谢清海:如何在中国及亚洲运用价值投资理念

谢清海先生,作为惠理集团的掌舵者,被投资界誉为”东方巴菲特”。在他执掌下,惠理集团安全穿越了亚洲金融风暴、08年全球金融海啸。而这,与他的投资理念是密不可分的。现在,港股正处在一个群雄逐鹿的大时代,而他执掌的惠理也被越来越多的投资者所关注,今天,我们特地将他在2010年受邀出席在纽约举办的第二十届Graham & Dodd 早餐年会时发表的题为《如何在中国及亚洲地区运用价值投资进行投资》演讲分享给大家。

自美国投资大师格雷厄姆创立价值投资学派以来,门下精英荟萃,各执一方之牛耳,其中尤以弟子巴菲特为最,是为投资界的典范。但中国自改革开放以来,市场经济时间不久,公司治理尚不规范,故大众颇疑价值之说是否适合中国市场。

谢清海先生于1993年在香港成立惠理基金,投资于大中华地区,以其实践证明价值投资的普适性。而与其同期成立的各种流派的投资基金大都湮灭,不复存在。哥伦比亚大学是格雷厄姆执教之地,故有一年一度的价值格雷厄姆-多德投资早餐年会。2010年10月21日,谢清海先生因在中国做价值投资取得的杰出投资业绩,受邀出席在纽约举办的第二十届Graham & Dodd 早餐年会,并在会上发表题为《如何在中国及亚洲地区运用价值投资进行投资》的演讲。

本次演讲中,谢清海先生以其亲身经历阐述如何在中国做价值投资的心得,对大家在中国做投资有很强的现实意义。萧伯纳说:与别人分享一个苹果,每人还是一个苹果,与别人分享一种思想,每人有两种思想。传承精神财富比传承物质财富更有价值。

以下为演讲正文:

非常感谢布鲁斯•格林沃德教授,我很感谢今天演讲的机会。我想再次对格雷厄姆和多德投资海尔布伦中心和哥伦比亚商学校表示感谢,当然我也深深感谢你们所有人的到场。我将尽力与你们分享我所知道的:如何在我们关注的领域:东亚及东南亚运用价值投资的原则。

演讲开始之前,根据监管规定,我得告诉你们,我发表的看法仅代表我个人的观点,而不是惠理基金的。至于惠理基金,我们是除日本以外亚洲唯一上市的资产管理公司–甚至在日本,也只有一家此类上市公司,所以有大量可供查询的资料来说明我们是谁和我们做了什么,都是公开透明的。我们公司在2007年由摩根士丹利和JP 摩根推荐上市。公司的使命很简单。我们的使命是为东亚及东南亚建立一座价值投资的殿堂。这个想法是鄙人创设的。我过去其实是一名新闻记者;二十世纪八十年代我为《华尔街日报》工作。严格说来,这个使命真正想表达的意思首先是,我们是最早最著名的价值投资者,其次,我们才是一个中国投资者。这个区别相当重要,因为直到现在,中国已经成为我所称的”听消息”的市场。很多人在中国市场买卖交易,完全是基于他们在报刊看到的或某些人告诉他们的故事。在这个过程中,很难按照教科书定义的基本价值投资理念去实行。所以,我们正在努力走另一条路。我们在20世纪90年代的标准读本是格雷厄姆和多德的《证券分析》。我们确实相当虔诚地运用它,我们习惯称之为”圣经”。但近些年来,我们换了另外的一本书。我不是在推销这本书,而只是告诉你们我们做了些什么。这本书叫《财务报表分析》,其作者马丁佛莱德森我素未谋面。这是一本简单的书,但和《证券分析》一样价值非凡。我们每年大约对2500家公司进行访问,不包括电话访问。那是我们力量的真正来源:这只不过用的是传统老套的调查方式而已。我们擅长的是把价值投资理论应用于实践–这些理论我和我的同事都学习并认真研究过。实际上,关于理论方面我不认为我们有什么创新的思想可说。但我想我们获得了一些有价值的感悟,我将把这些见解的实际应用和你们分享。这种实践是我们擅长的。在我放下面的幻灯片之前,我想告诉你们,大概在20世纪90年代中后期,我很反感类似”要是……又怎样”之类的大问题,那时候我试图创造一种可持续发展的商业模式,当时的想法是在中国这个非常不成熟的市场坚持价值投资。因为我开始问自己:要是我们能创造一种商业模式–一个价值投资公司来运行,而这个公司不依赖拥有一位(投资)天才、一个明星基金经理或某种神奇的黑盒子,结果会怎样?

也许是因为市场人士或媒体总是讲战胜市场必须得找个天才或者得有明星基金经理,或者是暗箱操作,我甚至开始猜测是否存在某种阴谋。我对自己说,这可不是做投资的长久之策。所以,我开始问自己一些非常简单的问题,比如:是否存在这样一个方法,即使是普通人或从大学直接招聘来的新手,经过锻炼也可以成长为优秀的价值投资者,至少在中国市场得到认可?

因此,这些问题也成了我的一种探求。最初,它只不过是一个想法,但接下来的15分钟,我给你们解释的过程中,这种想法就转变成了现实。首先,人们必须明白,如果没有优秀的人才,就不可能创造出优秀的产品。所以我刚才所提到的第一个问题或谜题的答案就是培养良好的企业文化。其次,我们要做的还是蛮有意思的,尽管在某些时候我这样讲会招来非议。我认为我已经取得成功了,至少在某种程度上,我把价值投资过程工业化了,把它从一个手工精品转变成了大规模生产的流程。这听起来好像很复杂,但实际上非常简单。我再给你们做进一步解释,我正试图摆脱依赖天才的投资体制,并努力建立一个体系,转变成可持续可进化的过程。实际上,从上世纪90年代末我们在香港就一直这样做了–有时我们会遇到巨大的困难,有时候也想过放弃,但还是坚持了下来,并且,在这个过程中开创了一个我个人认为相当有价值且事实证明能够持续战胜市场的事业。

我们做的第一步是必须从零起步,这只是就创造一个合适的文化来贯彻执行这个想法而言。在这里,我需要翻回去向你们解释我运作的背景。因为和美国市场有所不同,我们所处的市场是个非常年轻和不成熟的市场。第一家中国大陆的公司是在1991或1990年上市的,我记不清了。有一家叫”华晨”的公司,在美林的帮助下在纽约上市。那是第一家来自中国大陆的上市公司,现在它则是宝马在中国的合作伙伴。惠理基金发展得太快了,还没有足够的时间把专业诚信的文化做深做到位。这也是为什么你们有时会听到一些非常令人震惊的新闻。证券市场里一些非常基本的职业理念本应在新人刚来的时候就给灌输进去,例如:客户利益第一、交易透明、识别和谨慎对待潜在的利益冲突等等……然而,你们可能会感到吃惊,在我们业界,在我们这个领域,很多人从未听说过这些观念或者仅仅是嘴上说说而已。

所以我做的第一件事(实际上称不上是第一件事,但在90年代中后期也算是第一件吧),是我总结了我称之为”我的承诺”的承诺书,要求员工一一签字。我把它裱好后放在他们的面前,放在电脑前面,这样能够时刻提醒他们。我们做了许多这样的洗脑的事情,我们精心准备了确保彼此承诺的仪式,以严肃的态度来对待我们的承诺。这里是一份承诺书,大体上囊括了所需的基本观念,因为价值投资真正是一种非常有活力的哲学,也是对现实的深入探索,但如果你没有找对理智且诚实的人,那也没有任何办法可以完成使命。现在,我开始讲实际的投资流程。当我使用如量产和工艺工业化这类词汇来表述时,我真正的意思是我已经把这套流程拆分成了一系列的技能。上过大学的普通人就可以完全掌握每种技能,而且操作流程是可以学会的、能够重复使用、具备持续性,而且可以升级。这种技能肯定不是魔术,也绝不是由什么天才才能驾驭的,而是上面(注:指现场图示)这些我提到的。我将向你们展示每个技能,开始我会用我制作的一些图来传达我实际想要表达的意思。其中一张表达的意思是令我非常泄气的想法,即:无论多么聪明的人(例如美国总统,他毕竟也是人),他的卓越潜质也被人类的局限性所界定。但如果可能,我真正希望的是一种超越人类局限,类似”超人”的运作方式或状态–于是我想到“蚁群”这个概念

蚁群概念:有一种说法是,万一发生全面的核战争,人类将不复存在,但蚂蚁会。为什么呢?单个蚂蚁或许是相当笨的生物或昆虫,但靠社会化的程序把生存和生产连结在一起,他们就会难以想象得强大。你们不可能真正将它们斩尽杀绝。他们不断繁衍,不断进化。最后,我想起了毛主席说的,据说这是他讲过的话,我太年轻所以不确定。有些事情是用社会主义来发展资本主义,所以,作为一家公司,我们是很社会主义的公司。对此我不再细述,人们已经把我们比作以色列的基布兹集体农场(成员之间互相帮助),但我们所做的一切都是在资本主义体制下的。

我们正做的是将每种技能分解成若干步,以下就是这些被称为七个专业技能的步骤。很明显,第一个技能,在于原创思想。原创思想本身就是一个重要的技能。我们有一个计分模型,我们把它的每一个部分称之为A、B、C、D。我很自豪地告诉大家,在原创思想的技能上,我的得分是A,但不幸的是,在其他一些技能上,我的得分大约是C。我想,每个人都有不同的强项和弱项,但凝聚在一起,就会组成一个强大的团队。所以,对于在中国大陆和香港的价值投资者来说,独创思想的关键是要找到和市场上大多数人不一样的想法。也许我应该在展示板上标出来。我会一步步告诉你们每个技能,强调我们通常做培训时的每个技能的要点。在原创思想的技能上,我要求得A。我们面对几千只股票:台湾、中国大陆、香港以及我们惠理基金,还有一些韩国、日本和东南亚的股票。我们只是简单地把所有股票分为一、二、三类。第一类是被低估的,如果你为我工作或在我的团队里,你的工作就是必须设法找到第一类股票,然后对它做研究。第一类股票是被低估,第二类是估值合理。我们发现许多卖方的经纪人倾向于推荐第2类股票。如果你打车,出租车司机告诉你的股票大概就是第3类了。所以,在技术上,我们的目标是买第1类股票,在第2.5类的(注:介于合理与高估之间)时出售。后面我会开始细述这些问题,但目前我只是把理论告诉你们。一般来说,对于第一种类型的股票,往往是从那些没有人感兴趣的、不受欢迎的(绝对不是股票指数),或者有什么坏事发生了的股票中选出。这听起来很简单,但在现实生活中是相当困难的,也许是因为亚洲人的文化和人性特点,人们在没有安全感的情况下,不愿意伸出脖子去冒险关注那些不受欢迎的公司的股票。与中国相关的股票市场里,实际上有相当多的第一类股票,因为这是一个非常情绪化的市场,总是趋势驱动。因此,当股市下跌,这些公司很快就会失宠,事实上这的确是可以预测的。

现在,如果你能找出不错的第一类股票,接下来的步骤是开始观察和研究它。记住,我说的这是技能二:调研。现在对于像惠理基金这样的公司来说,我觉得和世界各地的许多公司一样,要在人才智力方面冒尖是相当困难的。我们有标准化的数据表,我们关注所有明细,财务数据和数字运算。而在研究中国方面,可以说唯一的新东西是我们一直在逐渐远离定量分析,趋向定性分析。

在我最初开始投资的20世纪90年代,具有优势特色业务的企业在中国还很少。实际上你只能以很便宜的交易价格去买进很糟糕的公司,这对一个长期投资者来说确实是相当困难的。因为其中有一些公司解体了,或当有新的竞争者进来后,他们就消失不见了。因此,我们当时很像是一批典型的传统型价值投资者,都想多吸最后一口免费的烟屁股。但最近几年,趋势变得令人鼓舞。你会发现有更多的公司,或许能用不错的特许经营来描述。即持久的优势,我们称之为可持续的竞争优势,而且在数字上也很难被量化。你需要关注其管理和商业模式的特点。但总的来说,我们正在寻找一些具有3R 特性的股票:好的生意(Right business)、好的管理(Right people)和好的价格(Rightprice)。正如我前面提到的,我们看到一种趋势:惠理原来强调的”好的价格”,正越来越变成”好的管理”和”好的生意”–因为这曾是我们唯一没发现的。

第三个技能是决策。第三个技能原本不被视为一个技能,直到我开始意识到,其实决策本身就是一个可教的技能。实际上,真正的问题是决策不足,尽管我们的团队有将近30人左右,其中不乏分析师和基金经理,但没有几个人愿意冒险做出实质性的决定。我们称那为缺乏”杀手的本能”–这是我常用的一个短语。你知道,在文明社会,没有人真的想杀死任何人。我们公司有一个已经离职的人,大家称他为OTOH 先生。OTOH 意思是”另一方面”。嗯,我相信我们都知道这个词,这类分析师总是给你一份大约30页厚的分析报告,你需要花费半个晚上来阅读,可读到最后却是”然而、如果、但是、从另一方面而言、如你所知”之类不知所云的结论。所以最后你都不知道他建议你做什么–如果有什么的话。所以,我努力从我的公司里清除类似OTOH 这种人,但这并不容易。我也开始意识到这完全可以进行训练,并且这对做决策是一件好事。我们做事情的方式,其中的一个线索是从佛教哲学中借鉴的,我是个佛教徒。佛教里讲当你试图分析什么时,你要从平衡等式中去除自我,你的自我意识。在分析中掺入”自己”或你的”自我”意识,掺入你所感知的自我利益,你所需之信念,你就会曲解本意,因为你的”自我”已经干扰了正常的分析。因此,应从分析中消除”自我”的主观意识。

现在,接下来的提示,我们称之为”交易结构化”。这又是顿悟到的,因为我开始认识到,按照香港本地的标准,我们是一个非常大的公司。不管怎么说,我们在香港这一小块丛林里是大家伙,我们可以从经纪人那里要求良好的待遇;我也开始认识到,基于我们的研究以及想法,如果我们决定购买某个的公司的股票,我们不应该只设法去股票市场购买。我们应该直接去找公司说”让我们做个交易”:我们将买你的公司5%的股份,而你通过一个股票大宗交易的形式或是美国人称为”私募投融资”的方式,我认为,这种交易方式代表了私下与公平。你总是能得到更好的条件,更多的折扣,或者你能用可转换债券的方式获得。我有一个例子供你参考,大约一年前,有一家在纽约市上市的公司–美国资产管理公司(Affiliated Managers Group),公司董事长就在那边,他们通过谈判购买了我公司的5%的股份。确实,只是由于本身的交易方式就为客户带来了许多好处。接下来的一个技能我想我们会提到的是”执行”。这不再是由我们的基金管理团队来完成。它实际上是由一个专职交易商组成的专业团队来完成,在公司我们有三位这样的专职人员。从本质上讲,这是一个专项工作。

从给你们的信息来看,从这里开始我的得分不断下降。在这里我容易获得高分,但当我们继续往下讲,我的得分就会变低,像是顺着香肠机往下走一样,感觉意思不大。

维护–这个字眼仅仅是看上去更漂亮,”买了股票后,不要忘记它。“你要与公司保持接触,时不时更新研究,不断思考如何能够持续提高其投资价值。最后你要考虑的是如何”退出”。对于像我这样的人,”维护”和”退出”是薄弱点,我倾向于委派团队中对这些特殊技能更感兴趣的人来完成。”退出”实际意味着卖出股票,对此普遍的看法是,当你估计你掌握的公司和成员的信息已人所共知,已无法提升投资价值的时候退出。从理论上讲,这时你就应该退出。在现实中,我们通常卖得太早。我认为这是一个价值投资仁者见仁的事。一直以来我们看到很多问题。如果你是首席信息官,你必须掌握这些在前面我没有提到的额外技能。这些额外的技能是:担当领导角色,推动事件发生。

