Reblog: Successful Investing is Beautifully Boring


If you question how ‘boring’ can be beautiful, you have been following the wrong investment strategy.

Too many people have the misconception that investing is glamorous. The reality is that glamour is the last thing you will find in the stock market, most especially if you plan on being successful.

Hedge fund guru, George Soros sums it up brilliantly: “If investing is entertaining, if you’re having fun, you’re probably not making any money. Good investing is boring.”

Sure, we have all heard of a stock market success story or two. You probably have an acquaintance who made a decent return from investing in a tech stock that tripled in price before selling. Maybe even someone who inadvertently timed the 2008-09 crash correctly. In most cases, these successes are short-lived and can be attributed to pure luck. Although these ‘successful investing’ stories make for good dinner-party conversation, they are by far the exception among prosperous independent investors.

The fact is investors who produce the flashiest returns, time and time again, usually do so in the most unglamorous manner. A great example is Warren Buffett, who built an empire investing in so-called ‘boring’ stocks.

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Reblog: Diversification Overrated? Not a Chance!


In February 2000, a financial advisor named Bob Markman wrote an article that got a huge amount of attention online. Called “A Whole Lot of Bull*#%!” (that’s how the original was spelt) and published by Worth magazine, the article attacked the idea of diversification, arguing that any money put into currently underperforming investments was money wasted. Internet and other technology stocks had been so hot for so long that nothing else was worth owning, Markman argued. He was far from alone in saying that.

Markman and I exchanged long emails and even longer letters (that’s how people communicated in those Neolithic days), but the “debate” boiled down to one point: Can the typical investor predict the future with precision, or not? Markman insisted the answer was yes. I felt then, as I still do, that the answer was no.

In Markman’s defence, there is a case to be made that if you have inside knowledge or superior analytical ability, then you should bet most or all of your money to capitalize on it. Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger have long argued exactly that. If you are as analytically brilliant as Buffett or Munger, diversification will lower your returns. The rest of us, however, should have much less courage about our convictions. And inside knowledge or superior analytical ability are best applied to individual securities, not to broad market views.

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Reblog: Learning From Jamie Dimon


There are a number of letters that I look forward to reading each year. Some of them are well known and Buffett’s are, of course, a classic example. There are also others that have added enormous value to my thinking over the years, and that have opened my eyes to many new and varied investment opportunities. They have also helped me spot emerging themes, new ideas, thought processes and mental models. I mentioned Buffett because his 2011 letter is a case in point. In that Buffett recommended reading Jamie Dimon’s annual letters. And it’s little wonder; Buffett has said this about Dimon in the past…

“I think he knows more about markets than probably anybody you could find in the world.” 

Jamie Dimon, the son of a stockbroker, has been at the helm of JP Morgan [and it’s predecessor firm ‘Bank One’] since March 2000. In that time the tangible book value has compounded at 11.8%pa vs 5.2%pa for the S&P500. Not surprisingly, the stock price has followed, delivering a 12.4%pa return vs the S&P500’s 5.2%pa over that period. A cumulative gain of 691% versus 147% for the S&P500. Not bad considering the multitude of challenges that have faced global banks over that period, including the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

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Reblog: What Investors Need to Know About Investing in Low PE Stocks


Man and woman in business attire happily looking at computer screen
Value investing starts with low PE stocks, but it shouldn’t be an investor’s only financial metric.

What do Warren Buffett, Ben Graham, Seth Klarman, and Peter Lynch all have in common? Besides being wildly successful investors, they’re all are adherents to value investing, a method where one attempts to buy securities that have a higher intrinsic value than their current price.

One of the most basic forms of value investing is to find stocks with low price-to-earnings (PE) ratios. The PE ratio is a simple ratio that divides the current price per share of a company by the earnings per share over the trailing-12-month period. The logic behind buying low PE stocks is simple: As an investor, you are ultimately entitled to a pro-rata portion of company earnings, so paying the lowest cost, or multiple, for those earnings is preferable than paying a higher multiple. Essentially, your dollar is buying a larger portion of company earnings than it would with a high-multiple stock.


Reblog: Three Lessons for Investors in Turbulent Markets


The global stocks roller-coaster of recent days reminded me of three lessons I learned many years ago as an investor in emerging markets. If well understood and applied, these precepts can turn unsettling volatility surges into longer-term opportunities.

