In one of the model portfolios we run, there are 5 best of breed mutual funds.

But one of the holdings in the group, Fairholme Funds, managed by Bruce Berkowitz, has seen some recent changes. The manager became a champion of real estate developer the St. Joe Company (JOE). The fund now owns a whopping 29% of the company.

Berkowitz has become a director and chairman of JOE. He is battling Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn over the stock. Einhorn laid out his case for why he is short St. Joes (here), and believes it should be trading under $10.

From an investor’s perspective, all of the above is nonsense. It appears to have been a distraction to Berkowitz, and Fairholme Funds performance has suffered.

So we fired him.

To be blunt, I have no interest int he outcome of this fight, These are two smart guys, and both are excellent managers. But I don’t want client’s to be the kids caught in the middle of a divorce, collateral damage of two parents arguing. Its a huge distraction, and it is not why we selected Berkowitz’s fund in the first place. It was easy to replace his value fund with the dividend SPX index (SDY), which cut the management fees to the investor by 60%.

But it raises an interesting question: When do you fire your mutual fund manager?

Here are my 5 criteria:

When they suffer from style drift: This happens quite often; a manager developed an expertise in a given areas, but is looking beyond that. Maybe they got bored, maybe the new cow in the pasture caught the bull’s eye. Whatever it is, they are doing less and less of why you bought them int he first place. That’s a signal to move on.

When they become too big: Some managers find a niche that they can profitably exploit. But beyond a certain size — and that can range from $1 billion to $5 billion dollars — they no longer can create alpha with that strategy. This may be true for eclectic segments like convertible arbitrage, but I have found its especially true for small cap and emerging technologies.

When they fight the dominant market trend: Bill Miller’s streak came to an end amidst a value trap. He bought more and more of his favorite holdings — banks, GSEs and investment houses — right into the financial collapse. Doubling down again (and again) is not a valid investment strategy. Whatever advantages he had heading into 2008 disappeared.

When they become a closet indexer: When a fund owns 100, 150, 200 names, they effectively become a high cost index. Even if they have the top performing stocks, it will be in such small quantities as to not move the needle. This is an easy fix — you replace them with a low cost, passive index.

When they seem to lose their edge: Whether its success or money or a loss of interest, managers sometimes lose the fire in the belly. Determining this is admittedly challenging in real time, and we often find out after the fact about some personal issues.

Notice that Performance is not a factor in any of the 5 bullet points above. There are two reasons for that

1. Process, not outcome: I want to be focused on creating a reproducible methodology, regardless of luck or misfortune in any given quarter. Investing is a probabilistic process, and performance can slip for a quarter or wo even when the manager is doing everything right.

2. Mean Reversion: The opposite of chasing performance (and buying high) is dumping a weak quarter (selling low) that then snaps back.

These are my reasons to be replace a formerly favored active manager with another vehicle. What are your reasons?

Category: Corporate Management, Investing

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

38 Responses to “When Do You Fire a Manager?”

  1. [...] Five reasons to fire a money manager.  (TBP) [...]

  2. JasRas says:

    We compare the manager versus their peers over a number of time periods, using that and some other criteria to select managers. Once selected, we continue to follow our metrics with a defined “line in the sand” that; allows for periods of underperformance, yet doesn’t allow the fund to “get away”. These are objective, non-emotional levels we use no matter how much we like the fund manager, their process, or past ability.

    On a separate aspect, we’ve instituted the “Ken Heebner rule”. Many of the funds we use are seldom heard of boutique managers when we start using them. Ken Heebner was one that was largely only know amongst his own kind. Eccentric, eclectic, described by someone in Boston who occasionally saw him at professional association meetings as “someone who looked like he just got up and put on clothes without doing any grooming”. Well, he became known, popular, and posted fantastic results. Then the inflows came in a deluge. Then he was a media darling. Then,…he blew up. We are very concerned that Fairholme is on the same track. When we started using him, he had a little over a billion under management. Since then, he’s been crowned “manager of the decade”, has had too many media articles and appearances to suit us, and has handled the deluge of inflows by continuing his focused portfolio and take huge, outsized positions in financials that are in the opinion of many I respect, “unknowable values” and therefore uninvestible. While our objective metrics have not warranted removal from the portfolio, our experience has caused us to dilute his position weighting and keep a watchful eye.

