Who Breathes Easier – The Investor or the Trader?

Sure…

…asset-light…

…going with the flow…

…can strike both ways…

…care-free almost…

…that’s the image that lures one to the trading world.

Especially when the investor’s world has turned upside down, the investor starts wishing that he or she were a trader instead.

Stop.

Get your investing basics right. Your world will not turn upside down once you invest small quanta into quality coupled with margin of safety, again and again and again.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the trader’s world.

No baggage?

Sure baggage.

Emotional baggage for starters.

Cash baggage.

This one will always be there.

The trader will always have one eye on the cash component.

It needs to be safe.

It is a cause of…

…tension.

Reason is, the safest of havens for this cash component, i.e. sovereign debt, is volatile enough to disturb those who are averse to volatility when it comes to one’s cash component.

So, not asset-light.

Cash component is also an asset. It’s not light.

Sure, go with the flow. Strike both ways.

Can one say that this is a recipe for making higher returns?

NO.

Investors strike in one direction.

Investors are perennial bulls.

At least they know where they are going.

Small entry quanta make market falls work in favour of investors, over many, many entries into an underlying, over the long-term.

Do the math. You’ll see.

When one is focused on one direction, i.e. upwards here, chances of capitalising on runs are higher. The trader’s mind is always bi-polar in this regard, and game-changing runs are missed out on, upon corrections larger than the concerned stop-loss.

Care-free?

Who’s watching the screen all day?

The trader.

The investor watches the screen only upon requirement. There are investors who don’t watch the screen at all.

Images are deceptive.

Don’t go by images.

Whatever one chooses, it should ignite one’s passion.

Nothing else counts.

Let’s say you’re an investor, and you feel that you’re missing something by not trading.

Fine. Fill the gap. Sort out the basic folio, and then dabble in trading with small amounts, that don’t throw you out of whack. Do it for the thrill, if nothing else. As long as one is clear that this is not one’s A-game, and expectations are not as high as they are from one’s A-game, one might even enjoy the ride.

Let’s say you are a trader and need an avenue to park.

Yes, Equity is a serious avenue for parking.

Use it.

With one caveat.

This is not a trade.

Trading rules don’t apply to parking.

In fact, trading rules are inverse to investing rules.

You’ll need to figure this one out before moving your bulk into Equity for parking.

The investor is able to take trading with small amounts casually, and use it as an avenue for amusement.

When the trader explores the avenue of Equity for parking, its serious business, and spells doom for the trader if basics of investing are not understood.

So, who breathes easier?

One would know this by now.

FOMO anyone?

Sure, buy…

Where were you some days back?

Buying was a breeze, for quite a while. 

Lately, as in, since Tuesday, it’s not so much a breeze. 

Pharmaceuticals are already up to their pre-crisis prices, and IT needs to recover another 10 – 15% and it’s there. 

If this trend continues for another week, we could be talking about an interim recovery. 

Prices haven’t recovered fully, you would argue, right?

Fine. That’s a valid perspective, in the event that you are a long-term investor.

What’s your compromise?

You won’t be getting full margin of safety at these prices. 

Also, on these up days, there’s so much upwards pressure that the bid-ask spread squeezes you generously to the upside. 

A few days back both these avenues were reversed. 

Still want to buy?

Wait for a big down day.

Margin of safety will be slightly better, and downward pressure will let you buy on limit, lucratively set to harness the downward momentum. 

How do we know that a big down day is coming, in the first place?

We don’t.

What if there aren’t any more big down days in the near future?

Wonderful.

Lock your spare funds away safely, and wait patiently for the next shock. 

Waves operate in shocks. 

This is the age of shocks. 

Buy in the aftermath of a shock. 

What if one isn’t able to buy anymore?

Even better.

Lock in whatever you’ve bought, and divert your attention to other activities.

Like?

Trade.

What?

Currency.

Oil.

Bullion.

Energy.

Industrial metals. 

Do something that takes away your attention from your locked in equity.

Why?

That way you will be able to sit without spoiling your compounding that will happen while you sit. 

Just forget about FOMO. Live in the now. Have your job cut out. Wait for the right conditions to appear. Then act.

Are you Saying These are Small Losses, Mr. Nath?

No. 

Everything is taking a hit. 

Sure. 

Hit’s actually in the “Wealth” segment…

…and not as such in the “Income” segment.

Would you like to elaborate on this one, sounds pivotal?

Yes it is exactly that, pivotal. Because of this one fact, I’m talking to you with a straight face.

I see.

Auto-pilot income-creating avenues are still doing what they’re supposed to do, i.e. creating income. Nothing has changed there, yet.

You mean something could change there?

Sure, if companies start going bust, their bonds won’t create income. Instead, principal will take a hit. It’s not come to that yet, at least in India. You have an odd company going bust here and there now and then, but nothing major as of now. Income is intact, for now. If were done with CoVID in two months, this factor might not change. Let’s focus on this scenario. 

