[INTU – Intuit] Kind of Into It

(4,382 words) It seems not too long ago, business arrangements between application providers were called partnerships….now they carry distended labels like platforms or ecosystems.  Platforms come in various guises.  Some, like eBay or AirBnB, don’t create products for direct consumption, but instead provide the connective tissue for various constituents of the platform to connect, taking a […]
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[VRSK – Verisk] High Quality Cash Flow, Limited Reinvestment Opportunities

When evaluating the competitive advantage of a data-based analytics business, three important questions come to mind: 1) Is the data proprietary? 2) Are the insights from the data critical? and 3) Does the data fuel a product feedback loop? Verisk began its operations in 1971 as Insurance Services Offices (ISO), a non-profit enterprise started by P&C […]
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[SHW – Sherwin-Williams] Valuation Looks Stretched

If you’re unfamiliar with the architectural coatings sector, you might be surprised to know that selling paint can be a good business…and no one sells it more profitably in North America than SHW, whose market share gains have come from both the multi-decade shift from “Do-It-Yourself” (DIY) to professional paint jobs and a leading position […]

Quick Blurbs [CF Industries, Signet Jewelers, Amerco]

(2,536 words) [SIG – Signet Jewelers] I have zero interest in this stock, but sometimes it’s fun to reminisce on missed calls.  About a year ago, a friend who manages a long/short fund was considering shorting SIG and asked for my opinion.  I said I thought it was a bad idea.  At the time, the […]
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[CBG – CBRE Group] Good Biz, Expensive on Normalized Earnings

(2,377 words) CBG is a fine company but to claim that it is reasonably cycle-resilient post-GWS acquisition is an exaggeration.  Deriving 70% of fee revenue from contractual and purportedly recurring sources will not meaningfully cushion profits in the event of a commercial real estate swoon. From its roots as a regional commercial real estate broker founded in the aftermath of […]
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[GNRC – Generac] Value Come, Value Go

(2,400 words) In between diaper changes and infant tantrums, I finally got around to looking at GNRC this past week. Given the stock’s ostensibly low earnings multiple and a share price that has gotten hammered over the last several years on what appears to be mostly cyclical reasons, I wanted to like the company but couldn’t […]
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[PYPL – Paypal] Business Model and Competition

(2,182 words) PayPal has moved far beyond its roots as an online auctions payment facilitator in the late 1990s/early 2000s (serving eBay, mostly), broadening and deepening its 2-sided network, expanding its reach to mobile (2006), offline transactions (2012), and increasingly, “contextual commerce” (i.e., consumers buying directly on Facebook rather than being redirected to the retailers site).  PayPal’s central […]
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Quick Blurbs [Adient, Jones Lang LaSalle, Mastercard, MRC Global, Scripps Network]

(2,218 words) [MA] In 2009, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) launched an ambitious nationwide program to collect all 10 fingerprints, iris scans, a photo, and all sorts of personal information from each of its 1.2bn citizens in a central database, with a unique 12-digit ID number assigned to each record.  The goal was to […]
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