5/19/23 7:00 AM - Lesezeit

Shaping The Culture

Robert Karas

Chief Investment Officer, Partner

In 2003, I was planning to open a global macro futures fund. [1] When I went to Omaha, Nebraska that year to attend the Berkshire Hathaway meeting, I told everyone about it. There were probably 12.000 people. A lot of them had been invested with Warren Buffett for a long time. I told them (okay, not all the 12.000) that I was about to open a global macro futures fund and they looked at me as if I had just landed from Mars. No other strategy could have been further away from the philosophy of Warren Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger. 

That is how my 7-minute speech at VALUEx BRK 2023 in Omaha started. I talked to the about 300 participants on the Friday before the Berkshire meeting. 
But how come I went to Omaha? In 2002, value investor Guy Spier invited me to join him to go to the Berkshire meeting. I not only attended my first meeting in 2003 but was also able to speak at Guy’s event in 2023.  20 years ago, he told me: “You should open a value fund and not a global macro futures fund.” Unfortunately, I did not listen. My global macro futures fund no longer exists anymore. That already tells you something! 

Eventually, his words led to a path, I have now been on for a long time. It is the path of a value investor. Although I have been careful to use the term “value investor”. It triggers different pictures in different people. A better description is:

•    I like to analyze business models
•    I care about the stock price in relation to my estimate of the intrinsic value of the underlying business 

In 2018, I was searching for an employer that followed a similar philosophy. My wish was an Austrian bank in family hands. Now that really narrowed the target list. 

When I first talked to Christoph Olbrich, Gutmann’s Head of Equity in 2019, we started talking stocks immediately. If you have been into it for many years, it doesn’t take long to figure out if the other person is just pretending to be or is the real McCoy. Needless to say, Christoph and his team are thriving on business models. Just imagine the Gutmann equity strategy was based on chart reading instead of fundamental business analysis. Coming to a company to change the culture is an illusion. Either you become the culture, or you get rejected. In this rare case, when I joined, I was able to strengthen, focus and accelerate the culture in the whole organization together with my colleagues who had been there for a long time already. Christoph started 12 years before me. That’s why I like to say, I’m the young guy here. No, we will not elaborate further on my biological age. Although, Buffett at my age was a spring chicken. And isn’t he still radiating youthful energy? The power of analyzing business models! Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an outlier assumption.

The investment team at Gutmann has a clear investment philosophy. We cannot be everything for everyone. But for the ones that like it, we are a rare game in town.

[1] Global Macro is an investment style that seeks to predict major events and their impact on market prices. Data such as interest rate changes, earnings revisions, or political changes often play a role. Long and short positions are taken in conjunction with the price reactions of different markets. In the case of a Global Macro Futures Fund via derivative contracts called futures. 

Disclaimer: This is a marketing communication. Investments in financial instruments are exposed to market risks. Past performance does not predict future returns. Forecasts are not a reliable indicator of future performance. Tax treatment depends on each client's personal circumstances and may change in the future. Bank Gutmann AG hereby explicitly points out that this document is intended solely for personal use and for information only. Publishing, copying or transfer shall not be permitted without the consent of Bank Gutmann AG. The contents of this document have not been designed to meet the specific requirements of individual investors (desired return, tax situation, risk tolerance, etc.) but are of a general nature and reflect the current knowledge of the persons responsible for compiling the materials at the copy deadline. This document does not constitute an offer to buy or sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell securities. 
The required data for disclosure in accordance with Section 25 Media Act is available on the following website: https://www.gutmann.at/en/imprint


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