Skip to content

The Art of Deep Value Investing: Insights from Walter Schloss

The Art of Deep Value Investing: Insights from Walter Schloss


The world of stock investing is teeming with strategies and methodologies, each with its unique approach and philosophy. Among the prominent figures who have left an indelible mark in this landscape is Walter Schloss, a legendary value investor renowned for his deep value investing strategy.

Walter Schloss: A Titan of Value Investing

Walter Schloss, a disciple of Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing, embarked on a career on Wall Street at a tender age. Over time, he honed his skills and built his investment strategy around the deep value investing principles taught by Graham. Schloss’s investment prowess made him a highly respected figure in the investment community, delivering impressive annualized returns of 15.7% over 47 years with his own fund, Walter & Edwin Schloss Associates.

Schloss’s investment philosophy revolved around the concept of intrinsic value, viewing each stock as an ownership share in a business rather than just a ticker symbol. This perspective allowed him to maintain a highly diversified portfolio of around 100 stocks, carefully selected based on their undervaluation.

Deep Value Investing: The Schloss Way

Deep value investing, as practiced by Schloss, is a strategy that involves buying stocks or bonds for significantly below their net worth. The technique focuses on the cheapest stocks relative to value, often targeting companies that the market has overlooked or dismissed. This approach aims to exploit the market’s inefficiency, investing in stocks with a large margin of safety and potential for considerable upside.

Schloss’s method of stock selection was unique. He would take small initial positions and, if the spread widened, buy more. He was known for his ability to generate impressive returns while keeping his expenses low and avoiding emotional investment decisions. His methodical and patient approach to investing, focused solely on the numbers, is a testament to the power of deep value investing.

For more insights into Walter Schloss’ deep value investing strategy, stay tuned. In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the principles and practices that made Schloss one of the most successful value investors of his time.

Walter Schloss’ Investment Philosophy

Walter Schloss, a titan of value investing, had an investment philosophy rooted in rigorous financial analysis and an unwavering commitment to value. Let’s delve into the core tenets of his approach to deep value investing.

Quantitative Over Qualitative

Schloss’ investment strategy was distinctly numbers-driven. Unlike many investors who delve into the qualitative aspects of a business or engage in extensive interactions with management, Schloss was more interested in the cold, hard numbers. He conducted general due diligence on a company’s financials, focusing on stocks undervalued based on their assets or book value per share. This approach was a key component of his net-net investing strategy, allowing him to identify deep value opportunities across a broad spectrum of stocks.

Diversification and Capital Preservation

Schloss was known for spreading his bets widely. His stock selection typically included around 100 stocks, a diversification strategy that helped mitigate the impact of individual stock performance on his portfolio. This approach was also closely tied to one of his primary investment objectives: capital preservation. By investing in a broad array of undervalued stocks, Schloss aimed to protect his capital and avoid significant losses.

Deep Value Investing

Deep value investing was at the heart of Schloss’ investment philosophy. He sought out stocks selling at a discount to their Net Current Asset Value (NCAV) or tangible book value. Schloss was a firm believer in the intrinsic value of a business, preferring to invest in companies with low debt-to-equity ratios and reasonable prices relative to their assets, earnings, and dividends. This approach allowed him to uncover stocks with significant upside potential, which contributed to his long-term investment success.

Key Principles of Schloss’ Investment Philosophy

Schloss’ investment decisions were guided by several key principles. Here’s a snapshot of these principles:

Key PrinciplesDescription
Preserve CapitalSchloss prioritized capital preservation and aimed to avoid significant losses by focusing on finding undervalued stocks with a margin of safety.
Quantitative FocusSchloss primarily focused on the numbers and relied on financial statistics, performance data, and value metrics to make investment decisions.
DiversificationSchloss spread his investments across a wide range of stocks to mitigate the impact of individual stock performance on his portfolio.
Deep Value InvestingSchloss preferred companies with large book values in relation to their market prices, low debt-to-equity ratios, and reasonable prices relative to their assets, earnings, and dividends.
Limited Interaction with ManagementSchloss did not place much emphasis on interacting with company management. He believed that good management is eventually reflected in the stock price.
Independent ResearchSchloss conducted his own research and employed various methods to search for investment ideas, including looking for stocks trading at new lows and using resources like Value Line for financial data.

Independent Research

Schloss was a strong proponent of independent research. He conducted his own analysis when evaluating investment opportunities, employing various methods to find investment ideas. Schloss scoured for stocks trading at new lows and leveraged resources like Value Line for financial data. His disciplined approach to investing and focus on long-term compounding were key contributors to his successful track record.

In conclusion, Walter Schloss’ investment philosophy was a testament to the power of deep value investing, rigorous financial analysis, and disciplined diversification. His approach to stock selection and value investing serves as a guide for both novice and experienced investors navigating the complex world of stock market investing.

Deep Value Picks: Schloss’ Selection Criteria

Identifying Undervalued Stocks

In the world of value investing, Walter Schloss stands out as a master of identifying deeply undervalued stocks. Schloss’ investment strategy was straightforward, focusing on companies with large book values in relation to market prices. This method of stock selection allowed him to spot stocks that were selling at a significant discount to their intrinsic value.

