Thursday, July 9, 2015

Starting with a qualitative search...

From The Small-Cap Advantage: How Top Endowments and Foundations Turn Small Stocks into Big Returns:
Most investment processes begin with quantitative elements like filters and screens. The qualitative work is often left for the latter stages, after suitable investment candidates have been identified. Investment processes are often structured in this quantitative-first order for two reasons. First, it is more convenient for the manager to reduce the size of the opportunity set to a more manageable list of companies. Second, institutional investors often demand a step-by-step process that can neatly illustrate the filtering of thousands of companies into a final portfolio. But convenience and marketing should not be the drivers of a robust investment process. Managers who understand the hidden dangers of screening and strict adherence to quantitative investment processes should instead start with the qualitative search for competitive advantage and management talent. By compiling a list of qualitatively superior companies first, and limiting valuation work to these, a small-cap manager prevents being drawn into seductively cheap subpar ideas.