订阅

多平台阅读

微信订阅

杂志

申请纸刊赠阅

订阅每日电邮

移动应用

投资理财

巴菲特没变,但是世界变了

Adam Seessel 2018年12月02日

科技股的主导地位,使得包括“股神”巴菲特在内的一些投资大师都在重新审视他们的投资策略。面对“新常态”,谁才能适应并生存下来?

照片来源:Nigel Cox为《财富》杂志摄制

在今年的伯克希尔-哈撒韦公司年会上,价值投资大师巴菲特说出的一番话,与他以往的投资哲学相悖甚远。难道巴菲特也成了他曾经摒弃的“异端”了吗?

巴菲特已经纵横投资界将近70年了。最初他投资的是一些死气沉沉濒临破产的公司,这些公司的交易价格甚至低于他们的破产清算价值。精于此道的巴菲特就这样将伯克希尔-哈撒韦公司从一家破败的纺织厂一步步打造成了自己的投资帝国。后来巴菲特将投资重点转向了那些能带来较高回报率的品牌公司和保险公司,这些公司虽然没什么噱头,却能带来可以用于再投资的现金流。最近几十年,巴菲特投资的主要是一些人们觉得可靠和熟悉的品牌,比如可口可乐和盖可保险等。很多将巴菲特奉为神明的投资者自然也不例外。

不过在今年的年会上,巴菲特当着4万多名股东和粉丝的面暗示道,我们应该接受一个“新常态”:世界正在变化,“价值投资者”们历来敬而远之的科技公司,并不会像他们一贯相信的那样“其兴也勃焉,其亡也忽焉”,而是会一直存在下去,而且有着巨大的价值。

巴菲特指出:“当今市值最高的四家公司并不需要任何有形资产。他们不像AT&T、通用汽车或埃克森美孚一样,需要大量资本来产生收益。我们已经进入了‘轻资产’经济。”巴菲特坦承,伯克希尔-哈撒韦没有收购谷歌的母公司Alphabet是一个失误。他还谈到了自己从2016年年初开始持有的苹果公司股份,这笔股份现在价值500亿美元左右,是巴菲特持有的最大单笔股份。

不过在随后的鸡尾酒会上,我却听到很多人都在谈论要不要投资保险公司。保险公司以往倒是价值投资者的专宠,但巴菲特刚刚才说过,这种成熟的资本密集型企业必然会走向衰退。作为一名专业理财经理和伯克希尔-哈撒韦的股东,我突然想到:难道大家刚才都没听到,他们的导师刚刚教育他们要向前看,不要向后看吗?

投资界近来正在进行一场深远而重要的辩论,它对职业理财顾问及其客户都将产生深远的影响。有些人认为巴菲特是正确的——我们已经进入了“轻资产”经济,价值投资者必须适应这种变化。比如Markel Corp.公司的汤姆·盖纳、Oakmark基金的比尔·尼格伦等知名价值投资者就把亚马逊和Alphabet作为首要持仓资产。这些股票经常以高于市场的价格交易,这一点曾一度令价值投资者敬而远之,但现在他们却欣然接受了这种“潜规则”,因为这些公司的前景十分光明,值得这些溢价。

不过还有一些价值投资者依然坚持巴菲特的老一套策略,比如绿光资本的大卫·艾因霍恩和费尔霍姆基金的布鲁斯·伯克维茨等。伯克维茨在2000年至2010年间曾在晨星资本担任国内证券经理,最近10年由于重仓持有AT&T和已在今年秋天破产的西尔斯百货,导致他的业绩下滑不少。艾因霍恩的表现也不理想,他持有最多的股份是通用汽车,他还表示,他最近一直在做空他所谓的“泡沫篮子”,其中就包括特斯拉、Netflix和亚马逊等科技股。

所有价值投资者都认同价格是价值的重要组成部分——这也是为什么我们这些人被称为“价值投资者”,因此大家对这一点是没有争议的。人们争论的焦点,是到底什么才是价值的驱动因素,到底什么构成了21世纪经济中的价值——还有在接下来几十年,到底什么将推动经济和市场继续向前发展。

At this year’s annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting in Omaha, ¬Warren Buffett, the high priest of value investing, uttered words that would have been grounds for excommunication if they had come from anyone but him.

