Many of the immature investors buy overvalued stocks and then they sell when those stocks become cheaper in nature. But this is a wrong way of making an investment and making a decision. If we keep on making a wrong decision, then we keep on feeling a regret which affects our decisions. Our mind carries a past experience which affects our decision. As an investor, we need to make every new decision independently without getting effects from the past experience. If we have a bad past experience then our current decision will affect our regret and if we have a good past experience then our current decision will affect our overconfidence.
After the bad experience, people work more cautiously until they do not again start playing the game. As we again start playing a game, our past experience starts affecting us. When things go up then also greed for taking out profit stop us from getting more gain.
Mr. Chris Sacca is the founder and chairman of Lowercase Capital which is a venture capital fund. This fund considers as one of the successful venture capital funds which have recorded return of 250 times from its initial investment. This fund has put $300000 of a fund to Uber, currently, it’s 5000 times. Some of the other success of Mr. Sacca was Instagram, Uber, Kickstarter, Slack, Automattic (WordPress parent company), Twilio, and Twitter.
He has also a regret of pass on some of the investment. One of the business was Dropbox and giving a pass on to the Dropbox cost him a lot. Another miss of Mr. Sacca was Snap, the parent company of Snapchat. He can speak for his misses because he has a more winner also which has created a fortune. But if we have missed an opportunity or sold-out good businesses earlier then we always remain into the regret. We actually need to move on to the opportunity which we have missed out and need to focus on the other coming opportunities.
Emotional biases affect us badly during our investment journey. If we have a winner into the portfolio and we sold it then also the winner keeps on growing. If we have a loser to the portfolio and we have cut losses then stock again gains from that level. Such situations affect the decision making skill and we make faulty decisions.
As we have seen that Mr. Sacca has missed a few opportunities, Mr. Buffett has missed many and also he has lost money in a few of his investment. Important is that they have never kept their regret with them which has helped them to build an empire. We have to move on rather than sticking with the past decision or getting attached to the previous decision. Our life is full of such decisions and if we stuck with it then we will not make further decisions in our life. We have to learn from our decision and use it for further decisions.
Majority of the big winners’ companies have also seen the worst period during their journey. It is not necessary that if the company has delivered a 25%+ CAGR then it will get into the smooth way. There always be a huge up and downs to it. Many storms such companies have experience but as investors, we need to stay during those storms if we have made an investment into the great companies then only we can able to earn good returns from it.
Mr. Munger has established a hedge fund company, Wheeler, Munger & Company in the year 1962 which has a pre-fees return of 37.10% during the year 1962 to 1969. And 14-years of partnership, Mr. Munger has delivered around 19.82% CAGR compared to 5.20% CAGR with the dividend of S&P500.
If we love when stocks moving into the upward direction then we must have to be ready to accept its downward journey also. It is a part of the game and without accepting the losses, we cannot become a seasoned investor. Even Mr. Sachin Tendulkar cannot hit a century into the each of the match, some of the match having a ZERO score also. If he only focuses on the century then it might be possible that he cannot able to play well. Similarly, if we keep focussing on the scoreboard then we may not able to create a good investment fortune.
Mr. Munger has an investment of 61% of his portfolio to the Bluechip stamp and original business of the bluechip stamps has started getting deteriorate from the peak revenue of $12.42 crore in 1982. Bluechip has made an investment into the See’s Candies, the Buffalo Evening News, and Wesco Financial before getting merged into the Berkshire Hathway in the year 1983.
The firm of Mr. Munger has lost 31.90% in the year 1973 and 31.50% in the year 1974 v/s 13.10% and 23.10% decline of Dow Jones respectively. And he bounces back by 73.20% of the gain to the year 1975 but few of the large investors have left him which break him mentally and emotionally. He decided to liquidate the partnership. But after the worst performance during the year 1973-1974, Mr. Munger has delivered a 24.30% CAGR before fees.
We need to be mentally ready for the big losses during our investment journey if we want to earn a decent return for the long term. If we are not mentally and emotionally ready we will not able to survive to the investment journey.
We should not sell stocks just due to a fall in the price of the stocks. If we keep on doing such practices then we will not survive for the long term to the stock market. If we know that stock can fall by 50% after we bought it, then we will make a position which is comfortable for us during the decline.
We need to make a balance between equity and debt as per own comfort. So that we can able to play an investment game in a good manner. Also, get the strength of absorbing such shock.
