July 23, 2009 was the inception of the Value Stock Guide portfolio.
This is a misnomer, since the portfolio has existed for decades. 5 years ago today, I determined that the value investing process and my philosophy had enough time in the field to have proven itself and it was time to put it out in the public eye. Before I started building a public track record, I had spent more than 12 years developing my own investment process, and philosophy. As I have remarked many times before, it is easy to learn the basic principles of value investing. It is hard to put it into practice with a consistency that lasts. Most of the times, we are our own worst enemies and let our emotions get the better of rationality. So in a way, most of my investing career has been devoted to remodeling my own psychological self and inculcating an appropriate level of detachment that allows me to make those critical judgments and decisions. It is surprising how just a few key decisions per year can be the difference between success and failure.
I measure my success over a long term. 5 years is a good history as element of chance takes a back seat to the efficacy of the process.
$100,000 invested in the Value Stock Guide portfolio exactly 5 years ago would be worth $337,880 today, net of all the transaction costs. The same $100,000 invested in S&P 500 would be worth $217,820 today (not including expenses/commissions as this is just the index)*
One of these results is better than the other.
To be fair, I did not start accepting members until early 2011. As it turns out, 2011 also ended up being the worst of the past 5 years. The portfolio ended up losing 1.26% when the S&P500 was breakeven in 2011. There have been other periods during this time that the portfolio has underperformed the market. In this world of quick fixes and 100s of other choices, I am grateful that most of my members come to me with a long term orientation and are willing to sit out these stretches. The rewards, I would like to think are worth it.
I am looking forward to many more similar or better 5 year periods to come.
* Past performance, as you know, is not a guarantee of future performance. For me, for the market, or for anyone else.