Transcript: Will Danoff


The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Fidelity Contrafund’s Will Danoff, is below.

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VOICEOVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio.

BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, I have such an extra special guest. His name is Will Danoff. He runs Fidelity’s Contrafund. It’s the largest single manager fund with about $130 billion and the track record of the fund is just outstanding.

He has crossed all the competition over 30 years. He’s beat large-cap growth by 400 basis points. He’s beat the S&P 500 300 basis points. Not only has he outperformed on an annual basis, if you put money into his fund versus the S&P 500 in 199o when he started, his fund is now worth two and a half times more than the indexes.

This is really a master class on how to think about active management, what you need to do to engage in stock picking, why it’s so difficult and why you need a powerful team of experts around you to help you with this. He has worked with all the greats at Fidelity and explains why Fidelity is such a key aspect of this.

I could babble about the conversation forever. Rather than do that, let me just stop and say with no further ado, my conversation with the Fidelity Contrafund’s Will Danoff.

VOICEOVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio.

RITHOLTZ: My extra special guest this week is Will Danoff. He has been running Fidelity’s Contrafund for just about 30 years. The fund is the largest actively managed mutual fund run by one person. It’s about $130 billion. And since September 1990, when he took over the fund, he has outperformed the benchmark S&P index by more than 300 basis points annually.

Will Danoff, welcome to Bloomberg.


RITHOLTZ: So, that track record is really quite astonishing. You returned on average 13 percent compounded annually. You benchmarked, the S&P 500 is 10 percent. The average large-cap growth fund has returned about nine percent. So, what is the secret of your success?

DANOFF: Yes, Barry. I think sometimes you lose track of the percentages but I think if you had invested $10,000 in the S&P 500 and you should have your fact checkers figure this out. But I think that after 30 years of being up whatever it is 10 percent a year, you’re at like 200,000 and if you have invested in Contrafund, you’d be closer to like 480,000.

So, it really can make a difference. Compounding is an important concept for your listeners when it comes to investing and to the extent you can find the fund or a company that can compound over time, it really does make a difference over the decades.

But I’d say, Barry, for me, the North Star has been the importance of analyzing companies, keeping an open mind, working really hard and staying flexible, having a great team and then maybe just bringing it all back to the earnings per share of the underlying companies and trying to think about what the company could earn looking out five, seven years. Will this company be bigger and better?

So, I do believe that the growth discipline is a superior discipline and then once you’ve determined what you think the company might earn looking out to the extent you can look out and you have to be honest and say, I really am not sure. In the world f technology, you have to be really careful about extrapolating growth rates.

But then ideally, you’re trying to pay the best price you can for well-positioned growth company with a good brand and great management and strong cash flow and stuff like that. But I’d say cast a wide net, be flexible and then continue to monitor what your investments are doing and what your managements are doing.

I’m much more of an advocate of the sort of the poker game approach. I think it’s hard to say you know XYZ is going to be a buy-and-hold for 10 years. But — and this is the greatest thing since sliced bread and therefore, we’re all in.

Some investors can do that. I think over 30 years, you make a lot of mistakes. You accept your mistakes. You learn from your mistakes. But one idea I have is just to say listen, I think you know you’re — we’re playing poker, I have an ace, you’re showing a three, I think this is starting out to be a good hand for me. So, I’m going to bet some and start to build a position.

And then if I’m served another ace, meaning the company says it’s going to expand in the California or expand in India or introduce the new product and the results show that those efforts are going really well, then you bet more. So, again, for me it’s a little more incremental and a little less aha, the lightbulb went off, plastics are — we’re all in on plastics without data.

So, I would say let’s start with the facts. Fidelity is just an unbelievable place to manage money. We’ve got an unbelievable research team. We have experts in virtually every industry that matters. We have experts in virtually every region of the world that matters. We have experts in all disciplines in the market value growth, small, mid, large, all parts of the cap, investment grade, high yield, convertibles.

And so, Fidelity is sort of the big city hospital, Barry, and for your listeners, do you want to have the brain surgery in a small regional hospital in the middle of nowhere? Probably not. But if you go to a big city hospital where they’re doing large numbers of these procedures, you’re probably going to feel better.

Everybody makes mistakes but we see more companies, we attend more meetings, we interview more management teams and through that process, hopefully, we’re going to be able to identify changes that are important in different industries and also just identify what we consider truly world-class management teams that are doing things a little better.

And you’d try to keep track and you do your best and I’ve just survived frankly in a very competitive industry, Barry. But the Fidelity Hall of Fame managers, I mean, Joel Tillinghast is managing the low-priced stock fund, has done phenomenally well. Steve Wymer, who runs our growth fund, has done phenomenally. We’ve got a whole cast of other folks in our starting lineup who are doing exceptionally well.

And then, of course, the long history going back to George Vanderheiden, Peter Lynch, Bruce Johnstone. But even before that, Ned Johnson, Gerry Tsai.

The idea of doing bottoms-up fundamental company analysis is not going away. You mentioned the index, Barry, and the index is very hard to pitch but understand that there is survivor bias in the index …


DANOFF: … that better companies like Microsoft and Google and Amazon grow and become a larger part of the index and the weaker companies slow down and don’t grow and therefore, don’t appreciate in value and therefore, are smaller part of the index.

So, the index is hard to beat and I agree with Warren Buffett that the S&P 500 or even Dow now is not the Dow or the S&P of 75 or 80 years ago. It’s a much more cash generative, much more growth oriented. Globalization has been very positive for corporate profits and I think very positive for society in the world, but we can get into that later.

So, I’d say work really hard, know yourself, know your companies, continue to monitor your companies, try to upgrade on weakness and try to be patient in long term. You mentioned earlier that sort of so much noise now in the market and people worried about every check. I think if you step back and say, what do I own, can I imagine — just look around you and say, gosh, my kids can’t live without their smart phones and they were — they love their smart phones.

In Fidelity’s case, we’re able to talk to Luca Maestri who’s the CFO of Apple and he shared with us recently that in the Americas, Apple’s — customer satisfaction with the iPhone is 98 percent and it’s like, my God, that’s unbelievable. And then you step back and say, well, gosh, 10 years ago, no one had iPhones. Everyone had BlackBerrys and now, I have two smartphones, I have a MacBook Air, I have an iPad and I’ve got EarPods and it’s — I’m really happy, they all work.

