On this Flashback Friday episode, Jason Hartman interviews Chris Mayer, the managing editor of the Capital and Crisis and Mayer’s Special Situations newsletters. They discuss the stock market, what a dealmaker is, and the tiers in the financial serviced industry. They also talk about the status of real estate and the benefits of investing in real estate.
This show is produced by the Hartman media company. For more information and links to all our great podcasts visit Hartman media.com.
Welcome to the flashback Friday edition of the creating wealth show with Jason Hartman. As he rapidly approaches 1000 episodes of this podcast, he has hand picked individual episodes that he feels is going to be good review for you to prepare you for the future by listening to the past. Let’s dive in.
Welcome to the creating wealth show with Jason Hartman. You’re about to learn a new slant on investing some exciting techniques and fresh new approaches to the world’s most historically proven asset class that will enable you to create more wealth and freedom than you ever thought possible. Jason is a genuine self made multi millionaire who’s actually been there and done it. He’s a successful investor, lender, developer and entrepreneur who’s owned properties in 11 states had hundreds of tenants Get involved in thousands of real estate transactions. This program will help you follow in Jason’s footsteps on the road to your financial independence day. You really can do it. And now, here’s your host, Jason Hartman with the complete solution for real estate investors.
Jason Hartman 1:18
Thank you so much for joining us today. We’ve got a great guest today. And this is his second time on the show. It’s Chris Mayer, and he is pretty much a stock market guy, which might make you wonder why I would have him on in the first place and why I’d have him back. But I had no idea he felt this way until he told me just before we started recording for this interview you’re about to hear and he talked about how incredibly bullish he is on housing right now because of the excellent returns and so forth. So I think you’re gonna hear some really interesting stuff in this interview, and I think you’ll like that. So we will have Chris Mayer here in just a moment from a Gora financial the famous bill Bonner and Addison Wigan we had on the show before from Laura, their big newsletter company. Anyway, one of the things I wanted to tell you though, before we get to that interview is about our exclusive deals. You know, I’ve been talking to a few potential clients lately. And you know, I kind of hear sometimes that people are shopping around, they’re talking to different outfits out there that claim to have investment properties and so forth. And what I wanted to tell you is to be really, really careful of this because we have exclusive exclusive properties in our network that are not available anywhere else. How do I know they’re exclusive? Well, because of the agreements that we’ve set up with some of our partners or local market specialists in the various cities, but also and more importantly, I’ve been funding some of the deals and my clients are our clients, I should say, have been funding some of the deals now. I mean, funding them at the source, the source where the local market specialist, doing the rehab and the acquisition of that property, buying it usually at the foreclosure They’re funding the deals. And so what we do is we make an agreement that any deals we fund plus some additional deals, but the deals we fund for sure are earmarked for our network. So you will not see these deals anywhere else. They are exclusive to us so you can hear more about them by talking to our investment counselors or going to visit Jason Hartman calm and taking advantage of those because we really do have some great properties. You know, I went to happy hour last night with one of our clients here in Scottsdale, Arizona, and he’s probably listening to the show. So hi, Kyle, how are you? I asked him about the transaction. He just closed with us in the greater Atlanta area. And we were talking about it and he pulled out his smartphone and showed me the Performa and it’s the same format that we use. I thought at first he was just going to our website or looking at the Performa that our investment counselor provided him when he bought the property but that’s not what happened. The performing He pulled out let me just share this performance with you a little bit. Now, this is a Performa that is in the same format, you’ll find on all the properties at Jason Hartman calm but I won’t allow our investment counselors to publish it this way. And I won’t allow our local market specialist to publish it this way either. But oddly enough, I told Kyle that when we were talking, and he said, You know, that’s true. And that’s a good idea from a business sense, because it limits your liability and so forth. And, you know, I always have had the philosophy that I want to promise less and deliver more and be conservative with all of our projections and so forth. But what’s interesting about this, as Kyle said, Kyle, our client said that all said this performance probably very accurate. And you know what, I think he might be right about that. Remember, you’re listening to flashback Friday. Our new episodes are published every Monday and Wednesday. Let me just tell you about this deal. So he purchased a property that was just under 1400 square feet greater Atlanta area a three bedroom two bath single family home $64,900 the initial cash invested very low downpayment and that was because he was able to do one of these special two step closes. These are pretty hard to do pretty rare but occasionally they are available and the projected rent on this property a $64,000 property 795 a month positive cash flow to 12 per month or 2540 per year and the capitalization rate or cap rate commonly used commercial real estate metric doesn’t tell the whole story. That’s why we don’t harp on it too much 11% and get this I hope you’re bracing yourself for you’re sitting down because with the number I’m about to tell you is going to blow your mind. Total projected return on investment 1,071% that’s one comma 07 1% total projected return on investment. Wow, you’re probably saying, Are you kidding me? Well, I wouldn’t blame me for saying that. There’s more. So keep listening cash on cash return the performer there 513% 513%. Well, why is that so high? Why are those numbers so incredibly, in fact ridiculously high? Well, because of leverage. This is the power of leverage the total cash invested in this property. At the end of the day after the property was fully financed $495 500 bucks, you can still do that occasionally. And you can buy a house that way from time to time. It’s rare, I have to admit that but look at the power of leverage. Now, think about this. If you buy a property today and you pay all cash, you might do that. And you might refinance it in a year or two or in six months or in 45 days. Who knows? Turn around and turn in all cash investment that doesn’t have those exorbitant returns and turn it in to a phenomenal investment. So that’s the The other great thing about income property, you can always change the game along the way, which reminds me of our members only conference call last night, we have a lot of people on that call. So thank you for joining us. And we do those every month. And they’re free to members $20 for non members, and we had a couple of experts on talking about lease purchases and lease options. And you know, the way you can always change the game with income properties, just fantastic. I mean, there’s always there’s so much flexibility when you’re a direct investor when you’re in control of your own investments. And when you’ve got a vehicle that is so good, like income properties, single family and multi family income property, far and away in my opinion, the best investment around certainly in the most financing favored in the most tax. Favorite investment around and it has universally, but you can change the game anywhere along the