1) On Thursday night I was one of the judges at the 16th annual Pershing Square Challenge, which was established by my friend Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management.
Each year, dozens of three-person teams of first- and second-year Columbia Business School students develop stock pitches. The five finalists present to a panel of judges, which this year included Bill, investing legend Leon Cooperman, me, and five others. We awarded the winning team $100,000 and the second-place team $50,000!
I ran into last year's winners, who pitched a short of benefits management company Progyny (PGNY) – which is down 17% versus the S&P 500's 3% drop since then – and they said the $100,000 prize was "life changing"...
This year's winners pitched an idea that I liked so much that, if my own research confirms the students' work, I'll write it up for the next issue of Empire Investment Report... so I can't share it here (paid-up Empire subscribers always get our best stock ideas first).
But I can share the second-place idea, Airbnb (ABNB), because we already shared this idea with Empire Stock Investor subscribers in our October 2021 issue. (You can access all back issues and receive a full year of new ideas – one each month – by becoming a subscriber for only $49... Click here to learn more.)
The students – Sanjiv Ahluwalia, Vania Diez-Canseco, and Arthur Siddharta – put together a 60-slide presentation that you can see right here (shared with permission). Here are four overview slides:
2) Here's a super interesting chart showing how much of the S&P 500's return each year going back to 2010 is due to the top five stocks. My takeaway is that if you didn't own Apple (AAPL), you trailed the market!
3) After I got plantar fasciitis last August, someone told me that, to better protect my sore heel, I should switch from my Nike Alphafly 2 running shoes (which have revolutionized running thanks to their carbon plate – see this New York Times article: Nike's Fastest Shoes May Give Runners an Even Bigger Advantage Than We Thought), to cushier Hoka Arahi 6 running shoes.
So I switched from these:
Since then, my plantar fasciitis has gotten better – on a scale of 0 to 10, I'd say it has gone from a 3 to a 1 – but my running times have become embarrassingly slow... which is demoralizing and make me feel old (I don't need additional reminders!).
For example, on Wednesday I ran six half-mile sprints around the Great Lawn in Central Park with my running group and my best time was 3:24. When I checked my records, I saw that my personal best, when I was at my peak in December 2020, was 2:48... 36 seconds faster or more than a minute per mile!
So on Friday morning, as I was getting dressed to meet my running group, I decided to wear my Alphaflys – and it felt like the heavens opened and a miracle occurred!
First, they felt super cushy and comfortable, so there was no issue with aggravating my plantar fasciitis. And suddenly, without extra effort, I was running much faster. (Friday's workout was similar to Wednesday's – doing alternating sprints then slow jogs around the reservoir.)
When I looked at my Garmin watch reports for both days, the difference was stunning! On Wednesday, my "average moving pace" was an 8:51 mile and my peak pace was 5:51. Here's the pace chart (also showing my jog from my apartment to the Great Lawn and back):
Now look at Friday: my average moving pace was nearly a full minute per mile faster, at 7:56, and ditto for my fastest pace, 5:08! Here's the chart, showing two laps of the reservoir:
"Ah," you might be thinking, "maybe you were pushing yourself harder on Friday."
But I wasn't.
If you look at my heart rate charts, my average and peak heart rates were nearly identical:
And on both days, I had the same pacer, chasing Jen the Jackrabbit – who I used to be able to sort of keep up with in the old days, but haven't been within a country mile of her on any run since I've had plantar fasciitis.
Sure enough, on Wednesday (in my Hokas) she was far ahead of me on each half-mile sprint, while on Friday (in my Alphaflys) I was able to keep up with her.
I'm truly astounded at the difference the shoes make...
P.S. I welcome your feedback at [email protected].