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.

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.

🙂

Breathing Space

I like to breathe…

…between trades. 

There’s something fresh about being market neutral. 

One is decoupled from market forces. 

One feels light. 

If one has just closed a losing trade, there’s hung-over disappointment. 

Forget. 

Breathe. 

Move on. 

On the other hand, if one has just closed a winning trade…

…there’s remnant euphoria. 

Forget.

Breathe. 

Move on. 

Why forget?

The next trade is the next trade. 

It has nothing to do with the previous trade. 

Also, one is recuperating, remember?

Market forces take a toll. 

Market neutral air allows the system to regenerate. 

Don’t mistake this market neutral with the other market neutral. 

Insiders speak of being market neutral when they are hedged, and trades on both sides result in an overall market neutral stance for them. 

Hedged market neutral candidates experience a double whammy of market forces. 

You’ve understood by now, that we are talking about the “not in the of the market” neutral stance. 

Should one then even call it market neutral?

I mean, one can call it sitting out, or something. 

I like to call it market neutral breathing space.

When does the neutral strictly apply?

When I don’t know if the next trade is going to be long or short.

What will the trade direction depend upon?

Data. 

Chart. 

Technicals. 

Fundamentals. 

Whatever cooks your goose. 

However, sometimes, one is on a short-short strategy, or for that matter a long-long strategy. Meaning, that one might be out of a trade, but one is waiting to go short (long) on the next one, and so on and so forth. Meaning that one knows one’s trade direction for a defined time frame. 

Well, I still like to call the breathing space between trades market neutral, even here, because the word “neutral” reminds me to keep an unbiased mind about the next entry point. 

I try to then look at the chart free from the remains of previous experience, in my search for an entry point, even though I know the direction that I will be trading.

How much time can one spend between trades?

Depends on when the next setup arrives. 

Why the hurry?

Enjoy the calm of the space.

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.

A Secret Ingredient for Equity-People

Racking your brain about how to make Equity work?

Don’t.

Two words work here. 

Be passive. 

Learn to sit. 

Let’s say you’ve gotten all your basics right.

Company is great. Management is sound. Multiple is low. Debt is nil. Model looks promising. Yield is note-worthy. Technicals allow entry, blah blah blah…

Then what?

Yeah, be still. Learn to sit. 

What are the prequisites for sitting?

You need to not need the stash you’ve put in, at least for a long while. 

You also need to get your investment out of your primary focus. 

For that, your day needs to be full…of other main-frame activities. 

Make Equity a bonus for yourself, not a main-course. That’s how it’ll work for you. That’s the secret ingredient. 

How to… … is stated above.

Why to? Aha.

For it to work, fine, but why the sleeping partner approach?

Human capital needs time to show results. 

That’s why you’re in Equity, right, for human capital? The rest is ordinary stuff, but human capital is irreplaceable. Human capital works around inflation. One doesn’t need to say anything more. 

You’ve got your work all cut out.

Get going, what are you waiting for? 

Dealing with “Situation Change”

When does a situation change?

For example, one could move on to a new field in finance.

Or, a particular goal could have been achieved. Now, one’s approach is supposed to incorporate predefined changes for financial strategy post goal-accomplishment.

Family dynamics could be responsible for situation changes too.

Sure, health. Never underestimate the power of health. It can make you, and it can break you.

Emotion. Fell in love? Going crazy? Outbursts? Hot flashes? Preggers?

Logistics? Moving? New girl-friend in New York?

Night duty?

Looking after your parents in their old age?

Wife wants to party all the time? Lack of sleep?

Promotion? Demotion? Fired? Jobless? Suddenly self-employed?

Gone single? Date-circuit? Got married? Had a kid?

Situation changes come to all. Not once, but many times in life.

Why are we talking about them?

They have an effect on our financial strategy. That’s suffices.

I’ll tell you how I deal with situation change. You can then BODMAS your way to your own approach, using my approach as a broad outline.

My first approach is to put on auto-pilot as many of my financial activity as possible. Going paper-less helps. Trusted auto-bill-pay channels are assets. Fixed-income generators with auto annual-alerts give financial security with zero involvement. SIPs and dividend pay-ins are further examples of having gone auto.

Then I look at what is left. What has not yet gone on auto-pilot? Can it? Ever? If there’s a chance, I go for it. For example, I’m currently developing a software robot to automate my forex trading.

Lastly, I size up what is not pushable into auto-mode. Do I want to keep it? Can I do without it? Weigh, weigh, weigh, scrap A, scrap B, C is something I just have to do, manually, period, so keep C. Eventually, C, G, P, X and Z are five manual financial activities I keep, having scrapped the others (that refused to go on auto) out of my life, since I didn’t consider them burningly essential. C, G, P, X and Z are the ones that’ll weigh me down when my situation changes. I’ve kept them on doable levels. Some are on semi-auto but do require manual intervention. The others are fully manual.

My situation changes.

My auto-pilot activities continue their smooth run. They are my assets, my stars.

P, X and Z are on semi-auto. I barely gather the energy to look into their manual aspects, just about managing to keep them going with reasonable results.

C and G are bogging me down. Can’t keep up. No energy. No motivation. Situation change has drained me. Relentlessly, I try. C has turned a loser. Beginning to feel sick. I shut down C. Losses.

G is sucking me out. Emotionally. It’s a winner, though. Can’t keep up. Can I turn it into semi-auto? It required constant monitoring till it started winning big. I’ll still need to feed in my stop daily. That’s the manual part. I stop looking at G. Problem with equity orders is that your stop has little technical value overnight. A new day requires renewed stop-considerations. Ok, five minutes daily for G. Open terminal, set trigger-stop 9.99% below opening price, close terminal, don’t look left or right, done.

Phew.

Save health. Don’t fall sick.

If sick, rest.

Recuperate.

Regain health.

Get used to new situation.

Normalize.

Gear up for next situation change, whatever it is, whenever it comes.

Gear up now.

Can I Really Really Really Do Without Fundamentals?

I like to trade without a bias. 

