Geico Case Study from Wedgwood PartnersVW Staff
Two of the greatest “Value” investors of all-time owe a substantial part of their wealth and public reputations – and deserved accolades – to a singular great “Growth” company, the Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO). In the vernacular of investing, “Value” and “Growth” are most often associated with competing, mutually exclusive investing styles. It shouldn’t be so, but as a +27-year veteran in the investing “business” I can assure you that this investing-style division is deeply embedded in the investment management industry. Benjamin Graham’s deserved sobriquets include the “Father of Security Analysis” and the “Dean of Value Investing.” Of course Warren Buffett is known around the globe as the “Oracle of Omaha,” as well as Benjamin’s Graham’s “greatest” student.
Like many of us in our chosen profession, we sit on the shoulders of the greats. We hope to never stop studying and learning from the masters. I was ever fortunate to get hooked on the stock market my junior year in college in 1984. My Investments 334 professor introduced me to, and encouraged me to read about the likes of Benjamin Graham, John Templeton, Warren Buffett, Philip Fisher, John Maynard
Keynes, etc. The guiding principles of our investment philosophy at Wedgewood Partners are the classic tenets of both “Value” and “Growth” investing.
Buffett’s evolving investment philosophy has oft been self-described as “85% Graham and 15% Fisher.” Charlie Munger’s “Growth” influence on Buffett deserves special mention on this score. Anyone who has studied the careers of either Graham or Buffett has surely come to recognize the notable influence and impact that GEICO has had on both of these masters. Indeed, the nearly fourscore history of GEICO is a barnburner tale of birth, incredible growth, tragic near-failure, unlikely rebirth and then incredible growth once again. GEICO may have bonded Graham and Buffett even more than their significant professor-student bond. The long history of GEICO offers students of investing plenty of lessons on of both “Value” and “Growth” investing. Dare I say that the investment lessons of the GEICO story alone are so poignant and instructive to apply to one’s own investment education that even a caveman can do it!