资产配置和构建投资组合。这个无法在基金经理一级完成,需要在我这个层面上完成。实际上我和另外一位,他的名字叫路易斯,是惠理的联合信息官。我们两个人对这些技能负责,无论好坏。我们努力担当领导角色并激励大家。你们应该注意到这里的关键点,是在亚洲有大量的硬性技能,但缺少一些柔性技能。我说的是什么意思呢?对于传统的亚洲人来说,如果你让他们坐下来参加一个考试,并提供一些教科书为参考,他们会做得很好,他们有这种文化。但如果你要求他们做的事情不是那么具体,比如:与人沟通,激励人,担当领导角色和让他们来指挥,他们就不太擅长了。我不知道为什么会是这样,不过这是现实。所以,我们倾向于寻找的人是意欲成为领导者,或愿意在办公室里能与人良好沟通的人。

宏观策略(对于这点我们通常没有把它作为一种技能来考虑,因为我们是自下而上的价值投资者,是死硬分子,直到亚洲金融危机。后来我们意识到,你最好了解一些你所处的宏观环境运行的整体情况)。宏观策略–我并不是一个宏观研究专家,但是,也许是因为我的资金规模和经验,我可以与那些宏观研究专家建立紧密的联系。并且我确信,如果他们认为有什么值得讨论的事情,会第一时间给我打电话。这可能已经够不错的了,但是你必须对想要投资的环境有自己的一些感觉。尽管我们主要采取自下而上的选股策略来挑选公司,配置资产,建立投资组合,但也必须把自己对宏观环境的评估考虑进去。所以,或多或少,我们会考虑这一因素。举个例子来说,在今年的6、7月之间,我们基金的现金比例从10%降低到了1%。这是因为,从宏观的角度来看,我们推断这是投资中国的时间窗口之一。当你有这样的投资机会时,你应该非常积极的投资。现在对中国经济来说,负利率、软着陆变得越来越明显,而其他各种因素,包括通货膨胀,则有可能增加经济硬着陆的风险。因为港币与美元汇率挂钩,所以我们从美国输入了许多宽松的货币政策,尽管我们自身经济发展得很好。因此,资产价格就会发生调整。

此时此刻,我的演讲过半,我想要和你们分享一个观点:在我们内部,我们不再称自己是”价值投资者”,尽管我们是价值投资者,否则我认为今天我不会被邀请来这里做演讲。但在我们内部,我们使用另一个术语。在此我不写下了,因为它是很容易记住的。我们称呼自己是”优势投资者”。这是我向你们提到的那7个技巧的不可缺少的一部分。关于这个概念我已经详尽阐述和写下了相当多的内部备忘录:做我们工作的正确方法是,如果你进行一项交易,而你是一个买家,如果你认为卖方知道的比你还多,你就不应该购买。如果你是卖方,当你没有搞清楚为什么买方愿意从你那里买时,你就不应该卖掉在任何交易中,你必须总是有信心自己相对于竞争对手有某种优势。这是一个简单的优势概念。我们已经详细研究了很多关于优势的理论,大部分都是基于做更多研究的理念。我们是幸运的,因为这里不像美国市场一样相对更有效率,我们的市场是非常低效的。这里有各种各样的人本不适合出现在股票市场中,但这些人无论如何都愿意呆在市场里不出来。我有许多类似的经历–当我问他们”股票市场的目的是什么?”,他们回答说:”噢!它的存在是为了让你赚钱呀。”这就是他们所说的全部。他们忘记了股市是集合社会过剩的储蓄,将其投入到更有效率的企业中去,或是”资产-智慧”,实际上,没人在乎这些。但不管怎样,如果你不嫌麻烦来研究和拜访公司,相对于中国股票市场上的许多其他的股民,你实际上已经有了很强的竞争优势。你会说,”愚昧无知”是一个真实的词汇。你肯定能实践优势投资。

在我的层面上,建立投资组合主要是基于利用宏观环境和突出自己的核心竞争力。其实,我们只有一个真正的核心竞争力:选股。所以,运作一个投资组合,就像之前格林伍德教授所提到的通过一种结构系统从根本上发挥我们选股的强项,让我们的表现出类拔萃–下跌时规避风险,上涨时又参与其中。是时候来讨论我是怎样学会在中国相关的市场中生存和成功的,所以我会继续下去。

这里,我要偏离一下我讲的其中一个重要的主题–“我认为怎样将投资流程工业化”,但是在我谈另一个话题之前,我想再强调一下,当我试着向我的某些客户描述这个流程时,我发现他们不太高兴。因为他们认为这是我们为了集资而采取的某种伎俩。其实我们之所以采用工业化流程,是因为我们想做大规模。这个流程允许我们在某种程度上扩大我们的基金规模。但是,如果我们的商业模式是基于某个人,某个公认的天才来运作这个基金,那么基金的规模就不可能扩大。而像这样的话,就需要有许多许多人来运作,对吗?但我想明确地告诉你,那不是真的。真实的情况是,从上个世纪90年代以来,我一直想研发一个可以持续发展的商业模式来管理资金,从而能够持续地战胜市场。而且,还是招聘普通人来加入我们公司,不是大人物,而是普通的人,他们可以变成高手。而且,可以以非常谦逊和坦率的方式组成一个互相之间弥补我们各自弱点的系统。

好吧,让我们从整体上讨论一下亚洲。首先,我已经提到了它基本上是一个非常低效率的市场。你并不必通过投资优秀的企业赚钱。就像我说的,这样的优秀企业的数量正在增长,但还是远小于美国。你可以从那些本不应该出现在市场上的愚蠢的人们手里赚到。这种情况正在改变,但仍旧存在。这是实际状况。你需要熟悉投资的政治和社会背景,而不仅是金融知识。有时从那些毕业于美国的MBA 或其他专业的亚洲人士身上,我会看到一些问题。因为我发现他们太单纯关注于财务数据。实际上,亚洲背负着巨大的历史包袱,一些人对政治和社会问题非常敏感。你必须认同这一点,你必须明白为什么有时会出现一些非理性的事情。从我现在的反馈看,我认为,甚至中国政府也开始意识到只为了增长而增长并不理想。还有许多事情是重要的,比如:拥有一个清洁的环境,缩小贫富差距和城乡之间的收入差距,不仅仅是为了增长而增长。同样在这种背景下,你必须了解是什么驱使人们那么做的,是因为他们的历史,他们的社会价值观。

有时,我们会试着做一个颇有成效的训练:猜测我们投资的公司,报纸将会如何报道它。猜测从现在起6个月、12个月或者36个月将会被报道的内容。用那种方式来看问题非常有用,你可以想象,闭上你的眼睛想象,你会发现有时你所关注的某个公司(不管它是一家汽车公司,还是农业企业)的结局,并不仅仅是靠数字驱动,而是受政府政策,有时甚至是,比如说,”厄尔尼诺”现象(某种现在正席卷太平洋的天气现象)的影响。我想这可能是由于我曾做过新闻记者的缘故吧。

最后我再说一遍我注意到的一些事情。有时,人们不想听我说,但是我有一个秘密,将与你们分享。1993年,当我开创惠理基金时,我像每一个受过美式训练或者美式思维的基金经理一样,相信应该有一个非常集中的投资组合。我以前常常告诉周围的每个人”在我们的基金中,你不会看到超过40家公司,这是高度明确的理念。”我很为此骄傲。然而随着时光流逝,我开始认识到我们的市场与美国有很大的不同,因为这里有很多骗子,公司治理结构非常糟糕,并且其中有一些人非常有蛊惑力。所以,高度坚定的信念或许接下来真的会让你哀叹。直到你第二天早上醒来,从报纸上读到消息,你才会得知:这就是你的投资–占你投资组合5%的资金,在一夜间消失了。这在我身上发生过多次,伤痕累累。所以后来,特别是这10年,我已经越来越趋向一个不同的观点。像中国这样的新兴市场,最好是有一个非常多样化组合。不要把你资金的,比如说,超过1%或者2%投入到任何一个特别的想法中去,因为这样做你就可以睡得更好,并可以承受得起所有那些–不管你花了多少工夫在上面–时不时就会发生的令人厌恶的事件。所以,现在我们的投资组合里面有80-110家公司,但目前为什么没有更多的基金经理按我说的做,那是因为有很多的自身原因。几乎没有基金经理拥有像我那样的研究资源,如果你有5个人的研究团队,在一个组合中有大约40个公司是非常惊人的能力,但是我们有这个资源,我们的组合里有100家公司,我们还有资源跟踪100个顶尖的投资机会,那就是我们正在做的。保持多样化,才能够对付你意想不到的坏人,他们冲你微笑,和你握手,然后带着你的所有资金突然消失。

正如格林沃德教授所说的,你知道,保持多样化冒的是下跌的风险,而不是随机而变。那么,我想告诉你的另一个现象是,我们的企业是被”海盗”所包围的,这可不是索马里海盗。在这里,我指的是那些股票发起人,他们的全部工作是为你提供非常具有说服力的报告,诱使你把钱投入到他们的项目或者公司里。我对这些情况再熟悉不过了,我还亏了好多钱给这些家伙。在一定程度上这与我前面提到的背景有关,事实上,这是一个年轻的市场,它需要时间去形成正确的行业准则和职业操守。所以,你得面对所有这些衣着体面的年轻男女,他们擅长跟像我这样的基金经理人对话。他们知道我们掌控着大量的资金,而且不像银行,我们不需要做信用评估,就可以做决定投资。有时候,就在一天之内,我们可以把别人的数千万美元投给你,为你的项目融资–如果你的报告听起来不错的话。所以现在如果一个拥有名牌大学学位、衣着光鲜的家伙跑来找我,讲话风格与我相似,说的是也是我想听的内容,我就会满腹狐疑。我一点都不会放松警惕。到现在我已经有一段时间比较偏爱那些举止相当粗野而直接的人,这些人看起来就像是刚刚从车间里走出来。这就是我现在喜欢的类型。

我之前提到过(需要)大量硬性的专业技能,而不是多少柔性技巧,这就是我们行业不同于其他的地方。短短20年内,东亚和东南亚的金融企业,突然创造了大量的财富并取得了令人难以置信的增长,这使得每个人都想加入进来,甚至那些对金融没有一点兴趣的人也不例外。这是非常不健康的。它已经造成了一种现象,我称为”拜金症”。得这种病的人加入进来,是因为他们想赚大钱而不是对我们的职业感兴趣。在惠理基金,我通常在最初的三个月内举办一个就职培训班,我个人会和你谈一次话,谈话时我会向你说明,你的名字就是你的品牌。如果你的名字是约翰•史密斯,那你的品牌就是约翰•史密斯。接下来的几年、几十年中,人们是怎么看你的,就全靠你的这个品牌了。如果你也受累于”拜金症”之苦,永远把赚钱摆在第一位,那你就会很容易毁掉自己的品牌,而实际上赚钱只不过是成为职业精英后水到渠成的事情罢了。如果你是你所从事工作的行家里手,金钱就会主动找上门,你不必去找它。这句话让我想起了控股投资集团(Holding Capital Group)创始人Sash Spencer。好吧,我扯远了一点。所以说,你的名字就是你的品牌。

我们接下来想做的事情就是,我们认为基金经理的毛病就是自负。基金经理们在理财方面取得一点成绩之后,就会很容易出现自负的毛病。他们认为自己是上帝,而我们要设法打压这种念头。比如,我们有“如何看待自己”的大师理论:如果你自认为自己很聪明,那你很可能会做蠢事;如果你自认为自己很笨,那你很可能就会做聪明的事。所以,我们尽力告诉彼此,让我们互相视为愚笨之人。最好是假设我们是愚笨的。

我们还发现,至少对我们团队来说,人们容易对几乎所有的事情都反应过度。在我们的办公室里是一群敏感而易于激动、精力充沛的人,平均年龄在30-35岁之间,每个人的精力都相当旺盛。因此,我不得不训练大家:你们决定做什么、冲动时愿意决定投资多少,在各种情况下的反应状态如何。一旦你做出了决定,有可能出现的情况会是没有反应、有点儿反应或者引起很大的反应。接下来,你需要对反应的范围做出判断,要做出何种精准的反应,如何去做。当然,作为一名逆向投资者,这是家常便饭。

我想表达的是,这些年来,我们是怎样战斗、怎样受伤、怎样努力成为最好的团队,这些都是可能的。我自己的签名是”learn(学习)”,在我大概是25岁的时候我把自己的签名改为”learn”,这样每天当我签名的时候,我就能提醒自己要谦虚,勤于学习新的东西,因为我认为,无论你是否是基金经理,但作为一个文明且具有责任感的人,最大的性格特征之一,就是对学习的热忱。但如果你是基金经理,就更应如此。

到此为止,时间正好,我没有离题。我打算用我在惠理基金香港办公室的墙上标语作为总结,来结束这个正式的报告,并请你们提问–“努力做到小而精、大而强。”这可能实质上是另外一个演讲的主题–虽然我们已经发展到拥有100名员工的公司了,但我一直尝试用各种理念把大公司分解成精品小店,这样,每一个在惠理基金工作的人都不会得大公司的毛病。每位员工实际是在只有5个人的小团队中工作,因此他们不得不像经营精品小店那样去思考和运作。对我而言,把这些理念贯彻到实际中还是有些困难的……这留到下次演讲再说。同样,我记得前面提到过,我们正努力创造一家企业,是完全靠普通人并努力把他们打造成卓越的业内精英。因为我认为一个商业模式如果要靠不断邀请”天才”加盟,是不可持续的。即使是这样做了,也不会维持太久。最后,在我开始做正式报告时,我说过我没有多少理论好讲,但其实,我们在价值投资的实践中获得了许多感悟,我以此句结束演讲:”如何看待自己极为重要,很多时候,我发现自己才是最大的敌人。“我自己的出错率大概是三分之一,是我做过的所有事情的三分之一。回过头看,我希望自己从没做过,但已经做了,太迟了。所以,我看待自己的方式,和这些跟我一起工作的年轻人看待他们的方式一样,首先最重要的是要把自己看成一名战士。如你所知,我们没穿军装,没有拿枪,但我们行动时跟真正的战士一样,非常守纪,非常忠诚。我们毫不停歇,我们知道所投入的战争永无止境。这是一场名誉之战,对我们来说,这些事情并非理论,因为我们确切知道我们所指为何。谢谢大家!

提问环节:

提问1:
非常感谢,谢谢您睿智的演讲。有两个问题。您提到你们最终在亚洲找到了不少具有持久的经营特许权的优秀公司,对吗?持久的特许经营权。两部分问题。提到中国的非国有企业,您认为未来一段时间有多少家企业将会获得许可继续发展下去?我的意思是,我看到中国政府没收比亚迪的土地,上周彭博有一篇关于私营汽车公司因政治原因被迫与国有企业合并的文章–这是第一个问题。另一个也许轻松点儿的问题是,既然约90%的国企CEO 是被共产党任命,那么他们的主要目标是什么?真的是要实现股东价值最大化还是推进共产党关于中国发展的进程?

谢清海先生:
其实这是一个基本的信任问题,因为中国的经济和政治制度不是美国意义的资本主义。它的形式是一种专制国家资本主义。所以,你的问题反映了这种体制下的真实现状。目前国有企业的发展也意味着中央仍然保持着控制,虽然从员工层面上看,惠理有整套的物质激励措施和促进经济效率的后备力量体系。因为要遵守规定,我不能告诉你我们的业绩表现情况,但我能口头上告诉你–不谈具体数字,因为有规定–我们蓬勃发展的重点在于聚焦于私人企业。私企是用来描述非国有企业的行话。从20世纪90年代起,我认定那些庞大的大型国有企业”不是我的那杯茶”(不是我最喜欢的)。所以,我继续我的方式,结交培养了一小群能够茁壮成长的民营企业家,并且在他们身上下了很大的赌注。他们中有些人让我失望,使我蒙受了最严重的损失,但这样做你会学会赚钱。你找到10个、20个需要融资的企业,他们直到今天仍然是你的朋友。因此,从这个意义上说,整个惠理基金实际上是”反向投资基金”,中国的投资游戏主体是国有企业,但我们走的是另一条路。我们只关注少数的非国有企业,这是对你的问题的回答。另外据我所知,民营企业被迫与国有企业合并,在中国并不是什么大事。这个问题被彭博这样的媒体所报道,部分原因是西方媒体非常的意识形态化(我曾经也是西方媒体的一员)。他们往往将注意力集中在那类新闻上重点报道,但是这不是主流现象。这只是取悦西方受众的片面报道。还有,在中国绝大多数民营企业是完全自主经营,自负盈亏。但实际上,他们处在一个不公平的竞争环境中。

布鲁斯•格林沃德教授:
好吧,大家没有听清这个问题,再重复一下:由于该基金规模已变得更大,并且最终必然得转向大盘股,那么这个投资过程是如何改变的?