Right. 

Secondly, we’re highly liquid. We try and become as liquid as possible during good times, ideally aiming to be 80% in cash before a crisis appears. 

How do you know a crisis is going to appear?

This is the age of crises. A six sigma event has now become the norm. After Corona it will be something else. This has been going on from the time the stock market started. It’s nothing new. Come good times, we start liquidating all the stuff we don’t want. 

Don’t want?

Ya, one changes one’s mind about an underlying down the line. At this point, one shifts this underlying mentally into the “Don’t Want” category. Come good times, one makes the market exit oneself from this entity on a high.

Makes the market exit oneself?

Yes, through trigger-entry of sell order.

Why not just exit on limit?

Then you’ll just sell on the high of that particular day at best. However, through trigger-exit, your sell order will be triggered after a high has been made and the price starts to fall. It won’t be triggered if the underlying closes on a high. That way, if you’re closing on a high, you might get a good run the next day, and then you try the same strategy again, and again. In market frenzies, you might get a five to seven day run, bettering your exit by 15-20%, for example. Who wouldn’t like that?

You talk of market frenzies at a time like this, my dear Sir…

The market is like a rubber band. What were witnessing currently is the opposite pole of a market frenzy. Humans beings are bipolar. If they’re reacting like this, they sure as hell will react like the opposite pole when conditions reverse. Especially in India. We’re brimming with emotions. 

Which brings us back to the initial question…

Yes, these notional losses look huge. But, who’s translating them into actual losses? Not us. We’re busy enhancing our portfolios as multiples get more and more lucrative for purchase. That’s entirely where our focus is. We are numb to pain from the hit because our focus is so shifted. 

And there’s no worry?

With such high levels of liquidity, shift of focus, income tap on, dividend tap on – yeah, please don’t ignore the extra big incoming dividends, underlyings taking a hit currently are paying out stellar dividends, and these big amounts are entering our accounts, because we’ve bought such quality – – – we’re ok.

Stellar would be?

Many underlying have shared double digit dividend yields with their shareholders! That’s huge!

So no worries?

No! We’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing, i.e. buying quality. We’ll keep getting extraordinary entries as the fall deepens. 

What if that takes a long-long time?

Well, the year is 2020. We’re all on speed-dial. 18 months in 2020 is like 15 years in 1929. Because we follow the small entry quantum strategy, our liquidity should hold out over such period, providing us entries through and through. 

And what if it’s a four digit bottom on the main benchmark, still no worries?

NO! Look at the STELLAR entry over there. A bluechip bought at that level of the benchmark can be held for life without worries. So yes, NO WORRIES.

Thanks Mr. Nath.

One more thing.

Yes, what’s that?

What’s my maximum downside in an underlying?

100%.

Correct. Now what’s my maximum upside in an underlying?

Ummm, don’t know exactly.

Unlimited. 

Unlimited?

Yes, unlimited. Entries at lucrative levels eventually translate into unreal multiples. Looking at things from this perspective, now, the size of these notional losses pales in comparison to potential return multiples. It’s a combination of psychology, fundamentals, mathematics and what have you. In comparison, these are still small losses. If we can’t take these swings in our side, we shouldn’t be in the markets in the first place, focusing our energies on avenues we’re good at instead.

Right, got it. 

Cheers, here’s wishing you safe and lucrative investing. 

🙂

Secret Ingredients in Times like Corona

Hi,

It’s been a while.

Unprecedented times call for every iota of resilience that’s inherent.

Whatever we’ve learnt in the markets is being tested to beyond all levels. 

If our learning is solid, we will emerge victorious.

If there are vital chinks in our armour, we will be broken. 

Such are the market forces that are prevailing. 

Have we learn’t to sit?

Meaning, over all these years, when over-valuation ruled the roost, did we sit?

Did we accumulate funds?

Did we create a sizeable liquid corpus?

If we did, we are kings in this scenario. 

One of the main characteristics of a small entry quantum strategy is that it renders us liquidity, almost through and through. 

If we are amply liquid in the times of mayhem, there is absent from our armour the debilitating chink of illiquidity.

Illiquidity at the wrong time makes one make drastic mistakes by succumbing to panic. 

We’re not succumbing to any panic. 

Why?

Because our minds are focused on the bargains available.

The bargains are so mouth-watering, that they are entirely taking away our focus from existing panic.

To twist our psychology into the correct trajectory in a time like Corona, the secret ingredient that’s required is called (ample) liquidity. This secret ingredient is a direct result of the small entry quantum strategy, which we follow. 

Then, let’s address the other potential chink, and just sheer do away with it. 

Having access to ample liquidity, are we now greedy?

What does greed mean?

It’s not greedy to buy when there’s blood on the street, no, it’s actually outright courageous. 

Greed Is defined here as per the quantum of buying. 

Are we buying disproportionately vis-à-vis our liquidity-size and our risk-profile?

