Monday, November 3, 2008

Buffett...Berkowitz...Lampert...Pabrai... And Focus Investing

What is Focus Investing? Does it mean staring at your stocks so long that you become cross eyed. No! Focus Investing is a style that has been around for many many years but it is not talked about much in the mainstream, only in value circles do you hear it mentioned. Its concentrating your bets, putting a large amount of your investment dollars or portfolio into your best ideas. Investors Mohnish Pabrai, Bruce Berkowitz, Eddie Lampert, and Warren Buffett have practiced this style, along with many other notable investors. The first three mentioned, Pabrai, Berkowitz, and Lampert practice this method very much today. For example, Eddie Lampert has 50% of his ESL Investments in Sears Holdings(SHLD) and another 20% in Autozone(AZO). Buffet however over the years has become more diversified owning roughly 90 public and private companies, not necessarily by choice but by the growth and success he's had. Both Pabrai (The Dhando Investor) and Joel Greenblatt (You Can Be A Stock Market Genius) mention focus investing in their books. Focus Investing also has to do with position sizing and what percentage you should allocate to each security, 5% 15% 25% or greater. This all depends on ones risk tolerance, and your expectations for upside(downside) potential. Pabrai has stated that ideally he favors putting no more than 10% of his total holdings in one individual security and only buying about 10-15 stocks. Here again this has to do with ones own personal risk level.
If you study many of the master stock pickers over the last 60 years you will see that they have used or use Focus Investing out performing the indexes.

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