Intelligent investing rests on three tenets- Anand Sridharan reminds investors that intrinsic business value, Margin of safety and Mr Market are three tenets that matter. If we truly understand the essence of Ben Graham’s three tenets, we’re done. There’s nothing else to sensible investing. View stock as a business. Roughly gauge what it’s worth. Since world is all messy, don’t cut it too fine. Keep some cushion. View nutty counterparties as entertainment, unless they offer something actionable based on the above.
Two tenets – intrinsic business value & margin of safety – are inseparable. It wouldn’t even occur to Mr Sridharan to ask the question “What’s the value of this business?”. The actual question that he asks is “Around what buy-price am I fairly sure that I’m getting a decent deal?”. The second question blends intrinsic business value and margin of safety to help me reach an actionable decision. My guesstimate of business value will have wide error bars. The range maybe 100 to 150. Whatever be that number, I never do an artificial separation of value and safety margin. At all times, prudent investors don’t fuss about intrinsic business value, apart from being cognizant of a broad range that’s reasonable for a particular business.
This is why simple works better than sophisticated. In any real-world, reliable sense, DCF is nonsense. It is a sophisticated tool for impostors to delude themselves and others. We suck at forecasting and have no way to reduce risk to a number. A mental model that integrates margin of safety and intrinsic business value nudges us to focus on being roughly right, not precisely wrong. It is why the best investors spend a lot of time ensuring that businesses are predictable, and little time making actual predictions. Simple valuation methods suffice for businesses where cashflows and risks are relatively knowable.
Ongoing charade is even more flawed than it seems – What’s helpful to practitioners is a buy-price that offers reasonable certainty of getting more than what we pay for. This goal is achieved through a mindset that views value and safety in unison. Investors get habituated to methods that yield neither value nor safety without such a mindset.
Source- Buggy Humans in a Messy world by Anand Sridharan
AM Comments: –
- It is tough to establish the true value of a firm. Each investor has their own method of estimating value, which may or may not be reliable. Because intrinsic worth is subjective, it should be assigned a range rather than a single figure. An approximate estimate, say within 10% of the actual value, should be enough. This gives the investor the opportunity to investigate the more subjective components of the valuation process.
- Investing is done after a thorough examination of the firm and its cashflows, assuring a healthy margin of safety and a reasonable return. Investors don’t have to aim for perfection all of the time. Because we cannot precisely forecast the worth of a firm in the future and discount it at a suitable discount rate, investors must be comfortable with their purchase price.
- Market frenzy is characterized by heightened emotions. Prices are at an all-time high. As a result, recalling Mr. Howard Marks, one should resist the temptation of participating in a market frenzy.
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