Winning on Psychology

Hey!

🙂

It’s been a while…

Didn’t feel the need to write since beginning May…

There’s a thing about words.

When they want to come out…

…they do…

…and one should let them.

Right, and there’s a need for words, since…

…(wouldn’t you say),…

it’s time for a status check.

Where do we stand?

Positions are running.

How long?

When to cut?

What’s the plan?

Hmmmm.

Frankly, I don’t believe in cutting something I like and am convinced about.

Well, there’ll be no cutting of anything I’m convinced about.

If and when we reach euphoria levels, we’ll take another call about what kind of profit one is booking from one’s high-conviction holdings.

It’s very possible, though, that there will be no profit booked here.

Why?

High conviction holdings translate into multibaggers.

If I’m booking even part of such a holding, I’m lessening my quantum of multibagger-holding in the future.

So that’s sorted – high-conviction holdings – not booking.

Maybe, at extreme euphoria, we might take the cream off the top of an overflowing glass.

Now let’s come to other holdings.

Along the way, one’s conviction in certain holdings tends to waiver.

We’re booking all of these.

How much?

Completely.

When?

At extreme euphoria.

How to know when that’s happening?

Look for signs.

Least likely people will start behaving like market-experts.

You’ll start getting calls from lay-people, asking whether they should double their SIP.

Other-field mavericks have now become F&O maniacs, voluming seven figures per day as if it’s a normal activity, like eating food.

You’re suddenly being asked about all kinds of stocks running at absolute peaks, whether they are good investments.

Don’t get irritated.

Listen.

You’re privy to the best possible indicator – human psychology.

This one will never change.

Earlier, you fell here.

Now, this avenue has become your guiding stone to gauge market bottoms, and tops.

It’s a win-win for you.

High-Conviction Diaries

Sometimes, we’re convinced. 

Every nerve in our body is rooting for a particular thing.

It’s a go. 

Do one thing – 

– don’t hold back. 

Listen to yourself. 

High conviction doesn’t just dawn just like that. 

We’ve worked our whole lives to arrive at this high-conviction moment. 

On the way, we’ve made many, many bad calls. 

Actually, they weren’t bad calls, because…

…if it weren’t for them,…

…how would we learn?

Is some college professor going to teach us the markets?

Is there a recognised university teaching successful market play?

It pays more to depend on one’s own self, and on one’s common-sense – this being my opinion, of course. 

We learn the ropes – OURSELVES – by making mistakes and learning from these.

Here we are. 

We’ve survived so far. 

Now, our sensors are on full. We’re on high alert. We’ve arrived at a high-conviction moment. 

We know this is the right call. 

It’s going to make money. 

All entry parameters are showing a tick-mark. 

What’s stopping us?

We’re human.

There’s always doubt. 

Negative experiences in the past enhance such feelings. 

What if we’re wrong?

Well, if we never get going, how are we ever going to find out?

Enter. 

With a small quantum. 

Keep entering with small quanta as the opportunity exists, along with high-conviction. 

Assuming that high-conviction continues, but opportunity stops existing – 

– Stop.

Wait for next opportunity. 

Assuming that opportunity continues to exist, but high-conviction wavers –

– Stop.

Wait for high conviction to develop again. 

If it does so, see if opportunity still exists. 

If high conviction doesn’t develop again, discontinue going in any further. 

Revaluate the investment upon a market high.

Equity – The New Normal for Parking

Who’s the biggest…

…Ponzi…

…of them all?

Insurance companies?

There’s someone bigger.

The government. 

Legit.

Probably not going to go bust…

…at least in a hurry. 

Moves money from A to B…

…with minimum accountability. 

Resurrects skeletons and gives them infinite leases of life…

…with good, clean and fresh funds…

…that flow out of the pockets of helpless citizens. 

So, what about the government’s bond?

Sovereign debt.

The herd is flowing to sovereign debt, and to some extent to 100% AAA max 3 month paper duration liquid funds. 

This is after the johnnies at FT India miscalculated big-time, and had to wind-up six debt mutual fund schemes in their repertoire.

Should one do what the herd is doing?

Let’s break this down. 

