As an investor in high-quality public companies and startup ventures, I spend very little time each on a lot of investment opportunities and a lot of time each on a very few opportunities. Over seven-tenths of the returns I’ve ever produced have been with just four companies.
I try to learn of as many ideas and opportunities as possible, especially in companies led by first-class entrepreneurs and businesspeople. From time to time, I spend hours at the community library flicking through one-page summaries in the Value Line Investment Survey, arguably the best investment product available on the market.
Exposing myself to many opportunities makes me a better investor. Even if my stock-filtering method quickly guides me to say “no” commonly, my goal is to find a kernel of usable information to add to my “mental attic.” I can’t predict when something might come in handy to help make sound investment choices in the future. As the great investor Charlie Munger said at the 1996 Wesco Financial annual meeting,
Our experience tends to confirm a long-held notion that being prepared, on a few occasions in a lifetime, to act promptly at scale, in doing some simple and logical thing, will often dramatically improve the financial results of that lifetime.
A few major opportunities, clearly recognizable as such, will usually come to one who continuously searches and waits, with a curious mind that loves diagnosis involving multiple variables. And then, all that is required is a willingness to bet heavily when the odds are extremely favorable, using resources available as a result of prudence and patience in the past.