When you get the chance to learn from someone with 84 years of investment experience, you should take it.
The day before he celebrated his 107th birthday, I spoke with Irving Kahn, chairman of Kahn Brothers Group in New York and former research assistant to Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing.
Mr. Kahn's eyesight and hearing have diminished, but his curiosity, common sense and grasp of market history are intact.
He personifies the virtues that Graham spelled out in his classic 1949 book, "The Intelligent Investor," from which this column takes its name. Along with Warren Buffett, Mr. Kahn is one of the last surviving investors who learned directly from Graham.
Mr. Kahn's portfolio is half in cash, but only because he has finally gotten to the age where he is fully "captive to my own conservative personality," he said. Individual investors who avoid "doing things you know too little about" still stand a decent chance of outperforming professional investors, especially by sticking to smaller stocks, he told me.
Before I could even ask him a question, Mr. Kahn began peppering me with his own: Who is the new editor of The Wall Street Journal? What is its daily circulation? Who are its toughest competitors?
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