Value Investing I: The Back Story

One of the classes that I teach is on investment philosophies, where I begin by describing an investment philosophy as a set of beliefs about how markets work (and sometimes don't) which lead to investment strategies designed to take advantage of market mistakes. Unlike some, I don't believe that there is a  single "best" philosophy, since the best investment philosophy for you is the one that best fits you as a person. It is for that reason that I try to keep my personal biases and choices out, perhaps imperfectly, of the investment philosophies, and use the class to describe the spectrum of investment philosophies that investors have used, and some have succeeded with, over time. I start with technical analysis and charting, move on to value investing, then on to growth investing, and end with information trading and arbitrage. The most common pushback that I get is from old-time value investors, arguing that there is no debate, since value investing is the only guaranteed way of winning over the long term. Embedded in this statement are a multitude of questions that deserve to be answered:

  1. What is value investing and what do you need to do to be called a value investor?
  2. Where does this certitude that value investing is the "winningest" philosophy come from? Is it deserved?
  3. How long is the long term, and why is it guaranteed that value investing wins?
I will argue over the course of the next few posts that the answers to (Read more...)