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Episode Description:

Paul Sonkin and Paul Johnson are investors, professors, and co-authors of Pitch the Perfect Investment. Paul Sonkin is an analyst and portfolio manager at GAMCO Investors and has researched small, micro, and nanocap companies for a quarter century. He taught for 16 years at Columbia Business School. Paul Johnson runs advisory firm Nicusa Investment Advisors, and previously was a top-ranked sell side analyst, hedge fund manager, and an investment banker across 35 years. He also taught 2,000 students across 40 classes at Columbia Business School and Fordham University, and has received a host of awards for his prowess in the classroom.

Their recently released book is the first I’ve come across that reverse engineers a portfolio manager’s thought process. It starts with crystal clear first principles of business analysis and covers everything an analyst needs to know to identify a great stock. Then, Paul and Paul describe how portfolio managers assess ideas. Their framework is targeted for analysts starting their careers in the field, but seasoned portfolio managers and allocators both will also learn a lot about communication with their teams from the clear descriptions and colorful examples in the book.

Our conversation covers the concept of the book, the wisdom of crowds, getting an ‘edge’, the four questions every portfolio manager needs to answer, and the role of creativity in investing. These gifted professors offer clear terminology for investment first principals and along the way offer a renewed appreciation for how difficult it is to beat the markets.

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