First up, the herd exited credit-risk funds en-masse, post FT India’s announcement. Logical? Maybe. Safety and all that. Took a hit on the NAV, due to massive redemptions. I’m guesstimating something to the tune of 3%+. 

This seems fine, given the circumstances. Would have done the same thing, had I been in credit-risk. Perhaps earlier than the herd. Hopefully. No one likes a 3%+ hit on the NAV within a day or two.

Let’s look at the next step.

Sovereign debt is not everyone’s cup of tea. 

Especially the long-term papers, oh, they can move. 3% moves in a day are not unknown. 13-17% moves in a year are also not unknown. A commoner from the herd would go into shock, were he or she to encounter a big move day to the downside in the GILT (Government of India Long Term) bond segment. Then he or she would commit the blunder of cashing out of GILT when 10% down in 6 months, should such a situation arise. This is absolutely conceivable. Has happened. Will happen. Again.

There are a lot of experts advocating GILT smugly, at this time. They’re experts. They can probably deal with the nuances of GILT. The herd individual – very probably – CAN’T. The expert announces. Herd follows. There comes a crisis that affects GILT. Expert has probably exited GILT shortly before the onset of crisis. Herd is left hanging. Let’s say GILT tanks big time. Herd starts exiting GILT, making it fall further. Expert enters GILT, yeah – huge buying opportunity generated for expert.

More savvy and cautious investors who don’t wish to be saddled with the day to day tension of GILT, and who were earlier in credit-risk, are switching to liquid funds holding 100% AAA rated papers.

Sure. 

This is probably not a herd. Or is it?

Returns in the 100% AAA liquid fund category are lesser. Safety is more. How much are the returns lesser by? Around 1.5 to 2% lesser than ultra-short, floating-rate and low-duration funds. 

Ultra-short, floating-rate and low-duration funds all fall under a category of short-term debt which people are simply ignoring and jumping over, because apart from their large size of AAA holdings, a chunk of their holdings are still AA, and a small portion could be only A rated (sometimes along with another smallish portion allocated in – yes – even sovereign debt – for some of the mutual funds in this category).

The question that needs to be asked is this – Are quality funds in the category of ultra-short, floating-rate and low-duration funds carrying dicey papers that could default – to the tune of more than 2%?

There’s been a rejuggling of portfolios. Whatever this number was, it has lessened.

The next question is, if push comes to shove, how differently are 100% AAA holdings going to be treated in comparison to compositions of – let’s say – 60% AAA, 30% AA and 10% A?

I do believe that a shock wave would throw both categories out of whack, since corporate AAA is still not sovereign debt, and the herd is not going to give it the same adulation. 

The impact of such shock wave to 100 % AAA will still be sizeable (though lesser) when compared to its cousin category with some AA and a slice of A. Does the 2% difference in returns now nullify the safety edge of 100% AAA?

Also, not all corporate AAA is “safe”. 

Then, if nobody’s lending to the lower rung in the ratings ladder, should such industry just pack up its bags? If the Government allows this to happen, it probably won’t get re-elected.

The decision to remain in this category encompassing ultra-short, floating-rate and low-duration bond mutual funds, or to switch to 100% AAA short-term liquid funds, is separated by a very thin line

Those who follow holdings and developments on a day to day basis, themselves or through their advisors, can still venture to stay in the former category. The day one feels uncomfortable enough, one can switch to 100% AAA. 

This brings us to the last questions in this piece. 

Why go through the whole rigmarole?

Pack up the bond segment for oneself?

Move completely to fixed deposits?

Fine.

Just a sec.

What happens if the government issues a writ disallowing breaking of FDs above a certain amount, in the future, at a time when you need your money the most?

Please don’t say that such a thing can’t happen.

Remember Yes bank?

What if FD breakage is disallowed for all banks, and you don’t have access to your funds, right when you need them?

Sure, of course it won’t happen. But what if it does?

You could flip the same kind of question towards me. What happens if the debt fund I’m in – whether ultra-short, or floating-rate, or low-duration, or liquid – what happens if the fund packs up?

My answer is – I’ve chosen quality. If quality packs up 100%, it’ll be a doomsday scenario, on which FDs will also be frozen dear (how do you know they won’t be?), and GILTs could well have a 10%+ down-day, and, such doomsday scenario could very probably bring a freeze on further redemptions from GILT too. When the sky is falling, no one’s a VIP.