way. One of the questions we had on the call last night was if I lease my property on a traditional one year lease for example, am I able to turn that into a lease purchase deal or a lease option deal? And the answer of course, sure you are, you can refinance it, you can 1031 exchange it there are always options, always options there. So just one of the other great great things about income property, be sure to join us for the meet the Masters event, it is all most fall so we I don’t know the exact numbers on it. But we are we are getting to capacity on that event. And it’s coming right up October 14 through the 16th and the room block at the Hyatt Regency Irvine may by the time you listen to this be gone. I’m not sure but give them a call the Hyatt Regency Irvine mentioned us and hopefully there’ll be some of those rooms left at $119 Friday night, we’re going to do a dinner. And we’re going to kind of have some exercises and get to know everybody. And I think that’ll be just a lot of fun. It’ll create a lot of sort of intimacy so we can work together and accomplish a lot over the weekend. And then we’re going to go, we’re going to go a little bit later on Saturday evening than usual. We’re going to start at nine on Saturday and go probably into 788 30 on Saturday night, and then all day Sunday as well. So the meet the Masters event, we have a lot of you that have attended In fact, you’ve attended many of them. Now, we’ve been doing these for, oh gosh, what, five years, six years now. And we do them every spring and every fall and a lot of you regulars are coming back. So we’re glad to see that and we’re glad you’re getting value out of it. And we will always try our best to keep delivering value to you and to the new people that are coming. So be sure to be there. We were going over the schedule today. Brittany and I and we’ve just got a great lineup of speakers. We’re always playing with the times that amount of time each speaker gets to speak and we get better at it. Every single event and we’re finding that and allowing enough time for the most important most highly demanded talks and saving time but also having an appearance from the less highly demanded and faster subjects. So I think you’ll really enjoy that. Speaking of membership, we offer a private membership at Jason hartman.com. Our silver membership is only 199 a year and this members website if you have not been to it lately, if you are a member, go back and check it out. Because we’re really working on this thing. It’s got a great user interface. Now the members only podcast episodes are there which includes all of the archives. We don’t have all of the archives up on the feed but we do have a lot of them but all of them are in the members only section and also the special shows like the one I just recorded with famous billionaire hedge fund manager Jim Rogers, who is written many, many books, and he’s in the members section as well as Brian Tracy in the fantastic asset protection plans of Garrett Sutton and Just know that in the members section, we’re going to be giving away some freebies here real soon to members only and we’re constantly just working to improve that the value of that you’ve got the conference call archive, so every monthly call is archived on the site members only videos, members only articles, suggested reading lists, things like that and other links and resources. So take advantage of that Jason Hartman calm and also the other big one besides masters meet the Masters event I want you to join us for is the financial freedom report our newsletter, so you can check all that out of the website. So without further ado, let’s go to Chris Mayer. Now. He was on the show. Oh, about 100 and maybe 130 episodes ago we had him on and he’s a stock market guy. But the reason I like his work I don’t much like stocks. I like being a direct investor. I like being in control of things obviously. But the reason I like Chris’s work so much is because he believes in the concept of investing like a deal maker. Which is a really a different approach and you’re going to hear about that in this interview. That is also the title of his book for a Gora. He writes the special situations newsletter and also capital in crisis. He’s a former banking Insider. So he’s, he’s seen how the system works from the inside and I think you’ll really enjoy this interview. So we will be back with that in just a moment. And I look forward to seeing you middle of October at the meet the Masters event, be sure to register Jason hartman.com. We’ll be back with Chris in just a moment.
Did you know that we offer one on one coaching? This includes six months of one on one coaching. For more information go to Jason hartman.com.
Jason Hartman 12:43
Just a reminder, you’re listening to flashback Friday. Our new episodes are published every Monday and every Wednesday.
It’s my pleasure to welcome Chris Mayer back to the show he has been on before and he is the author of two newsletters for a Gora financial capital and crisis and mayors special situations. And the thing I like about Chris is that he although he is a I’m gonna call him a stock person. And Chris, you may object to that I know so just give me a moment. I’m gonna call him a stock person. Yeah. And you know, I usually don’t like to invest in stocks and things like that where you don’t have control of of things. I like being a direct investor. But the great thing about Chris’s is that he wrote a book called invest like a dealmaker. And it’s really taking the approach of what is the underlying value of the asset, the commodities. So we talk a lot on the show about buying investment property income property, far below the cost of replacement or far below the cost of construction. And that’s what Chris recommends doing with companies that he also has some new opinions and thoughts on the housing market, which we’ll hear about today, and just some really interesting insights. So Chris, welcome back. How are you?
Chris Mayer 13:53
I’m great. Thanks for having me back. It’s good to be here.
Jason Hartman 13:55
And you’re coming to us from Baltimore, Maryland. today.
Chris Mayer 13:58
I am in Baltimore. Yep. Okay, great. Well
Jason Hartman 14:00
tell us a little bit about if you want to expand on on my thoughts about investing like a deal maker.
Chris Mayer 14:05
Yeah, I thought you had a pretty good characterization of it. I don’t mind being called stock picker. I think that’s all right. That’s uh, I think of all Peter Lynch and some of those guys. But to talk more about the deal making aspect, what makes that different is that like you actually I’m not really interested in owning stocks, just any stocks. And so I’m more interested in thinking like a dealmaker, and that is they’re thinking about things like the assets and control and they’re thinking about the business as a whole, sort of what can be done with it, as opposed to when you hear a lot of more amateur stock pickers, they’ll mostly focus on things like Well, what’s the price earnings ratio, or what’s the dividend yield? And, you know, what’s the growth rate? But when you talk about dealmakers and a deal maker might be as an example, somebody like Carl Icahn, or somebody who’s buying or selling whole companies or someone who’s more of a direct investor and has control over that investment and they tend to look at them in a much different way. So I’ve tried to focus my investing activity. He’s around sort of the way those folks look in businesses. And one of those ways is you talked about replacement value. And that’s really a big part of it. Because you the housing analogy is perfect. And I’ve used that analogy before, to describe it to people how it works. If you can buy a house for less than significantly less than what it costs you to construct it, you may have a pretty good deal there. And you can apply that same kind of analysis in the stock market where you can sometimes find companies where the assets that you can buy in the stock market cost you far less than what it would cost someone else to build them from scratch.
