Both Sides of the Coin

What’s your personal style of investing, UDN?

Well, if you must know, and now that you ask, I like putting my money on the line when the underlying has hit an all-time high.

Um, isn’t that risky, a huge gamble, actually?

Well, what isn’t risky in life? Marriage is a gamble. So is business. And the farmer gambles on the weather when he sows his seeds.

You could invest in a more cautious fashion, like buying on a dip, you know.

Sonny, you asked about my personal style of investing, not the crowd’s personal style of investing. I’ve fine-tuned my personal style as per the threshold level of my personal risk-appetite, and risk-appetite is something one discovers after being in the market for a while, and after making mistakes and learning from them.

Fine. And what’s so good about investing at an all-time high?

Good, now you are asking some right questions. Ok, investing in something which has broken out and hit an all-time high, albeit risky, comes with a few advantages. First and foremost, there’s no resistance from top, i.e. there are no old sellers waiting to sell as the underlying heads higher and higher. This means that there is nobody stuck at these new levels waiting to off-load. There can be bouts of profit-booking of course, but a real resistance level doesn’t exist as yet, because the underlying has never entered these areas before.

Then, as the nay-sayers grow, and the crowd joins them to short-sell the underlying, there can be bouts of short-covering if the underlying’s climb is not stopped decisively by the bouts of short-selling. Any short-covering propels the underlying’s price even higher.

Before you go on, why is all this better than buying on a dip?

Oh, so you want to look at both sides of the coin, do you? Not bad, you learn fast. Well, buying on a dip offers a margin of safety to the investor, no doubt about that. Nevertheless, the main point is that a dip is happening. Supply is high, demand is less. The underlying’s price is falling as per the demand and supply equation. What’s to tell you that the fall will convert into a rise very soon? Nothing. Nothing at all. For all you know, the underlying might continue to fall another 20%, or 30, or 40 for that matter. It’s a fall, remember? People are off-loading. When something falls, professionals off-load huge chunks to the crowds waiting to buy on dips. If the dip persists, the crowd gets stuck at a particular entry level.

Not the case in the all-time high scenario. Here, there is demand, and supply can barely meet it. Something makes the underlying very interesting. Then, as the story spreads, demand grows, making the price surge further. Add to this short-covering – further surges. Interesting, right? You just need to make sure that your entry is done and over with soon after the all-time high is broken, and not later.

And what if you get burnt? I mean, what if the price doesn’t rise any further after the all-time high, but dips nefariously?

Well, one does get burnt quite often in the world of investing. Fear will make one freeze. I’ve devised a set of rules for this strategy, and then I just go ahead with the strategy, no second-guessing. No risk, no gain.

And what are your rules?

Firstly, I only put that money on the line which I don’t need for at least a few years. Then, I don’t put more than 10 % of my networth in any single underlying entity. Also, after entry, I don’t budge on the position for a few years. I only enter stories which have the potential to unfold over several years. And I only close the position when the reason for entry doesn’t exist anymore, irrespective of profit or loss. Over the long run, this works for me.

It can’t be that simple.

It’s not. I’ve come to these personal conclusions after making many, many blunders, and after losing a lot of money. This knowledge can’t be bought in a bookshop, nor can it be learnt in a university. It can only be learnt by doing, and by putting real money on the line.

Well, I’d much rather still buy on a dip.

Go ahead, a few people are making money while buying on dips. But they wait for the real big dips. They’ve got one big quality that qualifies them for this strategy, and separates them from the crowd. It’s called patience. Prime example is Warren Buffett.

Who’s the prime example of your strategy?

Fellow called Jesse Livermore.

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