Parked money needs to be safe-guarded as you would a child,…

…and,…

…there spring up question marks in all debt-market categories,…

…so,…

…as Equity players, where do we stand?

Keep traversing the jungle, avoiding pitfalls to the best of one’s ability. 

How long?

Till one is fully invested in Equity. 

Keep moving on. A few daggers will hit a portion of one’s parked funds. Think of this as slippage, or as opportunity-cost. 

Let’s try and limit the hit to as small a portion of one’s parked funds as possible. Let’s ignore what the herd is doing, make up our own mind, and be comfortable with whatever decision we are taking, before we implement the decision. Let’s use our common-sense. Let’s watch Debt. Watch it more than one would watch one’s Equity. Defeats the purpose of parking in this segment, I know. That’s why we wish to be 100% in Equity, parked or what have you, eventually. 

As we keep dodging and moving ahead, over time, the job will be done already.

We’re comfortable with the concept of being fully parked in Equity. 

Whereas the fear of losing even a very small portion of our principal in the segment of Debt might appear overwhelming to us, the idea of losing all of one’s capital in some stocks is not new for us Equity players. We have experienced it. We can deal with it. Why? Because in other stocks, we are going to make multiples, many multiples, over the long-term.

Equity seems to be the new normal for parking

Making Time Our Friend

Hurry…

…spoils the curry.

Specifically with regard to Equity…

…one should never, never be in a hurry. 

You see…

…there will always be a correction.

You will get an entry. 

Wait for the right entry. 

You will, eventually, get a prime exit. 

Wait for the time. 

Make time your friend. 

How?

Simple.

Take it out of the equation.

Simple?

In the small entry quantum strategy, time is, by default, taken out of the equation. 

It loses its urgency as a defining factor, for us, psychologically.

We don’t have any immediate timelines. 

We go with…

…the flow. 

When opportunities appear…

…we act.

When they don’t…

…we don’t act.

Most of the time…

…we don’t act.

Then there are black swans, and we act many times in a row. Like now.

Action, or lack of it, depends on what’s happening. 

We don’t force action.

Why?

Because we have all the time in the world. We’ve made it our friend, remember.

We know that we’ll get action…

…eventually. 

We conserve liquidity and energy for when action comes.

You see, when the pressure of a time-line is gone, quality of judgement shoots up.

We make superior calls. 

Of course we make numerous mistakes too. 

However, the quantum going into the mistake is small. This is the small entry quantum strategy, remember. 

Once we’ve made a selection mistake in an underlying, and have realised this, we don’t shoot another quantum chasing our error. Instead we let it be, and wait for a prime exit from our error. It will come. 

We keep going into identified underlyings not falling into the error category, with small quanta. 

Many, many times, we make a price-error. Price going against us after entry is a price-error, because the market is always right. It’s us who are wrong when things go against us. 

Never mind. After a price-error, we enter the same underlying with another quantum, and this time we get a better price. Once gain one observes the friendliness of time, even after price has gone against us, all because of our small entry quantum strategy.

When price is going in our favour, we might not enter after a level. Though we’re not getting further entries in the underlying, appreciation is working in our favour. 

It’s a win-win on both sides of the timeline for us…

…because we’ve made time our friend.

Rewiring 3.0.3

We grow up, being taught to win.

Slowly, we learn to expect shocks, but only sometimes, in sparing intervals.

We prepare fancy resumés. 

Life must look five star plus all the time, that’s the standard. 

We see this standard all around us. It encompasses us. We become it, in our minds.

It’s not like that in the markets.

Markets are a world, where loss is our second nature. 

If we’re not accustomed to loss, we die a thousand deaths, in the markets. 

What kind of loss are we taking about?

Small…

…loss. 

Your stock holding going down to 0…

…is a small loss…

…when compared to another holding multiplying 1000x over 10 years. 

Both these scenarios are very possible in the markets. They’ve happened. They will happen again. 

How do we react?

Our stock going down to zero mortifies us. We do something drastic. Some of us quit. 

When our potential 1000x candidate is at a healthy 10x, yeah, we cut it. 

Then we quickly post the win on our resumé. 

We must look great to the world, at any cost. 

