The 3 Most Timeless Investment Principles (2 of 3) The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Stop-Loss Order

The 3 Most Timeless Investment Principles (3 of 3)

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Know What Kind of Investor You Are: Graham advised that investors know their investment selves. To illustrate this, he made clear distinctions among various groups operating in the stock market.
Active Vs. Passive
Graham referred to active and passive investors as "enterprising investors" and "defensive investors." You only have two real choices: The first is to make a serious commitment in time and energy to become a good investor who equates the quality and amount of hands-on research with the expected return. If this isn't your cup of tea, then be content to get a passive, and possibly lower, return but with much less time and work. Graham turned the academic notion of "risk = return" on its head. For him, "Work = Return". The more work you put into your investments, the higher your return should be. If you have neither the time nor the inclination to do quality research on your investments, then investing in an index is a good alternative. Graham said that the defensive investor could get an average return by simply buying the 30 stocks of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in equal amounts. Both Graham and Buffett said that getting even an average return - for example, equaling the return of the S&P 500 - is more of an accomplishment than it might seem. The fallacy that many people buy into, according to Graham, is that if it's so easy to get an average return with little or no work (through indexing), then just a little more work should yield a slightly higher return. The reality is that most people who try this end up doing much worse than average. In modern terms, the defensive investor would be an investor in index funds of both stocks and bonds. In essence, they own the entire market, benefiting from the areas that perform the best without trying to predict those areas ahead of time. In doing so, an investor is virtually guaranteed the market's return and avoids doing worse than average by just letting the stock market's overall results dictate long-term returns. According to Graham, beating the market is much easier said than done, and many investors still find they don't beat the market.
Speculator Vs. Investor
Not all people in the stock market are investors. Graham believed that it was critical for people to determine whether they were investors or speculators. The difference is simple: an investor looks at a stock as part of a business and the stockholder as the owner of the business, while the speculator views himself as playing with expensive pieces of paper, with no intrinsic value. For the speculator, value is only determined by what someone will pay for the asset. To paraphrase Graham, there is intelligent speculating as well as intelligent investing - just be sure you understand which you are good at.
Source: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/basics/07/grahamprinciples.asp;