Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Requiem for Walter Schloss

The life of a typical money manager or financier does not appeal to me. The late Walter Schloss, on the other hand, is someone whose life appeals to me a lot. He died this weekend at age 95. Bloomberg has a nice piece out today, remembering  him. Warren Buffett once joked that Schloss beat the S&P 500 since before there was an S&P 500. As you'll see from the article, that appears to be the case. In a profile he wrote of Schloss, John Train wrote that Schloss's office in New York was unglamorous in the extreme, and overlooked an air shaft. Schloss would not visit a company he invested in unless it was within walking distance of his office. I also recall Train describing the phone on Schloss's desk that sat, "unringing," during their multi-hour interview. All of this seemed to help, not hurt, the results he got for his investors.

ADDENDUM: Actually, now that I check my files, I see that my memory of who wrote the old profile of Schloss was wrong. The profile, while worthy of Train, was in Fortune in 1995, and is by Terence Pare. The title is "Yes, You Can Beat the Market." I hate the title, which is too glib, but it's a very good article. Googling around, I see that some folks have uploaded it to the web, probably without permission. It is worth reading for the information on Schloss and some other great investors. Also, The Economist has a great obit on Schloss, too (HT Ted).