Time your Friend or Time your Enemy?

This one depends…

…on you.

How is time treated in your curriculum with regard to the markets?

Are you in a hurry…

…or is your motto “hurry spoils the curry”?

One can make any market action an extremely difficult one if one squeezes time. 

On the other hand, the same market action yields great results when time is stretched to infinity. 

One can understand this in the predicament of the trader.

Expiry is due. 

Trades are in loss. 

It seems that trades are not going to make it to break-even by expiry.

They would probably be showing a profit after expiry. 

However, time-span for validity of the trades has been squeezed to expiry. 

Hence, the trader faces loss. 

The investor, on the other hand, is invested in the stock of the same underlying, and doesn’t dabble in the derivative. 

For the investor, time has been expanded to infinity. 

The investor doesn’t feel pain from a time-window that’s about to close.

Now, let’s look at the cons for the investor, and the pros for the trader. 

The price for making time one’s friend is the principal being locked-in for that much time. 

The investor is comfortable with that. 

If not, the investor feels pain from the lock-in, and may make a detrimental move that works against long-term investing philosophy, as in cutting a sound investment at its bottom-most point during a long drawn-out correction. 

Investors need to fulfil the comfort condition before committing to infinity. 

After a small loss, the trader moves on with the bulk of his or her funds. 

Traders needs to take a loss in stride. 

If not, future trades get affected. 

The advantage of committing funds for short periods, in trades, is that one can utilize the same funds many times over. 

The price for using short periods of time to one’s advantage, however, is tension. 

One is glued to the market, and is not really able to use the same time productively, elsewhere. 

Friendship with one aspect of time works adversely with regard to another aspect of time. 

The investor is not glued to market movements. He or she can utilize his or time for multiple purposes while being invested simultaneously and then forgetting temporarily about the long-term investment. 

It is easier to forget temporarily about an investment than it is to forget about a trade. 

Over the years, I have found it difficult to combine trading and long-term investing, specifically in the same market.

However, I do take occasional trades, apart from being invested for the long term. 

This works for me when the markets in question are different, as in Forex and Equity. 

Price Based Margin of Safety

You might laugh at this one.

However, it is need based. 

We have been talking so much about small entry quanta. 

A small entry quantum allows for smaller mistakes.

It allows you to enter many times. 

It is small enough to make your capacity for entry outlast the number of margin of safety market days in a year. 

You take your savings. You define what you want to invest in equity for the year. 

You divide it by an estimate for the margin of safety days you might be getting for the year. You arrive at this number by estimating over a ten year average. 

Upon this division, you get your daily entry quantum, for the whole year, on margin of safety days. 

I go one step further to keep a constant small entry quantum defined for longer periods, for any particular entry day. 

As we said, small entry quanta should also mean many entries. 

We won’t be getting the same margin of safety every day.

On many days, we won’t be getting margin of safety at all, in the purist sense of its definition.

We will need to tweak the definition of margin of safety a bit, to have access to many entries. 

We are doing this because we are already on safe grounds. 

First up, we are playing with money we won’t be requiring for the next ten years, or so we estimate. 

Then, this is the money that is coming from our savings and is going into equity. It is for no other purpose. If it eventually doesn’t go into equity, we will end up finding some other use for it, such is human nature, and such is the nature of these multi-tasking times. 

Thus, if we see even a smallish entry possibility, we take it, because of the nature of the small entry quantum approach. 

How do we propose to tweak margin of safety?

We watch the price of a scrip we are unable to enter in. 

We watch, and we watch. 

Still too high. High, too, are fundamental entry allowers (FEAs), like price to earnings, price to book value, price to cash-flow, price to sales, etc., and we don’t enter. 

Then, one day, price starts to drop, for whatever reason. 

It continues to drop to a level, where we feel that for this particular scrip, that’s a pretty decent correction. 

It’s all feeling. 

You can look at charts, but then you tend to look once a month, and the feeling element fails to develop properly. 

So, we’re feeling pretty good about the level of correction, and we cast a glance at the FEAs. 

These are still a tad high, albeit much lower than before. 

For the FEAs to become lower than classic margin of safety levels, there could be a longer wait, or this event might not even happen, especially if we are looking at growth scrips.

If the event does not happen, it means no entry, and with our approach of small entry quanta, this leaves us high and dry with respect to the scrip. 

Are we going to let that happen?

