Fireside Chat on the Recently Published “The Enduring Value of Roger Murray” Features Insights from His Students, Mario J. Gabelli ‘65 and Leon Cooperman
Featured Events | Mar 28, 2023 | Gabelli School of Business
On January 31, 2023, the Gabelli School of Business, students, faculty members, alumni and industry partners were treated to a fascinating discussion that centered around the newly released book titled, “The Enduring Value of Roger Murray,” written by Paul Johnson, founding partner, Nicusa Investment Advisors and an adjunct professor at the Fordham University Gabelli School of Business; and Paul D. Sonkin, former co-portfolio manager at GAMCO Investors, TETON Westwood Mighty Mites Fund.
Fordham University President Tania Tetlow and Gabelli School of Business Dean Lerzan Aksoy delivered opening remarks. The event, which took the form of a fireside chat, highlighted the tremendous influence Roger Murray (1911-1998), a crucial figure in the history of value investing and a renowned economist and advisor to Congress, had on the students he taught at Columbia Business School over the many decades he was there. He was the successor to the legendary Benjamin Graham, who is regarded as the father of value investing, and who taught the securities analysis course at Columbia prior to Murray taking on this all-important task.
The lectures Roger Murray delivered, offered theoretical insights and analysis that influenced the careers of some of the most successful investors of our time. Two of them—Mario J. Gabelli (GABELLI ’65) and Leon Cooperman, participated in the January 31 event. Mr. Gabelli, who was onstage, is the chairman and chief executive officer of GAMCO investors, Inc. and Mr. Cooperman, who commented via Zoom, is founder of Omega Family Office, and earlier in his career served as chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management Company. They offered insights peppered with personal anecdotes that kept the audience enthralled for nearly an hour and a half of truly enlightened discussion. Both made billions for investors, and have accumulated significant assets for themselves along the way. They also share a special bond of coming from extremely humble Bronx backgrounds, as well as having the benefit of learning about value investing techniques from Roger Murray during their time as students at Columbia. Also onstage and participating in the discussion, was James Russell Kelly, director of the Gabelli Center for Global Security Analysis and a senior lecturer in finance for the Gabelli School, who was a student of Murray’s as well.
While all agreed that the current economy has greatly changed from Murray’s time, with a huge shift from the manufacturing sector to the service sector, and that the level of real-time information available now is light-years ahead of when Murray was teaching, they also concurred that the basic premise of his value investing theories and techniques remain just as relevant today.
Mr. Gabelli noted that, while the entities in which analysts are investing in may have changed, when it comes to making decisions, “the same ideas work…a good business, good management, and what’s the valuation? What price do I pay for the growth rate?”
Mr. Cooperman added that Murray “popularized the concept of intrinsic value, he hypothesized that there was intrinsic value for every security and that the job of a security analyst is to identify what’s above intrinsic value and the hedge funds can sort it, when something is below intrinsic value, buy with the hope of appreciation of the security. And he [Murray] did this through fundamental research primarily using comparable ratio analysis.” This is because the technical tools we have today were just not available.
A book signing took place after the discussion. Watch the full video of the event here.