Charlie Munger shaped investing strategies beyond numbers writes S Naren of ICICI Prudential AMC | Mint

Charlie Munger shaped investing strategies beyond numbers writes S Naren

Munger, who helped Warren Buffett build an investment powerhouse, has passd away. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File) (AP)
Munger, who helped Warren Buffett build an investment powerhouse, has passd away. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File) (AP)

Summary

  • Munger's multifaceted 'latticework' approach underscored the artistry involved in investing

Charlie Munger, an army veteran and a lawyer by training, in his near century-long life can be best described as the paragon of wisdom. Over the past several decades, Munger has liberally shared his thoughts on investing and life with the world at large through his interactions with the media. Even in his 90s, Munger was mentally sharp and his wisdom unparalleled. His multi-dimensional approach to investing has left an indelible mark on the investing world.

For years, conventional wisdom in investing primarily revolved around metrics like price-to-earnings and price-to-book ratios, defining value solely through these lenses. However, Munger challenged this paradigm, advocating quality over quantity.

His wisdom transcends numbers and traditional metrics, emphasizing the importance of understanding the intrinsic value of a business. At ICICI Prudential AMC, we have heavily leaned on this aspect when it comes to managing our offerings which follow the value investment style. This philosophy prodded us towards sectors often overlooked, such as pharmaceuticals and telecommunications, during certain market phases.

By implementing Munger's quality over quantity approach in our investment philosophy, even though the funds' valuations, measured by price-to-earnings ratios, experienced an upturn, investors reaped the benefits of imbibing value-centric principles over time.

Furthermore, Munger's multifaceted 'latticework' approach underscored the artistry involved in investing. This approach empowers a person to see each problem through various lenses and accordingly explore possible options. This holistic perspective enabled our teams to make informed decisions during volatile market conditions, notably exemplified during the tumultuous period of 2020. By acknowledging the blend of science and art in investment, Munger’s teachings provided a compass during uncertain times.

The ethos encapsulated in his quote, "The safest and most profitable thing is to buy something when no one likes it," echoes loudly among investors worldwide. In tribute to his influence, a dedicated meeting room bearing his name and this iconic quote in our office stands as a testament to his enduring legacy in shaping investment strategies that rise above mere numbers.

This mantra, over the past decade, led us to numerous contrarian investment calls. Despite the initial lack of favor among investors, these contrarian choices gradually turned profitable as market sentiments shifted. Each investment, once unpopular, evolved into a lucrative venture, validating the wisdom encapsulated in Munger's unconventional yet astute advice.

Even though Munger’s wit and wisdom will be sorely missed by investment professionals around the world, including me, his principles, deeply embedded in investment strategies and philosophies, will continue to guide decisions, steering towards quality-driven choices and contrarian opportunities, ultimately benefitting investors worldwide.

S Naren is ED & CIO, ICICI Prudential AMC.

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