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The Dhandho Investor: The Low-Risk Value Method to High Returns Hardcover – April 6, 2007
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"How to invest the way an Indian migrant with little money would do - by looking for companies with little downside…" (Financial Times, Tues 26th February)
From the Inside Flap
All investors are told that if you want to earn high rates of returns, you must take on greater risk. Of course, the groundbreaking value investing strategies of Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, and Charlie Munger have shown that it is indeed possible to keep risk to a minimum while still making a reasonable profit. The Dhandho method takes their successful approach to investing one step further and shows how you can actually maximize rewards while minimizing risk.
Dhandho (pronounced dhun-doe), literally translated, means "endeavors that create wealth." In The Dhandho Investor, Mohnish Pabrai demonstrates how the powerful Dhandho capital allocation framework of India's business-savvy Patels can be successfully applied and replicated by individual value investors in the stock market. The Patels, a small ethnic group from India, first began arriving in the United States in the 1970s as refugees with little education or capital. Today, they own over $40 billion in motel assets in the United States, pay over $725 million a year in taxes, and employ nearly a million people. How did this small, impoverished group come out of nowhere and end up accumulating such vast resources? The answer lies in their low-risk, high-return approach to business: Dhandho. This book will show you how to use that same technique to generate high returns in the stock market.
Pabrai's hedge funds, Pabrai Investment Funds, have outperformed all of the major indices and over 99% of other managed funds. $100,000 invested with Pabrai in 1999 was worth over $659,000 by 2006—an annualized return of over 28% after all fees and expenses. In this book, Pabrai distills the methods of Buffett, Graham, and Munger into a user-friendly approach applicable to individual investors. Combining their legendary investing wisdom with the business acumen of the Patels, Pabrai lays out the Dhandho framework in an easy-to-use format that will help any investor significantly improve on their results and soundly beat the markets—as well as most professionals.
Pabrai also details each deceptively simple Dhandho concept in a straightforward, entertaining fashion, with individual chapters that explain why you should: Invest in Simple Businesses, Fixate on Arbitrage, Invest in the Copy Cats Rather than the Innovators, and other simple but proven concepts for low-risk, high-reward Dhandho investing.
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If you have studied Buffett and Munger you will find a lot of his investment philosophy familiar of course but it is a good refresher and Pabrai communicates these principles well. I found the book an easy read and enjoyable. Other investment books sometimes I have to force myself to push through them but Dhandho was a breeze.
One big thing I learned from Pabrai that I either never picked up or internalized properly was the idea of making big bets. Over the years if I had a high conviction stock I would make an equal size bet on it. I might hold 30 to 50 stocks that make up the bulk of my portfolio. If one got too big I'd pare it down if my conviction on it was lower in order to keep diversification and lower overall risk. In hindsight, this was likely a mistake on my part.
Pabrai introduced me to the "Kelly Formula" which is a betting formula that gives you an idea of how big a bet you might want to make on a particular investment. Using this formula I found I probably should have made bets that were 10% or at times 20-30% of my total portfolio. In reality, most of my original stock investments never exceeded just 2% to 4% of the total portfolio value. As a result, I watched some higher conviction positions become multi-baggers over the years that would have had a higher impact on the portfolio had I simply bought more.
Of course, everyone says "I should have bought more of "xyz" but I look back and know there were some safe stocks I bought to be diversified with low risk and others that I had a higher conviction on that also came without undue risk. I simply did not apply the formula and bet as big as I should have.
I highly recommend this book to any investor and especially value investors. I wish it was written a decade ago or more and that I had found it. I'm sure with the knowledge I have gained from Dhando Investor I would have mostly likely beaten the markets by an even larger percentage.
Pabrai offers extensive illustrations using the Patels, whose heritage was from Gujarat India, but who had migrated to and succeeded in Uganda, only to be expelled by Idi Amin. Only a few thousand came to the USA in the early 70’s, but now half the motels in the US are owned by Patels. They accomplished this feat using the principles of the DI. Pabrai also uses examples from Branson (think Virgin Airlines), Bill Gates, and his own experience.
How does one find such a business? Pabrai gives specific recommendations for places to search for distressed companies. He also discusses Joel Greenblatt’s “Magic Formula," found in "The Little Book that still Beats the Market," in detail. If you want to be a Dhando Investor Pabrai says, “Read voraciously, and wait patiently.” Monish explains that there is no certainty in investing, but with proper investigation and selection one is prepared to make “few bets, big bets, infrequent bets.” Following his advice you will surely emulate his principle of “Heads I win; Tails, I don’t lose much."
I also want to thank Phil Town for telling me about Monish Pabrai’s book. I strongly recommend both of Phil’s books. "Rule # 1 Investing" eloquently explains the principles of value investing as exemplified by Warren Buffet. In "Payback Time" he goes into further detail explaining how to improve your returns.
In conclusion, thank you Monish!
Top international reviews
The compounding returns from this purchase are through the roof.
While reading it, and months after, I am only looking around myself and trying to see where Dhandho investing can be applied.
Just because it is simple does not mean it is easy.
Really great read!
Throughout the book Pabrai does a superb job of using examples from the Indian culture to subtly get the basic points across to us. The main thesis is finding investments that put the investor in a scenario where, as related to a coin toss, “Heads I win. Tales I don’t lose much”. The constant reference to this point through his various examples from life and the famous businesses of our day, hammers home the novel idea that there is a way to get satisfactory returns in the market without having to put yourself at high risk.