. 

Some numbers: 

10 year stat        
Year Visits % Germany Posts Comments
2011 93,811 na 411 694
2012 178,485 49.82% 266 1,368
2013 325,240 43.14% 168 1,243
2014 430,794 32.26% 121 1,068
2015 459,992 25.94% 110 1,105
2016 521,197 28.52% 113 1,645
2017 635,741 28.79% 114 1,580
2018 452,267 28.57% 92 784
2019 325,169 31.56% 84 563
2020 YTD 483,824 39.03% 107 1,211
         
Total 3,906,520   1,586 11,261

All in all, I managed to post ~1600 posts over these 10 years which created close to 4 mn visits. The drop of visits (and comments)  in 2018 & 2019 was clearly the result of posting less due to a lack of time from my side.

So why I am still doing this ?

After 10 years it is worth reflecting what has actually motivated me to do this. Initially, I wanted to establish a kind of track record and then maybe open my own fund. Over time however the motivation changed as I recognized that actually running a fund with other people’s money would maybe take out some of the fun in stock investing that I actually have.

As I am writing this, I am actually quite happy with my day job and the biggest motivation of writing the blog is the ability to connect and exchange ideas with like minded “Crazy hobbyists” and professionals in this beautiful game called the stock market.

In between I sometimes thought of somehow monetizing the blog but I decided against it every time because not charging money creates a lot of freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want. Once you start charging, you create obligations which then can kill the fun pretty quickly. 

I would compare my blogging (obsession) with one of my friends who is an Orthodontist and whose main hobby is to create hand made fine jewelry from precious metals. The hobby is a lot of fun, trains her hands and for the job and even makes her some money when she sells some of the jewelry to friends.

For me actually there is a two way benefit: I benefit in my day job from what I do as my hobby, but I can also apply what I learn in my day job to my hobby. Over the past few years I also made two (beneficial) job moves that were clearly supported by the knowledge and insights that I build up over the 10 years writing this blog and analyzing investments and businesses in my free time.

As I mentioned a couple of times, the simple act of writing things down for me is a benefit as such. In order to write down a thought, you need to think at least twice about things, reflect them and for me it is also much easier to memorize something if I have written it down once.

