One of my least favorite trends is referring to items which have traditionally been consumption items as "investments". When I was shopping for an engagement ring for my (now) wife, the sales clerks frequently referred to diamonds as an investment. Needless to say, we had a difference of opinion.
I recently came across a May 2010 interview with Seth Klarman of the Baupost Group, value investor extraordinaire. He nicely summarized my thoughts on the matter:
“Buying anything that is a collectible, has no cash flow, and is based only on a future sale to a greater fool, if you will—even if that purchaser is not a fool—is speculating. The “investment” might work—owing to a limited supply of Monets, for example—but a commodity doesn’t have the same characteristics as a security, characteristics that allow for analysis. Other than a recent sale or appreciation due to inflation, analyzing the current or future worth of a commodity is nearly impossible.
The line I draw in the sand is that if an asset has cash flow or the likelihood of cash flow in the near term and is not purely dependent on what a future buyer might pay, then it’s an investment. If an asset’s value is totally dependent on the amount a future buyer might pay, then its purchase is speculation. The hardest commodity-like asset to categorize is land, an asset that is valuable to a future buyer because it will deliver cash flow, not because it will be sold to a future speculator.”
This is the personal blog of Emory Redd.
This blog is not investment advice. This is not a solicitation to invest. Don't take candy from strangers.
BEST OF HEDGEROLL
ACHILLION AND RA CAPITAL: MY FAVORITE TRADE
SALIX INVESTORS LOOKING FOR A BUYOUT SHOULD BE CAUTIOUS; MORE ACCOUNTING PROBLEMS AHEAD
BIOTECH AS BUFFETT'S WONDERFUL BUSINESS