Luck is not always going to support us if we do not have the proper skill to make appropriate decisions. If we won by help of luck but make the wrong decisions thereafter then we end up with the losing a game. And for making an appropriate decision, we need to work on developing our skills. If we get success by using a stroke of luck then we cannot say that failure will not come to our way. Actually, success and failure is a cycle so that if we meet success then failure will come to meet us next. By developing a skill, we can reduce the intensity of the failure.
John Paulson has started a hedge fund company with $2 million of own fund in the year 1994. His firm is specialized into the merger arbitrage. But during the year 2005, one of his analyst Mr. Paolo Pellegrini suggested him that US housing market is into the bubble territory. And after reviewing facts presented by Mr. Paolo Pellegrini, Mr. Paulson convinced to go against the housing price. He started acquiring credit default swaps. As he got a confirmation for his idea, he has started acquiring more swaps. The largest mortgage guys of the country were positive on the sub-prime during the year 2005. But outside of his team called him a crazy. He has earned during a fall of subprime in the year 2007 worth of $15 billion for the fund and $4 billion for personal.
After the big success, he started searching for a similar big winning idea. When we get a huge success then we need to save ourselves from the trap of ego. This is a very crucial emotional bias which enters to us and we remain unknowable about it.
Mr. Paulson has an idea to buy more valuable asset compared to inflation during the year 2010. So that he bought gold and gold-related investment worth of $5 billion, he became the largest owner of gold in the world. He could not able to repeat his past success and lost 30%+ value in a year and after that, he lost value for consecutive three years. Mr. Paulson other funds also lost in value and also merger fund where he has an expertise that also falls.
We cannot able to hit winning shot every-time but when we hit a winning shot, we need to keep those value which we received. But generally, we try to repeat those winning shot again and again which create destruction of wealth for us. I learn from my Guru – Mr. Neeraj Marathe Sir, from Howard Marks and Mr. Ben Graham, that protection of wealth must be our priority. Neeraj Sir always mentioned that if we focus on avoiding mistakes then we won half of the battle. So that we should focus on not to hit a winning shot but rather focus on not to lose money. If we survive into the game then we may have a chance to hit winning shot again. But if we do not survive into the game then there will not be any probability to hit a winning shot again. If we keep our focus on hitting a winning shot then we compromise with the capital protection which is an essential part of the game. And we should not forget it ever.
In the previous article (SIB-16) of the same series, I have explained needs for checking a management quality. And also explained what if we invest in the company which has troublesome management. Now, I am going to explain how we can judge the management through accounting and protect our wealth.
Entire series of “Numbers tells you everything” is based on the books –
Extract from the movie – At the starts of the movie, we have seen that Tony Stark stuck in a space and going to die. During the time, he has accepted death and didn’t lose his temperament. He has keep environment live.
Co-relation in real life – We face similar kind of events in our life and investment journey where we do not get any clue about what to do. We should not lose temperament and work on the acceptance of reality.
Don’t lose hope and identity due to failure
Extract from the movie – We have seen that initially, Tony has denied helping Ant-man and Cap for time travel. But later on, he has worked on the time travel mission. He has made it possible to do a time travel.
Co-relation in real life – Similar way in our life and investment, if we faced failure then we should not stay away from our actual identity. Rather we should work on it and turn out our failure into success. If we lose our identity then we cannot get back success and we stuck with the failure for a lifetime. It is obvious that we face failures in our life, our assumptions go wrong, the market takes more time than we have assumed to recognize the value of our investment.
Wait for the opportunity
Extract from the movie – We have seen that Avengers got an opportunity after the 5 years also. They had never think about it. But when the opportunity comes they have captured it and take benefits of it.
Co-relation in real life – In the investment field, we get very limited opportunities to make an investment. We need to wait for the opportunity while we are not getting it. We should not accept failure if we do not get an opportunity for a huge time. We should always wait for the opportunity.
Accept the failure but do not give up
Extract from the movie – We have seen that Thor was not able to accept his failure and he slipped into the depression. He was not ready initially for help to the Hulk but later on, get ready.
Co-relation in real life – Similarly, we should not slip into the depression when we face any failure but we should accept it and work on the turnout our weakness into the strength. If we slip into the depression then we cannot able to capture an opportunity when we get it.