So, you’ve got to be aware of what’s happening in the world and I think that’s often where some Wall Street folks, particularly the value discipline, can a little confused. It’s like the classic value trap. It’s really cheap start but it’s not going anywhere.

RITHOLTZ: It doesn’t mean it’s not going to get cheaper, right?

DANOFF: It’s a capital-intensive cyclical business and you’ve got to make sure your assumptions are appropriately conservative.

RITHOLTZ: So, let’s stay with talking about Fidelity a little bit. You mentioned some of the Murderers’ Row, the 28 Yankees lineup you guys have. You started at Fidelity in 1986 but if my research is correct, it wasn’t as a fund manager, right, you came in as an analyst?

DANOFF: Yes, Barry. An interesting footnote for your listeners, I applied for a summer job in 1985 and I was rejected. So, Barry, one must always persevere and I think the decision was probably the right one. I was a bit immature and not as experienced.

But luckily, I was accepted for the full-time job as an analyst in 1986 and I think it’s important when you think about companies as investments, as employers, as — to understand the culture of the company. And I’m so grateful and lucky that Fidelity was and still is a research-oriented active manager and everyone that I mentioned earlier, all the great fund managers all started as analyst at Fidelity …

RITHOLTZ: Really? Does that include Peter Lynch, he started as an analyst?

DANOFF: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Peter started as an analyst. George was an analyst. Bruce, of course. Everyone came up from the ranks. Ned was an analyst. Abby Johnson, who is the current CEO, was an analyst and then a fund manager. So, when you have that common experience and common language, it’s just so helpful.

RITHOLTZ: So, you had Vinik between you and Lynch, right?

DANOFF: So, yes, one — Jeff Vinik, of course, an unbelievably talented analyst and fund manager and investor, started my year but he started in the spring because he had taken a job in New York and then decided he wanted to work for Fidelity. So, he started in the spring.

But there were about seven of us, including Joel Tillinghast who started a little later that year and frankly, Barry, I was probably below average for my class. We had a very strong class. But I was lucky that I was assigned the retail stocks and the retail stocks were — was a large group of stores. Consumer spending is something like two thirds of the U.S. economy and they had all sorts of different stocks you.

Kmart and Sears were stodgy, potential turnarounds and then you have the membership warehouse clubs were sort of the new shiny concept that you had to really think hard about what’s this industry going to look like and the department stores were sort of slower growers but generating free cash flow.

The Walmart was the thoroughbred and it was really fun and great and it was relatively understandable. So, I think I was exposed to many different types of stocks and management style (ph) where people sort of people-people. So, you didn’t have to try to understand technology or science. It was just going into a store with a CEO or a CFO and seeing how they interacted with the customer and looking at the prices and is this store appealing.

So, anyway — but the beauty of Fidelity is we’re on the trenches together and Peter and George and Bruce were in these meetings with me and many others and it was a really great sort of apprenticeship to watch these great investors analyze different companies and understand the idea of unit growth.

I think when I first met Bernie Marcus, the Founder of the Home Depot, I think he might have had like 40 stores and now, they have 2,000. But the thought was if it’s working in Atlanta, Georgia, it can work in Florida.

And I remember when they first opened their stores and they acquired some stores to expand in Texas, which didn’t work out as well, but when they first opened the stores in California, I mean, it was literally — there was another concept across the street and the Home Depot parking lot was near full and the other store was sort of going into a bowling alley, it was virtually empty.

So, part of it is being practical sort of what is actually happening. As I said earlier, Barry, earnings per share becomes sort of the North Star for growth investor and if Home Depot is opening 15 percent new stores a year and their old stores were generating let’s say five or 10 percent growth and the margins were going up and the ROI in the new stores was high, you start projecting out 30 percent growth whatever that works out to.

But doubling of earnings in three years with the potential for many, many more stores. So, that was a great insight for me that helped me. And, again, over 30 years, all I can tell you is that I was there and I sort of — one of the great lessons learned, Barry, is should have bought more of these great growth stocks like the Home Depot or I was there when Howard Schultz went public in 1994. I mean, you can’t — it was ’94 and ’92.

But, again, I was a young fund manager but picture this, Schultz had 100 and — I think 140 cafés when he opened up. They were all in Seattle and Portland. I remember someone sitting next to me on the roadshow launch saying, it might work in the Pacific Northwest but the other three huggers there and they’re like sit around in a coffee shop but it’s not going to work in New York or it’s not going to work in San Francisco.

But the data showed — I believe Orin Smith, who was the CFO at that time, said they had opened a couple of stores in San Fran and they were all exceeding their expectations and the ROIs and the new units were through the roof. I think the arithmetic was because they were least units, it cost $250,000 to open a Starbucks way back when the stores were doing 650,000 of revenue and like year two, went at 20 percent EBITDA or cash on cash unit volume.

So, for 250,000, you were getting 125,000 of cash in like year two, which meant you could finance rapid growth and it was working and the comp store sales — comp cafés sales were double digit for the last three years. It was a perfect story.

So, here’s the lesson to your listeners, Barry. The stock pops on day one or day two and it was always very expensive for what it was. It was like 35 — 30 times the year estimate. But the company continued to grow and grow and it stayed expensive for like 15 years but it was a great stock.

RITHOLTZ: Even as it kept growing.

DANOFF: Yes. It kept growing. It’s data expensive. So, sometimes, an expensive stock that executes really well can be a great story. They added Frappuccinos. They went out overseas and it worked in China.

But it worked everywhere in the U.S. and no one else was able to replicate. I remember, Peet’s came in and this one and that one and McDonald’s was going to offer cheaper coffee and try to upgrade. But anyway, sometimes, you have to say a truly outstanding franchise with a great management team and a great business model can be a great stock. I mean, the analogy in sports would be what do you pay Michael Jordan or one of these truly exceptional athletes.

RITHOLTZ: Whatever the heck he wants.

DANOFF: They hit three-pointers and win the championship, you’re going to pay them a lot of money. So, one of the lessons is that better businesses are going to trade at higher PEs and you just have to accept that.

Now, of course, your listeners have to monitor. A retail investor can go into the stores. They’re out there comparing what Starbucks is doing, the quality of the coffee, the experience in the café, how is the mobile order and pay experience, how is the app, is it easy to use, is it delighting me.