Yes?

Greedy.

No?

Not greedy.

How will we know the answer without any doubt in our mind that we have the correct answer to this question, since it is vital to our learning curve to answer this question correctly?

The answer will make itself felt.

Are we able to sit optimally even if markets crash another double-digit percentage from here?

50% from here?

No? Greedy. We have bought in a manner that doesn’t gel with our risk-profile. Our liquidity is exhausting, and focus shifts from bargains to panic. Ensuing tension amidst further fall will very probably cause us to commit a grave blunder, with this happening very probably at the bottom of the market. We are poised to lose in the markets like this. 

Yes? Not greedy. We have bought and continue to buy as per our risk-profile. We will win…

…in the markets.

The secret ingredient that locks in great prices and continues to do so as the market keeps falling, is called quantum-control as per the tolerance level of our risk-profile towards further fall. This secret ingredient ensures that liquidity outlasts a longish fall, keeping our focus on the bargains and not on the panic. This secret ingredient provides for the basic mechanism of our small entry quantum strategy.

 

Dealing with Demotivation

Every now and then…

…we don’t feel like working. 

This…

…happens. 

Let’s not PhD over it. 

After accepting the onset of periodical demotivation, let’s focus on dealing with it. 

Nullify the cause. Let’s at least try.

Hungry? Eat.

Fight? Resolve.

Losing streak? Review, tweak, test, re-implement.

Unhappy? Chant. Then work. 

Let’s say one is not able to nullify the cause. 

Let’s take a stock. It’s down. You hold it. There’s nothing wrong with it. 

If you’re demotivated here, aha, please rewire your psychology. 

When something fundamentally and technically sound is down, we buy more of it. 

However, every bone in our body feels deflated upon an accrued notional loss. 

That’s how we humans are wired. We hate losing. We want to win all the time. The best time to buy good stocks is, though, when they’re losing. 

Therefore, …

… rewire,…

…if you want to survive in the markets. 

Once you’re done rewiring, get back to your desk, and buy more of that something fundamentally and technically sound offering margin of safety. 

Lazy?

Market will finish you. Cut it out. Back to your desk.

Wish to get away from your desk? Fine, take your laptop, ipad and smartphone to your easy-chair. Work.

Nothing’s working? Take a small break. Watch an episode of “Billions”, or of whatever gets you going. 

Done?

Let’s go.

We’ve got stamina.

Sitting – III

Mood-swings…

…happen all the time…

…in the markets.

If we don’t get used to dealing with them, we’re pretty much gone.

When pessimism rules, it’s quite common for one to develop negative thoughts about a holding. 

Research – stands. 

There’s nothing really wrong with the stock. 

However, sentiment is king. 

When sentiment is down, not many underlyings withstand downward pressure.

Eventually, you start feeling otherwise about your stock that is just not performing, as it was supposed to, according to its stellar fundamentals. 

If your conviction is strong enough, this feeling will pass. 

Eventually, pessimism will be replaced by optimism. 

Upwards pressure…

…results in upticks. 

Finally, you say, the market is discovering what your research promised.

You feel vindicated, and your outlook about the stock changes, in the event that negativity had set in.

You’ve not ended up dumping this particular stock.

If your conviction had not been strong enough, you would have gotten swayed. 

Market-forces are very strong. 

They can sweep the rug from under one’s feet, and one can be left reeling. 

In such circumstances, solid due-diligence and solid experience are your pillars of strength, and they allow you footing to hold on to. 

However, if your research isn’t solid enough, you will start doubting it and yourself, soon (and if you’re not experienced enough, make the mistake, learn from it, it’s ok, because your mistake is going to be a small mistake just now, and you’ll never repeat it, which is better than making the same mistake on a larger scale at the peak of your career, right?! We are talking about the mistake of doing shoddy due-diligence and getting into a stock without the confidence needed to traverse downward pressure).

With that, your strategy has failed, because it is not allowing you to sit comfortably. 

Please remember, that the biggest money is made if first one has created circumstances which allow one to sit comfortably. 

Basic income. 

Emergency fund.

Excess liquidity.

Small entry quantum.

Rock solid research work, encompassing fundamentals and technicals both. 

Margin of safety.

Patience for good entries.

Exit strategy. Whichever one suits you. It should be in place, at least in your mind. 

Etc.

Fill in your blanks. 

Make yourself comfy enough to sit and allow compounding to work. 

Weed out what stops you from sitting, and finish it off forever, meaning that don’t go down that road ever again.

Very few know how to sit. 

Very few make good money in the markets.

Make sure that you do. 

Make sure that you learn to sit.

Hocus-Focus

Yeah, where’s your focus at…

…as your market drops. 

Is it on your benchmark index?

Sure.

Ok. Drops further. Developing into a crash…

Where’re you at now?

My focus has shifted. 

Tell me more. 

