Some phenomena happen so rarely that we'll wait years before
seeing them, like the reappearance of Halley's Comet, or the
Detroit Lions winning their first Super Bowl. In the same vein,
there are some visionaries who come along only once every few
generations, leaving such a huge mark on business and popular
culture, it's hard to imagine they could ever be succeeded. Think
Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, and
In the business world, Buffett is one of the biggest names in
the 21st century, with an unerring, almost psychic ability to
predict the best market ventures -- and a subsequently
enormous net worth ($72.2 billion as of January 2015, according
). Of course, that's all offset by his humble, folksy attitude
toward life and money. Sure,
he has his contemporaries
, but nobody even comes close to mastering his investing
At 84, Buffett can't hog the mantle of top investor
forever. Industry experts and columnists point to several
people who could replace Buffett as the de facto investing
powerhouse; one name that keeps getting mentioned as an
up-and-coming investing star is that of 37-year-old Allan Mecham,
a Utah-based investor known as "The 400% Man" for his
mind-boggling rate of return that's left Wall Street in the dust.
Mecham's background and uncomplicated approach to investing also
bear an uncanny resemblance to Buffett's.
21 Surprising Facts You Never Knew About Warren
Allan Mecham, "The 400% Man": The New Warren Buffett?
What makes Mecham such a curious potential successor to Buffett
is that he's as equally auspicious as he is enigmatic. He's a
young investor and partner with a small firm in Salt Lake City --
Arlington Value Capital -- whose hedge fund structure regularly
turns profits, even during the 2008 economic downturn, according
. Mecham has been in the investing game for 15 years and,
according to MarketWatch, has "earned an astounding cumulative
return of more than 400 percent by investing in the stock of U.S.
companies -- many of them larger ones like
Mecham's portfolio is also valued at more than $443 million,
according to Dataroma. Some of those investments are similar
to Buffett's, including a 23% stake in
Bank of America
and over 10% in none other than
, bought up when Buffett's stock was low. Mecham's strategy --
and trusty gut instincts -- are also reminiscent of the Oracle of
"What's particularly interesting is that Mecham simply seems
to follow his nose after reading anything and everything and then
just thinking about the best route to take," writes Michelle
Jones of ValueWalk. "Does that sound familiar? He doesn't use
complicated algorithms or technical data to figure out where to
put his money. He simply does the homework and thinks before
making a decision."
"Mecham doesn't even like to build spreadsheets. He doesn't
care about the next quarter, he cares about the next ten years,"
writes Brett Arends of
. "He doesn't subscribe to expensive data terminals. He rarely
even uses the Internet. Mecham downloads company 10-K filings and
reads and reads and reads ... and thinks and thinks and
These aren't the only ways Mecham is like a modern-day
Buffett. A college dropout, his investment savvy and success are
largely self-made. Somewhat shy and reclusive, he's not the
ostentatious banker type, but low-key and humble, not unlike
Buffett -- who, with more money in the world than God, still
lives in the same Omaha house
he bought back in the 1950s.
"Mecham doesn't look, talk or act like a typical Wall Street
manager," writes Arends. "He's soft-spoken. He doesn't use
jargon. He dresses like he works in a bookshop, with a patterned
shirt and a plain tie. And the story of his success, arguably,
says a lot about the flaws of the fund-management
industry. By his own account, and those of other investors
who have vetted his fund, Mecham has no secret sauce or amazing
algorithm; what's extraordinary about this young man is how
ordinary he is."
A simple investment style
Buffett took a seemingly archaic approach to investing in the
1950s, was a millionaire by the 1960s, and by the 1990s, a
billionaire. In the 21st century, an investor like Mecham is
following this simple, linear path.
"What makes Mecham's story especially interesting is that he
has produced this extraordinary performance without being an
astrophysics PhD or having access to a more powerful computer
than anyone else," writes Arends. "Most investors turn gooey-eyed
over talk of 'proprietary algorithms' or quantitative analysis.
The more complicated it sounds, the more excited they
get. But Mecham hasn't done things that are really
complicated. He's done things that are really quite simple."
"The way Mecham runs money is very different from how typical
asset managers operate," writes Ashby Monk of the Institutional
Investor. In fact, Mecham's basic investment style will sound
familiar to anyone familiar with Warren Buffett. Mecham seeks to
invest in businesses with healthy long-term prospects, a steady
revenue stream, impressive, solid management, and a defense
system against competitors - sort of a financial barrier. Another
Buffett-ism Mecham seems to have picked up is financial
Here are some of Mecham's favored investments rules, according
- Focus on the positive. Ignore the drops and dips in the
economy and look instead at stable businesses that can thrive
during any financial climate.
- Keep only a few investments. Mecham believes against stock
diversification; the most successful private-investment firms
have the advantage of keeping just a few key investments close
to the belt in order to see some financial returns.
- Favor comprehension over spreadsheets. Instead of
deciphering spreadsheet upon spreadsheet, Mecham prefers to get
a better understanding of a company, like its operations,
management and clients, in order to make the best investment
decisions. (Taken right out of Buffett's playbook -- the Oracle
only invests in
what he knows
- Think about the long term. Warren Buffett has been doing
this for years: Forecast where a company will be, and what
it'll be doing, in decades, not quarters or even years.
- "Activity is the enemy of returns." Mecham's signature
quote emphasizes that inactivity - sitting still and doing
nothing -- is a big secret for success in the long run, rather
than responding to every single market fluctuation, blip or
Other contenders for the next Warren Buffett
Who else might assume the Buffett throne? There's Ted Weshcler
and Todd Combs, two of Buffett's stock pickers at Berkshire
Hathaway; as Buffett employees, they've worked firsthand with the
Wizard of Omaha.
' Ken Kam taps four men from the Marketocracy Explore Team --
Justin Uyehara, Mike Koza, Kai
Petainen and Marcus Eder -- as
Then there's Guo Guangchang, known in the Far East as the
"Warren Buffett of China," according to The Motley Fool, which
also pegs Biglari Holdings' Sardar Biglari as a contender.
(Biglari shares the same birthday as Buffett.)
But do they have what it takes to match the investment hype of
an Allan Mecham? Only time will tell who'll become America's next
biggest investor. In Buffett's own words, "Time is the
friend of the wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre."
This article originally appeared on
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