Superinvestors Agree That Business Schools Don’t Make You A Better Investor

While a lot of investors believe that a good finance course at one of the world’s most prestigious business schools is a sure-fire way to becoming a better investor, it seems that some of the greatest investors disagree. Here’s what Buffett, Munger, Greenblatt, Pabrai, and Lynch have to say about learning about investing at business school.

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In Warren Buffett’s 1996 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Letter he says:

Warren Buffett: If You Own A Good Business, Keep It

Berkshire Hathaway Warren BuffettBuying private businesses is easier than acquiring public firms, and investors should avoid selling good investments at all costs, according to the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett. Q2 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more In an interview with CNBC in March 2013, Buffett was asked if he was looking at any businesses, in particular, Read More


To invest successfully, you need not understand beta, efficient markets, modern portfolio theory, option pricing or emerging markets. You may, in fact, be better off knowing nothing of these. That, of course, is not the prevailing view at most business schools, whose finance curriculum tends to be dominated by such subjects. In our view, though, investment students need only two well-taught courses – How to Value a Business, and How to Think About Market Prices.

In Charlie Munger’s speech – A Lesson on Elementary, Worldly Wisdom As It Relates to Investment Management & Business, he says:

So the most useful and practical part of psychology—which I personally think can be taught to any intelligent person in a week—is ungodly important. And nobody taught it to me by the way. I had to learn it later in life, one piece at a time. And it was fairly laborious. It is so elementary though that, when it was all over, I just felt like a total horse’s ass. And yeah, I’d been educated at Cal Tech and the Harvard Law School and so forth. So very eminent places miseducated people like you and me.

In Joel Greenblatt’s book – You Can Be A Stock Market Genius, he says:

We start with some good news about your education: simply put, if your goal is to beat the market, an MBA or a Ph.D. from a top business school will be of virtually no help. Well, it’s good news, that is, if you haven’t yet squandered tons of time and money at a business school in the singleminded quest for stock market success. In fact, the basic premise of most academic theory is this: It is not possible to beat the market consistently other than by luck.

In Mohnish Pabrai’s book – The Dhando Investor, he says:

Most of the top-ranked business schools around the world do not understand the fundamentals of margin of safety or Dhandho. For them, low risk and low returns go together as do high risk and high returns. Over a lifetime, we all encounter scores of low-risk, high-return bets. They exist in all facets of life. Business schools should be educating their students on how to seek out and exploit these opportunities.

In Peter Lynch’s book – One Up On Wall Street, he says:

After that interlude at Fidelity, I returned to Wharton for my second year of graduate school more skeptical than ever about the value of academic stock-market theory. It seemed to me that most of what I learned at Wharton, which was supposed to help you succeed in the investment business, could only help you fail. I studied statistics, advanced calculus, and quantitative analysis. Quantitative analysis taught me that the things I saw happening at Fidelity couldn’t really be happening.

Article by Johnny Hopkins - The Acquirer's Multiple

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The Acquirer’s Multiple® is the valuation ratio used to find attractive takeover candidates. It examines several financial statement items that other multiples like the price-to-earnings ratio do not, including debt, preferred stock, and minority interests; and interest, tax, depreciation, amortization. The Acquirer’s Multiple® is calculated as follows: Enterprise Value / Operating Earnings* It is based on the investment strategy described in the book Deep Value: Why Activist Investors and Other Contrarians Battle for Control of Losing Corporations, written by Tobias Carlisle, founder of acquirersmultiple.com. The Acquirer’s Multiple® differs from The Magic Formula® Earnings Yield because The Acquirer’s Multiple® uses operating earnings in place of EBIT. Operating earnings is constructed from the top of the income statement down, where EBIT is constructed from the bottom up. Calculating operating earnings from the top down standardizes the metric, making a comparison across companies, industries and sectors possible, and, by excluding special items–earnings that a company does not expect to recur in future years–ensures that these earnings are related only to operations. Similarly, The Acquirer’s Multiple® differs from the ordinary enterprise multiple because it uses operating earnings in place of EBITDA, which is also constructed from the bottom up. Tobias Carlisle is also the Chief Investment Officer of Carbon Beach Asset Management LLC. He's best known as the author of the well regarded Deep Value website Greenbackd, the book Deep Value: Why Activists Investors and Other Contrarians Battle for Control of Losing Corporations (2014, Wiley Finance), and Quantitative Value: A Practitioner’s Guide to Automating Intelligent Investment and Eliminating Behavioral Errors (2012, Wiley Finance). He has extensive experience in investment management, business valuation, public company corporate governance, and corporate law. Articles written for Seeking Alpha are provided by the team of analysts at acquirersmultiple.com, home of The Acquirer's Multiple Deep Value Stock Screener. All metrics use trailing twelve month or most recent quarter data. * The screener uses the CRSP/Compustat merged database “OIADP” line item defined as “Operating Income After Depreciation.”