About Meb Faber
Meb Faber is a co-founder and the Chief Investment Officer of Cambria Investment Management. Faber is the manager of Cambria's ETFs, separate accounts, and private investment funds. Mr. Faber has authored numerous white papers and five books including Invest with the House - Hacking the Top Hedge Funds. He is a frequent speaker and writer on investment strategies and has been featured in Barron's, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. Mr. Faber graduated from the University of Virginia with a double major in Engineering Science and Biology. He is a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) and Chartered Market Technician (CMT).
Overview and Thoughts about the Book
Invest with the House - Hacking the Top Hedge Funds is one of Meb Faber's more recently published books about investing. Meb begins the book illustrating the difficulties in picking great stocks. He cites statistical data such as 64% of stocks underperformed the broad stock market and 25% of stocks were responsible for all of the market's gains. This makes the game of investing seem especially difficult. On top of this, you are playing in a zero-sum game (your gain is someone else's loss) against the top most talented investors in the world.
Suppose you were able to put down bets with the house? In Vegas, the house is the casino; in investing, top hedge funds are considered house. Suppose you were able to buy the same stocks as the top hedge fund managers. Faber goes through in-depth how to track the top hedge funds' picks and use that information to create your own portfolio.
One tool that Faber suggests using is reviewing SEC filings of 13F. Large hedge funds are required to disclose their holdings quarterly to the public. Most of these investors have a long-term investment horizon. Therefore, even though there is a 45-day delay in reporting their 13F, you'd still be able to get a good idea of what stocks they own at a point in time. Here is a sample of LSV Asset Management's 13F.
I believe in the discipline of mastering the best that other people have ever figured out. I don't believe in just sitting there and trying to dream it up all yourself. Nobody's that smart. " - Charlie Munger
Perhaps one of the most insightful pieces is Faber goes through an endless in-depth discussion of successful hedge fund managers and their stock picking tendencies and styles. For example, you have Glenn Greenberg, who follows a concentrated investment style. He prefers positions where the business has strong management, demonstrates significant competitive advantage, and strong potential at "unjustifiable" low prices. Then you have Ricky Sandler, who at age 25 co-founded an investment fund whereby his $28 million of seed money exploded into $350 million with a net annual return of 31%.
Beyond Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, there is a whole host of successful hedge fund managers. Faber breaks each of them down with their background stories, investment style and strategy, and provides a snapshot of their performance. In addition, he shows their holdings and how a cloned portfolio based on 13Fs would have performed compared to the market, each of which beat the market by large margins. Meb summarizes all the great investors and their styles into one compact book. This is a must read for any investor looking to broaden their knowledge and learn from the very best. Most people are not managing huge sums of money and therefore should be able to compound at greater percentages than those managing billions. While I wished he would've gone more in depth on the beginning years of the fund managers, he did a great job accentuating their successes.