"The point is that no mechanical tools can enable investors to prosper under all circumstances. They can provide tilts or reduce exposures, but the tool that promises a mix of good results and great results without the possibility of bad results is too good to be true."
"I recall a study I did some years ago on the subsequent returns earned by the stocks held in fund portfolios on the first day of each year compared to actual returns the funds delivered during the subsequent year. When the year ended, the static portfolios had won the contest 52% of the time; the portfolios actively run by the managers won 48% of the time. Still, it surely would be a career risk for a portfolio manager to walk out of the office right after New Year's Day and tell his boss, ‘That's the portfolio I'll hold all year. See you after Christmas’."
"The very essence of instinct is that it's followed independently of reason."
"Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don't have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it's true. If you hire somebody without the first, you really want them to be dumb and lazy."
"Occurrences in this domain are beyond the reach of exact prediction because of the variety of factors in operation, not because of any lack of order in nature."
"Market timing, according to Charles Ellis, represents a losing strategy: 'There is no evidence of any large institutions having anything like consistent ability to get in when the market is low and to get out when the market is high. Attempts to switch between stocks and bonds, or between stocks and cash, in anticipation of market moves have been unsuccessful much more often than they have been successful.' ... Serious investors avoid timing markets."
"Never wrestle with a pig because if you do you'll both get dirty, but the pig will enjoy it."
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."
"I do believe it is possible for a minority of investors to get significantly better results than the average. Two conditions are necessary for that. One is that they must follow some sound principles of selection which are related to the value of the securities and not to their market price action. The other is that their method of operation must be basically different than that of the majority of security buyers. They have to cut themselves off from the general public and put themselves into a special category."
"In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule."
"Thousands of experts study overbought indicators, oversold indicators, head-and-shoulder patterns, put-call ratios, the Fed's policy on money supply, foreign investment, the movement of the constellations through the heavens, and the moss on oak trees, and they can't predict the markets with any useful consistency, any more than the gizzard squeezers could tell the Roman emperors when the Huns would attack. ..... What the market is going to do ought to be irrelevant. If I could convince you of this one thing, I'd feel this book had done its job."
"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."
"He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money."
"Many equity investors feel compelled to remain 100% invested in equities at all times. Bond investors are often similarly constrained. We strongly believe that this mentality leads to pursuit of relative rather than absolute investment returns, a direction we certainly want to avoid...A smaller pool of funds seeking to avoid meaningful declines in market value at every point in time and seeking more aggressive return objectives cannot afford to be fully invested in the absence of attractive opportunities."
"Investment teams and committees, when they disagree about the proper course of action, can become paralyzed by respect and politeness. This happens most often when the groups are compatible and there is no overriding leader. They discuss the alternatives and then do nothing. I have been on small investment teams where this happens. Controversy, passionate disagreement, and even anger are healthy."
"If there is anything I detest, it's a mechanistic formula for anything. People should use their heads and go by logic and reason, not by hard and fast rules."
"The distinction between investment and speculation in common stocks has always been a useful one and its disappearance is a cause for concern. We have often said that Wall Street as an institution would be well advised to reinstate this distinction and to emphasize it in all its dealings with the public."
"Intelligent Investors try to separate their emotions of hope, fear, and greed from their trust in reason, and then expect that wisdom will prevail over the long term. Hope, fear, and greed go along with the volatile market of short-term expectations, while trust in reason goes with the real market of long-term intrinsic value. In this sense, long-term investors must be philosophers rather than technicians."
"A conventional valuation which is established as the outcome of the mass psychology of a large number of ignorant individuals is liable to change violently as the result of a sudden fluctuation of opinion since there will be no strong roots of conviction to hold it steady."
"Wall Street never changes. The pockets change, the suckers change, the stocks change, but Wall Street never changes because human nature never changes."
"Perhaps the fatal trouble with large investment-management firms is that, although they advertise performance, the businessmen that run them don't seem to know or want to know how to create an environment that can produce alpha or generate consistent absolute returns for clients. Instead, they are giant factories, in business to increase fee-paying assets under management."
"Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction."
"It is not how likely an event is to happen that matters, it is how much is made when it happens that should be the consideration. How frequent the profit is irrelevant; it is the magnitude of the outcome that counts...very few people take home a check linked to how often they are right or wrong. What they get is a profit or loss."
"The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office."
"The financial markets generally are unpredictable. So that one has to have different scenarios... The idea that you can actually predict what's going to happen contradicts my way of looking at the market."
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."