Because of our safe small entry quantum approach, we are not going to let that happen if we can help it. 

When price offers margin of safety but FEAs are still a tad high, we enter with one quantum. 

Then we wait.

Scrip quotes some percentage points (2%, 3%, 5%, you choose) lower than our last entry. We enter with one more quantum, and so on. 

Now, two things can happen. 

The scrip can start zooming from here, and you are going to feel good about your entries. 

Or, the scrip falls further, and quotes lower than classical FEA definitions for margin of safety. 

Are you going to feel bad about your previous entries, which were small mistakes?

No.

Why?

You are too busy undertaking further entries into the scrip, quantum by quantum, for as long as the scrip quotes at levels below classical FEA definitions for margin of safety. 

Soon, you have a lot of entries done, at these safe levels, and you have more than made up for your few small mistakes. 

You’re good. 

In the other scenario, you were good anyways. 

Thanks to your small entry quantum strategy, it’s been a win-win for you all around. 

 

… And Why Growth Stocks…?

Well, why not?

We’ve got History on our side.

Buffett shifted a tad from value to growth in the latter part of his career.

Forget about all that.

We get into growth because we wish to get into growth.

We’re not buying at growth prices, mind you.

Our value background comes in handy. We use value techniques to pick up growth.

We continue to accumulate upon opportunity, quantum by quantum.

Our portfolio gets rounded.

Over the long run, its gets a bit of a boost.

Ideally, we’d like our growth stories to continue, forever.

Consider this. What if even one of our holdings makes it to a 1000-bagger?

What do you think this would do to our portfolio?

Exactly.

Lots that starts out as value becomes growth later.

We pick value with growth in mind.

Sometimes, we’re not offered value in something we want to pick, for a long, long time.

We’re not offered value in the traditional sense of the way we expect value to be.

At these times we evaluate.

Is this something to “wantable” that we have to have it, like Buffett and Coca Cola?

No?

Continue as normal.

Yes?

Create new criteria for value, within growth.

Enter only when these criteria prevail, quantum by quantum.

Sit on your growth holding. Don’t just exit in a growth fashion, upon any odd market high.

Exits are reserved for when you comprehensively don’t want the stock anymore.

Why’s it not stinging you when there is a correction?

Meaning, that growth stocks fall considerably during corrections.

Well, firstly, you are not using money that you might need in the foreseeable future.

Then, the correction is an entry opportunity, so instead of being glum, you are busy going about entering.

Thirdly, because you are entering quantum by quantum, you have tremendous entry potential still left, with more being added to this month upon month, from your savings.

So, you’re not worried when your growth stocks fall.

When they rise, your portfolio burgeons, so…

…for all the above reasons…

…that’s why growth, too, apart from your value pursuits.

How to Enter into a Growth Stock

You can play this one in different ways.

The successful way for you will depend upon your risk profile.

What we will be discussing here is a kind of a value way for growth stock entry.

Fine. What sets growth stocks apart from value stocks?

Valuation.

Growth stocks have high multiples.

What does that leave us margin of safety people?

Will we completely have to stay away from growth stocks?

No.

There’s a way.

Loosen your margin of safety criteria slightly. Bring it up to, for example, PE < 15, amongst other things. (We’ll compensate for this loosening, you’ll see).

Now wait.

Let the stock correct.

PE goes under 15.

Don’t enter yet.

Now we compensate.

We let more margin of safety develop in the price.

We want price going down to a technically viable level for entry.

This can be a Fibonacci level, a support, a base, a pivot, or what have you.

Three things have happened.

You have identified a stock through your due diligence.

You have waited for it to reach desired valuation after raising your valuation criteria a tad to compensate for the growth aspect.

You have compensated for your compensation by waiting further for a technical level to be hit before entering.

Now, you enter.

Your entry price becomes your base. (Subsequent entries will always refer to the base-price average).

You have entered with your minimum entry quantum.

You will take many entries, each with your minimum entry quantum.

You will keep taking entry till all the above criteria keep being met.

When even one criterion is not met, you will stop entering and will sit tight.

You will keep watching the stock and its management.

If entry criteria are not met for a long time, but stock is still not over-valued as such, you can enter once for every shareholder-friendly act of good governance, upon an interim dip in price.

You will only stop entering when over-valuation rules and becomes obvious.

You will think of exiting when you are no longer convinced about the stock.

Exit will be done upon a market high only.

Hopefully, you won’t need to exit for a long, long time, so that your investment turns into a multi-multi-bagger!

🙂

Margin of Safety and Trading

MoS and trading have a somewhat funny relationship.

When MoS is offered, you don’t feel like looking at your trading portfolio.

Why?

Because it is bleeding?

Maybe.

Actually, you are in a hurry to clock some long-term investments. After all, there’s MoS on the table. Yes, you’d much rather occupy yourself with your long-term portfolio.

With serious MoS in the pipeline, the market makes it easier for you. It bludgeons your trading portfolio, such that you sheer exit it, and now you are free to focus solely on your long-term investing portfolio.

Fine. Great. Is that it?

There’s a tad more to the connection between MoS and trading.

What is trading?

Buying high, and selling higher? Selling low, and buying back lower? Yes, that’s trading.

On first instinct, you’d buy on a high, or sell on a low, that’s what you’d think.

However, on the ground, margin of safety makes itself felt.

Players wait for the underlying to correct a bit, or rally a bit, and then pick it up, or sell it. They’re not picking it up on the fresh high, with no resistance opposing them. They are taking a chance, that there will be a correcting move, and that’s when they will pick it up. Vice-versa for the bears.

Those few extra buck of fall will add to their profits when the underlying starts to rise again and makes new highs. Expressed for the bears, those few extra bucks of rise will add to their profits when the underlying starts to fall again and makes new lows.

The pay-off is, that this doesn’t always work. The trader might miss the trade altogether, if the correcting or rallying move does not take place, and the underlying zooms (falls) to make one high (low) after another.

So when does waiting for MoS actually work in trading?

Almost always. Except…

…when it’s a full-blown bull or bear run.

This means that it works like 90% of the time, which is a pretty high number.

Does that make you want to adopt MoS full-time while trading too?

Of course it does.

How do you still make use of the opposite strategy – buying upon highs, or selling upon lows?

You let a few setups go amiss. Missing a couple of trades due to bull or bear runs is the signal.

Now you can switch to buying on fresh highs or selling on fresh lows.

Wave Buying upon Prolonged Corrections

Where there are markets, there are corrections.

At first, they cause us dismay.

Slowly, we get used to them.

Then, we start using them.

Next step is – exploiting them.

One can speak of exploiting if a correction persists, and one is long-term investing.

During a persisting correction, we purchase in waves.

How are we defining a wave?

Go through your long term portfolio and pick out those stocks that are offering margin of safety.

You convince yourself of their health once again. Still healthy? Go ahead.

You purchase them one by one, one per day, by putting one entry quantum into the market for each purchase.

There will be greed to buy more than one underlying in one day. Don’t give in. This will allow your buying power to persist alongside a persisting correction.

The size of your entry quantum needs to be small enough to sustain entries all year round, still leaving ample liquidity on the side. Your long-term strategy should not immobilise your financial and familial activity in any way. Thus, an optimally small enough entry quantum is vital.

You’ve gone through a wave.

Breathe.

Correction persisting?

Go through your long-term portfolio again.

Where does margin of safety still exist? Pick out stocks list.

Go through next wave.

Repeat.

Till when?

Till no margin of safety is offered, or if you feel that the buying limit with a stock is surpassed.

4-5 such waves can really ramp up your portfolio.

What happens if corrections continue over multiple years?

Take long breathers between sets of waves.

Keep doing due diligence. If you’re not convinced about a stock anymore, don’t include the concerned stock in the next round of wave-buying (you can exit such a stock completely upon a market high; wait patiently for such a high and then throw the stock out, if still unconvinced about it).

Yes, ultimately, markets will start to rise again. Margin of safety dries up. You stop buying.

Your portfolio will now start showing its health.

Why?

It’s been accumulated with conviction, at the right price.

Congratulations.

🙂

Handling a Long-Long Trading Portfolio During a Market Correction

You’re probably laughing at the use of the term “long-long”!

Hahahahaha, I laugh with you, 🙂 !

In India, we like to get our point across without caring too much for terminology, and / or how funny it may sound. 

What I mean is, and you’ve obviously gotten the drift, that the average trader is normally long in a trading portfolio.

Now, how is the trader to deal with his or her trading portfolio and its dwindling valuation during a long-drawn out market correction?

Sure, there are many options. 

