Benjamin Graham – widely recognized as the father of value investing – believed that, in the short term, the markets were a voting machine, with a security’s price reflecting its popularity on any given day. In the long term, however, Graham believed the market was more of a weighing machine, aligning a security’s price with its intrinsic value, or the true worth of the issuing company.
For value investors, this means that a security’s price and its intrinsic value often detach from one another in the short term. Because of the manic-depressive nature of the overall market – where sentiment can shift between sweeping, carefree optimism and overwhelming fear and uncertainty seemingly overnight – security prices tend to fluctuate much more than the true worth of the companies they represent.
This irrationality can materialize on the upside, helping to lift prices to dangerously lofty heights. It can also appear on the downside, helping to drag prices to bargain levels.
Value investors target the latter situation, seeking to purchase out-of-favor securities that are trading at discounts to their intrinsic values, and then holding them until the market recognizes their true worth.
By confidently approaching the short-term vagaries of the market with rational, objective analysis, we aim to identify compelling investment opportunities and deliver competitive long-term results. As Graham put it, the market “... often goes far wrong, and sometimes an alert and courageous investor can take advantage of its patent errors.”
In his investment guidebook The Intelligent Investor, Benjamin Graham challenged himself to “distill the secret of sound investment into three words.” The three words Graham chose were “margin of safety.” What does this phrase mean?
Simply put, the margin of safety represents the difference between the price of a security and its intrinsic value. Value investors believe that the larger this margin, the safer the investment. By identifying and purchasing stocks and bonds trading at what we believe to be substantial discounts to their estimated intrinsic values, we aim to build strategies that can accommodate future uncertainty and demonstrate resilience in market downturns. Some holdings will inevitably encounter a stumbling block, and a margin of safety can provide protection if the going gets tough. When it comes to results, value investors emphasize the accumulation of lasting wealth over the pursuit of potentially fleeting short-term gains. Accordingly, we expect to realize significant rewards as the market recognizes the true worth of our purchases.
We acknowledge that this process often takes time. As a result, we exercise patience and manage our holdings from a long-term perspective. Typically, we expect to hold a security between two to five years.
While the essentials of value investing are simple, the process of appraising value and risk is complex, and a full explanation is impossible in this brief summary. For a thorough understanding of both principles and process, see the third edition of Value Investing Today by Charles Brandes, published in 2003 by McGraw-Hill.
We consistently apply the value investing philosophy in all market conditions, across global markets – and to every portfolio we manage. We firmly believe investment success is driven by the identification and purchase of securities trading at discounts to their intrinsic values. In our opinion, the benefits of this approach are evident in the long-term results we have achieved
Organized as an employee-owned firm, we have maintained our independence since our inception in 1974. Our autonomy enables an unwavering focus on value investing, which we believe is in the best interests of both our clients and our firm. While independent, we have maintained a culture grounded in teamwork. Because of our shared beliefs, singular focus, and commitment to working together, we have built an organization characterized by stability, high morale, and continuity of business practices.
Our steadfast dedication to exceeding client expectations, in terms of both performance and service, guides everything we do. We strive to deliver superior investment results – and to maintain long-lasting, trust-based relationships with clients and financial advisors. Indicative of our commitment to client interests, we have closed strategies to new investors to help preserve the integrity of our investment process. As our firm grows, the best interests of our clients remain our top priority.