Williams Investment Society (WIS)

Mission Statement

The Williams Investment Society is a student organization that manages a portion of Washington and Lee University's endowment in equity securities. The Society's purpose is to provide students with a forum to develop their interest in investments and financial analysis by giving them the opportunity to actively manage real capital. The Society also seeks to broaden awareness of investments within the W&L community through sponsoring speakers and making the Society's presentations and operations open to the public..

Investment Philosophy

The Williams Investment Society's investment philosophy is based on the key beliefs that equity markets are inefficient and corporate fundamentals drive share prices in the long-term. Through extensive research and analysis, the Society attempts to identify companies priced by markets at significant discounts to their intrinsic values. The Society hopes to realize long-term capital appreciation by investing in superior companies at reasonable prices. The Society also believes that diversification enhances returns while minimizing risk. By investing in a portfolio of common stocks assembled according to this criterion, the Society seeks to realize returns in excess of set benchmarks including the S&P 500, other similar academic investment organizations and the asset managers for Washington and Lee University.

Investment Policies & Procedures

WIS employs a top-down investment procedure to identify superior companies trading at reasonable prices. This begins with an analysis of the overall industry outlook, reflecting current economic conditions and forecasts. If the particular industry is deemed attractive, the Industry groups then screen for and perform in-depth financial analysis of companies. A series of procedural checks foster discussion and debate and help insure research quality. Before a position can be voted on, Industry groups must present and defend their equity research before an open audience. A simple majority of all directors determines whether or not WIS buys or sells a position.

Investment Constraints

  • WIS invests only in firms with at least $500 MM in market capitalization and a minimum $5 share price.
  • A simple majority of the votes are required to purchase or sell a stock.
  • WIS will not invest more than 5% of its portfolio in a single stock.
  • WIS will not short-sell positions or trade on margin.
  • A faculty advisor signs off University acknowledgement of all investment transactions.
  • Industry Heads sign off acknowledgement of investment transactions in their respective industries.

Recommended Reading

  • Equity Asset Valuation by Jerald Pinto, Elaine Henry, Thomas Robinson and John Stowe
  • Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham
  • The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham and Jason Zweig
  • Beat the Street by Peter Lynch
  • One Up on Wall Street: How to Use What You Already Know to Make Money in the Market by Peter Lynch
  • The Warren Buffett Way by Robert Hagstrom
  • A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Robert Malkiel
  • Value Investing: From Graham to Buffett and Beyond by Bruce Greenwald
  • Hedge Hogging by Barton Biggs
  • More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places by Michael Mouboussin
  • Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefevre and Roger Lowenstein
  • Investing: The Last Liberal Art by Robert Hagstrom
  • When Genius Failed: the Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management by Roger Lowenstein
  • Stock Valuation by Scott Hoover
  • Barbarians at the Gate by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar
  • Margin of Safety by Seth Klarman
  • When Markets Collide by Mohamed El-Erian
  • Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis
  • The Big Short by Michael Lewi