We keep reacting like this…

…and, like this, we’ll perish in the markets with very high probability.

We can’t take a hit, and are nipping our saving graces in the bud. 

When does this stop happening?

When we rewire.

Rewiring is a mental process that happens slowly, upon repeated market exposure. 

For successful rewiring to take place, real money needs to be on the line, again and again and again, as we iron out our mistakes and let market forces teach us the tricks of the trade. 

While we’re rewiring, we need to play small. 

When we’re partly rewired, we wake up to the fact that this is the age of shocks. 

High-tower professors who’ve never had a penny on the line and have put together theorems about six-sigma events (black swans) setting on once in blue-moons have led us to believe that black swans are rare. 

They are not. They have become the norm. Our first-hand experience of multiple black-swans in a row teaches us that.

Once we rewire fully, the expectation of black-swans as the norm is engraved in our DNA. Then, we use this fact to our huge advantage.

How?

We realize the value of our ammunition, i.e. our liquidity. 

Whenever we have the chance, we build up liquidity. 

We become savers, and are not taken in by the false shine of the glittery world around us.

Also, when markets are inflated, we sell stuff we don’t want anymore, boosting our ammunition for the next onset of crisis…

…and, we stop preparing fancy resumés.

Markets have humbled us so many times, that we now just don’t have the energy to portray false images. 

Whatever energy we have left, we wish to use for successful market play, i.e. to make actual money. 

When that happens, yeah, we know for sure that we’ve fully rewired. 

Welcome to rewiring three nought three. 

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. 

🙂

What’s on your mind, Mr. Nath?

Any questions, Mr. Nath?

Ya, I did have something on my mind. 

Ask.

I want to ask someone else.

Who?

Mrs. Market.

How are you going to do that?

I’ll just imagine that I could.

And, what’s the question, for the sake of discussion?

It’s not so much a question, really…

What is it then?

An observation perhaps…

…or a regret, maybe…

… not able to pinpoint exactly.

Hmmm, why don’t you just say it in words.

It’s about rewiring. 

Rewiring?

Yes. The words coming out are “Couldn’t you rewire us earlier?”

Who’s the you?

Mrs. Market.

Doesn’t your rewiring depend upon you?

Yes, that’s why perhaps it’s more of a regret.

What is this rewiring?

We are taught to win in life, and to hide our losses, if any, under the rug. That’s how we grow up. And that doesn’t work in the markets.

True. That’s what needs to be rewired?

Yes, to win in the markets, we need to get accustomed to loss, small loss, as a way of life. Wins are few, but they are big. So big, that they nullify all losses and then some. We make these wins big by not nipping them in the bud.

How long did it take you to rewire?

Seven years.

What’s your regret? A shorter time-frame would have resulted in half-baked learning. 

You are right, it’s not a regret then. Let’s just call it an observation. 

It’s a very useful observation for someone starting out in the markets. 

Let’s pin-down the bottomline here.

And that would be?

Till one is rewired, one needs to tread lightly. No scaling up…

…till one is rewired. 

And how would one know that one’s rewired?

No sleepless nights despite many small losses in a row, because one has faith in one’s system. Resisting successfully the urge to take a small winner home…

…because it is this small winner that has the potential to grow into a multibagger…

…and a few multibaggers is all that one needs in one’s market-life. 

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.

The One Big Thing That Sticks

We try many things…

…in the markets.

For many years do we labour. 

Strategies come, and they go. 

Some stick. 

After running through many, many plays, we find a handful sticking. 

We take them. 

Some still wither away. 

Others get bigger. 

Eventually, one is the biggest. 

Why?

You enjoy it.

You’re good at it.

It comes naturally. 

Others aren’t fun. 

You’re tense with others. 

This one, oh, this one’s another ball game. 

It just flows. 

And so do you. 

You start to scale it up, unknowingly, at first. 

Eventually, realization sinks in.

This one thing that’s sticking so well…

…yeah, this is your life’s work. 

It’s your one big thing. 

You’ve already scaled it up to a point of no return…

…and that’s ok…

…because you don’t want to turn back. 

You’re now going to toil to make your life’s big work reach its logical conclusion. 

