Investment versus Speculation: Results to Be Expected by the Intelligent Investor

From today, I am going to start a series on Book The Intelligent Investor under the Bibliophile category. Mr.Buffett has always mentioned that he keeps on reading this book every year. This book helps us with the developing an investment philosophy and also, help us to recognize ourselves as an investor or a speculator. I am grateful to the readers by which I am getting motivated to keep writing more and sharing more pearls of wisdom.

Mr.Graham has started the book with the definition of an investor which is very essential for us to understand to becoming a wise investor.

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Many of the people call themselves as an investor but they are not meeting criterion mentioned by Mr. Graham. If a person does not meet any of the criterion mentioned above then we need to consider him as a speculator rather consider as an investor. We have to check to introspect and need to check whether we are meeting above criterion or not. If not then we are doing speculation though we called ourselves as an investor. I have seen many of the people focuses on the adequate return but not meet up other two criteria, or they meet safety and return but not meet up with thorough analysis so that we need to consider those as a speculator, not an investor. People get more involves speculation because they get excitement into it and investing is a boring & lonely game. But over a longer period of time, excitement does not reward us. The stock market is not a place for getting excitement or thrill but it is a place where we need to stay calm, cool with a balance of emotion and balance of activities with hyper activities. When we do speculation, we get an immediate result but not happens the same with the investment. We can earn through making an investment in the long term only if we play this game with the rules.

People call themselves as an investor though they are just buying and selling shares at the stock exchange. They do meet the criteria of being an investor or not. Investor word commands a good reputation among the people so we feel the pride to call ourselves as an investor but rather to just get feeling, we need to work on logic and accept the reality. Though we perform a thorough analysis of investment opportunities or not, we consider ourselves as an investor but we need to understand that it is easy to call ourselves as an investor but it is difficult to act as an investor.

  • A thorough analysis of companies means we need to analyze the soundness of the company, long term survival of the business, pricing power with the company, etc.
  • Our major focus should be on capital protection. When we work on capital protection, we have already won half of the battle. I always emphasis on my philosophy which is “Return of Capital” is more important rather than “Return on Capital”.
  • We need to focus on adequate return rather than earning an extraordinary return. We run behind getting rich within a short period of time so that we desire to earn an extraordinary return.

People can do speculation also but many a time, speculation becomes dangerous –

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If we cannot stop ourselves from doing speculation then put some fund aside for making speculation and we never put the fund into the same account for making speculation and for making an investment. Also, we should not increase a fund to the speculation account just because the market has gone up or we have a good profit into it, but we should bring out the fund from it and transfer it to the investment account. 10% limit of our overall wealth is permissible for the speculative bets and we should not violate this rule. When our speculative account goes above 10% then those amounts need to shift to the investment account and if it goes below 10% then we should not transfer fund from investment account to speculative account.

Mr.Graham has advised to the defensive investors to keep their portfolio into the high-grade bond and into the common stocks. We should have a range of bond should be into the 25-75%, not less than 25%, and not more than 75%. Similar to the common stock also.

We need to make a selection of stocks and bond on the basis of inflation, interest rate, the future expected return from stocks, etc. Which can help us to earn above inflation return. As a defensive investor, we should make an investment to the company which has a good business with a strong track record of financial. We should avoid buying hot stocks which can be harmful to our wealth during the long term. Mr.Graham also has mentioned the concept of Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) for the defensive investors.

Mr.Graham has explained methods for aggressive investors such as 1) buying a security which is doing better than market average, and those not doing better which are candidate for short selling a security 2) Buying a companies which are expected to post a good earning or other favorable development expected 3) Buying a companies which have given a good earnings growth in the past and expected to deliver similar to the future or companies does not have a good past earning but expected to post a good earning to the future.

Here, uncertainty associated with the investment is human error and wrongly estimation of future or estimated future is already into the current market price. When we buy stocks on the basis of current year good result with the similar will happens to the next year then it is highly possible that other participants also think in the same manner.

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If we buy popular stocks on the street then we end up with the result what everyone else is expecting. We are not able to get above average return. We have other ways to make a return without taking a huge risk is a special situation such as a merger, demerger, buyback, liquidation, delisting, etc.

One of the bargains is given by Mr.Graham was Net of Current Asset (I.e. Working Capital) after adjusting all the liabilities. That means the stock price is well below working capital – all the liabilities. Here, we are not taking a plant and other fixed assets into consideration. Such issues consider as a bargain to its value.

One of the Indian air cooler company was available below the net of current asset

Company has a current asset of Rs.74.24 crore and total borrowing was Rs.29 crore so that the net of the current asset was Rs.46 crore, whereas Market Capitalization of the company was Rs.35 crore at the end of FY2009.

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Many of the investors do not take rest when odds are not in our favors. They keep on doing something though things are not into their favor. Such hyperactivity is also dangerous to the long term return of investors.

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We have seen that many strategies and stories for the stock is getting popularized over a period of time and also erased as time get passes. We always need to focus that stocks only will perform well or poorly in the long run when business behind that stocks will do well or poorly. So that we need to focus on the performance of the business rather than focus on the different kind of strategy to becoming wealthy in the long run.

Disclosure – Companies mentioned in the article is just for an example purpose. It is not a buy/sell/ hold recommendation.

Read for more detail: The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, Jason Zweig

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