Many smart investors have faltered due to hubris, defined as “excessive pride or self-confidence”. Hubris causes us to fail to see the facts as they are. Rather, we become impervious to other viewpoints and even to the facts. No wonder that hubris runs rampant in the ego-laden hedge fund business.
Business Insider has a story highlighting an exchange between Bill Ackman and Charlie Munger. Actually, it is a one-way letter from Ackman to Munger in response to a statement attributed to Munger that, “Valeant is like ITT and Harold Geneen come back to life; only the guy is worse this time.”
Apparently, Ackman first took his complaint to Buffett, perhaps thinking — inexplicably — that Warren would intervene on Bill’s behalf. Warren told him to write to Munger directly.
So far, so good. But here is the sentence from Bill’s letter that smacks of hubris:
Valeant shares a lot of similarity to Berkshire in its decentralization, its approach to capital allocation, and its shareholder orientation.
Comparing Valeant to Berkshire — and doing so to Charlie Munger… Good luck with that one.