That’s the least that it deserves, and you’re just going to enjoy the ride…

…apart from using its proceeds to see your lot and others soundly through life, and then some.

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.

Happy Ninth Birthday, Magic Bull!

Hey,
 
Just turned nine!
 
🙂
 
We’ve seen stuff…
 
…in these nine years.
 
What is our endeavour?
 
We’re in the business of creating wealth.
 
What is wealth?
 
It is something that multiplies over a period of time, …
 
…, perhaps over a long period of time.
 
Wealth affords one things – comfort, medicare, education, luxury, and what have you. So does surplus income, but wealth has the capacity to do this whilst keeping its principle value intact, taking care of our need, and still retaining a large surplus.
 
On the grass-root level, wealth is an idea.
 
Look at it as a multiplication matrix.
 
When we’re looking at money through the spectacles of this multiplication matrix, we’re looking to create wealth.
 
When we’re looking at money without using such spectacle framework, well, then we’re looking at sheer liquidity, income, surplus income / funds etc.
 
In this form, funds are spent, or put into an instrument which returns less than inflation. Funds are burnt over time, and over the long-term, their buying power takes a huge hit.
 
Wealth, on the other hand, returns way beyond inflation. Over the very long-term, returns can even be triple-digit per annum (not using the word “compounded” yet). Double-digit returns, per annum compounded (ya, using it now), are normal. 26% per annum compounded gives a 1000%+ return over 10 years (triple-digit per year)!
 
Wealth kills inflation, and then some, actually, and then lots!
 
The assimilation of wealth doesn’t necessarily follow a linear mathematics.
 
It is better to not look at this mathematics on a day to day basis.
 
Wealth is best created out of sight, out of mind.
 
Why?
 
During the journey to wealth, one needs conviction in one’s rock-solid research.
 
Observing day to day trajectory deviation makes one lose such conviction.
 
Worst-case scenario can be to interrupt the wealth-creation process, or to stop it altogether.
 
One encounters many colleagues on the road towards wealth-creation.
 
Sure, everyone wants in.
 
Who ends up creating wealth?
 
In other words, what’s the wealth-creation mind-set?
 
Our basics have been put in place, by us, laboriously, in the beginning.
 
As in, we have a basic income going. Our needs for the next couple of years are taken care of.
 
We’ve been pickling any incoming surplus away.
 
We don’t need to draw on it for a while, for reasons explained above.
 
Our research is rock-solid.
 
Our small entry quantum strategy has been fine-tuned thoroughly.
 
However, we’ll keep at it, tuning further as per requirement.
 
We believe in ourselves, our research and our strategy.
 
WE are going to end up creating wealth.
 
Holding on to wealth and seeing it through to its logical conclusion will be the next challange.
 
Great year ahead, Magic Bull!
 
🙂 🙂

Technically speaking, how are you doing?

Hey,

How’re your technicals going?

The whole world looks at the same or similar technicals, you know.

For example, if there’s support, everyone knows there’s support.

If a Fibonacci level has been reached, it’s the identical story.

When a trendline is broken, yes, you guessed it, the story hasn’t changed.

Yeah, we’ve got a problem.

What do we do here?

We don’t have an option but to think a couple of steps ahead.

As in, when a support is reached, we’re still talking about support at minus let’s say 3%, ok? Decide whatever number you wish to for yourself here, but till support minus that number is not breached, in your book, support still hasn’t been broken.

Thinking around, that’s what we are doing here.

Why?

We don’t wish to be pushed into market behaviour till something is happening.

We wish to forgo noise.

When we act, we wish to do so in a more sure-shot fashion.

A thinking-around approach thus becomes inevitable.

Similary, it’s not a Fibonacci bounce-off till let’s say (Fib62 + x) has been surpassed. Decide what your x is.

Or, a trendline is not broken till the close says so, or till there are two simultaneous closes below or above it.

You get the drift.

Make your own bye-rules.

That way, for all you know, you could still end up using a potentially defunct technical machinery, which, because of your thinking-around exercise, has suddenly become a powerful and potent tool.

🙂

My Buddy called Compounding

Compounding…

…is my happy space.

When I’m having a difficult market day,…

…I open my calculator…

…and start…

…compounding.

My friend clears all doubts in a flash.

It’s easy to compound on the calc.