I’m now focusing on the shares i’ve begun to accumulate,…

…and, specifically, I’m focused on the number of shares being added to my portfolio,…

…that’s my number. Yeah, that’s where my focus is at.

Not on your benchmark index?

First up, I feel the joy as this number enters my demat. After that, I cast a brief glance at whatever benchmark indices I’m looking at, and decide for myself, whether my focus needs to remain shifted. 

What if you’re rubbing your hands in glee, and dud shares are being added to your name?

That’s the whole point. These are not duds. They are gems as per due diligence done, and are going for the price of non-precious counterparts. That’s why my focus remains shifted. 

When will it shift back?

That switch happens on auto. When benchmarks start oozing expensiveness, focus automatically shifts to the benchmarks. It should no longer be on the number of shares entering your folio, because shares should not be entering your folio when benchmarks ooze expensiveness. 

Exceptions?

Sure. Specific stocks could be cheap when a benchmark is expensive. Let’s not deviate from the point though. This is about a healthy shift of focus, and then a second – healthy – shift back. 

Right. 

Nadir Non-Focus

Scared to enter?

Things look gloomy?

Forever?

NO.

Look at History.

Markets are where they are despite what’s happened. 

Governments, scams, frauds, bribes, wars, disasters – the list is endless. 

In the end, we are still where we are.

Is that good news?

YES.

What does it mean?

Growth – reflects in the corresponding market – eventually. 

Sure – we might not be growing at 7%+.

We definitely are growing at 5%+, perhaps at 5.5%+.

In a few years, growth could well accelerate.

Why?

Earning hands are growing.

So are aspirations. 

The consumption story in India is alive and kicking. 

What we’re seeing currently is a result of eighteen months of bad news. 

Such a long spate of negative stuff churning out gets the morale down. 

People start letting go of their holdings in despair. 

Maybe there’s another eighteen months of negativity left – who knows. 

That’s not the right question.

Don’t worry yourself about the bottom and when and where it is going to come. 

Why?

Please answer something far more fundamental first.

If you don’t have the courage to go in at this level (with small quanta of course, we do follow the small entry quantum strategy)…

…do you really thing…

…that you will muster up…

…anything remotely resembling courage…

…at a number that is let’s say 20% below current levels?

Gotcha there?

You Miss, I Hit

We’re in the markets to…

…capture gains. 

How do gains come about?

Buy low sell high?

Sure, you’ve then got some gains. 

Enough?

Probably not, because everyone of us holds enough losers. That’s part of the game. Amongst many losers, we then find a winner.

How does one maximize gain?

One looks for mispricing. 

Let’s say we’ve id’d a stock. 

It passes our entry criteria.

Now, we look for an entry point that will give us a price advantage. 

We would ideally like the public to misprice the stock on the downside. 

That’s when we would like to pick it up. Higher the misplacing, higher our advantage. 

When is maximum gain captured?

This happens when the same stock is mispriced by the same public on the upside. 

Is such a strategy easy to implement?

Sounds easy, but NO!

Why?

(For starters), That’s because it goes against our grain to buy something really low, for fear of it going even lower, since sentiments are so down. 

Can well happen. You buy something really cheap, and before you know it, your something is down by another half. 

What’s your protection?

Rock-solid research. Identification of sound fundamentals. A shareholder-friendly management. Technicals that support you. Mispriced entry point. Product-profile that’s going to be around. Lack of debt. Substantial free cash flow. Etc.

If you’ve got such pillars going for you, it’s only a matter of time till they start to shine forth. 

If mass-depression causes you to wilt, though, it’s on you. 

Mispricing on the upside causes us to blunder too. 

Most sell their big winners which still have sound fundamentals, and can potentially go on to bag much higher multiples. 

Do this, sure, but only if you NEED the money. 

If not, give your potential multibaggers the time to become full-fledged ones. 

Sell early, and you won’t perhaps ever find another entry point. Winners barely ever give an entry-window. 

At market highs, sell your losers, because they’ll perhaps be inflated too, and you might get a good exit. 

When others misprice, make sure you hit some home-runs. 

The Number One Reason

Yeah, what is it?

What’s the number one reason why we fail in a long-term investment?

I’ve made this mistake, and true, those investments didn’t work out well for me.

However, I’ve stopped making this mistake.

That’s right. I don’t buy without margin of safety anymore.

Even a growth stock will eventually offer you some kind of margin of safety.

Wait for it to.

So, why doesn’t an investment work out that hasn’t been bought with margin of safety?

Mathematics…

…and psychology.

Lesser the margin of safety, the more difficult it is to make a multiple. Just do the math.

Then, investor-psychology is such, that investments bought without margin of safety don’t allow the investor to sit.

They disturb the investor when they go against him or her.

The more an investment goes against an investor, the more he or she jumps.

In the end, too much jumping leads to an erratic decision.

In the worst case scenario, one bails out of a sound investment at the lowest point of the market.

How does one avoid something like this?

