Investing columnist

Skarbeck has shared the writing duties for IBJ’s “Investing” column since June 2004. A lifelong Indianapolis resident, he is the managing partner of Indianapolis-based Aldebaran Capital LLC, a money management firm. Skarbeck is a chartered financial analyst and has more than 28 years’ investment industry experience. His company utilizes a value investing approach to portfolio management and specializes in seeking out undervalued investments, primarily in small and medium size companies. Skarbeck is a graduate of Brebeuf Jesuit High School and Hanover College. His hobbies are astronomy and fishing, and he is an avid Green Bay Packers fan. Skarbeck lives in Indianapolis with his wife and two daughters.



Recent Articles

Skarbeck: Multi-asset model risky for institutional investing

June 28, 2014
Wall Street’s propensity to create arcane products and sell them to investors within broad asset-allocation programs has increased portfolio complexity and altered overall performance.

Skarbeck: Hedge fund fees pile up despite bad performance

June 14, 2014
Investors continue to pour money into hedge funds, even though their performance has been downright awful.

Skarbeck: Trillions raised, invested by private equity players

May 31, 2014
An estimated 2,700 private equity firms manage some $3.5 trillion in assets. Often called “buyout firms,” they solicit investments from pension funds and other well-heeled investors that are pooled into “funds” and used to acquire public and private companies.

Skarbeck: Understand accounting--or pay the consequences

May 17, 2014
Throughout history, good accounting practices have promoted trust in government and capitalist systems, while inadequate accounting has led to financial chaos and even revolutions.

Skarbeck: Companies using mergers to sidestep taxes in U.S.

May 3, 2014
Merger activity has exploded this year, and a key factor behind many of the deals is the ability to use cash stockpiles held overseas.

Skarbeck: Debt levels have shot higher in wake of financial crisis

April 19, 2014
According to the Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements, aggregate global debt has ballooned more than 40 percent since the financial crisis and is estimated to have reached $100 trillion.

Skarbeck: Being a company director can be a lucrative gig

April 5, 2014
As another annual report season arrives, the compensation tables in proxy statements clearly show that it pays to be a director of a public company.

Skarbeck: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac roil big investment firms

March 22, 2014
In 2012, Fannie and Freddie started making money as the housing market rebounded and losses in their mortgage portfolios reversed. By the end of this month, the firms will have returned $203 billion to taxpayers. In the meantime, several hedge funds began acquiring both the preferred shares and common stocks of Fannie and Freddie.

Skarbeck: Tactics have proliferated to gain edge in trading

March 8, 2014
Critics are divided on whether Regulation NMS has achieved its stated purpose, or whether it has produced unintended consequences.

Skarbeck: Trendy 'quant' hedge funds have run their course

February 22, 2014
For those who feel they missed capitalizing on the bull market in stocks, consider that an elite fraternity of heralded money managers actually lost money for their clients over the past three years.

Skarbeck: Analysts' quarterly focus can lead investors astray

February 8, 2014
Wall Street analysts are notorious for their short-term attention spans. This leads to undue scrutiny of a company’s quarterly figures and can lead to poor decisions by investors.

Skarbeck: Decline in listed stocks not likely to continue

January 25, 2014
The number of traded stocks has been shrinking, but as both the economy and stock market continue to recover, private equity firms will seek to list their holdings as IPOs and the number of publicly traded stocks may once again expand.

Skarbeck: Next wave of regulators needs to keep reforming

January 11, 2014
Since last year, there have been several personnel changes in key financial and regulatory positions in the federal government.

Skarbeck: Market has way of looking beyond today's headlines

December 28, 2013
The stock market has a remarkably perceptive ability to see past inconsequential issues that sometimes dominate the investment environment and instead peer ahead into the future.

Skarbeck: There are no substitutes for buying assets cheaply

December 14, 2013
The recent white paper issued by investment firm GMO’s James Montier ridicules some of the “innovations” that are popular in the investment field. His criticism addresses concepts like smart beta, risk parity, and real asset inflation hedges.

