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Stock Picks Bob's Advice
Friday, 2 December 2005
A Reader Writes "Could you provide an analysis of some mistakes?"
Hello Friends! Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting my blog, Stock Picks Bob's Advice. As always, please remember that I am an amateur investor so please remember to consult with your professional investment advisors prior to making any investment decisions based on information on this website.

One of my favorite things on this blog is to get comments and emails from readers. I appreciate the opportunity of joining with you in conversations about investment questions!

Steve made a comment on the blog and I promised him I would answer in an entry. He wrote:
I've been reading your blog for quite a while now and I notice that you rarely talk about your losers. Could you provide an analysis of some of your mistakes and how you decided when to sell etc...

Thanks
Well first of all I would like to thank you for being a regular reader. It means a lot to me that some people would find what I write worthwhile and would come back regularly!

Let me try to get right to your question. There are two parts (or more) to my blog! First of all, I like to write about investments in general; writing about stocks that may be worth considering for purchase. In addition, I write about stocks I have actually purchased. In both cases, I try to let the reader know about the good news and the bad news.

In other words, each week I review stocks I looked at a year earlier. Some of these reviews show losses. Others show large gains. I don't skip any of the stocks that I have picked. If it appears that many of the stocks have performed well since listing, it isn't because I have been leaving off the losers. It is just that what I have been done is working :).

And regarding my portfolio. I post all of the transactions in my portfolio in my blog under the heading of "trading transparency". If it seems like I am just mentioning sales on gains, well, in fact, I have mentioned losers, but I have simply been picking stocks for purchase that have done well the past two years.

Let me explain. I currently own 20 different positions in my portfolio. Of these stocks, only two are currently showing unrealized losses: Blue Coat Systems (BCSI), a recent purchase, is showing a loss of $(70.15) on my purchase or (.96)%. The other loss is Progress Software (PRGS) which has an unrealized loss of $(13.12) or (.18)%. The other eighteen holdings of mine have gains ranging from 2.9% for SRA (SRX) all the way to an unrealized gain of 442.53% for Quality Systems (QSII). I am very proud of my performance in my trading account, which currently has an unrealized gain totalling $38,000.14. Is this hard to believe? It is for me! But I have posted all of my transactions on this blog for the past two years and if you dig through it, everything is documented.

Welll, you might say, I must be selling all of my many losers, so what is the realized gain or loss in the portfolio? As of 12/2/05 at 3:42 a.m., (the date and time on my Fidelity account that I am reading as I write), I have a net realized short-term gain of $6,174.91 in 2005 and a net realized long-term gain of $19,116.57, for a "Total Realized Gain/Loss" of $25,291.48 for 2005. My continued success is why I am not posting much about losses.

But I have had some significant losers. I have lost money on Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), purchasing 160 shares on 6/7/05 for a cost of $10,902.40, and selling the shares on 8/16/05 for $9,847.83, for a loss of $(1,054.57). I lost $(695.25) this year on Alliance Data Systems (ADS), having purchased 2000 on 6/16/05 for $7,820.00, and selling the shares on 10/25/05 for $7,124.75. Other losses this year include a loss of $(621.02) on Ask Jeeves, sold one week after a purchase (!), $(744.20) on DRS Technologies purchased 12/20/04, and sold 1/3/05 just a little over two weeks later! Other stocks that I lost $1,000 or less on include Giant Industries (GI), Parlux Fragrances (PARL), Perficient, Quicksilver, and Synaptics. However, my gains have consistently overwhelmed my losses!

There really isn't much to talk about on the losses. After I purchase a stock, if it drops 8% I sell it. Period. No excuses. Otherwise, if I have sold a portion at a gain once (at about the 30% level) I let the stock drop back to break-even and then sell the remaining shares. If I have sold a stock more than once, perhaps twice with the second sale at 60% appreciation, I allow the stock to retrace to 50% of the highest sale appreciation point....in this example, back down to 30% gain, and then sell all the remaining shares.

I hope this explains my portfolio. When I tell you how I am doing, this does involve some trust. I work extremely hard at posting every little move in my stock portfolio. I think you probably could go back to the dates I mentioned and you will see the sales listed.

Please let me know if I answered your question. I believe that selling losers in a disciplined fashion in the very most important thing one can do in managing your portfolio, no matter how much you like that stock!

Thanks again for visiting! If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at bobsadviceforstocks@lycos.com or just leave your comments on the blog!

Bob


Posted by bobsadviceforstocks at 10:53 PM CST | Post Comment | View Comments (3) | Permalink

Saturday, 3 December 2005 - 10:53 AM CST

Name: Steve

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the very detailed answer! I didn't realize that your 8% was a hard rule with no questions asked. Perhaps I will try that rule with my portfolio. In the past though, some of my biggest winners dropped more than 8% at one point to rise more than 2X within the year. I have a few follow up questions to your 8% rule. Do you have a set of rules for buying back the same stock that has dropped 8% already? Have you ever rebought any of your losers within a short time frame?

I really appreciate the time you have taken to answer my questions. While my portfolio is up significantly for the year as well, I'm always trying to learn new trading strategies. I'm looking at one particular dog in my portfolio which has dropped 25% and wished I had following a rule similar to your 8% rule:)

Sincerely,
Steve

Saturday, 3 December 2005 - 11:14 AM CST

Name: Steve

Hi Bob,

Just listened to your podcast (which I highly recommend to all you readers btw since it covers much more than the blog posting), and I believe you have answered my questions in my last posting. Thanks again for your response.

Steve

Saturday, 3 December 2005 - 1:17 PM CST

Name: Robert Freedland
Home Page: http://bobsadviceforstocks.tripod.com/bobsadviceforstoc

Steve,

Thanks for writing and listening to my podcast. I certainly don't have all the answers. There are times when I sell a stock at an 8% loss and wish I had held on. However, since I believe there are many opportunities out there, I try hard not to second guess. You can see from my holdings that I don't have any stocks which have significant losses. I sell them first.

Anyhow, I am glad you find this helpful. If you have any other suggestions on my podcasts or my blog, please let me know. I want to keep what I write and what I say relevant to my readers and listeners. And at the same time make sure people know I am an amateur investor also trying to sort out facts and figure things out.

Bob

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