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Geoff Gannon July 13, 2006

Conclusion of Charlie Rose’s Series on Warren Buffett

The third and final part of the Charlie Rose Show’s series on Warren Buffett aired last night. You can view all three hours (which aired on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week) at Google Video.

On a related topic, I just noticed a USA Today article that noted Charlie Rose is also working on a documentary about Buffett. I hadn’t heard anything about that before.

Anyway, the series is (like most of Charlie’s interviews) much more satisfying than the average television piece. However, the series is not a study of Buffett’s investment record or the philosophy that helped him achieve those results. It’s about Buffett the man.

Of course, some of the questions can’t help but lead into topics that are closely related to the investment area, because that is his life’s work. For instance, the interview with Buffett and Gates together touches on investing more than you might expect, because they discuss the way Buffett thinks – including why he hasn’t invested in Microsoft.

If you’re interested in Buffett, you’ll enjoy the series. However, if you’re looking for a discussion of investing that gets into real specifics, you may be disappointed.

I enjoyed the series very much. It’s the sort of thing that may work even better if you watch it online when you have the time to spare.

It’s a leisurely affair. You have to be open to the idea that you’ll be taking in bits and pieces about the man over a few hours, rather than hearing him answer questions about Berkshire’s future, the latest acquisition, etc. one after the other. That’s not really how Rose works normally – and because this series was forged from a series of interviews, there is even less immediacy than usual.


Visit Google Video: The Charlie Rose Show

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Geoff Gannon July 11, 2006

The Charlie Rose Show’s Warren Buffett Series

For those who missed it, The Charlie Rose Show ran part one of a three part series on Warren Buffett last night. I know old episodes of the show are available for $0.99 on Google Video, and I believe you can view last night’s episode free (for today). Parts two and three of the series will be presented tonight and tomorrow night:

Tuesday – Warren Buffett: The Business

Wednesday – Warren Buffett: The Gift

The Charlie Rose Show is shown at 11 p.m. on many (but not all) PBS affiliates. Check your local listings for the exact times.


Visit Google Video: The Charlie Rose Show

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Geoff Gannon July 10, 2006

Warren Buffett Series on The Charlie Rose Show

As pointed out on Dah Hui Lau’s blog, The Charlie Rose Show will present a three-part special on Warren Buffett beginning tonight. According to the show’s website ( the schedule will be as follows:

Monday – Warren Buffett: The Man

Tuesday – Warren Buffett: The Business

Wednesday – Warren Buffett: The Gift

The Charlie Rose Show is made available to PBS affiliates at 11 p.m. Many affiliates choose to run the show at that time; but, be sure to check your local listings.

I don’t know anything about the content of this series beyond the information provided at the show’s site. So, you’ll have to tune in yourself to see what it’s all about.…

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Geoff Gannon July 6, 2006

On The Newsletter

I have received a fair number of questions about when the new issue will come out. Any confusion here is entirely my own fault for being unclear.

The newsletter covers all the stocks purchased for my personal portfolio during the last quarter. The word “all” is a bit misleading, because there are never more than a handful of stocks. However, it’s important to note that because the issue covers all changes to the portfolio, I don’t begin work on the newsletter until after the last trading day of the quarter.

Therefore, I can not possibly finish writing the newsletter within the first few days of the month. I should have been much clearer about this earlier. Many publications are delivered well before the nominal issue dates. I didn’t consider how this had conditioned people to expect the July Issue to be delivered within the first few days of July.

To avoid any further confusion, I’ve decided to set an exact delivery date. Previously, I had planned to send out the issues as soon as I finished them. I will no longer do this.

Instead, I will hold off distributing the new issues until the 15th of the month, regardless of whether they are complete or not. This should eliminate the need for questions about when the issue will come out. It will come out on the fifteenth. Every issue will come out on the fifteenth.

Also, I had previously allowed subscribers to choose between the PDF and print forms. From now on, I’m just going to send each subscriber both the PDF and the printed copy. Again, this is to clear up confusion and prevent frequent questions.

I enjoy answering emails from people asking about various stocks. I don’t enjoy answering emails asking about newsletter delivery dates and such. These questions were perfectly understandable ones, considering how loose I had left things regarding delivery of the newsletter. I hope this new solution will eliminate the need for such questions in the future.

As I had not given a particular delivery date in the past, I am clearly obligated to offer every individual who purchased the July Issue the opportunity to receive a full refund.

If you purchased the July Issue as a single issue or as part of a one-year subscription, I will be happy to refund the full amount for this issue if you notify me by the 14th of the month.

In the future, the final refund dates given on the Newsletter page of this website will again apply. This is a one time allowance caused by the change in the delivery policy. If you’d like a refund, please email me.

You can always read the full description of the newsletter by clicking the “newsletter” link on the right sidebar. I will also reproduce the (new) description below:


Each issue of the Gannon On Investing Newsletter consists of a brief commentary on the quarter, a summary of changes to my personal portfolio, and a discussion of …

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Geoff Gannon July 4, 2006

On Google’s Non-Search Products

Business Week has a good article about Google’s non-search products. Entitled “So Much Fanfare, So Few Hits”, the article makes a few obvious points that are often omitted in a discussion of Google’s innovation. The most obvious point is, of course, that these products have not exactly been great successes.

The press (both online and offline) is obsessed with Google (GOOG). An interesting exercise would be to clip the press coverage (or speculation) surrounding the launch of a new Google product and compare it to that product’s performance some months later. I’m afraid this exercise would prove the reality did not live up to the hype. Of course, most of this is not Google’s fault. It isn’t that these products fail miserably. In many cases, they are simply competent products that offer little advantage over the existing alternatives. So, Google moves on.

As one person interviewed for the article put it: “Google has product ADD”. I’m not sure if that’s true or not. The fact that Google develops these non-search products does not in and of itself suggest anything dangerous about Google’s future spending and the efficiency with which its capital is deployed outside of the core search business.

After all, these products are really little more than ideas. Has the company really put much behind any of them? That’s a more interesting question. It also happens to be one of the most important questions for investors to answer.

This Google article reminded me of a blog post on Microsoft I had found via Seeking AlphaThis blog post had one very memorable line: Name six innovations from Microsoft over the past 12 months.

That line jumped out at me, because I’m not eager to invest in a company where you can name six innovations over the past 12 months. No company develops six truly meaningful innovations in a year. The issue is not the number of innovations. It’s finding one that really works.

Both Microsoft (MSFT) and Google had the bad luck to develop a unique cash cow in their early years. As a result, both companies will inevitably have to face accusations of mediocrity in their future endeavors.

Microsoft’s Windows (and by extension Office) and Google’s search are once in a lifetime finds in an otherwise unforgiving competitive environment. These oases of extraordinary profitability can not be duplicated. So, if your reason for buying into either stock is an expectation that future products will rival past products in terms of profitability, you are on a fool’s errand. There will be growth within each franchise and there will be other (lesser) franchises. But, neither company will duplicate their initial success.

The reason they won’t has nothing to do with size or culture. It’s much simpler than that. Both companies were marketed to investors as a great franchise. There aren’t many such franchises and the odds that two such franchises would be developed by the same company are extremely low. Most of the …

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