Accept the uncertainty which can change all the scenario
Extract from the movie – Thanos got aware of the plan of the Avengers and he came from past to the future for capturing all stones from Avengers. Avengers has believed that they collect all the stones and provide lives of those who lose life due to Thanos in infinity war. But Thanos also came to the future and he had attacked the Avengers.
Co-relation in real life – Similarly, we should accept the uncertainty while we make investment decisions. Anything can happen into the investment journey which we do not have assumed. Uncertainty is only certain to happen.
Accept that we cannot control fortune
Extract from the movie – We have seen in infinity war that Avengers cannot able to stop Thanos and Thanos has completed his task. Avengers has made a huge effort to stop to Thanos but Thanos has given death to half of the population of the earth with few of Avengers also. This proves that we only can put efforts but cannot control the fortune.
Co-relation in real life – In the investment field also, we can just work on the company identifying, analyzing, allocation, risk management, etc. But we cannot control our return. The return will be not into our control. It’s just our fortune which we cannot control.
Put entire efforts when the opportunity comes
Extract from the movie – When the opportunity comes to bring back the life of half of the world then Avengers has put entire efforts. Also, when it comes to again protect the entire world by Thanos, they have put their entire efforts and in which we have seen that Tony has lost his life. Hulk got injured and the black widow had sacrificed her life.
Co-relation in real life – We does not know that when the opportunity comes to us. But we have to be ready for the opportunity and when it comes, we must have to put our entire efforts. We do not get investment opportunities on a daily basis so till the time, we are not getting an opportunity, and we should start working on making us stronger and stronger. And when the opportunity comes to have to build up a position.
Accept the disconfirming evidence
Extract from the movie – During the infinity war, we have seen that Dr. Strange had mentioned that they have one chance to win from the 14 million chances. Same into the Age of Ultron, when Tony wants to build a protection shield, then nobody got agreed with him. They said they fight for any uncertainty and either win or lose but that will be together.
Co-relation in real life – We should not think that if we have a good track record of making an investment then we will win the game. But we have to accept the disconfirming evidence and be prepared according to it. We should not negate the disconfirming evidence and prepare for upcoming uncertainty.
Fight with own emotions to win
Extract from the movie – Tony was not ready to help for time travel when Captain America has approached him. He was fearing for losing togetherness of family. He feared because he has faced death very closely. He knows that he can help with the time travel but his fear was stopping him. When Pepper Potts had explained to him that he can help others and he should then Tony got ready to help for time traveling.
Co-relation in real life – Similarly, we also have a fear of losing what we are currently holding or what we can lose from our past failures. We should not keep our past memories to hold us and keep on drain us. We should control the emotion and fight with it. Otherwise, we cannot able to achieve what we want. If we have made an investment mistake in past and those memories holding us and stop us from making a new investment or we are holding an investment which we do not want to lose then we may not able to perform a task which is the demand of time.
Every minute market is putting new information, fun, clues, etc. which can be excited and addictive to us. It is a game which always excites us with its nature and it is never ending game so that slowly, we become addictive of it.
In investing, odds are decided by the human, investor’s expectation. Odds cannot be quantifiable. We all have information but users of that information are human so that human sets prices for the odds which have emotional biases also.
Mr. Keynes has started managing fund of family and friends with $30,000 in the year 1920 which was turned out to be $80,000 in April 1920. But after that, he made a huge loss which has wiped out entire capital and his father has to help him. Mr. Keynes has started speculating and build the capital worth of $120000 till the end of the year 1922. This success has encouraged him to make speculation into the commodities. Here also, Mr. Keynes lost 80% of his net worth.
Mr. Keynes has worked on to the evolving his investment style.
He stops focusing on the macroeconomic, currencies, interest rate forecasting, etc. and made the transition of his focus to the cash flow, earning the power of the companies which are selling below the intrinsic value. He put aside his ego and created fortune with the bottom-up approach rather than a top-down approach.
As we have seen in my article on Howard Marks that no investment strategy works forever. It’s cyclical, sometimes growth works, sometimes value works and sometimes momentum works, etc. Mr. Keynes was successful as a value investor but during the year 1936 to 1938, his strategy was failed and he lost around 2/3rd of his wealth.
Mr. Keynes has explained his strategy to his clients – we need to look at the discount from the probable and potential intrinsic value, need to hold large quantity for a longer period of time.