Schloss was particularly keen on companies with low debt-to-equity ratios, a key indicator of financial health and sustainability. The reasoning behind this was simple yet profound: companies with low debt could weather financial storms more effectively and were less likely to go bankrupt. Such companies also had the potential to pay dividends consistently, contributing to a steady income stream for investors. As a check on the management’s actions, Schloss considered dividends an important factor when selecting stocks.

Assessing Intrinsic Value

The task of assessing a company’s intrinsic value was no small feat, but Schloss had his methods. He focused on companies that were priced reasonably in relation to their assets, earnings, and dividends. He believed that price was paramount when it came to value, and he used book value as a starting point for valuation.

Schloss also employed financial metrics such as price-to-book ratio, price-to-earnings ratio, and free cash flow to evaluate a company’s stock. These measures provided him with a more comprehensive understanding of a company’s financial standing and potential for growth.

The Deep Value Approach

By adhering to these stringent selection criteria, Schloss honed his deep value investing strategy. He sought out deeply discounted stocks, capitalizing on their potential for improvement, acquisition, or stock buybacks. Schloss was not one to buy on tips or overthink investment opportunities; he took small initial positions and diversified his portfolio widely, often holding around 100 stocks at a time.

Schloss also recognized the importance of selling when the time was right, even if it meant missing out on potential future gains. This approach to selling demonstrated his philosophy of capital preservation and the essence of his investment strategy.

Here’s a summary of Schloss’ stock selection criteria:

Book ValueLarge in relation to market price
Debt-to-Equity RatioLow
Price-to-Book RatioLow
Price-to-Earnings RatioReasonable
Free Cash FlowPositive

In summary, Walter Schloss’ approach to deep value investing provides an invaluable guide to both novice and seasoned investors. His strategies are grounded in sound financial principles and demonstrate a disciplined approach to stock selection, offering timeless lessons in value investing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Deep Value Investing Vs Other Strategies

What sets deep value investing apart from other strategies? At its core, deep value investing, a concept championed by Walter Schloss, is a strategy that zeroes in on stocks trading well below their conservative net worth assessment. Unlike other strategies such as traditional value investing, deep value investing targets stocks that are on the brink of bankruptcy or are trading at illogically low prices.

Instead of making forward projections based on future cash flow, investors can rely on the company’s current balance sheet, making it a simpler approach. However, this investment strategy comes with its own set of challenges – larger price movements, wider ask-bid spreads, and a higher risk, but for patient investors, the potential for higher returns.

Risk in Deep Value Investing

Deep value investing may seem like a riskier venture because it involves buying stocks significantly undervalued by the market. These stocks are often considered the lowest of the low, sometimes even at the brink of bankruptcy. The market’s extreme pessimism towards these firms results in absurdly low prices, and therein lies the risk – the uncertain future of these financially unstable businesses. However, Walter Schloss emphasized the importance of diversification to mitigate the risk of individual stock failures. Ultimately, the potential for superior returns might just outweigh the risks for some investors.

Applying Schloss’ Principles

How can individual investors adapt Walter Schloss’ principles to their own investment strategy?

  1. Focus on value: Look for companies trading at a price lower than their book value per share, or stocks hitting new lows.
  2. Conduct thorough research: Dive deep into the financial statistics, performance, reports, and proxy statements of potential investment opportunities.
  3. Stay disciplined: Stick to your guns. Establish your own valuation for a company and avoid short-term market trends.
  4. Diversify your portfolio: Spread your investments across different industries and sectors to offset risk.
  5. Preserve capital: Carefully evaluate the risk of an investment and avoid excessive leverage or speculative bets.
  6. Maintain privacy: Keep your investment ideas to yourself.

While Schloss’ principles provide valuable guidance, remember to consider your own risk tolerance, financial goals, and time horizon when implementing your investment strategy.


As we delve into the world of stock investing, the principles and philosophy of Walter Schloss remain a compelling guide for both novice and seasoned investors. His approach to deep value investing, marked by a disciplined strategy and a focus on intrinsic value, is a beacon for those navigating the often tumultuous seas of the stock market.

Lessons from Schloss for Modern Investors

Modern investors can significantly benefit from his lessons, such as making independent investment decisions, prioritizing capital preservation, and sticking to what they understand. Schloss’s principle of independent thinking and simplicity is particularly relevant in today’s complex financial landscape. In essence, his approach underscores the enduring relevance of value investing and the importance of a methodical approach to stock selection.

Schloss’ Strategy in Today’s Market

Schloss’ investment strategy continues to hold relevance in today’s market. With an increased access to financial data and a growing number of investment platforms, his principles serve as a reliable roadmap for identifying undervalued opportunities. His focus on stocks with low leverage and a preference for small initial positions reflect a cautious approach to risk management, aspects that are invaluable in any market environment.

Embracing the Schloss Way

Embracing the Schloss way means sticking to fundamentals, avoiding emotion-based decisions, and understanding that patience is a virtue in the world of investing. His approach, while seemingly old-school, provides timeless insights for anyone looking to navigate the world of stock investing successfully. Schloss’s legacy is a testament to the power of deep value investing, reminding us of the potential rewards that await those who are disciplined, patient, and dedicated in their investment journey.