Early on in a discussion with William Priebe, the chairman and founder of Geneva Capital Management, you know you'll hear not only straight talk that doesn't follow the herd, but insight into the current economic and market crisis that comes from a solid academic background (MBA University of Chicago) and 41 years of experience running money in good times and bad. First, Priebe proclaims in response to a question about the Obama stimulus plan, "I am not a Keynesian; I'm from Chicago," and suggests that a more effective stimulus plan would have included some infrastructure investing, yes, but even better would eliminate capital gains for those who start in business this year or next and cutting payroll taxes. "We're in a severe recession, not a depression" that we need "time" to get out of, he argues, and that "when we come out of this there will be a change in attitudes" that might well include better guidance on earnings--"the better the company, the more conservative they are in their guidance" already, he notes--and that the market "hasn't been giving clear signals," before reminding the interviewer that "92% of the people are working."
At Geneva, the stocks the Milwaukee-based firm invests in "are very low leverage companies." Priebe's happy to admit that he's 66, and that he "plans to work indefinitely," and lauds the value of having younger people on a team, including co-founder and co-president Amy Croen.