Value investing is the discipline of buying securities at a significant discount from their current underlying values and holding them until more of their value is realized. The element of a bargain is the key to the process. In the language of value investors, this is referred to as buying a dollar for fifty cents. Value investing combines the conservative analysis of underlying value with the requisite discipline and patience to buy only when a sufficient discount from that value is available. The number of available bargains varies, and the gap between the price and value of any given security can be very narrow or extremely wide. Sometimes a value investor will review in depth a great many potential investments without finding a single one that is sufficiently attractive. Such persistence is necessary, however, since value is often well hidden.
The disciplined pursuit of bargains makes value investing very much a risk-averse approach. The greatest challenge for value investors is maintaining the required discipline. Being a value investor usually means standing apart from the crowd, challenging conventional wisdom, and opposing the prevailing investment winds . It can be a very lonely undertaking. A value investor may experience poor, even horrendous , performance compared with that of other investors or the market as a whole during prolonged periods of market overvaluation. Yet over the long run the value approach works so successfully that few, if any, advocates of the philosophy ever abandon it.