Part 3 of highlights from an insightful interview with Lisa Rapuano, who worked with Bill Miller for many years, and currently runs Lane Five Capital Management. Selectivity, Hurdle Rate, Opportunity Cost, Sizing
“We do not own many stocks, and anything we buy has to improve the overall portfolio and/or be better than something else we already own…I’ll go into portfolio construction in a bit, but the short answer here is that it has to be better than something we already own, or improve the overall risk profile of the portfolio to make it in.”
“The actual position sizing we choose will be based on…the return profile of the name relative to other things in the portfolio as well as on an absolute basis…”
There are a few concepts here – selectivity, opportunity cost, and hurdle rate – all interrelated in the delicate web that is portfolio management.
Selectivity – not all investments reviewed makes it into the portfolio. They are judged against existing positions and other potential candidates.
Opportunity Cost – should I put capital into this idea? How much capital? If I do this, what is the cost of foregoing future opportunities? Calculating this “cost” is a whole other can of worms. See what other investors have to say about opportunity cost. Jim Leitner has some especially interesting thoughts.
Hurdle Rate – based on the quotes above, the hurdle rate could be a return figure or a risk-related figure since whether or not an idea makes it into the portfolio is dependent upon its merits compared to the expected returns and risk of existing portfolio positions.
Curiously, does this mean that an investor’s hurdle rate can be extracted from the expected return profile of his/her current portfolio? In the spirit of bursting gaskets, how then does this “hurdle rate” figure reconcile with the “discount rate” concept that’s frequently used by investors to value companies?
When To Buy, Sizing
“Value investors like I am are usually a bit too early, both on the buy and the sell side. It’s just part of our process…we’ll be buying long before any catalyst is evident (and thus discounted)…we try to mitigate the impact of being early on the buy side, just by recognizing who may be selling…and controlling our position sizing so that as the stock continues to fall we can confidently buy more.”
Important concept: the relationship between sizing decisions and ability/willingness to buy more if the price of a security continues to decline.
When To Sell
“On the sell side, we learned long ago that holding on to terrific businesses a bit longer than our original value might have indicated is usually a good idea. That being said, there are not that many truly terrific businesses, so most should be sold as they approach value.”
“Our philosophy remains static but we pride ourselves on being adaptive in process and tactics.”
“…one of our Core Values at Lane Five is to Adapt and Evolve Actively. The tools change and people get smarter and information flows more quickly. To maintain a competitive advantage we have to evolve ahead of the market.”