You may have heard the old adage: If you don’t like company management, vote with your feet and sell the stock.
Benjamin Graham, author of the 1949 classic The Intelligent Investor, calls that attitude “fatuous and harmful,” for it does nothing to improve bad management and merely shifts the problem to someone else. Graham was a believer that “investors make money not out of each other but out of … businesses.”
In the daily hype surrounding the stock market, the purpose of owning stocks is often lost on the average investor. The prevailing sense that investing is gambling or sport (words such as “bet” or “play” when referring to investing make me cringe) is unfortunate. Investing is neither. When we buy shares in a company, we are buying the company’s management team as well as a portion of the company’s future earnings. This is our management team, and we are counting on them to execute a sound business strategy and robust earnings growth.
Because the nature of stock ownership is a little less tangible than say, real estate, it is even more imperative we have confidence in the management team. This past weekend, Barron‘s published its annual listing of the “World’s Most Respected Companies.”