Where have all the Star Stock Pickers Gone?

By John Reese (@guruinvestor) —  The days of the star stock picker are largely gone, but aspects of their investment genius live on in other ways. In the mid to late 90s, the Fidelity Magellan fund was the largest mutual fund in existence. Run for years by the legendary Peter Lynch—during which time the fund’s return doubled that of the market– the fund went from $14 million in assets to $40 billion by the time he retired. Magellan consisted of hundreds of hand-picked stocks that met the criteria of Lynch and the managers, including Jeff Vinik, who managed the fund […]

Study Finds that Stock Picking Probably Won’t Make Investors Rich

While some stock pickers can successful, investors should keep in mind that the odds are against them, according to a recent article inThe New York Times. “It’s not just that bull markets like this one eventually come to an end,” the article says, “It’s that over the long run, while the total stock market has prospered, most individual stocks have not.” It offers findings from finance professor Hendrik Bessembinder (of Arizona State University) showing that, “A very small percentage of winning stocks have done splendidly, but when gains and losses are tallied up over their lifetimes, most stocks haven’t earned […]

Ritholtz Says Stock-Picking is Still Alive if Not Kicking

Active fund management has been losing followers but isn’t going away entirely, writes Barry Ritholtz in a recent Bloomberg article. While stock-picking has seen a host of changes, he offers several insights as to “how we got here” including the following: Beating the market is tougher than most people thought, a notion that Ritholtz says has become “widely accepted among both professional investors and individuals.” We have a much greater understanding of investor psychology, and this “makes the case for low-cost index investing even more compelling.” Quantitative studies, writes Ritholtz, suggest that much of active investing performance is attributable to […]

Stock-Picking Strategies from Barron’s Veteran

Advocating a flexible approach to stock-picking, a recent article by Barron’s veteran Andrew Bary offers some guidance that incorporate the ever-successful strategies of Warren Buffett while emphasizing the importance of creating a “well-diversified portfolio before trying to pick individual stocks.” He writes that Barron’s tends to favor both value stocks (those with low price-to-earnings or price-to-book ratios) and growth companies (those with rapid earnings and revenue growth) and outlines the following guidelines: Paying for growth—when buying growth companies, “look for dominant businesses and don’t overpay”—he suggests no more than 25 or 30 times projected earnings for the next year. “Be […]

Are the Markets Really Efficient?

Warren Buffett has always been open about his approach to investing, singing the praises of focusing on business fundamentals to find strong stocks at good prices. However, in a recent BloombergView article, columnist Noah Smith outlines some reasons why the Buffett philosophy actually contradicts the efficient market hypothesis (EMH), an investment theory that says it’s impossible to beat the market because existing share prices reflect all relevant information. A recent debate between University of Chicago finance professors Eugene Fama and Richard Thaler addressed the issue of whether markets are in fact efficient. Smith admits to agreeing more with Fama, who argued […]