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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

Practicing Patience With the Market at an All-Time High

28 July, 2016 by Ben O'Brien in Commentary
Recently the financial press trumpeted that the S&P 500 was at a new “all-time high.” In one sense this is a good thing, a sign of strength and resilience, that the market has recovered from the financial crisis and is breaking new ground. In another sense though, many stocks are getting expensive and bargains are harder to come by than they have been in a while. In markets like these, patience is key. Seeking out reasonably priced, high-quality stocks is essential because you can’t rely so much on market wide “multiple expansion” which is the rising tide that sometimes lifts all boats. Warren Buffett has said that success in investing is as much or more about temperament than it is about intelligence or expertise. In today’s uncertain market, we believe avoiding panic and cultivating virtues like patience and discipline is of more use than the financial or mathematical jujitsu practiced by Wall Street super geniuses. Buffett’s right hand man, Charlie Munger once said, ... read more...

Big U.S. Banks & Brexit

25 July, 2016 by Paul Devine in Commentary
Two of the largest U.S. banks reported their second-quarter earnings late last week, and while the earnings were as moderately strong as most analysts had expected, it was surprising how little attention was devoted to the Brexit both by bankers and analysts.  That’s not surprising, since most of Brexit’s implications are about the future, while second-quarter earnings are about the past, before Britons voted at the end of June. JPMorgan Chase reported on the 14th that net income of $6.2 billion was for the second quarter was 10.9% greater than the first quarter, although “relatively flat compared with the prior-year quarter”; the first quarter had included a number of special charges, and merely matching the same-quarter-prior-year’s profit counts as a good result in the current banking environment.  The next day Wells Fargo reported 2Q16 net income of $5.6 billion, essentially its profit in the same quarter of 2015.  Wells’ strong growth in loans, deposits, and revenues ... read more...

Puerto Rico to Default Today

Two years ago, almost to the day, I wrote about the Puerto Rican debt crisis and how mutual funds had foolishly loaded up on high-yielding, risky Puerto Rican debt.  Thus investors who thought they owned, say, Virginia municipal bonds, actually had 50% or more of their assets in Puerto Rican debt. The WSJ reports today that the island will officially default today: Puerto Rico will default on its constitutionally guaranteed debt for the first time Friday by failing to make most of some $1 billion in payments due, officials said on Friday. The island’s Government Development Bank said the territory faces an imminent cash crunch and that its cash balances have dropped to “dangerously low” levels. As a result, the government isn’t likely to make any of the $779 million payment on general obligation bonds due Friday. “Even if the commonwealth were to devote every last penny” in its operating account to Friday’s debt payments, “it would still owe holders of the public debt hundreds of ... read more...

Buying Opportunities from the Brexit Sell-Off

U.S. markets have been up strongly yesterday and (thus far) today, as have British and European markets.  Are there buying opportunities among the stocks that sold off sharply on Friday and Monday? Fewer than you might think.  The selling on Friday and Monday wasn’t indiscriminate, and it’s indiscriminate selling that creates opportunities.  Not everyone understands this, including the headline editors at the WSJ.  Consider the curious subtitle from a WSJ piece the other day by Spencer Jakab titled “Are There Bargains Among the ‘Brexit’ Wreckage?”.  The subtitle read, “Not all stocks were equally hit when the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a buying opportunity.”  The implication is that an unequal stock sell-off would mean that there were buying opportunities.  This seems exactly backward: if stocks were equally hit when the U.K. voted to leave, then there would be obvious buying opportunities, because ... read more...

Brexit may not inhibit LSE/Deutsche Börse Tie-Up

Here’s another piece of evidence for thinking Brexit may not hurt UK companies as much as many think: although there are uncertainties about what final shape the deal will take, the Brexit vote hasn’t even deterred the proposed merger of the London Stock Exchange Group and the Deutsche Börse, according to the WSJ today. read more...