Some of the great entrepreneurs in the last decade have talked to me about what would the world look like without my company and during the COVID pandemic, I think a lot of people have said, if I didn’t have Amazon, my world would be significantly worse. And isn’t that a great place to be if you’re a partner with Jeff Bezos and the Amazon team or there are other handful of companies that are — Costco I think is one of those special companies that has delighted their members over many years. And so many people are like, gosh, do you believe what I just got at Costco, it was such a high quality in such a great price.

That’s the type of company that over three years, you sort to say, gosh, I wish I had owned more of those. And by the way, it’s not — it’s a little easier than when I first started in the early ’90s as a fund manager. I was trying to find companies that no one else had heard of, that no one else had owned and there are a lot of tough businesses that are selling cheap and I was running around saying, cheap and getting better, let’s try to find a turnaround.

And turnarounds sometimes work. They can be really awesome stocks when they do work. But the degree of difficulty is higher than just saying, my gosh, Google is just unbelievable, how did we live without Google or how did we live without Amazon, for example.

RITHOLTZ: You’re coming up on your 30th anniversary, right? By the time this broadcast, it will be September 2020. You started at the Contrafund in September 1990.


RITHOLTZ: Did you ever imagine you would be running this same exact fund for 30 years?

DANOFF: Honestly, Barry, no. I think — again, as I said, Fidelity is a great place to manage money. There’s some very, very talented and fun people and we continue to attract some really good people.

But it’s a kind of place where ordinary folks can do extraordinary things when they work together and they communicate. And I’m sort of the Woody Allen of Fidelity. I just show up and I show up to more meetings.

And I remember one year, I had an odd 7 a.m. meeting, which is early. Usually, our meetings started 8 a.m. But somebody wanted to see me or somebody was there. So, we did a 7 a.m. meeting. So, then, the meeting ends at eight and I’m kind of hungry and I see that somebody else is hosting an 8 a.m. meeting that hadn’t started.

So, I go in just to grab a muffin and then the host and the management walked in, I think it was Joel hosting an Irish bank. So, I was like, hi, and they thought I was there to see the meeting but I really wanted a muffin.

But anyway, I was like, yes, sure, I’ll listen to your story. So, I had to fudge it. And so, we listened and it turned out that the Irish economy was coming back and, I don’t know, because it was Ireland, the stock was like at eight times earnings and they were only like three banks of any size in Ireland.

And it turned out there’s a certain serendipity involved with the business that, again, at Fidelity, there’s so many companies. Sometimes, they’ll hire (ph) just like what do you — what’s going on right now, is there a call that could be of interest or is there a company management coming in.

Every week on Fridays, I look at the schedule for the next week and it’s just like, these are two companies that are in at the same time, we got to move one of them or, wow, I definitely have to see this company because oil and gas is way out of favor and this management team has done a decent job surviving over time.’

And the ability to stay current on lots of industries and lots of geographies and then there’s sort of luck. Every once in a while, you meet managements that help you. I mean, again, over 30 years, Barry, one important — clearly, the old one Internet bubble burst was an important event. But what was most important, I think, was the aftermath in the sort of ’03, ’04 period. Most growth investors were still hiding under their desk. They were shell-shocked. In many cases, they were experiencing outflows.

And I remember, again, just seeing on our meeting schedule, a company meeting for ASK Jeeves, ASKJ which I believe …

RITHOLTZ: Sure. Early search engine.

DANOFF: Exactly. And I believe it’s now owned by interactive group. But, again, it’s like what motivated me to say, I think I should go and hear the story. The stock had — I think it gone from like five to 100 and was back to like bottom debt two and it was at eight.

So, I said, 100 to eight means expectations are low, maybe I’ll learn something. And, again, at Fidelity, you can — between you and me, I can go in and then half hour learn something and then politely leave. And I guess I take my job very seriously. I have pictures of my shareholders in my office and I just decided, if I’m going to do my job, I’m in fashion industry, I’ve got to look and consider all possibilities.

If management has come — I think ASKJ was based in New York not in California but if management has traveled all the way to Boston right to our offices to tell us what’s going on, I should at least attend and I should be ideally prepared. I’ve just told you two stories, Barry, where I wasn’t prepared.

But engage with management, ask some intelligent questions, try to understand and empathize with management sort of what has happened, where are you going, what your goal is. So, ASK Jeeves had hired a new CEO, bright young man, and he said, our niche is natural language search, which means in Google, you would type in population Morocco and Google would figure out what you wanted.

But in Ask Jeeves, you would type in what is the population of Morocco and that — they had like one or two percent market share and the goal was to go to five or six and that was going to sort of lead them to profitability in a much bigger business.

So, at some point, I forget we had a young search engine analyst, I guess, I can’t remember who’s hosting the meeting, maybe a small cap analyst or fund manager. But I said, can we just step back and explain the lay of the land for search engines.

So, he sort of flippantly said, well, Google is crushing everybody. They have 40 percent market share plus they’re doing the search for I think it was AOL. So, they had 40 percent plus the 15 or 20 percent that was AOL-related search. So, they had 55 percent market share and they were crushing everybody.

And then I think Yahoo had bought Overture and maybe Microsoft had some skin in the game somewhere. But it was like 55 to 60 than a 25 percent player and then several various smaller players.

So, again, Barry, I don’t know what happened but I just — what’s the key to my success, I just say why or please elaborate. So, I said, God, why is Google doing so well?

RITHOLTZ: And what was the answer?

DANOFF: The answer was they have a better algorithm, they have a larger index. Because they have so much market share, they’re seeing more searches and they’re just innovating faster. And I think as I said, the quote — I would have to check my notes and if you want, Barry, I do have my notes from that meeting.

They are crushing everybody. There is no way we’re going to catch Google. We — our plan does not — we don’t need to beat Google at what they’re doing. We’re going to play in this little niche.

So, again, by that point, Barry, I was already 13 years into Contrafund and I had developed this idea of best-of-breed and I listened politely to ASK Jeeves story for another couple minutes and I excused myself and, in my mind, I was thinking, I want to own Google. I don’t …

RITHOLTZ: That’s what I was hearing between the lines.


RITHOLTZ: They convinced you to guy their competitor.

DANOFF: Exactly. So, again, by attending meetings, by paying attention, listen, your readers can listen to podcast. They can listen to YouTube interviews, which I would highly recommend they do. They can read the papers. They can pay attention. They can watch what their kids are doing. They watch what their friends are doing.

