Just think about how much you could learn from someone who came from nothing and now has a net worth of over $100 million.
How much would you spend to get insight from a successful investor who started late in life, had all the odds stacked against him, yet still made it big?
Would you do what he did – pay over $600,000 for just one lunch to learn from someone you feel has something to offer you?
Fortunately, you don’t have to cough up 6 figures to learn. You can read, think about, and apply the words of other people who have successfully done what you’d like to do.
Someone who has done exactly that is famous value investor Mohnish Pabrai.
Growing up in India, he experienced the lowest of poverty. At 30 years of age, he was exposed to investing and heard about Warren Buffett for the first time. His life has never been the same ever since.
Mohnish Pabrai has some excellent thoughts about investing that are worth any serious investor’s consideration. There is much wisdom in what he has to say.
Let’s look at three of his quotes, and explore the wisdom hidden underneath his words:
1. Investing Is a Business
Too many people view investing as “something on the side” that they do occasionally. They don’t take it serious enough to get serious results.
When Mohnish Pabrai speaks here of entrepreneurs, notice he is speaking to the common dilemmas of investors – uncertainty and risks.
His words reveal that he doesn’t view investing as a side hobby. He views it as a business.
Anyone seriously looking to make a substantial income would do well to develop the mentality that this is a business. It is professional. It requires work, study, research, and patience – just like the development of any other business.
The father of value investing Benjamin Graham said it himself:
“Investing is most successful when it’s most businesslike.“
Take investing seriously and you will end up seeing some serious returns.
2. You Can’t Accurately Predict the Future
In the most general sense, value investing means buying a stock for less than its true intrinsic value.
A value investor determines a stock’s true intrinsic value by projecting out all the cash that the business will generate from now into the future, and then discounting that cash back to the present day.
So whenever you make an investment, you are also making a prediction about the future.
There are some people who believe they can accurately predict the future. These people build complex models and buy stocks based on the assumption that their prediction about the future will come true.
Then there are people who believe that the future is inherently unpredictable, no matter how good your current information is. These people do not make complex models. They buy stocks that are so undervalued, that any prediction about the future can be wildly off yet they will still make money off of their investment. These people, of course, are value investors.
As Ben Graham wrote in The Intelligent Investor:
“The more dependent the valuation becomes on anticipations of the future… the more vulnerable it becomes to possible miscalculation and serious error.”
This is why value investors only invest when they have a margin of safety. They may make a prediction about the future, but they know that they will probably be wrong. The margin of safety protects them even when they are wrong.
This is why Mohnish Pabrai said that “industries with rapid change are the enemy of the investor”. It makes it that much harder to predict that future and to calculate the intrinsic value of a stock. Therefore, if you invest in a tech stock, you will need a HUGE margin of safety. If you invest in a business that operates in a stable industry, you can invest with a smaller margin of safety.
3. Patience is Key
Finally, Mohnish Pabrai tells us that investing is a waiting game. According to him, you don’t make money when you buy a stock and you don’t make money by selling it. You make money by investing in undervalued stocks, and then waiting for the stock’s price to converge with its true intrinsic value.
Pabrai is also saying here that you make money by waiting for the right investment to come your way.
Other famous value investors think the exact same way.
Warren Buffett, for example, often compares investing to baseball, where you’re given the luxury of waiting for the perfect pitch that you can then knock out of the ball park:
“The stock market is a no-called-strike game. You don’t have to swing at everything – you can wait for your pitch. The problem when you’re a money manager is that your fans keep yelling, ‘swing, you bum!’” – Warren Buffett
“What’s nice about investing is you don’t have to swing at pitches. You can watch pitches come in one inch above or one inch below your navel and you don’t have to swing. No umpire is going to call you out. You can wait for the pitch you want.” – Warren Buffett
When you investing, it is wise to approach it seriously. Treat it like a professional. Put on your entrepreneur hat because your investing is a business. Treat it like one and it will surely treat you well in return, literally.
Remember that you can’t accurately predict the future. Even “sure things” have probabilities of less than 100%. We see this happen time and again (for example, the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election…). Recognize this and invest with a margin of safety.
Finally, be patient. As Vanguard’s Jack Bogle liked to say, “Don’t do something! Just stand there!” Wait for the right investment to come your way, and then when it does wait for the market to realize the stock’s true intrinsic value.
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