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Circle Of Competence Issue #5

Department of General Finance

- Great article on 2017 performance (or rather, lack thereof due to tough hurricane season) of P/C insurance industry

- VERY exclusive interview with Eddie Lampert of Sear's Holdings on his current strategy with Sears and other folks' opinions of how he has handled the situation thus far. Normally, I'm not a Vanity Fair type guy... but this was juicy.

- Interesting article on Libor and how rising rates are affecting consumers and corporations alike

- Good quotes from Buffett back in 2005 on retail companies in decline, Eddie Lampert taking on a failing retailer, and his advice not to test history when it comes to a tough industry.

Department of Real Estate

- Great article with some historical facts on the self storage industry and where it's headed.

Department of Blogs

Great blog post from Rangeley Capital - their thoughts on market valuation with some interesting tidbits on Sears over the years, Fairholme's and Lampert's bumbles, and sports betting. Also, Rangeley Capital's take on current market valuations vs. interest rate environment. Compelling.

Department of Technology

- Fascinating article on Amazon's fly-wheel approach and how they integrated deep-learning into almost every corner of their business

- Very interesting article on how shareholders are footing the bill to keep Musk in control of Tesla. One has to wonder how this will all end!

Department of 10-K's and Annual Letters

Fairholme Funds - Bruce Berkowitz's annual letter describing some of their positions. I did not read the entire letter, but does shed light on their recent difficulties and the path ahead.

Third Point Re - interesting reinsurance company managed by Dan Loeb's Third Point Hedge Fund

InterDigital, Inc. - company owning ~ 19,000 patents relating to 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, and IoT communication devices which licenses these patents to the largest device manufacturers in the world (Apple, Sony, Huawei, etc.).

Ross Stores, Inc. - Discount department store chain.

Stamps.com, Inc. - internet based mailing and shipping solutions for all kinds of ecommerce shipping, business solutions, etc.

Synchrony Financial - consumer credit and financial services company which is largest provider of private label credit cards by transaction volume.

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