Buffett began his career nearly 70 years ago by investing in drab, beaten-up companies trading for less than the liquidation value of their assets—that’s how he came to own Berkshire Hathaway, a rundown New England textile mill that became the platform for his investment empire. Buffett later shifted his focus to branded companies that could earn good returns and also to insurance companies, which were boring but generated lots of cash he could reinvest. Consumer products giants like Coca-Cola, insurers like Geico—reliable, knowable, and familiar—that’s what Buffett has favored for decades, and that’s what for decades his followers have too.

Now, in front of roughly 40,000 shareholders and fans, he was intimating that we should become familiar with a new reality: The world was changing, and the tech companies that value investors used to haughtily dismiss were here to stay—and were immensely valuable.

“The four largest companies today by market value do not need any net tangible assets,” he said. “They are not like AT&T, GM, or Exxon Mobil, requiring lots of capital to produce earnings. We have become an asset-light economy.” Buffett went on to say that Berkshire had erred by not buying Alphabet, parent of Google. He also discussed his position in Apple, which he began buying in early 2016. At roughly $50 billion, that Apple stake represents Buffett’s single largest holding—by a factor of two.

At the cocktail parties afterward, however, all the talk I heard was about insurance companies—traditional value plays, and the very kind of mature, capital-intensive businesses that Buffett had just said were receding in the rearview mirror. As a professional money manager and a Berkshire shareholder myself, it struck me: Had anyone heard their guru suggesting that they look forward rather than behind?

There is a deep and important debate going on in the investment community, one with profound repercussions for both professional money managers and their clients. Some believe that Buffett is right—that we have become an asset-light economy and that value investors need to adapt to accommodate such changes. Noted value managers like Tom Gayner of Markel Corp. and Bill Nygren of Oakmark Funds, for instance, count companies like Amazon and Alphabet among their top holdings. The fact that these stocks often trade at above-¬market valuations—a factor that once scared away orthodox value investors—hasn’t deterred them, because the companies’ futures are so bright that they’re worth it.

Other value managers like David Einhorn at Greenlight Capital and Bruce Berkowitz at Fairholme are betting on the very same old-economy companies that Buffett long favored. Berkowitz, Morningstar’s domestic equities Manager of the Decade from 2000–10, has seen his performance suffer this decade, thanks to positions in AT&T and, most notably, Sears Holdings, which declared bankruptcy earlier this fall. Einhorn’s performance has also suffered; his largest position is GM, and he says he has been short what he calls a “bubble basket” that includes Tesla, Netflix, and Amazon.

All value investors continue to agree that price is an important component of value—that’s why we’re called value investors. What’s happening now is a debate about what the drivers of value are—of what constitutes value in the 21st-century economy—and what will drive both the economy and the market forward over the next generation.

***

价值投资者就是这样的。我们追求价值,关注一家公司的价格与价值之比,从这一点上,就可以很容易地将我们与其他投资者区分开来。比如动量投资者只关心他们能不能把买进的资产以更高的价格卖出,这是典型的“找接盘侠”策略。此外还有所谓的“增长型投资”,也就是说比起价格,投资者更关注一家公司的增长前景。不过由于价值投资者总是权衡价格与价值之比,因此他们也有了一个打算长远、克己吝啬的名声。

真正的价值投资之父,是一百年前的本·格雷汉姆。在他的时代,道琼斯工业平均指数还是货真价实的“工业平均指数”——100%都是工业股,亚纳康达铜业、国家铅业等公司靠的都是硬资产,而这时的消费经济还处于襁褓阶段。1915年,道琼斯指数里最接近消费品公司的就是通用汽车了(要么就是American Beet Sugar公司)。

那年,格雷汉姆以全班第二名的成绩从哥伦比亚大学毕业,由于成绩优异,哥大的哲学、数学和英文系都为他提供了教职。不过由于自幼家境贫寒,格雷汉姆最终还是选择投身金融业。那个年代的金融业充斥着情报贩子、阴谋家和投机者。1907年,他们试图操纵联合铜业的股票“干票大的”,最终却导致了股市大恐慌,连格雷汉姆的寡母一辈子的积蓄都赔了个干净。格雷汉姆非常厌恶这种投机行为,但他也被股票的优点吸引了。因为他看到了股票的本质:你可以买到一家公司业务的一部分所有权。

凭借深厚的学术功底,加之实际需求的驱使,格雷汉姆开始研究一套可预测的、系统性的股票投资方法。通过研究上市公司的财务文件以及其中反映的有形资产,格雷汉姆发现,股票价格的短期涨落往往受市场波动影响,但一家公司的有形资产——比如设备、厂房、存货等,则有确定可知的价值。格雷汉姆便开始用精确的数学方法计算这个价值。他问自己:如果一家企业清算了所有资产,偿还了所有债务,那么它还能值多少钱?企业清算是时有发生的事,更多时候,它是在格雷汉姆的想象中完成的,这种计算使格雷汉姆在购买一支股票时获得了所谓的“安全边际”。