But that was a data point by a well-placed competitor that clearly showed that Google was doing special things and with a special company. And I think at that time, maybe it was ’03, there were already perhaps a couple of articles about Google hiring Eric Schmidt as a CEO, preparing to go public …


DANOFF: … whatever it was, there were some groundswell of articles about Google. And so, I was very interested when Google announced they were going to go public and, again, the backdrop was the growth investor was struggling, the — I can’t remember exactly what was happening in the market. But they came public in August of ’04. August …


DANOFF: Here we are in August of 2020, things quiet down a little bit. People were taking vacation. But I was there front and center. Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt came on the roadshow and, again, do a little preparation. Open the prospectus and Google had doubled the revenue in ’02, doubled the revenue in ’03 and doubled the revenue in the first quarter of ’04. It was like, my gosh, they are doing something right. By the way, operating margins were like 20 percent or 25 even and they had $1 billion of cash on the balance sheet before they went public.

RITHOLTZ: That’s amazing.

DANOFF: Yes. So, again …

RITHOLTZ: I’m going to share a very quick Google story and it’s that period.

DANOFF: Please do.

RITHOLTZ: It was 2002 and I’ve been publishing for a few years on Yahoo, Yahoo GeoCities, and I get an invite to be a beta tester for one of the early versions of Google and you just had to use it for 10 minutes and, my God, this is so much better than anything you could find whatever you want almost instantly.

So, I write back and say, happy to be a beta tester. By the way, I’m in finance, do guys need money? I’d love to make an investment. They write back we’re good, thanks anyway. I want to say that was ’01 or ’02. But it was so clearly superior.

So, well, let’s talk a little bit about your process. How do you look at a company? Where do you begin? Not every Google falls into your lap through competitors. How do you start the process of deciding what you want to think about purchasing?

DANOFF: Yes. That’s a great question, Barry, and I would just urge your listeners that if you want to invest wisely over the long term, you have to make commitment. It’s a very competitive world but know yourself, stay within your circle of competence.

I mean, Warren Buffett is the greatest investor of our generation and he’s out there on YouTube. Please, listen to a couple of interviews of Warren Buffett. He always talks about staying within his area of expertise and he knows the insurance industry really well, the financial industry. He knows consumer products very well.

And in a fascinating way, Barry, he always says, when the Internet hit, I was curious if the Internet was going to affect the people are going to be drinking Coca-Cola or chewing gum and he decided not. But you have to monitor what’s happening.

But I’m interested in companies that I think are going to be bigger and better in the next call it three to five, seven years and I’m interested in companies that are doing well or getting better right now. That was one of the great deal insights talking to Peter Lynch, working with Peter Lynch, watching Peter Lynch, especially the small and mid-cap companies.

I mean, as we talk about with Google, I mean, if you’re a billion in revenues, why shouldn’t you be growing much faster than a company with 100 billion of revenues. And so, if you really have something special, consumer should know it and see it and want it.

So, I am intrigued with the subset of companies that are growing quickly and usually frankly, Barry, it’s easier to find the go from the specific company to the sort of neighborhood or the general theme that it is to start a priori and say, gosh, the Internet therefore — I’m going to find some Internet companies.


DANOFF: For me, it’s starting bottoms up and I think your listeners and potential investors are well served by saying, OK, what has this company done in the last five years, have they grown their revenues, have they improved their margins, how they expanded into new markets.

And then try to understand what management wants to do in the next five years and try to decide what you think the likelihood of that management team to execute on their plan. And so, I’m a little concerned when these special purpose acquisition companies are coming and they really don’t have a track record.

So, I always say, let’s see what you buy and what you pay and try to assess the management team that’s doing the buying and what have they done if they sort of good at rolling up companies but not so good at integrating them, I’m not that interested.

RITHOLTZ: How much of this is art and how much of this is science? I was going to ask it, is this a qualitative assessment, is this a quantitative assessment. But you strike me as someone who is naturally insightful at evaluating companies’ managements and products.

It’s not just here’s the numbers. Anybody could look at the cage or anybody can look at the EBITDA. Not everybody can consistently pick companies that beat the index. So, how much of this is Will Danoff magic and how much of this is something else?

DANOFF: It’s probably a lot of something else, Barry, because I don’t have that much magic and I certainly have the 30 years, I’m not sure if I have any magic left. But it’s competitive and you have to play to your strengths and like as I said, one of the advantages of Fidelity is the management teams are willing to talk to us and share some of the insights that they have.

And ideally, you’re in the business of asking good questions, I’m in the business of asking good questions. So, I do try to empathize with management and you’d be surprised, Barry, even the most successful CEOs like to be recognized. They like to be thanked for their efforts. They like to be treated as sort of guest and as special people.

So, when these managements come to Boston, I like to be prepared, I like to offer them some water or coffee or a doughnut or whatever they want to. And sometimes, we have lunches and it’s just a matter of what do you like for lunch. I don’t want you to have a cheeseburger if you don’t like cheeseburger.

So, anyway, I do think that a little empathy as an investor goes a long way and I do think that if you step back and try to put yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneur and think about what is the CEO really thinking about and that I think makes you a better investor as well because so often, they’ve had a big idea where they’ve had an insight.

The Michael Dell let’s go direct. The PC business, it was a commodity business but he figured out …


DANOFF: … a better way to get closer with customer. But when you think back to someone I think it was in high school and he started to take computers apart and put them back together and add certain features, I think he was adding floppy disk drives or hard disk drives, I forget, he was able to soup up a basic IBM PC and then other PCs to make them better. It’s just like this guy has a passion for what he’s doing.

And try to tap into where you see the bigger opportunities, why are you doing well, where do you think your vulnerabilities are. And if you have these discussions early on in your learning about a company, maybe later in three or four years down the road, that becomes a really important issue that these entrepreneurs often have a sixth sense of what they need to do.

And then, of course, hopefully, they’re planting seeds and strengthening their company, hiring new executives that can prepare them for whatever competitive onslaught or the change in the market so that they can capitalize on it.

RITHOLTZ: Quite fascinating.

DANOFF: You do have — you have to decide is the executive in it for the money or in it to build something really special. I mean, we talked about, am I trying to build a company where people are going to say, my gosh, I can’t deal — the world is a better place because of Instagram or WhatsApp or whatever, Microsoft Teams.

