I was checking my daughter's investment account recently, and I realized that I'm kind of an idiot.
I'd forgotten that I'd bought a dozen or so shares of Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation Quality Systems for her account. I hadn't been tracking the stock or news surrounding the company. I felt like a real idiot until I checked my cost basis and realized that the investment was up more than 150%.
So maybe we idiots have it right.
Warren Buffett: Idiot
Every day, I hear stock jocks gloat and die with each 10% rise or fall in their stock price. But there's a big difference between stock jocks and master investors: Master investors sacrifice short-term gains to build real wealth.
As the head of Berkshire Hathaway, master investor Warren Buffett has said that he expects to "keep permanently our primary holdings." The man has directed Berkshire to an incredible 40-year compounded annual growth rate of 21.9% by doing all his work on the front end -- identifying superior companies -- and then just forgetting about the prospect of selling.
Buffett has never sold a share of Berkshire Hathaway, and he says his performance would have been even better than 21.9% if he'd never sold a single share of any of his investments. That may sound like an idiot's approach, but those aren't the results of an idiot.
Shelby Davis: Idiot
Shelby Davis turned $50,000 into a fortune greater than $800 million during a lifetime of saving and investing, landing him on the Forbes list of the richest Americans before his death.
Davis is frequently called a B-list money manager, but there's nothing B-list about his returns. Like Buffett, he bought stocks to hold and said before he died that he, too, would have been better off if he had never sold a single investment.
David and Tom Gardner: Idiots
Well, not really, since they're beating the market by more than 40 percentage points and Tom's the one who found Quality Systems in the first place. And if I'd bought when he first recommended the company and not waited, my investment would be up more than 430% -- significantly more than the paltry 150% my daughter has earned. But Tom recently told me that he and Dave's biggest investing regrets are the companies they've sold over the years.
Tom has sold eight positions from his Stock Advisor portfolio: Hypercom, Daktronics, Possis Medical, Kensey Nash, Websense, Sanderson Farms, and two positions in Whole Foods
As for David, he's sold three positions: Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Find superior companies
The key to the buying-and-forgetting approach, of course, is identifying and buying into superior companies with superior performance. That's where David and Tom help me.
I read about Quality Systems in Stock Advisor -- our newsletter in which David and Tom go head-to-head to find the best stocks anywhere -- and the business made sense to me. As Tom wrote, the company's software helps private-practice physicians automate administrative and diagnostic records. Growing industry. Leader in the field. Smart business approach. Yup, makes sense. So I bought a small chunk and forgot it. That blend of magic and ignorance has turned my investment into a thing of beauty.
David and Tom are finding companies like that all the time -- in all, David's picks are up 47% and Tom's are up 61% compared with the S&P's 16% -- and I plan to keep adding them to my daughter's portfolio before letting them slip once again from my consciousness.
To find the companies you might want to buy and forget, give Stock Advisor a whirl for 30 days for free. You'll get two stock recommendations per month and access to all of David and Tom's more than 70 recommendations. As always, the Fool's money-back guarantee stands behind the offer. Click here to learn more.
As for Quality Systems, the stock has traded down of late and is approximately 10% off its 52-week high. But I'm not concerned. This is a superior company, and my daughter and I will do well to heed the wisdom of Buffett, Davis, and David and Tom Gardner and, in the words of Tony Soprano, just "Fuhgeddaboudit."
This article was originally published on July 22, 2005. It has been updated.
Roger Friedman is the managing editor of newsletters and the author of Nipple Confusion, Uncoordinated Pooping and Spittle: The Life of a Newborn's Father . He (and his daughter) own shares of Quality Systems. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors .