HOW DO I DO CHANNEL CHECKS??
I'm a senior in college who has been managing a small PA for the past couple years. I adhere to a deep value/special situations strategy.
While I'm not a big fan of getting on the phone and speaking with people I don't know, I always make it part of my due-diligence process to speak with management (or IR) for my larger investments. Typically this entails calling IR and scheduling a conference call with the, or calling the CFO directly for smaller companies. With enough prep I don't have much of an issue speaking with management, although I haven't yet achieved socializing nirvana to the point where I can joke around with them (I probably sound like a nervous robot undergoing a self-destruction sequence).
My question is regarding channel checks: I want to gain my competitive edge by speaking with suppliers, customers, competitors, etc. My issue is I don't know how to introduce myself...I'm a college student with a PA the size of a walnut. The last time I introduced myself as a private investor to one of my investment's competitors, I felt like they were trying to push me to provide them capital for capacity expansion.
If I call, say, a Papa Murphy'sto ask about SSS, and about their terrible relationship with the , I highly doubt these people are expecting a call from a "private investor" and would be very reluctant to provide me with their financials. Whitney Tilson wrote about cold-calling Hardees stores while providing them honest knowledge about who he was and why he was calling...but I, a student, don't think I could get away with that. The last time I provided honest info to the of the suppliers of my core holding, I was not called back even though he initially was interested in a conference call.
When I was interning at a fund, I found that most of my calls went without much resistance from gatekeepers, and I was able to get away with asking the most idiotic questions ever thought up, and even my legendary 10 second "ummmmmms" went without interruption! Even my cold-email hit-rate was high...now it's less than 10%.
If I could lock myself up in a closet and read 10-Ks all day like Walter Schloss, I would! But now it's much more difficult to outperform the market by a heftyby only using traditional value metrics. To win nowadays one needs to dig even further to understand the business "grapevine."