通过量化价值并与价格进行对比,格雷汉姆发现,他对股市有了更深理解。证券分析法价值投资就此诞生了。

从一开始,价值投资重点关注的是一家公司的量化资产和有形资产。格雷汉姆是一个抽象总结型的知识分子,他并不关心那些公司生产了什么产品。格雷汉姆的助手欧文·卡恩曾对巴菲特传记的作者罗杰·洛温斯坦回忆道,如果有人向格雷汉姆描述一家公司是怎样经营的,他就会觉得很无聊,然后把头望向窗外。由于格雷汉姆很重视一家公司的清算价值,因此他总喜欢买入那些别人觉得鸡肋的公司——就好比捡烟头,只要你肯用力砸吧,它总还是能冒两口烟的。有一位名叫沃尔特·施洛斯的分析师专门研究格雷汉姆的投资行为,他本人后来也成了一位传奇的价值投资者。施洛斯曾向格雷汉姆推荐过哈罗伊德公司(Haloid)的股票,这家公司当时拥有一项非常有前景的技术,后来的施乐影印机就是基于它设计的。虽说当时没有留下格雷汉姆望向窗外的记录,但格雷汉姆还是表示了拒绝。

格雷汉姆道:“沃尔特,它还是不够便宜。”

Value investors are just that—we hunt for value, and our focus on price in relation to a business’s value makes us easily distinguishable from other investors. Momentum investors, for example, care about price only insofar as they can sell whatever they’ve bought to someone else at a higher one—the so-called greater-fool approach. Then there’s growth investing, in which price takes a distant second place to a business’s prospects for rapid expansion. Because weighing price vs. value is paramount in value investing, those in this school have a reputation of being long-term-oriented, self-denying cheapskates.

The father of value investing was Ben ¬Graham, who gave birth to it roughly 100 years ago, when 100% of the components of the Dow Jones industrial average were just that—industrials. Hard assets were what drove companies like Anaconda Copper and National Lead. Consumer marketing was in its infancy; in 1915, the closest thing the Dow had to a consumer products company was General Motors (or maybe American Beet Sugar).

The year before, Graham had graduated second in his class from Columbia University with such a gifted intellect that he was offered teaching positions in three departments: philosophy, mathematics, and English. Acquainted with poverty at an early age, however, Graham chose a career in finance. The market of his day was dominated by tipsters, schemers, and speculators; stock operators trying to corner the market in United Copper had caused the Panic of 1907, which wiped out Graham’s widowed mother’s savings. Graham loathed such speculations, but he was attracted to the upside of equities. He saw them for what they were: a fractional ownership of a company’s business.

Driven by both his academic temperament and practical necessity, Graham set about trying to figure out a predictable, systematic way to make money in stocks. For an answer, he turned to corporate financial statements and the tangible assets represented therein. Graham saw that while equities went up and down in the short run according to the whims of the market, a company’s tangible assets—its forges and its foundries and the inventory they produced—had a solid, knowable value. Graham began to calculate that value in a precise, mathematical way. He asked himself: What would a company be worth if it were to liquidate its assets and pay off its liabilities? Sometimes the liquidation would actually occur; other times it would be a theoretical exercise that gave Graham what he termed a “margin of safety” when buying a security.

By quantifying value and then juxtaposing it with price, Graham found he could make sense of markets. Thus was born security analysis and, with it, value investing.

From the beginning, value investing focused on the quantitative and tangible aspects of a business. Graham was an intellectual who lived in abstractions; he didn’t want to know about the products the companies made. Irving Kahn, one of Graham’s assistants, told Buffett biographer Roger Lowenstein that if someone began to describe to Graham what a company actually did, he would get bored and look out the window. With his focus on liquidation value, Graham tended to buy boring, beaten-down businesses—cigar butts, they came to be known, good for only a few extra puffs. Walter Schloss, a Graham analyst who later became a legendary value investor in his own right, once pitched Graham on Haloid, which owned the rights to a promising technology that would one day become the Xerox machine. While there is no record as to whether Graham looked out the window, he nevertheless said no.

“Walter,” he said, “it’s just not cheap enough.”

