Our approach to individual investments is simple: We want to invest in whatever makes good sense. To us, this means QUALITY, LIQUIDITY, and VALUE whether stocks, bonds, and other investments.
We are BUSINESS ANALYSTS buying ownership in REAL BUSINESSES, not market pundits and gurus selling a crystal ball.
Rather than simply ticker symbols with fluctuating prices, stocks represent fractional ownership of real businesses. Specifically, we look for businesses with the following characteristics:
- Durable Competitive Advantage or “Moat”: We seek structural advantages that allow for a sustained high return on capital, often through economic scale/cost advantages, network effects/winner-take-most dynamics, brands, intellectual property, or high switching costs. When a special business also has a large addressable market, its revenue, earnings, and stock price can compound nicely over time.
- Knowable & forecastable: Competition and technological change are but two reasons it is difficult (if not dangerous) to forecast the profits and intrinsic value of most businesses ten years from now. We seek businesses with moats we feel are unlikely to see adverse change over the next decade.
- Great Management: We look for demonstrated excellence, rational thinking, and fiduciary stewardship. Important to us is how management allocates capital—what they do with earnings once made—and how management approaches compensation and incentives.
- Reasonable share prices: We seek to invest at prices that represent value, knowing that low P/Es do not necessarily signal value. There is often more value found in paying premium prices for true compounders with exceptional growth than cheap prices for low-quality and declining businesses.
We never forget that bonds and other fixed-income securities are LOANS.
We approach fixed income securities similarly to how we analyze stocks: by assessing the quality and fundamentals of the business (or government). We assess fixed income securities in the context of the whole portfolio, looking for diversification and risk management capabilities. In our multi-asset portfolios, government bonds play an important role in our asset allocations with their lower correlation to stocks, liquidity, and hedges against deflation and declining economic environments.
While we diversify among bonds, we look for an overall duration/maturity structure that makes sense given our views and portfolios’ investments.
Cash Equivalents and Other Assets
Cash is an overlooked but powerful investment option for MANAGING RISK and GROWTH.
Standard investment dogma instructs us to be fully invested in in stocks and bonds with no cash reserves. Our investments in cash—including short term Treasury bills and high-quality money market funds—play an important role not just for managing risk but also for generating longer term returns. That is because cash also represents a “call option” on future opportunities; investors do not have to be fully invested in today’s opportunity set only, especially when markets are overly bullish.
We may invest in other asset types, including gold, real estate, and foreign currencies. For further diversification or return opportunities. Like with stocks and bonds, we require quality and liquidity and will avoid unnecessarily complex or esoteric securities.