Subscribe NowJoin thousands of other Vintage Value readers today!

Why an Intelligent Investor Knows that Good Investing Hurts

Just like a Navy SEAL, the Intelligent Investor knows that good investing can hurt some of the time.

Okay, maybe a lot of the time.

Morgan Housel from the Motley Fool cites a study just conducted by Research Associates.

Of 350 mutual funds available to investors in 1970, only 100 survived through 2014. The other 250 closed, or were merged with other funds. Of the 100 that survived, 45 beat the market over the whole period; 42 of them beat it by less than two percentage points per year.

So what? Everyone knows that many mutual funds can’t consistently beat the market.

What’s remarkable is that the three “superstar” funds that did beat the market by more than 2 percentage points a year for 45 years, spent, on average, a third of the time underperforming the market on a rolling three-year basis.

Mutual Fund Performance
Source: Research Associates (click image to enlarge)

As Housel points out:

You can imagine the ridicule these managers went through when, for years on end, they lagged the market. Clients surely pulled money out of their funds. Journalists stopped calling them. Their personal pay likely plunged. It was uncomfortable. But they still beat 99% of their peers over the long run.

The same thing happened to Warren Buffett in the 1990’s, when everyone was getting themselves wrapped up in the dot-com craze.

Read: 5 Ways the Nasdaq is Different Now than 15 Years Ago

Buffett was widely chastised by analysts and the media throughout the late 90’s for not jumping aboard the internet train. People called him too old, too conservative, out-of-touch, and a has-been.

But Buffett (i) didn’t understand many of the new tech stocks, and he doesn’t invest in what he doesn’t understand, and (ii) saw the bubble being created by outlandish valuations (in March 2000, the P/E for the Nasdaq was a sky-high 175!).

After a heady experience of that kind, normally sensible people drift into behaviour akin to that of Cinderella at the ball. They know that overstaying the festivities… will eventually bring on pumpkins and mice.Warren Buffett, December 1999

To be sure, Buffett felt a lot of pain during this period, as he both underperformed the high-flying internet stocks and was ridiculed for doing so. His biography, The Snowball, even opens in July 1999 in the midst of this very drama.

But in the end, Buffett adhered to his Intelligent Investor principles, endured the pain, and had the last laugh.

Read: The Biggest Threat to Your Portfolio Today

What was the worst pain you ever felt while investing? How did you get through it? Tell us about it in the comments section!


Comments by ReddiComments - Join the conversation on Reddit!

  • Life shouldn’t be printed on dollar bills. ~Clifford Odets

  • Anonymous

    Appreciate your insights on this subject