    I firmly believe no manager can consistently outperform, and thus concur with John Bogle on that statment. Where I differ from Bogle is he uses that as an argument to give up and index, while I use it as a mission statement for my business which uses our statistical knowledge to the advantage of our clients.

  3. dead hobo says:

    I’m assuming you disciplined yourself in addition to removing the manager. His failure is a direct reflection of your failure. You just provided an excellent description of a company with poor internal control in some areas and, as a result, you had to resort to the nuclear option to repair a symptom without addressing the problem.

    While managing active investments is as subjective a business as you can have, you can still provide objective criteria to evaluate divisional and personnel performance and goal attainment. When deviations from the objectives occurs, you can step in and evaluate well before things get out of hand. Since managing active investments effectively requires someone to constantly aim for and hit a continually moving target, you need to have objectives and procedures that reflect change. In other words you have to execute objective control while performing a form of management differential calculus. You need to be able to evaluate performance in relation to the objective plan. This requires a written plan and a means to evaluate and adjust the plan as the economy changes.

    What I read above described a seat of the pants approach.

  4. Dead Hobo,

    I have to disagree with your unwarranted assumptions.

    One of our portfolios contains some active managers. If you are going to own mutual funds with active managers, you need a discipline as to when and how you will end stop out. When a value guy becomes an activist investor and chairman, that is cause.

    If you have a better set of criteria for when you are going to cut loose an active manager, I’d love to hear them . . .

  5. budhak0n says:

    Perhaps you should rethink your approach to “managers” as well. But considering where you are in life and so on, you probably won’t have much more need of them prior to setting out and leaving “it” all behind.

    Current “money manager” relationship are firmly entrenched in the outdated Boomer model so if you’re seriously considering listening to Woody, you might want to expand the book a bit.

    My true opinion is that “managers” are a net negative in just about every activity but somebody has to make sure you open the doors in the morn and turn the lights off when the Elvises have left the building.

    Fire them all for all I care. It’s not exactly a value added job description .

  6. wally says:

    “When they seem to lose their edge”

    Personally, I think you are anthropomorphizing random statistical events.

  7. Stephen says:

    I’m an index investor using mostly ETFs, but I usually own 1 or 2 mutual funds as a diversifier. I usually use a mutual fund like FAIRX, where you have a good manager and a concentrated fund. And of course, right now, I’m using FAIRX as a diversifier.

    So how would an individual investor know about something like this? Reading 10ks?

    I prefer to invest in smaller funds that are growing – I had been conscious of the fact that FAIRX had gotten relatively large. The challenge now is to find a smaller fund. There’s less written about them and they are often hard to find.

  8. MorticiaA says:

    In addition to the reasons you list above, I would only add a few:
    1. When they hold onto too much cash for an extended period of time without a reasonable explanation. Seriously, if I wanted my clients to hold cash I’d put them in cash myself.

    2. When they give stupid reasons for underperformance. Example: one LC growth manager was asked why his MF outperformed his SMA by a considerable margin. The answer was that he can hold ordinary shares in the fund but can only hold ADR’s of foreign co’s in the SMA. Okay, so I buy that for PART of the attribution but it wasn’t a good enough story to explain all of the underperformance. Plus, the fund didn’t hold that many multi-nationals. It was a bogus but convenient story.

  9. dead hobo says:

    BR,

    Did you fire an employee who made some bad investments in a mutual fund you founded and manage, or did you just change from one purchased fund to another like millions of others do from time to time, and refer to it as ‘firing your manager’ because the fund has a manager you now disapprove of?

    ~~~

    BR: This is a portfolio that contains a mix of asset classes, driven by a diversified model.

    When Fairholme fell out of favor, we replaced it with an ETF, not an active manager.

  10. Disinfectant says:

    This is pretty clear performance chasing with rationalization after-the-fact. I’m not surprised at the former since Barry believes in momentum, but the latter is completely devoid of quality thinking and not consistent from what we usually hear from Barry. The reality is that there is no evidence that St. Joe’s “distractions” have caused FAIRX to underperform. It should be noted that FAIRX’s underpeformance has lasted for just three months – the funds holdings today are very similar to what it was on December 31, 2010, when it was closing out a year in which it outperformed the S&P 500 by 10.4%. Claiming that FAIRX “now” owns 29% of JOE is misleading, because almost all of those shares were purchased well over a year ago. By the way, JOE is actually up 19% ytd, so you can’t claim that JOE’s returns are hurting the fund at all this year (you could have made that argument last year, but FAIRX’s many other positions overcame that).