One is to hold and sit it out. 

No good. 

This is not investing. This is trading. Trading means that once a stop is hit, you’re out. Period. 

Second option – bludgeon it. Cut the entire portfolio. 

Hmmmm, that’s not trading. 

Many stocks will not have their stops hit yet. Why are you cutting these? This would mean losing your position. What if the reversal starts right now? You did the right research, you entered, and now you’ve lost your position. 

Not good. 

We’re not bludgeoning it all. 

Of course we are continuing to cut those stocks whose stops are hit. 

No question about that. 

Now comes a kind of a “pointe”. 

You’ve hit a stop during the correction. You’ve gotten out of this stock, as per your trading rules. Look for another stock with a northwards chart that is not getting so affected by the correction, but has fallen a tad so as to allow margin of safety during trading entry. 

You’ve done three things here. 

You’ve entered a robust stock. 

Simultaneously, you’ve benefited from a slight price advantage. 

Thirdly, your trading portfolio is still going. Its contents are getting robust. Come the rally, and the robust contents are going to zoom. 

You’re trading on surplus. You’re not afraid to lose till your stop. You’re not afraid to reenter. So why cut it all? 

There’s no telling about turnarounds. 

However, when they happen, you are positioned. 

Optimal positioning while trading leads to big profits.

What’s the worst case scenario?

Stop after stop being hit, and eventually you being out of the whole portfolio?

Remember, the other side of the coin promises big profits, were the turnaround to happen now, with your portfolio full of robust stocks.

Are you willing to make the trade-off?

No?

Well, then don’t trade an entire portfolio. You’re better off trading one underlying, like an index derivative. Cut it when you like, no questions asked. 

Yes?

Well, then, what’re you waiting for? Make the trade-off. Go for it!

🙂

Let if Fall to Zero, I Say

Markets are correcting. 

The correction seems to be gathering momentum. 

Long-term portfolios lose out on net worth. 

Trading portfolios get their stops hit. 

It’s not pretty. 

Should one be worried?

Why?

Have we not taken worry out of the equation?

Sure. 

We have. 

We’re not worried. 

In fact, we want the correction to linger. 

Why?

So we can buy more. 

How long can you keep buying?

Till eternity.

How’s that possible?

Very simple. Do you have savings?

Yes.

Lovely. Do your savings grow?

Yes, month upon month, they do. I make sure of this by spending less than I earn. 

Even lovlier. Now take a very small potion of your total savings, and put it in the market. 

How small?

Small enough, such that if you were to put in that same small quantum on all off the approximately 220 days of the year that the markets are open, even then, your savings would keep growing at a representable rate. 

Ok. I see where you’re going with this. 

Absolutely. Now, suddenly, your whole perspective changes. You want your next quantum to go in. Thus, you want the correction to linger. 

What if the markets go up?

One keeps going in with the same quantum till one is getting margin of safety. No margin of safety anymore means no more entry. 

I see. That’s where your confidence is coming from.

Not entirely. You see, by the grace of God, I have made sure that my family’s bread and butter is secure before putting even a penny into the markets. 

Oh. Well done!

Then, whatever is going in, is surplus. 

Right. 

The rate of entry, i.e. the size of each quantum is minuscule enough to not pinch me upon the onset of a lingering correction. 

Great. 

Please note, that one gets one’s margin of safety on perhaps 20 – 30 days of the 220 days that the markets are open in the year, on average.

Really?!

Yes. 

That means that your savings keep growing at almost their normal rate of growth, because you’re rarely deducting from them as far as your long-term entries are concerned.

Mostly. However, what if a correction lingers for 2 years or more? Even at a time like that, you’ve got the ammo. 

Ammo, yeah, ammo is paramount. Don’t you feel like spending your savings?

I spend wisely. I don’t blow them away. I make sure, like you, that I’m saving more than I’m spending, month upon month upon month. However, I do spend.

Ok, now I’ve understood how you are so confident. 

I’ve not told you about my due diligence yet.

Oh, sorry for jumping the gun.

Due diligence is my most powerful weapon. I delve into a stock. I rip it bare. I get into the nitty-gritty (I wanted to say “underpants” originally) of the management, and let all skeletons in the closet loose. If there’s something crooked, it will emerge. The internet is my oyster. Nowadays, any and everything is available online. Mostly, a stock fails my parameters within the first 15 minutes of research. If a stock  survives perhaps three full on days of head-on research, that stock could be a likely candidate for long-term investment. Then, one looks for an appropriate entry point, which might or might not be there. If not, one waits for it. One could wait even a year. Markets require patience. 

