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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

29 January, 2015 by Matthew O'Brien, Ph.D. in Commentary
Some interesting articles from around the web: Europe’s Anti-Business Stance (New York Times) Whole Foods, Half Off (Bloomberg Business) Why It’s So Hard for McDonald’s to Change (Bloomberg Business) read more...

Competitive Currency Devaluation Continues Apace

29 January, 2015 by Matthew O'Brien, Ph.D. in Commentary
One of the first things that you learn about economic growth, if you learn anything at all, is that growth is not a zero-sum game.  That is, when a company like Apple increases its earnings by 40% or so, as it did last quarter, it didn’t simply “take” those earnings from its competitors, who thereby earned less.  When a company develops or improves some product or service, it doesn’t necessarily just take a bigger slice of the economic pie, but helps to increase size of the whole pie. Not so with central banking and the “loose” monetary policy that is all the rage among today’s central bankers, however.  Since the financial crises, the world’s central banks have successively devalued their currencies and artificially suppressed interest rates, ostensibly in order to “stimulate” economic growth in their home countries.   If the policy works, and it’s not evident that it does, it works as a zero-sum game, benefiting ... read more...

Taking Stock of Apple’s Huge 4th Quarter

28 January, 2015 by Matthew O'Brien, Ph.D. in Commentary
The other day I posted on some of the highlights of Apple’s recent quarter, and now that its earnings report is out, we know just how well the company did.  The gist, as the Wall Street Journal reports, is that compared to the previous year Apple sold considerably more iPhones at higher prices and earned more profit on each phone sold.  Thus the company pulled off the triple play of big revenue growth, big profit growth, and growth of its profit margin.   Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in the quarter, 46% above a year earlier, while lifting the average selling price of the devices by $50 from the prior year. The total equates to more than 34,000 phones an hour, around the clock. According to Dow Jones, Apple’s huge quarter will lift the whole S&P 500 considerably: “After yesterday morning’s reports, the index members’ 4Q EPS growth was seen being 3.3% as revenue was projected to rise 0.5%, according to Thomson Reuters, combining both ... read more...

What We’re Reading

27 January, 2015 by Matthew O'Brien, Ph.D. in Commentary
Some interesting stories from around the web that we’ve been reading: ‘Boring’ stocks generate better returns, study says (WSJ MarketWatch) Bankers Take 10 Months to Do What Lending Club Did in 5 Years (Bloomberg) On the small-cap (high-quality) premium (AQR Capital Management) Saudi Arabia’s Oil Strategy: “Chill, Not Kill” America’s Energy Revolution (National Interest) read more...

Brokers and the 401(k) Fiduciary Problem

27 January, 2015 by Matthew O'Brien, Ph.D. in Commentary
Since I knocked Bloomberg’s reporting in my previous post about Tesla, let me reference an important article that the news service ran recently, “Billions in Lost 401(k) Savings, Abusive Brokers Under White House Scrutiny.”  Right now the Department of Labor is deliberating about whether to impose a fiduciary duty on brokers who advise retirement plans and IRAs.  An advocacy website SaveOurRetirement.com, which is produced by a coalition including the AARP, the AFL-CIO, and the Consumer Federation of America, is supporting the imposition of a fiduciary rule. It would be a great win for ordinary investors if they could be assured to receive genuine fiduciary advice from their wealth managers, financial planners, etc.  Unfortunately, it’s probably more likely that Wall Street’s lobbying effort will ensure that brokers still get to operate without having to act in their clients’ best interest. read more...