Last year I said:
“A few mutual funds and some private investment operations have compiled records vastly superior to the Dow and, in some cases, substantially superior to Buffett Partnership, Ltd. Their investment techniques are usually very dissimilar to ours and not within my capabilities.”
In 1967 this condition intensified. Many investment organizations performed substantially better than BPL, with gains ranging to over 100%. Because of these spectacular results, money, talent and energy are converging in a maximum effort for the achievement of large and quick stock market profits. It looks to me like greatly intensified speculation with concomitant risks - but many of the advocates insist otherwise.
My mentor, Ben Graham, used to say. “Speculation is neither illegal, immoral nor fattening (financially).” During the past year, it was possible to become fiscally flabby through a steady diet of speculative bonbons. We continue to eat oatmeal but if indigestion should set in generally, it is unrealistic to expect that we won’thave some discomfort.
Essentially I am out of step with present conditions. On one point, however, I am clear. I will not abandon a previous approach whose logic I understand (although I find it difficult to apply) even though it may mean foregoing large and apparently easy, profits to embrace an approach which I don’t fully understand, have not practiced successfully and which, possibly, could lead to substantial permanent loss of capital.
The evaluation of securities and businesses for investment purposes has always involved a mixture of qualitative and quantitative factors. At the one extreme, the analyst exclusively oriented to qualitative factors would say. "Buy the right company (with the right prospects, inherent industry conditions, management, etc.) and the price will take care of itself.” On the other hand, the quantitative spokesman would say, “Buy at the right price and the company (and stock) will take care of itself.” As is so often the pleasant result in the securities world, money can be made with either approach. And, of course, any analyst combines the two to some extent – his classification in either school would depend on the relative weight he assigns to the various factors and not to his consideration of one group of factors to the exclusion of the other group. 为 了投资目的而对证券与业务进行的估值，向来混合了定性和定量的因素。在一个极端，完全偏向定性因素的分析者会说：“买好的公司（有好的前景，好的内在行业 状况，好的管理等），价格自己会上涨。”在另一个极端，定量分析一方会说：“买在合适的价位，公司（和股票）自己会努力。”在证券世界里，良好的业绩往往 证明，这两种方式都可以赚钱。当然，任何分析师在某种程度上都综合了这两种方式，他对这两种学派的划分要看他对不同因素所给予的权重，而不是只考虑一类因 素而拒绝其他一类因素。
Interestingly enough, although I consider myself to be primarily in the quantitative school (and as I write this no one has come back from recess - I may be the only one left in the class), the really sensational ideas I have had over the years have been heavily weighted toward the qualitative side where I have had a "high-probability insight". This is what causes the cash register to really sing. However, it is an infrequent occurrence, as insights usually are, and, of course, no insight is required on the quantitative side - the figures should hit you over the head with a baseball bat. So the really big money tends to be made by investors who are right on qualitative decisions but, at least in my opinion, the more sure money tends to be made on the obvious quantitative decisions.
有趣的是，虽然我自认为主要是定量这一学派的（在我写这封信的时候，大家都还没从休 假回来，我可能是这一派唯一剩下的一个人），但是在过去这么多年，那些真正绝妙的投资想法都严重倾向于定性一端，对那些想法我有着“高概率的深刻见解”。 这才是赚钱的真正原因。但是，这种机会并不常见。因为洞察、深入见解通常并不是定量分析所必须的。数字是直来直去的，就像你的头被棒球棒击中一样。所以， 至少在我看，真正的大钱是靠投资者在定性分析上决策正确而赚的，而可靠而稳定的赚钱则要靠明显而直接的定量决策。
Such statistical bargains have tended to disappear over the years. This may be due to the constant combing and recombing of investments that has occurred during the past twenty years, without an economic convulsion such as that of the ‘30s to create a negative bias toward equities and spawn hundreds of new bargain securities. It maybe due to the new growing social acceptance, and therefore usage (or maybe it's vice versa - I'll let the behaviorists figure it out) of takeover bids which have a natural tendency to focus on bargain issues. It may be due to the exploding ranks of security analysts bringing forth an intensified scrutiny of issues far beyond what existed some years ago. Whatever the cause, the result has been the virtual disappearance of the bargain issue as determined quantitatively - and thereby of our bread and butter. There still maybe a few from time to time. There will also be the occasional security where I am really competent to make an important qualitative judgment. This will offer our best chance for large profits. Such instances will. however, be rare. Much of our good performance duringthe past three years has been due to a single idea of this sort.
这些便宜的机会在过去一些年逐渐消失。这可能是由于在过去20年里，投资公司不断合并，而且又缺乏像30年 代那样的大的经济震荡来产生对股票的负面偏见，因此无法大量产生成百的便宜股票。这也可能是因为社会的容忍度逐渐增加，所以收购兼并的使用逐渐增加（也可 能是反过来，收购兼并增加而导致社会越来越容忍，让行为学者想明白吧。）这些收购兼并自然集中在便宜的投资机会上。这还可能是由于证券分析师数量的暴增， 对证券的仔细深入研究程度远超过多年前的水平。无论原因是什么，结果是通过量化分析就能判断是便宜的股票几乎消失了，而这是我们投资的基本生计。偶尔，也 会有几个便宜的机会。有时候，有的股票我确实有能力做出重要的定性判断。这将带来巨额盈利的最好机会。但是，这些情况都非常少见。我们过去三年的好业绩很 大一部分都是由于一个这种好的投资想法。
Elementary self-analysis tells me that I will not be capable of less than all-out effort to achieve a publicly proclaimed goal to people who have entrusted their capital to me. All-out effort makes progressively less sense. I would like to have an economic goal which allows for considerable non-economic activity. This may mean activity outside the field of investments or it simply may mean pursuing lines within the investment field that do not promise the greatest economic reward. An example of the latter might be the continued investment in a satisfactory (but far from spectacular) controlled business where I liked the people and the nature of the business even though alternative investments offered an expectable higher rate of return. More money would be made buying businesses at attractive prices, then reselling them. However, it may be more enjoyable (particularly when the personal value of incremental capital is less) to continue to own them and hopefully improve their performance, usually in a minor way, through some decisions involving financial strategy.
基本的自我分析告诉我，我无法不全身心投入去实现一个对大家公开宣称的目标，这些人 们把资本托付了给我。但全身心投入的方式越来越不明智了。我希望设立一个容许相当多的非经济活动的经济目标。这有可能意味着投资领域以外的活动，或者只意 味着追寻不具有最大经济回报的投资。后一个的例子，比如持续投资于一个令人满意（但远不是绝妙）的控股业务。即使有其他投资机会能提供预期更高的回报率， 我也会投资于这样的生意，因为我喜欢管理者和生意本身。在好的价位买入业务，然后卖掉能挣更多的钱。但是，持续拥有生意，并通过财务决策有希望稍微改善它 们的业绩，这更有乐趣（尤其当个人不必持续投入精力时）。
Thus, I am likely to limit myself to things which are reasonably easy, safe, profitable and pleasant. This will not make our operation more conservative than in the past since I believe, undoubtedly with some bias, that we have always operated with considerable conservatism. The long-term downside risk will not be less; the upside potential will merely be less.