Bet Against Beta Like Buffett

According to a new study, Warren Buffett has been able to produce exceptional stock market returns over the long haul not because of value investing, but instead by focusing on “boring” stocks, MSN Money’s Michael Brush writes.

The study, performed by Andrea Frazzini and Lasse H. Pedersen, found that “to do better in the market, use a little leverage, or borrowed money, in your account and load up on quality, low-beta stocks,” Brush writes. “Low beta means a stock goes up less than the market when it’s soaring, and down less than the market when it falls. This suggests the stock is safe. Staid. Boring. But high in quality and consistently profitable.”

Brush adds, however, that “Buffett’s obsession with quality in companies is really an outgrowth of his value orientation. … The best value investors find broken companies with good prospects to rebound once they’re repaired. To protect against getting wiped out in the process, value investors look for a margin of safety, to assure the stock won’t go to zero if the company fails to fix its problems fast enough. Buffett is perhaps the best at finding the right cheap stocks, because his checklist of things to look for that signal a margin of safety is better than the checklists used by most other investors.”

In examining that checklist, Brush turned to several Buffett experts, including Validea, whose Buffett-inspired portfolio has more than doubled the S&P 500 since its inception more than eight years ago. Validea’s Buffett model uses several variables to find quality stocks, including earnings predictability (a stock should have a decade-long track record of increasing earnings per share) and return on equity and return on capital (which should average at least 15% and 12%, respectively, over the past three and ten years). He also looks at a couple stocks that currently get high marks from Validea’s Buffett model, including Coca-Cola and IBM. To read the full article, click here.