Here's a news flash: You are never, ever going to find a company that everyone is positive about. You will always find people who dislike a company at a certain price, and some who dislike it at any price. Not even investing legend Warren Buffett gets a pass on this: There are many who, from time to time, claim that he's lost it, are upset that Berkshire Hathaway
I've said it before, and I'll say it again now. No company is perfect, and there will always be problems that you can point to with any company. In fact, last March I showed exactly how diametrically opposite two profiles of the same company could be when I took the most bullish cut and the most bearish cut possible at one of my favorites, UST
You should always listen to reasonable opinions that differ from yours. When I say "reasonable," I don't mean the all-caps gobbledygook that you find on most message boards. "Your stupid and smell and who pays you to write this!!!" isn't keen insight into a corporation or its prospects and valuation.
But I've noticed something, and an interview in the latest Outstanding Investors Digest with Davis Advisor's Chris Davis reinforced it for me. One clear sign of a truly strong company is that the biggest risks that bears point to keep changing. Similarly, if the bull case keeps shifting, this might be a sign that the company truly is terrible.
This isn't to say that a change in business model isn't sometimes warranted. Kodak
But what about sad-sack companies like Research Frontiers
As my friend Tom Jacobs noted in an article on Research Frontiers in 2001, when the company's shares were 200% higher:
"In 1992 REFR was promoting SPD smart windows through a REFR licensee with Japan Steel Works, Ltd. Since 1986 REFR has announced at least eight licensing deals for the manufacturing and sales of SPD products ranging from sunglasses to aircraft cabin windows. In 1989 REFR announced the successful testing and planned commercialization of SPD sunglasses.
"In 1994 Automotive News reported that REFR was close to selling SPD self-dimming rear-view mirrors. In 1997 REFR claimed profits were possible in 1998. REFR is 35 years old. Neither REFR nor any of its licensees have ever sold an SPD based product. REFR has also announced three licensing deals to manufacture SPD emulsion since 1999 and five licensing deals to manufacture SPD film since 1995. We found no evidence that any SPD emulsion or film has ever been sold."
These are quotes from Manuel Asensio, who has dogged the company for years. Notice how the bull case has kept changing, while the bear case -- that the company's biggest output has been press releases -- has remained the same?
Sort of a slam-dunk example, but illustrative nonetheless. Much the same has happened with Krispy Kreme
Bill Mann has beneficial interest in Berkshire Hathaway.