Skarbeck: Stocks still the best bet among investor choices

November 30, 2013
Many observers are raising warning flags that stocks are overvalued, and some even say a market bubble is forming. A review of the evidence, in our opinion, doesn’t support their alarm.

Skarbeck: Controversy dogs some public-pension programs

November 16, 2013
Heated talks are taking place in public-pension boardrooms across the country over issues like risk levels of investments and fees paid to fund managers.

Skarbeck: Use these financial tables to figure retirement goals

November 2, 2013
There are two key financial tables that can help you plan for retirement. They can be found on the Internet. With them you can input two simple factors—period invested and interest rate earned—and quickly see how your net worth is affected.

Skarbeck: Firms with high ratios could take a tumble

October 19, 2013
On occasion, it is interesting to study the stocks of businesses that are outliers on the bell curve of business valuation. For a value investor, that means looking at stocks selling at huge multiples above traditional valuation yardsticks.

Skarbeck: SEC turns up spotlight on pay for top brass

October 5, 2013
The Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed a rule that would require large public companies to disclose the total annual compensation of their CEO, the median annual compensation of all their employees (excluding the CEO), and the ratio between these two figures.

SKARBECK: Rising interest rates not always bad

September 21, 2013
Some market constituents benefit from higher rates. For example, payers of fixed cash flows—the consumer who locked in a loan at a lower fixed-rate, companies that issued bonds at lower rates and insurers that pay annuitants fixed rates.

Skarbeck: Views abound on how to structure portfolios

September 7, 2013
There are many approaches and differing opinions on the best way to manage your portfolio. The conclusion comes down to which style or philosophy leaves you feeling the most comfortable while you fully understand the cost, risks and potential performance of that strategy.

Skarbeck: Smart capital allocation by CEO can swell returns

August 24, 2013
The masterful allocation of a company’s cash flow, over long periods, is the single greatest determinant of shareholder value for an investor. This is the conclusion in the 2012 book “The Outsiders” by William Thorndike.

Skarbeck: Sale of Washington Post reflects new world order

August 10, 2013
The sale price of The Washington Post Co. exposes just how far the industry has sunk. In the first half of this year, the iconic newspaper's operations generated $138.4 million in revenue and lost nearly $50 million ($40 million of which was a non-cash pension expense).

Skarbeck: Bankruptcy sends Detroit into uncharted waters

July 27, 2013
The legal playbook for a large municipal Chapter 9 bankruptcy is largely undeveloped. Thus, the Detroit saga will establish new ground in the field of municipal bankruptcy.

Skarbeck: Weak results take glow off 'risk parity' strategy

July 13, 2013
The popular institutional investment strategy called “risk parity” has produced dreadful investment results this year.
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  1. With Pence running the ship good luck with a new government building on the site. He does everything on the cheap except unnecessary roads line a new beltway( like we need that). Things like state of the art office buildings and light rail will never be seen as an asset to these types. They don't get that these are the things that help a city prosper.

  2. Does the $100,000,000,000 include salaries for members of Congress?

  3. "But that doesn't change how the piece plays to most of the people who will see it." If it stands out so little during the day as you seem to suggest maybe most of the people who actually see it will be those present when it is dark enough to experience its full effects.

  4. That's the mentality of most retail marketers. In this case Leo was asked to build the brand. HHG then had a bad sales quarter and rather than stay the course, now want to go back to the schlock that Zimmerman provides (at a considerable cut in price.) And while HHG salesmen are, by far, the pushiest salesmen I have ever experienced, I believe they are NOT paid on commission. But that doesn't mean they aren't trained to be aggressive.

  5. The reason HHG's sales team hits you from the moment you walk through the door is the same reason car salesmen do the same thing: Commission. HHG's folks are paid by commission they and need to hit sales targets or get cut, while BB does not. The sales figures are aggressive, so turnover rate is high. Electronics are the largest commission earners along with non-needed warranties, service plans etc, known in the industry as 'cheese'. The wholesale base price is listed on the cryptic price tag in the string of numbers near the bar code. Know how to decipher it and you get things at cost, with little to no commission to the sales persons. Whether or not this is fair, is more of a moral question than a financial one.