Importance of Knowing Your Investment Boundaries (Sears Mini-Case Study)

Posted on January 12, 2017

Posted in Case Studies, Charlie Munger, Investment Philosophy

A few months ago we had an interesting post/discussion on the site where Matt Brice and I share some of our research and investment ideas. The topic was Munger’s ability to quickly discard an investment opportunity if it was something he didn’t understand or a business he didn’t like. The comment that Munger made regarding the business of cattle ranching was one of the key takeaways that stayed with me from the 2016 Berkshire Annual Meeting—in short, the discipline that Munger has when it comes to his “too hard pile”.

A week ago I read an article in Business Insider that referenced a Q&A from 2005 where Buffett was talking to a group of students from the University of Kansas and he was asked about the chances of success of the Sears/Kmart merger (which had just recently occurred at that time).

Buffett’s answer—as so often is the case—was quite simple-minded and succinct, yet very logical and packed full of good advice to consider. What really struck me was the same thing that struck me in Munger’s reply to the cattle rancher: Buffett’s ability to quickly discard an investment opportunity that belongs in his too hard pile. He wastes very little time and energy considering these types of ideas.

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