Lack of bias means freedom… 

… freedom to think independently…

… not falling prey to another person’s opinion…

… which then allows you to listen to your system…

… trade identification…

…setup demarcation…

…trigger-entry…

…trade triggered…

…trade management…

… trigger-exit…

… exited.

That’s it, move on to the next trade. 

News gives me a bias. 

No news. 

You know what else gives me a bias?

Fundamentals. 

I don’t wish to look at fundamentals. 

If my eyes are seeing a setup in the EuroDollar, I would like to take it without the nagging thought of “what will happen if Scotland says NO or YES”.

I don’t want to care about inflation numbers, or job figures, or industrial output or what have you. 

I mean…can I just …do it?

Meaning, can I just do away with fundamentals, and focus on technicals only, which is my area of specialization?

Sometimes, I get a little unsure. 

I start looking around. 

How are others doing it? The experts, that is. 

My uncertainty gets fanned a little more, when I see experts not really ignoring fundamentals, even though they might be specialized in technicals. Hmmmm. I’m still not happy looking into fundamentals. I mean, why should I take time-out from my strong suit, and devote it to my very weak suit?

No, I decide. I’m really not going to look at fundamentals. 

What’s the worst that could happen?

Let me just see if the worst that could happen is bearable.

Ok…I ID a trade…demarcate a setup…and the trade goes against me because of the announcement of some number in the afternoon. People looking at fundamentals would have waited for the announcement of the number and then traded. Fine. 

In the world of trading, it is always good to have the worst-case scenario unwrapped and right before your eyes to see what it really means. 

You know, I can take this. 

Would you like to know why?

Firstly, I would like you to understand that we are looking at large sample-sizes here. Any sensible reasoning would only apply to large sample-sizes. 

Over the long run, and over many, many trades, Mrs.Market will go either way after an announcement of a fundamental number with a chance of roughly 50:50. 

If this is true, it is very good news for me, good enough to just kick fundamentals out of the equation. 

At times, the market reacts as per the crowd’s anticipation. 

At other times, it reacts in the opposite fashion. 

I assume that the ratio of the above two directions taken by Mrs. Market over a very large sample-size would be 50:50.

I think my assumption is correct. I don’t want to go through the labour of proving it mathematically. 

Ok, let’s assume that my assumption is correct. I then kick fundamentals, and go about my work while relying on my strong-suit, i.e. technicals. This trajectory will very probably have a happy ending. 

Now let’s assume that my assumption is wrong. 

What saves my day?

Technicals. 

Technicals very often give setups that factor in crowd behaviour and crowd anticipation of market direction. 

Technical setups get one into the build-up to an announcement. 

More often than not, one is already in the trade, in the correct direction, enjoying the build-up to an announcement without even knowing that the announcement is coming, if one is not following fundamentals. 

Technicals can actually do this for you. I’ve seen them do it. I mean, the GBPUSD has been giving short setups during the entire 1000 pip run-down recently. To have availed such a setup, people haven’t needed to know that a referendum is coming. All they’ve needed to do is to take the trade once they see the setup. 

Actually, that’s it. I don’t need more.  

I don’t need to reason anymore with myself. Everything is here. 

I think I can let go of fundamentals safely.

Even this trajectory should have a happy ending.

Who’s Responsible for that Last Technical Bit?

Planning a technical trade?

You’ve got your chart open. Scrip’s been falling.

You plan to initiate a buy on that last support. Still a few percentage points to go. 

Your buy point seems a bit off, right? 

Scrip might not reach it, huh?

It might just take off before reaching your buy point, hmmm?

What you need to understand is this – for nothing comes nothing.

You don’t want to risk a buy at current market price. That’s a fact. An acceptable one. Fine … as long as you are willing to pay the price for this fact. 

The price is that you might not be in the trade as the scrip might take off without your stop-type trigger entry price being hit. 

The up-side is that the scrip might correct to your buy price, triggering your entry, and thereby giving you a perfect technical entry point, along with a great margin of safety, since you’ll then have bought low as compared to current market price. 

Yeah, that’s the trade-off.

Is this trade-off acceptable to you?

Yes?

Fine. In my opinion, you would not be doing anything wrong in going ahead with your planned course of action, as long as you have mentally accepted the trade-off. 

What’s the other guy at? You know, the fellow who’s entering at current market price. Well, he’s taking a risk. He’s buying a little high, without margin of safety. What’s his trade-off? For starters, he’s in the trade. Scrip can take off immediately for all he cares, leaving you behind. He’ll be most happy. What’s his down-side? Scrip can correct to technical support, your buy-point. He’ll already be in a losing trade, and you’ll be just entering. In his worst-case scenario, his stop will already be hit as you are just entering. If the scrip takes off on him now, he’ll probably be puking. Yeah, that’s his trade-off. He’s accepted it mentally. After such acceptance, in my opinion, he’s doing nothing wrong by entering at current market price. 

What’s going to happen?

No one knows. Either of the outlined scenarios can play out.

Who’s that last technical correction left for? Yeah, who or what exactly will be responsible for that last technical correction?

An event. A negative one.

At this point, a negative event can happen. On the other hand, it may not happen. 

If it happens, the scrip will very probably open at the technical buy point the next day, and your buy will be triggered. 

If there’s no negative event, and buying pressure goes up, the scrip will take off without you.

Why is that last bit left to an event?

Events give prices a push or a pull, depending upon their positivity or negativity. 

That last support was made a bit low, right? You were wondering how the scrip reached so low, huh? In high probability, an event pushed it low for a few hours, and a low was made. If this low coincided with a past low, one started to speak of a lowish support, which was a little low considering current market price, and for which the scrip needed a pull-back to reach. 

Like this morning’s pull-back. The US decides to allow air-strikes in Iraq. Japan opens 3% down. India opens 1% down. 

A lot of scrips open really down this morning. 

Some of them even open at lowish supports they were not (at all) intending to touch yesterday. 

Approaching a Contrarian Buy as a Pivot Point Trade

Approaching a Contrarian Buy as a Pivot Point Trade


Long live Jesse Livermore!

In his colourful life, Jesse pioneered the science of pivot points. He went bust many times while trying to understand pivot points, but ever since the fundamentals have been delineated by him, pivot points have stood the test of time.

