Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Take a look at what Warren Buffett wrote to his investors at July 12, 1966 after Dow Decline by more than 10% since it's peak to May that year. Sounds familiar to what we're facing currently?

"I resurrect this "market-guessing" section only because after the Dow declined from 995 at the peak in February to about 865 in May, I received a few calls from partners suggesting that they thought stocks were going a lot lower. This always raises two questions in my mind:

(1) if they knew in February that the Dow was going to 865 in May, why didn't they let me in on it then; and,
(2) if they didn't know what was going to happen during the ensuing three months back in February, how do they know in May?

There is also a voice or two after any hundred point or so decline suggesting we sell and wait until the future is clearer. Let me again suggest two points:

(1) the future has never been clear to me (give us a call when the next few months are obvious to you – or, for that matter the next few hours); and,
(2) no one ever seems to call after the market has gone up one hundred points to focus my attention on how unclear everything is, even though the view back in February doesn't look so clear in retrospect.

If we start deciding, based on guesses or emotions, whether we will or won't participate in a business where we should have some long run edge, we're in trouble. We will not sell our interests in businesses (stocks) when they are attractively priced just because some astrologer thinks the quotations may go lower even though such forecasts are obviously going to be right some of the time.

Similarly, we will not buy fully priced securities because "experts" think prices are going higher. Who would think of buying or selling a private business because of someone's guess on the stock market?

The availability of a question for your business interest (stock) should always be an asset to be utilized if desired. If it gets silly enough in either direction, you take advantage of it. Its availability should never be turned into a liability whereby its periodic aberrations in turn formulate your judgments. A marvelous articulation of this idea is contained in chapter two (The Investor and Stock Market Fluctuations) of Benjamin Graham's "The Intelligent Investor". In my opinion, this chapter has more investment importance than anything else that has been written."