Buffett's Slam Dunk Investing Tip: The LeBron James Analogy

Quick Hits Basketball (FILE - In this March 13, 2013, file photo, Miami Heat's LeBron James goes up for a dunk in the first half
Matt Slocum/AP

By Matt Schulz

I have a "love-hate" relationship with LeBron James.

I was turned off by "The Decision" -- that crass July 2010 show in which he announced that he would be "taking his talents to South Beach" to play for the Miami Heat after years of playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

And then came 2013. I've been a San Antonio Spurs fan for nearly 30 years, and LeBron and the Miami Heat ripped my heart out in winning one of the most compelling NBA Finals of all time.

Still, there's a lot to like about the guy. Over the years, I've admired the maturity LeBron has shown, "The Decision" notwithstanding. He has gone from impoverished kid and high-school phenom to NBA megastar and savvy businessman.

That savvy has drawn the admiration of many outside the sports world -- including one man who is as iconic in the business world as LeBron is when it comes to basketball.

Who am I talking about? Warren Buffett.

The Oracle of Omaha is a fan of King James?


"He's savvy," Buffett told the Miami Herald in November 2012. "He's smart about financial matters. It's amazing to me the maturity he exhibits. I know that if I had been famous at that age, I would have had trouble keeping my feet on the ground."

According to reports, they email each other from time to time, they have dinner together, they play golf and more. LeBron even says he's sent Buffett some of his financial statements, according to Sports Illustrated.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Buffett even uses LeBron to explain his own ultra-successful investing strategy. My colleague Amy Calistri, editor of Street Authority's Stock Of The Month newsletter, talks about this in her latest report.

Buffett calls it the "LeBron James analogy." He says, "If you have LeBron James on your team, don't take him out of the game just to make room for someone else. ... It's crazy to put money into your 20th choice rather than your first choice."

What does that mean?

In short, it means invest the most in the best companies. ... If you've done your homework and you've determined that a few select companies are clearly the best ones in your portfolio, you should put the bulk of your money in those companies.

Don't diversify just for the sake of diversification. After all, you want those companies to do the bulk of the work for your investments, in much the same way that you want LeBron James to take more shots in a game than one of his teammates.

Buffett has lived his strategy. His top five holdings make up 76% of the equity portfolio of his giant investment firm, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B).

He isn't the only believer, though. Bill Gates' top investment -- worth $8 billion -- makes up 46% of the stock portfolio he set up for his nonprofit foundation. Fidelity legend Peter Lynch and Blum Capital's David Einhorn have also said they believe that less is more when it comes to owning stocks.
Amy Calistri believes that, too, and she has even come up with a strategy that has picked winning investments roughly 85% of the time and produced annual returns of up to 510%. (Click here to learn more.)

As for LeBron, he's become more particular as well. As one of the world's most recognizable and marketable faces, he must be besieged by companies trying to catch his attention. But not just anyone makes the grade.

He has had endorsement deals with Nike, Coca-Cola, Samsung and others that, according to Forbes, helped him earn $60 million between June of 2012 and June of 2013. And in 2011, he even became a minority owner in Liverpool FC, the English Premier League soccer team.

"I've got a lot going on right now," James said in the same Miami Herald article. "I'm not looking for too many new opportunities -- unless it's a good one."

Sounds like a sensible decision. I have a feeling that his friend, Mr. Buffett, would approve.

The Investing Answer: It can be dangerous to put all of your money in one stock or just few stocks. After all, if that stock tanks, your portfolio goes down with it.

However, the idea of putting the bulk of your funds into your strongest stocks can make sense, if you do your homework. And since you likely don't have the resources at your disposal that James and Buffett do, the responsibility falls onto your shoulders. Take it seriously.

Learn as much as you can about these companies before you throw all of your money at them. Read annual reports, quarterly reports and any other data you can get your hands on. Check the news for the latest headlines about the company. Talk to friends who may have ties to the firm or who may already own the stock. Turn over every rock and beat every bush. After all, while investing a lot of money in a wonderful company is a great idea, researching it is the only way to know just how wonderful the company really is.

P.S. -- And don't forget to check out Amy Calistri's Stock of the Month newsletter.

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