Learn to sit.

Create circumstances around yourself that allow you to sit.

Buy with margin of safety.

An investment bought with ample margin of safety allows you to sit even when the investment is down.

Because you’re holding sound investments, …

… sitting makes you win in the long-term.

Have the Guts?

Somebody did say …

… that Equity was not for the faint-hearted.

Oh, how true!

Everyday, my heart stands tested!

However, because of a small entry quantum strategy, I am able to stay in the game.

If I am able to stay in the game for multiple cycles, I will prosper.

Why?

Firstly, the strategy by default renders me liquid, such are its tenets.

Then, a good hard look at fundamentals is always called for.

To close, it is important is to enter with technicals to support you.

Now let’s say I make a mistake.

What is a mistake?

Ya, good question – in the markets, what is a mistake?

In the markets, when the price goes against you, you have made a mistake.

So let’s say that I’ve made a mistake.

Is the mistake big?

No.

Why?

Because of my small entry quantum.

What does it mean for my next entry?

Added margin of safety.

Is that good?

You bet.

Why?

Because fundamentals are intact.

What’s going to eventually happen?

Stock’s going to bottom out.

I’ll have a decent amount of entries to my name.

My buying average will be reasonably low.

The margin of safety my buying average allows me will let me sit on the stock forever, If I wish to.

Down the road, one day, I might be sitting on a big fat multiple.

Please do the math.

Happy and lucrative investing!

🙂

MP vs MoS : the lowdown on Trade-Entry

Margin of Safety (MoS)… 

… hmmm… 

… wasn’t that in investing? 

Well – surprise – it’s in trading too. 

You can enter a trade with MoS. 

How? 

Ok.

ID the trend. 

Wait for a minor reversal.

Let the reversal continue towards a pivot, or a support or a what have you. 

During this reversal, whenever you feel that you have considerable MoS, well – enter. 

Why shouldn’t you wait for the pivot to get touched? 

Things happen real fast at a pivot. Upon a pivot-touch, you can lose your comfort-zone even within minutes. 

Two vital things can happen at a pivot. 

Either there’s a quick bounce-back, or the pivot gets broken. 

Bounce-back means your trade is now in the money, and that you can go about managing your trade as per your trade-management rules. Wonderful. 

Pivot-break is not a worry for you. 

Why? 

Because you’ve placed your stop slightly below pivot, after the noise. 

Upon pivot-break, you get stopped out. You take the small hit and move on to your next trade. 

Eventually, things heat up. 

There is movement. 

Tops get taken out. 

Fast money can be made. 

How do you enter here? (Needless to say, for shorts, everything is to be understood reversed). 

Momentum play (MP)… 

… is the weapon of choice. 

You set up a trigger entry after a top or a resistance or a what have you, and wait for price to pierce, and for your entry to get triggered. Then you place your stop, below top or resistance or what have you. 

MP vs MoS is a matter of style. 

If you’re not comfortable changing your trading style to adapt to times, that’s fine too. Stick to one style.

If you’re conservative, stick to MoS. 

In a frenzy, however, MoS might almost never happen. 

In a frenzy, entry will be triggered exclusively through MP.

Take your pick. Adapt. Do both. Or don’t. Do one.

You call the shots. 

This is about you.

Nath on Equity – Yardsticks, Measures and Rules

Peeps, these are my rules, measures and yardsticks. 

They might or might not work for you. 

If they do, it makes me happy, and please do feel free to use them. 

Ok, here goes. 

I like to do my homework well. 1). DUE DILIGENCE. 

I like to write out my rationale for entry. 2). DIARY entry.

I do not enter if I don’t see 3). VALUE.

I like to see 4). MOAT also. 

I don’t commit in one shot. 5). Staggered entry.

I can afford to 6). average down, because my fundamentals are clear. 

My 7). defined entry quantum unit per shot is minuscule compared to networth. 

I only enter 8). one underlying on a day, max. If a second underlying awaits entry, it will not be entered into on the same day something else has been purchased. 

I’ve left 9). reentry options open to unlimited. 

I enter for 10). ten years plus. 

Funds committed are classified as 11). lockable for ten years plus. 

For reentry, 12). stock must give me a reason to rebuy. 

If the reason is good enough, I don’t mind 13). averaging up. 

Exits are 14). overshadowed by lack of repurchase. 

I love 15). honest managements. 

I detest 16). debt. 

I like 17). free cashflow. 

My margin of safety 18). allows me to sit. 

I pray for 19). patience for a pick to turn into a multibagger.

I keep my long-term portfolio 20). well cordoned off from bias, discussion, opinion, or review by any other person. 

There’s more, but it’ll come another day. 

🙂

Sheer Moat Investing is not Antifragile 

There we go again. 

That word. 

It’s not going to leave us. 

Nicholas Nassim Taleb has coined together what is possibly the market-word of the century. 

Antifragile. 

We’re equity-people. 

