The dynamic on Bloomberg TV this morning was both odd and perfect.
Anchors Stephanie Ruhle and Matt Miller hosted Howard Marks, the accomplished fund manager at Oaktree Capital, and Noel Biderman, the CEO of adultery-themed dating website AshleyMadison.com.
AshleyMadison.com is where married folk go to cheat on their spouses. And it’s a booming business.
Eventually, Ruhle asked Marks if he would invest in the company.
“At a price,” he said.
Those three words are a triumph in saying nothing. But they also perfectly capture the way any good investor should think.
Everyone from Ben Graham to GMO’s James Montier are obsessed with the idea of value, and it drives everything that they do. Only at the right price should you invest.
But it’s not just about dollars and capital appreciation.
Ruhle obviously was putting the Marks in an awkward position by asking him to make a call on such a morally-questionable company. The wrong answer could get him in trouble with his investors and probably his family.
But if the social and moral costs offset the potential rewards of publicly investing in such a controversial company, then you could argue that the price was right.
It’s possible we’re reading too much into this. Regardless, Marks has us thinking.