After falling to a pivot point, where there is heavy volume, a stock then doesn’t look back for a while. Entry into a stock is considered ideal at or around a pivot point. Due to the surge-potential at pivot points, one’s trade gets into the money very fast here.

I don’t think pivot points can be predicted off-hand. Potential pivot points make themselves visible at newer lows. Their trademark is the accompanying very high volume.

So, what does one do here?

One punches in a trigger-buy above the pivot-bar or pivot-candle.

If the point pans out as a pivot, and the characteristic surge follows, one’s entry is triggered as the price pierces the pivot-bar high. Good entry.

Now manage the trade, and exit properly.

How does one exit properly?

I’ve spoken about this many times, and will do so again, not today, but very soon.

Cheers!

Am I Taking Bitcoin Seriously?

Yeah.

Bitcoin is a serious new kid on the block.

Am I getting into it? That’s the more important question, isn’t it?

Well, not yet.

First up, I know very little about it. I’m not going to get into something because of the smoke. Gone are the days.

So, I’m educating myself.

The Web tells me that Bitcoin is not alone. Numerous Crypto-currencies have emerged. Confusing.

Many of these have their main servers or their secondary addresses located in ex-Soviet / ex-iron-curtain nations. Intimidating. I’m afraid.

Then I look at the bid-ask spread for Bitcoin. There’s typically a 1% difference between buying and selling price. That is huge. In fact, it’s outrageous.

After that I look at the Bitcoin price vs time chart.  I can see the panic in the chart. I don’t like panic. I generally stay away from panic markets. If I’m entering a long-term market, I like entering on a solid base foundation. The panic dust hasn’t settled yet. Technical bases build after panic settles, and only if the underlying has long-term mettle. They’re visible on the chart as horizontal stretches. Not happening as yet on the Bitcoin price vs time chart. Means I’m not entering yet.

Then there’s this mining stuff. Like, virtual mining. I don’t understand it. Yet. Looks silly, off-hand. Could this be connected to currency-backing? Or, is this just a hype-creating gimmick that doesn’t make economic sense? I’m not sure, I tell myself.

Last point I’m making against current Bitcoin entry – theft and loss. If I store Bitcoin on my computer, it becomes a potential target. I don’t wish to have the 5 million odd extremely sharp ex-Soviet ex-chess wizard brains targeting my computer. Period.

So, where do we stand?

Meaning, why am I taking Bitcoin seriously?

The USD has nothing backing it. The US seems to be following a fiscal policy with high risk of implosion due to escalating debt. They’ve got no reserves left. Savings are nil. The USD will probably maintain its hierarchy till the world has another alternative.

A few years ago, I thought that Gold could be this alternative. Today, I think Bitcoin is a more serious contender.

First, I need to convince myself that Bitcoin is backed. Meanwhile, the noise will even out, and only the most solid crypto-currencies shall live on. I’d like Bitcoin to still be at the top of all crypto-charts once the noise settles. By then, there’ll be someone reliable in my own country offering Bitcoin investment and trading, someone I know, like an HDFC Bank, or a Kotak Securities. Volumes will escalate. Slippage will be down to a bearable 0.1% or less. Bitcoin’s chart will show a base foundation. I’ll have understood the virtual mining stuff, and hopefully it’ll be connected to currency-backing. Banks will store Bitcoin as an e-holding, which will reflect in one’s Netbanking.

That’s when I’ll enter Bitcoin.

Three Ways to Double Down

To win big as a trader, one needs to understand and implement a strategy of doubling down when things are looking good.

The difference between mediocre success and mega-success as a trader is linked to a trader’s ability to double down at the proper time.

We’ve discussed position-sizing. That’s one way to double down.

A day-trader, or a very short-term trader has the luxury of seeing one trade culminate and the next trade start off after the first one culminates at its logical conclusion. For most longer-term traders, many trades can be occurring simultaneously, because started trades have not yet come to their logical end, and new opportunities have cropped up before trades commenced have come to their logical end.

What do such traders do? I mean, they do not know the final outcome of the preceeding trades.

Yeah, how could such traders position-size properly?

Well, a trade might not have come to its logical conclusion, but you do know how much profit or loss you are sitting on at any given point of time. The calculation of the traded value for the next trade is simply a function of this profit or loss you are sitting on. Simple, right?

Well, what if you don’t like to position-size in that manner?

What if you say, that here I am, and I’ve finally identified a scrip that is moving, and that I’m invested in it, and am sitting on a profit. Now that I know that this scrip is moving, I’d like to invest more in this very scrip.

Good thinking. Nothing wrong at all with the thinking process.

You now pinpoint a technical level for second entry into the scrip. Once your level is there, you go in. No heavy or deep thinking required. As a trader, you are now accustomed to plunging after trade identification and upon setup arrival.

Question is, how much do you go in with?

Is your second entry a position-sized new trade? Or, do you see how much profit you are sitting on, and enter with the exact amount of profit you are sitting on? The latter approach is called pyramiding, by the way. Pyramiding is a close cousin of position-sizing. Normally, one speaks about pyramiding into one very scrip, when the trader buys more of that very scrip after showing a profit in that scrip. Once could, however, also pyramid one’s profits into different scrips.

When you’re pyramiding into one very scrip, you’re putting many eggs in one basket. Right, the risk of loss is higher. The thing going for you is that this risk for loss is higher at a time when your profits are up in a scrip that’s on its way up. Therefore, the risk during a downslide is higher, but the probability of that risk’s ability to result in an overall loss for you is lower than normal. You understand that you have balanced your risk equation, and with that understanding, you don’t have a problem putting many eggs in the same basket. After all, it’s a basket you are watching closely. Yeah, you know your basket inside out. You are mentally and strategically prepared to take that higher risk.

There’s yet another way to double down. I’d like to call this the “stubborn-bull trading approach”.

Let’s say you are sitting on a profitable trade. Yeah, let’s say you are deep in the money.

Now, a safe player would start raising the stop as the scrip in question keeps going higher and higher.

On the other hand, a trader with an appetite for risk could risk more and more in the scrip as it keeps going higher and higher – by not raising the stop, till a multibagger is captured. On the other hand, this trader would also be setting him- or herself up to give back hard-earned profits. Yeah, no risk – no gain.