10 Years, 10 subjective Blogging highlights

  1. David Einhorn commenting on my blog in 2015
    Having one of the (then) most prominent Hedge fund managers comment on your blog is clearly a highlight. I used to look at Einhorn’s letters a lot in the past, because I think he (still) is a very good fundamental investor. However, over time I less and less understood his investments. The actual case, Consol Energy, was clearly a flop. To be honest, I still don’t understand why he does what he does (still shorting Tesla and buying indebted stocks with questionable business models or weak insurance companies).
  2. Seeing Wirecard finally going down the drain and being able to tell my personal story in 2020
    I never dared to write about Wirecard in the blog because I knew how these guys tried to chase down each and everyone who wrote something critical. For me it is incredible how long this went on, as already in 2008 (and earlier) there were a lot of signs that the company is not “kosher”. Every day now, another problem from the “German system” surfaces, for instance that the boss of the German auditor supervision agency had been secretly trading Wirecard shares during the investigation. “Gone for good”.
  3. Detecting the Globo Plc fraud early on in 2015
    For some reason, Globo Plc, an AIM listed mobile phone software company with roots in Greece became a “hot” investment in the local Munich value investment community. The stock was cheap, grew a lot and made software. A locally well know value investor with normally deep research took a pretty concentrated position which let a lot of people to “piggyback” on this “research”. However, looking at the accounts it was pretty clear that there were some very serious issues. I think at least some people saved some money by getting out earlier before the company went bust.
  4. Sapec in 2016 was one of the most successful ideas that were actually sourced via a “tipp” from a reader 
    Thanks to a tipp from a long term reader, I discovered that there was a very interesting special situation available in Belgium especially for Non-Belgian investors. From what I know, quite a number of readers could participate in this attractive investment. For me this was also a nice (indirect) pay off for writing the blog and being connected to great investors.
  5. Developing the BOSS score in 2012 and finally abandoning it when it stopped to work
    Pretty early on in 2012, I developed a quant model which I called the “Boring but sexy Stock screen” which initially yielded a lot of very interesting investment ideas, some with spectacular good results (Cranswick, Dart Group). Over time however, the quality of the results declined. I was lucky to conclude that this might have been a fundamental issue and basically stopped using quant screens a couple of years ago.
  6. Among my more general finance post, my Enterprise Value post from 2012 mostly stood the test of time
    This is one of the examples where writing things down served mainly to understand the issue myself and then seemed to have helped a lot of people as well. This was part of my journey to detach from Book values and P/Es to more appropriate measures of valuation. From 2013-2018 this was the most read post every year.   
  7. Understanding the Implications of the ECB Bazooka in late 2011
    In general, I am clearly a bottom-up investor and try not to incorporate macro-economic expectations into my investment process, as I think this adds little value. However in special situations, especially during crisis it makes sense trying to understand what is going on at a mcro level, especially if important institutions make decisions. In this case, in 2011, with the Euro crisis in full swing, this post helped to reflect on the current situation where almost everyone thought that the Euro area will break up and many countries go bankrupt. It also helped me to allocate money into attractive value stocks in the PIIGS area.
  8. Personally, I found my 2014 post on the similarities of football and investing funny (especially after Germany won) and all 7 points hold today
    From time to time it makes sense to move back a step and look at things on a more abstract level. Comparing investing to football, gardening or Golf is both fun and helpful in trying to concentrate oneself on the really important issues instead of chasing the next stock.
  9. I liked all my “series” efforts, such as the Watch and the Travel series, but the “All German Shares Series” is clearly the highlight so far
    Creating these kind of series is really helpful in two ways: First of all, looking at “similar” companies in a row makes it much easier to compare companies to each other. Secondly, it also gives me a clear structure at what to look next when I have no other ideas. Sometimes a series like the Travel Series did not create a direct actionable insight but helped me to move faster after Corona hit. 
  10. Finally, the “Grenke situation” in 2020 was another highlight from this year
    Other than Globo Plc and Wirecard, this time, with the help of friends and readers I concluded that Grenke was not a fraud despite some very aggressive allegations, which led to an attractive investment opportunity in the midst of a difficult Pandemic market. The final verdict is still out, but for me investment is already closed and the gains “in the bank”. Again, I think many readers could participate in this attractive risk/return situation.

10 Year, 10 major lessons on (investment) blogging

  1. The more you write the more views you get
    It’s maybe a little bit to obvious: If a blogger wants to have many readers, one has to write a lot. Maybe there is too much posting at some point in time. However as I do not want to monetize the blog, I do not need to write that much. For me it is much more important to have the right readers
  2. The more you write about “Hot” or controversial stocks/topics the more readers you get
    This is also pretty clear: Writing about “hot topics” gives you a higher chance to reach many readers. My Wirecard post for instance generated 44 thousand views alone. In contrast, my initial post on Bouvet ASA, my most successful investment so far with a performance of 5,5x only attracted 1400 views when I wrote it in 2014. As a stock blogger you have to decide early on if you want to go for reach. If yes, then writing about “hot stocks” is clearly the best way to go.
  3. You actually get rewarded for “Just showing up” as a blogger
    “Just showing up” in blogging works. Especially during 2018 and 2019 when I blogged less und with little substance, the number of registered users still climbed steadily. I guess it will also be harder to restart after a longer hiatus. Blogging on a regular basis and even only a weekly list of links will keep you on the radar of readers
  4. Filtering of information is important
    In the beginning of the blog, I made the mistake to read anything, including “junk” like ZeroHedge, Business Insider etc. When I was looking at my feed, I often had hundred of unread entries. These days I have slimmed down my “information diet” to higher quality sources like top blogs. I also pay for the Economist, WSj and FT. Everyone need to find out what works best, but for me selected high quality sources work best. For me, Twitter for instance is mostly noise. The good parts of Twitter usually find their way around the web via other sources, so no need to be there. And I almost forgot: Just ignore all the professional “Doom prophets”. 
  5. Writing in English broadens the Audience
    Switching to English early on has clearly helped me to get high quality readers that I would have otherwise never reached. The price that I am paying is that my posts are not so elegant and full of mistakes as I am not a native speaker/writer and I have only limited time to fine tune my posts. But I still think it is worth it. For a “personal finance” blog a local version in German focusing on German specifics could make more sense.
  6. Don’t feed the trolls and kick them out rather sooner or later
    For some reason there are always people who want to troll other websites. In most cases, discussions are useless and it is better to delete or “censor” comments rather earlier than later. Life is too short to waste time on this people.
  7. Not every draft leads to a post
    In my WordPress tool, I have a total 245 unfinished drafts. That means around 15-20% of posts that I start are not getting completed. Often I start making notes on a company and find out pretty soon that there is something not to like. Or it takes me too long. Sometimes I start posts and finish them after a few weeks, sometimes something happens in between that makes the post less interesting. As WordPress is also my general notebook, this is no problem as I can easily retrieve the information
  8. Limited communication channels
    Some readers wonder why I hesitate to discuss stocks that I have posted on the blog via Email. For me, the use of to many information channels is quite stressful. There is Email, LinkedIn, Whatsapp, the blog comments etc. etc. So Blog content should be discussed on the blog so that I can manage this kind of communication efficiently and to have the information in one place. Of  course anyone can send me an Email with regard to other topics, but I only have limited time to answer in detail and I will not answer on stuff that doesn’t interest me (Crypto tokens for instance).
  9. Blogging can be a good way towards an investment career
    I know at least a handful of bloggers who created an investment career from blogging or where the blog helped them to start an own fund or get on the radar of investment firms. There is no guarantee and it needs time, but it is an interesting way into the industry. I got some interesting offers myself, but as I mentioned, I am very happy with my day job
  10. However Investment blogging itself is not a business
    Although I didn’t try it myself, I think it is really hard to make a living from (investment) blogging. Maybe if one uses additional formats (Youtube) etc. there is a little chance, but otherwise I don’t know anyone who really can live from investment blogging. Clearly there are paid newsletters that work but that is another format in my opinion. 

