Tilson & Heins on “Lottery” Picks

While they are value investors, Whitney Tilson and John Heins say that it’s okay to swing for the fences on riskier stocks.

“Overpaying for stocks is always a bad idea,” the duo writes in their latest Forbes column. “But there are times when the market offers what we consider mispriced options on success. We will happily make an investment even when we know there’s a decent chance we’ll lose most or all of our money, as long as the upside is great enough to offset the risk. If we’re investing $100 in something that has a 70% chance of being worthless but a 30% chance of being worth $1,000, the expected value of the investment is $300, which would triple our money. If over time our assessment of the odds proves sound, investing in such mispriced stocks will prove beneficial to our portfolio.”

There’s a big “but”, however: “We devote only a tiny portion of our portfolio to these types of hit-or-miss opportunities,” Tilson and Heins write. “That’s especially true today, when the market is far more likely to misprice global blue-chip stocks like Berkshire Hathaway, Microsoft, Intel and Johnson & Johnson — all of which we own.”

Tilson and Heins also offer a couple of riskier picks they say are currently “well worth taking cuts at”.