What’s the difference between the stubborn-bull trading approach (SBTA) and investing?

When you’re adopting the SBTA, you’ll cut the trade once it loses more than your stop. You’ll sit on it stubbornly only after it has shown you multibagger-potential, let’s say by being up 20-50% in a very short time. You’ll keep sitting on it stubbornly till your pre-determined two-bagger, three-bagger or x-bagger target-level is reached. After that, you’ll start raising the stop aggressively, as the scrip goes still higher. Eventually, the market will throw you out of your big winning trade. You see, the SBTA strategy is very different from an investment strategy. For starters, your entry into this scrip has been at a trading level, not at an undervalued investment level. Undervalued scrips normally don’t start dancing about like that immediately.

Let’s be very clear – to reap big profits in the long run, you, as a trader, will need to adopt at least one of these doubling down strategies – position-sizing, pyramiding and / or the stubborn-bull trading approach.

Have a profitable trading day / week / month / career! 🙂

Due Diligence Snapshot – IL&FS Investment Managers Ltd. (IIML) – Jan 14 2013

Price – Rs. 23.85 per share ; Market Cap – 499 Cr (small-cap, fell from being a mid-cap); Equity – 41.76 Cr; Face Value – Rs. 2.00; Pledging – Nil; Promoters – IL&FS; Key Persons – Dr. Archana Hingorani (CEO), Mr. Shahzad Dalal (vice-chairman) & Mr. Mark Silgardo (chief managing partner) – all three have vast experience in Finance; Field – Private Equity Fund managers in India (oldest), many joint venture partnerships; Average Volume – around 1 L+ per day on NSE.

Earnings Per Share (on a trailing 12 month basis) – 3.55

Price to Earnings Ratio (thus, also trailing) – 6.7 (no point comparing this to an industry average, since IIML has a unique business model)

Debt : Equity Ratio – 0.35 (five-year average is 0.1); Current Ratio – 1.05

Dividend Yield – 4.7% (!)

Price to Book Value Ratio – 2.1; Price to Cashflow – 5.1; Price to Sales – 2.2

Profit After Tax Margin – 32.85% (!); Return on Networth – 35.24% (!)

Share-holding Pattern of IL&FS Investment Managers – Promoters (50.3%), Public (39.2%), Institutions (4.9%), Non-Institutional Corporate Bodies (5.5%). [The exact shareholding pattern of IL&FS itself is as follows – LIC 25.94%, ORIX Corporation Japan 23.59%, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority 11.35%, HDFC 10.74%, CBI 8.53%, SBI 7.14%, IL&FS Employees Welfare Trust 10.92%, Others 1.79%].

Technicals – IIML peaked in Jan ’08 at about Rs. 59.50 (adjusted for split), bottomed in October of the same year at Rs. 13.60, then peaked twice, at Rs. 56.44 (Sep ’09) and Rs. 54.50 (Aug ’10) respectively, in quick succession, with a relatively small drop in between these two interim high pivots. By December ’11, the scrip had fallen to a low pivot of Rs. 23.30 upon the general opinion that the company wasn’t coming out with new product-offerings anytime soon. A counter rally then drove the scrip to Rs. 32, which is also its 52-week high. During the end of December ’12, the scrip made it’s 52-week low of Rs. 23. People seem to have woken up to the fact that a 52-week low has been made, and the scrip has risen about 4 odd percentage points since then, upon heavier volume.

Comments – Company’s product profile and portfolio is impressive. No new capital is required for business expansion. Income is made from fund management fees and profit-sharing above designated profit cut-offs. Lots of redemptions are due in ’15, and the company needs to get new funds in under management by then. If those redemptions are done under profits, it will increase company profits too. Parag Parikh discusses IIML as a “heads I win (possibly a lot), tails I lose (but not much)” kind of investment opportunity. His investment call came during the mayhem of ’09. The scrip is 42%+ above his recommended price currently. What a fantastic call given by Mr. Parikh. Well done, Sir! Professor Sanjay Bakshi feels that IIML has a unique business model, where business can keep on expanding with hardly any input required. He feels, “that at a price, the stock of this company would be akin to acquiring a free lottery ticket”. I opine that the price referred to is the current market price. Before and after Mr. Parikh’s call, the company has continued to deliver spectacular returns. The company’s management is savvy and experienced. They made profitable exit calls in ’07, and fresh investments were made in ’08 and ’09, during big sell-offs. Thus, the management got the timing right. That’s big. I have no doubt that they’ll get new funds in under management after ’15, alone on the basis of their track record. Yeah, there’s still deep value at current market price. Not as deep as during ’08, or ’09, but deep enough.

Buy? – Fundamentals are too good to be ignored. They speak for themselves, and I’m not going to use any more time commenting on the fundamentals. Technicals show that volumes are up over the last 3 weeks. People seem to be lapping the scrip up at this 52-week low, and the buying pressure has made it rise around 4% over the last 3 weeks. If one has decided to buy, one could buy now, preferably under Rs. 24. The scrip seems to be coming out of the lower part of the base built recently. There is support around Rs. 23 levels, so downside could be limited under normal market conditions.

Disclaimer and Disclosure – Opinions given here are mine only, unless otherwise explicitly stated . You are free to build your own view on the stock. I hold a miniscule stake in IIML. Data / material used has been compiled from motilaloswal.com, moneycontrol.com, equitymaster.com, valuepickr.com, safalniveshak.com and from the company websites of IIML & IL&FS. Technicals have been gauged using Advanced GET 9.1 EoD Dashboard Edition. I bear no responsibility for any resulting loss, should you choose to invest in IIML.

Can We Please Get This One Basic Thing Right? (Part III)

Yeah, we’re digging deeper.

How does an investor arrive at an investment decision?

It’s pretty obvious to us by now that traders and investors have their own rationales for entry and exit, and that these rationales are pretty much diametrically opposite to each other.

So, what’s the exact story here?

The seasoned investor will look at FUNDAMENTALS, and will exhibit PATIENCE before entering into an investment.

