Not to praise our Motley Fool co-founder too obsequiously, but David Gardner has a remarkably good track record in the market. Does he only pick winners? Heck, no. But does his portfolio of stocks outperform the market fairly consistently, and over the long term? Oh yes, and by an appealing margin. (Feeling skeptical? Look deeper into our website and see for yourself -- the man keeps score of his performance with ritual consistency.)
Naturally, you might want to replicate such profitable results, but to do that, the answer isn't simply to copy his stock buys -- it's to emulate his investing style. So on this week's Rule Breaker Investing podcast, Gardner shares the six core traits of his investing philosophy.
In this segment, he talks about what the folks at The Fool call "accuracy" -- picking not just stocks that rise but those that outperform the market. And Gardner admits up front that his own accuracy isn't much above 50%. But because of the mathematics of investing, it doesn't have to be. Still, he's aiming a bit higher, and you should too.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Sept. 19, 2018.
David Gardner: Trait No. 6: No. 6 is "aim for 60% accuracy." So what does that mean, because accuracy is a term that we've brought into the lexicon, here, within Fool HQ, but many other people wouldn't use that term in the investment world.
So for me, accuracy is what percentage of the time you are beating the market. For example, if you have 10 stocks and eight of them are beating the market, or ahead of where the market is, and two are losing to the market, then I would say that's an outstanding 80% accuracy [eight in 10 of the companies you're overseeing].
By the way, if you're only in 10, I want you to be in 20 stocks, but if you're just starting out, that's great accuracy of 80%. That is unsustainably great, at least for my approach, and my what and my how. I've never been able to maintain, nor do I even think I want to maintain, that high an accuracy. In order to have a really high accuracy, in my experience, you take less risk. You go with more certain, bigger things and for a lot of us, that's the right approach. But for me, I like to take shots and I'm willing to airball it from time to time. It turns out, over the course of my investment record in Stock Advisor and Rule Breakers, my own accuracy isn't that much more than 50%.
And that's why I say, with this Trait No. 6, aim for 60% accuracy. In my experience, even if you don't hit that, the good news is you can still whomp on the stock market averages. You can still prosper mightily as an investor, because the kinds of stocks that we're using these rules to invest in [the traits that I put out there like top dog, and first mover, and in an important, emerging industry] combined with what I've shared with you this week [let your winners run high, add up instead of double down], you're going to end up with great performance even without great accuracy.
In fact, a lot of studies show [and I don't have one to quote right now], but ["You Can Look It Up"]. As baseball manager Casey Stengel used to say [I also see this as a short story by James Thurber, the very humorous American writer written in 1941], but you could look it up and I think you're going to find studies will show that over time, a majority of companies in the market lose to the market's average. Lose to the S&P 500. So if, in fact, you are hitting on 50% accuracy, you're probably exceeding many fund managers with that number right there but aim [because we want to aim high and we always want to try to do better] for 60% accuracy.
Now the other side of that coin, which I have to point out, is that means you're going to lose 4X out of 10, and some of those times you're going to lose really badly. And anybody who's spent any time listening to this podcast, or joined us at Stock Advisor or Rule Breakers, will certainly know that I talk a lot about needing to lose to win, and being comfortable looking silly and being OK with losing. And one of the reasons that I'm OK with losing, and I think you just heard it in Trait No. 5, is that we don't take big positions in things; so if things do poorly, we're not going to get that badly hurt. So aim for 60% accuracy.
And I've been appending a quote to each of these, so I guess I might as well just repeat it. I already used it, but, "You have to be willing to lose to win." It's a very important concept, especially applicable to the approach that we take, here, at Rule Breaker Investing.
There are other approaches out there. You could just mail it in with the index fund and not even open up your statements. Just keep saving every two weeks from your paycheck. I think that's a great way to go. There are also some hyper safe approaches. You could hedge yourself. You could only buy stocks that have great balance sheets and pay a nice dividend. There are certainly less risky approaches to take. But since you're listening to my podcast, you're going to know that we intentionally take risks and that's the nature of Rule Breaker Investing and how I think we maximize our returns.