***

格雷汉姆有一名助手,是一位来自奥马哈的年轻人,他生于大萧条时期,但他成年时,正是二战后美国经济飞速扩张的年代。从十几岁时起,巴菲特就试图通过研究图表和技术指标了解股市。他读到格雷汉姆的著作后,好比“在去大马士革路上(见到耶稣异象)的保罗”,有一种拨云见日之感。后来巴菲特便进入商学院,师从当时正在哥大教书的格雷汉姆,毕业后还短暂地为格雷汉姆工作了一阵子。不过作为一个典型的美国中部地区的男孩,巴菲特不久便离开了纽约,回到了他钟爱的家乡。

利用自己的关系对50年代中期的经济进行了研究后,巴菲特发现,当时的股市与格雷汉姆年轻时已经有了很大不同。道指虽然仍以工业股为主流,但也包括了宝洁、西尔斯罗巴克和通用食品等消费品公司。这些公司与工业公司有着本质上的区别,他们的商业价值与硬资产的关系很小,而是主要取决于公司的品牌,取决于消费者对香皂、果冻等消费品的忠诚度和熟悉度。这种情感上的联结,加之市场营销手段的烘托,可以使企业将相对普通的商品卖出高价。

国家级电视台的兴起,也间接促进消费品行业的崛起。电视既发端于一种同质化的文化,反过来又加强了这种文化。市场领先的消费品品牌也是靠规模经济打开市场,在这一点上与工业企业大同小异。一个在市场上主导地位的啤酒、洗发水或可乐品牌,可能在三大电视网络上打的广告远远超过了他们的竞争对手,但如果算算广告支出占绝对销售额的比例,则他们的广告支出甚至还要低于竞争对手。这样一来,占有市场主导地位的品牌就形成了一个良性循环,占市场次要地位的品牌则形成了恶性循环。百威啤酒越做越大,而像纳拉干西特啤酒这种一度在新英格兰地区销量第一的地区性知名品牌,却缓慢而必然地走了下坡路。

在合伙人查理·芒格的帮助下,巴菲特通过悉心研究,最终深入理解了股市这个生态系统——当然“生态系统”这个词那时还没有被发明出来。在接下来的几十年里,他和芒格投资了不少品牌公司、电视网络和广告公司,并获得了丰厚的回报。虽然巴菲特也遵循着格雷罕姆的“捡烟头”投资法,但他知道,要想挣大钱,还得到别处寻找。巴菲特在1967年写道:“虽然我认为自己主要是定量学派的,但这些年,我最好的投资理念很大程度上近似于定性派,我在这方面拥有‘高概率的洞察力’。这才是让我们一直赚钱的主要原因。”

巴菲特阐发的这种新理念,被埃塞克斯公司CEO、东海岸资产管理公司理财经理克里斯·贝格称为“价值2.0”投资法。即:寻找优质企业,然后以合理的价格购入。价值2.0投资法的安全边际不在企业的有形资产,而在于业务本身的可持续性。这种投资方法的关键,就是“高概率的洞察力”——如果一家公司在市场上占主导地位,未来非常稳定,而且以后市盈率还会有增无减,那么就值得入手。这种见解在当时是革命性的,但在巴菲特看来只是个简单的数学问题:未来的利润越确定,你现在付出的价格就会越高。

这也就解释了这么多年来,巴菲特为什么一直避免持有科技股。科技股的高增长特性是毫无疑问的,但科技板严重缺乏确定性,一波波浪潮来得快去得也快,只有当潮水落去时才知道谁在裸泳。在一波波潮起潮落间,谁还能有“高概率的洞察力”?1967年,巴菲特曾写道:“我对半导体或集成电路的了解,跟我对一种叫Chrzaszcz的波兰甲虫的交配习性的了解程度差不多。”30年后,有一个朋友建议他考虑一下微软,巴菲特表示:“你让我把对未来20年的确定性调低到80%甚至55%,这是很愚蠢的。”

然而现在,苹果却成了巴菲特最大的一笔投资,且规模比他的第二大仓位——美国银行大了一倍以上。

这是为什么?并不是巴菲特变了,而是世界变了。

仅仅10年前,全球市值最高的四家公司还是埃克森美孚、中石油、通用电气和俄罗斯天然气公司,其中有三家是能源公司,一家是工业巨头。而现在,全球市值最高的四家公司全部是科技公司——苹果、亚马逊、微软、Alphabet。但他们的这种“科技”,并不能和半导体、集成电路那种“科技”划等号。他们更类似于二战后崛起的消费品行业,他们的产品和服务已经融入了数十亿人的日常生活。现在人们已经离不开他们了,只要人类的习惯依然如故,这些科技产品与人的生活的融合只会随着时间继续加深。

