Why McLean likes to look into companies where things “don’t add up”
Business journalist Bethany McLean was interviewed by Patrick O’Shaughnessy on the “Invest like the Best” about how she researches companies.
“I think the process of throughly researching an investment is really analogous of what I do,” said McLean, who currently works for Vanity Fair. “The real difference is what’s actionable. For me, it’s creating a story, creating a narrative.”
McLean said it’s not been intentional that her career has been to focus on companies gone bad such as Enron and Valeant. When she started at Fortune, she wrote a column about stocks to watch.
“I just like to figure things out,” said McLean. She added that it’s satisfying to go against the grain of the general consensus about companies.
McLean said she likes to interview people who have privy to information that is available about a company to only a small circle of people.
“There is something that doesn’t add up. Either people don’t understand it, or there is something that isn’t being explained,” said McLean.
She did not consider herself to be an investigative journalist until her famous “Is Enron Overpriced?” article that ran in Fortune in 2001. The company collapsed by the end of the year.
Listen to the entire interview here.