What are the pro's and con's of value investing?

I answered a great question at TickerHound posted by the staff (as they do from time to time to stimulate discussion) that I thought I should simply repeat here:

What are the pro’s and con’s of value investing? Do you think it’s a worthwhile strategy or are you more of a “efficient market” proponent?

Well, I consider myself a Value Investor in everything that I do … stocks, real-estate, etc. The only exception is in the case of businesses, I’m generally a Growth Investor or a Value Investor.

Value Investing simply means “buying something worth $2 for $1” … well, not exactly, but you get my point: buying something for less than it is WORTH.

Now, this is a critical distinction: just because something was selling for $2 last week, and is selling for $1 this week, doesn’t mean that it is a VALUE Stock … it may only be ‘worth’ $0.50 and the market may simply be driving the price down to that … and, beyond!

In fact, that same stock (really ‘worth’ only $0.50) may BECOME a Value Stock if/when the market overshoots and sends the price down to $0.25.

The problem with Value Stocks is then one of KNOWING what they are truly worth at any point in time, and only buying when they are selling for a price less than that (preferably, with a large Margin of Safety … which simply means, buying it for MUCH LESS than what you THINK it is worth “just in case” …).

Now that we have covered the basics, what is the PRO of Value Investing?

Exactly that … being able to buy something ‘worth’ $2 for only $1. I can’t think of a better, more sure way of making money than that!

Then, what is the CON of value Investing … after all, there must be some or we’d ALL be doing it?

Simple: as I said before, it’s all about KNOWING which stock that is currently selling for $1 is actually worth $2 (and, avoiding the ones that are only worth $0.50!!). And, that takes some knowledge and skill. Warren Buffett has that knowledge and skill … so do many others, to a greater or lesser extent.

One other CON – one that is, ironically enough, addressed by¬†another TickerHound question: “Is technical analysis still applicable in a “news driven” market like the one we’re in now?”:

If a stock that you KNOW is worth $2 is currently selling for $1, is it an automatic BUY?

Well NO … you see, you KNOW it is worth $2, but the rest of the market may not!

Or, it may have BEEN worth $2 but there is something happening (maybe a pending lawsuit around a key patent, or the loss of a major contract, or … ) that YOU don’t know about because it hasn’t hit the “news” (or TickerHound) yet, but those ‘in the know’ are selling off the stock by the truckload.

So, that’s where technical analysis is not just applicable in a “news driven” market like the one we’re in now, but absolutely CRITICAL for buying Value Stocks …

… it will tell you WHEN to buy (or sell off) that stock holding, based upon what the “insiders” are doing.

If you want to learn more about Value Investing, and using Technical Analysis to know when to get in/out of a Value position, I recommend picking up a copy of Phil Town’s excellent primer: Rule 1 Investing

… and, Good Luck!