One of the least discussed secrets of great practitioners of the value investing strategy is the use of cash, cash equivalents, and bonds to augment returns. From Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett to Wallace Weitz and Marty Whitman, intelligent use of excess funds has as much to do with growing your capital over the long run as does selecting individual common stocks. We’re going to look at some of the techniques that have been used by value investors to manage their reserves, and the role played in the overall portfolio.
The single most important concept in all of investing, according to Benjamin Graham and later confirmed by his star student, Warren Buffett, comes down to three simple words: Margin of Safety. What is the margin of safety? How do you calculate it? How important is it to developing a successful value investing strategy? As you’ll see in a moment, the theory behind value investing is that the ultimate return you earn on your investments will be closely related to the size and quality of the margin of safety you build in to your purchasing decisions, whether you are buying shares of Coca-Cola or building a hotel.