    If you actually look at the fund’s holdings, you’ll see quite clearly the reason for underperformance in 2011: big name financials. At the top of the list is AIG, which has been clobbered this year. The big banks have also done poorly. FAIRX started building these positions over a year ago, so I hope you’re not implying that Berkowitz’s involvement in JOE somehow caused these financials stocks to perform poorly.

    Simply put, dumping FAIRX today is not much different than dumping AIG, C, BAC, etc. If your investment is aligned with that, then maybe it makes sense. Berkowitz may indeed be making a mistake in concentrating on these stocks, but that and only that is his error so far in 2011. JOE is almost a non-event in causality of FAIRX performance.

  11. dead hobo says:

    So, if I understand you, you just dropped one fund in favor of another investment and referred to it as firing your manager because you originally purchased the fund because of who was managing it.

    My mistake. Based on the terminology you used in the main post, I confused a change in investment with a personnel performance issue due to a lack of certain internal controls. It read like you fired an employee, not dropped a fund.

  12. EPI says:

    Why is it the cranks ignore the question? I don’t get that other than intellectual laziness.

    I no longer own actively managed funds, preferring indexes with my own market timing (I have relied on BR for some insight to my own positioning)

    But if you have actively managed funds, when do you lose a bad manager? Dead Hobo and Disinfectant seemed to ignore that question . . .

  13. huesos says:

    Let’s complicate the decision. I own FAIRX and have a big unrealized gain (bought it 6 years ago). Does one pay the taxes and switch out for reasons that may or may not be legitimate? Not an easy decision!

  14. ashpelham2 says:

    Thanks for posting this, Mr. Ritholtz. I’ve nothing to add, and I’m unqualified to even do so. However, this is a good list of reasons to retain so that less sophisticated people who make decisions about which funds to hold/offer can use. I encounter business leaders and owners who have retirement plans in place at their place of business all the time. They are certainly interested in when the time comes to make a fund change, and wondering what they should consider. It’s great to note that PERFORMANCE is the latter of the factors needed to make that decision.

  15. JasRas says:

    Frankly, most people would be appalled about the reasons they own the things they do. A good lunch with a good story? Chasing a hot manager, hot sector, with no parameters?

    Fairholme has had “style drift” multiple times over the course of owning it. Each time, it faced a “heads up” with what was already in that space and won out. I looked at it as the evolution of an all cap fund. There was no need for appologies. I suspect there will be little style drift now, considering its size.

    @huesos: first consult your accountant. second 15% long term gain is here for a limited time only. third never make an investment decision because of taxes. Success in investing begets taxes and knowing when to realize your taxes is just part of that success. No manager stays on top forever. There are a lot of American Century Ultra owners and Janus 20 owners and other “great” former funds that wished they’d paid the taxes.

    @MorticiaA: I love it when an FA trained in sales thinks they “know” when their client needs cash over the institutional manager with the CFA, the MBA from Univ of Chic, Kellog, Wharton, Harvard, Yale, etc. Plus it is absolutely naive to even think you know what the manager is holding right now anyhow. They’re only require to “show their hand” twice a year…

  16. chris H says:

    barry

    i think your list of reasons to fire a manager is excellent. i just don’t really see it applying to berkowitz.

    there has been no style drift. berkowitz is a contrarian who likes (currently) financials and other unloveds. no change here, as joe is just another RE theme similar to general growth (which seems to be turning out quite well).

    is fairx too big? then maybe sell some fairx and buy some faafx (which is what i did).

    as for fighting dominant trend, this doesn’t apply to berkowitz as he is a contrarian. you wouldn’t have been in fairx in the first place if you were concerned about this.

    no one can accuse berkowitz of being a closet indexer.

    as for whether berkowitz has lost his edge, this is up for debate. fwiw, i find berkowitz less wedded to his positions in an emotional or rationalizing way than most managers, and usually a manager loses his edge by not being able to admit a mistake and move on.

    now, you can say that berkowitz should have just admitted his mistake with joe and moved on. but joe is 2% of fairx’s holdings, so if it is a mistake it is a small mistake. but i think berkowitz should be praised for pursuing a quick and relatively easy fix for joe (admit it, that was the shortest proxy contest in history), instead of just moving on. so joe offers deep value opportunity with a reasonable opportunity to be realized (commercial and residential build out once the florida RE market turns). this is berkowitz to a T.

