* Pzena's talk was entitled 'Evaluating Financials in a State of Panic'
* The only time good businesses sell for cheap prices is during times of distress
* Financial stocks are cheap on a P/B basis against historical multiples
* Freddie Mac (FRE) is the cheapest stock Pzena has 'ever seen':
* Losses are absorbable and GAAP is not useful in evaluating FRE
* Pzena believes the mortgage payment resets that result in higher monthly payments will be handled by borrowers because they will be reluctant to forfeit the equity in their homes
* Fears in the market don’t necessarily impact FRE’s business but are impacting its stock
* FRE Loan to Value = 60% and are mostly in fixed high credit
* Believes FRE will follow similar action to P&C insurance companies
1. Hurricane/natural disaster occurs, P&C insurance companies experience losses, P&C companies raise prices/premiums, P&C stock goes up
2. Housing crisis has occurred, FRE and other industry players will raise fees, tighten credit standards, experience lower losses resulting in strong capital returns and thus improving stock price.
At the time, Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE) was trading at about $30 per share. Today it closed at 95 cents per share. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a value investor who has made money going long on a financial stock over the last year and a half, but another investor at last November's Value Investing Congress, David Einhorn, has done well shorting Lehman Brothers (NYSE: LEH).
1Richard Pzena went to Wharton with Joel Greenblatt, author of The Little Book That Beats the Market. In that book, Greenblatt appeared to be alluding to Pzena as "the smartest money manager I know" on p.72.