The Australian Investors Podcast

Steve Johnson - Integrity

Steve Johnson, CFA, is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer at Forager Funds.

Steve is one of the most respected value investors in Australia. A country boy at heart, Steve’s investing journey started with the ASX sharemarket game and a shared passion for investing with his friend Greg Hoffman.

Steve worked at what became UBS, and after graduating university he headed to Macquarie. In the early 2000s, he teamed up to buy the Intelligent Investor, which was later separated from Forager.

In this conversation, we discuss Steve’s investment process, including actively seeking out sectors or markets in distress, competitive advantages and tools for improving your returns.

I had never met Steve prior to this chat, but my impression of him was that he is a humble and intellectually honest investor with bucketloads of integrity. I stand by that.

Though Steve might say much of his success was due to luck, there is an obvious connection between his successes and, I think, him being a smart, honest and likeable person.

To start, here’s Steve talking about his passion for running marathons.

Show Notes

  • 2:15 - Steve likes to run marathons. Why?
  • 2:45 - Steve grows up in Wellington, NSW, a country boy at heart. Livewire interview.
  • 3:15 Growing up with Greg Hoffman, Steve was fascinated  to learn
  • 4:45 - how Steve and Greg came third in the ASX sharemarket game
  • 8:15 - Steve gets a job at UBS
  • 13:15 - UBS helps Steve get a job at Macquarie post uni
  • 17:45 - Steve wants optionality and buys Intelligent Investor with Greg
  • 23:15 - What, if anything, did Steve and Greg learn during the GFC?
  • 30:15 - Why Forager turns investors away if they don’t share the philosophical alignment
  • 33:45 - Do investors place too much emphasis on the personality of fund managers and not enough on their process?
  • 35:15 - How does Steve invest and why? Start by looking for signs of distress.
  • 43:15 - Under valued or value trap?
  • 46:15 - Where Steve finds an edge in investing
  • 49:15 - Why Steve small cap investing
  • 56:15 - How does Steve think about portfolio positioning?
  • 1:02:15 - Steve’s view on housing - LINK
  • 1:09:15 - Follow Steve on Twitter
  • 1:11:15 - Is Steve just lucky?

Learn more about Steve: 

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