  17. Keep in mind, Fairholme’s performance has not been bad — but its manager seems to be getting more involved in things that are not running the fund.

    He was not hired to be a chairman board member of a public company. It appears to be a distraction to me. I wish the fund and its investors the best of luck, but we would rather not be involved.

  18. MorticiaA says:

    @JasRas:
    I am not an FA (though I am a recovering one). While I do not hold a CFA, I am plumb in the middle of achieving that distinction. Furthermore, most of what I utilize are SMA’s – I can see EXACTLY how much cash each manager holds in my client’s sub-accounts, on any given day.

  19. chris H says:

    well, if berkowitz suddenly became an icahn, i would agree. i just see this as a one-off for berkowitz.

    what is special about berkowitz is the way he uses consultants (on an exclusive basis) to ferret truly unique research on unloved names. aig is the best example of that, but buying the debt of general growth is another.

    you are letting one small distraction make you sell a manager who offers so much more value-added (imo) than the typical manager.

    anyhow, barry, let’s put a pin in this one and come back in 6 months. i am staying with berkowitz.

  20. [...] When do you fire a fund manager?  (Big Picture) [...]

  21. Disinfectant says:

    Berkowitz’s appearance on company boards is not new, it’s just that the JOE situation has gotten big headlines over the confrontational nature. Berkowitz has served on the boards of no less than eight companies since starting his mutual fund. This link provides a list: http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=1478105&privcapId=22882519&previousCapId=26586&previousTitle=Clinicor,%20Inc.

    Olympus Re Insurance Company, Ltd., 1999-Present
    Winthrop Realty Trust, 2002-2004
    Safety Insurance Group Inc. ,2004-2010
    White Mountains Insurance Group, Ltd., 2004-2009
    TAL International Group, Inc., 2008-2009
    General Motors Financial Company, Inc., 2011-Present (I believe this used to be Americredit; not sure Berkowitz is actually still involved there)
    The St. Joe Company, 2011-Present

    If you want a run-of-the-mill fund manager that won’t go a little activist from time to time, Berkowitz is not your man

    ~~~

    BR: Its more than being a director — tis becoming Chairman plus owning 29% of the firm. (I do not recall any of those situations you mention including those elements)

  22. ZackAttack says:

    Another piece I would really like to see – When do you *HIRE* a manager?

    Are there a priori criteria that allow you to identify who WILL be the next Bill Miller, Seth Klarman, etc, before they make the magazine covers?

    I’m not smart enough to figure this kind of stuff out. I index. I think nearly everyone who isn’t a professional investor probably should index.

  23. I don’t see a problem with your reasoning.

    and @zack

    When do you *HIRE* a manager?

    When he has built a five year track record.

    Leave the amateur managers to the amateur investors

  24. ZackAttack says:

    See, Common Man, my counterexample to –

    “When he has built a five year track record”

    would be a lot of the flameouts of the 90s.

    Garret Van Wagoner would be a poster child. Close to 300% returns in 1999, after a bumpy but up prior 4 years.

    Another one, Gary Pilgrim built a helluva record for the first half of the 90s. 30% annually from ’92 – ’95, struggled for 3 years, then 99% in 1999. (know about it because I had friends in it.) Completely imploded.

    They had great 5 year records and wound up losing you every dime.

    The number of counterexamples who *don’t* revert to the mean can be counted on one hand. I submit that no one’s that smart to be able to identify them a priori.

  25. JasRas says:

    Here is the primary problem with SMA’s over other ways to invest with managers: it is a type of account that basically forces the manager to be fully invested at all time despite what they may think. It is a flawed investment style sold with an institutional sizzle.

    ADR’s can and do often lead to underperformance b/c it limits a manager’s pool of international companies to several hundred companies versus the thousands that are available in ordinaries. Plus, as said earlier, you simply have no idea how many ordinaries your mutual fund manager had versus the SMA product b/c they only have to reveal holdings twice a year. Another thing that can help a mutual fund outperform an SMA is the benefit of being able to buy into positions on nearly a daily basis while SMA’s rarely have frequent cash additions. This is a very real difference that can lead to substantial performance disparities.