The versatile trader will look at TECHNICALS, and will NOT BE AFRAID of entry or exit, any time, any place. He or she will be in a hurry to cut a loss, and will allow a profit to blossom with patience.

What are fundamentals?

Well, fundamentals are vital pieces of information about a company. When one checks them out, one gets a fair idea about the valuation and the functioning of the company, and whether it would be a good idea to be part of the story or not.

A good portion of a company’s fundamental information is propagated in terms of key ratios, like the Price to Earnings Ratio, or the Debt to Equity Ratio, the Price to Book Value ratio, the Enterprise Value to EBITDA Ratio, the Price to Cash-flow Ratio, the Price to Sales ratio, etc. etc. etc.

What a ratio does for you is that in one shot, it delivers vital info to you about the company’s performance over the past one year. If it’s not a trailing ratio, but a projected one, then the info being given to you is a projection into the future.

What kind of a promotership / management does a company have? Are these people share-holder friendly, or are they crooks? Do they create value for their investors? Do they give decent dividend payouts? Do they like to borrow big, and not pay back on time? Do they juggle their finances, and tweak them around, to make them look good? Do they use company funds for their personal purposes? Researching the management is a paramount fundamental exercise.

Then, the company’s product profile needs to be looked into. The multibagger-seeking investor looks to avoid a cyclical product, like steel, or automobiles. For a long-term investment to pan out into a multibagger, the product of a company needs to have non-cyclical scalability.

After that, one needs to see if one is able to pick up stock of the particular company at a decent discount to its actual value. If not, then the investor earmarks the company as a prospective investment candidate, and waits for circumstances to allow him or her to pick up the stock at a discount.

There are number-crunching investors too, who use cash-flow, cash allocation and other balance-sheet details to gauge whether a coveted company with an expensive earnings multiple can still be picked up. For example, such growth-based investors would not have problems picking up a company like Tata Global Beverages at an earnings multiple of 28, because for them, Tata Global’s balance-sheet projects future earnings that will soon lessen the current multiple to below sector average, for example.

Value-based investors like to buy really cheap. Growth-based investors don’t mind spending an extra buck where they see growth. Value-based investors buy upon the prospect of growth. Growth-based investors buy upon actual growth.

The trader doesn’t bother with fundamentals. He or she wants a management to be flashy, with lots of media hype. That’s how the trader will get volatility. The scrips that the trader tracks will rise and fall big, and that’s sugar and honey for the trader, because he or she will trade them both ways, up and down. Most of the scrips that the trader tracks have lousy fundamentals. They’ve caught the public’s attention, and the masses have sprung upon them, causing them to generate large spikes and crashes. That’s exactly what the trader needs.

So, how does a trader track these scrips? Well, he or she uses charts. Specifically, price versus time charts. The trader doesn’t need to do much here. There’s no manual plotting involved. I mean, this is 2012, almost 2013, and we stand upon the shoulders of giants, if I’m allowed to borrow that quote. Market data is downloaded from the data-provider, via the internet and onto one’s computer, and one’s charting software uses the data to spit out charts. These charts can be modified to the nth degree, and transformed into that particular form which one finds convenient for viewing. Modern charting software is very versatile. What exactly is the trader looking for in these charts?

Technicals – the nitty-gritty that emerges upon close chart scrutiny.

How does price behave with regard to time?

What is the slope of a fall, or the gradient of a rise? What’s the momentum like?

What patterns are emerging?

How many people are latching on? What’s the volume like?

There are hundreds of chart-studies that can be performed on a chart. Some are named after their creators, like Bollinger bands. Others have a mathematical name, like stochastics. Names get sophisticated too, like Williams %R, Parabolic SAR and Andrew’s Pitchfork. There’s no end to chart  studies. One can look for and at Elliott Waves. Or, one can gauge a fall, using Fibonacci Retracement. One can use momentum to set targets. One can see where the public supports a stock, or where it supplies the stock, causing resistance. One can join points on a chart to form a trendline. The chart’s bars / candle-sticks will give an idea about existing volatility. Trading strategy can be formulated after studying these and many more factors.

Where do stops need to be set? Where does one enter? Exit? All these questions and more are answered after going through the technicals that a chart is exhibiting.

One needs to adhere to a couple of logical studies, and then move on. One shouldn’t get too caught up in the world of studies, since the scrip will still manage to behave in a peculiar fashion, despite all the studies in the world. If the markets were predictable, we’d all be millionaires.

How does the trader decide upon which scrips to trade? I mean, today’s exchanges have five to ten thousand scrips that quote.

Simple. Scans.

The trader has a set of scan criteria. He or she feeds these into the charting software, and starts the scan. Within five minutes, the software spits out fifty odd tradable scrips as per the scan criteria. The trader quickly goes through all fifty charts, and selects five to six scrips that he or she finds best to trade on a particular day. Within all of fifteen minutes, the trader has singled out his or her trading scrips.

Do you now see how different both games are?

I’m glad you do!

🙂

Due Diligence Snapshot – Micro Technologies Limited – November 04 2012

Price as on Nov. 04 2012 – Rs. 44.60 per share

Earnings Per Share (trailing 12 month earnings)- Rs. 37.77

Price / Earnings Ratio – 1.18

Price / Book Value – 0.21

Debt : Equity Ratio – 0.55

Current Ratio – 5.63

Quick Ratio – 4.43

Net Profit Margin – 5.98 %

Face Value – Rs. 10.00

Dividend Payout – 10% – 20% of face-value.

Product – IT-based security products.

Promoter – Dr. P. Sekhar, ” a creative entrepreneur”.

Share-holding Pattern – Promoters (36.2%), Non-Institutional Corporate Bodies (42.1%), Individual Investors (19.0%).

Technicals – Since its January ’08 high of Rs. 192.50, the stock has corrected majorly to Rs. 26.80, recovered a little more than half-way (to Rs. 114.00), corrected again to Rs. 50.40, then recovered again to Rs. 91.40, again corrected to a low of Rs. 38.05, and is now in the process of rising, although institutional volume is not accompanying this rise.

