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Invest Better Than Bill Gates

Republic Services' largest competitors are Allied Waste (AW), Waste Industries (WWIN) and Waste Management (WMI). Of the four, Allied Waste appears to be the best value, with a price-to-earnings /growth ratio of 1.54 and a price-to-sales ratio of 0.84, compared with 1.85 and 1.95 for Republic Services. Bearing those values in mind, I'd substitute Allied Waste for Republic Services to improve on Gates' portfolio.

Grupo Televisa (TV - Get Report) is the largest TV broadcaster in Mexico. In fact, it's the largest media company in the Spanish-speaking world. As of March 31, Grupo Televisa represented 15.8% of Cascade's portfolio. That $579 million investment, or 19.5 million shares, also represents 4% of Grupo Televisa.

I believe that, given the enormous Hispanic population in the West, Televisa makes an attractive investment for Cascade. This is an example of Peter Lynch's "one up on Wall Street" investment philosophy of looking for trends in your neighborhood. Televisa not only is gigantic in and of itself, but it also had an investment in Univision, which was sold in 2006.

But Televisa is having problems. That sale was dilutive to earnings -- not a good thing. Some affiliates suffered losses. Televisa reported weaker earnings in the first quarter of 2007. Sometimes portfolio positions stay around too long. I'd pass on this one.

Fisher Communications (FSCI) -- representing 0.6% of Cascade Investments' portfolio (455,000 shares worth $22 million), or 5.2% of Fisher -- is an even more local media play than Televisa. Fisher owns TV stations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, including KOMO-TV in Gates' home city of Seattle.
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