Superinvestors or super value investors

1. Think of yourself as owning a business and not buying something that wiggles around in price.
2. Your attitude toward the market.
3. The margin of safety. Don’t try to drive a 9800 pound truck over a bridge that says “Capacity: 10000 pounds.” Go down the road and find one that says “Capacity: 15000 pounds.”

Graham and Dodd’s approach: look for values with a significant margin of safety


The common intellectual theme of the investors who use Graham and Dodd’s approach is: they search for discrepancies between the value of a business and the price of small pieces of that business in the market.Those investors don’t use beta, capm, covariances in returns, volume, price movement, charts… They even have difficulty in defining them. They simply focus on two variables: price and value.


Walter Schloss with no college education working for Graham’s firm knows how to identify securities that sell at a conceivably less than their value to a private owner. He compounded money from 1956 to 1984 at 21.3%.


Tom Knapp working for Graham compounded at 20% from 1968 to 1983. 
Warren Buffett compounded at 29.5% from 1957 to 1969.


Bill Ruane who took Graham’s course at Columbia compounded with at 18.2% from 1970 to 1984.


Charlie Munger, who was a lawyer and changed to investing career after talking to Warren, compounded at 19.8% from 1962 to 1975.


Rich Guerin, who was an IBM salesman and turned into investing after talking to Munger, compounded at 32.9% from 1965 to 1983.The idea of value investing, buying a dollar for 40 cents, either grabs you instantly or never. Rich Guerin immediately understood the value approach.


Stan Perlmeter, who was in advertising and in the same building as Warren Buffett in Omaha, understood the value approach instantly, left his advertising career, compounded money at 23% from 1965 to 1983.


The above investors worked independently and didn’t own the same thing as others. They bought a stock because they would get more for their money that what they paid for. They didn’t look at quarterly earnings, projections, next year’s earnings, investment researches, price momentum, volume, or which day of the week was. They simply asked: “What is the business worth?”


They follow Graham’s principles:

  1. Think of yourself as owning a business and not buying something that wiggles around in price.
  2. Your attitude toward the market.
  3. The margin of safety. Don’t try to drive a 9800 pound truck over a bridge that says “Capacity: 10000 pounds.” Go down the road and find one that says “Capacity: 15000 pounds.”

Habit of success: figure out what works and do it

Figure out what works and do it.

Figure out what doesn’t work and stops doing it.

This is incredibly simple. And yet, like anything simple, it’s incredibly hard to do consistently.

When I first learned martial art, I did a lot of things that don’t work. For the last 13 years since I joined Musokai Karate, I learned to do more what works and less what doesn’t. And it’s more like climbing a mountain with no top. The climber learns to enjoy the climbing and the views on the way. If the climber ever loses the focus of doing what works, the climbing itself becomes incredibly tough and it’s only getting tougher and tougher.

When I got into the corporate environment, I learned a few things that don’t work such as gossiping, bullying people, following what everyone else is doing, being a lone wolf… And few things that work: personal development, teamwork, leadership, customer-focus,… Yet, it’s just too easy to be busy with doing what don’t work. Figuring what works and doing it becomes a mantra that separates being successful and being miserable.

When I figured out that being in a declining and bureaucratic environment doesn’t work, I moved on.

When I figured out that being a victim doesn’t work, I chose to be an owner.

When I figured out that being an effect doesn’t work, I chose to be a cause in the matter and takes a firm stand.

What have you figured out in your own experience that don’t work? What are you doing about it?

It’s really a choice to choose doing what works. And overtime, it becomes a habit: figure what works and do it.

PS: Check out http://www.achiezy.com if you need help from great coaches. You don’t have to figure out everything like I did till I discovered that a coach can really help.

What I learned from Warren Buffett’s 2019 Annual Letter

If my $114.75 had been invested in a no-fee S&P 500 index fund, and all dividends had been reinvested, my stake would have grown to be worth (pre-taxes) $606,811 on January 31, 2019 (the latest data available before the printing of this letter). That is a gain of 5,288 for 1.

I first learned about Warren Buffett in 2006 when I picked up the Intelligent Investor. My immature mind discarded him completely as I loved getting rich quick schemes of speculators more. In 2013, after being hit for many years with heavy punches to the gut and receiving the final blow to my head, I decided to study the Oracle of Omaha to understand why he’s been so successful for such a long time while my idol speculators either killed themselves or died poor. The study took months as I poured into his writings and his talks.