Comments – Fundamentals are strong. They absolutely do not match the sell-off to a low of Rs. 38.05 very recently. Why is there a mismatch between fundamentals and technicals?

Possible Reason – There seems to be employee dissatisfaction doing the rounds, owing to questionable corporate governance. Another case of highly debatable corporate governance seems to come to light. In my opinion, this case seems to affect all shareholders negatively. Primarily, this case affected all FCCB (Foreign Currency Convertible Bond) holders, but then the company’s actions concerning the FCCBs possibly disillusioned a part of the shareholders, who went on to sell the scrip. Increase in selling pressure led to a tanking share-price, and this was negative for all share-holders.

Outlook? – You need to decide whether a part of the company’s corporate governance policy is a deal-breaker that overrides the strong fundamentals on paper.

Disclaimer / Disclosure : The opinions given above are mine only. You are free to form your own view on the stock. I don’t hold any position in Micro Technologies Limited. Data given here has been compiled from motilaloswal.com, moneycontrol.com and equitymaster.com, and technicals have been gauged using Advanced GET 9.1 EoD Dashboard Edition.

“Don’t Turn Around – Der Kommissar’s in Town”

There’s activity within our slow-poke government.

Yup, we just got a new finance minister. PC’s back. Or, as the newspaper said, PC reboots.

He’s probably reinforcing backdated taxation.

He’s hinted at interest-rate cuts.

He’s after more service-tax candidates.

He’s transferred lots of portfolios.

He’s trying to dish out motivational quotes, so that the economy revives.

“Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?”

The last time PC was in town, there was volatlity in the markets. First they went up and up and up, and then they went down and down and down. Mr. Chidambaram is a by-word for volatility.

How does he do it?

Frankly, I don’t care.

If I’m getting volatility, I’m taking it.

Not that India as a market lacks any volatility without PC.

We Indians are emotionally volatile people. When we are happy, we are sooooooo happy. When we are down and out, man, we are totally gone. No surprise that our markets reflect our topsy-turvy and dramatic emotional nature. Yes, the trader in India is blessed with a volatile trading scenario by default.

So, PC or no PC, volatile trades make themselves available to us in the Indian markets regularly. What PC does is, he gives the system’s volatility a turbo-boost. Our market’s “beta” goes up wth PC, and it goes up fast, quite fast.

Man, how does he do it?

You know, I still don’t care, but if I did, I think this would be the correct answer.

Der Kommissar seems to do it in two steps. First he creates carrots, lots of carrots. These are dangled before India Inc. Things start hotting up. Foreign investment wakes up – demand – buying pressure – our markets go up. Then, when the balloon is inflated, der Kommissar will appear on television and will let out comments (implementation of stick, like the backdated taxation thing) which the market takes exception to. Or, he might give some interview in the media which India Inc. interprets negatively. Well, down we come crashing. Frankly, I still couldn’t care less. Upwards or down, there’s a trade to be found.

Just a few days in his seat, and pivot points are leading to bounce-backs, supports are holding, resistances cracking (it’s the carrots), and technicals are very, very initially changing from “range-bound” to “trending”.

Fine, let’s just trade the Kommissar while he’s in town.

I’ve quoted Falco above and I’m quoting him again : “Alles klar, Herr Kommissar!”

So, When Does One Attack Here?

Ammunition.

Your game revolves around it.

We’re not talking war over here.

Or are we?

The marketplace is a war-zone, come to think of it.

Question is, how do you use you ammo?

Do you fire the bulk right away?

Who are you trying to scare?

This is the marketplace, people, overall, it’s not scared of your few rounds. There are just too many players, with varied interests and ideologies. Your few rounds might cause a mini-spike in the underlying concerned, but that’s about it. That mini-spike is not going to make it to tomorrow’s paper.

So, why bother? You don’t need to attack here. Straight away, that is. You can attack when the time is ripe, and when you are ripe too.

What does being ripe for an attack mean?

It means that your defences are fully in place and on auto-pilot. Your basic income is taken care of and suffices your family’s needs. Actually, let’s go a little further and say that your family is able to live comfortably on income generated by you which is independent from any of your speculative / risky activities. This is the first step. You need to work yourself into such a position, even if it takes you a long time. Without knowing that your family is safe, no matter how you fare in the marketplace, you will not be able to trade freely.

Then comes the second step in setting up your best defence. You need to have access to an emergency fund. Meaning, this kind of a fund needs to be salted away first. It then needs to be made accessible when required, and otherwise, it is to remain unused. Don’t let your emergency fund’s miniscule return bother you. In lieu of that, you are getting safety. Your emergency fund needs to remain safe, sound, and there, when you need it. This way, if and when something happens, and funds are required, a). you won’t have to tap into your family’s basic income, and b). you won’t have to tap into your trading corpus. You’ll access your emergency fund. Your family will remain financially undisturbed, and so will your trading, despite the emergency.

Now comes the final step, before you can get on with your trading, yes, even aggressively. In this step, the focus is on you. While setting up your family’s basic income and your emergency fund, you have struggled. Your health could have taken a knock. Your mind could be in a whirl. Normalize, my friend. Take time off. Stare at the wall. Get your body-chemistry back to equilibrium. Take a vacation. Take many vacations. Finally, when you are in shape, go for it.

Ok, so you’re in shape, and ripe for attack.

Now, the time needs to be ripe for attack too.

Mrs. Market has three basic modes of movement. She trends, moves in a range and then, she just plain goes nowhere, i.e. she’s flat.

Your aggression needs to be implemented only when she’s trending. Period.

That’s when it’ll yield mind-blowing returns.

Fire away when she’s flat or moving in a range, and you’ll keep getting stopped out.

How can you tell when she’s trending?

Through technical analysis.

So, study. Learn to differentiate between her three basic modes of movement.

Then, when she trends, and only then, use your ammo aggressively.

Learning to Draw

Life’s about reaching out.

There’s not a single bridge that’s been built without someone having to reach out first.

A child connects the dots of life to find that it’s looking at a roadmap. Walking on a known parameter is then easy. One knows where to tread.

Mrs. Market is a conceited lady.

She needs you to reach out to her.

Till you don’t, she doesn’t care about your existence either.

