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 advisers prior to making any investment decisions based on information on this website.
It is easy looking 'smart' when the market is strong and any place you put your money you seem to have a Midas touch. It is entirely another matter in a turbulent or correcting market where it doesn't seem to matter what your investment is but that it declines along with the rest of the financial world.
So what is an investor to do? Can we as individuals possibly survive in this market of high frequency trades and sophisticated electronic trading strategies? Quite frankly, I do not know if the individual investor can survive a future with machines taking over many of the investment decisions for large investors and funds. But I do know that there are some what I believe to be common sense approaches to investing that can give all of us half a chance at surviving into the future.
These strategies include limiting your losses, locking in gains, knowing when to be in cash and when to be in equities, and selecting quality stocks. Many of these strategies include approaches that I have adapted, borrowed or copied from other successful investors and strategies that are rather unique to me, that I have developed over the years.
One of the biggest problems in investors' portfolios is their reluctance to take losses when they are small and manageable. For me, after an initial purchase, I allow a stock to decline only 8% prior to initiating a sale. This has been popularized by William O'Neil and the CANSLIM strategy. However, it is a difficult strategy to implement and I have often found myself selling stocks at this loss limit that I had only purchased days earlier.
Furthermore, if we are going to limit losses by selling them quickly and completely at small loss levels, it makes sense to me, and I have developed a strategy, to sell stocks as they gain and reach appreciation targets. These sales are of course partial sales. Initially I tried selling 1/4 of my holding as the stocks appreciated, but these sales were too aggressive and the remaining size of my holding dwindled instead of grew as the stock price increased. Currently I am selling 1/7th of my remaining shares as my holdings reach appreciation targets which I have set at 30%, 60, 90, and 120% levels. After that I increase the interval by 30% and sell at 180%, 240, 300, and 360%. Once again intervals increase ad nauseum and continue at 450% etc. At each of these appreciation targets I sell 1/7th of my remaining holding.
From this the question arises as to what to do if these stocks which have appreciated 30% or more decline? Should I wait until they dip to an 8% loss or sell sooner? I have chosen to move up these selling levels as follows: after a single sale of 1/7th of a holding at a 30% gain, I move up my selling point to break-even. After two or more sales at 60% or higher, I move up the selling point to 1/2 the highese % appreciation reached. Thus if a stock was sold 3 times at 30, 60, and 90%, then I would sell the entire position should it decline to a 45% appreciation level or lower.
Finally I use these sales either on the upside (partial sales) or downside (complete sales of positions) as 'signals'. My own portfolio becomes the canary in the coal mine, letting me know whether I should be expanding my exposure to equities or moving more into cash. I currently use a minimum of 5 positions and a maximum of 20. When I am between 5 and 20 my response if obvious. If I sell at an appreciation target, this represents "good news" and gives me a signal to add a new position. On the other hand, a sale on a declining stock is "bad news" and means I should not be adding a new position, instead transferring the funds into the cash side of the account.
At the extremes, I do not follow these rules. At 20 positions, when given a "buy signal", I do not add a new position, but plan on putting these funds into cash. However, at the minimum number of positions--5--when given a "bad news" signal, I buy another position anyhow as my entire strategy requires on me holding at least five stocks---consider them 5 canaries---that let me know what I should be doing.
To reduce my exposure to stocks at the minimum of five holdings, when adding a replacement, I determine the average size of my other four holdings and make the new fifth holding only 80% of the average $ amount of the other positions. Likewise, as I add new positions, I do not just size it to the average but rather at 125% of the average of the other holdings already in the account. In this fashion, I continue to respond to the vagaries of the market by adding exposure to equities or limiting that exposure.
Above all, in order to get into the account, a stock must past my own muster of good earnings reports, Morningstar.com '5-Yr Restated' evaluations, reasonable valuation and solid financial footing. I do this to the best of my ability as an amateur investor without interviewing anyone but by reviewing readily available public information.
Will this system work? I don't know. But it is better, at least for me, than sailing in the dark and 'shooting from the hip' as stocks become attractive or scary for me to be in them.
Most investors don't have a clue when they should be buying, how much they should be buying, when they should be selling, and when to get the heck out of Dodge. I at least have some guidance which is more or less unemotional and unrelenting. I shall continue to keep you posted and let you know how it is going. If any of you have adopted similar strategies, I would love to hear from you and share your experiences with my readers.
If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them on the blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in investing,