One can see the investment universe as full of certainties, or one can see it as replete with probabilities. Those who reflect and hesitate make far less in a bull market, but those who never question themselves get obliterated when the bear market comes. In investing, certainty can be a serious problem, because it causes [...]
It is much harder psychologically to be unsure than to be sure; certainty builds confidence, and confidence reinforces certainty. Yet being overly certain in an uncertain, protean, and ultimately unknowable world is hazardous for investors. To be sure, uncertainty breeds doubt, which can be paralyzing. But uncertainty also motivates diligence, as one pursues the unattainable [...]
Buying bargains is the sweet spot of value investors, although how small a discount one might accept can be subject to debate. Selling is more difficult because it involves securities that are closer to fully priced. As with buying, investors need a discipline for selling. First, sell targets, once set, should be regularly adjusted to [...]
From our experience, much long-oriented analysis is simplistic, highly optimistic, and sloppy. Short-sellers, by going against the long-term tide of economic growth and the short-term swells of public opinion and margins calls, are forced to be crackerjack analysts. Their work product is usually top-notch and needs to be. Shortsellers shouldn't be reviled or banned; most [...]
Our willingness to hold cash during fallow periods has enabled us to maintain a strict sell discipline regardless of whether we had anything promising to replace what we sold. This view on cash, combined with a truly long-term investment perspective, has also enabled us to avoid the gun-to-the-head mentality that pressures many investors to own [...]
In a world in which most investors appear interested in figuring out how to make money every second and chase the idea du jour, there's also something validating about the value-investing message that it's okay to do nothing and wait for opportunities to present themselves or to pay off. That's lonely and contrary a lot [...]
As Graham, Dodd, and Buffett have all said, you should always remember that you don't have to swing at every pitch. You can wait for opportunities that fit your criteria and if you don't find them, patiently wait. Deciding not to panic is still a decision.
You must buy on the way down. There is far more volume on the way down than on the way back up, and far less competition among buyers. It is almost always better to be too early than too late, but you must be prepared for price markdowns on what you buy.
The prospective return must always be generous relative to the risk incurred. For riskier investments, the upside potential must be many multiples of any potential loss. We believe there is room for a few of these potential five and ten baggers in a diversified, low-risk portfolio.