E In Memoriam And Global Roundup

Our oldest subscriber has just died aged 109.

I first met Irving Kahn when I opened my first brokerage account at Abraham & Co., where my great-uncle Jack Oppenheim, stock market mentor to the German Jews, worked. (Jack had fled Germany with enough money to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and by then had become a US citizen and was allowed to sit in it.)

I was 13 and in what was then called Junior High (now Middle School) and we were being taught about stock investing in our math class. Back then it was legal to open your own stock market account even if you were a kid and didn't have a social security number.

Mr. Kahn asked me if I wanted to buy a stock with a high or a low price-earnings ratio. Since I had no idea what that might mean, I chirped back “high.” I then get a lesson in financial analysis from a master of Ben Graham's value system who had helped him teach and write his Financial Analysis book.

I went back to my class at JHS 52 with a better idea of how to select shares.

Many decades later, after Abraham and Co. was acquired and uncle Jack had died, Mr. Kahn became an early subscriber to my newsletter, for which I was grateful. Since I have a new name by marriage, I didn't tell him that I was the 13-year-old kid who thought you wanted a high p/e ratio, but he figured it out.

He invested a portion of the funds managed by Kahn Brothers, his company, into American Depositary Receipts for at least as long as I have been putting out this newsletter, but of course with extreme care, analysis, and selectivity.

Mr. Kahn was remembered for having shorted high-flying shares in the runup to the 1929 crash, because he could spot the bubble. He liked keeping cash around so he could buy after bubbles burst.

He was also remarkable for being one of 4 Kahn siblings all of whom lived to be over 100 years old, and were studied by the Albert Einstein Medical School of Yeshiva University to try to find out why.

More for paid subscribers follows from Hong Kong, Switzerland, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, Canada, Portugal, India, Britain, Singapore, the US, Finland, China, Vietnam, and Japan including two annual reports and some investing advice for Argentinians.

AIA reported record 2014 results in International Financial Reporting Standards and insurance metrics yesterday mostly in US$. The Value of New Business rose 24% to $1.845 bn on which its margin hit 49.1%. Its annualized new premium business grew 11% during the year to $3.7 bn.

This produced after tax profits of $2.9 bn, up 16% y/y, or 24.31 cents/sh. Net profits rose 22% to $3.45 bn.

AIA (HK:1299)(AAIGF) declared a final dividend of 34 HK cents bringing its total payout to 50 HK cents for 2014. This is some 20% over the prior year. (A HK dollar is worth US 0.129, under the fixed exchange rate used.) We do not own AIA for the yield.

The insurance company works in fast-growing regional markets: Hong Kong-Macau, Thailand, Singapore-Brunei, Malaysia, South Korea, and China. Its China operations are the most profitable in terms of value of new business margin, a whopping 83%+. There it is having difficulty selling life insurance because most Chinese use insurance as a form of savings, and because it operates only in 5 regions of the country. It currently has all of 1% of the Chinese life insurance market.

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