One of our favorite investors here at The Acquirer’s Multiple is Bruce Berkowitz. He is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Fairholme Capital Management, and President and a Director of Fairholme Funds. In 2010 Berkowitz was named as the 2009 Domestic-Stock Fund Manager of the Year by Morningstar as well as the Domestic-Stock Fund Manager of the Decade (2000-2009), also by Morningstar. Most recently, he was named 2013’s Money Manager of the Year by Institutional Investor Magazine.
Here’s an excerpt from an interview with Berkowitz in which he succinctly lays out his three-step approach to value investing, including the example of Bank of America:
At Fairholme, we’re very focused on price. Price matters most to us. And we think that price determines much of the success you’re gonna have in the future. So rather than predict what’s going to happen with the company we try to price it correctly with a large margin of safety. So pricing with a significant margin of safety is very important in our rule number one of not losing.
Once we determine what a cheap price is, our next step is to look at the investment and the underlying company and stress test it to determine all the ways that business can go wrong, the environment can go wrong, the balance sheet can go wrong. Try to kill the company.
If we can’t kill the company and we’re buying it at a price that reflects near death we may be onto something very good.