In German they’d say “Pippifax”.

The younger tribe in the English-speaking world would say easy peasy…

…(lemon squeasy).

Let me run you through it.

Let’s say you wish to calculate an end amount after 25 years of compounding @ 9 % per annum.

Let z be the initial amount (invested).

The calculation is z * 1.09 ^25.

That’s it.

You don’t have to punch in 25 lines. It’s 1 line.

What if you went wrong on the 18th line?

So 1 line, ok? That’s all.

What’s ^ ?

This symbol stands for “to the power of”.

On your calculator, look for the y to power of x key, and then…

…punch in z * 1.09 (now press y to the power of x)[and then punch in 25].

What does such an exercise do for me?

Meaning, why does this exercise ooze endorphins?

Let’s say I’m investing in sound companies, with zero or very little debt, diligent and shareholder-friendly managements, and into a versatile product profile, looking like existing long into the future, basically meaning that I’m sound on fundamentals.

Let’s say that the stock is down owing to some TDH (TomDicK&Harry) reason, since that’s all it’s taking for a stock to plunge since the beginning of 2018.

I have no control over why this stock is falling.

Because of my small entry quantum strategy, I invest more as this fundamentally sound stock falls.

However, nth re-entry demands some reassurance, and that is given en-masse by the accompanying compounding exercise.

At the back of my mind I know that my money is safe, since fundamentals are crystal clear. At the front-end, Mr. Compounding’s reassurance allows me to pull the trigger.

Let’s run through a one-shot compounding exercise.

How much would a million invested be worth in thirty years, @ 11% per annum compounded.

That’s 1 * 1.11^30 = almost 23 million, that’s a 2300% return in 30 years, or 75%+ per annum non-compounded!

Now let’s say that my stock selection is above average. Let’s assume it is good enough to make 15% per annum compounded, over 30 years.

What’s the million worth now?

1 * 1.15^30 = about 66 million, whoahhh, a 6600% return in 30 years, or 220% per annum non-compounded.

Let’s say I’m really good, perhaps not in the RJ or the WB category, but let’s assume I’m in my own category, calling it the UN category. Let’s further assume that my investment strategy is good enough to yield 20% per annum compounded.

Ya. What’s happened to the million?

1 * 1.20^30 = about 237 million…!! 23700% in 30 years, or 790% per annum non-compounded…

…is out of most ballparks!!!

How can something like this be possible?

It’s called “The Power of Compounding”…,

…most famously so by Mr. Warren Buffett himself.

Try it out!

Pickle your surplus into investment with fundamentally sound strategy.

Sit tight.

Lo, and behold.

🙂

When the Need to Commit Arrives

You’ve got something together.
It’s taken time…
…effort…
…capacity to overcome failure…
…stamina…
…self-belief…
…and what have you.
However, now, you have something in your hands.
What is this something?
A strategy…
…that will yield more than inflation…
…over the long-term…
…nothing over the top…
…as simple as that…
…no over-ambition…
…but nothing less.
If you wanted less, you might as well have packed up operations on day 1.
Beating inflation over the long-term is our bench-mark.
For us, there’s no other rat-race.
Ya, so, what now?
Now, well, it’s time to commit.
Slowly, surely, with no doubt in our minds, over perhaps half a decade(or perhaps a full decade), we now fully allocate.
Why?
There’s no other logical conclusion.
We were striving for this.
Now that we are there, it’s time to pull the trigger…
…slowly…
…but surely.

Sniffing Out Shareholder-Friendliness

Shareholder-friendly managements…

…are the need of the hour.

What are the signs that we need to look out for, to know that a management is benevolent towards its co-owner?

Frugality in lifestyle and attitude is worth looking at.

What I’m trying to say is…

…that one hates to see a promoter living it up on company funds, at the cost of the company’s health.

Living it up is ok. Have the balance-sheet to justify it – first – please.

Are you debt-free? Quasi debt-free will do too.

Does your company ooze free cash-flow?

Are your employees well-paid and automatons for growth?

NPM double-digit?

RoE in the 20s?

Fine.

Live it up for all I care.

Take a high salary. Throw in a hefty commission.

God bless you.

I still want to co-own your company.

