Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Investment Philosophy

Update: My philosophy has evolved since this post was first written. One day, I may include my investing checklist on this page, but it is still evolving as well. Until then, these 2 quotes best summarize the process I try to follow.

“If only one word is to be used to describe what Baupost does, that word should be: 'Mispricing'. We look for mispricing due to over-reaction.” -Seth Klarman

In my opinion, there are two key concepts that investors must master: value and cycles. For each asset you’re considering, you must have a strongly held view of its intrinsic value. When its price is below that value, it’s generally a buy. When its price is higher, it’s a sell. In a nutshell, that’s value investing.

But values aren’t fixed; they move in response to changes in the economic environment. Thus, cyclical considerations influence an asset’s current value. Value depends on earnings, for example, and earnings are shaped by the economic cycle and the price being charged for liquidity.

Further, security prices are greatly affected by investor behavior; thus we can be aided in investing safely by understanding where we stand in terms of the market cycle. What’s going on in terms of investor psychology, and how does it tell us to act in the short run? We want to buy when prices seem attractive. But if investors are giddy and optimism is rampant, we have to consider whether a better buying opportunity mightn’t come along later.” –Howard Marks