我得说,对我们而言投资过程没有因市值大小而受到限制或者考虑变化,而是因我的投资能力而变化。一般的观点认为,无论是在西方或东方,成功的、有影响力的对冲基金都是依赖于明星经理或神秘的黑盒子。我想试图描述我如何努力把它变成一个很普通的工艺制造流程,但对你问题的回答分几个层次。首先,我认为在某些时候,惠理公司会反对限制规模。是的,我想这是个合适的词–规模。过去我们其实很多次暂时封闭过基金,因为我们已经”江郎才尽”。这样做的原因是我知道在某些时候我没有能力管理更多的资金。我个人的考虑是业绩表现要胜过规模,因为我赚取的是绩效费(表现费),对我来说,这比从公司规模扩大赚取很少的年费更重要,我也是这么做的。如果你从去年关注我的网站,就会看到我和我的战略伙伴中国平安保险公司一起合作,推出了ETF–交易所交易基金。三四年前,我碰巧读了《金融分析师》杂志(CFAjournal)。一个来自纽约的教授,但很抱歉我忘了他的名字,他写的是关于基本指标的理念,从标准普尔500指数中挑选了在基本价值方面最便宜–至少是市盈率最低的25只股票。如果我没有记错的话,这种做法有效而且表现突出。我曾简单复制了他的方法,结果成功了,这是一个惊人的例证。

我想我在这里要小小地自吹自擂一下:一家本土的香港中国公司,能够在黑石和道富两家西方跨国公司垄断的市场抢占到一席之地。我们本不应该进入其中。我们进入其中,只是因为我们带来了一个有差异的产品。现在,我们成功了,从理论上我们成功了。我得选择措辞,因为监管的原因,我不能说太多。但是我们现在能为其他的资产类别和整个亚洲大陆市场推出相似的基本指数产品了。因为明星基金经理人数有限,所以这将是公司未来发展的途径。

提问3:
请问你们是如何调研亚洲的中小型公司的,哪些是在机构研究范围之外的?举个例子,利丰几个星期前收购的IDS(注:利和经销),根本不在任何机构的研究范围内。如果是你来考虑,当你知道Fung 氏兄弟(Victor and William Fung)会支持该公司,如果它还有类似Fung 氏兄弟这样信誉良好的其他公司支持,你会给它一个较高的估值吗?如果会,你如何配置资产?

哦,哦,这是两个问题。首先是如果没有公开的研究报告,除了假设财务状况都可信,你如何去做公司研究,这是第一个问题。第二个问题是,公司的诚信声誉以及给公司背后撑腰的人的品质有多重要,并且在多大程度上会影响你的基金在资产配置上的决定?

谢谢你的问题。我们–你找对了人,因为我们是小盘股研究的先驱,也是中国B股研究的先行者。缺乏公开研究资料反而是一个巨大的优势。因为你真的不希望别人与你竞争来研究公司。如你所知,我们希望成为在现场的第一辆救护车。所以,在我的研究体系里,我估计有约1000到1300家市值低于10亿美元的公司,我把它们归类为小盘股。我们有一大批人在研究它们,并且满怀信心地购买这些公司,通常是通过结构性的交易。而这些人,坦白说,是极度拼命。这些公司不是名牌,股东里没有一个主要的机构投资者,所以我们使劲地挤压他们。我们通常要求–我还记得去年有一个特别的例子,我们要求股票市场报价最大19.9%的折扣……对方说可以。实际上,我大吃一惊,但不管怎样,如你所知,我拿到了。所以不管怎样,没有(机构)研究是一件好事,因为它意味着你真的、真的是在希望的田野上。这是我所说第一类投资。还记得我说的一、二、三类投资吗?是的,现在我们的这些研究人员遇到的真正问题实际上是价值陷阱。你可以永远只做第一类投资,但你永远不会把钱赚到,明白吗?当你应该卖掉它的时候,它拒绝按计划转换到高估状态,是吧?因此,当你进入之后,相当有用的做法是试着鼓励管理人员在投资者关系上下功夫,在媒体上亮相,用这样那样的方法脱颖而出。但是,对于你的信息,与今天听众中有些人可能想的相反,一般情况下,香港上市公司的会计标准是非常高的,世界一流的,通常是来自四大会计师事务所的核数师审计。实际上,我们这里就有安永的主管,他曾经在香港工作多年。总之,监管是令人难以置信的严格,他们总会把违反证券法规的人送入监狱,所以公布的报表不是一个问题,这根本不是小孩子的游戏。

你的第二个问题是关于诚信的话题。这是一个对我来说也很难的问题。我一直在市场上–我今年已经56岁了。我过去是名报社记者,从17岁做到36岁,然后我在金融业当研究主管,后来是一个基金经理,就算到今天我仍旧被骗过。就在一年前我被一个家伙愚弄了,他是一家公司–宜进利的老板,然而,他悄悄地失踪了。他管理着销售欧洲工艺表的手表连锁店,在我把4000万港币投到他的公司后,他失踪了。我们现在还在找他,这家伙就像是……我不记得这个词了。我觉得诚信之人就如同是在香港共济会的伟大领袖、社团的中流砥柱,历史最悠久的殖民地家庭之子,等等。所以,你该怎么办?这就是我告诉你的原因。你必须要多样化,做很多的背景调查,并祈祷做到最好。

为什么你每天看手机新闻,依然看不懂这个世界

因为短期信息,大部分都是噪声。

每天看新闻或,100次观察里,可能只有1次是有意义的值,大部分精力被浪费。而1个月看一次新闻或者股价,则类似一个取平均值的效果(mean reversion),让新闻里波动性产生的噪声减小并回归接近真实值。

何况,认知科学告诉我们,每一次失去的痛苦约等于2.5倍的收获。频繁看短期的噪音信号,上上下下,每一次坏新闻相当于2.5条好新闻,总体下来,情绪回报的总和大概率会是负的。由此推测,单从时间尺度上看,周刊月刊很可能是比每天刷新闻更划算的信息获取途径。

每年都有成千上万的书出版,大部分也是噪声。时间是卡尔曼滤波器,让噪音都消失,留下真实值。所以读书也是一样,要读经过时间筛选的书籍,要读“死人的书”。原因很简单,付出同样的精力去读,读滤波后的信号比读噪音中的信号,得到的有效回报高得多。

可是,我们马上会担心,如果今天的新闻里有重要信息呢,错过了怎么办。当然难免错过一些。但不要紧,如果真是重要的新闻,你也会通过其他途径知道的。把大量精力花在无意义的噪音上可不划算。定量的来看边际收益,如果平地上放着一个大金块,为什么费劲去沙子里淘金呢(芒格)。读精华比读噪音划算得多。

信号signal,噪声noise,滤波器filter——在加国读研的那些年着迷于这些概念与算法。现在看来,信号与噪声不仅是技术概念,也可以是描述这个世界上许多规律的有效模型。股价,手机新闻,畅销书,每一样都是信号和噪声的合体。人作为一个控制系统,要正确处理输入信息,才能让大脑这个超级计算机发挥最大效能,才能生存发展、获得财富、产生价值。如何有效处理信息呢?这里的结论是,选取合适的滤波器:读死人的书,少看噪音新闻,因为时间是良好的滤波器。滤掉80%的噪音之后,再让我们的大脑对剩下20%描述真实世界规律的信号,作出反应。不累,且高效。

最后,可能你会问,说了这么多,那你看懂这个世界了吗?

显然,也还没有,哈哈。但不要紧。

怀疑一切。无论什么观点,都得经过自己的实践,才能出真知。

《摔跤吧!爸爸》观后感

#爱 #信念 #自我实现的寓言 #grit 

对于女儿的指导,为什么她父亲比国家队教练更管用呢,真的是因为摔跤技术吗,在电影或许是。在更多现实生活中,很多情况下或许并不是。

爱,是追求的源动力。它可以是父爱亲情,可以是对梦想的热爱,我想这才是父亲作为mentor的超级影响力的根源之所在。片中教练对于学员倾注的感情是远不够的,不足以通过感情产生信念,而信念faith确是走向成功的必备因素。毕竟,如果只有“理智”和“技术分析”的话,谁会相信从穷乡批量里出来的两个弱女子能够代表国家赢得金牌呢,这样的剧情和故事不会发生。父爱,热爱,信念,坚韧不拔grit,加在一起才导致后面自我实现的寓言。

 

摔跤梦,是为了孩子,还是为了自己

一般来说,希望孩子去实现自己未能完成的梦想,是很多家长的期待,但却不是我们这一代所推崇的理念——follow your heart。如果单纯从这一点上看,父亲为了自己的梦想让孩子吃这么多苦,那不合适。可另一方面看,父亲也是在看到孩子们天分后才做出的决定,并不是盲目灌输梦想。并且,与其接受女人的普遍命运操持家务依附丈夫,让她们训练出自己的能力以变得优秀并在未来可以独立生活,对于女儿们来说,事实上又是太好的一件事。

 

#‌专注 #潜意识

当女主第一次来到大城市,被周围一切说吸引,开始涂指甲油、留长发和逛街买衣服的时候,我们就知道她的注意力分散了。而专注,对一个参赛者来说,是多么重要。专注所带来的不仅仅是被其它事物分散的部分时间,而是对潜意识的激发,产生被动思考,带来意外的创造力。联想起之前读到的一个解决困难问题的神奇方法:长时间地专注思考一个问题,然后放松,去做一些轻松的事情比如洗个舒服的热水澡,等待灵感从潜意识思维的背景中突然闪现。异曲同工。

 

‌5点起床训练对心智的特殊影响

父亲要求每天早晨5点起来强制训练,还有另一层特别的效果,即在头脑最清醒记忆力最强的时候,让摔跤这件事占据了两位女儿头脑中主要的思维空间,保证时间不会被别的事情占用,日复一日更加强化专注性。

 

“‌别忘了你是如何走到今天的” 感恩、谦逊和敬畏

当进城的女儿,开始不屑于父亲的经验,并且把训练她多年的父亲放倒在地的时候,父亲的心情是复杂的。显然,灌注在女儿身上的梦想已经让她出类拔萃。可是同时,有了更“高级”的技巧的她,却不屑于父亲的理念。父亲显然才意识到,此时已经无法左右女儿的想法和行为,也没有国家教练的title或者国际经验可以说服女儿,试图身体力行教育女儿,却当众输给了她,无力证明,也有失颜面。于是,父女之间有了隔阂。情况一直没有改观,直到女儿碰了壁,连续输掉多场比赛。

我想类似的故事在生活中也随处可见,年轻人阅历少,无知者无畏,总是跟容易轻狂,有一点成绩很容易忘乎所以。这时候劝说有用吗,往往没用。总是要等到跌跟头的时候,才会醒来。当我们到了更高层次、变得更强大的时候,我们都不该忘了是什么带我们走到的今天。什么人什么态度是被自己的人生亲自验证过的,而什么只是估计和预期。

人不能忘本。永远提醒自己切记感恩、谦逊和敬畏,否则失败也将不远。

 
#父亲 #Mentor #团队

如果作为父亲,预见到自己的孩子终究会有那么一天,完全脱缰,怎么去对待处理,未雨绸缪,也是值得思考的问题。

老巴说过,有一个好老师,再如果有个好的配偶,这一辈子八成不会太差。我想他的话,至少前一句是很对的,有个好mentor太重要了。对于巴菲特来说,他有幸遇见的mentor是格雷厄姆。

除了作为role model,一个mentor的重要性还在于他的阅历带来的经验,在关键时候的判断。比如,在应对不同对手时,父亲教导女儿采用不同的应对策略,效果不言而喻。世界上的很多游戏,比如各种体育竞赛,能成为mentor的人,往往自己已经不能上场当player,而体力上能参赛的人却又没有足够的头脑(经验)来锁定成功,常常在关键时候看不清战场上的格局不知道如何选择方向,于是需要mentor和mentee组成团队来一起游戏(竞赛)。可见,虽然不是台前的直接玩家,但mentor在事实上也分享着很大一部分最后的成功(或是失败,比如电影里描绘的印度体育的多年失败),甚至可能是决定性的。

 

‌怎么带女儿:像带男孩一样

都说穷养儿富养女,可以前我一直觉得不知道如何教育女儿。现在开始有一些明白了,其实跟教男孩一样,作为父亲,应该教她能够让她在这个世界上独立地活得好的能力和这种独立的思想,这样她不会有一天需要将命运完全寄托在另一个人身上。在这个基础上再尽情去爱,这才是给她自由,给她获得幸福的基础。

 

#开放自由 #封建传统

印度歧视女性可以说是出了名的。我想中国大概是在美式的开放自由和印度的封建传统的中间状态。我们父母那一辈更多倾向于传统的思想,男外女内,男性赚钱养家,女性相夫教子。而年轻一代的女生更多希望有开放的平等和自由。这大概也是在婚姻问题上,很多父母和子女的许多观念又差异以及产生矛盾的根源。

 

‌体育精神:超越、热爱、信念、坚韧、耐心、荣誉

说来可笑,我今天才明白,原来体育的意义是在于体育之外——体育精神。跑得多快跳得多高本身并不重要,但这种体育精神所带来的影响力却可以是巨大的。重要的是通过体育所传达出来的超越、热爱、信念、坚韧、耐心、荣誉,这些东西再更高层面上指引我们如何去生活和工作。

 

‌战略和理念 你要有 #耐心

作为以进攻见长的女主,在半决赛里面对强大对手的时候,所采用的策略很有意思:敌强我弱,我不再以进攻开局,而是选择防守。因为对手比自己进攻能力更强,如果比进攻一定会输。那怎么办呢?退而求其次,拼死防守,在刚开始的很长时间里都放弃进攻机会以保障防守的成功。这里的制胜策略是:前期尽量不丢分,耐心等待对方的失误,再一举制胜。志在必得且以快速进攻为目标的对手,在屡屡进攻失利后心态必然产生变化,变得焦躁,于是漏出破绽。果然,女主撑到到最后的关键期,抓住对方破绽,一击即中一次性赢得大比分,而比赛接着就结束,这时对手想扳回来也已经没有机会。对手教练的评价是:she is smart。

印象中小时候看乒乓球老将瓦尔德内尔打刘国良,也有类似的情节。

人脑的第一系统里,或许有种对频率的是有系统性认知偏差,过多的偏好成功的频率,而不够重视成功的幅度。每次赢1分赢4次,也不如一次5分重击来的有效。想清楚概率乘以回报的期望值,才能做出合理的策略选择。就好像比赛的时候,初期防守可以一直丢小分,但是把握住最后一个重击扭转全局。这里面耐心就非常重要了,要沉得住气。毕竟,你不需要一直赢,而只需在比赛最后,比对手多得一分。(话说人生智慧怎么都这么反人性)

更高抽象层面上看,不同的事情,道理常常很相似。想起来 查利·芒格 说的:人们期望“忙碌”起来,频繁交易,可是,指望每时每刻都有好的deal出现,这怎么可能呢。我大部分时间都是看不投,账上趴着大量现金,就是等待对手们的失误,相对来讲这可容易多了。”My idea of shooting fish in a barrel, by the way, is to drain the barrel first.” – Charlie Munger

 

‌卓越成功,一定是反常规的,于是注定不被理解

凯恩斯说:“处世哲学给我们的教诲是,即使循规蹈矩地区失败,也比打破常规的成功更有颜面”。

让女儿练摔跤,让她们跟男孩比赛,让她们减掉头发,父亲培养女儿的那些年里,有很多这样的事,每一件都极其反传统,反常规,让村民和大众大跌眼镜。人作为社会性动物不喜欢异己,于是当事者在每一步都需要顶着各方面巨大的社会压力。然而,父亲做出这样一反常规的决定,是因为对摔跤梦想的热爱love和信念faith,从而洞察到的事实truth。父亲的决定并不是基于大众观念或喜好,而是基于事实truth和逻辑——他意外地亲眼发现了存在于女儿身上的摔跤天分,并且没有因为羊群效应从众心理而影响到自己的判断(这事实上很不容易)。

