Regarded as one of the savviest value investors in the world, says a recent article in Canadian Business, Francis Chou thinks the market is overpriced right now, but will come down–and he’s willing to wait.
The article notes Chou’s early career as a Bell telephone technician (1979) during which time he became fascinated by the idea of value investing. Since then, the article says, Chou claims he’s been “doubling his money about every five and a half years.”
A year after obtaining his CFA certification in 1985, he launched Chou Associates Management. In 2015, Barron’s named Chou one of the World’s Best Investors. While he finds it more difficult to find bargains in today’s expensive market (he typically wants to own a company that’s trading at a 40% discount to its intrinsic worth), he believes that deals will present themselves. Chou says, “We always look at what could go wrong.” If he makes a mistake, he argues, a failure won’t affect a portfolio as much as it would if the stock was purchased at fair value. “You need to have that cushion,” he says, “that margin of safety against a mistake in your judgement.”
Chou bought stock during the market correction this past January, and is holding about 20% of his portfolio in cash to be prepared when the right opportunity comes along. “There are cycles and periods where you can buy stocks cheaply,” Chou says. “Maybe the whole market doesn’t come down, but there will be pockets of opportunity.”