在接受CNBC采访时,巴菲特曾解释了他为什么要投资苹果:有一次他带着他的曾孙子和他们的小伙伴们去吃DQ冰淇淋,结果孩子们一个个沉浸在iPhone手机里,甚至连点哪种冰淇淋都顾不上了。

巴菲特在今年的年会上表示:“我投资苹果并非因为它是一只科技股,而是因为他们的生态系统的价值,以及这个生态系统将存在多久。”

One of Graham’s acolytes was a young man from Omaha who was born into the Depression but came of age during America’s large, optimistic postwar expansion. As a teenager, Warren Buffett tried to understand the stock market by studying charts and other technical indicators; when he came upon Graham’s writings, he said that he felt “like Paul on the road to Damascus.” Buffett came East for business school to study under Graham, who by then was teaching at Columbia, and he briefly worked for Graham after graduation. The classic middle-American boy, however, Buffett soon quit New York for his beloved hometown.

Surveying the economy of the mid-1950s with his own partnership, Buffett saw that it was vastly different from the one Graham had encountered as a young man. While the Dow Jones industrial average was still dominated by industrials, it also contained Procter & Gamble, Sears Roebuck, and General Foods. These companies were fundamentally different from an industrial company: The primary driver of their business value had little to do with hard assets. Rather, the value had to do with the company’s brands—with the loyalty and familiarity that customers felt for Ivory Soap and Jell-O gelatin. These emotional ties, encouraged and cemented by mass marketing, allowed businesses to charge high prices for relatively mundane goods.

The great enabler of such businesses was the rise of national television, which both emanated from and reinforced a culture of homogeneity. Market-leading brands used scale in a very different but no less effective way than manufacturing companies. A beer, shampoo, or cola brand with dominant share could flood the three major TV networks with more advertising than their competition, yet still spend less than the competition as a percentage of absolute sales dollars. This set up a virtuous circle for dominant brands and a vicious circle for those less fortunate. Brands like Budweiser went from strength to strength; strong regional brands like Narragansett beer, once the No. 1 seller in New England, slowly but surely withered away.

With the help of his partner Charlie Munger, Buffett studied and came to deeply understand this ecosystem—for that’s what it was, an ecosystem, even though there was no such term at the time. Over the next several decades, he and Munger engaged in a series of lucrative investments in branded companies and the television networks and advertising agencies that enabled them. While -Graham’s cigar-butt investing remained a staple of his trade, Buffett understood that the big money lay elsewhere. As he wrote in 1967, “Although I consider myself to be primarily in the quantitative school, the really sensational ideas I have had over the years have been heavily weighted toward the qualitative side, where I have had a ‘high-probability insight.’ This is what causes the cash register to ¬really sing.”

Thus was born what Chris Begg, CEO of Essex, Mass., money manager East Coast Asset Management, calls Value 2.0: finding a superior business and paying a reasonable price for it. The margin of safety lies not in the tangible assets but rather in the sustainability of the business itself. Key to this was the “high-probability insight”—that the company was so dominant, its future so stable, that the multiple one paid in terms of current earnings would not only hold but perhaps also expand. Revolutionary though the insight was at the time, to Buffett this was just math: The more assured the profits in the future, the higher the price you could pay today.

This explains why for decades Buffett avoided technology stocks. There was growth in tech, for sure, but there was little certainty. Things changed too quickly; every boom was accompanied by a bust. In the midst of such flux, who could find a high-probability insight? “I know as much about semiconductors or integrated circuits as I do of the mating habits of the chrzaszcz,” Buffett wrote in 1967, referring to an obscure Polish beetle. Thirty years later, writing to a friend who recommended that he look at Microsoft, Buffett said that while it appeared the company had a long runway of protected growth, “to calibrate whether my certainty is 80% or 55% … for a 20-year run would be folly.”

Now, however, Apple is Buffett’s largest investment. Indeed, it’s more than double the value of his No. 2 holding, old-economy stalwart Bank of America.

Why? Not because Buffett has changed. The world has.

And quite suddenly: Ten years ago, the top four companies in the world by market capitalization were Exxon Mobil, PetroChina, General Electric, and Gazprom—three energy companies and an industrial conglomerate. Now they are all “tech”—Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet—but not in the same way that semiconductors and integrated circuits are tech. These businesses, in fact, have much more in common with the durable, dominant consumer franchises of the postwar period. Their products and services are woven into the everyday fabric of the lives of billions of people. Thanks to daily usage and good, old-fashioned human habit, this interweaving will only deepen with the passage of time.

