Warren Buffett is fond of baseball analogies. He’s often spoken about an investor being like a baseball batter waiting for the right pitch. He notes that the advantage the investor has over the batter is that there are no called strikes. You can wait for just the right pitch before swinging your bat.
It is a straightforward concept, and speaks to the patience and discipline that good investors should have.
However there is a flipside to waiting for a great deal, and it is an error that Buffett warned about at the 2011 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. The flipside is thinking that every investment you make, every stock that you buy, has to be an absolute home run.
“One of the things, one of the errors people make in business, and sometimes it can be a huge error, is that they try and measure every deal against the best deal they’ve ever made,” Buffet said. “So they say, you know, I made this wonderful deal for, maybe, an insurance policy written, or it might be a company bought, it might be a stock bought, and they’re determined that they’re never going to make a deal that isn’t that attractive in the future. So, they in effect, sometimes take themselves out of the game.”
For Buffett, it is all about the opportunities that are available to the investor at a particular time.
As Buffett noted, opportunity costs are different for every investment.
“The goal is not to make a better deal than you’ve ever made before. The goal is to make a satisfactory deal that’s the best deal you can make at the time,” Buffett explained.
So, don’t let the search for the perfect investment be the enemy of the good investment.
See Buffett’s full explanation of opportunity costs as it related to five different Berkshire Hathaway investments.
© 2020 David Mazor
Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.