When you do, she starts concerning herself with you, but only after you make the first move towards her.

You have to take the first step. You have to build the bridge.

In the world of trading, you do that by putting on a trade.

Given that you don’t want to lose your pants to a tough cookie like Mrs. M, you need to first look at the stuff that’s working in your favour. Before reaching out, that is.

You are able to connect to her with hardware. As long as the hardware functions, there are no further issues there.

The approach with which you connect is your strategy. It has been developed upon observing the behaviour of Mrs. M, and as her behaviour has changed from time to time, so has your strategy reinvented itself in tandem. The software with which you programme your strategy has highly maneuverable algorithms that are able to alert you instantly upon any of Mrs. M’s behavioural changes. Once you’ve identified her pace and style of movement, you know what kind of a bridge you need, to connect with. You know what kind of a trade you need to put on.

Putting on the proper trade at the proper time is the name of the game. When Mrs. M is trending, your trade time-frame, trade-size and stop are all different from when she is moving in a range. When she is falling, the pace of your trade needs to be fast, real fast. Your instrument needs to be options, not pure equity, since the latter is tougher to move through. When she is flat, take a break, don’t build any more bridges for a while.

Each bridge, that you are capable of building, should give you an edge over Mrs. M. If that’s not the case, then the bridge is faulty, for even a coin-flip is giving you an even-steven 50:50 shot at Mrs. M. Therefore, your bridges need to be in the 60:40 plus category. Bridges take time and effort to build. Thus, they must yield you ample profit once they have been built.

After a while, she gets bored with your approach, and changes her pattern. Your bridge is not able to connect well. You notice this when your trades start going awry. Your systems need to adapt, and new bridges need to be built to account for her new avatar.

And what is this whole exercise?

Just like the child who connects the dots, you are learning to draw at Mrs. M.

And you’re doing it well.

You’re drawing at her with systems that give you a good edge as long as they work. When they falter, you tweak them to adapt to her, so that they continue to allow you to draw at her with an edge.

You don’t draw at Mrs. M without an edge. Period.

If you can learn this one basic fact, you’ve learnt a lot.

Going All-in Against Mrs. Market

Yeah, yeah, I’ve been there.

And it backfired.

Luckily, my stack-size in those days was small. That’s the good part. The shocking bit was, that back then, I had defined my stack-size as my networth. Biggest mistake I’ve made till date in my market-career, and I was very lucky to escape relatively unhurt.

Wait a minute, why is all this poker terminology being used here, to describe action in the world of applied finance?

Well, poker and market action have so much in common. Specifically, No-Limit Hold-’em is deeply related to Mrs. Market. We’re talking about the cash-game, not tournament poker. It’s as if Hold-’em is telling Mrs. Market (with due respect to Madonna):

i’ve got the moves baby
u got the motion
if we got together
we’d be causing a commotion

A no-limit hold-’em hand is like one trade. Playing 20-50 hands a day is excellent market practice. You’ve got thousands of games available to you online, round the clock, and most of these are with play money. Even though the “line” is missing here because of no money on the line, this is a no-cost avenue for trade practice, and it’s entertaining to boot.

Back to stack-size? What is stack-size, exactly?

Well, your stack size is the sum of all your chips on the table. You play the game with your stack, and on the basis of your stack-size. The first thing you need to do before there’s any market action is to define your stack-size.

A healthy stack-size is one that allows you to play your game in a tension-free manner. My definition, you ask? Well, I’d start the game with a stack-size that’s no more than 5% of my networth. Segregate this amount in an account which is separate from the rest of your networth, and trade from this segregated account. That’s the wiser version of me speaking. Don’t be like the stupid version of yours truly by defining your entire networth as your stack-size.

In this 5% scenario, you have 20 opportunities to reload. It’s not going to come to that, because even if a couple of your all-in bets go bust, you will eventually catch some big market moves if your technical research is sound and if you move all-in when chances of winning are high.

Wait patiently for a good hand. Then move. One doesn’t just move all-in upon seeing one’s hole-cards. If these are strong, like pocket aces, or picture pocket pairs, one bets out a decent amount to build up the pot. Similarly, if a promising trade appears, and the underlying scrip breaks past a crucial resistance, pick up a decent portion of the scrip. Next, wait for the flop (further market action) to give you more information. Have you made a set on the flop? Right, then bet more, another decent amount, but not enough to commit you fully to the pot. Then comes the turn. The scrip continues to move in your direction. You’ve made quads, and you’re holding the nuts. Now you can commit yourself fully to the pot and move all-in. Or, you can do so on the river, checking on the turn to disguise your hand and to allow others to catch up with your nuts somewhat, so that they are able to fire some more bets into the pot on the river. Your quads win you a big pot. You fired all-in when the scrip had shown its true colours, when winning percentages were high. You exhibited patience before pot-commitment. You allowed others to fire up the pot (scrip) further, and you deservedly caught a big market move. Just get the exit right, i.e. somewhere around the peak, and you’re looking at an ideal trade strategy already, from entry to trade management to exit.

Fold your weak hands. If something’s not working out, give it up cheaply. Ten small losses against a mega-win is enough to cover you and then some.

Often, a promising trade just doesn’t take off after you enter. The underlying might even start to move below your entry price after having been up substantially. You had great hole cards, but didn’t catch a piece of the flop, and now there are two over-cards staring at you from the flop. Give up your trade. Muck your hand.

At other times, you move all-in and the underlying scrip tanks big against you in a matter of hours. Before you can let your trade go, you’re already down big. You’ve suffered a bad beat, where the percentages to win were in your favour, but the turn-out of events still caused the trade to go against you. Happens. That’s poker.

Welcome to the world of trading. Pick yourself up. Dig out another stack from your networth. Don’t allow the bad beat to affect your future trades. If you are thinking about your bad beat, leave the table till you are fresh and can focus on the current trade at hand.

And then, give the current trade at hand the best you’ve got.

Elephant in a China Shop

Mr. Cool just plugged his trading exam.

Big time, and for the umpteenth time.

It all started out like this. He partied late night. Had one too many, of course. Slept till late morning. Woke up with a headache.

Then he made his first mistake of the new day. He decided to trade.