像马云说的,任何一次商机的到来,都必将经历四个阶段:“看不见“、“看不起“、“看不懂”、“来不及”。想想看,每一匹黑马,要是大家都看得懂,那哪轮得到你呢。若是这样,便不会存在黑马了。不被大众普遍认可,大概是黑马能够四两拨千斤的必要条件。当然,不被认可并不是判断正确的充分条件。

人们喜欢关注跑赢的马,可对于投资来说,是谁赢并不重要,真正重要的是,知道哪匹马是标错赔率的赌注。

 

‌配偶的重要性

故事中的父亲可谓是固执己见,而母亲显然有很不同的意见,好在家里还是父亲做主,母亲虽然反对但最后也只能接受,于是他才可以力排众议坚持让女儿练摔跤,要不也没有后面精彩的故事。母亲的妥协,是因为家庭里已经形成的稳定的决策格局吗,是双方性格的缘故,还是普遍社会观念的原因。如果类似的分歧发生在美国呢。这种家庭配偶的组合,不知道是不是包含了某些家庭组合的智慧。如果家庭分崩离析,女儿们的梦想恐怕也不是这个结局。

 

‌感动,是因为在电影中看到自己

这部电影好评不断。所谓的共鸣,我想多多少少是因为我们在电影中看到了自己吧。反正这种历尽艰辛收获梦想的故事,似乎总是能轻易的切中我的泪点。

忘不了片尾父亲含着泪水说的那一句:“你是我的骄傲”。。。催泪高潮结局,嗯,干得漂亮。

生命的意义:花更多时间与自己所爱的人在一起 by 李开复

我的最后一个建议:追随我心。

谈了这么多严肃的技术话题,我接下来要说的观点可能在这儿听起来有些不恰当,但却是我的肺腑之言。

4年前,我被诊断患上淋巴癌第四期,当时我面对的无情事实:我的生命可能就只剩下短短几个月。

在那段前路未卜的时间,我对生命的意义深思良多。我意识到我所有的成就,包括在等待30多年后终于来到的人工智能时代,对我来说其实毫无意义。我意识到我过去所追求的科技、产品、投资、事业,我重视各种事情的优先级完全本末倒置。我忽视了我的家庭,我父亲去世了,我母亲已几乎不认得我,我的孩子们也不知不觉都长大了。

在治疗期间,我读了布朗妮·维尔(Bronnie Ware)的一本书,书中记录了临终病人一生中最后悔的事情。作者提到,没有一个人会为当年不够认真工作、不够努力加班、或财产积攒不足而后悔。人们临终时最最盼望的,是希望能再有机会花更多时间与自己所爱的人在一起。

幸运的是,目前我的病情已缓解稳定,所以今天我才能来到哥大和你们在一起。如今,我会花更多的时间陪伴家人,我把家搬到了离我母亲更近的住处,无论出差还是单纯出游,我都会尽量和我妻子一起出行。孩子们回家时,我会从工作中抽出两三周、而不是仅是两三天的时间来陪伴他们。

我同时还花更多的时间来认识新朋友,我会用周末时间与好朋友出游,我带领公司员工去硅谷度了一周的假期——硅谷对他们来说犹如圣地一般,我约见社群平台上向我提问的年轻人,我联系多年前我曾经冒犯过的人,请求他们的谅解。我写了一本书并拍摄纪录片,分享我与死神擦肩而过所学到的一切。

这段直面死亡的经历不仅改变了我的人生和价值观,还让我更清晰认识到人工智能对于人类的真正意义。

埃隆·马斯克和史蒂芬·霍金已经给出了他们的观点,他们认为机器将全面取代人类,而人类能仅存的选择:要么控制AI,要么成为AI。这段直面死亡的经历,让我想对人工智能的未来提出另一版结局。

毫无疑问,人工智能凭借精准的决策和产出,在很多分析型工作上已经或必将超过人类。但人类并不是因为会做这些工作而成为人类,我们之所以为人类,是因为我们拥有爱的能力。

当我们看见初生的婴儿,当我们一见钟情陷入爱河,当朋友贴近倾听我们分享经历,当我们通过帮助别人而实现自我……人类的爱就在那里。所有这些都表明,我们目前还远远不够充分理解人类的“内心”,更不要说复制它了。我们知道,爱和被爱的能力是人类所独有的,我们渴望爱和被爱,这就是我们生命的意义所在。

带着这个信念,我们就会知道应该接下来该怎么做。首先我们应认可并感恩我们被爱的事实,我们可以回馈他人的爱,甚至加入更多的爱。最终达到爱的最高境界:不断将爱传递下去,不求回报地去爱。

The Best Way to Improve Investment Skills: “One Case Study After Another”

I do a lot of case studies. I recommend that any burgeoning value investor do as many case studies as they can, sprinkled in among reading annual reports and other filings. I’ll explain what I mean by this in a moment… first I thought the best investor/teacher of all time could explain the importance of this exercise better than me:

“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.” 

– Warren Buffett, 1996 Letter to Shareholders

Buffett has mentioned these “two courses” numerous times since this letter. He later mentioned that in the How to Value a Business course, he would simply “do one case study after another”. 

What are case studies?

My short definition: A case study is reading about a specific investment result and then attempting to reverse engineer the thesis and the thought process that the investor had when he or she made the decision to buy the stock, and then taking note of how that thesis played out during the course of the investment. 通过复盘投资案例来学习

In other words… Find a particularly good or bad investment result and ask ‘Why’?:

  1. What was the outcome? (note: you can learn from both good and bad results, but often times more from the ones that resulted in losses). This can be your own investments (the best case studies), or another investor’s investments.
  2. Why did the investor decide to buy the stock?
  3. Why did the result turn out the way it did?

In case studies, you’re trying to learn by asking questions. Why did the investor buy it? What were they thinking? How did it turn out and why? Was their thought process correct? If not, what went wrong? Could anything have been done differently to prevent or avoid the outcome? What are my takeaways that I can apply to my own investment process?

For starters, reading and studying Buffett’s letters are probably the greatest thing you can do to improve as an investor. I’ve read through them a few times, but I continue to review them and probably will do so throughout my career. I still learn something new each time. The great thing about reading Buffett’s (and other fund managers’) letters is that they often lay out their logic for us in a very clear and concise manner. They basically say “Here’s why I did this, and here’s why it worked (or didn’t work)”. So sometimes case studies are simply listening when other great investors are doing their own post-analysis.

Other times it’s more complicated. I often read through old letters from various funds I follow and come across and investment that did extraordinarily well or extraordinarily poorly, but without further commentary. In this case, I might be inclined to dive deeper, and read some old annual reports, and try to really reverse engineer the investor’s thought process.

All Knowledge is Cumulative

Our investment decisions are partly based on the framework of our experience, and each time I read Buffett’s letters, I learn something, or see something in a different way because over time my thought process and learning experience evolves. It’s a latticework of various bits and pieces of experience and knowledge all coming together, and building on itself overtime.

Buffett likens this learning process to compound interest. And as Pabrai says, all knowledge is cumulative. So these case studies compound on themselves over time, improving our investment skill set and streamlining our ability to make decisions. Our filters get stronger… Our risk management process becomes more robust…. As Buffett did, we get faster at saying noIt becomes easier to identify problems that might harm the investment, etc…

A Blueprint for Success

And it’s not just filtering negatives. Studying past successful investments provide us with blueprints for what to look for in future ideas. Studying what Henry Singleton did at Teledyne gives us a blueprint for successful capital allocation strategies… Eddie Lampert gave us a similar blueprint at Autozone (AZO). Studying Schloss’ investment in the Penn Central bonds gives us a blueprint for all the great things that can happen by simply buying things cheap: A “dollar for 40 cents”… Buffett’s investment in See’s Candy (or his most famous investment of all: Coke) give us blueprints for what can happen when you buy great businesses that have pricing power and durable competitive advantages (moats).

 

How to Do Case Studies?

So if you’re all fired up after watching LeBron’s incredible display of procedural memory and can’t wait to begin improving your own skills, I’d recommend doing the same thing I do: Read, Read and Read some more... The best thing to do is just read investment letters.

I’ve already mentioned the Berkshire letters above. You could spend a year just studying Buffett. Eddie Lampert did that, and he ended up achieving one of the greatest track records of all time, close to 30% annual returns for a couple decades. A Bloomberg article from 2004 references the foundation Lampert built by studying Buffett’s investments:

“Lampert has carefully studied Buffett for years. He started reading and rereading Buffett’s writings while working at Goldman after college. He would analyze Buffett’s investments, he says, by “reverse engineering” deals, such as his purchase of insurance company GEICO. Lampert went back and read GEICO’s annual reports in the couple of years preceding Buffett’s initial investment in the 1970s. “Putting myself in his shoes at that time, could I understand why he made the investments?” says Lampert. “That was part of my learning process.” In 1989 he flew out to Omaha and met Buffett for 90 minutes, peppering him with questions about his investing philosophy.”

In fact, in the shareholder letter I referenced above, the very next paragraphs lay out Buffett’s basic thought process for taking a stake in US Air. This did not turn out to be a successful investment, but with Buffett’s clearly laid out thought process, along with his mentioning of the key things that went wrong, it becomes a great learning lesson for the rest of us.

Books

In addition to reading old shareholder letters, there are some books with great case studies to read about. Alice Schroeder’s Snowball has some of the best case studies complete with great detail into how Buffett thought, including some of his lesser known investments. Maybe the best book of all for case studies is Joel Greenblatt’s You Can Be a Stock Market Genius. This book has case studies of some of Greenblatt’s greatest investments laid out in simple, concise form.

There are many other books (Market Wizards, Buffettology, etc…) that lay out case studies often at a cursory (but still valuable) level. These are great to read because they often take just a few minutes, but reinforce some valuable concepts.

Blogs

In addition to reading letters and books, I have a number of blogs that I read, and some of them are worth going through the archives to find examples of their own past investments, and sometimes their commentary on other investors past investments. CSInvesting, Brooklyn Investor, Geoff Gannon, Above Average Odds, and Greg Speicher among others are great places to read old case studies.

http://csinvesting.org/

http://brooklyninvestor.blogspot.com/

http://gannonandhoangoninvesting.com/

http://www.aboveaverageodds.com/

http://www.aboveaverageodds.com/

http://gregspeicher.com/

My System for Tracking Case Studies

There is a lot out there to read. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. The key is to just read, and let “compound knowledge” work in your favor over time. Don’t get too rigid about any of this. Just read… I think if you consistently go through Buffett’s letters and Greenblatt’s book, along with a few others that you just happen across (which happens often when you read a lot), you’ll develop a great foundation for understanding what some of the greatest investors of all time were thinking when they made some of their greatest (and worst) investments.

You may adopt something similar to what I do… I basically have a three step filter for when I come across case studies. First off, most of the time I just read them and let it sink in over time. This way, I can read, move on to the next thing, read it, move on to the next, etc… but over time, you’ll come across some things that you may want to notate for future reference.

What I do here is this:

  • Keep a Binder: Print the article or letter that has the case study and file it in a binder I have. This is like a scrapbook of case studies in no particular order with scribbled notes and ideas for me to review later.
  • Keep a Word Doc: I then take some brief bullet point notes of the case study and record them on a word doc, that is getting massive at this point. I can also review these over time. I have a section on this doc for “key learnings”, which are takeaways from the case studies.
  • Build a Checklist that contains certain aspects of things I’ve learned.

This last step is new for me. I heard Mohnish Pabrai talk about this a few years ago and recently decided I’d start building a more detailed checklist with numerous miscellaneous points to consider. I have to say that I think this is a huge benefit and will be a part of my process permanently going forward. The biggest benefit is compiling the list and altering it and letting evolve as I learn things. The checklist is not static, it’s ever changing as I learn more. And it does help to write these things down.

To Sum it Up

So, hopefully this lays out a case for why I think it’s important to do these case studies. Again, this is part of the process. Much of learning and improving as an investor has to do with reading, and often times this will come in the form of studying and reading about current ideas (current 10-K’s, reports, etc…). But reading about past investments and occasionally taking down some notes of important points will help you improve over time.

The more situations you can identify with, the more accurately you’ll be at gauging risk and being able to estimate the probability of success on any given investment. 

What I plan to do over time on this blog is put up some brief points on some of the case studies I’ve done. The key is to keep the big picture in mind. Usually the investment success/failure can be traced back to just a couple main points. That’s what we want to find out. What are those points, and how can we use them to our advantage the next time we see that “play” develop.

We’ll go over some of these over time, along with continuing to discuss certain ideas I find interesting.

“中国股市比美国更有机会,虽然并不容易” by 芒格2017年会

Interview of Charlie Munger on May 8, 2017

Question: You seems to suggest Chinese market is undervalued?

Munger: I think a assured person can find more bargain stocks in China than anything you can find in United States. That’s all I said. That’s a happier ground for any value investor.

Question: Isn’t it difficult given how opaque the situation is? 

Munger: I didn’t say it’s easy. I said but if you worked at it, you can find more, better. By the way, the Munger family has, this is not just theory. You can’t believe how successful it was.

Question: What are some of the things American should look for when are investing in China then?

Munger: Durable competitive advantage, always look for durable competitive advantage.

Munger: One of the things we got to do was the Shanghai Airport. The main airport in China. No dead net, how can you lose only the main airport in China. Those opportunities you can’t have in United States.

Munger: I have a very nice young Chinese American that helps me. He speaks the language and he is there all the time.

What Jobs Prepare You for Running a Value Fund? – Geoff’s Advice to a College Senior

https://www.gannononinvesting.com/blog/what-jobs-prepare-you-for-running-a-value-fund-geoffs-advice.html

A reader sent me this email:

I am currently a senior in college and well underway with my job search. I have, since grade school, been devoted to the works of those prominent within value investing…Since about the same time I have managed a personal portfolio geared toward their ideas. Ideally, I see myself within the next ten years starting a value-oriented hedge fund. The issue that I have been pressed with lately is what type of job to get now, knowing… managing people’s money through a fund is eventually what I want to be doing…do you have any perspective or advice in terms of the types of jobs that would better prepare me for eventually running my own fund?

It’s hard to know what experience will be worthwhile.o

Graham started as a bond salesman. He was a terrible salesman. But he learned Lawrence Chamberlain’s bond book. You can read Graham’s early writings and see that all Graham really did was apply the ideas of bond investing to common stock investing. That was revolutionary. If Graham had learned stock investing the way it was practiced in his day, would he have taken the same revolutionary approach?

Probably not.

Peter Lynch was an analyst. That probably taught him how to run a fund his way. Lynch was big on meeting with management and finding the exact moment when a company’s fortunes were turning. That’s analyst stuff.

Charlie Munger was a lawyer. Michael Burry was a doctor. What does this tell us? Nothing really.

The important thing is that at some point you get completely and totally focused on investing. What you did professionally – even if it was in finance – is often very secondary. It might be meaningless. A lot of investors learned more in their off hours than at their job.

But can you combine learning investing and a career?

You can certainly try.

Here’s how…

Find people you respect. Phil Fisher was not a value guy. Warren Buffett had a lot of respect for him. Try to work for someplace you think does what they do well. 

My other advice is to choose someplace smaller and younger.

You can always go to a bigger place later. If you have a choice, pick someplace where they might actually let you do something. Go someplace where there’s more work than workers.

And then just stay in touch with all the value people you meet. Don’t just send me one email. Keep emailing me whenever you have an idea.

Write down the names of any bloggers, analysts, reporters, fund managers, anyone you come across that you respect. You like an insight of theirs or whatever. Write the name down and keep the name. Contact them. If you can make it about a specific stock and tell them something they don’t know, they’ll listen. Keep talking. Do the maximum amount of socially acceptable conversing about stocks.

Make it a rule to never say “no”. If someone asks you to do anything investing related – whether it’s for pay or not – always say yes. You’ll learn something. They’ll remember your name.

Your best bet in any industry is to find people you respect and then figure out a way to do them a favor. Repeat that over and over while working at whatever job pays the bills. Write an investing blog. Manage your own account. You’ll do fine.

By the way, the most important thing you did was get into stocks at a young age. If you’ve been reading about Buffett and Graham and buying stocks for yourself since before you were in high school, you will be successful as a professional value investor.

How skilled you are at investing is mostly a result of how long and intensely you’ve practiced. A lot of great value investors were very good when they were very young. They just weren’t recognized at the time.

 


Hi Geoff,

…I’m a 33 year old Italian guy (so please excuse my English) and I have read your articles on Gurufocus since years.

