Negating Promoter Greed

You like a stock. 

You’ve checked it out. 

Fundamentals are under control. 

You find the management reasonable.

They’re shareholder-friendly. 

They have high salaries though, specifically those connected to the promoter-group. 

Now, you need to answer some questions.

Are you ok with high salaries for the top staff?

What is your definition of high?

Are salaries performance-driven?

Do the company’s number justify what promoter-connected management is taking home?

Ok. 

You’ve answered these questions. 

You still want the stock, despite the fact that an answer to two could be an outlier. 

That’s fine. 

One won’t find perfection anywhere. 

If one finds it, the stock will probably already be overpriced. 

So, you’re ok with mild imperfection, as long as your basic needs are met. 

You decide to purchase the stock. 

Here’s how you can negate promoter greed. 

The fancy cars, the family dish outs, the pushed-in lunch bills, the first class travel, you get the drift. 

Who doesn’t do it, given the opportunity?

Your promoter is human, and will surround him- or herself with comforts, at the company’s expense. 

That is the norm. Get used to it. 

Here’s how you are not letting this affect you. 

You buy in a staggered fashion. 

You buy with margin of safety. 

Because you’re sure of fundamentals, you average down. 

Each time your holding average touches a new low, you’ve secured yourself against promoter greed just a tad more. 

Because of sound fundamentals, ultimately, the stock will start to rise. 

That’s the time your low holding average will show a stellar profit for you. 

Perhaps your holding average is better than that of the promoter.

If that is the case, rise in price has given you more profit than it has to the promoter. 

Therefore, while the promoter got to live in the lap of luxury at the cost of the company, you were busy raking in a better result owing to the price rise.

Successive margin of safety buying amounting to averaging down after convincing oneself of intact fundamentals has been the key for you. 

Use this key, but do so wisely, and safely. 

Remember, that averaging down only works well in the case of diligent, research-based long-term investing. Averaging down is a strict no-no for short-term traders, however. 

Wishing you happy and fruitful investing!

🙂

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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. 

When is it Ok to Average Down?

Just remember one thing…

…that the words “averaging down”…

…only go with long-term investing. 

They do NOT go with trading. 

After you have fully digested and understood the above, let’s to to the when. 

When does averaging down go with investing?

The answer to this is – only after doing proper homework. 

If you’ve not researched the underlying well enough, don’t even think about averaging down, because you could be throwing good money after bad. 

When there’s a correction, the long-term investor does get tempted to increase his or her holding, because of the lucrative prices that are on offer. 

Sure, why not?

Please understand, that this “sure, why not” is coming out so casually because of course the long-termer has worked overtime to arrive at the conclusion that he or she wishes to increase his or her stake in something that is already being held. 

The fall in the price of the underlying does not perturb the long-termer. Solid research has been done, and the markets make huge mispricing blunders when in free fall. Market players go all psycho and discard their precious holdings at throw-away prices. Picking up quality stocks at bargains is exactly what the long-termer is in it for.

The long-termer has done a few more things. 

Family has been secured with multiple income-sources and emergency funds. What’s going into the market is sheer surplus, not envisaged to be required over the next ten years. 

Then, entry quantum is small each time, small enough so that entries can be made all year round, and there will still be ample savings left after all entries. 

How does one calculate a small enough entry quantum that satisfies all of the above criteria?

One works backwards. 

Pinpoint your income after tax for the year.

Decide what you wish to amply save. Subtract this from your income. Further, subtract expenses. You are left with an amount. Decide whether all of this amount can go into the market, or whether only a part. Maybe you wish to go for a holiday with your family, or perhaps you wish to buy a vehicle, or what have you. Subtract such additional expenditure too. Finally, you are left with the amount that you wish to plough into the market, over the course of the year. 

Next, take the amount, and divide it by 30, or 40 or 50. 

Why?

On the down-side, the market could offer you margin of safety on 30 of the days that it is open in the year. On the up side, the number could be 50. We are talking about ten-year average numbers. During a singular correction, the market could offer margin of safety continually for the whole year. Decide what your magic number is. 30-40-50 days per year works ok over a ten year period. Divide the amount you’ve set aside with the number you’re comfortable with to arrive at your entry quantum per entry-day, for the year in question. Now you can keep going in with this same quantum through out the year whenever margin of safety is offered, and you generally won’t have to worry about running out of investing money, on average. 

Great stock-picking, excellent due diligence, surplus going in, small-enough entry quantum, ability to sit – the long-termer is armed with these weapons, and now, he or she can average down as much as desired, whenever margin of safety is offered.  

Bifurcation Ability – Do you have it?

No?

Develop it asap, please.

Otherwise, don’t be in more than one market. 

However, who is satisfied with just one market?

That would leave one with a lot of time on one’s hands, wouldn’t it?

Time on hands means looking for another market, and another, and another, till one’s time is fully occupied, and one’s thirst for market activity quenched. 

With multiple markets on one’s radar, one needs to bifurcate. 

As in time and mind compartmentalisation…

…which basically translates as…

…that when you’re working on the one market, you’re not letting any overhang from another market bother you. 

