The Best Investor You've Never Heard Of Is A Self-Made Billionaire Optometrist Inventor

Meet Dr. Herbert Wertheim, the billionaire optometrist who Forbes hailed as “the greatest investor you’ve never heard of.” He quietly built a stock portfolio estimated at $4.6 billion. Affectionately known as Dr. Herbie, Wertheim has built his portfolio through traditional, time-tested investment strategies. By primarily investing through ordinary Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab accounts, he has been able to steadily grow his wealth.

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Wertheim attributes his remarkable wealth to a simple principle. 

“You take what you earn with the sweat of your brow, then you take a percentage of that and you invest it in other people’s labor,” he said.

His mindset, habits and emotional control have played pivotal roles in his journey to unparalleled prosperity. The now 84-year-old billionaire achieved his financial success through a steadfast buy-and-hold strategy. Notable examples include his initial public offering (IPO) investments in Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. and a significant stake in aerospace and electronics business Heico Corp., which made him the company’s largest shareholder. He also holds substantial positions in General Electric Co., Alphabet Inc., BP and Bank of America Corp.

While getting in at the earliest stages of these mega-corps might seem like fantasy today, there are new billion-dollar unicorns being minted every year. And even retail investors are investing hundreds of millions on platforms like StartEngine to invest in startups and pre-IPO opportunities. 

Rather than focusing on intricate financial statements, Wertheim dedicates 12 hours each week to thoroughly studying companies’ intellectual capital. This approach has led him to invest in companies like IBM, 3M and Intel Corp., showcasing his similarities to legendary investor Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway.

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In line with his long-term perspective, Wertheim’s investment philosophy revolves around never selling. He believes that if a stock continues to decline and aligns with his research and belief in its potential, it presents an opportunity to acquire more shares at a better price. 

One of his most impressive investments came from a $5 million investment in a penny stock priced at 33 cents. As fate would have it, this company happened to be run by a neighbor in Florida. Three decades later, that initial position has skyrocketed to $800 million.

As an alumnus of the University of Florida and an honorary alumnus of Florida International University, Wertheim pioneered the development of ultraviolet light dye absorbers for eyeglass lenses. These innovative absorbers have helped millions of people avoid cataracts and other eye diseases.

In addition to his optometry practice, Wertheim established Brain Power Inc., which produces diagnostic products geared toward optometrists, ophthalmologists, opticians and optical laboratories. The small business employs 49 people and generates a net income of $10 million annually. Over the years, he strategically used the cash flow from his business to augment his stock investments — just like Buffett, who reinvested Berkshire Hathaway’s insurance company holdings.

The son of Jewish immigrants who fled Nazi Germany, Wertheim's challenging childhood was marked by poverty and dyslexia and likely contributed to his ability to persevere. Wertheim faced numerous hardships and often ran away from home. 

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His life took a transformative turn when he joined the U.S. Navy at age 17. Wertheim’s first foray into the stock market occurred when he used his Navy stipend to invest at the age of 18. This early exposure instilled in him an unwavering passion for investing. Drawing from his familiarity with computers and his background in inventing, he recognized the potential of companies like Apple and Microsoft, which led him to make astute investment decisions.

He has generously donated over $100 million to public universities and various causes. In 1977, he established a foundation well before amassing significant wealth, emphasizing the importance of using resources effectively, regardless of the amount.

Despite unintentionally building a multibillion-dollar corporation, he remains grounded, emphasizing his desire for free time as the most valuable asset. In 2019, he told Forbes, "My thing is, I wanted to be able to have free time. To me, having time is the most precious thing."

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