If you're looking for their names on the leaderboard, you should start at the top. Both are one-time prodigies who have moved into roles as dynamic and recognizable figures, leaders in their field. Both have throngs of supporters, and a few detractors. Yet despite the similarities in their success, they achieve their victories by taking very different routes.
One is the equivalent of a home run hitter. He tries things that few others would ever consider. He's way outside the box.
The other doesn't take unnecessary risks. He's content to patiently figure out the right play and, as the announcers like to say, let the game come to him. Let others take the big risks, he says; I'll keep plugging. And he'll, as often as not, finish with the prize.
I'm talking, of course, about Phil and Tiger -- Inside Value advisor Philip Durell and Rule Breakers boss David "Tiger" Gardner. Yet sadly for the parallelism of this tortured analogy, Philip plays the role not of Phil Mickelson but of Tiger Woods. And "Tiger" is our "Lefty."
But tortured as it might be, the golfing analogy nicely describes two investing styles that stand in stark contrast to one another -- yet both deliver market-beating returns in their own ways.
The golfer-as-investor analogy
According to a tour pro in the recent Sports Illustrated, "[Tiger's] like Nicklaus was; he doesn't mind sitting back and letting the other guys make mistakes." That's a virtue called patience, and it's key to the value approach that's been practiced by Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, et al., as well as the Fool's Philip Durell. Why? Because value investors, in their quest to profit, sit back and let the market make mistakes -- which it inevitably does.
For some examples, just think back to the post-tech-bubble market meltdown. Investors sold off stocks indiscriminately, without regard for their management, prospects, or underlying value. This is why Advanced Micro Devices
And now, in an ironic twist of fate, Intel and Dell are almost back down at their five-year lows. Since AMD and Hewlett-Packard are showing life, the market's essentially leaving Intel and Dell for dead. Those are likely overreactions, and Philip is set to patiently profit from them -- he's recommended both Intel and Dell to subscribers of his Inside Value newsletter service.
Bring two drivers
Growth investors, on the other hand, are the Phil Mickelsons of investing. They're bold to the point of swashbuckling. They love the big play, and they love to find businesses that fundamentally change the world, or at least, as in the case of iRobot, change the way you clean your house.
And just as Mickelson has started carrying two drivers with him in order to be aggressive out of the tee box, growth investors often swing for the green every time. Sometimes those picks work out extremely well -- the growth-or-bust approach of Fool co-founder David "Tiger" Gardner (who technically has never been called "Tiger" in his life, although I hope that will change after this article) scored huge with Archipelago Holdings, which was acquired by NYSE Group
In all of these cases, though, David and his team focused on a business model -- electronic trading, indoor water parks, bargain Internet commerce -- that was fundamentally different from anything that had come before. There was revenue growth, a buzz, and a wide market opportunity.
And while Great Wolf and Overstock have become sidetracked in their growth stories and disappointed investors, Archipelago's gains have more than made up for it. These are high-risk, high-reward scenarios -- and that's the fun of going for the green.
What kind of investor are you?
Unlike Phil and Tiger, Philip and David like each other just fine, and I think that makes sense -- there's probably a little of both in each of us. Fortunately, then, both investing styles can win. For you, however, it's a question of which style will keep you interested in the market, which style suits your personality, risk tolerance, and timeline better, and which style you'll have more fun describing as you tell your buddies about all of your stock market gains on the 19th hole. To learn more about Philip's value strategy and the stocks he likes best right now, click here. To learn more about David's growth strategy and his favorite growth stocks, click here.