Magic Formula Investing Pitfalls to Dodge

Thinking of Magic Formula investing? Learn about potential pitfalls in this approach and get practical tips to avoid common mistakes that could impact your investment returns.

Implementing Joel Greenblatt's Magic Formula can open doors to profitable stock investments, but common pitfalls can hinder your success. This article will help you navigate these challenges, allowing you to fully leverage the potential of this great investment strategy.

As you know investing isn’t just about picking stocks, it's more about embracing a philosophy that values discipline and strategic decision-making. That is exactly what Joel gave us in his book, all we must do is implement the strategy in the best possible way.



Pitfall 1: Lack of Commitment During Underperformance

I am sure you have seen many new investors abandon the Magic Formula after initial underperformance, this is a critical mistake.

Remember, like any investment strategy, the Magic Formula will have periods of underperformance, I can guarantee this. Your goal must be to convince yourself it’s a good strategy and then stick to it.

When facing monthly or yearly downturns, it’s crucial for you to stay committed. History shows that the Magic Formula has performed well across various market cycles, despite short-term setbacks. Keeping this perspective will help you stick with the strategy through market fluctuations. This is crucial for achieving sustained long-term growth.

Key Point: Historical back-tests show long-term success despite periodic downturns, so it's essential for you to stay committed to the strategy.



Pitfall 2: Second-Guessing the Strategy Due to Personal Bias

Sometimes you might find yourself second-guessing Magic Formula stock selections due to personal bias or a dislike for certain industries.

This can lead you to disregard potentially profitable investments identified by the formula’s objective criteria.

To avoid this pitfall, focus on the data and the rationale behind the formula’s picks rather than your personal preferences. By adhering strictly to the selections made by the Magic Formula, you ensure your investment decisions are based on solid financial metrics rather than subjective opinions.

This objective approach minimizes the risk of missing out on high-performing stocks simply because they don't align with personal preferences.

Key Point: Trust the formula's objective approach over personal preferences to avoid missing out on high-performing stocks.


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Pitfall 3: Home Country Investment Bias

You might want to focus only on companies in your home country, due to familiarity or perceived lower risk. But this home bias can limit the potential of your investment portfolio.

By expanding your search for investment world-wide, you can tap into a much wider pool of opportunities, enhancing the diversification and potential return of your portfolio.

Thus, look for tools and platforms that give you access to world-wide Magic Formula stock data.  By using the formula worldwide, it maximizes your returns across diverse economies and sectors.

Key Point: Expanding your investment horizon globally enhances the diversification and potential return of your portfolio.



Pitfall 4: Timing the Market

It’s a common misconception that there's a 'right' or 'wrong' time to start investing based on current market conditions. This thinking can lead to paralysis, with you waiting for the perfect moment to enter the market.

This ‘moment’ does not exist.

Instead of trying to time the market, adopt a consistent investment approach. Regularly applying the formula reduces the risk associated with market fluctuations and lets you focus on a long-term investment horizon rather than short-term market movements.

Key Point: The Magic Formula is designed to be applied consistently over time, regardless of market conditions.



Pitfall 5: Overthinking and Information Overload

Finally, you might feel the need to gather more information before you can begin investing with the Magic Formula.

But Joel Greenblatt's book, "The Little Book That Still Beats the Market," gives you all the info you need to effectively implement the strategy.

Trust the process outlined in the book and start with the basic implementation of the formula. If you are worried start small, with one or two companies. Remember, the key is to start simple and gradually build your knowledge and confidence in the strategy.

Key Point: Avoid analysis paralysis by trusting the process outlined in the book and start with the basic implementation of the formula.




Navigating the common pitfalls of Magic Formula investing is crucial for both new and experienced investors. By being aware of these challenges and implementing the strategies as it is, you can avoid common mistakes and improve your investment success.

Recap: Consistency, discipline, and a long-term perspective are key to successfully applying the Magic Formula.


Click here to start finding your own Magic Formula ideas NOW!



Further Reading

You can read more about the Magic Formula here:

How to implement the Magic Formula investment strategy

How to get the best returns with Magic Formula investing

Magic Formula: Your Key to Investing Success

Meet The Magic Formula 2.0 With Momentum

2023 Back test Update: Mastering the Magic Formula



Frequently Asked Questions

For Beginning Investors


What is Magic Formula Investing?

Magic Formula Investing is a stock-picking strategy introduced by Joel Greenblatt that ranks companies based on their return on capital and earnings yield. It's designed to help investors find high-quality stocks at discounted prices.


Why should I stick with the Magic Formula during periods of underperformance?

Like any investment strategy, the Magic Formula may experience short-term underperformance. However, historical data suggests that maintaining commitment to the strategy pays off over the long term, as it tends to perform well across various market cycles.


What does it mean to avoid 'home country investment bias' in Magic Formula Investing?

Avoiding home country bias means expanding your investment search globally rather than just focusing on companies within your own country. This approach increases the diversification and potential return of your investment portfolio.


How can I start investing using the Magic Formula?

Begin by reading Joel Greenblatt’s book, "The Little Book That Still Beats the Market," to understand the basics of the formula. Start with small investments in a few companies suggested by the formula to build your confidence and familiarity with the strategy.


What should I do if I have a personal bias against a stock picked by the Magic Formula?

To successfully use the Magic Formula, it's crucial to trust its process over your personal biases. The formula selects stocks based on specific financial metrics that aim to identify undervalued companies, so focusing on these objective criteria can help you make rational investment decisions.



For Advanced Investors

How do I effectively handle market timing when using the Magic Formula?

The Magic Formula is designed for consistent application, regardless of market conditions. Avoid attempting to time the market; instead, apply the formula regularly to benefit from its long-term strategy, minimizing the risk associated with market volatility.


Can I integrate Magic Formula Investing with other investment strategies?

Yes, you can combine the Magic Formula with other strategies to tailor your investment approach. For instance, incorporating elements of value or growth investing can complement the formula's focus on return on capital and earnings yield.


What tools or platforms can assist me in applying the Magic Formula globally?

Look for investment platforms and tools that offer access to global stock data, which will enable you to apply the Magic Formula across various markets and maximize your investment opportunities.


How should I assess the risk associated with Magic Formula stocks?

Evaluate the risks by considering the formula’s reliance on historical financial performance, which may not always predict future outcomes. Diversifying your portfolio and continuously monitoring the financial health of the companies you invest in can help mitigate these risks.


Is there an optimal portfolio size or number of stocks for Magic Formula Investing?

While there's no one-size-fits-all answer, diversifying across a reasonable number of stocks (typically 20-30) can help reduce risk while allowing you to capture the benefits of the Magic Formula strategy across different sectors and geographies.


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Please note: This website is not associated with Joel Greenblatt and in any way. Neither Mr Greenblatt nor has endorsed this website's investment advice, strategy, or products. Investment recommendations on this website are not chosen by Mr. Greenblatt, nor are they based on Mr Greenblatt's proprietary investment model and are not chosen by Magic Formula® is a registered trademark of, which has no connection to this website.