“You should really only want insurance when it is cheap, as this is the time when the no one else wants it, and (perversely) the events are most likely. Buying expensive insurance is just like buying any other overpriced asset…a path to the permanent impairment of captial [sic]. Rather than wasting money on expensive insurance, holding a larger cash balance makes sense. It preserves the dry powder for times when you want to deploy capital, and limits the downside. So buy insurance when it’s cheap. When it isn’t and you are worried about the downside, hold cash. As Buffet said holding cash is painful, but not as painful as doing something stupid!” – James Montier
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“Patience is required when investors are faced with an unappealing opportunity set. Many investors seem to suffer from an ‘action bias’ – a desire to do something. However, when there is nothing to do, the best plan is usually to do nothing. Stand at the plate and wait for the fat pitch.” – James Montier
Longleaf owner’s manual
- We will treat your investment in Longleaf as if it were our own.
- We will remain significant investors with you in Longleaf.
- We will invest for the long term, while always striving to maximize returns and minimize business, financial, purchasing power, regulatory and market risks.
- We will choose our equity investments based on their discounts from our appraisals of their corporate intrinsic values, their financial strengths, their management, their competitive positions, and our assessments of their future earnings potential.
- We will concentrate our assets in our best ideas.
- We will not impose loads, exit fees or 12b-1 charges on our investment partners.1
- We will consider closing the Funds to new investors if closing would benefit existing shareholders.
- We will discourage short-term speculators and market timers from joining us, the long-term investors in Longleaf.
- We will continue our efforts to enhance shareholder services.
- We will communicate with our investment partners as candidly as possible.
David Dreman’s “Contrarian Investment Rules”
Rule 1: Do not use market-timing or technical analysis. These techniques can only cost you money.
Rule 2: Respect the difficulty of working with a mass of information. Few of us can use it successfully. In-depth information does not translate into in-depth profits.
Rule 3: Do not make an investment decision based on correlations. All correlations in the market, whether real or illusory, will shift and soon disappear.
Rule 4: Tread carefully with current investment methods. Our limitations in processing complex information correctly prevent their successful use by most of us.
Rule 5: There are no highly predictable industries in which you can count on analysts’ forecasts. Relying on these estimates will lead to trouble.
Rule 6: Analysts’ forecasts are usually optimistic. Make the appropriate downward adjustment to your earnings estimate.
Rule 7: Most current security analysis requires a precision in analysts’ estimates that is impossible to provide. Avoid methods that demand this level of accuracy.
Rule 8: It is impossible, in a dynamic economy with constantly changing political, economic, industrial, and competitive conditions, to use the past accurately to estimate the future.
Rule 9: Be realistic about the downside of an investment, recognizing our human tendency to be both overly optimistic and overly confident. Expect the worst to be much more severe than your initial projection.
Rule 10: Take advantage of the high rate of analyst forecast error by simply investing in out-of-favor stocks.
Rule 11: Positive and negative surprises affect “best” and “worst” stocks in a diametrically opposite manner.
Rule 12: (A) Surprises, as a group, improve the performance of out-of-favor stocks, while impairing the performance of favorites.
(B) Positive surprises result in major appreciation for out-of-favor stocks, while having minimal impact on favorites.
(C) Negative surprises result in major drops in the price of favorites, while having virtually no impact on out-of-favor stocks.
(D) The effect of an earnings surprise continues for an extended period of time.
Rule 13: Favored stocks under-perform the market, while out-of-favor companies outperform the market, but the reappraisal often happens slowly, even glacially.
Rule 14: Buy solid companies currently cut of market favor, as measured by their low price-to-earnings, price-to-cash flow or price-to-book value ratios, or by their high yields.
Rule 15: Don’t speculate on highly priced concept stocks to make above-average returns. The blue chip stocks that widows and orphans traditionally choose are equally valuable for the more aggressive businessman or woman.
Rule 16: Avoid unnecessary trading. The costs can significantly lower your returns over time. Low price-to-value strategies provide well above market returns for years, and are an excellent means of eliminating excessive transaction costs.
Rule 17: Buy only contrarian stocks because of their superior performance characteristics.
Rule 18: Invest equally in 20 to 30 stocks, diversified among 15 or more industries (if your assets are of sufficient size).
Rule 19: Buy medium-or large-sized stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange, or only larger companies on Nasdaq or the American Stock Exchange.
Rule 20: Buy the least expensive stocks within an industry, as determined by the four contrarian strategies, regardless of how high or low the general price of the industry group.
Rule 21: Sell a stock when its P/E ratio (or other contrarian indicator) approaches that of the overall market, regardless of how favorable prospects may appear. Replace it with another contrarian stock.
Rule 22: Look beyond obvious similarities between a current investment situation and one that appears equivalent in the past. Consider other important factors that may result in a markedly different outcome.
Rule 23: Don’t be influenced by the short-term record of a money manager, broker, analyst or advisor, no matter how impressive; don’t accept cursory economic or investment news without significant substantiation.
Rule 24: Don’t rely solely on the “case rate.” Take into account the “base rate” – the prior probabilities of profit or loss.
Rule 25: Don’t be seduced by recent rates of return for individual stocks or the market when they deviate sharply from past norms (the “case rate”). Long term returns of stocks (the “base rate”) are far more likely to be established again. If returns are particularly high or low, they are likely to be abnormal.
Rule 26: Don’t expect the strategy you adopt will prove a quick success in the market; give it a reasonable time to work out.
Rule 27: The push toward an average rate of return is a fundamental principle of competitive markets.
Rule 28: It is far safer to project a continuation of the psychological reactions of investors than it is to project the visibility of the companies themselves.
Rule 29: Political and financial crises lead investors to sell stocks. This is precisely the wrong reaction. Buy during a panic, don’t sell.
Rule 30: In a crisis, carefully analyze the reasons put forward to support lower stock prices – more often than not they will disintegrate under scrutiny
Rule 31: (A) Diversify extensively. No matter how cheap a group of stocks looks, you never know for sure that you aren’t getting a clinker.
(B) Use the value lifelines as explained. In a crisis, these criteria get dramatically better as prices plummet, markedly improving your chances of a big score.
Rule 32: Volatility is not risk. Avoid investment advice based on volatility.
Rule 33: Small-cap investing: Buy companies that are strong financially (normally no more than 60% debt in the capital structure for a manufacturing firm).
Rule 34: Small-cap investing: Buy companies with increasing and well-protected dividends that also provide an above-market yield.
Rule 35: Small-cap investing: Pick companies with above-average earnings growth rates.
Rule 36: Small-cap investing: Diversify widely, particularly in small companies, because these issues have far less liquidity. A good portfolio should contain about twice as many stocks as an equivalent