"There is always going to be somebody who's making money faster, running the mile faster or what have you. So in a human sense, once you get something that works fine for you in your life, this idea of caring terribly that somebody else is making money faster strikes me as insane."
"It is easy for us to tell you not to speculate; the hard thing will be for you to follow this advice. Let us repeat what we said at the outset: If you want to speculate do so with your eyes open, knowing that you will probably lose money in the end; be sure to limit the amount at risk and to separate it completely from your investment program."
"Markets are constantly in a state of uncertainty and flux and money is made by discounting the obvious and betting on the unexpected."
"Without a rigorous process that is informed by thorough analysis and implemented with discipline, investment portfolios respond to natural human instinct, tending to follow the whims of fashion. Casually researched, consensus-oriented investment positions provide little prospect for producing superior results in the intensely competitive investment management world."
"We've long felt that the only value of stock forecasters is to make fortune tellers look good. Even now, Charlie and I continue to believe that short-term market forecasts are poison and should be kept locked up in a safe place, away from children and also from grown-ups who behave in the market like children."
"Investment managers complain about the short-term horizon of clients, yet they buy and sell stocks with hair triggers. The consultants pour gasoline onto the fire and rub their hands. Manager firings mean more searches for them. Everybody blames everybody else, but the process is circular."
"To invest successfully over a lifetime does not require a stratospheric IQ, unusual business insights, or inside information. What's needed is a sound intellectual framework for making decisions and the ability to keep emotions from corroding that framework."
"The most important investment judgments at most big institutions and for most large portfolios are made by committees, but few realize the negative dynamics of group interaction. I think that, in most instances, groups of intelligent people have so many inherent liabilities that a lone individual has a far better chance of making good decisions. The collective intelligence of the group is surely less than the sum of its parts, and the more people on a committee, the less chance it has to be wise and crisp in its decision making."
"The greatest enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan."
"The doorstep to the temple of wisdom is a knowledge of our own ignorance."
"In investing, rely on the ordinary virtues that intelligent, balanced human beings have relied on for centuries: common sense, thrift, realistic expectations, patience, and perseverance."
"Here is the prime condition of success: Concentrate your energy, thought and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged. Having begun on one line, resolve to fight it out on that line, to lead in it, adopt every improvement, have the best machinery, and know the most about it."
"Once we realize that imperfect understanding is the human condition there is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes."
"We have decided that the right way for us to do things is to find the best people in the world to make venture capital investments or to make leveraged buyout investments or to do absolute return investing or to manage domestic or foreign securities actively. So far we haven't found any of those people in New Haven, Connecticut, so all of our active management is done externally."
"Information is not knowledge."
"A large group that votes democratically sounds good because it encourages participation, but in investing, democracies don't work. In fact, they invariably fail. Decision making and responsibility has to be located in an individual."
"In the short term, it frequently is better to look smart than to be smart, particularly if your employment is to be decided by a rather brief interview. If the fans are going to decide your hiring status based on only a few swings, it is prudent to develop a batting style that will remind them of Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams, even if long-range your percentage of solid hits with that style is small and you know you obtain better results batting cross-handed."
"Don't let schooling interfere with your education."
"The 3 biggest weaknesses of investment managers are, in my opinion: 1. A mixture of overconfidence and an overeagerness to be busy. There are, therefore, far too many decisions made. 2. A failure to differentiate between high and low confidence and therefore between major and minor bets. 3 . A fixation on the short-term. The result of these three failures is high turnover, high costs and a mass of smalI, often offsetting bets going nowhere (...). Clients end up overpaying for large indexed or over-diversified components of their account. Antidote: Build the portfolio around a few major long-term bets (...)."
"Pablo Picasso nailed it in a typically elliptical way when he said that ‘Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.’ Questions are what matter. Questions, and discovering the right ones, are the key to staying on course. Are our tactics, our day-to-day decisions, based on our long-term goals? The wave of information threatens to obscure strategy, to drown it in details and numbers, calculation and analysis, reaction and tactics. To have strong tactics we must have strong strategy on one side and accurate calculation on the other. Both require seeing into the future."
"As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do."
"Finally it is the long-term investor, he who promotes the public interest, who will in practice come in for most criticism, wherever investment funds are managed by committees or boards or banks. For it is the essence of his behavior that he should be eccentric, unconventional, and rash in the eyes of average opinion. If he is successful, that will only confirm the general belief in his rashness; and if in the short run he is unsuccessful, which is very likely, he will not receive much mercy. Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally."
"Concentrate on what you know and forget about everything else."