RIP: Irving Kahn

Irving Kahn has died at the age of 109. He was a student of Benjamin Graham and later, chairman emeritus of Kahn Brothers Group Inc. He started working on Wall Street in 1928.

Jason Zweig writes:

The crash of 1929, Mr. Kahn told an interviewer in 2012, taught him that “the gambling nature of Wall Street has little or no interest in the serious, underlying nature of businesses.” He described rapid trading, then and now, as “crazy competition that had no connection to the real facts.”

His central goal as an investor, he said, was always “to know much more about the stock I’m buying than the man who’s selling does.”

For Mr. Kahn, the most important quality an investor could possess was patience. “You gain much more by slow investing and concentrating on what you know,” he said in 2012, “than on fast investing, which is nothing more than gambling.”

In an article in the Financial Analysts Journal in 1977, Mr. Kahn set out seven “guidelines for intelligent investing.” Among them: “Don’t depend on recent or current figures to forecast future prices….Capital is always at risk unless you buy better than average values….Don’t trust quarterly earnings….Look beyond the one or two largest companies in a given industry.”

He concluded, “The analyst must both practice, and to his client preach, patience.”

Kahn’s sister also lived to 109. His brother died at 101 and another sister lived to 103.

Asked on Thursday if he had any thoughts on Mr. Kahn, Warren Buffett —who also studied under Mr. Graham—joked, “I’d rather have Irving’s thoughts on longevity.”

Posted by on February 26th, 2015 at 5:03 pm

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