Not Learning From Investing History Can Be Hazardous To Your Wealth

Not Learning From Investing History Can Be Hazardous To Your Wealth

“It’s different this time.” This phrase has likely cost many investors far more than they realize. Each period of time is indeed different. However, there are many insights that we can learn from history that should inform how we invest today. Failing to learn from the past mistakes of others can be hazardous to your wealth.

Read More

Circle of Competence

Circle of Competence

Warren Buffett wrote in his 1996 letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders: “You don’t have to be an expert on every company, or even many. You only have to be able to evaluate companies within your circle of competence. The size of that circle is not very important; knowing its boundaries, however, is vital.” He also said on a separate occasion: “What counts for most people in investing is not how much they know, but rather how realistically they define what they don’t know.How should you define your circle of competence and to what degree should you try to expand it over time?

Read More

The Skeptic’s Checklist

The Skeptic’s Checklist

Optimism abounds in the capital markets. They are full of people who either 1) have an interest in selling you on the prospects of a security or 2) are genuinely optimistic about a company’s future but hold a biased perspective. It is helpful to have a checklist to make sure that you are being as objective as possible to guard against developing behavioral biases after being inundated with one-sided views. Before you succumb to the charms of a charismatic management team or fall for someone pitching you on another “story stock,” read the skeptic’s checklist. It won’t give you all the answers, but it will give you a fighting chance against the biases that you are likely frequently exposed to.

Read More

10 Insights from the 2018 Berkshire Hathaway Weekend

10 Insights from the 2018 Berkshire Hathaway Weekend

Listening to Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger and other smart investors over the course of the weekend surrounding the Berkshire Hathaway meeting in Omaha is always informative. This year was marked by the usually laconic Charlie Munger, known for his typical “I have nothing to add” answer, answering many questions in depth. Below I examine my 10 insights from this year’s trip, which are a combination of new ideas and helpful reminders about those from the past that are still important today.

Read More

Portfolio Concentration: How Much Is Optimal?

Portfolio Concentration: How Much Is Optimal?

Diversification is sometimes described as “the only free lunch” in investing. But is it? Not in the kind of fundamental value investing that I do.

Increased diversification comes with two potential costs:

  1. At a certain point, new investments are likely to yield increasingly lower returns.

  2. The time required to underwrite new investments reduces the quality of the underwriting of existing investments.

Read More

5 Places to Search for Hidden Profits

5 Places to Search for Hidden Profits

Value investing involves buying a business for substantially less than its intrinsic value. So what causes businesses to occasionally become available at such a large discount? Once in a while the prevailing market mood is so pessimistic that you can look around and find many quality companies at low valuations based on readily apparent levels of profits. Such instances are rare. The rest of the time mis-pricings arise because of hidden profits – future profit levels that are reasonably predictable based on currently available information that are substantially higher than the current levels of profitability. If you know where to look, even in a market environment like the current one, with relatively few attractive opportunities, you stand a better chance of uncovering attractive bargains.

Read More

The “Mental Game” in Investing

The “Mental Game” in Investing

At the 2017 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting, Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s partner, said:A lot of other people are trying to be brilliant and we are just trying to stay rational. And it’s a big advantage.” It’s a simple, but crucial insight – a lot of the edge in investing can be traced to the ability to stay rational and execute your approach at moments of highest pressure and uncertainty. So what is the “mental game” in investing, and how do you make sure that yours helps your investing results?

Read More

Balancing Conviction and Flexibility in Investing

Balancing Conviction and Flexibility in Investing

Conviction is a necessary quality for any investor – lack thereof can lead to an inability to stay the course on a successful contrarian investment. Yet without flexibility investors can easily fall prey to various behavioral biases such as anchoring and overconfidence and fail to correctly change their minds when the evidence merits doing so. The ability to properly navigate the tension between conviction and flexibility is one of the distinguishing traits of superb investors. This article explores the question of when we should stick with our convictions and when we should be flexible and change our minds.

Read More

What Do the Best Investors Do That the Rest Don’t?

What Do the Best Investors Do That the Rest Don’t?

Charlie Munger, the Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett’s partner said something simple yet profound at the 2017 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting: “A lot of other people are trying to be brilliant and we are just trying to stay rational. And it’s a big advantage.” Some might think that becoming an excellent investor requires off-the-charts intelligence or some highly proprietary model that leads to an edge that nobody else can replicate. That is not what experience has shown.

Read More

How to Lose Money in the Stock Market: The Top 5 Mistakes

How to Lose Money in the Stock Market: The Top 5 Mistakes

I have compiled the top 5 mistakes investors make in the stock market to teach you what not to do when investing. Charlie Munger, the Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett’s partner, has a favorite piece of advice, which is to always invert. What he means by that is that we should figure out what we don’t want to do and avoid it in order to get the result that we want. Let’s apply his advice by answering the following question: What is the most certain way to lose the most money investing in stocks?

Read More

How and Why to Be a Long-Term Investor

How and Why to Be a Long-Term Investor

Having a long-term time horizon can help you avoid making poor short-term investment decisions. A multi-year time horizon can also give you an advantage toward achieving superior returns by allowing you to make high-potential investments that others with a shorter timeframe would avoid. This article will elaborate on why being a long-term investor can help you achieve better returns, and illustrate how you can go about doing so.

Read More

Why Passive Investing Is an Excellent Default Choice – an Active Investor’s View

Why Passive Investing Is an Excellent Default Choice – an Active Investor’s View

Passive investing – replicating the market’s returns through low-cost index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) – has finally gained a meaningful share of the market. However there are still many investors who attempt to beat the market by investing with higher-fee active investment managers or directly in individual securities. These investors should fully consider the difficulty of achieving a superior result through active investing, and be aware of the behavioral biases that might be driving them down that path even when their circumstances might make passive investing a better alternative.

Read More