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Straightforward Investing Since 1969

The investment advisory firm of O’Brien Greene & Co. provides independent investment management to a diverse clientele. Individuals, families, and corporate retirement plans make up the majority of clients, although longtime clients also include trusts, insurance companies, and charitable endowments. We seek the preservation and growth of capital through good and bad markets, and our investment strategy emphasizes several themes: simple, transparent, separate accounts; direct ownership of high-quality stocks and investment-grade bonds; diversification across the market; customized portfolios with a high degree of personal attention. The firm has more than $270 million under management and its offices are located in suburban Philadelphia in the borough of Media, Pennsylvania.

Review & Outlook

Our take on the investing, financial, & economic themes of the day

What We’re Reading: August 29

Quote of the Day: “The advantage of having a historical sense is not that it will lead you to some quarry of instructions, the way that Superman can regularly return to the Fortress of Solitude to get instructions from his dad, but that it will teach you that no such crystal cave exists. What history generally ‘teaches’ is how hard it is for anyone to control it, including the people who think they’re making it.” –Adam Gopnik, in the New Yorker   Friday links: U.S. Stocks Edge Higher (WSJ) Are Stock Prices Headed for a Fall? (WSJ) Can an Algorithm be a Fiduciary? (Reuters) Why You Should Google Your Favorite Perma-Bear (The Big Picture) U.S. Companies are Starting to Spend (Quartz) The Perils of Market Forecasting (ETF.com) The Real Reason Companies Are Spending Less on Tech (HBR) Does it Help to Know History? (New Yorker) As you Age, A lot of Happiness Comes from Ordinary Things (NYT) How a Daily Walk can Boost Your Creativity (Fast Company) ... read more...

What We’re Reading: August 28

Quote of the Day:  “Finance is taught overwhelmingly as a math-based field, in which students learn how to calculate beta by hand and dissect a balance sheet in their sleep. In the real world, finance is overwhelmingly a psychology-based field, where the best investors are those who control their emotions. This is rarely taught and never emphasized. And it’s why some of the world’s best investors have no formal finance training.”  –Morgan Housel, in The Motley Fool   Thursday links:  U.S. Stocks Slip on Ukraine Concerns (WSJ) Finance is a Strange Industry (Motley Fool) Lending Club can be Better than the Banks (BloombergView) TD Bank Profit Jumps 38% (WSJ) FBI Examining Whether Russia Is Tied to JPMorgan Hacking (Bloomberg) Moving Past the Active vs. Passive Debate (Abnormal Returns) The Art of Extracting Large Fees from Investors (Aleph Blog) Fantasy Football, Stock Market Edition (NYT Magazine) Four Traps Wrecking Your Retirement (MarketWatch) ... read more...

Did M&A Expert Evercore Botch its Acquisition of ISI?

Yesterday Matthew wrote that the importance of big Wall Street banks may be on the decline. The financial services giants were tarnished by the 2008 crisis and now face the threat of new, technology-driven alternatives to traditional banking. This trend is playing out across the industry from retail banking to mergers and acquisitions. Partly in response to this theme, earlier this year we bought shares of Evercore Partners (EVR), a boutique investment bank with a market cap of $1.7 billion, in our small cap fund.  The company was founded by industry veteran and former deputy Treasury secretary Roger Altman and has been steadily taking market share from the larger players. We thought that the company would benefit from the increasing wave of mergers and acquisitions as well as the rise of smaller, more specialized banks that are free from the conflicts of interest of giants such as J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. From 2005-2013 Evercore’s market share of U.S. M&A ... read more...

What We’re Reading: August 27

Wednesday links:  U.S. Stocks Edge Lower (WSJ) Israel/Gaza Cease-Fire Extended (NYT) What to Expect from Apple’s Upcoming Product Announcement (Forbes) Snapchat Fetches $10 Billion Valuation (WSJ) The Problems with “Maximization of Shareholder Value”  (FT) The New Editors of the Internet (Atlantic) U.S. consumer confidence hits nearly seven-year high in August (Reuters) The Pros and Cons of Investing in “Behemoth Stocks” (Aleph Blog) Seadrill (SDRL) Sinks on Earnings Report (Barron’s) A Grim Future for For-Profit Colleges (Businessweek)   Chart of the Day:                  Source: Bespoke Investment Group       read more...

On the (Predicted) Decline of Banks

26 August, 2014 by Matthew O'Brien in Commentary
Silicon Valley is trying to eat JP Morgan’s lunch.  That’s the way JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon put it a few months ago.  He was referring to the hot sector of the technology industry profiled recently in an opinion column by journalist Gillian Tett (Financial Times, “Upstarts Prepare to Ambush the Lords of Finance”.)  Start-ups and big tech alike are vying to develop payments platforms that will facilitate everything from ordinary consumer transactions at the local coffee shop to small business loans and bond issuance.  All of these innovative services cut into territory that has traditionally belonged to banks. Tett points out that the tremendous opportunity for disrupting conventional bank practice comes with new risks that are difficult to assess.  One common complaint about financial regulators is that they tend to fixate on the threats that led to the most recent financial crisis, just as generals tend to prepare to fight the last war.  This tendency ... read more...