…I’ve a question. I started to have an interest in stock market in 2007, and immediately I understood that the best approach was value. When I’ve read Graham I understood that stock market is job for my life and in 3 years I took a degree in economics… I would like (to) ask… you if in your opinion there is a place where a 33-year old guy could work as analyst to make experience and, why not, start my own hedge fund?

Thank you so much,

Mirko

 

That’s a hard question to answer. There are lots of places out there. But there are also lots of would-be analysts looking for places to work.

I could give you a list of names of value-oriented investment firms. But it wouldn’t do you much good. For one thing, my guess is that if you do end up getting a value investing related job sometime in the future it’s as likely to be with a fund that doesn’t yet exist as it is to be with someplace I could name now.

Your best chance to get seriously considered for the kind of job you want is if someone you know needs to build a research team from scratch. In fact, I witnessed this exact scenario happen last week. Somebody utterly unknown ended up at the top of the pile for an analyst job, because the guy heading the team knew him and thought he was good (great actually). Without that personal connection, there’s no way he’d even have been considered for the job. And he would have had a much harder time filling an existing position. The lucky combination for him was that the position was brand new and he really impressed the right person ahead of time.

Of course, he didn’t know that was the right person to impress when he impressed him. When he impressed the guy, there was no position. Because the guy he impressed wasn’t even at that firm yet.

You see my point. People move around. It’s easy to think you should focus on some place specific. But it’s more effective to just go around impressing people with your amazing work regardless of who their current employer is and whether there’s any hope of them hiring you right now. If you’re really good, they’ll remember you. And if they’re really good, they’ll get the chance to hire someone at some point.

Do you have any research to show people?

Your best bet is to do lots and lots of research for free and then let it get into the hands of someone who can hire an analyst. Are you reading a lot of value investing blogs – or just articles like mine?

Make sure you are reading blogs.

Try to talk to everybody whose work you respect by sending them an email. Share your best ideas with them. Send them research reports you’ve written that you know they’d be interested in reading. At first, they will be interested because you will send them a research report on a stock that you know is the kind of stock they’re interested in. But, later, if your research is good they will want to read whatever you send them regardless of the kind of stock you choose to write about.

Do you have a blog? If not, you should definitely start a blog of your own. Write it in English. Just put a little “about me” section in the corner that mentions you’re Italian. Readers will understand. They’re more interested in your ideas than your grammar. Keep your ideas simple, clear, etc., and any problems with language will be a minor obstacle for readers to overcome. Obviously, you can write research in Italian. But, frankly, English is the lingua franca of stock research. You know English. So you should definitely write in English. That will help you get your research read by people who can help you out.

Having said that, you should take advantage of the fact that you are not just another American writing about stocks. The world has enough of those. You live in a place and have experience with places that most stock analysts do not have. If you know of interesting Italian companies – focus on them. I would say you should split your time evenly between Italian companies and companies that would interest anybody around the world. Switch off writing reports from one category to the next. Alternate from writing about Italian stocks and non-Italian stocks. You will attract readers from all around and you will become known specifically for writing about Italian companies – most of which will be new to your readers.

You should be on Twitter. Follow bloggers, article writers, etc. Tweet each article, report, etc. you write. Because of your concerns about writing in English and your interest in research, I would suggest only writing research-heavy articles. Stick to specific stocks. Include lots of tables. Make your points in bullets, lists, etc. And then proofread what you’ve written as best you can.

If you try to write more general articles about investment philosophies, how you think about investments, etc., you might feel your English is not good enough and it’s hurting those kinds of articles. But, over time, you will feel comfortable putting your writing out there – in English – on any topic. So, eventually, you can write about any topics you want. But I’d start with specific stock research first. This is the best kind of writing for showcasing your skills anyway.

When you have a report about a specific company that might interest someone you should send them the report as a PDF attachment to an email. Start your email by (quickly) introducing yourself. Then flatter them a bit about how much you like their blog, articles, something they wrote, etc. Don’t ever say anything untrue. Just omit references to anything you didn’t like. The more personal and honest you can make this (very brief) intro about who you are and how you know them – the better. Okay. Then attach your report as a PDF. Say a few words about the stock and the report. Just enough to get them to open the report. It’s not necessary to “sell” the report very hard. If you sounded like a sane and interesting person and they’re interested in the stock – they’ll open the report. If you came off as a wee bit crazy, a tad boring, or you wrote about some stock they have no interest in – they won’t read the report. So don’t be a salesman. Just be yourself.

The two most important parts of all this are to interact as much as possible with the people you respect most and to keep putting out good work of your own.

If you do those two things, you’ll have done everything you reasonably could to land your dream job.

Now, all of this is meant as a suggestion for your particular situation. I made these suggestions because I know you’re:

1. A value investor

2. Interested in the stock market as your “job for life”

If you’re just interested in finding any job related to Wall Street (and maybe making a lot of money) I’d probably have a different set of suggestions. My assumption here was that you’re only interested in value investing. And you’re interested in actual research and stock picking. That narrows the number of opportunities a lot.

On the other hand, the Internet is a very good place to learn about value investing and to connect with other value investors. Try to do both.

Don’t quit your day job. Just set aside time to writing and reading about value investing every single day. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time. You’ll find you are extremely productive working just one hour a day writing about stocks if you really do put in an hour every day and you keep that time sacred and untouchable no matter what else is going on in your life. If you can do that, you can produce a ton of written material. Assuming you are good at the actual research part of the work, the stuff you write will be good. And people will be interested in the ideas you have. Anytime someone encourages you, keep sending them your stuff. And keep writing a blog of your own.

Try to spend all your time online at value investing sites. Don’t waste time at other sites. You can spend your time here at GuruFocus or at the many excellent value investing blogs around the web like:

Whopper Investments

Value Uncovered

Oddball Stocks

Variant Perceptions

Interactive Investor Blog

And so on…

There are many, many excellent value investing blogs. Use a service like “Netvibes” to keep track of all the blogs you read. Read them whenever you get a chance. And then email the authors of the blogs you like best. Send them something that is impressive, thought out, etc. Do in-depth research on one of the stocks they wrote about. Or send them one of your own very best ideas. Don’t send them your casual thoughts. You don’t want them to think of you as someone to chat with. You want them to think of you as a thorough, insightful researcher.

Okay. Now how do you get a job?

Probably not the way you think. I’ve gotten several value investing-related job offers over the years – and none of them came from me actively seeking a particular position. Basically, I was referred by someone each time. There was probably a conversation where someone mentioned they really need another writer, analyst, fund manager, etc. and they didn’t know where to find one. Someone else said: “I know.” And they looked around for someone. In each case, the position was extremely specific. That’s why they weren’t looking to interview a hundred people. Two offers were from people specifically interested in someone who could invest in micro-cap stocks. Especially net-nets. And possibly worldwide. I’ve written about lots of micro caps, some net-nets, and I’ve mentioned that I’ll buy them worldwide. I’m sure that’s why I was considered for those jobs. Basically, it’s just a really, really tiny pool of people who have dealt in stocks like that. So they couldn’t have had very many people to choose from.

But to be honest, the biggest reason is obviously the writing. When people read a lot of things you write, they start to think they know you. There’s a tendency to believe the kind of writing I do a lot more than you believe a resume. There’s just a feeling that you know the writer better.

Finally, because you’re Italian you should look for anyone in Italy who is value oriented. It’s a small group. Learn what you can about them. Strike up an online correspondence if you can. And, if you can’t, follow everything they do. Become an expert on Italian value investors. It can’t hurt.

Now, I’m sure there’s some people reading this thinking I’ve just given you some very dumb advice. This is not the way to get hired.

That might be true. They’re might be quicker paths.

But I do know some people who went from “didn’t even know value investing existed” to being an analyst at a value-oriented firm in just a few years. What you did before you caught the value investing bug is not important. I know people with backgrounds ranging from math to law to engineering who became research analysts and – in one case – a fund manager.

So don’t worry about your past. Just worry about doing best work you can and sharing it with the best value investors you know.

The important part is having good ideas. And sharing them.

股市估值水平的最佳单一指标:股市总市值与GNP的比率

“股神”巴菲特有一大盘估值利器,他认为,任何时候衡量股市估值水平的最佳单一指标,很可能就是股市总市值与国民生产总值(GNP)的比率,因为总市值增长速度与国民经济增长速度应该基本一致。

Market Cap to GDP is a long-term valuation indicator that has become popular in recent years, thanks to Warren Buffett. Back in 2001 he remarked in a Fortune Magazine interview that “it is probably the best single measure of where valuations stand at any given moment.”

美股市场

The denominator in the charts below now includes the Second Estimate of Q4 GDP, which was unchanged from the Advanced Estimate. The latest numerator value is Q4 2016 data from the Fed’s “Corporate Equities; Liability”. The current reading is 125.2%, up from 123.1% the previous quarter. It is off its 129.7% interim high in Q1 of 2015.

 

中国:当前 2017年1季度 53万亿/80万亿 = 66%

2015年6月10日奔溃前的最高点 70万亿/69万亿 = 101%

2015年5月10日较高点 55万亿/69万亿 = 80%

2015年3月10日不太高点  41万亿/69万亿 = 59%

2012,2013,2014年低点 24万亿/60万亿 = 40%

https://www.google.com/finance?chdnp=1&chdd=1&chds=1&chdv=1&chvs=maximized&chdeh=0&chfdeh=0&chdet=1484290800000&chddm=711328&chls=IntervalBasedLine&q=SHA:000001&ntsp=0&ei=9RcCWYmSB8zQ0ATTlY7ABQ

李录讲价值投资(2006年)