Jason Hartman 15:33
Absolutely. Now, I want to talk to you a lot about housing today because that is you know, a primary focus of the shower, or I should say real estate investing. But before we do that, let’s talk for a moment if we could about the financial services industry, Wall Street stock pickers, you’ve talked about investing like a dealmaker, which I think is a fantastic way to look at it. The investment bankers, the the corporate takeover guys back in the 80s, but people that would green mail the board And, you know, cut up the company and sell off the assets. And you know, a lot of people characterize them as evil and so forth. But they really a lot of ways have the right idea because they looked at the underlying value of the assets of the company. And sometimes what we really realized from all that stuff going on in the 80s, is that the company is worth more when you, you buy the stock to gain control and sell off all the assets, like the pieces of real estate, the equipment, the goodwill, the trademarks, etc, that actually running the company itself. Right.
Chris Mayer 16:33
That’s right. And I think I think the big problem that we found in American Finance and why the corporate takeovers became part of the reason why they came onto the scene so strong is that we found that a lot of American corporations really what they lacked was owners. They lacked somebody who was there watching the shop, a lack someone there who was thinking creatively about the assets that they had and what they might do with them, they laugh an entrepreneur. So if you look at some of the best investments over the last 50 years, you’ll find that they were almost always had a dominant entrepreneur as part of it. So you look at Walmart, you know, you had Sam Walton, you look at Apple and Steve Jobs. You look at Amazon, Jeff Bezos you look at. There’s just a long, long list of companies where you had this sort of controlling insider and owner, and someone who thought long term about the business and had a vested interest in doing the right thing over the long term. And that’s really what I’m focusing on. So when I think about dealmakers, I’m also thinking what I’m really looking for is an owner, someone who is there. And what I don’t like is the trend in American Finance. And really, its problem all over the world where you have corporate management teams that have really no stake in the businesses that they manage, or the stake that they have is given to them with low cost options. So their incentive really isn’t for them to think long term about the business. The incentive is for them to keep their their cushy positions,
Jason Hartman 17:55
right and they’re in their big salaries and their bonuses and what they end up doing is kind of raping and pillaging the company usually and taking too much out of it so that it can’t operate correctly. But you know, when you talk about like Sam Walton and Steve Jobs, and there are many other examples, too, rather than just the quote unquote, like financial people, the business people, what you’re talking about there is that is the guy that is watching the store, those companies had had a soul, they had a person who was at stake who really saw a vision, and really cared. No one cares as much as the shopkeeper about the shop. And, of course, this is why big government doesn’t work. This is why socialism doesn’t work this why communism doesn’t work because it’s clickable to a wide range of things. I’m sure it is. And it’s it’s it’s why relationships and marriages don’t work. Sometimes. It’s all based
Chris Mayer 18:42
on incentives and who has ownership.
Jason Hartman 18:44
Yeah, yeah. And who believes in it and who’s at stake? For sure.
Chris Mayer 18:47
So those what I would say about the companies that you mentioned is that they had a soul. They didn’t just have a financial person who was looking to just tear it up and just make make their 10 year for four or five years. Yours. And you know, the thing about it is, we’re talking about a lot of the famous examples, and we could talk a lot about those. But there’s also and this is why I spent a lot of time trying to figure it out as there are other companies, too, that people probably have never heard of that also have, you look at a CEO, and he’s the co founder, and he owns 17% of the shares, or he owns 25% of shares. So there’s a family involved that that owns a big stake in the business. And it’s remarkable, because it’s not only that these businesses, you mentioned before, that they take out, try to take out as much as they can, or we both talked about how they just try to protect their salaries. But when you have a person behind it like that, they’re also willing to change and make and push the business forward. Because, you know, if you have a caretaker management, they’re not necessary. Sometimes they can take really big risks because they have no nothing to lose, really, but sometimes they can also be caretakers and they take no risks. And really what you need to thrive is you need an entrepreneur, you need someone who’s going to push the company in new directions. I mean, Steve Jobs is Last example is that tremendous impact on Apple. And you can look at Apple while he was CEO, Apple while he wasn’t CEO and Apple when he was CEO again. And the performance is there’s marked differences between those different periods. And you can do this across the board, you can look at IBM, and look at it when the Watson’s are running it, and then IBM post Watson, you can look at almost any company and you can see and mark that markable differences when there’s not this person at the helm that you’re mentioning. So yeah, I think it’s very important.
Jason Hartman 20:25
Yeah, that’s a great point. And one of the things I’d say to listeners who are investing in income property is that that person is you. You are that person who has a passion about it and you are the shopkeeper, you’re the person who cares. Instead of relinquishing your hard earned money to some guy at Merrill Lynch, who sticks it in a couple of mutual funds, and you don’t have any soul in that there’s there’s just no, no one has thrown themselves into it. And you know what’s interesting, Chris, you, you talk about Steve Jobs, and I’d encourage any of our listeners to do this because it’s such a great story. Of course, it’s a big story, so it’s not really applicable to a lot of investors, but it illustrates the point that you’re making. And there’s a website I one night, I just got kind of interested in I did it. You know, when Steve Jobs I was there was some news about his illness on the news, and I just looked it up. And it was all of Steve Jobs, major speeches from the very beginning of Apple, and and you know, all through the years, and I watched them in chronological order. And it took a couple hours, as I recall, to do this. And it was just really interesting. And I remember when I bought my first company back, like 13 years ago, when I give a speech, I there was that same twinkle in my eye, I had that passion for the business that Steve Jobs had, and that’s really important.
Chris Mayer 21:40
Oh, yeah. It’s funny you mention that because I did something similar. I looked at I looked at his speeches and there was one commencement address he gave, I think it was at Stanford, Stanford. Yeah.
Jason Hartman 21:48
That was three years ago was awesome. Yeah, it’s a classic.
Chris Mayer 21:52
I encourage anyone to read that and the passion for what he does clearly comes through there. But other things about job that I’ve come across also that are interesting is when you look at another number of times he’s failed. You know, there’s a lot, again, isn’t the whole entrepreneurial thing about being creative and trying things. And you know, he’s had his share of that. But he’s also had tremendous successes. So all this I think plays it plays into what we’re talking about.
