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By Martin Hartley Jones

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To eliminate any notion that the five Superinvestors of Buffettville are nothing more than statistical aberrations, we need to examine a wider field. Unfortunately, we do not have a large number of focus investors to study, so how do we Page 54 proceed? By going inside a statistical laboratory and designing a universe of 12,000 portfolios. Three Thousand Focus Investors Using the Compustat database of common stock returns, we isolated 1,200 companies that displayed measurable data, including revenues, earnings, and return on equity, from 1979 through 1986.

He focuses his portfolio on only a few stocks. GEICO's billion-dollar equity portfolio customarily owns fewer than ten stocks. 5). "These are not only terrific figures," says Buffett, "but, fully as important, they have been achieved in the right way. " 12 Once again, in Buffett's mind, the estimate of risk has nothing to do with volatility. It is based on the certainty that the individual stocks will, over time, produce a profit. Simpson's performance and investment style fit neatly with Buffett's way of thinking.

Charlie followed the Graham methodology and would look only at companies that were selling below their intrinsic value. 4 Page 47 Notice that Buffett does not use the word risk in describing Charlie's performance. Using the conventional definition of risk (price volatility), we would have to say that Charlie's partnership was extremely risky, with a standard deviation almost twice that of the market. But beating the average annual return of the market by eighteen points was the act not of a risky man, but rather of an astute investor who was able to focus on a few outstanding stocks that were selling well below their calculated value.

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