    Sadly, most retail investors buying SMA’s envision they are getting institutional management at its best, and instead they are getting a manager that is heavily handicapped.

  26. Fitz says:

    Barry – What a great topic!

    @JasRas – Agreed on SMAs. Definitely, a tool…but grossly oversold. Example: Why would you limit your intnl equity options to ADRs only? Someone please tell me. Or…why create your own basis in an SMA when many managers have a mimic mutual fund with a large embedded loss you can buy into (obviously for taxable accounts only).

    @Morticia – some managers have a great track record of implementing cash as a bi-product of their investment process with 15-20 year track records to back it up. Your firm just doesn’t have them on the “shelf”. All SMA’s huh? Hmmm. I hope that our paths cross someday. :) There is no one structure that suits all investment classes. An effective strategy likely needs an allocation to various structures including ETFs/MFs and LPs. Surely you don’t implement high yield bonds with an SMA? Or EM? (yes i realize EM options exists but I pray no one out there is telling their clients they have EM exposure in ADR only SMA’s).

    Some investment classes are just suited to different vehicles. See the flurry of MLP options in ETN/ETF/MF structure??? All crap. They eliminate the tax benefit….but they hit broker quotas! Smoke up Johnny!!! You have to use an SMA or LP or just buy the names yourself. Just another example where certain structures do not fit the investment.

    On to the actual post (sorry)…

    I think a lot of the banter needs to address why you own a manager in the first place. If you own Berkowitz you should expect to be out of sync with the market at some point – and in a VERY big way. Its called tracking error and with a manager like this you MUST expect very high tracking error. With value investors like this – and there are several greats still out there doing this – you invest in the person or the team…that they continue to implement the same process. If you perceive a distraction, then its prudent to ask yourself why. This is the fun part. There are no indicators that go off…no bells ring…no moving averages are violated. You look at the information and go with your gut. Do this for long enough and you get good at it. Add to the fact that BB seems to be a loner, losing staff and using all these outside consultants. None of that really sits right with me. You have to wonder about the red ferrari syndrome or something else. I do. I like humble, die at your desk-type value guys. Something tells me that’s not BB but to each his own. There are plenty of great value guys to look at as replacement.

    Barry – Why move from a guy with the potential for big alpha to an ETF — assuming you used a broader type index and not a specialized “bet”.

  27. Mike C says:

    My mistake. Based on the terminology you used in the main post, I confused a change in investment with a personnel performance issue due to a lack of certain internal controls. It read like you fired an employee, not dropped a fund.

    You might want to get tested for Asbergers. They tend to easily confuse the literal words on the page with the meaning/intent of the words.

  28. dead hobo says:

    Mike C Says:
    April 6th, 2011 at 12:54 am

    You might want to get tested for Asbergers. They tend to easily confuse the literal words on the page with the meaning/intent of the words

    reply:
    ———-
    I tend to use normal everyday definitions for common words over obscure industry jargon, especially when no qualifiers or additional explanation is used to differentiate the common word from the jargonized definition. Of 98% of the people who read this, I assume they also thought BR was airing his dirty laundry in public. Rather, he just rebalanced his portfolio and got poetic about it.

  29. V says:

    They don’t build fund managers like they used to, that’s for sure!

    http://www.fundmymutualfund.com/2011/04/video-cnbc-hedge-fund-legend-michael.html

  30. MacroEconomist says:

    BR, I have the same job as you.

    I would add that I am usually not a fan of high employee turnover or macro bias the latter which could go into style drift.

  31. JasRas says:

    Here are the risks for Fairholme… A fund that three years ago was around $6bln in size, now over $20bln. A fund that three years prior to 2008 was managing $2-3bln. Asset growth has been hyperbolic, and to his credit/detriment, he is trying to maintain a focused approach and use the same methodology of management–the numbers are just much bigger. And that makes the pool of choices for maintain the focused strategy much harder. It also exposes the fund to much larger “blow up” potential as liquidity plays a large factor now. Some of his positions in the past 36 months have been highly illiquid hedge-fund-like positions. They’ve paid off well, there is no doubt. General Growth was fantastic. AIG, surprised everyone and was a huge performer for him. He is still doing contrarian positions, still betting on mean reversion, still betting on companies with what he feels have unrealized value. But he does have a twist on it. He seems to be betting on TBTF/moral hazard winning out. He seems to be betting that financial’s spreads don’t get completely upside-down in a rapid inflation environment. And for at least one stock, he seems to be betting they quit being the government’s problem child. And that company has management issues, integration issues, and still doesn’t know what it owns internally–so how can he know?