Jason Hartman 22:12
It sure does. And I always say to people, if you want to succeed more often, it’s really pretty easy. Just increase your failure rate.
Chris Mayer 22:20
Honors, you know, the founder of a Gore, he always says fail, but fail quickly. So there’s no stigma to failing. We just, you know, get it done and move on. If it doesn’t work. We do the next thing,
Jason Hartman 22:29
right. The problem is most people wallow in it, and for me, and it’s a pity party, and they don’t move on from their failures. But the failures can be great education, Nixon said failure that does not destroy you, strengthens you. And I firmly believe that’s true. But on the financial services industry, before we talk about some specific companies and housing and real estate and that stuff, I just wanted to give the comparison because I think there’s sort of maybe three major tiers. There’s the tier of the mainstream financial services industry, which I think is it’s been in a bubble for a few decades. Bubble has burst I think people have discovered that the emperor has no clothes that walking into Ameriprise or Merrill Lynch or any of the other companies that sell you a bill of goods, a bunch of stupid mutual funds. It just doesn’t work. I think that industry is over and it blows my mind the people I know personally as friends in that industry, nice people, etc. But when I asked them questions, their knowledge is just so Elementary. I mean, they just don’t have any details. It sounds like they listen to the morning call at Merrill Lynch and they heard this is what we’re going to say today. And they just go on and they repeat that spiel to all the clients and and you look at the commercials for these companies on TV. I don’t mean to pick on Merrill or Ameriprise. I just happen to mention those two names there’s a whole industry of them I’m I’m speaking of them generically because they advertise in their bank. Okay. But the commercials the advertising for these companies is so generic It is amazing, these big image ads of people retiring and living the good life. And frankly, I don’t know anyone who’s followed their plan that has achieved that situation.
Chris Mayer 24:11
I guess there’s not a lot of people in the Forbes 400 or whatever that have done it by investing in mutual funds. But I know I certainly agree with your point. Also, I think a lot of it falls on people because they invest in these things. And, you know, I have good friends too, that have money in these mutual funds and, and these are people who will go out of their way to save money on you know, gasoline, who go the extra mile, you know, when they want to buy a washing machine or anything like that checking Consumer Reports, talking to people and yet when it comes to thousands and thousands of dollars, their life savings, or hundreds of thousands of commit on nothing more than Oh, the flimsiest of, you know, rationale. So,
Jason Hartman 24:49
yeah, it’s the guy reading all the reviews on amazon.com. Before he buys a $200 printer, yeah.
Chris Mayer 24:56
He’s gonna become some mutual fund, you know, five stars from Morningstar, whatever and he goes Exactly, exactly.
Jason Hartman 25:01
So so so the next year, okay, that was one tier that I’m just going to call that like the mainstream financial services industry. The next tier is the tier that you mentioned of, I’m going to call them like stock pickers. So these would include and I’m a big fan of this name that I’m about to mention. By the way, I really want to get them on my show, like people like Charles Payne, and I like Charles Payne. I think he’s great Jim Cramer who maybe I like glass. And and all of the people out there giving like specific stock recommendations, that would be like the next tier, which I think is is better than the mainstream financial services industry. But I think the top tier is the tier of investing like a deal maker. And that includes being a direct investor sometimes, or at least investing in something where you know that the founder or the operator has absolute vision and passion for the company and you’re buying the assets far below their replacement cost. Would you agree that those are like three different tiers of Maybe investors interface without there.
Chris Mayer 26:03
Yeah, I think that’s those are, those are interesting tears. And I think that two of those things you nailed there are very important. I mean, I have a system I use when I pick stocks and I’ve have a an acronym so people can easily remember it and the acronym is code. And C is cheap. What you mentioned is buying below replacement value, O is for ownership and we want people to have a stake in the business that we invest in. So that’s two of the four right there. The D being disclosures, meaning it has to be something that’s transparent transparency is very important. Meaning that we can understand the business we know they make money we can follow it and he is for excellent financial condition which covers for a lot of sins. We don’t want to invest in things that have excessive amounts of leverage or or that kind of thing. So those are kind of my four pillars of how I look and look to see so
Jason Hartman 26:46
say the code again just so people get it
Chris Mayer 26:49
yep, code sees cheap, specifically mine below replacement value. Oh is for ownership. We want people have a stake in the business and D is for disclosure, which has to do about with the training Parents in the business, we can understand what’s going on, and ease for excellent financial condition. So we’re not going to invest in things that are excessively leveraged. Those are the core principles.
Jason Hartman 27:09
Right? Right. So we’ve got these three tiers. Now let’s talk about the corporate world in the in the stock world for a moment. And then I want to talk about real estate stuff. What do you like out there? And why
Chris Mayer 27:20
do you like it? Yeah. Well, that’s a good question. I think right now is a very, very, sort of uncertain time. And so one of the things that I’ve fallen back on is to look at what the insiders themselves are buying. And that’s been a big part of the last couple months that I’ve been writing these letters, because one of the most remarkable things we had, that we saw on this called the August crash, is that we saw insiders come out of pocket and start buying stock at a numbers that we haven’t seen since since 2009, or the early part of 2009. So that certainly got my attention. And, and that’s really a kind of interesting response to a crisis because a lot of people have sold if you look at individual investors They’re pulling money out of mutual funds and at record levels, so they have a tendency to take money out at the bottom and put it back in when things are going well. And the insiders tend to be different, give you a different indicator. So this is kind of interesting time because normally thematically I might tell you, you know, certain stocks I like whether I like energy or like this or like that, but right now it’s more patchy and so I’m picking and choosing among things that are the insiders are buying with a fundamental business seems to be very profitable, and have a bright future. So I can mention specific names, if you want to know if that’s Yeah,
Jason Hartman 28:32
no, no, absolutely. I’d love to mention some specific names. But before you do that, the insider thing. I mean, certainly that seems like great advice. I mean, I want to buy into something where the insider has faith in their own deal. I want my partners in that in that venture to be at stake. Right. You never want a partner who’s not at stake and doesn’t have quote unquote, skin in the game. Right?