李录哥大商学院讲课(2006年)
– 15年前,由于偶然机会李录参加了一场沃伦•巴菲特的讲座。经过一些领悟,李录觉得自己似乎也可以在投资领域做点什么。
– 当时李录刚刚逃离中国。不认识很多人。没钱、欠了不少债。正在忧虑如何在美国谋生。 
– 在巴菲特讲座中,使他对股票市场有了不同认识。
– 李录越思考越觉得,他也可以在投资领域做点什么。
– 价值投资者把自己当作所投资公司的所有者。因而,财富会随着公司经营状况增加和减少。
– 你需要安全程度(Margin of Safety)。
价值投资者的三个特征
1. 根本上,你不把自己当作只是不停买卖证券的「发牌员」,你把自己当作公司的真正所有者。
2. 因为你只拥有该公司很小的一部分,所以你需要安全程度。
3. 把自己当作公司所有者,你不会频繁交易;你认为其他人和你不一样,那些人好像本杰明•葛拉汉(Benjamin Graham)所说的「市场先生」(Mr. Market)。
关于价值投资
– 价值投资者只管理全部资本的5%以下。他们是投资世界中的「少数民族」。
– 股票市场是为其他95%的人所创建的。这就是价值投资者的机会和挑战所在。
– 在听巴菲特讲课时,有一个问号一直萦绕在李录脑海中。
– 最大的挑战:了解自己是属于5%的,还是属于95%的。
– 像95%那部分人去做,是很有诱惑力的。像5%那部分人去做,在感情上是很困难的,尽管价值投资者通常是有较好回报的。钱是赋予那些想积累更多资产的交易者的。
– 5%部分是有惊人回报的;95%那部分的钱可能总是呆在什么地方。
– 了解自己。你会被考验。你必须要问自己,你是不是一个价值投资者。
– 如果你是一个价值投资者,你可能需要有安于「少数民族」一员的基因。对于每个人来说,这并不是自然的。你需要安于做你自己。你需要接受和坚持那些基于自己理由和证据的主意,而不是因为有其他人同意你。
你可能需要花大量时间,去做一个学术研究者。你是一个研究者或记者,渴望了解更多。你要尽力搞清楚有关的一切。
– 你了解得越多,你投资就会做得越好。
– 政治、科学、技术、文学、诗歌等,任何东西都可能对你产生影响和帮助。
– 有时候,你会发现某些东西激发你极大的洞察力,是其他人所没有的。
– 你会明白:一家公司是不是便宜?管理层怎么样?还有什么你还没有想到?为什么机会还留在这儿?
– 李录的基金始于1997年末。经历了重大事件:亚洲金融危机、技术泡沫。
– 1998年秋,李录的研究十分广泛。沉溺于价值线(value line)。喜欢把东西从头到读到尾。这是些很好的学习。如果你想彻头彻尾了解公司属性,你需要这么做。每一页都要翻到,这会大有帮助。
– 李录会首先查阅新低清单,新低的市盈率(P/Es)、市净率(P/Bs)等。
– 不太关心以前买卖过的东西。
– 首先看价值。如果价值不合适,就打住。
– 如果看到一个低的市净率,会问一下:账面里怎么说?账面是多少?
– 具有广泛知识。对关注不同产业时,会有帮助。
– 看看税前、利息前收入。看看杠杆前基准(un-leveraged basis)。搞清楚公司已投入多少资金,看看资本投入回报率(ROIC)。
案例:天伯伦(Timberland)
– 先用5秒钟看一下这家公司:天伯伦。这家公司交易账面干净,大部分是有形流动资产,营运资本,再加上1亿不动产。投入资本2亿,收益1亿。
– 然后来看,为什么这家公司下滑、股价变得便宜?把自己当作这家公司的全资所有者。
– 当时正值亚洲金融危机峰尖,在亚洲的销售额急剧下滑。和亚洲相关的一切,都在下滑。想查查别人怎么看待这件公司。你不一定要听从别人意见,但你可能想知道别人在怎么看。
– 没有任何分析师谈到天伯伦。
– 为什么没人谈天伯伦呢?
– 看一下该公司过去几年的表现。天伯伦一直在成长、营利状况良好、不需要投资市场。家族生意。家族拥有40%股份,控制98%表决权。
– 马上意识到,大多数人都选择避开它了。迅速做数据查询。
– 你要有一颗细致的、主动的心态,去问问题、找答案。
– 天伯伦家族有主要表决权、分析师不关注、有一些股权人诉讼。如果你是投资市场中95%一员,你可能认为,天伯伦管理层在榨取该公司。
– 下载每一个诉讼的法庭文件。读它们。你需要有一个非常细致的心态,去搞清楚究竟发生了什么。每一次都去挖掘。通读所有文件。
– 第一次,花几分钟大致看一看与财务有关的。收集问题,做深入研究。
– 大多数诉讼是关于天伯伦不发布指导信息,这惹恼了投资人、也就是惹恼了那些公司所有者们。管理层决定不再与华尔街沟通了。诉讼不是关于榨干公司或者欺诈。管理层不是恶棍。
–  怎么确定管理层是好的管理者、是些正派的人呢?
像一个记者那样去调查。大多数公司管理(所有)者都会留下一些痕迹,让你可以去了解,他们如何处理与公司管理无关的状况。大多数专业投资经理们,不会去做这类工作。而你是属于5%的一员。
– 走进管理层的社区,去接触那些认识他们的人,去他们的教会或会堂,去认识他们的朋友和邻居。花尽量多时间,这是值得的。发现他们过去做过哪些事,听听邻居怎么说他们。这样,你就可以准确地了解他们的人格。
– 父亲看起来是个简单、体面的人,高中毕业。儿子读过商学院,尽管年龄和李录相仿,但已是公司首席运营官(COO)了。李录查阅儿子在哪些董事会任职,注意到他们有一个共同的朋友。设法去加入儿子所在的一个董事会,很快和儿子成为朋友。慢慢认识到,该董事会成员是一些有品味、正派的生意人。
– 其后,发现这只股票还是很低。决定再也没有什么遗漏了。95%那部分人是不会做这些研究的,或者某种程式化思维阻止了他们去做这一类股票。
如果你不是一个好的分析者,你永远也不会成为一个好的投资者。
– 我们决定要买入。买多少呢?假设总计900块钱。95%那部分人会买一点点,50块。你是专注的,会投200块。想一想做过了多少工作。李录跑了所有商店,看到赢利在提高,公司在推出孩子们都想要的一系列风潮鞋子。其亚洲市场规模很小,收入只是降低了5%。
– 李录在天伯伦上下了大注。随后两年发生了什么呢?股票升值700%。收入一直在增长。没有任何真正风险—5倍于收入的股值被拉到15倍于收入的股值,收入每年增加30%。都上来了。
成为一个学习机器
– 当一个投资机会来临,要抓住它。要日日夜夜投入,这样你才可以行动迅速。工作要完整、更要快。你要训练自己抓住机会。
– 机会浮现时,你是可以闻到味道的。做到这一点,只有通过训练自己,阅读一页又一页财务报告。
– 用标准普尔(S&P)手册查阅外国股票。
– 作为一个公司所有者,你是不会思考每股状况的。
– 用大脑,看股票手册时,每一页只需要花5分钟。不要用计算器。用脑袋算。
案例:一家韩国公司
– 市值6千万,税前收入3千1百万。市值大约是税前收入2倍。
– 账面价值2亿3千万。账面价值由什么构成?如果你是所有者,会看固定资产、流动资金,不要算入商誉(goodwill)。
– 大致上,你看到市值6千万、税前3千万、账面价值2亿4千万(其中固定资产1亿8千万)。
– 可能便宜。
– 确定收入来源。账面。营运资本。
用常识、常规逻辑来思考这家公司。
– 大部分员工没有上过商学院,李录发现他们会很容易被培训。
– 目前资产7千万,全是现金。
– 1亿8千万固定资产中,全资拥有一家酒店,账面计3千万。拥有一家百货商店13%股份,账面计3千万。
– 看一下那家百货商店,市值大约6亿。13%大约是8千万。这样账面少计了5千万。
– 他们拥有3家有线电视公司15%股份,还有一些不动产。
– 那家百货商店情况大致相同,主要是现金交易和投资、收入良好,还拥有不少资产。他们还是第二大的有线电视运营商。
– 那家百货商店的运营,好像那家酒店,没有存货,更像一家购物中心。
– 他们对所有商品销售,额外收取一定百分比费用。
– 综合起来:付6千万,7千万净现金,1亿的股票,3千万的酒店(其估价已10年未变了,而房地产市场已涨了很多)。去韩国,实地考察酒店和百货商店。
– 查阅邻近地产交易资料,市值大约是账面的2至3倍。在账面基础上,再加1亿5千万。和其余的再相加,资产计3亿2千万。付6千万,每年运营收入3千万。
– 很多因素对你有利,你还要看当地投资者怎么看。股价上升时,他们要愿意跟进买入。
– 百货商店股价由22升至100。
– 那家公司股价由12升至大约70。
– 两只股票都升了5至6倍。
不要只是听、要做。
– 要做到这一点,对于投资者来说并不是天生的。
– 如果你确定自己性格属于有异常基因那一类的,你可以尝试去做。股票市场确实是可以挣大钱的,这已经被本杰明¨葛拉汉(Benjamin Graham)和巴菲特所证明过了。
– 你要做大量分析工作。
– 如果你真有兴趣,你可以挣大钱,去听、更要做。
– 李录从价值投资讲座中受益,然后走出去、去做。
价值投资其实不是理论、是实践。
– 年轻分析者有精力、没什么可输的,所以他们更要去做。
– 在成为一个好的投资者以前,你需要成为一个好的分析者。
李录说成为一个好的分析者,需要做两件事。
1. 提供准确、完整的信息。你需要做得深入。大多时候,你是孤立的。如果你了解得不够充分,当事态失控、每个人都嘲笑你时,你可能站不稳脚跟。
2. 在股票中挣到的大部分钱,不是从榜样那里学来的。榜样不会提供超常收益。你可以学习托迪布朗、葛拉汉(Tweedy Browne、Graham)或者巴菲特、芒格(Buffett、Munger)。你的收益来自股票。你需要有惊人的洞察力,这需要通过持续的、紧张的、细致的研究才可获得。
投资错误
大部分错误是由于不准确、不完整的信息造成的。
– 最大错误:大部分人期望以双周或月计来获得回报,他们想在市场下滑中寻求突破。
– 李录犯的最大错误是迷失方向,当时他在和朱利安·罗伯逊(Julian Robertson)一起做空头(Shorting)。可以想像,你在做空头,而其下降空间却没有限度。这正如查理·芒格所说,在战斗时,你的双手被紧紧绑在身后。
– 还有,曾错过购买股票价值低于现金值(Below Cash)公司的机会。李录当时了解其管理团队,并有个人见解。那家公司随后连涨50至100倍。李录当时没有买入,只是在一念之间。
– 人犯错误,有时是因为你太喜欢那家公司了,但你并没有完成你的研究。你开始赌其可能性,而没有进行实质性分析。
不断寻找主意
一生之中,你可能只有5至10次极具洞察力的时刻。这只有通过不断的学习,才能获得。
找一家美国公司,然后再找一家类似亚洲公司比较。有些公司已被研究15年了。你需要明白那家公司是做什么的、它的日常运转,在风浪中你才有确据。如果你做不到这点,你就很难有超常收益。
– 如果你像葛拉汉、托迪布朗那样做,你会有15-20%的回报,但不会有巴菲特那样的巨大回报。
最好的主意会产生上万倍回报。
– 发现机会并不容易。那需要很多因素加在一起—-芒格的「合奏效应」(Lollapalooza Effect)。从你洞察力那一点开始、所有东西一起发酵,而你愿意去投注。
– 这些是李录投资的动力。
李录从物理、数学、法律、经济开始,进而对其它学科产生兴趣。太太有生物学博士学位,他从太太那里学到很多东西。
– 在一切中学习,充满强烈的好奇心。
– 最终你会撞到一个大机会。
– 同时,如果你撞到天伯伦(Timberland)那样的投资机会,也不错。
– 可能很多年不会有机会,也可能接下来几年间有很多机会。
– 这要看哪些会临到你头上了。主意不是有规则的,不会有每周一个主意这样的模式。
– 6年中,李录可能有过3至4个非常好的主意。你会变得越来越好,机会数量增加,因为你的分析速度在加快。
– 每天学点儿什么。一年你就会学到不少东西。
李录读生物、物理、历史时,都在寻找主意;有时某个主意,会突然跳出来。
– 空闲时间和太太孩子在一起,李录同样可以从他们身上学习。开发人的认知力太重要了。
李录投资清单
1. 它真的便宜吗?
2. 这是一家好公司吗?
3. 谁在管理该公司?
4. 我还有哪些遗漏?
李录检阅这份清单时,「我还有哪些遗漏」会在很大程度上被心理因素影响。后来李录在和女儿玩耍过程中,找到了解决办法。
价值投资者的三个特点
1. 公司所有者心态
2. 情况随时间在改变
3. 需要大的安全程度(Margin of Safety)
像公司所有者那样思想
– 关键的是,你是这家公司的所有者。你无法强迫公司管理层改变,你需要安全程度。你有长远眼光,你在像公司所有者那样思想。
– 你为什么涉猎股票市场?股票市场是给那些做梦的人创造的。这就是为什么95%那部分人从来没有做过价值投资。这是人性的局限。
– 你不属于95%的股票市场,你要清楚这一点、把自己准确定位。如果你真地像公司所有者那样思想,你最终会离开资产管理领域、去开一家真正的公司了。这就是为什么巴菲特和芒格去干公司去了。
– 或者,你可以成为一个私募基金(Private equity)投资者。
– 基本上,股票市场是给那些有缺陷的人设计的。人们跃跃欲试去交易,由于恐惧和贪心犯着各式各样的错误。但他们总会给价值投资者创造空间。
– 在卖出好公司时,曾经很严格。因着洞察力加深,李录现在更喜欢那些逐年在改进的公司。
– 所有好公司都有一个规律:其公司领袖会异常出色。
– 卖股票时要交很多税,而且你可能再没有合适价格买入了。
– 如果一家公司的投资资本回报率(ROIC)达到50-100%,随后的计算就会变得有趣了。
– 告诫:你需要超常信心。做投资的银行业者们,使用着资产负债表(BS)相关工具,其规划预测甚至达到无穷长时间。你的规划和预测达不到那么长时间。你只有几次机会,你的规划和预测也许会比较长。
– 如果还不错的话,你50年所有职业生涯,可能会有5至10次机会,你可以很有信心地规划预测接下来的10至20年。如果那样,你就不想卖了。握着。你就不用交资本收益(Capital Gain)税,实际上你在调合40%利息,公司可以在合理避税情形下每年利用40-100%资金。这正是你想要做的。
– 你要找出那些每年都在成长的公司。
– 是什么使这家公司比其它的更成功呢?为什么它比对手更挣钱呢?
– 要了解这些,你需要研究那些已经成型的公司。
– 去找那些好公司,而不仅仅局限于巴菲特所持有的那些。
一个绝佳案例:彭博公司(Bloomberg L.P.)
– 产品优于对手。用户转向其对手产品时需要付出较高费用(high switching costs)。
– 彭博公司是一个独一无二的案例。
– 一步步获得市场份额,超过某一个里程碑、变成垄断。
– 收益从依赖每一天运转收入所得开始,然后转移至凭借其高额switching costs。赢家通吃。
– 假设你有机会看到这个产业在初期如何进化。在某一个时刻,他们冲了出来。
– 也许每一个产业都有一个时间点,某家公司冲出来。这家上市公司会疯狂获利、直至垄断。
– 为什么微软会成功击败苹果?他们一点一点蚕食了苹果100%市场份额。
– 办公室使用微软视窗。今天,你还有其它选择、不用彭博吗?
– 彭博几乎每个月都在问你,你在做什么、你使用其系统的感受。彭博终端提供成千上万的功能,他们却不提供手册。
– 他们想把让你的眼球紧紧抓住,让你形成习惯,让你不介意成年累月给他们送钱;当他们提价时,你别无选择。
– 他们不断回访你,因为他们知道你在交易,想给你提供更多服务,紧紧拴牢你。
– 这就是为什么彭博是一家不得了的公司,你被拴牢了。想像一下,如果你换到其对手产品,你还受得了吗?
– 李录不知道那个转折时刻。假设你知道,你想投资它吗?李录当然期望能在彭博那个转折时刻投资。
– 你需要洞察力。研究每家公司。他们都程度不同地存在这样的时间点。
– 你作为一个分析者,需要一直在研究各类公司。观察它们的走向。
– 在一生之中,你可能发现这样的机会。
– 彭博会把他的公司卖了吗?他没有必要。
– 当你有一家这样的公司,你也不会卖掉它。
– 李录做过很多个人投资,比如CaptialIQ,这是一家模仿彭博模式的公司。在工程服务领域,有许多相同模式的投资。
– 李录喜欢尽量多了解各种东西。他喜欢和人交朋友。天伯伦的CEO和儿子后来都成了李录基金的投资人。
你可以在每天的商业决策中学习和观察,学习在动态中行动。
– 没有什么是一成不变的。一切都在改变,这就是你为什么要不断学习。
– 市场在改变,微软现在已有威胁了。
– 你需要一个主动活跃的心态,你要时刻准备着行动,你就会根据你的洞察力抓住机会。
This past weekend was the Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A / BRK.B) annual shareholder meeting. At one point during the Q&A, a questioner asked Warren Buffett about the status of Berkshire’s CIO candidates. Charlie Munger remarked that one candidate who he is particular close with was up 200% in 2009 with 0 leverage. Some people think that the person Munger is referring to is Li Lu, a fund manager who turned Munger and Buffett onto BYD.
Lu personally owns at least 2% of BYD, which rose 400% in 2009. I don’t know anything about his investments beyond that one position, but I know he is a huge believer in taking concentrated, high conviction positions. If that is the case here, BYD’s spectacular results must have contributed a lot to his returns for 2009 which may make a 200% for the year possible.
Here is a brief bio on Lu:
Li Lu was born in China in 1966. He attended Nanjing University in China and later came to the U.S., and earned three degrees (BA, JD, MBA) simultaneously from Columbia University. After graduation, he worked in an investment bank until 1997, when he founded Himalaya Capital Management, which today manages both LL Investment Partners and Himalaya Capital Ventures, funds focused on publicly traded securities and venture capital. Li Lu was named a global leader for tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in 2001, and a Henry Crown fellow by the Aspen Institute in 1998. He is a member of Council on Foreign Relations and Young Presidents’ Organization.
Fortune: Barnstorm Green
There isn’t a whole lot of information about Lu’s investing style out there. But I thought I would share some notes from a lecture he gave to Columbia Business School back in 2006. All of this is paraphrased, so don’t take anything as a direct quote and there may even be some inaccuracies. Still, I believe you will find these notes insightful, especially with respect to improving your own abilities as an analyst and investor. Even if Lu is not a Berkshire Hathaway CIO candidate, he is an investor with a tremendous work ethic that we could all learn from.
Below are my notes from Lu’s lecture:
Li Lu at Columbia Business School – 2006
-15 years ago, Lu was accidentally brought in to a lecture by Warren Buffett. Had epiphany moment, Lu thought he could do something in the investment business.
-At the time, Lu had just escaped China. Did not know very many people. No money, deep in debt. Worried about making a living in the US.
-In the middle of Buffett speech, made him think differently about the stock market.
-The more Lu thought about it, the more he thought it was something he could do.
-Value investors see themselves as owners of a business. Therefore, fortunes are up and down with the nature of the business.
-You demand a margin of safety.
3 Traits of a Value Investor:
1. Basically, you don’t think of yourself as a paper shuffler who constantly buys and sells securities. You think of yourself as a real owner of the business.
2. You only own a small piece of the business, so you demand a huge margin of safety.
3. Because you think of yourself as an owner, not trading all the time, you think everyone else is different — like Ben Graham’s Mr. Market
On Value Investing
-Under 5% of all assets are run under value investors, a real minority in the investment world.
-The stock market is created for the other 95% of people, that is where your opportunity and challenge is.
-That was one lesson that stuck in Lu’s mind when listening to Buffett’s lecture.
-Biggest challenge: understand whether you are the 5% or the 95%
-It is tempting to do what the other 95% of people do. Emotionally very difficult to be in the 5%, but value investors typically have better returns. The money is really for traders and they tend to amass more assets.
-5% have a spectacular return, but 95% of money probably always resides to somewhere else.
-Understand who you are. You will be tested. You will have to ask yourself whether you are or aren’t a value investor.
-If you are a value investor, you are probably genetically mutated and comfortable being in the minority. This is unnatural to human beings. You have to be comfortable being by yourself. You have to adopt the idea that you are right because your reason and evidence, not because others agree with you.
-You will probably spend most of your time being an academic researcher rather than a professional. You are a researcher or journalist, with insatiable curiosity. You are trying to figure out how everything works.
-The more you know, the better you are as an investor.
-Politics, science, technology, literature, poetry, everything can affect businesses and help you.
-Occasionally you can find insights that will give you tremendous insights that other people don’t have.
-Then you find if the business is cheap. Is the management good? What else? Why is the opportunity there?
-Started fund in late 1997. Been through really traumatic events: Asian Financial Crisis, Tech Bubble.
-Fall of 1998: Lu’s search process is very general. Got hooked on value line, loved to read the whole thing from beginning to end. The best kind of education, you should do this if you want encyclopedic knowledge of companies. Go through it page after page, it is enormously helpful.
-First thing Lu checks is new low list. New low P/Es, P/Bs, etc.
-Does not care where something traded before.
-First looks at valuation. If the valuation doesn’t fit, doesn’t go beyond it.
-If you see a low P/B ratio, ask – What is in the book? How much is the book?
-Encyclopedic knowledge is helpful when looking across different industries.
-Look at pre-tax and pre-interest earnings. Look from an un-leveraged basis. Figure out how much capital is deployed in the business. Look at ROIC.
Example: Timberland
-Start by giving a 5 second look at the business. Timberland. The business is trading around clean book value, consisting mostly of tangible liquid assets, working capital, plus 100M in real estate. Deployed capital is 200M with 100M return.
-Then check why the business fell apart and became cheap. Think if you had owned the entire business at that price.
-At the time, was the height of the Asian Financial Crisis, saw their sales falling off the cliff in Asia. Any thing with exposure to Asia was falling apart. Try to check what other people are thinking about this. You may not listen to their advice but you may want to know what other people are looking at.
-Timberland had no other analysts covering it.
-Why no coverage?
-Look at business across years. Timberland has been growing, pretty profitable, did not need financial markets. Family owned. Owns 40% controlling 98% vote.
-Immediately, that is a turnoff to most people. You can do a quick data search.
-You need to have a curious, active mind to ask questions and find answers.
-Timberland had most of the vote, no analyst coverage, a bunch of shareholder lawsuits. If you were a member of the other 95% of the investment business you might say maybe management is milking the business.
-Download every court document lawsuit. Read it. You NEED a very curious mind to figure out WHAT is happening. Dig every single time. READ EVERYTHING.
-The first time, it takes a couple minutes to look over financials. Then gather questions and do deep research.
-Most lawsuits came from Timberland missing guidance, annoying investors, which annoyed the owner of the business. They decided to stop talking to Wall Street. So it was not about milking the business or fraud. They were not crooks.
-How do you determine if they are good managers? Decent people?
-Act like an investigative journalist. Most business owners leave a trail for you to follow and see how they deal with different situations. Most professional managers would not see this as part of their job, but YOU are part of their 5%.
-Go to their community, visit people they know, their Church, their Synagogue, introduce yourself to their friends and neighbors. It is worth it to spend as much time as possible, to find what these business people have done and what their neighbors say about them to accurately get an idea of their personality.
-The father seemed like a simple, decent guy, just a high school graduate. the son went to business school, was already COO of the company even though he was Lu’s age. Lu saw what boards the son sat on, and noticed that they had a mutual friend. Managed to get himself on the board with the son and became friends quickly. Came to realize these where high quality, very ethical businessmen.
-After all that, saw the stock was still trading low. Decided he did not miss anything. The other 95% may not have done enough research to see this or have some kind of institutional imperative that prevents them from owning.
-If you are not a good analyst, you will never be a good investor.
-But we decide to buy. How much do we buy? Imagine having $900. The other 95% will take tiny positions, 50 basis points. You need to use concentration, a $200 position. Think of how much work you did. Lu visited all the stores to see how margins improved – they had a fad going on where kids wanted the shoes. Their asian business is tiny, reduced earnings by less than 5%.
-Lu put a ton into Timberland. What happened after next 2 years? Stock went up 700%. Propelled by earnings. No real risk – went from trading at 5x earnings to 15x with earnings growing 30% a year. It adds up.
Be a Learning Machine
-When an investment opportunity comes, you have to seize it. Devote day and night so you can act quickly. Do everything complete but do it fast. You have to train yourself to jump on opportunity.
-When opportunity presents itself you can smell it. The only way to do that is by training yourself and reading page after page of financial report.
-Uses S&P manuals for viewing foreign stocks.
-As an owner, don’t think about per share information.
-Use your brain, when looking at stock manuals, each page should really only take 5 minutes. Don’t use calculators. Use mental math.
Example: Korean Company
-60M market cap, pre-tax earnings of 31M, roughly 2x pre-tax earnings.
-Book value of 230M, what constitutes book value? If you are an owner, look at: fixed assets, working capital, don’t count on goodwill.
-Basically you see with 60M in market cap, 30M in pre-tax, $240M in book value ($180M in fixed assets)
-It might be cheap.
-Determine what the earnings is. The book. The working capital.
-Use common sense, common logic and think about the business.
-Most employees never went to business school, Lu finds they are easier to train.
-Of the 70M in current assets, it is all cash
-Of 180M in fixed assets, they own 100% of a hotel, recorded 30M as book. Own 13% of a department store recorded as 30M.
-Look up the department store, it roughly has a market cap of 600M. 13% gives you roughly 80M. So the book value undervalues it by another 50M.
-They own 15% of 3 cable companies and a whole bunch of real estate.
-The department store has exactly the same profile. Trading roughly around cash and investments, good earnings, and own a whole bunch of assets. Turns out they are the second largest cable operator as well
-The department store operates like a hotel, do not take inventory, more like a shopping mall.
-They charge a percentage on the top line of all merchant sales.
-Put it all together: Paying 60M, 70M in net cash, another 100M in stock, 30M in hotel with a value that has not been changed in last 10 years while real estate market has gone up in 10 years. Went to Korea, looked at hotel and department stores.
-Checked recent transaction of properties in neighborhood, value is likely 2-3x what is on the book. But take what is on the book anyway, add 150M. Add that to rest and you get 320M in assets that you are paying 60M for and earning 30M annually from operations.
-Insiders own 50%
-Many factors going in your favor, but you need to look at how local investors see it. They need to be buying it for the price to go up.
-Department store used to trade at 22 went to 100
-This company was at 12 now trades around 70
-each went up 5-6x
Don’t just listen. Do it.
-This type of an approach is not natural to an investor.
-If you decide your personality fits in with the mutated gene pool, that this is something you might be looking to do, there is a lot of money in it — proven by Ben Graham to Buffett
-You have to put in a lot of work into your analysis.
-You can make a lot of money if you are really interested, listening, and actually DOING IT.
-Lu benefited from listening to his value investing class and then actually going out and doing the work required.
-Value investing is not really about theory, it is about what works.
-Young analysts have energy and nothing to lose, so they should go and do the work.
-Before you become a good investor, you need to be a good analyst.
Lu says you need two things to be a good analyst:
1. Provide accurate and complete information. You have to go to an extra length to get it done. Most of the time you will stand alone against everybody else. If you are not competent about what you know, you cannot possibly take conviction positions when things go into free fall and everybody else is laughing at you.
2. Most money is not made in stocks from the examples. They do not provide out-sized returns. You can do the Tweedy Brown/Graham or the Buffett/Munger school. Your returns will come from a handful of stocks. You need tremendous insight by continuous intense curiosity and study.
Investment Mistakes
-Most mistakes come from inaccurate or incomplete information.
-Biggest mistake: most people wanted 2 week or monthly returns. They wanted to go up in down markets.
-Lu’s biggest mistake was straying, was working with Julian Robertson, started shorting — have to think like a trader when you are shorting because your downside can be unlimited. It’s like Charlie Munger says — having your hands tied behind your back while getting into a fight.
-Missed the opportunity to buy a business below cash, even though Lu knew the management and had great insights. The business subsequently went up 50-100x. Could not bring himself to buy it because of his mindset at the time.
-You make a mistake when you have not finished your work but like it enough. You start betting on probabilities instead of real analysis.
Constantly search for ideas
-In your life, you may only have 5-10 key moments of insight. You only get it from continuous learning. Find an American business and then find the Asian counterpart. Some businesses studied for 15 years. You need to know what that business is, how it ticks, so you can swing with conviction. If you cannot do that you will not make huge out-sized returns.
-If you do what Ben Graham or Tweedy Brown does, you will make 15-20% returns but you wont make the huge returns of Buffett.
-The biggest ideas can give 10,000x returns.
-Opportunities are not easy to find. They require a lot of factors to come together – Charlie Munger’s lollapalooza. You need a whole bunch of things working together where you have the insight and are willing to bet.
-This is what drives Lu in business.
-Lu started in physics, mathematics, law, economics, got interested in other subjects. Wife has a PhD in biology, he has learned a lot from her.
-Learn from everything, be intensely curious
-Eventually you will stumble into one big opportunity.
-In the meantime, you will stumble into Timberland style investments which aren’t bad.
-There might be years without opportunities, then years with a lot of opportunities.
-Depends on what becomes available to you.
-They do not come in a steady pace, not like once a week an idea.
-In 6 years, Lu had maybe 3-4 great ideas. But you get progressively better and better, improving the amount of opportunities for you since you will be quicker at your analysis.
-Go through every day by learning something. In a year you have to learn a great deal.
-When Lu reads biology, physics, history, it is all searching for ideas. If one idea jumps out, it is all Lu does. Rest of the time is spent with wife and kids and Lu learns from them too, especially with seeing how human cognition develops which is enormously important.
Li Lu’s Investing Checklist:
1. Is that cheap?
2. Is it a good business?
2. Who is running it?
3. What did I miss?
-Lu goes through the checklist, ‘what did I miss’ is greatly affected by psychology. This kind of cognition happens early on and Lu learns it from interacting with his girls.
Three characteristics of a value investor:
1. Business owner mentality
2. Difference in time horizon
3. Demand a huge margin of safety
Think like a Business Owner
-It all comes from one thing, that you are a business owner. You cannot force management changes, so you demand a margin of safety. You have a long time horizon because you think like an owner.
-But why dabble with stock market? Stock markets are made for people who can dream. That is why 95% of people never buy into value investing. Human nature prevents it.
-You do not belong to the stock market but you have to understand its perspective to position yourself properly. If you are truly think like a business owner, you will eventually leave the asset management business and run a real company. That is why Buffett and Munger left it.
-Or you become a private equity investor.
-The people who the stock market is designed for are fundamentally flawed people. Traders are bound to make mistakes due to fear or greed. They will always make room for value investors.
-Used to be strict about selling with great business. Now, sometimes Lu feels he has insights about the business that allows him to believe the probabilities are in his favor for the business actually improving year after year.
-That is the law of distribution in good businesses. The leaders perform spectacularly well.
-Selling makes you pay a huge amount of tax and you might not get that good buying price again.
-If a business can generate 50-100% ROIC, the mathematics get interesting very quickly.
-Caveat: you have to be very confident. Investment bankers use BS and project into infinity. You cannot project that long. There are only a few opportunities where you can project that long.
-If you are good, and spend your entire lifetime studying, across 50 year career maybe 5-10 opportunities where you can confidently project the next 10-20 years. At that point, you don’t want to sell. By holding you don’t pay the tax on capital gains, so you are really compounding 40% interest free, the business is deploying the capital at 40-100% a year in a tax efficient manner. That is what you do.
-You have to identify businesses that are getting stronger and stronger every year.
-What makes one business more successful than others? Why are they making more and more money compared to others?
-The only way you can find that is by studying the ones that are established.
-Look for great businesses, not just businesses owned by Warren Buffett
Example of a great business: Bloomberg LP
-Product was superior to others, high switching costs
-Bloomberg is a fabulous case study, it came out of no where.
-Gained market share little by little, crossed a milestone point, became a monopoly
-At a certain point, after being highly relied upon for daily work, the switching costs become to high so winner takes all.
-Suppose you have an opportunity to see how an industry evolves early on. At a certain point they cross the line
-Maybe when introduced to all businesses. There is a time when that line gets crossed and a public company is poised to benefit by becoming a monopoly business.
-Why did Microsoft succeed over Apple? Little by little they eroded Apple’s 100% market share.
-Offices were using Windows. Today – do you have a choice of not using Bloomberg?
-Bloomberg visits almost every month and asks what you do, how you use the system. Bloomberg terminals have tens of thousands of functions, they don’t give you a manual
-They want you visually hooked so it is a behavioral connection and you don’t mind paying tens of thousands of years where you don’t have a choice if they raise prices
-They keep coming back to you because they know you are a trader and want to provide you with more services so you are hooked.
-That is why Bloomberg is a fabulous business because you get hooked. Think about switching from that or a competitor coming up with a rival product. How do you compete with that?
-Lu doesn’t know. Suppose you know the inflexion point. Do you want to invest? Lu would invest in Bloomberg at that point.
-You need insight. Study every business. They all have more or less this type of dynamic.
-Your job as a good financial analyst is to study that business ALL THE TIME. Observe those trends.
-Once in your life, maybe you will find that opportunity.
-Why doesn’t Bloomberg want to sell? He doesn’t need to sell.
-When you have a business like that, you don’t need to sell.
-Lu has made many private investments, ex: CapitalIQ, which copies Bloomberg’s business model. Same method with an investment in an engineering service.
-Lu likes to know as much as he can. He likes to be friends with people, with Timberland, the CEO and his son actually became investors in Lu’s fund.
-You can learn and observe from everyday business decisions and learn dynamics.
-Nothing is constant. Everything is changing that is why you have to keep learning.
-Businesses change, Microsoft has threats now.
-You need an active mind, so you are prepared to act and you can seize opportunity due to your insights.

