Archive for the ‘Charlie munger’ Category.
Berkshire had their annual meeting on May 5th and 6th. During the Q&A session the following question was asked on how to become a better investor. I have read something similar from warren buffett earlier and could not resist posting the answer to the question again. The reply goes to the heart of becoming a better investor and I try to follow it in an effort to improve myself as an investor. Time will tell if I have been successful at it or not.
What is best way to a become better investor? Get an MBA, is it genetic, read more “Poor Charlie’s Almanac”?
WB: Read everything you can. In my own case, by the time I was 10, I read every book in the Omaha Public Library that had to do with investing, and many I read twice. You just have to fill up your mind with competing thoughts and then sort them out as to what makes sense over time. And once you’ve done that, you ought to jump in the water. The difference between investing on paper and in real money is like the difference in just reading a romance novel and…doing something else. The earlier you start the better in terms of reading. I read a book at 19 that formed my framework ever since. What I’m doing today at 76 is running things in the same thought pattern that I got from a book at 19. Read, and then on small scale do some of it yourself.
CM: Sandy Gottesman, runs a large and successful investment operation. Notice his employment practices. When someone comes in to interview with Sandy, no matter his hage, Sandy asks, “what do you own and why do you own it?” And if you haven’t been interested enough in the subject to know, you better go somewhere else.
WB: If you buy a farm, you’d say “I’m buying this because I expect it to produce 120 bushels per acre, etc…from your calculations, not based on what you saw on television that day or what a neighbor said. It should be the same thing with stock. Take a yellow pad, and say I’m going to buy GM for $18 billion, and here’s why. And if you cant write a good essay on the subject, you have no business buying one share.
Found this great interview with charlie munger. Some interesting excerpts from the interview
How much of your success is from investing and how much from managing businesses?
Understanding how to be a good investor makes you a better business manager and vice versa.
Warren’s way of managing businesses does not take a lot of time. I would bet that something like half of our business operations have never had the foot of Warren Buffet in them. It’s not a very burdensome type of business management.
The business management record of Warren is pretty damn good, and I think it’s frequently underestimated. He is a better business executive for spending no time engaged in micromanagement.
Your book takes a very multi-disciplinary approach. Why?
It’s very useful to have a good grasp of all the big ideas in hard and soft science. A, it gives perspective. B, it gives a way for you to organize and file away experience in your head, so to speak.
How important is temperament in investing?
A lot of people with high IQs are terrible investors because they’ve got terrible temperaments. And that is why we say that having a certain kind of temperament is more important than brains. You need to keep raw irrational emotion under control. You need patience and discipline and an ability to take losses and adversity without going crazy. You need an ability to not be driven crazy by extreme success.
How should most individual investors invest?
Our standard prescription for the know-nothing investor with a long-term time horizon is a no-load index fund. I think that works better than relying on your stock broker. The people who are telling you to do something else are all being paid by commissions or fees. The result is that while index fund investing is becoming more and more popular, by and large it’s not the individual investors that are doing it. It’s the institutions.
What about people who want to pick stocks?
You’re back to basic Ben Graham, with a few modifications. You really have to know a lot about business. You have to know a lot about competitive advantage. You have to know a lot about the maintainability of competitive advantage. You have to have a mind that quantifies things in terms of value. And you have to be able to compare those values with other values available in the stock market. So you’re talking about a pretty complex body of knowledge.
What do you think of the efficient market theory, which holds that at any one time all knowledge by everyone about a stock is reflected in the price?
I think it is roughly right that the market is efficient, which makes it very hard to beat merely by being an intelligent investor. But I don’t think it’s totally efficient at all. And the difference between being totally efficient and somewhat efficient leaves an enormous opportunity for people like us to get these unusual records. It’s efficient enough, so it’s hard to have a great investment record. But it’s by no means impossible. Nor is it something that only a very few people can do. The top three or four percent of the investment management world will do fine.
What would a good investor’s portfolio look like? Would it look like the average mutual fund with 2% positions?
Not if they were doing it Munger style. The Berkshire-style investors tend to be less diversified than other people. The academics have done a terrible disservice to intelligent investors by glorifying the idea of diversification. Because I just think the whole concept is literally almost insane. It emphasizes feeling good about not having your investment results depart very much from average investment results. But why would you get on the bandwagon like that if somebody didn’t make you with a whip and a gun?
Should people be investing more abroad, particularly in emerging markets?
Different foreign cultures have very different friendliness to the passive shareholder from abroad. Some would be as reliable as the United States to invest in, and others would be way less reliable. Because it’s hard to quantify which ones are reliable and why, most people don’t think about it at all. That’s crazy. It’s a very important subject. Assuming China grows like crazy, how much of the proceeds of that growth are going to flow through to the passive foreign owners of Chinese stock? That is a very intelligent question that practically nobody asks.
Ibbotson finds 10% average returns back to 1926, and Jeremy Siegel has found roughly the same back to 1802.
Jeremy Siegel’s numbers are total balderdash. When you go back that long ago, you’ve got a different bunch of companies. You’ve got a bunch of railroads. It’s a different world. I think it’s like extrapolating human development by looking at the evolution of life from the worm on up. He’s a nut case. There wasn’t enough common stock investment for the ordinary person in 1880 to put in your eye.
I was reading the transcipts of the meeting on fool.com . There were several comments from munger which really impressed me.
- He referred to a “seamless web of deserved trust” which is necessary to run any large coporation. This is a profound idea. how companies in india work this way ?
- he talked out currency trading being a zero sum game. he would prefer equity where it is not a zero sum game
- he talked about lowering return expectations in the current environment. Annhieser busch could that example. A certain investment with lower return. This is important. Better to be sure of lower returns that optimisitic of fantastic results
Found the Q&A really fantastic.