It’s a different — it’s another way of looking at things and I think something like — a new company like Shopify really is dedicated to making entrepreneurs more successful, helping merchants sell online in a very sort of easy way and they’re building what seems to be a very powerful business and it’s taking off, and COVID has been a huge tailwind for them.

But, again, when you listen to management and you can go on Twitter and follow the founders there or go on YouTube and listen to some interviews and decide for yourself, are these the sorts of people I want to partner with.

RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. So, well, let’s talk a little bit about the nuts and bolts of running a fund more or less as a single manager. How does that affect your decision-making versus so many funds that seem to be run by committees?

DANOFF: That’s a great question, Barry. Ned Johnson who, I believe, is the Chairman Emeritus of Fidelity now who built the firm from the mid-70s through I’d say 2015, so, a great 40-year run, believed in accountability. And I think in life, we all have to be accountable.

So, he really liked the idea of having single manager is responsible for individual funds. I am responsible for the performance of the Contrafund. I have a great team of analysts that I work closely with and in some cases, I will buy a stock, the recommendation of an analyst. But usually, I work and say, OK, what are you covering, what do you like, why do you like it, and if this is your very best idea and you think this company is doing something special and they’re going to gain market share profitably over time, let’s just call the company together. Let me know next time you’re going to do an update call or a post quarterly earnings call and I’ll just hear the story myself.

And Peter Lynch used to joke and say, we’re just asking for a picture after someone offers you a blind date. We want to do some basic work. And Joel Tillinghast, my great long-time colleague just says, if you would simply avoid unprofitable companies, that would improve your performance significantly.

Now, the world has changed in 30 years and the biotech industry has become bigger and better and leveraged all these great insights into the human genome so that you can go from losing a lot of money to FDA approval of a drug that turns into a billion-dollar blockbuster very quickly. But for the most part, I think there are certain lesson that we’ve learned.

But when do you sell a stock, Barry? You sell a stock when you have a better idea or when the fundamentals deteriorate. So, if you’re casting a wide net, attending a lot of company meetings, you’re listening to a lot of calls, I don’t know, I think over 30 years, Barry, the numbers are let’s say on average, I talk to five management teams a day, that’s 25 management teams a week, 50 weeks in a working year, 1,200 companies a year for over 30 years. Some crazy number of company meetings.


DANOFF: 30,000 interviews I’ve had that as I said, the poker game, this one sounds a little better, I’m going to buy this one. This one sounds a little worse, I’m going to sell this one. It’s sort of like tasting — I’m a chef making the master stew that everyone is going to hopefully love.

But you got to taste the stew all the time. It needs a little more pepper. It needs a little more salt, a little less of this, that sort of the day-to-day operation. But hopefully, every year, I can find one name — maybe one name a year that I can make a large position

RITHOLTZ: So, I had so many questions about that exact thing and I’ll ask a short one and then a more nuts and bolts longer question.


RITHOLTZ: So, you’re doing, over the course pf your career, tens of thousands of company calls.


RITHOLTZ: How finely tuned is your BS detector? And let me phrase that a little more nicely. When you’re speaking to a manager, do you get a pretty immediate sense of, hey, this guy is telling a great story because there’s a really something substantial underneath or, hey, this guy is a salesman and he’s selling me a line of stuff that I’m not biting it? Like how do you read people in those calls?

DANOFF: Yes. Barry, you made a very good point earlier, your emotional quotient is very important in this business. But I would say sitting across the table and asking some very basic questions can give you a very good sense of management, are they humble, are they honest, are they willing to be realistic.

But you have to understand as I said, OK, this management has travelled halfway around the world to talk to Fidelity. Yes, maybe we are the largest shareholder or maybe we could be the largest shareholder but there is a reason why this management team is here, why is it.

And often there is a reason, they want to do a secondary offering and raise money, they want to do an acquisition and therefore, they want a higher stock price so they have a richer currency to do the acquisition. But I would say that 99 percent of the management teams that we talked to are honest and once in a while — different people do tell the stories more humbly or more arrogantly.

But you want to see, as I said earlier, management with passion. I would say one way to reduce the risk of the arrogant CEO is to watch how the entire management team interacts and ideally, you see more than just one great leader but an entire team, the COO, the CFO, the CSO.

Does the entire C-suite sing the same song from the hymnbook? Are they all on the same page? Do they work well together? Do they seem to — I remember — again, it all goes back to — I was the retail analyst. I’m at a dinner with the great Sam Walton, one of the truly great postwar …

RITHOLTZ: Legends. Yes.

DANOFF: Yes. And people are asking all sorts of questions and Sam was like, well, Jack Shoemaker, why don’t you answer that one? Don Soderquist, why don’t you take that one? Paul Carter, why don’t you take that one? David Glass, why don’t you take that one?

And he was a very effective leader and you just realized that this was a very powerful culture. We’re going to lower prices and sort of enable middle-class Americans and rural Americans, deliver better life by sort of being more efficient, embracing — you think back and, again, I didn’t appreciate it at that time but Sam and his team were aware of Sol Price’s new price club which was the membership warehouse club.

They copied it or experimented themselves. They were open to a new idea and they started the Sam’s Club business …

RITHOLTZ: Sam’s Club. Yes.

DANOFF: … and I think with Sam’s then they sort of learned about the food business which became very important and started opening supercenters and they were aware of Carrefour in France and I don’t know how to pronounce, M-E-I-J-E-R-S, which was a hypermarket up in the upper Midwest.

So, again, you want to see managements that are open to new ideas, open to adjacent markets, willing to experiment. I like the management — we’re going to try a few things. They may not work. They may not — I did really well early on with George Sherman at Danaher and George is — he’s always talked about one business reviews and the Danaher business system and he had studied the great plants via the manufacturing techniques in Japan, the Toyota business system, Dr. Ohno, and then he went to Korea.

But I was like, Georgia, tell me about this and chaka chaka (ph), which was I think either the Japanese or Korean term for just-in-time inventory and the idea of reducing waste, Barry, this is like waste is time, waste is inventory, waste is like if you have to move from one part of the kitchen to the other part of the kitchen.

You just sort of say, this guy can go deep. So, yes, there is some arrogance for a successful executive and you want to be careful about that. But, again, when — what I’ve loved during this COVID period is to be able to Zoom with management teams and there are a large portion, frankly, of American management teams that have emphasized and prioritized the health and safety of their colleagues.