如果巴菲特今天重新开始管理一个小基金,他会怎么投资 Warren Buffett on Investing Small Sums of Money

If you were today 20-something years old would you primarily be searching for:
a) Situations reminiscent of 1957 – akin to Daehan Flour Mills, or
b) Situations reminiscent of 1987 – akin to Moody’s Corporation?

Either is fine. a) is better for small sums. b) is better for large sums

[Mr. Buffett, on June 23, 1999 you shared with Business Week:

If I was running $1 million today, or $10 million for that matter, I’d be fully invested. Anyone who says that size does not hurt investment performance is selling. The highest rates of return I’ve ever achieved were in the 1950s. I killed the Dow. You ought to see the numbers. But I was investing peanuts then. It’s a huge structural advantage not to have a lot of money. I think I could make you 50% a year on $1 million. No, I know I could. I guarantee that.]

[At a talk to Columbia students in 1993 you shared:

When I got out of Columbia the first place I went to work was a five-person brokerage firm with operations in Omaha. It subscribed to Moody’s industrial manual, banks and finance manual and public utilities manual. I went through all those page by page.

I found a little company called Genesee Valley Gas near Rochester . It had 22,000 shares out. It was a public utility that was earning about $5 per share, and the nice thing about it was you could buy it at $5 per share.

I found Western Insurance in Fort Scott, Kansas. The price range in Moody’s financial manual…was $12-$20. Earnings were $16 a share. I ran an ad in the Fort Scott paper to buy that stock.

I found the Union Street Railway, in New Bedford, a bus company. At that time it was selling at about $45 and, as I remember, had $120 a share in cash and no liabilities.]

[Along similar lines, in late 2005 I understand you explained to a group of Harvard students the following:

Citicorp sent a manual on Korean stocks. Within 5 or 6 hours, twenty stocks selling at 2 or 3x earnings with strong balance sheets were identified. Korea rebuilt itself in a big way post 1998. Companies overbuilt their balance sheets – including Daehan Flour Mill with 15,000 won/year earning power and selling at “2 and change” times earnings. The strategy was to buy the securities of twenty companies thereby spreading the risk that some of the companies will be run by crooks. $100 million was quickly put to work.]

[The “1987” Fisher Approach -The following excerpts from an article written by Carol Loomis published on April 11, 1988 in Fortune provide interesting clarity on the modus-operandi of Berkshire circa 1987:

Unusual Profitability (High ROE with Low Debt; i.e. high ROIC) – …But in his 1987 annual report, Buffett the businessman comes out of the closet to point out just how good these enterprises and their managers are. Had the Sainted Seven operated as a single business in 1987, he says, they would have employed $175 million in equity capital, paid only a net $2 million in interest, and earned, after taxes, $100 million. That’s a return on equity of 57%, and it is exceptional. As Buffett says, ”You’ll seldom see such a percentage anywhere, let alone at large, diversified companies with nominal leverage.”

Unusual Growth (Opportunities for Reinvestment of Retained Earnings) – …Some folks of the right sort, by the name of Heldman, read that ad and brought him their uniform business, Fechheimer, in 1986. The business had only about $6 million in profits, which is an operation smaller than Buffett thinks ideal. …A few hundred miles away at Fechheimer (…1987 sales: $75 million)

Paying for Quality – …By 1972, Blue Chip Stamps, a Berkshire affiliate that has since been merged into the parent, was paying three times book value to buy See’s Candies, and the good-business era was launched. ”I have been shaped tremendously by Charlie,” says Buffett. ”Boy, if I had listened only to Ben, would I ever be a lot poorer.]

(another simiar comment from Buffett below)

I found some strange things when I was 20 years old. I went through Moody’s Bank and Finance Manual, about 1,000 pages. I went through it twice. The first time I went through, I saw a company called Western Insurance Security Company in Fort Scott, Kansas…Perfectly sound company. I knew people that represented them in Omaha. Earnings per share $20, stock price $16…I ran ads in the Fort Scott, Kansas paper to try and buy that stock – it had only 300 or 400 shareholders. It was selling at one times earnings, it had a first class (management team)…I’d never heard of Western Insurance Services until I turned that page that said Western Insurance Services. It showed earnings per share of $20 and the high was $16. Now that may not turn out to be something you can make a lot of money on, but the odds are good. It’s like a basketball coach seeing a guy 7’3” walk through the door. He may not be able to stay in school, and may be very uncoordinated, but he’s very large. So I went down to the Nebraska Insurance Department, and I got the convention reports on their insurance companies, and I read Best’s. I didn’t have any background in insurance. But I knew I could understand it if I worked at it for a while. And all I was really trying to do was disprove this thing. I was really trying to figure out something that was wrong with this. Only there wasn’t anything wrong. It was a perfectly good insurance company, a better than average underwriter, and you could buy it at one times earnings. I ran ads in the Fort Scott, Kansas paper to buy this stock when it was $20. But it came through turning the pages. No one tells you about it. You get ‘em by looking.

