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David Merkel, CFA

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  • Insurance: Is Buffett Right About Asbestos Liability? [View article]
    Hi, Tom. Thanks for the mention. About 8-9 years ago BRK bought out most of White Mountains asbestos exposure as well. Make there are other deals BRK has done that we don't know about... might require a stroll through the 10-Ks.
    Aug 1, 2011. 09:44 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Life Insurance Stocks Trading Below Book Value [View article]
    "Revenue" is an irrelevant metric for insurers. It comes down to a earnings and book conservatively stated.
    Jun 28, 2011. 08:38 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • 6 U.S. Insurers With Strong Free Cash Flow, Trading Below Book Value [View article]
    How did you calculate FCF for life insurers? That's not easy to do, and the databases do it wrong -- did you do it yourself?
    Jun 16, 2011. 09:25 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 7 Potential Buys Based on Valuation [View article]
    Okay, then, here's a series of articles on analyzing insurance companies.

    I hope you benefit from it.
    Mar 17, 2011. 05:50 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • 7 Potential Buys Based on Valuation [View article]
    I'm not trying to be mean here, but the tools that work on industrials do not apply to financials. If you are using price-to-sales on financial companies, I can tell you that will end up with nonsense. Same for all price-to-whatever cashflow type figures on financials. Only price to earnings and price to tangible book are valid, and even then, with reservations.

    You need to study accounting for financials; the effect of accruals is there on steroids.
    Mar 17, 2011. 12:50 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • You're Retiring: Where Is Your Income Going to Come From? [View article]
    There is one significant problem with your argument. Dividends are not guaranteed. In the American context, dividend policies are firmer in the rest of the world, and so people rely on them more.

    But dividend streams are never any better than the economics of the free cash flow streams underlying each company. And almost every year, particularly in bear markets, some previously reliable dividend payer cuts or eliminates the dividend.

    This is just another means of reaching for yield. You are taking on stock market levels of risk using seemingly one equity strategy, and daring to call it safe.
    Mar 9, 2011. 02:25 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Four Cheap Reinsurers to Research: Historically Low Price to Book [View article]
    One more thing to note about PRE, they don't discount their reserves, so book is understated relative to their peers. Very well-run place in my opinion. As conservative as they get in Bermuda.

    Full disclosure: long PRE for me and my clients.
    Jan 25, 2011. 10:20 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • My Visit to the U.S. Treasury [View article]
    This was originally seven pieces, and made more sense as seven individual pieces, as I wrote them at my blog.

    Yes, I write late at night. I have many responsibilities, and it is my only time that I *can* write. I do my best for readers, but I make no claims for perfection.

    And, though I normally like the editing done to my pieces, this one really took out critical stuff that was in the originals. I do not like what was done with my original work. The seven pieces should have been published sequentially, unmodified. You did a disservice to readers because it left out a lot of data on the interactions between me and the Treasury.

    Next time I write something in parts, please, publish each part separately. You have done readers no favor by publishing one integrated account, because the separate accounts included links and references to the other seven bloggers who I got to know and appreciate.
    Nov 11, 2009. 12:34 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • On Primus Credit Mitigations [View article]
    Thanks, James.
    Aug 3, 2009. 12:27 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • In Memory of Greg Newton [View article]
    Greg and I corresponded a few times. He had a wealth of knowledge and contacts, and the courage to use it. We lost a leader here.
    Apr 7, 2009. 01:25 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Dorel: Stable, Profitable and Terrifically Priced [View article]
    I own it as well. Cheap, and seemingly well-run. The shares in Toronto are more liquid.
    Mar 19, 2009. 03:10 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment