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PFB Spotlight – Fat Pitch Financials

George runs Fat Pitch Financials [3] which is primarily an investing related blog where he searches for profitable arbitrage opportunities in the marketplace. As he puts it, his quest is “to find dollar bills for 40 cents… Value investing and personal finance discoveries for those seeking to invest with a margin of safety in stocks with wide moats and to profit from arbitrage opportunities.” George has graciously agreed to not only answer all my questions but he offered me membership into his Contributor’s Corner where he offers a wealth of arbitrage opportunities. I’ve actually taken advantage of one such opportunity and when it comes to fruition, I’ll be writing about it in the future. Until then, enjoy the interview.

I started the PFBlogger Spotlight Series [4] was started in Nov. 2005 with the intent of giving some exposure, however much I could, to other personal finance bloggers out there so we could get to know a little bit about the person behind the blogs. Lately the series was on hiatus because of the holidays but it’s back and anyone willing to answer some questions is eligible for a spotlight. Please contact me [5] if you’re interested.

jim: Could you tell us a little about yourself?
George: My day job has nothing to do with investing or the financial markets. However, I do know a little bit about the economics of investing as a result of my training in resource economics. My professional career has revolved around natural resource and environmental policy issues.

I am originally from New England. My parents were both working class immigrants who met in this country. I went off to study at Cornell and then I did my graduate work at Yale. I’m now currently living in the Virginia suburbs of DC.

jim: When and why did you start a blog?
George: I started my blog on August 12, 2004. Fat Pitch Financials was originally hosted on Blogger, but I eventually grew out of that tool and I decided to register www.fatpitchfinancials.com before someone else took it.

The main reason I started Fat Pitch Financials was to capture and organize my financial discoveries. I had been somewhat active on a few message boards, where I discussed valuing stocks. However, I found that I was loosing track of what I had written and what I had learned from others. I thought a blog would be a good way for me to keep track of my research. I also hoped that in the future I could use my blog as a way to get feedback from others on my stock research, a sort of peer review of my work in order to limit big mistakes.

jim: Is there anything that makes your perspective unique?
George: I think that my Buffett style of investing and my focus on risk arbitrage opportunities is fairly unique in the financial blogging community. The investment blogging community is still primary dominated by traders and market pundits. I try to focus on sharing what I have learned about investing as a small individual investor. I also discuss the reasoning behind my stock purchases, where as many blogs of professional investors shy away from discussing individual stock picks.
jim: What’s your favorite personal finance book and why?
George: My personal favorite finance book is not really a book per se, but actually Warren Buffett’s annual letters to Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholders. I first discovered this amazing source of investment wisdom when I read Robert Hagstrom’s Warren Buffett Way.

Warren Buffett’s letters clearly detail his investment philosophy and how it has evolved over time. I find that his methods of selecting investments make a lot of economic sense to me, plus he has an amazing track record.

jim: Which of your posts do you think are must reads?
George: I think my “Special Situations Real Money Port Update [6]” is a must read. It details my original experiment in investing in going private transaction opportunities. My research on risk arbitrage opportunities in companies that are conducting reverse stock splits in order to cash out their shareholders is one of the most popular features of Fat Pitch Financials.
jim: What financial “mistake” bothers you the most?
George: My greatest financial “mistake” was not learning earlier how to properly estimate the intrinsic value of companies and the importance of investing with a margin of safety. I purchased several overvalued Internet stocks during the tech boom that blew up in my face.
jim: What was your best financial decision to date?
George: I think my best financial decision to date has been avoiding credit card debt, living below my means, and learning how to manage my own finances. Living below your means and proper saving is the most important first step to better finances. The next step is learning to manage your own investments because it is very difficult to find someone more trustworthy than yourself when it comes to managing your money.
jim: What is your favorite personal finance blog and why?
George: Shai Dardashti on Grahamian Value [7] is a great source of information on value investing and probably one of the best sources on the Internet regarding Benjamin Graham and his value investing philosophy.
jim: If your blog ended today, how would you like people to remember it?
George: I hope people would remember my efforts to find lower risk stock investments for small investors. Not all of us can buy hedge funds. I think my research concerning going private transactions has benefited many members of my community financially.