The Survivor vs. Oblivion Investment Theory

If you owned a collection of ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total SA, and the legacies to ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66–which at times included things like DuPont–you would have earned compounded annual returns of 12.3% between 1956 and 2006. I find these fascinating not just because I am attracted to concepts that can beat the S&P 500 over a half-century with minimal work after making the initial investment, but because of the counterintuitive nature in which these returns have been achieved.

The long-term earnings growth of this basket of stocks was only 6.1%. That is the kind of growth that Wall Street scoffs at–how many salesmen can pick up investor clients promising that the investment selections will grow 6.1% annually over fifty years? Yet, when you throw in a 4.3% dividend, and reinvestment at decades of undervaluation, you get returns north of 12%. And considering that many people prize … Read the rest of this article!