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Mohnish Pabrai Interview



April 13, 2010 – Comments (0) | RELATED TICKERS: BRK-B , JEF , BRK-A

Pabrai was recently interviewed in Forbes.

At the end of the interview he talks about what is on his checklist.

Forbes: Can you give a couple of the things that are on your 80 [item] checklist?

Pabrai: Oh yeah, sure. The checklist was created, looking at my mistakes and other investors' mistakes. So for example, there's questions like, you know, "Can this business be decimated by low-cost competition from China or other low-cost countries?" That's a checklist question. Another question is, "Is this a win-win business for the entire ecosystem?" So for example, if there's some company doing, you know, high-interest credit cards and they make a lot of money, that's not exactly, you know, helping society. So you might pass on that. Also, a liquor company or tobacco company, those can be great businesses, but in my book, I would just pass on those. Or a gambling business, and so on.

So the checklist will kind of focus you more toward playing center court rather than going to the edge of the court. And there's a whole set of questions on leverage. For example, you know, how much leverage? What are the covenants? Is it recourse or non-recourse? There's a whole bunch of questions on management, on management comp, on the interests of management. You know, just a whole--on their historical track records and so on. So there's questions on unions, on collective bargaining.

So you know, and all of these questions are not questions I created out of the blue. What I did is I looked at businesses where people had lost money. I looked at Dexter Shoes, where Warren Buffett lost money. And he lost it to low-cost Chinese competition. So that led to the question. And I looked at CORT Furniture, which was a Charlie Munger investment. And that was an investment made at the peak of the dot-com boom, where they were doing a lot of office furniture rentals. And the question was, "Are you looking at normalized earnings or are you looking at boom earnings?" And so that question came from there. So the checklist questions, I think, are very robust, because they're based on real-world arrows people have taken in the back.


Dan Dzombak




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