the first draft . Although the country was in a recession and stocks had performed poorly for several years , Murray felt that the market was oversold and was very bullish on the longer-term prospect for stocks . The investment committee thought that Murray was overly aggressive in his outlook and responded to his report accordingly , “ We like this , we kind of agree with it , but we think you ’ re taking too strong a position .” Murray ’ s position was that this is “ the opportunity of a lifetime , to buy equities .”
The investment committee wanted Murray to tone down his position . Although he listened patiently to their arguments , he responded , “ I ’ ll tell you what ? I ’ ve got a deal you can ’ t refuse . I write a disclaimer . I ’ ll say this [ analysis ] is not an expression of the Common Fund . We [ will ] observe the freedom of thinking and speech common to academia . This is one man ’ s opinion , not necessarily endorsed by the trustees .”
Murray ’ s offer was as follows : “ If this [ analysis ] is right , this will be the Common Fund ’ s statement .” If the analysis turns out to be wrong , “ we can say , ‘ That ’ s what Murray said .’” The committee agreed to publish Murray ’ s original draft , and he didn ’ t have to modify the conclusion . And , of course , Murray was right : 1974 was the low point in the bear market .
Murray was asked to speak at the Chicago Analysts Society shortly after his report was published . His message to the audience , “ You ’ ll never have an opportunity to buy stocks as cheap as they are now .” One of Murray ’ s old friends said to Murray after his presentation , “ I ’ ve heard you say lots of times never say never , but you , you said it .” Murray responded , “ Yes , I said it and I meant it .” There was no question in Murray ’ s mind : the investment opportunities in the stock market were “ an absolute steal .”
Paul Johnson has been an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School for more than 30 years , teaching courses on value investing and security analysis . He contributed to two Columbia Business School Publishing books , The Most Important Thing Illuminated ( 2013 ) and Columbia Business School : A Century of Ideas ( 2016 ). Paul D . Sonkin was a portfolio manager at GAMCO Investors , Inc . and was for many years an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School . He is the co-author of Value Investing : From Graham to Buffett and Beyond ( 2001 ).
This article was adapted from The Enduring Value of Roger Murray , by Paul Johnson and Paul D . Sonkin , published by Columbia Business School Publishing . Copyright © 2023 Paul Johnson and Paul D . Sonkin . Used by arrangement with the Publisher . All rights reserved .
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