Hemingway On Hunting, Lessons For Searching & Waiting On Multi-Baggers

I came across a passage in The Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway which drove home a point, in an indirect way, that I've been considering with my investment philosophy and having the 'conviction to hold.' Multi-baggers don't happen over night, or every quarter, or even every year. The trick is finding those beautiful little companies that can emerge in a big way over time, and letting them do their thing while not worrying too much about the day-to-day distractions of my Google News feed or chart fluctuations. That isn't to say an investor shouldn't try to blow up his investment thesis on a regular basis and perhaps periodically change his mind, but extraordinary gains take time to develop.

Give a small company time to get really big if the company is positioned favorably with high-quality management and a long runway for increases to sales and earning power.

Ernest Hemingway, The Green Hills Of Africa

This was the tenth day we had been hunting greater kudu and I had not seen a mature bull yet. We had only three days more because the rains were moving north each day from Rhodesia and unless we were prepared to stay where we were through the rains we must be out as far as Handeni before they came. We had set the seventeenth of February as the last safe date to leave. Every morning now it took the heavy, wooled sky an hour or so longer to clear and you could feel the rains coming, as they moved steadily north, as surely as though you watched them on a chart.

Now it is pleasant to hunt something that you want very much over a long period of time, being outwitted, out-maneuvered, and failing at the end of each day, but having the hunt and knowing everything you are out that, sooner or later, your luck would change and that you will get the chance you are seeking. But it is not pleasant to have a time limit by which you must get your kudu or perhaps never get it, nor even see one.

It is not the way hunting should be. It is too much like those boys who used to be sent to Paris with two years in which to make good as writers or painters after which, if they had not made good, they could go home and into their fathers' business. The way to hunt is for as long as you can live against as long as there is you and colors and canvas, and to write as long as you can live and there is pencil and paper or ink or any machine to do it with, or anything you care to write about, and you feel a fool, and you are a fool, to do it any other way. But here we were, now, caught by time, by the season, and by the running out of our money, so that what should have been as much fun to do each day whether you killed or not was being forced into that most exciting perversion of life; the necessity of accomplishing something in less time than should truly be allowed for its doing.

Mike Arnold

full-time investor searching for talented operators, clean capital structures & scalable growth. no cigar butts or conventional wisdom. // hiker. hooper. writer

Portland, Oregon