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Tom Russo: Long-Term Value – WealthTrack Interview

A rare interview with great value investor and Warren Buffett student Tom Russo, who invests in iconic brand name companies for the long term. Which global businesses is he most enthused about now?

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In preparation for this week’s interview with global value investor Tom Russo, I read some articles about Russo’s investment hero, Warren Buffett. One of them was by, Roger Lowenstein, author of a wonderful Buffett biography, Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist.

In his 2011 article,  “A Harsh Look at The Real Warren Buffett”, Lowenstein was  uncharacteristically critical of Buffett for a management decision he made about a key executive. What caught my eye was Lowenstein’s observation about Buffett’s “searing independence.”

Here’s what Lowenstein wrote: “In 1969, after a fabulous run as a hedge-fund manager, he decided that Wall Street was barren of opportunities and returned his investors’ money. This was unselfish as well as prescient. The market crashed.  Then, in the mid 1970’s, when the market was mired in a virtual depression, Buffett leapt back into the game, now using Berkshire as his vehicle. America had abandoned stocks, but to Buffett, popular sentiment was irrelevant. Traders looked at trends, volume charts, and moving averages. Buffett peered beneath the stock certificate to the underlying business.  By focusing on the long-term business prospects, he reclaimed the economic values that were obscured by Wall Street sophistry.”

Fifty years after taking control of Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett continues to focus on long-term business prospects. He owns a portfolio of roughly 80 companies, for

“forever” as he puts it. He has never sold a share of Berkshire personally, and has only recently started giving shares to charity through the Gates Foundation.

But what are American investors doing? They have largely abandoned buying individual stocks.  They are switching from actively managed mutual funds that do, to passive index funds.  And they are certainly not holding for the long term. Trading is in, investing is out.

This week’s Great Investor guest, Tom Russo is from the old Buffett school of investing in businesses, not pieces of paper. Russo is Managing Member of the investment advisory firm, Gardner Russo & Gardner, which he joined in 1989. He oversees more than $9 billion dollars of separately managed accounts as well as Semper Vic Partners, a limited partnership.

The global value, long-term oriented portfolio has beaten both the Dow and the S&P handily over the last quarter of a century.

In this rare interview, Russo discusses his focus on iconic global brand businesses and the ones he is most enthused about now.

For my Action Point this week, we asked Russo for a couple of his favorite books to add to your summer reading list.

As usual, the show will start airing on Public Television this Friday and over the weekend. You can check your local listings here.  If it’s easier for you to watch the show online, it’s available to our PREMIUM viewers right now.  Otherwise, it will be available on our website over the weekend.  For our web exclusive EXTRA this week, I asked Russo about how he became interested in investing, and in global brands in particular, at a very early age.

Have a lovely Memorial Day weekend and make the week ahead a profitable and productive one.

Best Regards,


Add Two Buffett Books To Your Summer Reading List


Also read: A Harsh Look At The Real Warren Buffett

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  • Philip Morris International Inc (PM)
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Stocks mentioned

Semper Vic Partners, LP

Top Holdings Held 10 Years or More

Berkshire Hathaway

Nestle SA

Wells Fargo

Philip Morris International Inc

CIE Financiere Richemont SA

Heineken Holding NV

Pernod-Ricard SA

Unilever NV

Altria Group Inc

Brown-Forman Cop

Tom Russo & Wally Weitz – Dynamic Value Duo

Posted on January 3, 2014

An exclusive get-together with two outstanding value investors! Wally Weitz, whose flagship Weitz Partners Value Fund is celebrating its thirty year anniversary, and Tom Russo, with his market-beating Semper Vic Partners Fund, will discuss the different places each is finding value and why Warren Buffet is their investment hero.

Additional appearances of guest Tom Russo on WEALTHTRACK

Brand Power

Global value investor Tom Russo learned about the financial power of an international brand at an early age, and in an unlikely place, middle America.

Tom Russo: Long-Term Value - WealthTrack Interview

Comments (0)

  • Serenity Stocks

    Benjamin Graham – also known as The Dean of Wall Street and The Father of Value Investing – was a scholar and financial analyst who mentored legendary investors such as Warren Buffett, William J. Ruane, Irving Kahn and Walter J. Schloss.

    Warren Buffett once gave a speech at Columbia Business School explaining how Graham’s record of creating exceptional investors (such as Buffett himself) is unquestionable, and how Graham’s principles are everlasting. The speech is now called “The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville”.

    Buffett describes Graham’s book – The Intelligent Investor – as “by far the best book about investing ever written” (in its preface).

    Graham’s first recommended strategy – for casual investors – was to invest in Index stocks.
    For more serious investors, Graham recommended three different categories of stocks – Defensive, Enterprising and NCAV – and 17 qualitative and quantitative rules for identifying them.
    For advanced investors, Graham described various special situations or “workouts”.

    The first requires almost no analysis, and is easily accomplished today with a good S&P500 Index fund.
    The last requires more than the average level of ability and experience. Such stocks are also not amenable to impartial algorithmic analysis, and require a case-specific approach.

    But Defensive, Enterprising and NCAV stocks can be reliably detected by today’s data-mining software, and offer a great avenue for accurate automated analysis and profitable investment.

    May 27, 2015 at 5:39 pm


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