Chris Mayer 28:55
Right. And some of them have proven to be pretty, pretty good buyers and their own stock. So either You know, there’s some of these CEOs you look at and say, well, the last time I bought the stock was here and look what happened, that sort of thing.
Jason Hartman 29:06
Yeah, absolutely. So the one thing though, that could sort of tilt this equation and make it maybe a little less valid, I’m just trying to be a skeptic here for a moment. So forgive me, but just sort of the general economic environment where there’s just loads of money that’s been sitting on the sidelines for the last few years. And and maybe the reason the insiders are buying more is because they just sort of have this money available that they got to do something with it. And one of the things they’re doing is buying their own stock, but they’re also doing other stuff, too. Your thoughts on it?
Chris Mayer 29:36
Well, my experience is that the the insiders won’t buy their own stock unless they’re unless they’re pretty confident. Now there’s there are some insiders that you’ll look and they’ll there’ll be token purchases, and so those you’ll discount, there are some insiders that buy, then maybe they’re on the board or something and that’s probably less of a signal than if you had the CEO and the CFO and the chairman, the board all buying
Jason Hartman 29:55
the act of operations, the
Chris Mayer 29:57
activity Yes. And so there’s something to that. I also would lean back on a lot of the more academic research that’s been done on this, which, which shows that insider purchases as a whole outperform the market, depending on what study you cite something between six and 10% percentage points a year that can be outperformance there. So, I think there can be a lot of skepticism because I’ve, when I’ve talked to people about this, I thought you were gonna say, because I’ve heard this objection before, as people say, Well, you know, there’s a lot going on with the economy. Now, there’s a lot of bad stuff in Europe and bad stuff, and
Jason Hartman 30:29
they’re moving the money back to the thing. So
Chris Mayer 30:30
they don’t really know they say they don’t really understand the macro situation sort of discounting, their company might look good, but it might be overwhelmed by you know, events.
Jason Hartman 30:40
So that’s the theory of there’s no other place to put the money so they think their company is the best safe haven. In other words,
Chris Mayer 30:46
you gotta remember to with the insiders, they’ve already in a way they’re most of them are betting pretty heavily on the company. I mean, they they get, and they may have a big stake already, they might have you know, they get their salaries and livelihood out of it. So for them to then reach into their own pocket. put more money in is usually a pretty strong statement. Of course, there are exceptions and nothing’s perfect. But in general, if you can buy, you know, we’ve got a chairman CEO, and they’re buying million dollar shots of the stock at a time, and you can buy right alongside them. And that’s usually something interesting.
Jason Hartman 31:16
I agree with you. I agree with you. The only thing I’d love to see, and I doubt this is even possible is a study of the amount the insider holds of that company’s stock in relation to their own personal net worth, for example, so if an insider buys a million dollars worth of stock in their own company, but their net worth that, yeah, but their net worth is 100 million or a billion dollars, that’s chicken feed to them, right? It’s nothing so it looks good on paper that hey, that insiders buying, but they might just be doing that to sort of make it look good. And they might just only have a moderate faith in the company, but they’re throwing a few bones at it, whereas they’ve got so much net worth outside of the company. That would be a great study.
Chris Mayer 31:55
Yeah, I don’t know that. I’ve seen studies that dress in quite that way. But there are studies that show that CEOs that have at least some percentage at stake in the business outperform. So I’ve seen CEOs where they’ve done the threshold at 10%. And they look at their stocks and compare it to control group where the CEOs on much less percentage, and the CEOs, which have bigger percentage of the business do well, so there’s something to holding a sizable stake in the business, but I haven’t seen a relative to their own net worth, which would be more difficult to do, as you suggest, because you’d have to know their personal financial statements and so forth. Yeah. And a lot of these guys also are, I mean, I’ve been in this business writing newsletters for seven years before that I was in corporate banking for 10 years. I mean, a lot of them. In addition, even though they may have 10%, or net worth in a company, there is quite a bit ego and drama involved in a lot of this and there’s a certain pride and being part of a successful company and a company that does well. So some of that, I mean, you know, I don’t know, that company, that they’re going to throw money at something and deliberately in an effort to deceive people, but I mean, I’m sorry, that’s happened at some point, but as a general rule, you know, I I think Probably not the case.
Jason Hartman 33:00
Well, and the ego is definitely a powerful thing. So that’s that’s good that they have ego in the game. I want them to have their ego invested in. Yeah, you want them? Yeah, absolutely.
Chris Mayer 33:09
Well tell the listeners some of the things you like and why maybe three examples would be good. Okay. Well, one recent example that I’ve recommended is a company called federal mogul, which Carl Icahn actually owns 76% of the stock. So you definitely have an owner there. And this is a company that makes autoparts and it’s fallen quite a bit in August sell off down about $15 or so. And he’s been buying it for about two weeks straight in August there during the collapse. He was buying out of a million dollars shot now we know that Carl Icahn is a billionaire so you can make that what you will but he owns 76% of it. And the other thing I like about it is the CEO has particular incentive he when I took out federal mobile bankruptcy brought in his own handpick CEO, again a guy named al Ponte, and he has the option to buy 4 million shares at 1950. So when the stock hit 20 $7 a share earlier in the year he didn’t sell or exercise any of his options, though he could up the options expire in 2014. So I think that’s a good incentive there. I think the alignment of all the incentives that I look for are set up really well here at federal mogul. And I think that the business has gone through tremendous transformation. So they’ve taken a lot of costs. They have tremendous opportunity overseas, there are more and more cars. I mean, I’ve done a lot of overseas travel all over the place, Colombia, South Africa, just this year, heading to Southeast Asia soon. And everywhere you go. There’s cars, cars, cars, cars. So there’s a tremendous opportunity, I think, for auto parts over the long term and federal mogul is a play on that. That would be an example of something that I recommend recently that I like
Jason Hartman 34:40
talking about transparency. I mean, why aren’t they transparent? You know, these are publicly traded companies, they do all the they do all the filings as they’re required to by law. How do you evaluate transparency? You’re not just going with the basic requirements that the SEC puts out, right? That’s correct. Yeah.