We want to remain so. 

We don’t wish to desert equity just because it is a fragile asset-class by itself. 

No. 

We wish to make our equity-foray as antifragile as possible. 

First-up, we need to understand, that when panic sets in, everything falls. 

The fearful weak hand doesn’t differentiate between a gem and a donkey-stock. He or she just sells and sells alike. 

Second-up, we need to comprehend that this is the age of shocks. There will be shocks. Shock after shock after shock. Such are the times. Please acknowledge this, and digest it. 

To make our equity-play antifragile, we’ll need to incorporate solid strategies to account for above two facts. 

We love moats, right? 

No problem. 

We’ll keep our moats. 

Just wait for moat-stocks to show value. Then, we’ll pick them up. 

We go in during the aftermath of a shock. Otherwise, we don’t. 

We go in with small quanta. Time after time after time. 

Voila. 

We’re  already sufficiently antifragile. 

No magic. 

Just sheer common sense. 

We’re still buying quality stocks. 

We’re buying them when they’re not fragile, or lesser fragile. 

We’re going in each time with minute quanta such that the absence of these quanta (after they’ve gone in) doesn’t alter our financial lives. We’re saving the rest of our pickled corpus for the next shock, after which the gem-stock will be yet lesser fragile. 

Yes, we’re averaging down, only because we’re dealing with gems. We’ll never average down with donkey-stocks. We might trade these, averaging up. We won’t be investing in them. 

Thus, we asymptotically approach antifragility in a gem-stock. 

Over time, after many cycles, the antifragile bottom-level of the gem-stock should be moving significantly upwards. 

Gem-stock upon gem-stock upon gem-stock. 

We’re done already. 

What is an Antifragile approach to Equity?

Taleb’s term “antifragile” is here to stay.

If my understanding is correct, an asset class that shows more upside than downside upon the onset of shock in this age of shocks – is termed as antifragile.

So what’s going to happen to us Equity people?

Is Equity a fragile asset class?

Let’s turn above question upon its head.

What about our approach?

Yes, our approach can make Equity antifragile for us.

We don’t need to pack our bags and switch to another asset class.

We just approach Equity in an antifragile fashion. Period.

Well, aren’t we already? Margin of safety and all that.

Sure. We’ll just refine what we’ve already got, add a bit of stuff, and come out with the antifragile strategy.

So, quality.

Management.

Applicability to the times.

Scalability.

Value.

Fundamentals.

Blah blah blah.

You’ve done all your research.

You’ve found a plum stock.

You’re getting margin of safety.

Lovely.

What’s missing?

Entry.

Right.

You don’t enter with a bang.

You enter at various times, again and again, in small quanta.

What are these times?

You enter in the aftermath of shocks.

There will be many shocks.

This is the age of shocks.

You enter when the stock is at its antifragile-most. For that time period. It is showing maximal upside. Minimal downside. Fundamentals are plum. Shock’s beaten it down. You enter, slightly. Put yourself in a position to enter many, many times, over many years, upon shock after shock. This automatically means that entry quantum is small. This also means you’re doing an SIP where the S stands for your own system (with the I being for investment and the P for plan).

Now let’s fine-fine-tune.

Don’t put more than 0.5% of your networth into any one stock, ever. Adjust this figure for yourself. Then adjust entry quantum for yourself.

Don’t enter into more than 20-30 stocks. Again, adjust to comfort level.

Remain doable.

If you’re full up, and something comes along which you need to enter at all costs, discard a stock you’re liking the least.

Have your focus-diversified portfolio (FDP) going on the side, apart from Equity.

Congratulations, you just made Equity antifragile for yourself.

🙂

Focused Diversification : Mantra for all Times

I’m more into focus.

One can focus on one thing at a time.

Agreed.

What if after that one thing starts running, it doesn’t require any more focus?

Wow.

Then I focus on another thing.

Get it running.

Then another.

Till my focus window is full.

Let me tell you about my focus window.

I focus on cash, debt, equity, forex, gold, real-estate, arbitrage, and options.

With that, my professional focus in finance is full full full.

I get something running.

That’s it.

Then I don’t need to be with it. Mostly.

Let me run you through.

1). Cash – Bind it in a worry-free and accessible manner. Done.

2). Debt – Study the underlying very thoroughly. Reject 10 underlyings. Take up the 11th which passes all criteria. Be happy with a slightly better than FD-return. Done.

3). Equity – Invest for life. Study till you drop the stock or take it up. Only invest in what meets all criteria and offers margin of safety at time of investing. On top of that – SIP (systematic investment plan). Done.

4). Forex – Get a software robot to trade it for you. Or some human-capital. All available online. Requires a bit of fine-tuning. Keep tuning till you start making a return. Done.

5). Gold – Buy physical gold. Research your source. Needs to be impeccable. Bullion. Coins. SIP. Accessible. No jewellery. Done.