Explaining his Apple investment to CNBC, Buffett recalled making such a connection while taking his great-grandchildren and their friends to Dairy Queen; they were so immersed in their iPhones that it was difficult to find out what kind of ice cream they wanted.

“I didn’t go into Apple because it was a tech stock in the least,” Buffett said at this year’s annual meeting. “I went into Apple because … of the value of their ecosystem and how permanent that ecosystem could be.”

***

如果说,二战后是消费品行业崛起的时代,那么21世纪初期就是数字平台的时代。和之前的品牌企业一样,科技公司也能成为一个好的长期价值投资选择。创新学学者卡洛塔·佩雷斯曾在文章中指出,新技术的爆发,往往引起投机的狂潮,随后带来泡沫的破灭,经过一轮震荡调整,才会进入一段较长的稳定期。这个过程在西方世界至少发生过五次。我们经历过高科技爆炸,经历过“.com”泡沫,现在,我们正处于《没有资本的资本主义》(Capitalism Without Capital)一书的作者乔纳森·哈斯克尔和斯蒂安·韦斯特莱克所说的“睡觉”阶段。

与品牌公司不同,数字企业通常受益于网络效应。消费者喜欢标准化的单一平台,这反过来也强化了消费者偏好和平台价值。正因为如此,这些平台公司的市场份额令消费品巨头们相形见绌。这样的软件公司要么独霸市场,要么吃下了大部分市场,其他竞争对手只能跟在它后面吃剩下的。再加上科技公司的增长只需要很少的实物资本,我们就得到了“价值3.0”投资法——投资全新的、有巨大价值的商业模式。

Oakmark基金的尼格伦持有的最高仓位是Alphabet,他表示:“在过去,企业要想达到全球化的规模,需要大量的资本。但是现在,这些公司需要做的只是写代码,然后点击‘发送’键就行了。”

与以前所有成功的品牌公司一样,这些科技平台公司不仅将巨额利润再投资于其核心业务,也投资于全新的技术平台。以Alphabet为例,它是做搜索起家的,这是一个典型的两面通吃的市场,一方面消费者可以在谷歌上寻找商品和服务,另一方面又可以将广告主与有需要的消费者进行匹配。谷歌凭借卓越的算法,最早树立了搜索引擎市场的统治地位,目前已占据了所有移动搜索的95%,以至于“谷歌”这个词在日常生活中基本上成了一个动词。为了保持自己在搜索上的领先地位,谷歌每天都要对算法进行两次调整。而作为一个“轻资产”平台,它的现金是非常充裕的,它甚至可以每年投入200亿美元进行研发。光是这笔钱就比可口可乐和美国运通的年收入总和还多。它不仅紧盯核心业务,也打造了YouTube(用户生成视频内容)、Android(智能手机操作系统)和Waymo(无人驾驶汽车)等新兴平台。这些业务目前还赚不了多少钱,但离赚钱已经不远了。目前这些业务的经费主要由搜索平台支撑。无怪乎亚马逊创始人杰夫·贝佐斯曾对一位同事说过:“要把谷歌当作一座山对待。你可以去爬这座山,但你不能移走这座山。”

与此同时,贝佐斯自己也建起了几座山。作为美国电商市场的领军者,他建立了一个庞大的仓储物流网络,能够让1亿多亚马逊Prime会员在两天以内收到网购的包裹。他也将亚马逊的利润以多种方式再投资给公司的业务,比如为顾客提供更低的价格,推出Prime视频等附加服务。另外它还推出了亚马逊网络服务等全新产业,为下一代的数字化创业公司提供了外包服务和强大的计算工具。而作为亚马逊的核心业务,它的零售业务收入只占了美国零售商业总量的5%,但这个占有率已经保持至少20年了。亚马逊的目前的股价可能被有所高估了,但凭借极高的客户忠诚度,以及它的低价供应商地位,毫无疑问它还是一家非常有价值的企业。

If the postwar era was about consumer brands operating at scale, the early 21st century is about what we might call digital platforms. Like the branded enterprises before them, they have the permanence and probability that make for a good long-term value investment. Innovation scholar Carlota Perez has written about how at least five times in Western civilization, new technologies have erupted, gone through a speculative frenzy, and then busted, only to settle down after a shakeout into a long, protracted period of stability. We’ve had the high-tech eruption, we’ve had the frenzy of the dotcom boom, and we’ve had the bust. Now we are in what Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake, authors of Capitalism Without Capital, call the “bedding-in” phase.