Mr. Keynes has shifted from macro to company-specific matrix and short-term to the long-term focused investor. During the year 1928 to 1931, the value of his assets fall by 50% v/s US market fall by 30% but during the year 1932 to 1945, the value of his assets grew by 869% v/s US market rise by 23%. Additionally, his portfolio turnover reduced from 56% to 14%. He has truly focused on the long term investing and due to his long-term thinking, he has delivered a remarkable result during the 1929 great depression and also during World War II.
We always need to focus on the investing strategy which is suitable to us rather focusing on identifying a perfect strategy and following it. No strategy is perfect in all the market cycle. I like to build a portfolio of bargain stocks which badly fail during the last 2 year were no huge bargain available into the broader market level. But staying with the pre-decided strategy has helped a lot and I can able to outperformed benchmark with decent margins. So we need to select a strategy which suits our temperament and need to stick on it.
One of the wise advice given on risk management is we don’t have put all your money into one basket. If we have 100 stocks of a portfolio and equal 1% allocation to each company then erosion into any company will affect the entire portfolio by 1%. Whereas if we have a 10% allocation to the 10 companies then erosion to any one company will affect the entire portfolio by 10%.
When we have concentrated our portfolio to the winning businesses then we will be a winner and if we have concentrated our portfolio to the losers then we also are losers.
Sequoia fund which has done a concentrated investing, they are not interested in the short term profit making, also not interested in the low allocation to the portfolio and which is known as –
Mr. Buffett has closed his partnership in the year 1969 and suggested Mr. Bill Ruane manage the capital of partners so that Mr. Bill Ruane has set up the Sequoia fund. During the dot-com bubble, Sequoia fund has lost ~16.50% whereas the S&P 500 gained 21% and NASDAQ gained 86%. But after the dot-com bubble in the year 2002-2002, Sequoia fund has gained by 29% whereas the S&P 500 lost value by 38%.
In the year 2010, Sequoia fund has started acquiring a position to the Valeant Pharmaceuticals which becomes the second largest position. And in the year 2011, it becomes the largest position of the fund which has overtaken Berkshire Hathway which was the largest position in the 20 years.
In the year 2015, many consider Valeant business practice as an unethical and after that, it caught under accounting fraud. As Valeant was the largest position of the Sequoia fund, the fund lost 9.03% whereas S&P500 gained by 8.44%. Sequoia fund has bought again when Valeant fall by 50% and Sequoia fund becomes the largest shareholder of Valeant. But Valeant fall by 90% and Sequoia fund has to sell the entire position of the Valeant. Sequoia fund’s assets have fallen from around $9million+ to $5million. A single stock becomes a reason for the fall of their asset massively.
For avoiding such impact, we need to write down our assumption for buying a business so that we can take an exit when our assumption started getting wrong. This practice helps us to reduce the effect of endowment bias towards the stock which we hold. This also reduces the emotional bias towards the stock and help us to protect our capital. I always make a write up of the entry and exit reasons for the investment which help me for making a better decision and reduce my emotional bias. After all such activities, we need to be thankful for the role of luck which can support us. Concentration is good till we stay within our predefined process, assumptions, rules, etc. When we go out of any of the mentioned, we need to pay huge tuition fees for the concentration.
Mr. Charlie Ellis has explained to the book Winning the Loser’s Game – professional players force others to make an error which helps the professional player to win whereas amateur players play a faulty shot. This is similar to the investing field. And the main difference between an amateur and a professional investor. We have to keep on defending ourselves and wait for others to make errors. We need to stay on the pitch and wait for the loose ball for hitting it outside of the boundary.
Return of the investment instruments and our return having a gap which is known as a behavioral gap, which tells that investors’ behavior affects their own returns.
Amateur investors do not focus on risk management. Generally, they focus on the risk after they meet to the risk. It is similar to wearing a helmet after facing a road accident as a precaution. Whereas professional investors do things in a different manner, they buy things which others do not want to buy and they sell things which everyone wants to buy. Mr. Howard Marks are given this technique as a second level thinking.
During the year 2015, Stanley Druckenmiller was getting an introduction as –
During the year 1981, a 28 years old Mr. Druckenmiller has started with Duquesne Capital Management. During the year 1987, Mr. Druckenmiller had buildup long position as he felt that 2200 level supported zone for the Dow Jones but on Monday, Dow goes down to 1738 level which known for “Black Monday”. On Monday, after lunchtime, Stocks got to bounce back and Mr. Druckenmiller has covered all his position. Mr.Drukenmiller has left his job to join George Soros. In the year 1989, Mr.Drukenmiller has shorted Japan Index Nikkei which is still down from the top of the year 1989.