6). Real-estate – Make your real-estate yield you an income. Regular income? Done.

7). Arbitrage – Understand what this is, and why it gives you a tax benefit. Get an online MF account going with Kotak MF or DWS. Divert some funds into their arbitrage MF, either or. I prefer Kotak. Monthly dividend payout option. Done.

8). Options – Get the option-strategy going. You don’t require a desktop. Mobile is sufficient. All you now need to do is take care of square-off. On mobile. This means a slightly higher level of engagement than the above avenues. Only slightly. Are you ok with that? Fine. Done.

In a flow, it’s all doable.

And, you remain focused.

Why all this?

Times demand it. You never know what might come in handy, and when.

Yeah, times are tough.

However, you are tougher.

To use Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s terminology, you are antifragile.

How and Where to Look for Outperformance

Is it surprising, that the kind of outperformance we look for crops up in unexpected places?

Not really.

Yeah, it’s not surprising. 

I mean, if we found a certain brand of outperformance in an expected place, well, everyone would make a beeline for it, and soon, it would be over-valued. 

There’s only one way we want to be in something that’s over-valued – when we’ve bought it under-valued. We’ll then keep it for as long as the ride continues. 

Otherwise, we don’t want to touch anything that’s over-valued, even though it might appear to be outperformance. 

Getting into outperformance at an undervalued level gives us a huge margin of safety. That’s exactly what we want. That’s our bread and butter. 

So let’s start outlining areas to look in. 

Task gets difficult. 

I mean, how will you define areas literally?

Button-clicks. 

Algorithms. 

No, you don’t need to know how to programme, to put together an algorithm. 

Just do it online. 

Put in it what you’re looking for. 

Hit and try. 

Ultimately, you’ll hit the right combo, Stay with it, as long as it’s working. 

What do you put in your algorithm?

Value. 

Good ability to allocate capital. 

Efficiency.

Frugality.

Humility.

Etc. etc.

You ask how?

Well, this is not a spoon-feeding session. 

You’ll need to use your imaginations a bit. 

It’s all possible, let me assure you. 

Meaning, it’s possible to incorporate traits like humility into your mother-algorithm. 

Do the math. 

Ok, so you’ve translated what you’re looking for into computer language without knowing how to programme. 

You run it. 

Where?

All over the place, online. Any finance site. Yahoo Finance, for that matter. 

You get some results. 

In these you look to confirm. 

Is the outperformance you were seeking there or not?

No?

Look further. 

Yes?

Has this outperformance been discovered by the general market?

Yes?

Look further. 

No.

Bingo. 

Look for an entry strategy, provided your other parameters, if any, are being met. 

Patience and Nerves Anyone?

As someone I look up to put it recently – “It’s a game of patience and nerves!”

What is?

The stock-market. 

For whom?

The long-term investor. 

Do you have any?

What?

Patience, or nerves, or both?

You do?

Well, then you’ll do well in the markets, over the long-term. 

We look for complication. Meanwhile, we forget the basics. 

These are basics. 

If you’re not patient, you’ll for example jump into a stock at the wrong time, or you’ll jump out of it too early, or what have you. 

If you don’t have patience, well, develop it. 

If you can’t, do something else instead. Trade. Don’t long-term-invest then. 

If you cannot develop patience, you are not cut out to be a long-term holder. 

One method to cause the tree of patience to grow in you is to create the correct environment. 

Just don’t do anything that will make you jump. 

Invest your sur-sur-plus, money that is then pickled away, money that you won’t miss, yearn for or require over the very long-term. 

Go in with margin of safety. 

Stay in a stock you’ve singled out and entered until there’s a glaring reason to exit. Try to exit upon a high. This is the market. Highs are its nature. So are lows. That means that highs come. Wait for them to come, to exit from anything you need to exit from. 

Nervers, well, they come into play if you’ve not invested with margin of safety. 

I do remember two instances though, where everyone’s nerves were tested. October 2008, and March 2009. At these times, stocks sold for a song. Good ones and bad ones alike. Fear did the rounds, extreme fear. That’s what fear does. It creates once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Take them. Maintain a clear head. Your nerves of steel will do that for you. Create an environment for your nerves to become strong. Or, perhaps expressed another way, create an environment where any weakness in your nerves is not required to show itself, and gets subdued into extinction. 

How?

Again, just go in with your sur-sur-plus. You’re not going to miss this money even if the sky is falling upon your head. And you’ve gone in with margin of safety. Your nerves will stay intact. 

Ensure your basics. Allow them to shine. 

The rest will take care of itself. 

Good investing. 🙂

The Valuation Game

Value is a magic word. 

Ears stand up. 

Where is value?

Big, big question. 

Medium term investors look for growth. 

Long-termers invariably look for value. 

How do you value a stock?

There are many ways to do that. 

Here, we are just going to talk about basics today.

For example, price divided by earnings allows us to compare Company A to Company B, irrespective of their pricing.