Chris Mayer 34:55
I mean, this is more of a qualitative issue. But I would say that transparency business model has a has a role in that. So off the bat, I say that almost any bank would fail transparency except perhaps some of the smallest banks that are maybe thrifts and have very high loan portfolios that you can get a pretty good handle on as far as what’s in them. But for a large, multi billion dollar institution, there’s just no way you can get inside that portfolio and get comfortable at all, what kind of risks they’re taking. And in fact, I would argue that the presidents and CEOs of these companies don’t really know what kind of risks they’re taking. Well,
Jason Hartman 35:27
I think if the last few years has taught us,
Chris Mayer 35:30
yeah, that’s right. It is. Beyond that, I mean, you could take a business model that seems very simple, like say, a natural gas pipeline, but it can be made to be very complicated and not transparent with financial engineering. So I’ve seen pipeline companies that have layered on top of that a number of derivatives buying and selling different, you know, natural gas, a forward and so forth, that that makes it not transparent. So I think what it comes down to is, you have to be able to understand How the business makes money. And it has to be pretty simple. So most of the time, because I have this limitation, I wind up investing in things that most of the companies, I invest in their companies, they make something because you can generally follow a manufacturing operation, you’ve got cost of input, they make something and now it goes at a certain price, you can get a better feel for those kind of ideas are even like a retailer, although I haven’t recommend any retailers in a very long time, or energy companies, a company that produces natural gas is something you can generally get a handle on or produces oil, real estate companies. So these would be example. So disclosure is a qualitative test. And you have to really be honest with yourself whether or not you understand what’s going on in the business. There are certain red flags I think that you would look for, do you have a lot of we saw this in the last few years in the bank. So you have these special purpose off balance sheet, joint ventures and things that are contributing income. And basically, they’re a little black boxes, and that’s something you have to heavily discount. But in general, it’s a qualitative gut feel based on what you have discovered.
Jason Hartman 36:57
We’ll be back in just a minute.
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Jason Hartman 39:16
You don’t want to get approached with fairly regularly oil and gas exploration deals and oil and gas production deals. And when I say gas, I mean natural gas. And these are just small deals where you know, a guy has a few wells or something. Yeah, and he’s raising a million dollars for a fund and he’s going to all his friends and family and getting 50 grand from each person type thing. Do you have any thoughts about those?
Chris Mayer 39:40
No, I think that those that is an area that has been rife with problems in the past. So I would be particularly careful. I mean, you have to really know and trust the people and I would, I would think you would have to have some basic knowledge of oil and gas so you know what you’re getting into, but I haven’t recommended any of those. I’ve seen a number of things like that I’ve seen I get see a lot Have these kinds of private deals to private farmland deals, real estate, oil and gas? Those are all very popular.
Jason Hartman 40:06
It’s interesting and and definitely exploration would be incredibly risky versus production, which is less risky. But still, there is always a chance for fraud and so forth. So Chris, you went to Saskatchewan recently? And it seems like your your trip there you had some thoughts of commodities on your mind, didn’t you?
Chris Mayer 40:23
Yes. And I went to Saskatchewan and I had a couple companies I was visiting one company that I like very much that I visited there, which fits a lot. What we’re talking about is a company called Alliance grain traders. And that’s a company where the people running and have a big stake in the employees. And then in the insiders own I think together 35% of the stock so and the founder still with it’s only 10 years old. But Saskatchewan is an agricultural powerhouse, really and Alliance grain traders processes pulses, which would be things like chickpeas and lentils, and different kinds of beans. And so I was also going in there because I’ve been reading writing about Saskatchewan. I’ve probably been writing about it for three or four years, maybe even longer. Because some of the farmland deal that they’re very interesting because the government there for a long time had a very tough view on foreign investors. And it’s kind of funny because even if you were a Canadian, let’s say you were born in Alberta, you couldn’t buy Saskatchewan farmland. I mean, you had to be born in Saskatchewan to own Saskatchewan farming, and they ease those rules. And so the investment started to flow in and and so there’s a lot interesting opportunities in Saskatchewan.
Jason Hartman 41:29
It seems like really the safe play for the future is commodity oriented things you mentioned manufacturing companies, companies that make something tangible stuff. It’s always great to hear about high flyers like Groupon that may not be such a high flyer when it finally has it’s like a
Chris Mayer 41:46
billion dollars for Facebook or something. Yeah,
Jason Hartman 41:48
and Facebook and and all these kind of like virtual companies, but if you ask me, the population is increasing dramatically. We’re going to we’re going to hit another billion mark this year, or maybe we just did hit I mean, nobody exactly knows the world population, but they have lots of stats on that. And you know, people consume the three things people need Chris for sure. Which, which we absolutely know. They don’t need a new pair of Nikes. They don’t need a new iPhone. They’d love to have all these things, but we know for sure they need food, clothing and shelter.
Chris Mayer 42:16
Yeah, food, food, water. Those are big, big investment themes.
Jason Hartman 42:19
Yeah. Yeah, no question about it. But people don’t have the chance to do those directly, in most cases. And we’ve talked about the deal maker philosophy, which I couldn’t agree with more. But talk to us a little bit about housing, if you would
Chris Mayer 42:32
know, a little background first, because I have been a housing bear for a long time.
Jason Hartman 42:36
I know that. And that’s why I want to hear from you. Right?