In the year 1992, Mr.Drukenmiller has shorted the pound currency and he turns out to be a winner. Mr.Drukermiller has a track record of generating a return of 31.50%, 29.60%, 53.40%, 68.80% and 63.20% in the year 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993 respectively.
But during the year 1994, Fund lost in a bet against the yen and 1998, Quantum fund had lost $2 billion in Russia. The worst is about to come. Mr.Drukenmiller has invested in the IT stocks and he was uncomfortable with his positions so that he booked and took gained. But he had hired new young employees in the year 1999 and they kept on making money by investing in the IT stocks.
He had double his position at the top to the tech stocks and when IT bubble got burst, Quantum fund had lost 21% or $7.60 billion since their peak value.
Mr.Drukenmiller cannot able to see others making money and he can’t. So that he also makes an emotional error. Mr.Drukenmiller was known that what he is doing but he cannot able to stop his emotion and he has occurred an error. Sometimes it is important to see others making money. And we need to stay with not making money.
We have seen that equity investment has provided decent returns to those who have made an investment into a decent business with having decent management. I have also explained a similar concept to my articles of Pat Dorsey and Kite Flying regarding business + management combination.
Accounting is a language of business, we need to understand it well so that we can make communication with numbers.
I will try to explain all manipulation in a simple manner into the upcoming issues of the same series.
Entire series of “Numbers tells you everything” is based on the books –
When we have a view on something in the world then we are getting attached to that view. So that when we get any dis-confirming evidence against our view then also many a time, we hesitant to accept it. We are overconfident on their own view that we do not accept any opposing view.
Majority of people love to share their success but not their failure. People intend to hide their failure. We love to share our success because it gives us a social recognition and self-esteem. We feel guilty for our failure and stop ourselves from sharing it with people. Also, we feel fearful about the mistake or meeting the failure.
Bill Ackman had started a hedge fund with the name of Gotham in the year 1993 and he turnouts the $3 million to the $568 million at the peak of the year 2000. He becomes more confident and started taking positions to the illiquid investment as concentrated bets at a wrong time; such behavior has affected him with the closure of Gotham hedge fund.
In the year 2004, Mr.Ackman has started another fund with the name of Pershing Square Capital Management and become one of the most activist investors. He acquires large enough shares of the company and asks to the management to become more shareholder-friendly and if management fails then Mr.Ackman get on to the board.
Few of the companies where of Mr.Ackman was done an activist investment such as Wendy, McDonald, MBIA Inc., Target, Sears, Valeant, J. C. Penney, and Herbalife.
Above mentioned companies earn a gross margin of around 42-46% whereas Herbalife earns around 80%. Mr.Ackman shows that top-selling product of Herbalife is Formula 1 shake which is not much known. And they sell this product 10-20 times compared to the competitor brand such as Oreos, Charmin, Crest, Gerber, Palmolive, Betty Crocker, Listerine, and Clorox which is manufactured by GNC, Unilever, and Abbot Labs. Herbalife is not selling products to the consumer but they sell products to the distributors, their distributor is all over the globe.
Mr.Ackman has read all available information, he gets into the science of products, R&D for the product, read annual reports, SEC filing, etc.
Mr.Ackman has given a three-hour presentation to people, interview to CNBC, CNN, and Bloomberg, etc. Now, how Mr.Ackman can admit defeat after telling everybody about the Herbalife. And also stock had declined by around 35% after his presentation. But during that panic selling movement, Dan Loeb, founder of the hedge fund Third Point LLC has bought 8.24% of the Herbalife and becomes a second largest shareholder. Herbalife stock price rose by 20% in five days. After that filing shows that activist investor Carl Icahn took a 12.98% stake in Herbalife.
Mr.Ackman has made a public commitment regarding his investment idea which has mentally created pressure on him and this pressure has to stop him by making a proper decision.
Due to the public commitment and also a fear of losing a reputation, he faced difficult to cover his wrong position. If we keep on making our moves commitment to the public then we may face difficult to change moves when we may go wrong. We should focus on not making a commitment in public which helps us to change our move and saved our capital. When our odds go against us, it will cost us mentally, emotionally and financially. Mr.Ackman was on short after three years also. We will go wrong, we can meet failure but such kind of public commitment can stop us from accepting our failure and saved our remaining capital to restart again.