Amy Zhang - Identifying Exceptional Potential
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“We look for exceptional small and mid cap companies with the wherewithal to become exceptional large companies.”   This is at the core of the investment philosophy of today’s guest, Columbia Business School alum Amy Zhang. Amy is Executive Vice President and Portfolio Manager of the Alger Small Cap Focus, Alger Mid Cap Focus, Alger Mid Cap 40, and Alger Small Cap Growth Strategies. She joined Alger in 2015 and has 27 years of investment experience, including over a decade at Brown Capital Management as a Partner, Managing Director, and Senior Portfolio Manager of its Brown Capital Small Company Strategy.   Amy has received multiple accolades, including being named one of the "Best Female PMs to Invest with Now" by Morningstar in 2022 and one of the “Top 20 Female Portfolio Managers” by Citywire in 2021, 2019, and 2018.   In this episode, Amy, Michael, and I discuss Amy’s unconventional background and studies, why she made the move to managing small cap growth portfolios, how to think about small cap investments, the key metrics she looks for when assessing potential companies, her classification system of motorboats and sailboats, opportunities available in the current market, and so much more!   For more information and disclosures please visit www.alger.com     Key Topics:   Reflections on the 2021/22 academic year (0:51) Welcome Amy to the show (1:26) How Amy found her way from studying math and physics to starting her investment career (2:44) How Amy’s decision to apply to Columbia Business School (CBS) led to her first job in finance (5:43) Getting broad experiences after graduating from CBS (8:33) The valuable training and experiences Amy gained in her early career (10:24) Why Amy made the move to managing small cap growth portfolios (12:23) How Amy’s investment philosophy has evolved (14:23) Alger’s criteria for small cap (16:30) Getting a realistic perspective on the total addressable market (TAM) (19:10) Measuring the growth of intangibles inside a firm (23:53) Quantitative and qualitative metrics for assessing moats (25:12) Why management discussion is essential (26:51) Company classification: motorboats vs. sailboats (30:14) Why barriers to entry are more significant than first-mover advantage (32:15) Making the buy or sell decision (35:05) Assumptions that go into the margin of safety (37:37) Opportunities offered by the current market turmoil (41:42) Not all growth is created equal (45:57) How Amy thinks about portfolio construction in today’s market (48:02) The importance of being benchmark agnostic (50:53) What worries and excites Amy most about the next few years in financial markets? (52:50) Amy’s book recommendations (54:47) And much more!     Mentioned in this Episode:   Philip A. Fisher’s Book | Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and Other Writings Seth A. Klarman’s Book | Margin of Safety: Risk-Averse Value Investing Strategies for the Thoughtful Investor Michael Mauboussin’s Book | More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places Scott Davis’ Book | Lessons from the Titans: What Companies in the New Economy Can Learn from the Great Industrial Giants to Drive Sustainable Success Mark Robichaux’s Book | Cable Cowboy: John Malone and the Rise of the Modern Cable Business     Thanks for Listening!   Be sure to subscribe on Apple, Google, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. And feel free to drop us a line at [email protected]   Follow the Heilbrunn Center on social media on Instagram, LinkedIn, and more!
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