Why was this a mistake, you ask? After all, trading is his profession.

Two mistakes here, I’d say. Firstly, there was no market preparation. Secondly, health was not up to the mark. Deciding to trade after this backdrop – hmmm – bad call.

The next set of mistakes came right after that. Coolers asked his broker Mr. Ever So Clever the wrong question, this being “What’s moving, mate?”

True to his form was Mr. Cool-i-o. Two mistakes here again. Firstly, you don’t ask your broker technical questions. You tell your broker what to do. You instruct him or her. Asking your broker to instruct you is like asking the second hand car dealer to start ripping you off.

Next, if you are asking Mr. Ever So Clever anything at all, it can be about your funds in transit, or your equity in transit or basically something mechanical. You are not in this business to give Mr. Clever even an inch more of space by asking market questions like what’s moving or what’s going to move.

If you still do, as Mr. Coolovsky obviously proved, then of course Mr. Ever So Clever is going to tout to you what his other clients are squaring off. Specifically illiquid scrips. These need buyers, and if you’ve just announced yourself as a buyer and are asking what to buy, illiquid scrips that others are selling will definitely be touted to you for buying.

Also, a scrip doesn’t have to be illiquid to be touted. One can even be dealing with a very large order which a big player is looking to off-load at a relative peak. A whole set of brokers then does the rounds to get buyers interested.

The bottom-line is this – you are not giving your broker any kind of leeway with regards to what you are buying or selling. You need to do your own technicals, or fundamentals or whatever it is that you do, to gauge what is moving. You don’t ask what is moving.

On many occasions, rallies wind up soon after big players square off. This time was no different. Coolster had loaded himself with a scrip which had already peaked. With no buying pressure to push it up any further, its price started to sink.

Next set of mistakes.

He’d marked a vague stop-loss in his head because everyone had been ticking him off for not applying stops. Specifically our friend Mr. System Addict, remember him? He had been very vocal about it. Because the stop was vague, Mr. Cool wasn’t motivated enough to feed it into his trade as the price neared his stop.

Not feeding in a mental stop – mistake.

As the scrip’s price undershot his mental stop, Coolins did nothing except to hope it would climb back to his buy level, which is when he would exit.

Hoping in a trade – big mistake.

Not taking your loss once stop is undershot – even bigger mistake.

What happened after that can’t be called a mistake anymore (on humanitarian grounds), because Coolinsky had gone into freeze mode. The reason was the sinking scrip. Huge losses were piling up. Coolitzer answered two back to back margin calls in this frozen state of body and mind. He was frozen. Didn’t know what he was doing. Scrip didn’t turn back up before Mr. Cool was cleaned out.

This chronology of events is a kind of worst-case scenario. A grade F minus in an exam.

Every trade is an exam. One needs to tread carefully from step to step, from pre-trade preparation to actual trade to after-trade emotional wind-down.

Remember that, so you fare much, much … much, much better than our F minus candidate. And don’t worry about him, Mr. Cool-Dude will be back. He’s always able to get back, you’ve gotta give credit to Mr. Cool for that.

Game-Changers

Change.

The one factor that keeps us evolving.

Adapt or get left behind. Seems to be the Mantra of the times.

The management of money has seen some big game-changers over the last few decades. We want to speak about them today.

In the ’90s, Bill Gates wrote about business at the speed of thought. We’re kinda there, you know. Let’s say you have an idea. From idea to framework, it’s mostly about a few button-clicks, with the web being full of idea-realizing resources. See, we’re already discussing the biggest game-changer, which is the flow of information. Today, we live in a sea of information. It’s yours to tap. Delivered to you on a platter. Such information flow changes everything, from lead-time to middle-men. Best part is, almost all of the information available is free!

Then there’s technology. Cutting-edge software, everywhere. Now, there’s even a software to smoothly organize your contract notes and calculate profit or loss, and taxes due. It’ll give you the appropriate print-out, whichever way you want it. You don’t need to hire an accountant to audit your market play. You just click the contract note and the software extracts all relevant information from it, organizing it beautifully. Actually, that’s nothing. Market-play software is what we should be speaking about. Cut to the movie “A Good Year”. Just picture Russell Crowe motivating his “lab-rats” to go for the kill and short an underlying, only to short-cover a few points below. The technical software follow-up of the underlying’s price on the wall-panels is the image embedded in my mind, as the price gets beaten down, and then starts to rise again.

Market software allows you to run scans too. A common exercise I do at the beginning of a trading day is to narrow down the 4,537 active stocks on the BSE and the NSE to about 10 tradable ones. I do this with 2 back to back scans. Each scan takes a minute. Then, I study the charts of the tradable stocks and select two or three to follow. That’s another 5 minutes. Putting on trigger buys or sells for these stocks takes 2 minutes. So, assuming that a trade gets triggered in the first minute, I have arrived from scratch to active trade in 10 bare minutes, with no prior market preparation. That’s what technology can do for you, and more. Software is expensive. It’s mostly a one-time cost with a life-time of benefit. Worth it. The management of money is a business, and each business needs initial investment.

Numbers have changed the game. Volumes have grown for many underlying entities that were illiquid earlier. When volumes are healthy, the bid-ask spread is very tradable. Thus, today, you can choose to trade in almost any avenue of your choice and you are almost certainly going to get a liquid trade.

Our attitudes and lifestyles have changed too. Today, we want more. No one is satisfied with mediocricity or being average. We have tasted the fruit that’s to be had, and are willing to get there at any cost, because we are hungry. Luxurious lifestyles lure us to rush into the game, which we play with everything we’ve got, because as I said, we’ve tasted the fruit, and we want more. Our approach has made the stakes go up. We need to adapt to the high stakes with proper risk-management.

It’s never been easier to access funds, even if you don’t have them. Leverage is the order of the day. Of course that changes the game, leading to higher volumes and increasing the frequency of trading. We need to keep debt-levels under control. It’s never been easier to go bust. Just takes a few button-clicks and a few missed stops. The leverage levels take care of the rest.

Game-changers will keep coming our way. As long as we keep adapting and evolving, our game will not only survive, but also blossom.