C&B Notes

Irving Kahn Passes Away at 109

Irving Kahn, who studied under Benjamin Graham and was a research assistant for Graham and Dodd’s Security Analysis, passed away at 109.

A studious, patient investor from a family whose durability drew the attention of scientists, Kahn was co-founder and chairman of Kahn Brothers Group Inc., a broker-dealer and investment adviser with about $1 billion under management.  At age 108 he was still working three days a week, commuting one mile from his Upper East Side apartment to the firm’s midtown office.  There, he shared his thoughts on investment positions with his son, Thomas Kahn, the firm’s president, and grandson, Andrew Kahn, a research analyst.  “I prefer to be slow and steady,” he said in a 2014 interview with the U.K. Telegraph.  “I study companies and think about what they might return over, say, four or five years.  If a stock goes down, I have time to weather the storm, maybe buy more at the lower price.  If my arguments for the investment haven’t changed, then I should like the stock even more when it goes down.”

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Among the memories he filed away was his work with Benjamin Graham, the stock picker and Columbia Business School professor whose belief in value investing influenced a generation of traders including Warren Buffett.  Graham, who died in 1976, distinguished between investors, to whom he addressed his advice, with mere “speculators.”

Kahn assisted Graham and his co-author, David Dodd, in the research for “Security Analysis,” their seminal work on finding undervalued stocks and bonds, which was first published in 1934.  In the book’s second edition, published in 1940, the authors credited Kahn for guiding a study on the significance of a stock’s relative price and earnings.

In 2012, at 106, Kahn told Bloomberg Businessweek that Graham’s principles, though relevant as ever, were increasingly being drowned out by noise.  “I’ve seen a lot of recoveries,” he said. “I saw crash, recovery, World War II, a lot of economic decline and recovery.  What’s different about this time is the huge amount of quote-unquote information.  So many people watch financial TV at bars, in the barber shop.  This superfluity of information, all this static in the air.”