The results:

  1. I stopped losing money feeling like a fool and a gambler.
  2. I founded a value investing fund to invest in Vietnamese companies. After 5 years of investing, what I learned from Warren Buffettt and practiced is working wonderfully.
  3. I became more at ease with being myself. The most notable is that I happily live a frugal lifestyle and pay almost no attention to what others say.

Every year at this time, I am eagerly waiting to receive the annual letter from Warren Buffett. Today is no difference. It’s the first thing I looked for when I woke up.

After many tries, I finally could download the letter. There must have been too many people trying to get his letter at the same time since Berkshire Hathaway’s website was extremely slow.

In this letter, Warren Buffett again showed his love for America and his belief in the long-term prospect of America.

Buffett’s buying criteria: “to buy ably-managed businesses, in whole or part, that possess favorable and durable economic characteristics. We also need to make these purchases at sensible prices.

Buffett has written many times that he paid little attention to daily fluctuation of stock prices, quarterly earning, and even one year earning. What he focuses on is the business and its prospect: “Focus on operating earnings, paying little attention to gains or losses of any variety.

Next, Buffett gave an outstanding lesson on “Focus on the Forest, Forget the Tree“. Berkshire Hathaway has many different businesses. If taken out to analyze each business, one might be very concerned as there are undoubtedly bad businesses or diseased trees in the forest. And there also are many healthy businesses/trees which will continue to grow in size. Taken as a whole, the forest is booming. “At Berkshire, the whole is greater – considerably greater – than the sum of the parts.

Will Buffett make more purchases in 2019?
My expectation of more stock purchases is not a market call. Charlie and I have no idea as to how stocks will behave next week or next year. Predictions of that sort have never been a part of our activities. Our thinking, rather, is focused on calculating whether a portion of an attractive business is worth more than its market price.

Where have fundings come from?

  1. Debt. Berkshire uses little or no debt though some of its subsidiaries might leverage debt when it makes sense.
  2. Equity. Buffett retained all the earning to invest and compounded it.
  3. Insurance float. Using float to invest has been a cornerstone in Buffett’s compounding machine.
  4. Deferred tax income.

Finally, as usual, Buffett dedicated the last portion of writings to teach. This year, he taught about American Tailwind or his belief in the long-term economic growth of America. This is worth reading several times.

Buffett made his first investment in the stock market with his $114.75 saving at the age of 11. “If my $114.75 had been invested in a no-fee S&P 500 index fund, and all dividends had been reinvested, my stake would have grown to be worth (pre-taxes) $606,811 on January 31, 2019 (the latest data available before the printing of this letter). That is a gain of 5,288 for 1. 

Is Gold safer than stock? If I ask people, the answer is mostly YES. However, history proved that most people are often more wrong than right.
If the same amount of $114.75 was to put in gold, by now it would be worth $4,200. “The magical metal was no match for the American mettle.

And it’s a dream to say the same: “For 54 years, Charlie and I have loved our jobs. Daily, we do what we find interesting, working with people we like and trust.

The full letter: http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/2018ltr.pdf

Warren Buffett – Educational videos

The following is a collection of videos of Warren Buffett. There are few videos of him that I watched and listened to for the entire year repeatedly everyday when I was learning value investing. I hope it will helps you as well.

P/S: if you find a new video of his, I’d appreciate you to leave the link in the comment

HBO documentary of Warren Buffett in 2017 (#mustwatch):

Warren Buffett shared great lessons for small businesses and entrepreneurs :

Warren Buffett at University of Nebraska 2003:

Warren Buffett speaks to University of Georgia students in 2001:

Warren Buffett on how to stay out of debt (#mustwatch)

Warren Buffett & Bill Gates talk to students

Warren Buffett in India (#mustwatch)

Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting playlist

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A few words about intrinsic value

Intrinsic Value of a stock

A stock is worth only what you can get out of it. In other words, a stock is the present value of all its future dividends. 

P = sum of (dn * (1+r)^n)     r = interest rate, dn = dividend in year n

Even if a company retains earnings, it must pay dividends later or all money is lost. 

“A cow for her milk

A hen for her eggs

and a stock, by heck, 

For her dividends.

An orchard for its fruit

Bees for their honey,

And stocks, besides,

For their dividends.“

The investment value of a stock is the present worth of its net dividends to perpetuity. 

For stock with constant dividends, P = d/r

PE = d/(r*e)  e=earning per share

or PE = total dividend on common / (r * total earnings on common)