Course 110: Buying at a Discount to Fair Value
Margin of Safety
In this course
1 Introduction
2 Price Matters
3 Waiting for the Fat Pitch
4 Margin of Safety

Even after you think you have a good handle on what a stock should be worth, it is important to buy at a discount to this estimated fair value to give an adequate margin of safety. After all, no projection about the future is foolproof, and protecting yourself from unforeseen events is entirely prudent. For instance, if a company's new product falls flat and profit growth doesn't materialize, you want to be protected.

It's also important to realize that some companies are riskier and harder to predict than others. In general, the riskier a company is, the larger the margin of safety should be.

The bottom line is that if you don't use a lot of discipline and conservatism in figuring out the prices you are willing to pay for stocks, you will regret it eventually. You might be able to sell some of your overvalued shares to some sucker who is willing to pay an even more inflated price, but in the end, this kind of speculating is the investing equivalent of musical chairs, with the last one holding the stock the loser. Don't let it be you. Buy at a price below fair value with an adequate margin of safety and sleep well at night.   

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