Francisco García Paramés: Bitcoin is gambling

Buying bitcoin is just a form of gambling, says Francisco García Paramés, Spain’s best-known fund manager – and he doesn’t see the appeal. “I’m told there are people who win at blackjack everyday, but I don’t dare. I have not played bitcoin yet. It’s like [betting on] red and black,” he told an investing conference in Bilbao, reports El Confidencial. While bitcoin’s high volatility is attractive for traders, it undermines its claims to be taken seriously. “I do not see the service it gives me as a tradeable currency if it does not have a minimum stability.“

Paramés, who is often described as Europe’s Warren Buffett, left Spanish fund group Bestinver in 2014 after a 25-year career in which he averaged returns of 16% per year. Bestinver’s assets under management fell by around 30% ($2.5bn) that year, the Financial Times reported in 2015.

He launched his own firm, Cobas Asset Management, in October last year after waiting out a two-year non-compete agreement, and his firm has now accumulated €1.34bn in assets under management, despite a slow start: the flagship Cobas Selección fund has returned 5.85% so far, against 5.85% for the MSCI Europe index.

That’s unlikely to worry Paramés, given that he takes a long-term view and favours high-quality companies with good returns on capital and high barriers to entry. “When you’re young you want to achieve a quick, high return and you can get it with cheap companies, so you avoid quality companies that are more expensive,” he told Citywire Selector last year. “Over time you realise these cheap companies are cheap because they are regular businesses and things can go wrong. You’ve fallen into a value trap.”