Boring Portfolio Boring Portfolio Report
Boring Thoughts on Stocks

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By Greg Markus (MF Boring)
January 22, 1996

Preface (In Which Boring Deconstructs)
When the folks at Fool HQ invited me to manage a real money Borefolio, they informed me that my first task would be to lay out briefly for my audience the Boring approach to buying and selling stocks.

No problemo. After all, I've been professing, consulting, and investing for a good many years now and have been actively managing the Boring folder inside The Motley Fool since that folder's official debut on April Fool's Day, 1995. Surely *I* could readily describe my investing "philosophy" for the eager multitude. So I grabbed a few of my old posts on the topic, updated them a bit--a cut here, a paste there--and viola! (as they say in Columbus, Ohio), that chore was out of the way.

Or was it? The approach I'd articulated in my draft was grounded in solid, well-known principles: invest in stuff you know about, research the company's sales and earnings history and prospects, steer clear of no-earnings hype stocks, estimate what a fair multiple for the stock should be and don't pay too dear a price, sell if the rationale that motivated the buy changes or if the stock appreciates to fair value, etc., etc. I had a nice mix of homey examples and semi-humorous anecdotes. There was just one problem. The reconstructed logic of that nice, neat story didn't depict very accurately the messy, nonlinear, continuously evolving cogitations that produce my investment decisions "in real life."

Don't get me wrong. That first draft wasn't fabricated from whole cloth. The principles I'd listed were indeed things I believe in and even try to practice, reasonably faithfully. But for me to purport that there was some tidy, scientific, algorithm that the great swami Boring could bestow upon you, the gentle reader, for you then to ape mindlessly and watch the dough roll in--well that was nothing but a load of overripe guacamole.

So I scrapped that draft. Instead, what I offer you is a few general guidelines about how I've bought and sold stocks in the past and how I intend to proceed with the Boring portfolio. Will the guidelines evolve as we move along? I certainly hope so. The main motivation for me to do this stuff is to learn something from it, which I presume is your motivation, too.


Greg Markus (MF Boring) is a professor, research scientist, and business consultant. He has taught courses in quantitative social research and statistical analysis for nearly 25 years and has lectured at universities and institutes throughout the world. In addition to his scholarly publications, Greg's research and commentary also appear in the popular media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, CBS News and on National Public Radio.

Greg is attracted to The Motley Fool partly because of his interests in investing and market research. But mostly he values Fooldom because it's a place where people from diverse backgrounds engage each other in matters of common interest, share information, pool knowledge, learn a lot, and have fun, too. Hmm-m-m, sounds a lot like how a great university should operate!

When not involved in research, teaching, and The Motley Fool, Greg competes in ultra-distance triathlons (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bicycle, 26.2 mile run), including the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii (twice--so far!). He is married to a professional choreographer/dancer and has a teenage daughter.