Reblog: The Illusion Of Risk


When we find an attractive stock to invest in, we outlay money, aka invest, to earn an attractive return and the investment will involve a degree of risk.

One of the most dangerous, commonly accepted and ill thought out concepts in investing is the risk / return trade off.

That is: high returns equals high risk.

Unfortunately, Investopedia continues to spread this type dogma, as you can see by the graph below.

Illusion Of Risk

Volatility (standard deviation) is not risk!

The appropriate definition of risk is from the Oxford dictionary (or any other branded non-financial dictionary) as: Exposure (someone or something valued) to danger, harm, or loss.

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Reblog: Separating the Dos From the Don’ts of Investing


In late July, Oaktree Capital’s Howard Marks put out a memo describing current investment trends that could turn out to be mistakes. Marks urged caution on equity valuations, low volatility, FAANG stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google), ETFs, interest rates, private equity, venture capital and even bitcoin.

Caution alone is not an investment strategy, so Marks penned a follow-up memo last week to give investors six options for how to invest in a low-return world:

  1. Invest as you always have and expect your historic returns.
  2. Invest as you always have and settle for today’s low returns.
  3. Reduce risk to prepare for a correction and accept still lower returns.
  4. Go to cash at near-zero return and wait for a better environment.
  5. Increase risk in pursuit of higher returns.
  6. Put more into special niches and special investment managers.

 And here’s how he would proceed, given today’s choices:

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Reblog: Diversification Or Concentration? Quotes From Some Of The Best Investors


“There is one other rule you ought to keep in mind and that is to concentrate, and not only in the Zen sense. Sweet are the uses of diversity, but only if you want to end up in the middle of an average”  Adam Smith, the Money Game 1968

“Statistical analysis shows that security-specific risk is adequately diversified after 14 names in different industries, and the incremental benefit of each additional holding is negligible. We own 18-22 companies to allow us to be amply diversified but have the flexibility to overweight a name or own more than one business within an industry.” Mason Hawkins

“Empirical testing has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the “riskiness” of a portfolio of 12-15 diverse companies is little greater than one loaded with a hundred or more” Frank Martin

“If you can identify six wonderful businesses, that is all the diversification you need. And you will make a lot of money. And I can guarantee that going into a seventh one instead of putting more money into your first one is gotta be a terrible mistake. Very few people have gotten rich on their seventh best idea. But a lot of people have gotten rich with their best idea. So I would say for anyone working with normal capital who really knows the businesses they have gone into, six is plenty, and I probably have half of what I like best. I don‘t diversify personally. ” Warren Buffett

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Reblog: Latest memo from Howard Marks: Expert Opinion


In August, I mentioned that I had chosen the title “Political Reality” for my memo in part because of my liking for oxymorons.  I classed that title with other internally contradictory statements, such as “jumbo shrimp” and “common sense.”  Now I’m going to discuss one more: “expert opinion.”

This memo was inspired by a thought that popped into my head when the outcome of the election settled in.  You may point out that at the end of my November 14 memo “Go Figure!,” I said I wouldn’t write any more about politics.  True, but I didn’t say I wouldn’t think about politics.  Anyway, this memo isn’t about politics, it’s about opinions.

Last spring I attended a dinner where one of Hillary Clinton’s senior advisers was soliciting input, as she and her campaign were struggling to come up with an effective counter to Bernie Sanders’s populist message.  Most of those present expressed frustration on the subject, until an experienced, connected Democrat assured everyone, “Don’t worry.  She’ll win.  The math is irresistible.”  The Hillary supporters were relieved, and he turned out to be right: she won the nomination going away.

In late October, with the issue of Clinton’s private email server and the FBI’s new investigation further dogging her, that same seasoned Democrat was asked whether the election was in jeopardy.  “Don’t worry,” he said.  “She’ll win.  The math is irresistible.”  We all know the result.

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