One of the value investing firms that we follow closely here at The Acquirer’s Multiple is Oakmark Funds and portfolio manager, Bill Nygren. Nygren is a value investor who focuses on companies trading at what he considers to be a substantial discount to their true business value. He has been a manager of the Oakmark Select Fund since 1996, Oakmark Fund since 2000, and the Oakmark Global Select Fund since 2006.

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Bill Nygren
Image source: CNBC Video Screenshot

In a recent interview with Outlook Business Nygren explains why successful value investing is about doing something differently to most investors, and studying other successful investors, who do things very differently from you. Here’s an excerpt from that interview:

 

 

Who are your role models in investing? You’ve previously talked about Michael Steinhardt as your role model, but isn’t he at the other end of the spectrum?

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Would not reading about somebody else, who did things very differently from you but who also succeeded tremendously, be more valuable? I find that I learnt a lot by reading about some of the hedge fund managers such as Michael Steinhardt, Paul Tudor Jones and George Soros, all of whose approach was very different from what ours is. Perhaps you may find one thing from their approach that is consistent with your own philosophy.

One of the things that Michael Steinhardt famously relied on was variant perception. On every company he had a position in, he knew what the bulls and bears thought, and why his point of view was different. Sometimes, as value investors, we don’t spend enough time doing that. We assume that if a company has a low P/E, or a low price to book, that’s enough to conclude it’s cheap. But we’ve learnt by studying Steinhardt that we can add value in our process even in a stock that looks statistically cheap by stating our different and distinct point of view. Anybody at Oakmark will be able to tell you what our variant perception is of a stock that we own.

There is a famous picture of Paul Tudor Jones with a piece of paper on his bulletin board that says ‘Losers average losers’. As value investors, we always want to believe that the stock is overreacting to bad news. A typical analyst report goes: This is a disappointing quarter but my value estimate fell only 5% while the stock fell 15%, so it’s a lot cheaper than what it was yesterday. This led us to do a lot of research into our own ideas. When the fundamentals start deviating from what our analysts had projected, averaging down on those names tend to not work. It made us alter how we thought a little bit more, which for us is certainly more valuable than learning what Warren Buffett eats for breakfast.

 

You can read the full interview here.

Article by Johnny Hopkins, The Acquirer's Multiple