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    Who We Are

    About O'Brien Greene and Our History
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    Straightforward investing with O’Brien Greene
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    Working with O’Brien Greene

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

But I Don’t Own Any Chinese Stocks!

18 November, 2015 by Paul Devine in Commentary
“But I don’t own any Chinese stocks!” many individual investors moaned late in the afternoon of Monday, October 26th, “So why has the value of my portfolio dropped?” That’s a reasonable question for investors who have prudently purchased high-quality U.S. stocks, only to see the prices of those stocks fall because of a broad decline in a far-away market they’ve chosen to avoid. Even an investor choosing to take on only the risk presented by NYSE-traded stocks, however, is exposed to events in other markets. As a practical matter, “the stock market” is not a building on Wall Street at the corner of Broad but a world-wide agglomeration of securities exchanges. Investors feel most the events which occur on their own exchanges, but they feel to some degree events on all exchanges. The Chinese stock markets’ 22% drop in three days in the last week of October reflected a long string of adverse events exacerbated by recent, intermittent, ineffectual, and at last abandoned attempts by the ... read more...

The Skyscraper Indicator for Financial Bubbles

19 October, 2015 by Ben O'Brien in Commentary
Everyone can see a bubble after it pops, but to identify one in the earlier innings is extremely hard. How do you differentiate a bull market or some legitimate business trend from one that has turned into the kind of dangerous speculative frenzy known as a bubble? It is more of a art than a science, and so often it seems strange anecdotes and various real world observations are just as effective as looking at data about asset prices. In the late ’90s there were lots of stories about day-trading cab drivers and other non-experts all of a sudden spending all of their time and money trading tech stocks. Similarly, in the mid 2000’s there were hairdressers who flipped dozens of houses for big profits overnight. Unfortunately, these stories often don’t come out in the press until after the bubble bursts. Vikram Mansharamani who is an economic forecaster and bubble expert has helped popularize an interesting real-world test: the skyscraper indicator. It turns out that ... read more...

An Ockham’s Razor for Investing, Part I

16 October, 2015 by Matthew O'Brien, Ph.D. in Commentary
Should a wealth manager spend his time picking stocks or picking funds that pick stocks?  I pose the question because at O’Brien Greene we pick stocks (and bonds and other publicly traded securities like real estate investment trusts or REITs) for our clients, and we think that this is a better way to spend our time — and deploy our clients money —  than in trying to pick other fund managers. Perhaps the simplest argument for being a stock picker instead of a fund picker is the numbers game.  There are many more funds than there are publicly-listed companies in the U.S.  In 2014 there were 7,923 mutual funds in the U.S., according to the Investment Company Institute (ICI), which is the trade group for the industry.  Add to this 1,380 exchange-traded funds (ETFs), for a total of 9,303 funds to choose from.  By comparison, the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index, which represents the entire investable public market of U.S. companies, includes just 3,809 stocks.  (For ... read more...

Buffett on Market Downturns

26 August, 2015 by Ben O'Brien in Commentary
Though the market has bounced back today, the Dow and S&P are now solidly in correction, a pullback of more than 10% from July highs. Who do you turn to for insight in times of market panic? It can be tempting to turn on CNBC. But that may be the worst thing you can do because much of the media (especially cable news) thrives on stirring up the frenzy during uncertain times. After all there’s nothing better for financial TV ratings than a market downturn. One of the best people in my opinion to listen to in times of market panic is Warren Buffet who has shepherded his company Berkshire Hathaway through all sorts of up and downs for fifty years, growing it from a troubled New England textile mill into one of the largest global conglomerates. Buffett does not appear on TV to provide his two cents when the market is in a panic, however, he has written a great deal of  insightful material on his long experience in investing. Recently, I’ve been reading a collection of ... read more...

Reflections on Today’s Global Market Sell Off

24 August, 2015 by Mark O'Brien in Commentary
The managing of money is never easy.  That’s because the future is never clear, and markets are often fickle and counterintuitive, even in the best of times. But in times of financial panic, such as we are in, or appear to be in, managing money becomes especially difficult and that is not so much because of stocks and bonds and unfolding events but because of our human natures. In a career that has survived bear markets and panics in 1975, 1987, 2000 and 2008, to name just a few, I can say that the best thing to do is not to follow the news and even less to act on it.  Instead, concentrate on managing oneself, especially one’s fear of the unknown, which tends to be hyped up by the financial media.  If one is not disciplined, it is easy to imagine silly things. The Dow Jones industrial average just opened down 900 points.  Minutes later, as I write, it is down 500 points.  If one were to sell a stock, or buy a stock, the price one would get on execution is not the price one sees ... read more...