Why isn’t the price enough for such a comparison?

Meaning, why can’t you just compare the price of an Infosys to that of a Geometric and conclude whatever you have to conclude?

Nope. 

That would be like comparing an apple with an orange. 

Reason is, that the number of shares outstanding for each company are different. Thus, the value of anything per share is gotten by dividing the grand total of this anything-entity by the number of outstanding shares that the company has issued. For example, one talks of earnings per share in the markets. One divides the total earnings of a company by the total number of outstanding shares to arrive at earnings per share, or EPS. 

Now, we get investor perception and discovery into the game. How does the public perceive the prospects of the company? How high or low do they bid it? How much have they discovered it? Or not discovered it? This information is contained in the price. 

So, we take all this information contained in the price, and divide it by the earnings per share, and we arrive at the price to earnings ratio, or P/E, or just PE. 

Yeah, we now have a scale to judge the value of stocks. 

Is this scale flawed?

Yeah. 

A stock with a high PE could have massive discovery and investor confidence behind it, or, it could just have very low earnings. When the denominator of a fraction is low, the value of the fraction is “high”. You have to use your common-sense and see what is applying. 

A stock with a low PE could have low price, high earnings, or both. It could have a high price and high earnings.  The low PE could also just be a result of lack of discovery, reflected in a low price despite healthy earnings. Or, the low PE could be because of a low price due to rejection. What is applying? That’s for you to know. 

At best, the PE is ambiguous. Your senses have to be sharp. You have to dig deeper to gauge value. The PE alone is not enough. 

Now let’s add a technical consideration. One sees strong fundamental value in a company, let’s say. For whatever reason. How does one gauge discovery, rejection or what have you in one snapshot? Look at the 5-year chart of the stock, for heaven’s sake. 

You’ll see rejection, if it is there. You’ll understand when it is not rejection, because rejection goes with sell-offs. Lack of discovery means low volumes and less pumping up of the price despite strong fundamentals. You’ll see buying pressure in the chart. That’s smart money making the inroads. Selling pressure means rejection. You’ll be able to gauge all this from the chart. 

Here are some avenues to look for value :

 

– price divided by earnings per share,

– price divided by book-value per share,

– price divided by cash-flow per share,

– price divided by dividend-yield per share,

– in today’s world, accomplishment along with low-debt is a high-value commodity, so look for a low debt to equity ratio,

– look for high return on equity coupled with low debt – one wants a company that performs well without needing to borrow, that’s high value,

– absence of red-flags are high value, so you’re looking for the absence of factors like pledging by the promoters, creative accounting, flambuoyance, 

– you are looking for value in the 5-year chart, by gauging the chart-structure for lack of discovery in the face of strong fundamentals. 

 

We can go on, but then we won’t remain basic any more. Basically, look for margin of safety in any form. 

Yeah, you don’t buy a stock just like that for the long-term. There’s lots that goes with your purchase. Ample and diligent research is one thing. 

Patience to see the chart correct so that you have your proper valuations is another. 

Here’s wishing you both!

🙂

 

Understanding and Assimilating the Fear-Greed Paradox

Holy moly, what are we talking about?

Let’s say you’ve done your homework.

You’ve identified your long-term stock.

Fundamentals are in place. Management is investor-friendly. No serious debt issues. Earnings are good.

Valuation is not right.

You wait.

How long?

Till the price is right.

What happens if that doesn’t happen.

You don’t pull the trigger. It’s difficult, but you just don’t pull.

Let’s say the price is becoming right.

You are looking for an extra margin of safety.

You are waiting to pounce. How long?

What’s your indicator?

Your gut?

Many things have been said about the gut.

It does feel fear.

Look for that fear.

Scrip is near a very low support, but holding. You are afraid that this last support might break and that the scrip might go into free-fall. Look for that fear. There goes your buying opportunity, you are probably saying. Intraday, support is broken. You are now sure it’s gone. Look for that feeling. Intraday, scrip comes back. Closes over support. Large volume. This chronology is your buy signal. You pick up a large chunk. Scrip doesn’t look back.

You don’t have to go through this rigmarole. You don’t have to bottom-pick. This exercise is for those who want that extra margin of safety.

Now invert the situation.

You’re sitting on a multibagger.

Lately, you’re not agreeing with the company’s business plans. You want out. Best time for you to exit would be now, sure. But, scrip is in no resistance zone, and is going up and up and up. What do you do?

Look for greed within yourself, when you start saying “Wow, this is going to be the next 100-bagger!” Look for the moment during this phenomenal rise when you’re getting attached to the scrip and don’t want to get rid of it, despite having concluded that you don’t agree with the vision of the promoters. Look for the time you start going “My Precious!”

Sell.

This chronology is your intrinsic sell signal.

Sure, radical.

I agree.

Sure, I’m combining trading techniques to fine-tune my investing.

I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants.

I’ve seen from their heights.

It’s time I start contributing.