Any or most of these metrics not present & living it up on company money – well, nice knowing you, but no thanks.

We’re then looking for shareholder give-aways, you know,…

…dividends, bonuses, buybacks and stuff.

Again, the balance-sheet should show enough robustness to justify a giveaway.

If it doesn’t, it means that the management is trying to appease shareholders at the cost of the balance-sheet, and that’s an avoid in my book.

Look for simplicity in the annual report.

If one is getting lost in fancy words and hi-fi design, without being given the nitty-gritty at a glance, one is probably knocking on the wrong door.

Free cash-flow is a good thing. It allows for leverage to act upon opportunity and without incurring debt, among other things.

Look at deployment of net cash-flow generated from operating activities also. Deployment should be healthy. Shows growth.

Instead of looking for fad-stuff like synergy, let’s look to see if promoter action adds to the balance-sheet and makes it stronger.

These are just examples.

Sniff out shareholder-friendliness.

Put your own metrics together, to do so.

So, Who’s Buying?

Yeah, who’s buying?

Superinvestors? 

Sure. Tremendous pipeline, great bargains, of course they’re buying. 

Who else?

Market-makers.

They buy and sell for a living.

They make the market for us to trade in.

Let’s forget about them for this discussion.

Anyone else?

The syndicate?

What syndicate?

I mean, is there even a syndicate?

Let’s not go into conspiracy theories. 

Whether or not there is a syndicate should not affect us. 

Moving on…

…think of anyone else?

Mutual funds?

Sure.

Lots of SIPs going in, a few NFOs doing the rounds, yeah, MFs are biting.

Foreigners?

More like exiting.

Hedge funds?

Busy trading I guess, won’t count them as strong hands, they’ll book a profit and will be sellers, over the short to medium term. 

What about retail guys?

Retail investors are scared. 

They’re tired of bad news. 

They’re tired of the markets.

Most have run away. 

Most of those who haven’t, want to. 

Is any retailer buying?

Well, the small entry quantum guys are. 

Why?

Firstly, they’re liquid.

Their strategy leaves them liquid, … , like forever. 

Till when are they going to buy?

As long as quality is selling cheap, they’ll continue to buy.

Are they scared?

No.

Why?

Their strategy gives them the courage to work on full throttle at times just like these. 

Times like what?

You know, bad news galore, whatsapps, lay-offs, scams, everything under the sky that can take place – is taking place.

And you know, bring it on. Gloom, doom, kaboom, and quality will start selling even cheaper.

We are loading up on quality and will continue to do so as long as it is cheap.

We’re happy that there’s a buying opportunity.

🙂

Insiding

The correct market strategy for oneself…

…is like a holy grail.

It doesn’t come for free.

Some don’t attain it at all.

Mostly, one does get to it but is not able to maintain it.

It’s great if you can arrive at your correct strategy, and keep it alive, forever.

However, that’s a huge statement.

Lots of caveats will need to be addressed before this statement can be made achievable.

What works for me is lots of hit and trial.

Levels internalize.

One gets a feel for what is disturbing (to oneself).

Internalization gets our reflexes going on auto.

“Insiding” is a term that I’ve made up signifying the struggle one goes through recognizing whatever needs to be recognized and arriving at one’s correct strategy.

This act of recognition comes from taking hits, year after year, till one is street-ready to handle whatever the street can offer at its worst.

Market action is mostly about making mistakes.

One keeps these small.

Whatever you end up doing right for yourself, …

…, yeah, that’s what you’re scaling up.

Out of ten attempted ideas, one might work.

Out of a hundred, three might work exponentially.

These are the ones.

Stick to these.

Scale them up.

Whatever it has cost you to arrive at them, is mere tuition fees.

Yes, that’s how you’ll need to see things, to remain sane.

Be happy – at least you have something concrete in your hands – a strategy that works – that’s huge.

The moment you see it turning incorrect, leading to market mistakes, just tweak, tweak tweak till the strategy starts working again.

Tweaking will go on as long as markets exist.

What’s a market mistake?

A market mistake is anything that makes you lose money consistently.

A correct strategy is something that yields money consistently.

That’s why one needs to keep things small till major mistakes are out of the way.

Make mistakes, sure, they are bread and butter.

Just don’t repeat them.

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.