    I think BR is right in his assessment, but my quant numbers don’t warrant removal from our portfolios yet. But my “spidey-senses” allow me to dilute his position in our portfolio. I hope I’m wrong, but it is the first time when his actions are not in line with my other highly respected value gurus. And that is concerning.

  32. Fitz says:

    @JasRas – Amen brother…good comments. Follow your “spidey-senses”.

  33. RothcoUDipthtick says:

    I run multi-manager portfolios over here in the UK.

    I’m largely in agreement with Barry here…

    Aside from what has been written I think you could maybe add changes to the corporate structure or team. For example, if the fund manager suddenly has to take on another mandate – is looking at setting up another fund, or if one of their key research team leaves -maybe that is just a precursor to style drift…

    I also think you need to know when to own a particular manager and what to expect from them in terms of style & mandate. Then you are less likely to be disappointed.

    There may be many managers I like – but they don’t all go in to the portfolio at the same time.

    Just simply, when a party ends I will not be looking at long only, but the range of hedging options. If the market is momentum driven and not fundamental same thing.

    The ‘when’ part comes down to your own macro view, which is to a certain extent subjective. But if you are paid to add value, then you take it.

    I blend an active and passive approach as I believe too that there are certain markets where it’s not really worth paying for a manager. The passive part allows you to trade, adds liquidity and cuts the total cost. That said I cover all asset classes and I cannot be a master of them all, so I rely on people with more expertise than myself. I use external research & cross examination to help test my ideas. There are certain markets where it just makes sense to own a fund rather than a few underlying stocks.

    The question is – is it possible to be a master of stocks and funds at the same time? Given my experience, I don’t think you can. But I don’t think one way is better than the other – you have to find your own style.

    I would say the difficulty is not in picking a good manager per se, but getting the portfolio blend right and adjusting it real time on a top down view.

    Personally, the characteristics I am looking for are:

    A smaller fund -ideal candidate £200-£500m
    Ideally a manager who has been successful elsewhere but has been thwarted by their own success (fund size became too big, became closet tracker, corporate behemoth)
    Conviction managers – comes with its own risks, but you have a chance of adding alpha
    I prefer it if they do not fight the dominant themes (again if they do you can still own them, but you need to know when)

    Sometimes I’ll pick a fund for the assets not the manager. e.g. some of the dog funds in 2008 who got their strategy wrong and were unable to sell their assets due to illiquidity were suddenly the assets to own after various govt. guarantees…guess what next 2009 – top of the table.

    The other point I would mention is that if one has an attraction to the lesser known funds, the esoteric etc. -similarly you can fall in to a mind trap. Sometimes simple things work best. You have to maintain an even hand in terms of research to know what the mainstream and what the lesser known are thinking.

  34. Greg0658 says:

    psst – I was kidding around .. and so is Trump .. he will not want to divest & open the books up .. he will not want Secret Service eyes on him for the rest of his life .. he’s (as well as I) playing us like a deck of cards .. the cash raised will be passed to his choice with a finders fee drained

    and that birth certificate stuff – this melting pot America should loose that birthright line too* – so that opens up the Arnold for the GOP

    *coda – like rule of law is rule’g here … 90/10 rules
    *2nd coda – up with electoral college

    and the “one billion dollars” … well maybe** – if its for the whole Army of mules

    ** NOT

  35. Disinfectant says:

    JOE went as low as $17 per share after Einhorn’s presentation. Berkowitz’s increased involvement has gotten the stock back up to $27. That $10 move has resulted in a $231 million increase in value to FAIRX. So, are you really sure that this is not an appropriate use of Berkowitz’s time? Would the time used spent researching a brand new company instead have yielded that profit any time soon? I really doubt it.

    And that $231 million actually understates the alternative. The implied assumption here is that Berkowitz should never get involved and just vote with his feet, i.e., if you’re displeased with management, just sell your shares. If Berkowitz started selling his JOE shares, the price would not only have not recovered, it would likely remain depressed well below $17.

    ~~~

    BR: As of December 2011, its been between $13 – 16 for the past 4 months (closed at $15.03 on 12/16/11)