Gather some investors together, mix liberally with beer, garnish with some grub, lose track of time, and there’s a question which inevitably bubbles to the surface:
So, stock picking…is it bloody art, or is it science?!
If you’re a regular reader, you might recall my Why I Read (I, II & III) series & this more recent piece (Investing Haiku), and assume I’d argue stock picking is ultimately art. That’s understandable – and if you buy me enough drinks, I’m sure I’d be more than happy to expound on that very argument! [And yeah, maybe I can talk even more than I can write. ;-) But only v occasionally… :-) ] But in the hard light of day, I’d be far more reluctant – not because of the argument itself, but because of how it tends to be abused…
First, we have the experts who never really share/explain their actual investment process. Who knows if they’re afraid to share their secret sauce, if they’re looking to add some mystery & glamour (and a following), or if they’ve simply succumbed to false modesty? Intentional or not, they persuade investors their stock picking is ultimately art – so you can invest with them, slavishly copy their stock picks, or you can simply give up…because you can never hope to emulate them!
[I mean, look at Warren Buffett – here we are, 60 years into his career, still slavering over any attempt to reverse-engineer the keys to his investment process & success. Whilst lauding a schizophrenic media that likes to preach why you should invest like Buffett, and why you can’t invest like Buffett! Before he dies, Alice Schroeder needs to perform the ultimate public service – lock herself in a room with Buffett, and only come out when she’s fully documented the real nuts & bolts, facts & figures, and dollars & cents of his major stock picking successes!]