And it’s been very inspiring to hear these great executives understand that they have to be on the frontline, they have to make sure their people are safe and a lot of the companies have invested a lot of money in protective gear and thinking hard about the return to work. So, anyway, yes, it is a concern and, again, I would urge your listeners, YouTube these executives, decide if you like their art.

How did you come to this company and what was the great insight? I mean, let’s remember, Bernie Marcus was fired by Handy Dan and he started the Home Depot in his 40s. So, you don’t have to be a college dropout at 20 years old to start the latest tech company. Experience matters and if you are dedicated and have the right skillset, you can be a great success later in life.

I do like smart, motivated, passionate folks who have done it before. As I said, what have you done for me in the last five years, what are you going to do in the future? I mean, I remember when Mark Zuckerberg came on the IPO roadshow and what’s the right question for a 27-year-old who I think at that time had three quarters of 1,750,000,000 daily active users. It’s just like what you have accomplished is remarkable.


DANOFF: And then try to learn from these folks. Anyway, then you want to try …

RITHOLTZ: Let me tee up – go ahead.

DANOFF: Yes. No. No. No. I mean, it was — I remember Mark showed up in a T-shirt and a hoodie and I was like that’s great, that’s what we want. We want somebody to be who they are.

But I will tell you that I projected my Facebook account which had like 30 friends onto the conference room wall just to try to make him feel a little more comfortable. It was just like we’re engaged with our product.

And when Evan Spiegel from Snapchat came public, the analyst made a Snapchat story when he came in and we showed it to Evan and he loved it. You got to kind of try to connect with these executives at their level.

Like when I was the stores analyst and even now as a fund manager, when these companies come around, it’s just like we should go shopping together, let’s go to your store together. You don’t want to be in a conference room. I don’t want to be — necessarily be in a conference room. Let’s go out there.

And Jason Weiner is one of my close colleagues. He’s done a great job with some of the Fidelity funds — growth funds and for a while there, every time management was coming in early in — sort of the early days of the Internet, he was going under their website and he’s like — you talk about what management says and what they’re doing, he’s like, this all sounds great but I don’t see any of those initiatives on the front page of your website and it was just like why not.

RITHOLTZ: That’s a good question.

DANOFF: Yes. So, anyway — but the other point, Barry, and your listeners have to keep in mind that whatever management says, there is accountability. Every quarter — Warren Buffett doesn’t like quarterly earnings. Jamie Dimon doesn’t like quarterly earnings.

But the reality is every quarter, you have more fundamental data by which to at least analyze what has happened. And every industry is cyclical, every industry is affected by COVID or the global financial crisis or the Internet bubble. But it should make sense, gosh …

RITHOLTZ: Makes sense to me.

DANOFF: Argentina oil prices spiked in the last quarter. Therefore, our raw material cost went through the roof. Our gross margins were down. But guess what, the two-quarter phenomenon and we’re going to be back to more normal — the airline, God, oil prices, jet fuel went way up, our margins were down, but that’s going to affect everybody in our industry.

So, we’re going to be relatively OK. We’re still expanding. We still have a low-cost operation because we only use the same Boeing 737s and the other guys are going to struggle, blah, blah, blah. So, it has to make sense.

RITHOLTZ: Sounds like Southwest.

DANOFF: I remember meeting the great Herb Kelleher and I think one of my questions, one — again, Fidelity is a great place to manage money. For whatever reason, Herb came in and everybody was at a tech conference or everybody was at a healthcare conference. I think there were two other investors and me in the meeting and I was like, Herb, the great Warren Buffett says he got — he lost a lot of money in U.S. Air. How can you make money in the airline industry? And he said, Warren bet at the wrong airline.

We talked a little bit about the idea of flexibility and what is management supposed to be doing. Management has to pay attention and he gave some examples that when Midway Airlines was opening up, there were some new gates, they called and said, hey ,someone canceled on us, we’ve got six gates, it’s like a Thursday afternoon, do you want them, you got to let us know ASAP.

And Herb and his team like pulled an all-nighter and by Friday afternoon, they said, yes, we want them and here are the terms that we want, and they negotiated. But that sort of what an active manager should be doing. We — you have to pay attention and hopefully, you bet big when you see a big opportunity.

RITHOLTZ: Quite fascinating. So, Will, you’ve mentioned so many fascinating stories about so many companies, Walmart and Starbucks and Costco and Amazon and Southwest and Home Depot. I got to ask, how many of these companies are you still long or more generally, when you find a company like Home Depot or Starbucks, how long do you stay with them and how can you tell when something is just a temporary wobble or a more significant threat to the business model?

DANOFF: That’s a great question, Barry, and, again, we’re always learning, we’re always trying to improve and I’ve made so many mistakes over the years. But I’d say maybe in the last 15 years, I realized that lowering my turnover would change my process to think longer term and therefore, sort of raise the bar of the companies that I was buying to say, hey — if you think about it, Barry, if I am going to own the stock for the next 10 years, it better be a really high quality company and I better have a high degree of conviction that the company is going to be bigger and better in the next five years.

So, maybe I want to do another couple of months of research to make sure I really understand the company’s competitive advantages that really know the management team and the entire culture of the company and why they’re going to do so well and to better understand their product roadmap and the innovation and the competitive set.

So, that’s helped me a lot and so, I’ve tried to stay in companies and not be faked out and sort of — again, what is sort of market noise, worried about some tweets or some concern about inflation or the dollar moving this way or that way, which is sort of irrelevant in most cases to the strength and long-term profitability of a company.

I would say and I’d urge your listeners and I’d urge you to think about this idea of when in doubt, check the fundamentals. When in doubt, listen to the latest quarterly webcast. When in doubt, look at the latest presentation to investors. When in doubt, if you can, call the company because …

RITHOLTZ: So, that’s really intriguing and I have to ask you, most people go out and buy a thousand shares of stock. They can jump all in or all out very easily. You’re obviously swinging around a lot more weight. How do you enter any given stock? Is it a position that you put a tone (ph) in water and build over time? Do you have a specific strategy?

I know some people like to add to what’s working and subtract to what’s not. How do you own an Amazon or a Home Depot? Is it a slow gradual process or what’s the method behind that?

DANOFF: Yes. As I mentioned earlier, Barry, we all would love to have a huge amount of conviction. When I think about some of the great investors I know, the Bill Millers, the (inaudible), I think they have more conviction than I do or they get it earlier.

