Continued from here.
Value vs. Growth:
In my last Stock Picking post, I highlighted a common value investor failing – namely, a preference for over-leveraged & illiquid small/micro-cap stocks. All too often, it seems like this kind of preference (& others like it) are simply hard-wired in…maybe you’re born to be a value or growth investor! Now, we could get all touchy-feely here & try to personality-map this out – cautious vs. aggressive, quantitative vs. qualitative, thinker vs. dreamer, and so on – but does it really matter? Far better to recognise & accept what you are – if you haven’t already, just stop reading right now & come out to your wife:
‘Um, darling, it’s time you know…I’m a value investor!’
You may even find out she knew already…
Acceptance is the first & most important step in recognising inherent investing biases, and maybe trying to curb some of the worst excesses of hard-core value investing. [Of course, the same is equally true of growth investing]. This might take years…it definitely took me years! And pride often gets in the way – sometimes it’s nice to feel different, one of a select breed of smart investors who can boast of finding hidden gems in the rubble. But this is just an illusion – true growth investors are equally select. [Yes, most people seem biased towards growth stocks (if they ever mention stocks at all!?) – but in reality, they’re fairly clueless about money & investing. At best, they’re TALT* investors…] For them, genuine growth stocks are equally difficult & just as precious to find. And let’s face it – on average, in the real world, nobody can reliably claim value investing is superior to growth investing, or vice versa.
But accepting your value investing biases, curbing your excesses, and exploiting your natural advantages, is surely the best way to maximise your comfort & your returns as an investor. Except this can ultimately prove a double-edged sword…the world you end up living in may just be a value ghetto. Sure, it may feel large enough, it may even feel comfortable enough, but if that’s as far as your horizons stretch, you’re missing out on a whole other world of opportunity out there. Forget about investment ideology – again, this is about diversification, and it’s about becoming a better investor.
If you choose to ignore growth stocks & investing, you’re voluntarily cutting yourself off from vast swathes of the available investment universe – that’s countless companies, entire sectors, new/disruptive business models & secular trends, even geographies, etc. you’re missing out on, maybe forever…how does that make any sense? And even if you heed everything else I’ve written about diversification, how meaningful will the impact be if your portfolio remains blighted by the absence of growth stocks?
Of course, the classic value objection to growth stocks is that they’re invariably over-valued. But this, my friends, amounts to nothing more than a red herring… A true growth stock always seems to be over-valued, yet its share price can subsequently look astonishingly & ridiculously cheap after the business/stock somehow manages to scale up by hundreds or even thousands of percent. The real complaint here, I suspect, is that growth investing is just too hard!?! And if you’re a value investor, there should be no shame in admitting this – because that’s exactly how it feels: You naturally take a primarily quantitative approach to investing & you always require an adequate margin of safety, but identifying true growth stocks demands a far more qualitative approach & appears to offer little in the way of safety…