Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What's the Big Secret to Riches?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to investing in stocks. One is growth and the other is value. Warren Buffett believes that these two strategies are "joined at the hip" and that you cannot think of them separately. So what are the main differences between these two types of investment styles.

A growth investor is looking for companies that are expanding quickly. Typically these companies don't pay a dividend since the earnings are reinvested into the company so it can "grow" faster (such as Research in Motion). Whether the funds are used to grow the company faster than you could by investing the earnings elsewhere is questionable. In this case you are looking to buy these companies at a high price, hoping that the price will continue to climb.

Value companies on the other hand are companies that have good valuation metrics such as price to earnings or price to book value. Value purchases are made when the economics of the industry may be out of favour or the company has hit some kind of snag that is solvable. Usually the price will reflect these uncertainties and for that reason it may appear to be a bargain (but be aware it might be cheap for a reason). Value companies tend to offer a dividend which can be invested elsewhere or can be used to maintain your quality of life. In this case you are looking to buy low and sell high (although you could hold on to the stock for it's sweet dividends).

So what is the best investment strategy. In "The Big Secret for the Small Investor"by Joel Greenblatt, he makes a strong argument that value investing is the way to go. Be warned that I am biased, I would classify myself as a value investor so I tend to read books about value investing. This book is more than just a sales pitch for value investing, it gives deeper insight into an age old strategy of investing known as index investing.

Index investing is when you purchase mutual funds or ETF's that mimic the entire market index (TSX, NASDAQ, DOW, or S&P 500). This is a great passive way of participating in the market that will be sure to beat approximately 70% of actively managed portfolios (most of which is due to the low management fees, low portfolio turnover and transactional costs). When it comes to finding the perfect stock it can be analogous to finding a needle in a haystack, so index investing is like purchasing the whole haystack. Greenblatt goes above and beyond by testing out different index fund strategies.

Something he's noticed is that market indices are usually market capitalization weighted, meaning that as a singular stock price rises, the index causes you to own more of that stock. So what if that stock is overvalued? In this case your portfolio would be over weighted in overvalued stocks and we all know what happens when a stock is overvalued. The price increase won't continue forever and when bad news eventually surfaces a price crash ensues.

So what's the best solution. Consider an index fund oriented towards value investing, which would set up the weighting of your portfolio a little differently. Causing you to buy more of what is out of favour so you purchase more undervalued stocks (buying low selling high). This balances out your portfolio and produces higher rates of return in the long run.

Here are some wise words from the Oracle of Omaha himself:


  1. eToro is the ultimate forex broker for new and pro traders.

  2. Quantum Binary Signals

    Professional trading signals sent to your cell phone every day.

    Follow our signals NOW and profit up to 270% daily.