Unlike branded companies, digital businesses often benefit from network effects: the tendency of consumers to standardize on a single platform, which reinforces both consumer preference and the platform’s value. Because of this, the market shares of these platform companies dwarf those of the consumer products giants; software businesses like these are often characterized by a “winner take all” or “winner take most” dynamic. Combine this with the fact that they require little to no capital to grow, and you have Value 3.0—business ¬models that are both radically new and enormously valuable.

“In the past you would’ve needed a tremendous amount of capital to achieve global scale,” says Oakmark’s Nygren, whose top position in his Oakmark Fund is Alphabet, “but these companies have done it just by writing code and pressing ‘send.’ ”

Like their branded predecessors, the platform companies are wisely reinvesting their vast profit streams into not only their core business but entirely new platforms as well. Take Alphabet, which my fund also owns: It began with search, a classic two-sided market in which consumers looking for goods and services are paired with advertisers who want to reach them. Google gained an early edge thanks to a superior search algorithm; with the word “google” now routinely used as a verb, it commands 95% of all mobile search. Google tweaks its algorithm twice a day to maintain its search superiority; meanwhile, the cash flow from this asset-less platform is so abundant that the parent can afford to spend $20 billion a year on research and development. That’s more than the annual earnings of Coca-Cola and American Express combined. It’s going into not only the core franchise but also nascent platforms like YouTube (user-generated video content), Android (smartphone operating systems), and Waymo (driverless cars). None of these businesses earns much now, but they may soon do so, and they are funded entirely by Google’s search platform. Little wonder that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once told a colleague, “Treat Google like a mountain. You can climb the mountain, but you can’t move it.”

Meanwhile, Bezos has built a mountain or two of his own. As the first big mover in ¬e-commerce, he created a network of warehouses and logistics capabilities that now allows him to deliver packages to more than 100 million Prime customers in two days or less. He too has chosen to reinvest Amazon’s profits back into the business in various forms: lower prices for customers, ancillary services like Prime Video, and entirely new industries like Amazon Web Services, which provides outsourced, essential computational “plumbing” for the next generation of digital startups. In its core retail business, Amazon still has only a roughly 5% share of U.S. retail commerce despite being at it for more than 20 years. Amazon’s stock may be overvalued today—but with its dual moats of immense customer loyalty and low-cost provider status, there is no argument that it is very valuable.

***

在这些平台公司创造成百上千亿美元价值的同时,他们也在逐步瓦解巴菲特所理解并从中获益的“战后生态系统”。目前,整个经济领域都存在着风险,投资者要想有不错的理财表现,不仅要考虑“价值3.0”的问题,还要看看自己“价值2.0”投资篮子里有哪些风险。

有些风险是显而易见的,比如零售业面临的风险(没错,说的就是你,西尔斯百货),不过更值得关注的是,所谓的媒体消费品工业指数正在缓慢而稳定地下滑。大约20年前,大品牌还可以通过电视接触到千百万美国观众,因为他们都会在同一时间坐在电视前收看《老友记》和《家居装饰》。自从有了有线电视网络,大家有了更多选择权,“广播电视”就变成了“窄播电视”。而现在谷歌和Facebook甚至可以把广告精确定位到个人。也就是说,仅仅用了一代人时间,我们已经从“广播电视”、 “窄播电视”进化到了“独播电视”。

因此,电视生态系统的网络效应基本上已不复存在了。这不仅对传统媒体公司冲击极大,也严重影响到了靠电视生存的各大品牌。“千禧一代”现在已是美国社会最大的年龄群体,他们既不看靠广告生存的电视,也不接受超级品牌的洗脑。比如强生公司的婴儿产品,包括它经典的不伤眼洗发水,近五年已经失去了10%的市场份额,与以往的风光相比,差距不可谓不大。而与此同时,亚马逊等网商则提供了透明的价格和流畅的网购体验。近些年人,美国人也变得更加注重健康,更注重地方特色,这一趋势无疑对小众品牌有利。就连纳拉干西特啤酒也卷土重来了。现在,那些大型消费品牌还有多少增长空间,还有多少定价权,最重要的是对我们所有人还有多少影响力,这些都值得重新审视,因此我们有必要发问了:一个消费品牌,它真正合理的价格应该是多少?

