The Motley Fool Singapore

Helping Singaporeans invest better.

Eight Quotes To Make You A Better Investor

question-mark

The best investors, much like the best poker players, are grinders. They don’t play for the thrill, and they don’t let swings affect their game plan; they play for money. And no movie better embodies these principles than Rounders.

With that in mind, we’ll ante up eight great quotes for better investing.

1. “Rule No. 1: Throw away your cards the minute you know they [the cards] can’t win.”

Value investors love to talk about buying 20-cent dollars — that is, buying $1.00 of value for just $0.20. That’s a great goal.

However, sometimes you’re going to end up paying $1.00 for just $0.20 of value. In that case, if the core of the business isn’t what you thought it was, quit your whining and cut your losses. According to Peter Lynch, “In this business, if you’re good, you’re right six times out of 10. You’re never going to be right nine times out of 10.” In other words, you’re going to be wrong sometimes. When you are, own it and get out.

2. “Listen, here’s the thing. If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half-hour at the table, then you are the sucker.”

This is a classic poker line and should be a classic investing line. If you’ve been making short-term trades and getting your wallet burnt without knowing why, you’ve been the ‘sucker at the table’.

It’s hard to tell what the market’s going to do on a week-by-week, or even a month-by-month basis. On the other hand, in the long-run, the shares of a company are tethered to its underlying intrinsic value. Make that your edge as an individual investor. Steer clear of a short-term focus and milk time arbitrage – investing with a long-term focus – for all it’s worth.

3. “Why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table of the Word Series of Poker every year? What, are they the luckiest guys in Las Vegas?”

Great investors are great investors for a reason. They stay within their circle of competence — meaning they invest in things they understand — protect against risk, and understand they don’t have to play every hand. Berkshire Hathaway‘s Warren Buffett is a prime example of this as he’s said, “The stock market is a no-called-strike game. You don’t have to swing at everything — you can wait for your pitch.” And Buffett walks that talk — stocks like Wells FargoCoca-Cola, and The Washington Post have been in the Berkshire Hathaway portfolio for decades.

4. “You can’t lose what you don’t put in the middle.”

This ties into psychology and emotion. Don’t invest anything you’re not willing to lose, and if your portfolio is cut in half tomorrow, that shouldn’t mean you’re homeless two days from now.

5. “He beat me… Straight up… Pay him… Pay that man his money.”

This line comes from Teddy KGB, a character I see as very similar to Benjamin Graham’s Mr. Market. This, admittedly, is a much darker version of Graham’s “Here to serve us” Mr. Market. But we see Mr. Market as a poker player with a tell.

Prices quoted by Mr. Market can range from overly pessimistic to exuberantly silly –more importantly, both can often be detached from reality. And, that detachment is the tell. Spot it, and you win.

Blumont Group (SGX: A33) and Asiasons Capital (SGX: 5ET) were part of a notorious trio (which included LionGold Corp (SGX: A78) whose shares got crushed by more than 90% in three short trading days from 4 Oct 2013 to 8 Oct 2013.

Prior to their collapse, both sported sky-high valuations that were exuberantly silly: Blumont and Asiasons were valued at more than 500 times trailing earnings near their peaks before their shares nose-dived.

On the other hand, the Straits Times Index (SGX: ^STI) was being priced for overly pessimistic outcomes when it was valued at around 6 times trailing earnings when it bottomed at 1,455 points on 10 March 2009 during the Great Financial Crisis.

Guess what happens next? The STI has now more than doubled to its current level of around 3,180 points in four-and-a-half years.

Spot the tell and you win.

6. “They’re trying to goad me, trying to own me. But this isn’t a gunfight. It’s not about pride or ego. It’s only about money.”

Everyone wants to stand around the water cooler and talk about the big winners they’ve had — that’s ego. The best investors can check their emotions at the door and focus on making quality, long-term investments.

7. “Always leave yourself outs.”

As Buffett famously said, if you were driving a truck that weighed 9,900 pounds, you wouldn’t go over a bridge that said “Limit: 10,000 pounds.” Instead, you’d wait until you saw a sign that said “Limit: 20,000 pounds.” The same goes for investing. Figure out what the business is worth, and then leave some room for error (or, as Buffett would say, margin of safety).

8. “Is that the ’88 World Series? Johnny Chan flops the nut straight and has the discipline to wait it out.”

Sometimes the best play is to do nothing. Buffett bought shares of Coca-Cola in 1988, and has been checking it down ever since. And you know what? That’s what a $9.2 billion hand looks like.

Click here now for your FREE subscription to Take Stock Singapore, The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Written by David Kuo, Take Stock Singapore tells you exactly what’s happening in today’s markets, and shows how you can GROW your wealth in the years ahead.  

The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Like us on Facebook  to keep up-to-date with our latest news and articles.

The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. This article was written by Dave Koppenheffer, and first published on fool.com. It has been edited for fool.sg

Get FREE Issues of TAKE STOCK

Want to keep up with our investing thoughts as they develop? Don't miss a beat! Just drop your email in the box below and we'll keep you up to date.

See all posts by Motley Fool Staff


The Motley Fool