I’m trying to improve and often, it can be a meeting where you just meet someone who’s running an important division or a smaller division and you’re like, wow. I was out at PayPal and I met someone there who I thought was really exceptional and, again, when you can visit with the management team and get beyond the CFO or the treasurer or even the CEO and meet some of the people who are in the field who truly know the product set and the competitive set, you’re saying, wow, this makes sense to me.

So, anyway, whatever it takes to get conviction and I’ve told the analyst, if you don’t understand something, tell the management. You want to fly out to headquarters and spend more time, it’s OK. No one — the light bulb sometimes — a lot of times when I’m talking to management, they’re like, why don’t you guys own more stock and I’ve got to say, I made a mistake.
But one of the great lessons over 30 years, Barry, and this is important for all your listeners, if a stock has doubled or even tripled, you have not missed it. And I don’t like to give …


DANOFF: … all my secrets but if a stock has doubled or tripled, you have not missed it. You have to say — have the mental wideout that Peter Lynch always talks about for the past and say, what is going to happen in the future because let’s step back, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, they didn’t sell after the first double. They didn’t sell after the first triple.

So, yes, I do think it’s an excellent idea to say, I would like to own these stocks for the next decade or two decades because I understand the niche that the company is fulfilling. I think they’re in a big market. I think the management team is going to continue to innovate and continue to grow, make rational decisions about expanding and developing new products and they understand their customer, they want to delight their customer, blah, blah, blah.

So, the reality is, Barry, that I was influenced by Warren Buffett, I was with Warren in 2012, he invited Fidelity to do an MBA Day in Omaha and we were all — I was given a chance to ask him a question. I said, Warren, I’m managing a hundred billion dollars, what advice would you give me, and he said, when you have a good idea, bet big.

And if you look back and we were influenced — Joel and I were influence by Peter Lynch who has like a thousand stocks in Magellan and Joel still runs with a huge number of stocks and low-price stock funds, he’s an exceptional intellect and can handle that. But the number of stocks in the Contrafund fell. I literally looked at — I think I might have had 500 or 600 stocks at that time and I just said, let’s look at the bottom 300 and say upper out.


DANOFF: And I looked at the top 50 and Peter always talks about this, the best stocks are probably stocks you already own, you need to bet bigger. So, I was more concentrated but you mentioned earlier, what’s really happening right now.

Technology has been a massive tidal wave, the Internet and software. The great Marc Andreessen said it best, software is eating the world. It’s more efficient. It makes less mistakes. It’s enabling people all over the world to connect with each other.

And so, the software …

RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about some of those …


RITHOLTZ: … those companies, some of those …

DANOFF: The short answer is the software industry is growing rapidly, it’s highly profitable and many parts of the tech industry are not capital intensive. The great Apple — Steve Jobs is a genius to convince Hon Hai Foxconn to make the phones for him.

So, he earns a high margin and he doesn’t have to spend a lot of money building factories. But you think about what Amazon has done generating a lot of free cash flow. Apple is generating a huge amount of free cash flow. Facebook is generating a huge amount of free cash flow. Microsoft is generating a huge amount of free cash flow.

Technology — the tech industry is knowledge based, it’s higher margin and for the moment, it’s still growing because it’s a global industry.

RITHOLTZ: Those are three of your biggest holdings you just ran through there, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft. So, someone — I mentioned to a friend I was interviewing you …


RITHOLTZ: … and I said if you’re going to ask — and he’s a tech geek and runs a tech-focused hedge fund. I said if you’re going to ask Will Danoff a question about technology, what would it be. And he surprised me with, why the S&P 500 as a benchmark? Aren’t you really more of a NASDAQ 100 guy? And I thought that was kind of an interesting observation. How do you respond to that?

DANOFF: Yes. There’s a lot of truth to that. I am much more of a growth investor. I am, in my opinion, a capital appreciation fund with a growth bias. So, I do have a go anywhere — a large grow-anywhere component and it’s just the technology. It’s been such a powerful tidal wave that I’ve probably stayed in technology longer and bigger than I would have expected.

Benchmarks are important and Fidelity, for legal reasons, does not want to change the benchmark. It’s actually sort of time consuming and cumbersome to change benchmark. It probably made …

RITHOLTZ: And the S&P 500 is hard enough to beat as is.

DANOFF: Yes. I mean, there are some of my larger more institutional investors who do look at the Russell 1000 growth versus Kontron. They’re — I’m not as — frankly, the performance has not been as good and I don’t know if my bench was the Russell 1000 growth if I would be even bigger in some of these names.

RITHOLTZ: That’s interesting.

DANOFF: Yes. I mean, it is what it is. I do think benchmarks are important. I mean, what Larry Fink and John Bogle did with passive investing has been really good for the individual investor. You don’t want to be in a situation when, my God, Danoff or the Reinholds (ph) have lost their fastball, I’m going to sell.

The beauty of the index if you just buy an index is I’m going to own the index and I’m going to buy the index every year with my 401(k) contribution and when I retire, I’m hopefully going to have a nice nest egg to retire with as opposed to …

RITHOLTZ: So, speaking of retirement …

DANOFF: With individual stocks, with individual funds …


DANOFF: … you got to — you’re worried and human beings worry a lot. So, I’m worrying a lot for all of my investors, Barry, trying my best.

RITHOLTZ: So, I bet their worried about when you’re going to retire. You’ve been there for 30 years. Do you have any plan on leaving anytime soon or are you going to run Contra for another 30 years?

DANOFF: The stock answer, Barry, is that I feel like an add value and as long as I feel like an value, I’m going to continue to run Contrafund. As I said, Fidelity is a wonderful place to manage money. We’re hiring new analysts, young analysts all the time every year and it’s those young analysts that provide extra energy, new insights, sort of an openness to new ideas.

What do I know from Tinder and But if I can ask the young analysts what phones they’re using, what apps they’re using, tell me about this technology, again, if you think Airbnb is going to go public, you and I if — are we going to sleep on somebody else’s couch or in somebody else’s apartment? Uber, are you going to get into somebody’s car?

Often when you hear the story for the first time, you’re like, no way. But you have to keep an open mind and by working with my younger colleagues, they help me stay open and try to embrace change and the new ideas. And when I think about the future, whatever power artificial intelligence and machine learning are going to make this great software industry even more productive and even better.

The intersection of software and healthcare, if you think about all the — hopefully, the great advances that are going to be made in health and preventive medicine through leveraging big data and AI, it’s just remarkable.