And as a final Bonus my 10 favorite book reviews from the last 10 years:

  1. Merger Masters 
    A “must read” for anyone interested in special situation / M&A Arbitrage.
  2. A Man for all Markets – Edward Thorp
    Great auto-biography of the very under appreciated “early Quant” Ed Thorp who, among other things, “broke” Blackjack and developed the Black-Scholes option formula on his own for his fund.
  3. Venture Deals
    The bible for anyone interested in how start-up funding works.
  4. Shoe Dog
    Very entertaining “How I did it” Story from Nike founder Phil Knight.
  5. The Shipping Man
    Very entertaining half-fictitious book that cured my from anything that has to do with shipping.
  6. Poor Charlie’s Almanack
    A “Best of” Charlie Munger book.
  7. Value Investing – from Graham to Buffett and Beyond 
    The best book on value investing. For beginners: Read this one first. I didn’t unfortunately.
  8. Charles Schwab – Invested
    Charles Schwab is a very successful business man but also shows a deep understanding of stock markets. The book included a lot of concentrated wisdom on investing on top of an incredible business story.
  9. Digital Gold – Bitcoin
    If anyone wants to understand Bitcoin and where it comes form, this is the book.
  10. The Outsiders
    An important book on the art and science of capital allocation within a company.

36 comments

  • Amazing job! And good lessons – I’ve only racked up 70 or so posts over the last year so I have some catching up to do!

  • Hi MMI,

    congratulations on 10 years of blogging. I’m a reader since 2014 I think and I’ve really learned a lot from you. Also one of my best investments was based on an article in your blog: Admiral PLC. Your commentors are also very often sources for good investment opportunities. I remember some good profit on KPS AG which was first mentioned in the comments of your first Bouvet article back in ’14.

    Keep on with the great writing 🙂

    Regards,
    Markus

  • Great work; I also had Bouvet on my list and read your blogpost; I did not pull the trigger (mistakes of omission are the worst) ; however, I hope you have limited your investments in Venture Capital

  • Thanks a lot for this most amazing investment blog.
    I only joined in 2020 with the Wirecard post and already read many amazing posts, interesting analysis, inspiration for books and of course the amizing German stock series, that inspired me to start a “random stock game” with my friends where 4 stocks are picked every week randomly and then can be invested in with certain rules.

    Of course not to forget the investment ideas I “piggybanked” or got inspiration from a post or link of yours,
    which were the following: sino AG (>100%), Grenke bonds (ca. 20% in like a week), Delticom (85%), Bitcoin Group (90%)
    I don’t have huge funds to invest, but some good investments like that definitely still have a nice effect.

    Also this post is really good for users that joined later like I did because of showing some highlights from the past 10 years.