Chris Mayer 42:39
Yeah. And I mean, I’d go back as far as I think was late 2002. I wrote a piece saying that fannie and freddie mac would go bankrupt and the taxpayers would eventually have to bail them out and been a long time talking and writing about the housing bubble. So only recently this year, I reversed that position. So I think now that we went through this whole big housing bubble, and I The thing is dead. And we are closer to the bottom. And then we are the next peak. I think that’s for sure. I mean, he never call the exact bottom. But I think housing looks interesting. And I’ll tell you, I talked to a lot of different investors and other people who are doing different things. And one of the things that has struck me recently is the amount of institutional money that has started to look at housing as an investment, where they’re renting out the house. And, you know, there’s all kinds of boots on the ground viewpoints from different people. But in general, what I’m hearing is that it’s not so difficult to buy an AI home today and rent it and get an eight to 12% cash yield on your investment. And I love that idea. Because I think, you know, you look at housing prices, they’ve come down tremendously, I mean, they plummeted. And in some markets, I mean, it depends. There’s a lot of ways to measure this. You can look at price to income and all that sort of thing, but we’re definitely on the bottom rung of all these different valuation methods. So I think, though it may take years before housing prices surge forward We have another housing boom, now I think is a pretty good position to have pretty good time to establish some positions and say that rental home market and just sort of wait out the storm. I mean, where can you get eight to 12% on a physical tangible asset again that has value and this is another point in the valuation is that most of these houses now you can you can easily find houses trading for well below replacement value, what would cost you to rebuild them? So I think it’s a very interesting place to be right now. And I would say things look up from here for housing, as crazy as it says sounds to say,
Jason Hartman 44:32
yeah, and but I don’t think it’s crazy at all. I agree with you completely. But it’s interesting to hear that from a guy who’s been bearish on housing for so many years. I mean, you thought housing was a bad deal in 2002. And then of course, the speculative frenzy and the money pumped from the Greenspan pump I’ll call it post 911 Greenspan pump was just kicking out ridiculous amounts of money into housing for years and the price is just, I mean, it was absurdity. What was Oh yes, and
Chris Mayer 44:57
I mean, we’ve seen this happen with all kinds of specular gloss. I mean, I I remember writing bearishly about the stock market 97. Of course, you know, there were three years ago before it peaked, and they were tremendous, you know, still allowed tremendous room room on that. So these things always, always go longer. But I think now too, when you look at the the reason why I say it sounds nice, it doesn’t sound nice to you, I’m not surprised because you’re actually, you know, more of a practitioner is in the market and sees the deals you can do. And most of the people I talk to like that completely agree with the position, I’m saying, but I do get a lot of resistance from readers who don’t see that. And they just read sort of the headlines, which is, you know, still a lot of scary stuff about housing. So, I mean, there’s no question if you look at the US mortgage market, something like 45% of us mortgages are still in some state of trouble. They’re either underwater or they’re in foreclosure or something. But if you look at the individual deal as an investor, I think it’s pretty attractive.
Jason Hartman 45:45
Well, so when you invest in stocks, and when you invest in companies, do you invest? Are you an income oriented investor? Are you capital appreciation? I have a feeling I know the answer to this, but I just want to ask, you
Chris Mayer 45:57
know, I mean, I would say that I mean different than the two When I’m looking at a stock, I’m looking kind of sort of at total return. So sometimes income will play into it but sometimes alone at all, I mean, if I can, you know, it just depends on the situation, I would say I’m indifferent to either or what I want is the greatest total return overall that I think I can get.
Jason Hartman 46:13
See, I would say that what people just fail to understand about real estate is that it’s a multi dimensional asset class and companies if they’re dividend paying have two dimensions, they have capital appreciation, and they have income, they have dividends, but but with with real estate puts the right kind of real estate, you have several dimensions, you have income, okay? And that’s what you’re saying, when you say, look at just just get eight to 12% rental yield, return, and wait it out with no capital appreciation, who knows which way that’s gonna go, right. And so you’re basically like investing in a bond or a dividend paying stock, the principal value of the bond or the stock can go up or down, but it still spins off the income for you. Right? And then you’ve got the potential for capital appreciation, and I just want to propose an idea to you, Chris. I don’t think We’re going to see much if any real appreciation measured in real or constant dollars for a long time, because for that to happen, we have to have incomes increase. And I don’t think that’s looking good for the foreseeable future here for the next five years or so. But I do think we will have inflation and so I think in nominal dollars will have increase in prices.
Chris Mayer 47:24
Yes, I think if you look at different times the rapid inflation that houses in general have been a pretty good hedge on that real estate general.
Jason Hartman 47:31
Certainly they have and but it gets better. Because if you leverage the property, so you put 20% down, you don’t just hedge against inflation, I had a guy
Chris Mayer 47:39
short against the dollar basically, bet against, you know, the purchasing power of the dollar. That’s the brilliant thing about it. And you can fix it at such low interest rates now. Yeah, I think it’s a it’s an incredible deal.
Jason Hartman 47:51
It is incredible because think about it. If you put 20% down, you’re leveraging or shorting the dollar by a five to one ratio, right. So if the inflation rate is 5%. But you’ve leveraged and you’re not paying the debt service cost on the leverage the tenant is you you’ve really out maneuvered inflation is assuming the real estate keeps even pace with inflation by a five to one ratio. Sure. Okay. So that’s one big part of it. Yeah, huge, huge, but it gets even better. Because, see, I don’t think we’re going to have any real appreciation for a long time. But I think we could have what I call regression to replacement costs. So if you buy a property now for say, $50 a square foot and say that it costs $100 a square foot to rebuild that property today, plus you’re basically getting the land for free. So and, you know, some of the markets we like like Dallas, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Atlanta and some others, the lot values are cheap in those markets. I mean, you know, it only cost for a single family home like 15 to $25,000.
Chris Mayer 48:53
Yeah, I mean, I’ve heard some prices and Phoenix have been rolled back to where they were in 94. Oh,
Jason Hartman 48:57
yeah. No, it’s amazing. I mean, listen, I just recently moved Arizona from California. I love Newport Beach to move to Scottsdale and some people think I’m crazy. I think I’m brilliant. I like it a lot better out here. And yeah, it’s amazing. I mean, things are half half price. I mean, this was obviously a huge bubble here and it blew up. So even if there was no real appreciation, all you have to have happened to really double the price of these properties, or even triple them because sometimes we buy it one third the value of replacement is just have what I call regression to replacement costs.
Chris Mayer 49:31
What do you think of that? No, I think that’s I think that’s exactly right. I think long term, you do have a regression to replace me. And I see that in stock market. Also a lot of different assets, things will fall dramatically out of favor for a while, but over time markets kind of correct themselves. And I think that will happen housing one way or the other, you know, there’ll be some supply that will disappear. They’ll be houses that are torn down, whatever, they’ll be there still demographically, the US is still in a pretty decent place, especially compared to Western Europe. We’ve got a country of 300 Millions still growing, that’s gonna just naturally soak up some supply. I mean, household formation in the US is still growing at a pace, and the market will adjust. We’re not, you know, housing starts are at very, very low level, and it will be patchy. So, I mean, you mentioned your specific market. And I think that’s important to note is that, you know, there’s some markets that will come back and there will be attracted there are some that may never come back. I mean, I know reading different stories about you know, whole towns in Florida that basically grew up only because of the housing bubble, and there’s really no reason otherwise for the town to exist. I’d be much less inclined to make an investment there than say, like a Tampa, you know, Tampa eventually, that’s a city it’s got a reason for being it’s been there for a long time, that will come back and Phoenix will come back and some of these other places coming but I think you do have to be kind of choosy.