  1. Long periods of market calm create the technical conditions for violent air pockets. Until last week, the most distinctive feature of many market segments was historically low volatility, both implied and realized. Although several economic and corporate reasons were liberally cited for this development (including the convergence of inflation rates worldwide and eternally supportive central banks, as well as healthy balance sheets and synchronized growth), an important determinant was the conditioning of the investor base to believe that every dip had become a buying opportunity, a simple investment strategy that had proven very remunerative for the last few years.The more investors believed, the greater the willingness to “buy the dip.” Over time, the frequency, duration and severity of the dips diminished significantly. That reinforced the behavior further.The economist Hyman Minsky had a lot to say about the phenomenon of prolonged stability breeding complacency as a precursor to instability. This phenomenon is reinforced by the insights of behavioral finance and can lead markets to embrace paradigms that ultimately prove unsustainable and harmful (such as the idea well more than a decade ago that policy making had totally overcome the business cycle, and the notion that volatility had been flushed or hedged out of the financial system). Continue Reading

Reblog: What Investing Legends Do When the Stock Market Stumbles


Stocks have been all over the map this week.

Here are some top investing tips to consider amid the market volatility.

Ben Graham

Widely regarded as the “father of value investing,” Graham’s surgical analysis of stocks made him and his clients a great deal of money. But before he became Warren Buffett’s mentor or earned Wall Street’s reverence, Graham lost most of what had already become a small fortune in the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression. It was then that Graham learned a hard lesson about risk-taking.

After that, Graham became one of the first to make investments based solely on financial analysis. Before his death in 1976, Graham’s philosophy was simple: invest in companies whose shares trade below the firm’s liquidation value. He implemented smart analysis of market psychology, investing by numbers when others did so by fear or greed.

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Reblog: 39 Powerful Trading Tips by Ed Seykota That Will Rock Your Trading


ed seykota

Heard of Ed Seykota?

He was featured in the book Market Wizards and returned 250,000% over a 16 year period. Comparable to the likes of Warren Buffet and George Soros.

A little background:

Ed Seykota has an Electrical Engineering degree from MIT and is a systematic trend follower.

His trading is largely confined to the few minutes it takes to run his computer program, which generates signals for the next day.

If you want to get into the mind of one the best traders around, this is your chance.

Here are the 39 best things said by Ed Seykota.

Quotes by Ed Seykota

Technical analysis

1. In order of importance to me are: (1) the long-term trend, (2) the current chart pattern, and (3) picking a good spot to buy or sell. Those are the three primary components of my trading. Way down in very distant fourth place are my fundamental ideas and, quite likely, on balance, they have cost me money.

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Reblog : Warren Buffett – “It’s Not What You Look At That Matters; It’s What You See.”


Warren Buffett provides a great lesson for all investors in the book – The Warren Buffet Way, by Robert Hagstrom. The lesson is that investors can spend weeks and years reading and analyzing information on prospective companies, but according to Buffett, “It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.” The lesson learned by Buffett happened during his investigation of IBM back in 2011.

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

Buffett confessed that he came late to the IBM party. Like Coca-Cola in 1988 and Burlington Northern Santa-Fe in 2006, he had been reading the annual reports for 50 years before his epiphany. It arrived, he said, one Saturday in March 2011. Quoting Thoreau, Buffett says, “It’s not what you look at that matters; it ’s what you see.” Buffett admitted to CNBC that he had been “hit between the eyes” by the competitive advantages IBM possesses in finding and keeping clients.

The information technology (IT) services industry is a dynamic and global industry within the technology sector, and no one is bigger in this industry than IBM. Information technology is an $800 billion-plus market that covers a broad spectrum of services broken down into four different buckets: consulting, systems integration, IT outsourcing, and business process outsourcing.

The first two, combined, contribute 52 percent of IBM ’s revenues; 32 percent comes from IT outsourcing; and 16 percent from business process outsourcing. In the consulting and systems integration space, IBM is the number-one global provider—38 percent bigger than the next competitor, Accenture. In the IT outsourcing space, IBM is also the number-one global provider—78 percent larger than the next competitor, Hewlett-Packard. In business process outsourcing, IBM is the seventh-largest provider, behind Teleperformance, Atento, Convergys, Sitel, Aegis, and Genpact.

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Reblog: Risk Is Not High Math


Smead Capital Management letter to investors  titled,”Risk Is Not High Math.”

Dear fellow investors,

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.

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Reblog: Bill Nygren: Value Investing Principles and Approach


Bill Nygren is a fund manager at Oakmark Funds. He is also Chief Investment Officer for U.S. Equities at Harris Associates. He’s particularly well-known for being a value investor who doesn’t fear the technology sector.

This post summarises key takeaways from his talk at Google in December 2017. While he reinforces many core value investing principles, he also challenges us to think differently.

The difference between gambling and investing

A value investor recognizes there are different ways she can put capital at risk and the difference between gambling (negative expected value) and investing in stocks (positive expected value)

Buying stocks like you would buy groceries

Bill observed the way his mother shopped for groceries by buying more of something that was on sale and deferring her purchase of something that wasn’t yet on sale

Smart money is not always smart

He spent two years as a research analyst at Northwestern Mutual Life where he pitched ideas of companies that he found were trading below their asset values. However, the portfolio managers chose not to buy such stocks until after they were recommended by 2-3 Wall Street analysts, by which time the price had moved to above asset values.

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