    Really appreciate your blog and hope it will continue to be a good and worthwhile project for you.

    Maybe you could put a Litecoin or Dogecoin address for donations on the blog.
    Probably wouldn’t receive much money but it also wouldn’t be a big effort.

  • Congratulations,

    every time it is a pleasure to find a new post on your blog. May you find even more fraudulent f**kchambers in the coming 10 years. (Perhaps the church of Elon is worth a closer look 🙂 )

  • To me your blog is a great source of inspiration. Not only for stocks, but also for sectors, brands and your view on business models. That helps me to look at things from a new angle. Thanks for that. I particularly liked your series about luxury brands. Please keep on!!

  • Congratulations! Found out about this blog too late!

    one question: why was einhorn’s investment in CNX a clear flop? It doubled within 12 month?!?

  • Congratulations on 10 years of blogging! And I hear you on monetisation. This has been our struggle too for years now. It’s great if you can find a way to derive value from your output beyond the euros earned for sure! 🙂

  • I am a silent reader of your blog since the beginning of this year and I really love your content. 10 years is really a long time of consistency – thumbs up!

    Thank you for everything and keep up the good work for the next 10 years 🙂

    Happy Christmas,
    Timon

  • Thanks for the blog postings and investment ideas! And congrats for the 10 years of blogging. Especially enjoyed reading the Shipping Man series.

  • Congrats and thanks! The second edition of Value Investing – From Graham to Buffett and Beyond has come out and according to the main author Bruce Greenwald, it’s a much better book than the first edition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1zCIaJlf1s&t=1390s

  • Thanks for a super blog. Love it! I hope you continue for another 10 years.

  • Congrats for keeping up the good work for 10 years!

    Look forward to the next.

  • Thanks for the summary and most of all, thanks for 10 years of blogging. I have been around for the bigger half (unfortunately) and haven’t missed a post since I discovered your blog. Honestly, I can say that for only 2 out of the several blogs for which I’m on the email list. Your stock posts cover enough depth without being too long. Don’t know how you manage to strike that balance so well. Congrats and thanks again!

  • I must confess I actually lost money. But I take it with the approach ‘I never lose: Either I win or I learn”.

  • Like many of your fellow readers, I have been consuming your output for many years with great pleasure. I appreciate the clarity of your writing. Despite the complexity that comes along with investing in companies, you keep it simple and straight to the point. I could name a lot more articles than the 10 you mentioned in your post that helped me to improve my investment process. Therefore, I am truely thankful for your work and I am looking forward to the next ten years.

  • Thanks for your time and effort. I made money from Sapec so I too owe you a beer (or 100)

  • Thanks for putting so much great content out there. Think it’s a perfect mix of frequency, quantity and depth. Really appreciated!

  • I am a longtime reader and looking forward to every post – thank you and congrats

  • Congratulations MMI!! I am sure that this blog has been very helpful and a great source of information for thousands of people over the years. It has been for me.

    I particularly love the “Some links” section. Thanks to you, I have read a lot of very interesting articles that otherwise I am sure I would not have read.

    I also think you are a great investor. The numbers speak for themselves…

    But the think that engaged me in reading your blog was your way of writing, humble and honest with yourself.

    I hope I can enjoy reading your blog for many more years!

  • Nice review about an outstanding blog! Congrats!

  • Congrats! Such a milestone!! And wise decisions along the way…
    Thanks for sharing these nice highlights and a few great lessons!
    Best of luck for the next 10 years!

  • Thank you for so many insightful and well-thought-out posts, this is one of those high-quality sources of information I read on a constant basis (it’s up there with FT, Bloomberg, Straits Times (SG) and … Klement on Investing)! Oh, and thank you for the “some links” series, it has been the best read on quite a few weekends!

    Although you definitely have done a lot of things right with this blog, there is one thing in particular that stands out in my opinion: you seem be very objective in your analyses and open-minded in your observations and replies. This intellectualy honesty is quite rare nowadays and it makes reading your posts more satisfying than even some of the editorials on Bloomberg and FT.

    Thank you once again for your hard work and hope you will find the energy and motivation to keep adding high quality content to this blog! Meanwhile, enjoy your holidays and season’s greetings from Romania!

  • Great blog and many thanks for your insights!

  • Fantastic. Really enjoy reading your insights. I’ll buy you a beer if you ever come to visit Berlin.

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