Known and popular wisdom boxes us in and limits our thinking. We can learn a lot from the greats, but if we follow blindly in their footsteps we’ll never be more than just followers –poor replicas of the original.
Jim’s other message was think (and do) different. Don’t just look for stocks where everyone else does. Most value investors look at the same stock screens and do things in a very automatic, number-driven manner. In solely focusing on numbers – the quantifiable things such as price –we are limiting ourselves. This quote from Albert Einstein summarizes Jim’s point “Not everything that counts can be counted.” We (present company included) are focusing too much on numbers, because they are searchable, they are objective. There is a lot of subjectivity in investing.
Certain things are not quantifiable. For example, a CEO forgoes his pay and takes the bulk of his compensation in stock. That little fact should maybe have more weight in our analysis than the quantifiable fact that the company has return on capital of 14.2% when its competitor is at 18.3%.