Revisiting My Past Buys

Written by

Jae Jun

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Every investment has the potential to be both a great opportunity or a mistake.


It all comes down to the price. Regardless of how bad or good you believe the company to be, the price will justify whether it is a good investment or a bad one.

There are too many instances where I dismiss opportunities because the state of the company is horrible. But do you ask yourself whether the current price justifies the situation of the company?

Risk by definition is the potential for permanent loss of capital. Therefore the price you pay will make up a great amount of that risk.

This brings me to previously held stocks.

For some strange reason, once I’ve bought and sold a stock, I find it difficult to buy back in. It’s like I dust my hands and take the stock off my mental list.

But I do maintain a list of stocks I previously owned that I wouldn’t mind owning again. Since I already know about the company, catching up on research is very easy, and the point is that old ideas can very easily become new ones.

So here’s my list of previous positions that I keep track of that may interest you.

Previous Stocks I Had Owned

Apple (AAPL) – Tech company.

Not much chance to buy at current prices. Although AAPL continues to redefine and lead the consumer tech age, I don’t follow the GARP (Growth at a Reasonable Price) strategy.

American Eagle (AEO) – Teenage retail.

Retail remains tough and the company still has a long way to go. From personal observations, it looks like their willingness to follow the fashion trend is on the slow side. Their 20-30’s concept brand Martin+Osa failed.

Atwood Oceanics (ATW) – Oil driller.

Not ATW directed, but I made a dumb mistake by not buying RIG (as well as BP). Other ideas worth watching in the oil drilling industry is ESV and HAWK.

Electronic Systems (ELST) – Wireless Products.

I bought ELST then realized I paid a little too  much. My initial calculations were incorrect, but drops to $0.35 is a buy for me. The low volume just makes it so difficult to get in and out.

Ambassadors Group (EPAX) – Educational travel programs.

My first spin-off purchase before I even knew what a spin-off was. The small niche it operates in makes it difficult to expand and garner growth. Trading around intrinsic value.

Entercom (ETM) – Radio

I have to admit a mistake here. I got scared out of buying again by the big drops. Recently dropped back to attractive levels but wasn’t able to pull the trigger. I have a lot to learn myself. Still able to generate plenty of FCF. Debt is always an issue but ETM has been one of the better ones in handling their debt load. The CEO of EMMS, the recent failed going private play, cites that the radio business is improving and he is seeing increased business in the industry.

Something to continue to keep an eye on and hope for another entry point.

EnviroStar (EVI) – Commercial drycleaning equipment.

For a company of its size, EVI is very profitable but the problem is that I see no catalyst. I don’t believe the CEO to be shareholder friendly and EVI isn’t in an industry with the opportunity to be bought out.

Will be taking EVI off the watchlist.

K-Swiss (KSWS) – Athletic Shoes.

KSWS hasn’t been able to recover as much from their lows. Concepts in Free Running didn’t pick things up as expected and they base sales off a few key customers who have reduced orders, making it tough for the company to pick up sales. Financial health is excellent though and management is shareholder friendly but don’t expect the stock to do much for an extra year or so.

NutriSystem (NTRI) – Diet food.

Company has been able to expand their distribution channel resulting in increased revenue but the current price does not offer an adequate margin of safety. I would like to see NTRI below $15 before revisting the company.

Radio One (ROIAK) – Radio

Price is below $1 again from $5. This one hurt bad. Held on far too long and a big reason for the under performance this year. It is tempting to see it at such a cheap price again, but the looming debt makes it risky. Unless it drops to the 50c range, risk is far too high despite the reward. Focusing on risk here rather than reward.

Servotronics (SVT) – Makes control components for machinery and cutlery.

Machinery equipment and cutlery don’t mix but SVT has been doing a good job of providing both. Strong balance sheet and a majority of sales coming from government contracts. No analyst coverage and tiny volume make it difficult to buy. However, price drops of 15% over a 1000 shares make the entry point possible at a cheap price. Looking for an entry point of around mid to low $8’s.

ValueVision (VVTV) – Home shopping.

I would say it was VVTV that made Old School Value famous 😉

The sad thing is that the company hasn’t met my expectations of a turnaround. Their latest quarter was an improvement over the last comparable period, but the company is comparing itself to its worst year.

VVTV is now $2 but with the way it is currently running, I would say that’s about right. $1 is when I would buy again.




  • Parker Bohn

    I think that investors (myself included) are too quick to judge the wisdom of their investments based on how the stock price moved.

    For instance, I have heard you and other people say that they made a mistake by not buying BP when it was almost 40% below its current price. However, would you be saying the same thing if the price of BP had dropped further? Are you judging your past decision (not to buy) based on the current value of the company, or on its price action?

    In other words, was there an identifiable error somewhere in your process (or its implementation)?

    These are the kinds of value / price / process issues that I spend a lot of time thinking about. What do you think?

  • Derek

    A couple of months ago I moved most of my portfolio into small Canadian commodities and I have never been happier.
    My holdings have doubled in that short time.
    I’m not here to pump any particular stock, but I encourage you to look into some junior copper miners and rare earth elements plays.
    There is a greater degree of risk, of course, but I have the stomach for it (most days).

  • @ Parker

    I both agree and disagree. Ultimately the price you pay is the no1 factor in whether the investment is a good or bad decision. Yes there are lots of other key important facts, but I rate price to be the highest.

    BP at under $30 was a great deal. If it went below $20, then it would have been a screaming deal. So the reason I based my decision not to buy was overemphasized by the noise of the media.

    Rather than being able to block the noise, I let information, that wasn’t that important to affect my decision.

  • Parker Bohn

    Thanks for the response. This epistemology of investing is perhaps the hardest thing for me.

    For instance, how do I know when I have made a mistake? I can’t tell simply by looking at the market result. It is somehow necessary to judge the process, without getting caught up on specific market outcomes. At the same time, it is necessary to keep emotion out of this self-evaluation.

    Investing has turned out to be much more psychological and philosophical than I originally thought.

  • jc


    I am currently holding Atwood Oceanics, bought it at 27.1 and it is now at 32.2. Using your valuation spreadsheet the intrinsic value for ATW is negative for DCF (negative MOS), high positive instrinsic value using Graham (54% MOS), and low positive for EPV (-MOS)? Which intrinsic value would you use to purchase or sell the stock now and why?

Ready to try Old School Value?