RITHOLTZ: No doubt about that.

DANOFF: I’m optimistic and I think the U.S. is a leader in the software industry and in Internet technology. When you think about virtual reality and artificial reality and ambient computing, I mean, this whole idea of Alexa, Jeff Bezos is a great experimenter. He’s a great inventor and to be able to walk into a room and talk to the computer and as I understand it, pretty soon, you’re going to be walking down — you’re in New York, you’re walking down Madison Avenue, Barry, we know you like Frappuccinos, there’s a Starbucks around the corner, you can get 10 percent off right now.

RITHOLTZ: Sounds like a scene out of a movie “Minority Report” with …

DANOFF: Yes. Exactly. Yes.

RITHOLTZ: … an environment where …

DANOFF: Well, you could imagine it’s going to happen.


DANOFF: And then, of course, all the innovation around the green industry and EVs and solar and wind. I think that it’s going to be these U.S. companies and Silicon Valley and the entrepreneurs are going to find better ways to do things and hopefully, consumers are going to benefit but …

RITHOLTZ: Sounds optimistic.

DANOFF: As investors, we have this great opportunity to partner with Elon Musk or other truly exceptional, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Benioff. I mean, these are truly exceptional people. And here we are, John Q. Public can be a partner by a share.

RITHOLTZ: I know I only have you another few minutes, another three minutes. So, let me plow through my speed round of questions and let’s see if we can get through these quickly. What are you watching these days? Any favorites on Netflix or Amazon Prime?

DANOFF: Yes. I don’t have a lot of time, Barry, but I did really like “Fauda” which is …

RITHOLTZ: So stressful.

DANOFF: Yes. I like the intensity.

RITHOLTZ: It’s great. Yes. Totally.

DANOFF: I guess I’m a sucker for thrillers and I like “House of Cards” and I’m a big shareholder of Netflix and I think what Netflix has done is truly exceptional.

RITHOLTZ: Just amazing.

DANOFF: And if I had to I would just Google the Netflix top 10. I’ve enjoyed a lot of that stuff. But “Fauda” is my favorite of all time.

RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about books. What are you reading now and what are some of your favorites?

DANOFF: During COVID, I really enjoyed a book called, “City of Thieves” which is about Leningrad during the war. A good friend recommended it and right now, I’m reading this biography, the one volume biography of Churchill, I’m forgetting the author, but it was published like two or three years ago and, I mean, it’s just remarkable. His parents sort of ignored him but he was an exceptional talent.

And, again, Barry, one insight is if you find a CEO or an entrepreneur who’s exceptionally smart like Winston Churchill was exceptionally smart, they’re good possibly do really exceptional things and he made a lot of mistakes. But when his time came …

RITHOLTZ: But defeated the Nazis.

DANOFF: Yes. When the time came, he was the right guy. So, one thing over 30 years, you try to collect executives and sometimes their sectors out of favor. But when they come in to favor, the best-of-breed companies shine.

RITHOLTZ: What sort of advice would you give a recent college graduate who was interested in a career in asset management?

DANOFF: I think you got to learn to swim by jumping in the water. So, start a paper portfolio and start investing. Ideally, get your lawn mowing savings or whatever savings you’ve got and even with a thousand dollars, you can buy a couple shares of your favorite companies. You got to get in there.

But the access to information has changed so much, Barry, in the last 30 years. When I started as a retail analyst at Fidelity, my first job was like write letters to the companies, send me the investment packet, send me the last two annual reports and the last quarterly report and the 10-Q. I mean, it took like two weeks to get started.

And now, it takes two seconds to Google IBM investor relations. You can YouTube the new CEO. You can do your work sort of instantaneously. So, you just got to get in there and do some research, listen to the webcast and place your bets.

So, I think you just got to get in there and do it. And not everybody wants to but I was sort of a mediocre analyst and over time, by doing, I have learned what works for me and the only way you’re going to learn your style and what works for you is to actually do it and you got to be accepting.

Mistakes are a big part of this business. Try to learn from your mistakes. The great George Vanderheyden who was a great mentor of mine, I learned a lot from George, he talked about keeping an investment diary on one little index card or whatever the digital version of index card, why am I buying the stock. I’m going to buy XYZ company at $50 a share because they’re expanding into India.

India is a huge opportunity. I think they’re earning two dollars right now. But if they continue to grow outside of India by 10 to 15 percent and India adds another 500 million of revenue at a certain margin, I think they can go from two dollars of earnings to five dollars in earnings.

RITHOLTZ: Let me ask you our final question now, what do you know about the world of investing today you wish you knew when you first joined the Contrafund 30 years ago?

DANOFF: Barry, we’ve talked a lot about sort of best-of-breed great entrepreneurs. I guess I wish I had invested bigger with these superior managers when they were younger and earlier on. If I had met Sam Walton when he went public and I had that insight to say, wow, this is an exceptional story.

But what’s so hard, Barry, is when you first meet the company as I said earlier with Airbnb or Uber, it’s like what are you talking about or there’s always the skeptic and you have to try to anticipate and see around the corner and it’s not easy. But that’s what I would encourage people to keep thinking about the future, keep thinking about trends, stay within your circle of competence and stay flexible and continue to cast a wide net.

You’ve really got to look everywhere. I mean, if you think about what happened in China. I think China’s grown their GDP 10 percent a year for the last 30 years. It’s going to overtake the U.S. probably in the next decade.

I mean, just — it’s remarkable what compounding can do and you just try to anticipate and project out into the future implications for what you’re hearing right now and just try to stay informed. But there’s a lot of opportunity …

RITHOLTZ: Fascinating stuff.

DANOFF: Yes. It’s really great.

RITHOLTZ: Thanks, Will, for being so generous with your time. That was Will Danoff. He runs Fidelity’s Contrafund.

If you enjoy this conversation, well, be sure and check out any of the previous 300 or so we’ve had over the past six years. You can find that at iTunes, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, wherever you find our podcasts are sold.

We love your comments, feedback and suggestions. Write to us at Be sure to check out my weekly column on Give us review on Apple iTunes. Sign up for our daily reads at Follow me on Twitter, @Ritholtz.

I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack staff that helps us put these conversations together each week, Reggie Bazil (ph) is our audio engineer, Atika Valbrun is our project manager, Michael Batnick is my head of research, our producer and booker is Michael Boyle, I’m Barry Ritholtz, you’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.


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