The world’s greatest investors: Francisco García Paramés

Spanish value investor Francisco García Paramés has enjoyed annualised returns of 16% over 25 years.

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VALUE INVEST CONGRESS

Francisco Garca Params studied economics at the Complutense University of Madrid and completed an MBA at the University of Navarra before joining fund manager Bestinver in 1989. There, he became Spain's most-successful fund manager, delivering annual returns of 16% over 25 years. His record became so important to the firm that its assets under management dropped by 30% when he left in 2014. After a two-year non-compete period expired, he launched his own firm, Cobas Asset Management, in 2017.

What is his strategy?

Params follows the value-investing principles of stock-trading legends such as Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett. As with Buffett, Params' style has evolved to favour higher-quality firms. "When you're young you want to achieve a quick, high return and you think you can get it with cheap companies, so you avoid quality companies that are more expensive," he told CityWire. "Over time you realise these cheap companies are cheap because they are regular businesses and things can go wrong."

What was his best trade?

At Bestinver, Params' funds often held a stock for a long period of time, but regularly added to or trimmed the size of each investment depending on which holdings seemed cheapest. This makes it difficult to identify how much specific stocks have contributed to his performance. However, when launching Cobas in 2017 he noted that he had seen (and presumably acted on) an "extraordinary opportunity" in miner Anglo American in late 2015, when the shares were trading at roughly 270p. By March 2017, they had recovered to 1,400p.

What can investors learn?

In his book Investing for the Long Term (to be published in English this year), Params sets out a number of pithy principles, including "the more a company appears in the press, the further you should keep away from it" and "the older a company is, the more possibilities it has of surviving". He strongly favours family-controlled firms such as BMW, which has been one of his longest-held investments.

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