Jason Hartman 50:44
And just I think what you’re referring to in Florida is the central Florida areas. That’s literally those were literally nothing more than a symptom of Wall Street and bank money flowing at developers, all towns, great information. Just had a credit and then they’re all they are as houses in the middle of nowhere no offer and nothing else is. Yeah, right, right. Absolutely. The point I want to make there is I think regression to replacement costs is not appreciation. I don’t think that’s appreciation. It’s just regression,
Chris Mayer 51:13
right? Although it depends where you bought, right? If you bought half, if you bought it for half replacement value, it’ll be appreciation for you specifically, but it’s just, it’s just getting back to a more normal market.
Jason Hartman 51:22
So Chris, that’s interesting what you say about housing, especially because you’ve been a bear for so many years. So I really like to hear that it gives me a lot of confidence that I’m doing the right thing. But I’d be interested to hear your take on Warren Buffett. Because, you know, I’m beginning to think Warren Buffett is like a shill for the Obama administration. I mean, you know, he’s, he’s throwing fundraisers for for Obama, and he’s doing things that just don’t make any sense. I mean, but but he’s, he’s got a huge insider advantage, like, you know, he just bought a bunch of BFA stock.
Chris Mayer 51:54
Does that make sense? Anyways, also, he’s also colored hypocritical, because he’ll talk about taxes and math. And then he’ll be sure that when he does these deals, he’s in preferred stock 70% of the dividends, which are tax deductible, so on and so forth. I mean, his actions betray what he’s what he’s saying, if he if he wants to pay more taxes, that’s just one issue. I mean, he’s not the only stopping him from writing a much bigger check to the Treasury, you know, I’m sure they’ll take whatever money they get.
Jason Hartman 52:18
But But he for some reason, he says that his taxes should go up yet he doesn’t do that. He doesn’t do that. That’s what I that’s exactly what I heard about it is his famous line his secretary pays more taxes than he does is that he only pays himself a $100,000 a year actual salary, and he takes the rest of his money in a more preferred means that’s taxed at a much lower rate. And it’s interesting to me that Warren Buffett’s secretary, doesn’t make 100 grand a year. I mean, you’re you’re the secretary for the second richest man in the United States of America and one of the richest people on the planet. And, I mean, that’s the I don’t think he’s paying her enough. Yeah.
Chris Mayer 52:54
I mean, when it comes to Warren Buffett, I think that you know, as investors, it’s definitely when you’re Looking to learn about investing to study his career? Because it’s it was been a remarkable run. But the Warren Buffet the last, I don’t know, three to five years or so has been much more of a political animal. I mean, not just the taxes, but on all kinds of issues, like you say, so, you know, he’s fallen down some pegs and a lot of people’s mind, but
Jason Hartman 53:19
but you know, one of the things like when I read Buffett biographies and so forth, I kind of like his philosophy. It’s sort of the value investing by good sensible companies, not the high flyers that just have underlying value and operate and hold. And that sort of strikes me as a good philosophy.
Chris Mayer 53:37
Yeah. And I think you could, I think you can divide Warren Buffett kind of in three careers. There’s sort of the early Warren Buffett when he ran the first Buffett partnership and he was involved in special situations and doing things like Ben Graham cigar butt investing, and then there’s sort of the middle years where he became more of the Warren Buffett that most people know the guy who’s espouses all that folksy investing wisdom and common sense advice that you Talking about. And then there’s quarter, the latter years where he’s become so large where he can really only buy whole companies and where he’s become much more, I think less interesting to study as an investor, and where he’s become much more political.
Jason Hartman 54:13
Yeah. So it’s, it’s interesting. That’s a good way to divide him up. Definitely. Well, hey, Chris, what else would you like people to know before you go? And of course, please give out your website and you publish two different newsletters people should know about and tell us where they can get those?
Chris Mayer 54:26
Yes, I would say the best place to go is the daily reckoning. com. I write columns, their daily recommends a free letter comes out every day. And you can find out more about my newsletters there. And like I say, it’s free, so it can’t beat that.
Jason Hartman 54:39
Absolutely. And it’s great newsletter. Bill Bonner is a terrific writer. And I just really enjoy that philosophy. I will say it’s a little long winded, but it’s it’s entertaining. I love the way they just sort of bashed the left leaning political world and so forth. It’s funny. It’s really good. But in closing, you know, what thoughts would you have for people Looking forward and many thoughts you have about the future of the economy, inflationary deflationary insolvency for the United States
Chris Mayer 55:07
or whatever, you got the inflation thing, I tend to think that we’ll see it sooner or later. I mean, this is one of those things where a lot of people have been looking forward, including me and have been wrong for few years. But I think it’s inevitable and this most recent episode with Operation Twist, where they’re driving down interest rates even further, I mean, there just can’t be much more room to go there. So I think that will we’ll see more inflation. And overall, I would say, though, that there’s still a lot of investment opportunity out there. So I try not to get so down too much on the macro economy, because there’s lots of instances in the past, we can look at the two and they don’t necessarily dance together. In other words, you can make pretty good investments in bad times. And there’s lots and lots of examples of that. So I would say stick with those basic principles that we’ve been talking about, and this interview look for, to invest with people you know, They havea track records that are having their incentives aligned up with yours. Stay picky. You know, you know, the great thing about investing is you don’t have to invest. You can sort of wait until that perfect pitch comes along. So that’s my really my parting parting wisdom, I guess.
Jason Hartman 56:14
Fantastic. Well, Christopher, thank you so much for joining us today. appreciate having you on the show. That’s been fun. Thank you.
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Jason Hartman 57:19
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