Even though most people admire Warren Buffett's investing performance and philosophy, not many of us invest much money in his types of companies or industries. Many investors posted their reasons as to why people are drawn to technology stocks instead, which is in opposition to how Buffett invests.
One suggested reason for the dichotomy in investors (respect of Buffett without much emulation) is the media. The media gives technology companies the most coverage because they are typically the most interesting. It is human nature to be drawn to change, and technology continually changes, making for an interesting story. A company that sells bricks does not change much, and therefore is not interesting to most people. So, Buffett's interest in these "basic goods" companies is part of what sets him apart from the majority, and is part of what makes him an exceptional investor. He can recognize value where others don't.
Another reason that people buy technology stocks so often is, as many people agreed on the board, because they're hoping to make a large return relatively quickly. A tech-focused strategy can work very well when you buy companies like Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) or Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) in the mid-1990s or earlier, and a tech investing strategy will continue to work well with a very small minority of tech companies. And the rewards are higher, when there are any, because the risks and uncertainties are greater than average.
Another reason for investors' focus on technology, some people suggested, is simply the potential ease of the purchase decision. Most investors have heard of Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) and know that it is the giant in networking. But to find a giant leader in, say, cement, would take considerable work. (I can't name one.) The obvious disadvantage to this type of investing in the obvious tech giants is that people are, even en masse, buying complex businesses with prospects that they can't adequately understand. After all, even people working at technology companies can't predict which technologies will profitably lead the market in coming years.
All of this said, the only way to truly emulate Buffett is to buy what you understand -- because that's what he does. If you understand fiber optics and its future well enough that you have confidence in a certain long-term investment in the industry, then, arguably, buy that. If you understand bricks and find an attractive brick investment, buy that. If you understand Buffett, buy him through his stock, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A). But always be honest with yourself as to what you understand and what you really don't.
Many other interesting points were made about tech stocks and investing on the discussion board linked above, so read that and contribute if you're interested. All of this, in a roundabout fashion that could make politicians proud, leads us back to...
Trex Company (NYSE: TWP)
As with all our recent investment contenders, Trex was suggested for our high-growth company study by a Motley Fool reader and community member. Trex was formed in 1996 as the result of a buyout of the assets of Mobil Corp's -- now Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) -- Composite Products Division. Four long-time Mobil executives led the formation of Trex.
Trex sells alternative decking products via a proprietary wood and plastic composite, called Trex Wood-Polymer, that has advantages over wood products. The product is sold through 60 wholesale distribution locations, which then sell it to 2,400 dealer outlets in the country.
Trex's product is used primarily for residential and commercial decking, and it is positioned as a "premium" decking solution. Trex is growing sales in the decking market by "converting demand for wood decking products into demand for Trex." The company is most focused on contracted deck manufacturers, which represent 70% of the deck market.
Does Trex have expanding possibilities? What else can its big product, and other patented products, perhaps, be used for? Also, how are the young company's financials? This is what I'm researching now, to share later. The company's website is a start.
Have a good weekend, and welcome to April!
Jeff Fischer would like a raised deck walkway built from his home to the ocean (150 miles) and to Fool HQ (several miles). First he'd buy Trex stock, which he doesn't own. The Fool is investors writing for investors.