“Growth” vs. “Value” Investing is Overly Simplistic

Nov 2000

To some people, growth investing simplistically means buying stocks that go up, whereas value investing means buying stocks that don’t—as if anyone would intentionally do that.  To others, growth investing means buying stocks of companies that are growing operationally (or, better, have grown), and value investing means buying companies with nominally high assets on their balance sheets, but (usually) little ability to use these assets to create earnings.  Things aren’t this simple, dear clients.  Stocks that have grown in the past don’t always continue to grow (often, because they become overpriced and, thus, disconnected from reality), and faster growing companies almost always find that their high operational growth slows or ends.  Further, high-valued assets that don’t eventually contribute to earnings really aren’t high-valued.  In reality, there is only one type of investing that has consistently worked, and that is the process of buying investments when current prices do not adequately reflect current and future economic reality—a process that requires insight, careful research and patience.  One can call this process anything (I prefer ‘classic value investing’), but the name isn’t that important.  In reality, the simple ‘growth’ and ‘value’ terms are more marketing labels than descriptions of investment theories.