Because of the havoc they can wreak on our portfolios, investment professionals and advisors often instruct their clients to ignore their emotions during times like this.
Smead Capital Management letter to investors titled,”Risk Is Not High Math.”
Long term success in common stock ownership is much more about patience and discipline than it is about mathematics. There is no better arena for discussing this truism than in how investors measure risk. It is the opinion of our firm that measuring a portfolio’s variability to an index is ridiculous, because it is impossible to beat the index without variability.
We believe that how you measure risk is at the heart of how well you do as a long-duration owner of better than average quality companies. In a recent interview, Warren Buffett explained that pension and other perpetuity investors are literally dooming themselves by owning bond investments that are guaranteed to produce a return well below the obligations they hope to meet.
Buffett defines investing as postponing the use of purchasing power today to have more purchasing power in the future. For that reason, we see the risk in common stock ownership as a combination of three things; What other liquid asset classes can produce during the same time period, how the stock market does during the time period, and how well your selections do in comparison to those options. Why would professional investors mute long-term returns in a guaranteed way? The answer comes from how you define risk.
It’s easy to understand how there might be a pattern in the market that shows we have an edge or a reason to put on a trade. Maybe some combination of factors or patterns shows us that a market is more likely to go up over a certain time period, so we buy it. That’s pretty easy to understand, and it’s how most people think about trading.
There is another way to think about patterns, and I think this is more powerful. We can take a pattern, and then think several steps ahead. Through much the same process a beginning chess player might go through, in which he thinks “ok I move here and then maybe he moves here… and when he moves there I’ll do this… but wait… if he does this instead, then I would do this…” We can play a similar game with the market, looking at how prices and patterns are developing, and thinking a few steps ahead. Take a look at the chart below, which shows the S&P 500 futures a few days after a sharp selloff. I’ve also highlighted two possible scenarios, in light orange and blue, that might have played out. Here’s the chart:
Warren Buffett is recognized as the greatest investor of all-time because of his discipline and conservative approach to investing.
Instead of focusing on the short term, Warren Buffett focuses on the long term.He also has a low appetite for risk, buying companies that active traders would find boring beyond all belief.
Buffett once described his investment style as, “I’m 85% Benjamin Graham.” (Benjamin Graham is known as the godfather of value investing. His book, The Intelligent Investor, is respected as a classic on Wall Street.)
Just look at Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRKA) stock price appreciation over the past 20 years. And yes, you are reading that correctly, the stock currently trades for over $260,000… per share.
Berkshire currently holds a market cap of approximately $430 billion, making Warren Buffett the third richest person on the planet.