Products

“The balance of power is shifting toward consumers and away from companies. The right way to respond to this if you are a company is to put the vast majority of your energy, attention and dollars into building a great product or service and put a smaller amount into shouting about it, marketing it.” Jeff Bezos

“If it’s a company with a single product and it’s a product that you have some sense might just have in it the possibility it could be leapfrogged, that is someone is going to come up with a better mouse-trap. That’s risk. Your business dissolves pretty quickly” William Browne

“Another issue would be where there’s a major concentration in one product line. That would be something that I would be hesitant to do again. I had a couple of experiences where I invested in a business with revenues that were overly concentrated in one product line and that product line was ultimately usurped by something else; a better mouse trap. I would be better off avoiding those situations.” Chris Mittleman

“Any time you look at an investment, you want to look at what percentage of its market it has and how big it can get”  Rory Priday

"Products are not islands. There is an indirect competition, for example, for consumer's dollars.  As prices change, some products may lose attractiveness even in well-run, low cost companies"  Phil Fisher

“When relatively non-differentiable products are sold on their price, the manufacturers of the products normally need to have low cost structures if they wish to be competitive and earn reasonable profits” Ed Wachenheim

“If it’s an industrial business what you want to own is the company that makes the valve that goes into the $100,000 pump which goes into the billion dollar refinery. They’re not going to scrimp on the valve. They want the very best valve they can get. If you’re the valve supplier you’ve got a good business.   They’re going to buy your product and you’re going to be able to price your product aggressively because it’s a very low cost component to the end product. So you look for these businesses” William Browne

“The cost of the product should only be quite a small part of the customer's total cost of operations such that moderate price reductions yield only very small savings for the purchaser relative to the risk of taking a chance on an unknown supplier. “ Phil Fisher

“What are the key elements of what you consider a high-quality business? At a basic level, the product or service being sold is critical to customers but is only a small part of their cost structure, and the customer relationship tends to be sticky and recurring. Jeffrey Ubben

“Businesses selling a product or service that’s mission critical, yet is a small fraction of total costs, like you find in some aerospace businesses (or rating agencies in some ways) , are always interesting with long-lived advantages due to switching costs” Allan Mecham

“You really want something where, if they don’t have it in stock, you want to go across the street to get it. Nobody cares what kind of steel goes into a car. Have you ever gone into a car dealership to buy a Cadillac and said “I’d like a Cadillac with steel that came from the South Works of US Steel.” It just doesn’t work that way, so that when General Motors buys they call in all the steel companies and say “here’s the best price we’ve got so far, and you’ve got to decide if you want to beat their price, or have your plant sit idle.” Warren Buffett

“Sometimes a product is so embedded in a customer's workflow that the risk of changing outweighs any potential cost savings – for instance in subscription based services like computer systems (Oracle) or payroll processing (ADP, Paychex.) Networks, where the customer benefits from a company's scale, as in the security business (Secom), industrial gases (Praxair, Air Liquide), car auctions (USS) or testing centres (Intertek) are another example. Finally, technological leadership (Intel, Linear Technology) can be another important intangible asset although this is perhaps one of the less durable sources of pricing power, unless combined with others. The very best economics appear when some of the above characteristics combine in a situation in which the cost of the product or service is low relative to its importance. For example, the analog semiconductor chip which activate the car airbag, yet costs little more than a dollar.” Marathon Asset Management

"For a company to be a truly worthwhile investment, it must not only be able to sell its products, but also be able to appraise the changing needs and desires of its customers" Phil Fisher