Blind Investing: A Counterintuitive Yet Potentially Rewarding Strategy

In the investment world, deep knowledge of a company, its business model, CEO, and its various operations is often touted as the cornerstone of successful investing. However, paradoxically, blind investing—making investment decisions without in-depth knowledge of the company’s specifics—can also be a winning strategy.

When analyzing a company, information falls into two categories: quantitative data (revenue, profit, debt, margins, etc.) and qualitative data (CEO’s personality, brand, corporate culture, history), often tied to storytelling and marketing. Investment strategies diverge here: one, championed by Peter Lynch, advises investing only in well-understood companies; the other focuses solely on quantitative data, disregarding emotional and narrative aspects.

Storytelling plays a significant role in investment decisions for many individuals, but it’s an emotional element that can skew judgment. Let’s see if a purely data-driven approach can be effective.

Consider two similar-sized companies, A and B, both with a market cap of 400 million euros. Company A, Maisons du Monde, a well-known furniture retailer, is easy to understand. Company B, Jacquet Metals, a B2B steel distributor, is less familiar and operates in a less understood industry. Company A shows modest growth, margins, high debt, and a high price-to-earnings ratio. In contrast, Company B demonstrates better growth, margins, lower debt, and a more attractive valuation. Based on financials alone, Company B appears to be a more sound investment choice. Despite stronger financials for B, many investors might lean towards A, influenced by familiarity and appealing storytelling. To avoid emotional biases, preconceptions, or trends, investors should utilize unbiased tools like stock screeners, which filter companies based on quantitative criteria. This approach can uncover healthy companies, after which investors can delve into the company’s story, management, and culture for a more personalized selection process.

In conclusion, blind investing, grounded in solid quantitative data, can uncover hidden gems, combining strong financial performance with compelling narratives. This counterintuitive approach, focusing on the numbers rather than the story, can indeed be a surprisingly effective investment strategy.

Navigating Financial Markets: Understanding Benchmarks

In the intricate world of finance, investors and financial analysts often rely on various tools and theories to navigate the markets and assess investment performances. Among these are the concepts of benchmarks, the Random Walk Theory, and benchmark indexes like the LIBOR Index. Understanding these concepts is crucial for anyone looking to make informed decisions in the financial markets.

A benchmark is a standard or reference against which the performance of investments can be measured. Typically, this is an index representing a specific market segment. For instance, the S&P 500, comprising 500 of the largest U.S. stocks, is a common benchmark for American equity performance. Benchmarks are vital for investors and fund managers, as they provide a comparative baseline. Performance relative to a benchmark is a key measure of success for investment strategies. Outperforming a benchmark indicates that an investment has added value beyond the general market’s performance.

The Random Walk Theory posits that stock market prices move randomly and unpredictably. This theory aligns with the Efficient Market Hypothesis, asserting that stock prices at any given moment reflect all available information. According to this view, past price movements or trends cannot predict future market behavior. This challenges traditional investment strategies, suggesting that consistently outperforming the market through stock picking or market timing is improbable. The Random Walk Theory underscores the difficulty of achieving returns that exceed those of the broader market over the long term.

Benchmark indexes are specific standards used to measure the performance of market segments. They play a crucial role in providing a snapshot of market trends and guiding investment decisions:

– LIBOR Index: The London Interbank Offered Rate, once a pivotal global benchmark interest rate, reflected the rate at which major global banks lent to each other. It was fundamental for adjustable-rate mortgages and loans. However, following controversies and diminished relevance, the financial world is transitioning away from LIBOR to alternative rates like the SOFR.

– Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA): This storied index represents 30 large U.S. companies, offering insight into the health of the American corporate sector.

– NASDAQ Composite: Encompassing over 3,000 stocks on the NASDAQ exchange, this index is heavily weighted towards technology companies, providing a barometer for the tech sector.

– FTSE 100: Comprising the 100 largest companies on the London Stock Exchange, the FTSE 100 is a gauge of the health of the UK stock market.

These indexes are more than just numbers; they are tools for investors to compare their portfolio performance with the market or specific sectors. 


The role of benchmarks in finance becomes clearer when we scrutinize how active fund managers stack up against them. According to the 2019 SPIVA report, there’s a notable lag in the performance of US fund managers when pitted against the S&P 500 over a span of 15 years. This lag isn’t just a one-off but is seen across various segments of the market and during different periods. Most fund managers fall short in trying to reach or surpass the yields of benchmark indexes like the S&P 500, resulting in a decline in the number of active fund options. In this scenario, Warren Buffet’s preference for index funds becomes pertinent. The gap between the outcomes of active management and benchmarks tends to widen with the extension of the investment timeframe. This disparity is evident in both the equity and fixed income fund categories, highlighting the potential obstacles and inefficiencies in the realm of active fund management.