Large-cap investors in 2000 were in a very risky spot. We believe that the risk reduction associated with “large” is due to business characteristics, not valuations. So we limit Oakmark investments to large businesses as measured by the 250 largest in sales, earnings or book value. These two sets of businesses are largely overlapping; they don’t sum to 750 companies, but more like 300 to 400. Eliminating the ones with below average per-share growth prospects, poor management, or excessive valuations then gets us down to about 100 big businesses on our approved list. About half of those names make it into the portfolio. How do you measure the performance of the analysts who work for Oakmark? Our goal is to compensate analysts based on the returns their investment recommendations achieve for our clients. The difficulty comes in distinguishing between good luck and a job well done. Serendipity can create short-term results that are not reflective of long-term ability.
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