Source: Shai Dardashti Hand-delivered Letter
URL:
Time: January 2007
back to the questions.

 

What’s your opinion of cigar butts vs quality businesses?

[CM: If See’s Candy had asked $100,000 more [in the purchase price; Buffett chimed in, “$10,000 more”], Warren and I would have walked — that’s how dumb we were.]

[Ira Marshall said you guys are crazy — there are some things you should pay up for, like quality businesses and people. You are underestimating quality. We listened to the criticism and changed our mind. This is a good lesson for anyone: the ability to take criticism constructively and learn from it. If you take the indirect lessons we learned from See’s, you could say Berkshire was built on constructive criticism. Now we don’t want any more today. [Laughter]]

The qualitative [evaluating management, competitive advantage, etc.] is harder to teach and understand, so why not just focus on the quantitative [e.g., cigar butt investing]? Charlie emphasized quality [of a business] much more than I did initially. He had a different background.

It makes more sense to buy a wonderful business at a fair price. We’ve changed over the years in this direction. It’s not hard to watch businesses over 50 years and learn where the big money can be made.

Even when you get a new important idea, the old ideas are still there. There wasn’t a strong line of demarcation when we moved from cigar butts to wonderful businesses. But over time, we moved.

Source: BRK Annual Meeting 2003 Tilson Notes
URL:
Time: 2003
back to the questions.

 

If you were starting out today, what would you do the same or differently? 如果今你今天重新开始,你会怎么做投资?

We started out this snowball at the top of a very long hill. My advice is either start very early or live very long. I guess I’d do it the same way: maybe I’d start with small companies and buy good businesses. Or little pieces of  them called stocks.

[Charlie Munger: The first $100,000 is probably the hardest part. Staying rational and significantly underspending your income helps, too.]

Source: BRK Annual Meeting 1999
URL:
Time: 1999
—————————————————

If we were to do it over again, we’d do it pretty much the same way. The world hasn’t changed that much. We’d read everything in sight about businesses and industries we think we’d understand. And, working with far less capital, our investment universe would be far broader than it is currently.

There’s nothing different, in my view, about analyzing securities today vs. 50 years ago.

Source: BRK Annual Meeting 2004 Tilson Notes
URL:
Time: 2004
—————————————————

We formed our first partnership 50 years and two days ago, on May 4, 1956, with $105,000. If we were starting again, Charlie would say we shouldn’t be doing this, but if we were, we’d be investing in securities around the world. Charlie would say we couldn’t find 20, but we don’t need 20 – we only need a few that can pay off very big. We’d also be buying [stocks in] smaller companies.

If we were planning to buy [entire] businesses, we’d have a tough time. We’d have no reputation and only $1 million.

Charlie started out in real-estate development because with only a little capital, brain power and energy, you could magnify the returns in real estate unlike in other sectors.

I’d just do it one foot in front of the other over time. But the basic principles wouldn’t be different. If I’d been running a little partnership three years ago, I’d have started out 100% in Korea.

Munger: You should find something to invest in and then compare everything else against that. That’s your opportunity cost. That’s what you learn in freshman economics, even if it hasn’t made it into modern portfolio theory. That’s why modern portfolio theory is so asinine.

Buffett: It really is.

Munger: When Warren said he’d put 100% of his fund in Korea, maybe he wouldn’t quite do that, but pretty much. Most people won’t find a lot of great things [to invest in]. Instead, you’ll want to find a few things that are much better than anything else. Act on these.

Source: BRK Annual Meeting 2006 Tilson Notes
URL:
Time: 2006
—————————————————-

[RE: How Buffett Would Invest with a Small Amount of Money]

If I were working with a very small sum – you all should hope this doesn’t happen – I’d be doing almost entirely different things than I do. Your universe expands – there are thousands of times as many options if you’re investing $10,000 rather than $100 billion, other than buying entire businesses. You can earn very high returns with very small amounts of money. Everyone can’t do it, but if you know what you’re doing, you can do it. We cannot earn phenomenal returns putting $3, $4 or $5 billion in a stock. It won’t work – it’s not even close.

If Charlie and I had $500,000 or $2 million to invest, we’d find little things we could do, not all of it in stocks.

Munger: But there’s no point in our thinking about that now.

Source: BRK Annual Meeting 2007 Tilson Notes
URL:
Time: 2007
—————————————————-

You have to find your passion in life. I would choose the same job. I enjoy it. It is a terrible mistake to sleepwalk through your life. Unless Shirley MacLaine is right, you won’t have another one. My dad had a business with [investment] books on his shelves, and they turned me on. This was before Playboy. If he was a minister, I’m not sure I would have been as enthused. If you have obligations, you have to deal with realities. I tell students to go work for an organization you admire or an individual you admire, which usually means that most MBAs I meet become self-employed. [laughter] I went to work for Ben Graham. I never asked my salary. Get the right spouse. Charlie talks about the man who spent twenty years looking for the perfect woman and found her. Unfortunately, she was looking for the perfect man. If you are lucky, you will be happy and as a result, you will behave better. It makes it easier.

CM: You’ll do better if you have passion for something in which you have aptitude. If Warren had gone into ballet, no one would have heard of him.

WB: Or would have heard of me very differently. [laughter]

Source: BRK Annual Meeting 2008 Boodell Notes
URL:
Time: 2008
—————————————————-

[Q – With small sums of money, what strategies would you pursue?]

WB: If I were working with small sums of money, it would open up thousands of possibilities. We have found very mispriced bonds. We found them in Korea a few years ago. You could make big returns but had to be of small size. I wouldn’t be in currencies with a small amount of money. I had a friend who used to buy tax liens. I’d look in small stocks or specialized bonds. Wouldn’t you say that, Charlie?

CM: Sure.

Source: BRK Annual Meeting 2008 Boodell Notes
URL:
Time: 2008
—————————————————-

[Q – If you were starting a $26 million fund, what would you do differently with a smaller asset base? How many positions would you hold, and what kind of turnover would you have? What would you do if some investments lost 50% and some gained?]

Buffett: We would hold the half-dozen stocks we liked best. We would do the same thing if they lost 50%. Cost has nothing to do with it. We look at price and think about what something is worth. Keep it in the few you know.

Munger: He [Buffett] has tactfully suggested you adopt a different way of thinking. [laughter]

[Comment: As Buffett stated, cost basis has nothing to do with investment judgment (apart from tax considerations). Nevertheless, many investors (like the questioner) pay way too much attention to what they’ve paid, rather than its value.]

Source: BRK Annual Meeting 2009 Bruni Notes
URL:
Time: 2009
back to the questions.

 

According to a business week report published in 1999, you were quoted as saying “it’s a huge structural advantage not to have a lot of money. I think I could make you 50% a year on $1 million. No, I know I could. I guarantee that.” First, would you say the same thing today? Second, since that statement infers that you would invest in smaller companies, other than investing in small-caps, what else would you do differently?

Yes, I would still say the same thing today. In fact, we are still earning those types of returns on some of our smaller investments. The best decade was the 1950s; I was earning 50% plus returns with small amounts of capital. I could do the same thing today with smaller amounts. It would perhaps even be easier to make that much money in today’s environment because information is easier to access.

You have to turn over a lot of rocks to find those little anomalies. You have to find the companies that are off the map – way off the map. You may find local companies that have nothing wrong with them at all. A company that I found, Western Insurance Securities, was trading for $3/share when it was earning $20/share!! I tried to buy up as much of it as possible. No one will tell you about these businesses. You have to find them.

Other examples: Genesee Valley Gas, public utility trading at a P/E of 2, GEICO, Union Street Railway of New Bedford selling at $30 when $100/share is sitting in cash, high yield position in 2002. No one will tell you about these ideas, you have to find them.

The answer is still yes today that you can still earn extraordinary returns on smaller amounts of capital. For example, I wouldn’t have had to buy issue after issue of different high yield bonds. Having a lot of money to invest forced Berkshire to buy those that were less attractive. With less capital, I could have put all my money into the most attractive issues and really creamed it.

I know more about business and investing today, but my returns have continued to decline since the 50’s. Money gets to be an anchor on performance. At Berkshire’s size, there would be no more than 200 common stocks in the world that we could invest in if we were running a mutual fund or some other kind of investment business.

Source: Student Visit 2005
URL: http://boards.fool.com/buffettjayhawk-qa-22736469.aspx?sort=whole#22803680
Time: May 6, 2005
back to the questions.

 

Do you believe that we’ll have significant mispricings again? And if you were 26 today how would you generate the 50% returns that you said you might do with smaller amounts of capital?

Attractive opportunities come from observing human behavior. In 1998, people behaved like frightened cavemen (referring to the Long Term Capital Management meltdown). People make their own opportunities. They will be frozen by fear, excited by greed and it doesn’t matter what their IQ, degrees etc is. Growth of 50% per year is with small capitalization, not large cap. The point is I got rich looking for stock with strong earnings.

The last 50 years weren’t unique. It’s just capitalizing on human behavior. It’s people that make opportunities when others are frozen by fear or excited by greed. Human behavior allows for success if you are able to detach yourself emotionally.

In 1951, I got out of school at 20 years old. At the time there were two publishers of stock information, Moody’s and Standards and Poor’s. I used Moody’s and went through every manual. I recently bought a copy of the 1951 Moody off of Amazon. On page 1433, there’s a stock you could have made some money on. The EPS was $29 and the Price Range was from $3-$21/share. On another page, there is a company that had an EPS of $29.5 and the price range was $27-28, 1x earnings. You can get rich finding things like this, things that aren’t written about.

A couple of years ago I got this investment guide on Korean stocks. I began looking through it. It felt like 1974 all over again. Look here at this company…Dae Han, I don’t know how you pronounce it, it’s a flour company. It earned 12,879 won previously. It currently had a book value of 200,000 won and was earning 18,000 won. It had traded as high as 43,000 and as low as 35,000 won. At the time, the current price was 40,000 or 2 times earnings. In 4 hours I had found 20 companies like this.

The point is nobody is going to tell you about these companies. There are no broker reports on Dae Han Flour Company. When you invest like this, you will make money. Sure 1 or 2 companies may turn out to be poor choices, but the others will more than make up for any losses. Not all of them will be good, but some will and those will make you rich. And this didn’t happen in 1932, this was in 2004! These opportunities will be there in the next 30 years. You’ll have streaks where you’ll find some bad companies and a few times where you’ll make money with everything that you do.

The Wall Street analysts are brilliant people; they are better at math, but we know more about human nature.

In your investing life you will have several opportunities and one or two that can’t go wrong. For example, in 1998 the NY fed offered a 30-year treasury bonds yielding less then the 29-½ year treasury bonds by 30 basis points. What happened was LTCM put a trade on at 10 basis points and it was a crowded trade, they were 100% certain to make money but they could not afford any hiccups. I know more about human nature; these were MIT grads, really smart guys, and they almost toppled the system with their highly leveraged trading.

This was definitely a good time to act.

Source: Student Visit 2007
URL: http://buffettspeaks.blogspot.com/2007/01/permanent-value-teachings-of-warren.html
Time: January 2007
back to the questions.

 

You have often spoken of the difficulties of compounding large sums of money. But in an article I read, you were quoted as saying that you think you could compound 50% returns on small sums of money, say $1 million. Where could you find those kind of investments in today’s market?

I was misquoted in that article. I get together with about 60 people every couple years and get their expectations of returns. Of those investors, I think there’s a half dozen who could get those kinds of returns – but they’re only going to find those returns in small places.

I stumble onto those things occasionally but I’m not looking for them. I’m looking for things that Berkshire Hathaway can do.

Source: BRK Annual Meeting 1999
URL:
Time: 1999

 

When looking at other countries Mr. Buffett, do you look at the country’s overall financial status or do you look at the financials of that specific company in a foreign country? You mentioned investing in Korean companies – do you ever look at the state of the country you are investing in?

We care about the country where the company is run. There is a disadvantage being outside of the US. A few years ago we were looking to invest in either PetroChina or Yukos in Russia. We ended up picking PetroChina because the political situation was more stable. It turned out to be a good decision. I care about the country and the geopolitical environment I am investing in.

The whole company was selling for $35 billion. It was selling for one-fourth of the price of Exxon, but was making profits equal to 80% of Exxon. I was reading the annual report one day and in it I saw a message from the Chairman saying that the company would pay out 45% of its profits as dividends. This was much more than any company like this, and I liked the reserves. If it were a US company, it would sell for $85 billion; it’s a good, solid company. I don’t understand the Chinese culture like I understand the US culture. However it said right in their annual report that they will payout 45% of their earnings as dividends, basically they say if they make money they will pay it out. I invested $450 million and its now worth $3.5 billion. I decided I’d rather be in China than Russia. I liked the investment climate better in China. In July, the owner of Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky (at that time, the richest man in Russia) had breakfast with me and was asking for my consultation if they should expand into New York and if this was too onerous considering the SEC regulations. Four months later, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was in prison. Putin put him in. He took on Putin and lost. His decision on geopolitical thinking was wrong and now the company is finished. PetroChina was the superior investment choice. 45% was a crazy amount of dividends to offer but China kept its word. I am never quite as happy as I am in the US, because the laws are more uncertain elsewhere, but the point is to buy things cheap. Russia is just a bad geopolitical environment. On the other hand, China has kept their word on paying the dividends. In fact, when the dividends check comes in, it is calculated out 10 or so decimals, these guys keep their word. I don’t know the tax laws in China, but you can buy a good business cheap. At Berkshire Hathaway, you have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to move the needle. We have a problem of finding things worth investing in.

 

Warren Buffett and Charles Munger advice for small investors?

Quora comment: I have found what Buffett/Munger would have done if they were starting with small sums. Both would recommend using a modified Graham approach to select stocks.

“…Yeah, if I were working with small sums, I certainly would be much more inclined to look among what you might call classic Graham stocks, very low PEs and maybe below working capital and all that. Although — and incidentally I would do far better percentage wise if I were working with small sums — there are just way more opportunities. If you’re working with a small sum you have thousands and thousands of potential opportunities and when we work with large sums, we just — we have relatively few possibilities in the investment world which can make a real difference in our net worth. So, you have a huge advantage over me if you’re working with very little money, but there are compensations to that on the other side of the equation.

The, the Korean stocks you mentioned that I looked at 6 or 7 years ago were companies where you could only put a small amount of money in, and I was sort of, re-living my youth. Somebody sent me a Korean, a handbook of Korean stocks and told me that the market was interesting. So, one Sunday afternoon, I did leaf through a couple thousand pages of Korean stocks and I was sort of re-living my youth, I mean, you know, other people look through old Playboy magazines, or something like that. But I, I look through these old manuals of stocks and I bought a number of stocks in small amounts, uh, from companies whose names I couldn’t pronounce. But the stocks as a group were so cheap, that you had to make money out of them. They were Graham-type stocks, and that’s what I would be doing, I would be combing that sort of list.

Now, I, if I found a wonderful company that Graham wouldn’t have bought, but I really was convinced about its future, I would have bought that also. Incidentally, I’ve written in the last annual report about Geico, and I bought that stock in 1951 when I had about $10,000. And Geico, I bought, or I looked at, because Benjamin Graham was the Chairman of the company. But Geico was exactly the sort of stock that Graham wouldn’t buy. I mean, it was selling way above book value, and all of that. There was a certain irony in that, but I’m glad I did it.
– Buffett (2011).

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.”
– Munger (2005)

on how individuals may invest.

So getting back to the question above, whether you’re a skilled investor or not is just one factor that comes into play in deciding whether you should adopt Buffett’s contemporary investment style — another huge consideration is the amount of capital you have to invest. If you’re investing less than $10 000 000 then you would be much better off investing in the Graham styled bargains that Warren Buffett mentioned above — provided that you want the highest possible returns for your money.

My cigar-butt strategy worked very well while I was managing small sums. Indeed, the many dozens of free puffs I obtained in the 1950s made that decade by far the best of my life for both relative and absolute investment performance.” – Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway 2014 Shareholder Letter

 

sourece URL: 

https://money.stackexchange.com/questions/37209/warren-buffett-and-charles-munger-advice-for-small-investors

Have You Been Sucked Into the Warren Buffett Trap?