A Reader’s Question: How Can I Improve as a Value Investor
Thank you once again sharing the links, access to the value vault, and your blog posts. My experience over the last couple of years has been primarily in private growth investing, and the insights you have shared have helped me significantly reconsider my investment approach.
I have been reading your book recommendations and following CBS lecture notes, but is there anything else you would advise me to do to become a better value investor? I am keen to learn and it appears that there is culture of apprenticeship in the world of public equity value investing. Maybe I could reach out to some practitioners in London (where I am based) – would you be able to highlight any you would consider particularly strong?
Thanks in advance for your help.
My Reply: There are plenty of case studies and examples on this site to learn about valuation. You can visit:http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~adamodar/ https://www.coursera.org/course/accountingand…Value Investing for Grown ups by Damodaran to learn about valuation and accounting. But the secret to investing and improvement lies within you. That sounds either profound or hokey, but true. I don’t believe MBA courses or apprenticeship (if you can find one) will really help. You don’t want to learn about another person’s style, you want to develop your own. Google and youtube.com Michael Burryfor why this is true.
As an example, you can read 5 Keys to Value Investing. The author worked as an analyst for Micheal F. Price. He would submit ideas and get grilled by Price. I didn’t see a whole lot of mentoring going on. Of course, you want to study other investors and the psychology of investment:
- Buffett Klarman and Graham on Mr Market
- Great Investor Behavior
- Investing and Personality Type
But there are no shortcuts to studying yourself. You have to consistently and persistently keep a notebook, log, diary or tape recorder of your trades/investments/decisions. Review them that day and a week, month and year later. Study your proclivities. Can you step outside and see yourself objectively? Impossible? Hire a high school kid on Summer Vacation to film your day at work and see if you notice tendencies. You won’t believe the tape!
Do you have a business plan for your investing career? Goals? Map out the steps.
I highly suggest you see how your countrymen developed their own styles in: Free Capital: How 12 private investors made millions in the stock market by Guy Thomas
Review: Conclusion “Free Capital” treads original ground in profiling anonymous, “everyman” successful investors that no one has heard of yet who have interesting stories, experiences and lessons to share all their own. We can all learn from more than just Warren Buffett, after all.
It’s not without its flaws, of course. As the author himself states, the book doesn’t cover losing investors, people who took some of the risks investors profiled took, and failed, or who took other risks that didn’t turn out right, and then explores what lessons can be learned from their shortcomings. As an avid deep value (Benjamin Graham) guy myself, I would’ve done without the day trader and some of the other guys who seem like GARPy, momentum-based swing traders with short time horizons and questionable “value” metrics.
As an example, I know that I am an emotional basket-case. I cry during the cartoons if Tweedy Bird gets hurt (http://youtu.be/89FDAYsTgfs). If I buy a stock at $7.05 and the next print is 7.04, I am on the floor wailing. If Jim Cramer on CNBC said buy Tweedle Dumb stock, I would wait for the stock to rally, then buy after the news is priced in only to sell at a loss seconds later.
Also, I have an aversion to paying full price. I went “Dutch” on my honeymoon; my wedding had a cash bar. My guests had to take the subway to the reception; some had to hitch-hike. I am a cheapie.
Ok, I have to deal with serious psychological issues, but how does that help YOU?
Well, even I can develop methods to work around my quirks. See the chart at the top of the page. I have been buying certain gold/silver stocks over the past year because of two reasons: historic/generational low cheapness and lack of the same in other markets, in general. But prices can swing 10% in a day! How would I survive?
My time frame is the next three-to-five years. I study the companies without input from others, I turn off CNBC, and I place my buy and sell orders BEFORE the market and then check at the end of the day. I may go months without doing anything in terms of buying or selling, but I will keep following the companies and their industries closely. I have also held stocks like Enstar (ESGR) for a decade.
My time-frame is longer than most participants. I work around my psychological hurdles because I have faced them. And only YOU can face yours.
I hope that helps.