需要强调的是,一些关于数字化颠覆的言论有些言过其实了。数字货币会取代银行系统吗?不太可能。大卫·埃因霍恩不看好特斯拉和Netflix,他可能是对的,并非因为这两家公司的股票太贵,而是因为这两家公司面临的竞争越来越激烈。至于炒得火热的无人驾驶汽车,实际上还处于八字没一撇的阶段。不过用不了半代人的时间,很多事情就会改变。如果你在谷歌上搜一搜“1900年纽约感恩节游行”,再搜搜“1913年纽约感恩节游行”,你会发现,1900年时,纽约满大街100%跑的都是马车;而到了1913年,街上100%跑的都是汽车了。另外,等到无人驾驶汽车真的能上路了,汽车行业会发生什么变化?汽车保险行业又会发生什么变化?要知道,汽车保险作为一个资本密集型行业,可是价值投资者们在鸡尾酒会上很爱谈论的一个话题呢!

作为长期投资者,这些变化都是需要考虑的,并且有必要根据这些因素调整投资组合。Markel公司的盖纳表示,达尔文经常会被后人误解。他认为:“适者生存,不是说最适合环境者生存,而是最适应变化者生存。”(财富中文网)

本文作者亚当·希塞尔于1991年荣获乔治波尔卡新闻奖。他是引力资本管理公司的创始人及CEO,他的基金持有文中出现的部分公司的股份。

本文的另一版本刊于2018年12月1日的《财富》杂志,作为“2019年投资者指南”的一部分。

译者:朴成奎

As these platform companies create billions in value, they are simultaneously undermining the postwar ecosystem that Buffett has understood and profited from. Entire swaths of the economy are now at risk, and investors would do well not only to consider Value 3.0 prospectively but also to give some thought to what might be vulnerable in their Value 2.0 portfolios.

Some of these risks, such as those facing retail, are obvious (RIP, Sears). More important, what might be called the Media-¬Consumer Products Industrial Complex is slowly but surely withering away. As recently as 20 years ago, big brands could use network television to reach millions of Americans who tuned in simultaneously to watch shows like Friends and Home Improvement. Then came specialized cable networks, which turned broadcasting into narrowcasting. Now Google and Facebook can target advertising to a single individual, which means that in a little more than a generation we have gone from broadcasting to narrowcasting to mono-casting.

As a result, the network effects of the TV ecosystem are largely defunct. This has dangerous implications not only for legacy media companies but also for all the brands that thrived in it. Millennials, now the largest demographic in the U.S., are tuning out both ad-based television and megabrands. Johnson & Johnson’s baby products, for example, including its iconic No More Tears shampoo, have lost more than 10 points of market share in the last five years—an astonishingly sharp shift in a once terrarium-like category. Meanwhile, Amazon and other Internet retailers have introduced price transparency and frictionless choice. Americans are also becoming more health conscious and more locally oriented, trends that favor niche brands. Even Narragansett beer is making a comeback. With volume growth, pricing power, and, above all, the hold these brands once had on us all in doubt, it’s appropriate to ask: What’s the fair price for a consumer “franchise”?

To be sure, some of the digital-disruption rhetoric is overdone. Cryptocurrency replacing the bank system? Not likely. David Einhorn’s bearish calls on Tesla and Netflix may well be right, not because the stocks are expensive but because they face rising competition. And for all the hype about autonomous vehicles, they’re not anywhere close to being here—yet. But a lot can change in half a generation. If you google “Easter Day Parade, New York City 1900” and then “Easter Day Parade, New York City 1913” and look at the pictures that appear, you will see that the former has nearly 100% horse-drawn carriages while the latter has nearly 100% horseless carriages—i.e., automobiles. And when driverless cars do arrive, what happens to the auto industry? What happens to the auto-insurance industry—that cuddly, capital-intensive commodity business that value investors love to talk about at cocktail parties?

Long-term investors need to be thinking about such shifts, and they need to position their portfolios in accordance with them rather than against them. Darwin is often misunderstood, says Markel’s Gayner, who counts both Amazon and Alphabet among his holdings. “It’s not survival of the fittest, but those who are most adaptable to change, that make it through.”

Adam Seessel, who won journalism’s George Polk Award in 1991, is founder and CEO of Gravity Capital Management. His fund owns positions in some of the companies mentioned here.

A version of this article appears in the December 1, 2018 issue of Fortune, as part of the “2019 Investor’s Guide.”

我来点评

  最新文章

最新文章:

500强情报中心

财富专栏