Wow. Can I now say that I understand where your confidence is coming from?

Yes you can. 🙂

Standing Your Own Ground – 5 Things You Need To Do Now

Long-term investing is a battle of nerves.

It is not for the faint-hearted. 

It can also be… very lucrative. 

To be successful at long-term investing, one must bury the nerve factor, to ultimately stand one’s ground and emerge victorious.

Let’s see how we’re going to do this. 

First up, let’s look at the quality of money going in. 

Only that money is going in which we don’t really need over the next ten years. No other kind of money is going in. No loan money, no breaking-an-FD-money, no kitty-party-money, no child-education-fund-money etc. etc. Only surplus money and that too a very small fraction of this surplus money – that’s what is going to go in each time. Period.

Why?

We’re reducing the pinch-factor bit by bit and bringing it down to zero.

What is the pinch factor?

Corrections pinch. We need to make the pinch go away. When it’s gone away, there is no pinch. That’s when our minds are clear to do what they are supposed to do during corrections. Yes, during corrections, we diligently buy more with a very clear head and after doing a lot of homework.

Second up, we are only buying with margin of safety. 

When there is no margin of safety, we don’t buy. Period. 

Why?

Margin of safety reduces the pinch factor of a correction even further, and greatly. We’ve bought cheap enough, such that the correcting stock barely makes it back to our entry level as the correction ends and a rally starts. The pain-causing element is thus mostly washed away due to the existence of margin of safety. 

Third up, our due diligence is rock solid. 

We have a check-list of the things we want to see in our stock. 

Are we seeing all of these sufficiently?

We also have a list of all the things we don’t want to see in our stock. 

Are we not seeing even a single factor on this particular list?

When our arduous due diligence gives us a go, this action is coupled with a tremendous confidence-boost in the stock. 

Confidence in an underlying is a very powerful elixir, and kills whatever pinch-factor and nerves that remain. 

We’re not done yet. 

Fourth up, we look for an opportune entry point. 

We’re looking for an inflection-point to enter, a pivot, a Fibonacci-level, an Elliott-wave correction-level or perhaps a rock-solid support, and if none of these are available, we even try and make do with a horizontal base, though a rising base is ok too. A suitable entry point is the icing on the cake for us. If the appropriate entry point is not available, we don’t enter just yet. Instead we wait for an opportunity, when such a point is available, and that’s when we enter. 

Our armour is now very strong indeed. The time has come to seal and sterilize ourselves. 

We block all tips. We don’t talk about the markets with people. We don’t discuss our investments or any rationale. We don’t watch financial TV. There’s absolutely no need to follow live quotes. Market action is limited to as and when the need arises. Index levels and stock prices are only looked at upon requirement. After getting the basics bang-on and putting our money on the line, we are now fully equipped to stand our own ground…

…and this we do with great aplomb!

🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Got the Feeling

What feeling?

The feeling of value-creation – that’s the feeling we’re talking about. 

When can one create value?

When there is value…

… and one sees it,…

…upon which one has the courage to act…

…and make that value one’s own.

This normally happens during and after a correction. 

Therefore…

…a correction is not a cause for depression.

Please understand that and please incorporate that into your DNA.

A correction is a time for action.

You go about adding value to your portfolio, again, and again, and again, as long as the correction lasts, and after, till bullishness sets in beyond your comfort level.

How can you keep on doing this?

This can be achieved by keeping your entry quantum small enough each time. We’ve been over that many times, and only recently, we went over it very thoroughly. 

So, the markets are falling, and you are going on and on, adding value. To be able to follow through properly, your system needs to be fully convinced about what you’re doing, and that’s why, I ask you again. 

Do you have the feeling?

Do you have the feeling that you’re creating value and adding it onto your holding?

Keep doing so, till the feeling persists. 

Stop, when the feeling is gone. 

Save, so that you have the resources to go on and on adding value. 

Enter small, so that you can enter many, many more times, perhaps adding even more value the next time. 

Be sensitive towards when the feeling comes and goes. 

Soon enough, during a burst of bullishness, you’ll see how this knowledge translates into a burgeoning portfolio.