Be Like Buffett: Go Low — Low-Beta, That Is

Conventional wisdom has long held that, in investing, greater risk leads to greater reward. But over the past couple years, new research has turned that idea on its head, and in his most recent Seeking Alpha article, Validea CEO John Reese looks at some of the implications for investors.

“In Betting Against Beta, Andrea Frazzini and Lasse Pedersen found that [Warren] Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has beaten the market over the long haul by focusing on low-beta stocks, and using leverage – other people’s money – when buying them,” Reese says. “Most investors can’t use large amounts of leverage, however. Instead, they turn to volatile stocks in search of high return, Pederson and Frazzini said. In doing so, they bid up the prices of those stocks, which has led to high-beta assets underperforming among U.S. equities, 20 international equity markets, Treasury bonds, corporate bonds, and futures.”

Reese looks at research that supports this idea, and he examines 5 low-beta stocks that currently get high marks from his Guru Strategies, which are based on the approaches of Buffett and other investing greats. Among them: Wells Fargo and IBM.