If an overhang is bothering you, take two, or take ten, or take however long it takes to kill the overhang. 

Loss, depression, profit, jubilation, exuberation, whatever cause or emotion is prevailing, let its effect come and let it go. Wait for it to go. Then open the next market. The last thing you want is for the other market to be observed and analysed while there’s emotional bias from a former market. 

Therefore…market done…market closed…next market. There’s no other formula here. 

Most market people are both traders and investors. 

This is the area where they really, really need to bifurcate and compartmentalise. 

Why?

Trading and investing involve diametrically opposite implementation strategies, that is why. 

If you’re making changes within your investment portfolio, but are still in the trading mindset, you are going to make major mistakes, which will most definitely disturb whatever balance you have managed to instill within your investment portfolio. 

Similarly, if you’re looking to open a trade and are still in the investing frame of mind, you are optimally poised to botch up your trade big time. 

This is how I approach the matter. 

I do a first half – second half thing. 

The first half during which the markets are open are for investment decisions. 

Then there’s lunch.

By lunch, I forget how the first half of the day has been spent. At least, I try and forget. 

I let the scrumptious lunch help me drown my memory. 

After lunch, the second half starts, which is dedicated to trading decisions.

Strategies used after lunch are diametrically opposite to the ones used before lunch. 

This works for me. 

There comes a time when there are no more investment decisions to be taken, at least for a while. Markets become expensive, and margin of safety vanishes. One is not thinking of entries. Exits are far, far away, as this is long-term investing. Here is when one can dedicate oneself to one’s trading. One’s got the whole day for it. It’s a great situation, because the need for bifurcation between trading and investing is gone. 

Then there comes a time where no trades are developing. Lovely.

Right, pack up, take a break, let’s go for a short and sweet holiday!

Ashes to Ashes, Bitcoin to Bust

Hey,

Sure, Bitcoin and all…

…everyone is humming the word.

Those who didn’t know of its existence a very short while ago, are all gung-ho about it.

Some experts are talking of a million dollars. They’re expecting it to touch a cool million per Bitcoin.

Other slightly conservative ones are talking about half a million.

Last month, someone thought it was chocolate candy that looked like a gold coin. This month, he’s just bought his first Bicoin. I think he paid the equivalent of almost USD 4000 for it.

Citizens are moving black money across borders with it.

It’s original signature exchange in Japan failed in early 2014.

An act of sabotage, perhaps?

Governments want it down.

The US will probably do everything in its capacity to stop Bitcoin from becoming the go-to currency of the future world instead of the USD.

Rumour has it that China has already imposed sanctions against it.

Well, well, well, what do we have here?

There’s a huge push and pull going on.

Who is pushing?

Launderers and terrorists, for starters. That’s where the bulk buying pressure is coming from. They don’t care about paying an extra buck to launder, or to buy weapons with. They’re applying real pressure, and the price has appropriately shot up.

Who is pulling?

Governments. Sanctions spoil the rise. A collapsed exchange enforces the law of gravity.

Where is this going?

Well, sure, who knows, but there’s a few things that one can say or even ask.

Has anyone seen Bitcoin?

What are its credentials?

Where did it come from?

Facts and not ghost-stories would be good here. Does anyone know the facts for sure?

Can one trust something whose whole exchange has once failed?

Now, with the Chinese move, God know what might happen?

Is the machine or device on which Bitcoin is stored not a target?

Where is the peace of mind? Can one sleep soundly with Bitcoin stored on one’s computer?

Bottomline is, there’s lots of ammunition in place to cause some massive landslides here.

Given that, there’s massive room for laundering and terrorism. The world’s launderers and terrorists aren’t done yet. Pressure will keep coming back in the current world situation.

It’s an ideal trading situation that has developed, both for the longs and the shorts.

Fine, trade Bitcoin. Make money. Good for you. I personally don’t trade it. Am happy trading stocks and currency instead, Those are my areas of expertise, and I don’t operate outside the areas of my expertise. However, if you’re making a killing trading Bitcoin, I’m really happy for you.

Just don’t do one thing.

Don’t get married to it.

Meaning, don’t pick it up at these 0% margin of safety prices, never then to let it go.

There’s so much ammunition that can bring it down, that one’s investment could even get wiped out during a swift crash, especially if it has been picked up on margin.

So, careful, people, careful.

Yeah, people, while investing in Bitcoin, tread cautiously. Wait for margin of safety to develop before picking up. Secure your device. Turn it off when you sleep. Back it up, if your backup can’t be hacked.

And…

…don’t bet the farm.

Stocks and the Art of Sitting

When can you sit?

When you’re comfortable.

It’s as simple as that.

When can you remain comfortable over very long periods of time?

When you’ve bought with appropriate margin of safety. That’s when.

Not enough margin of safety at time of purchase means jumping around and tension everytime the market rumbles.

Do you want that?

Are you investing to be on the roller-coaster day in and day out?

If yes, why are you investing in the first place?

Why don’t you just trade?

Be on your roller-coaster and recognize what you are doing.

There’s nothing wrong with being on the roller-coaster.

However, there’s something hugely wrong with being on it and not know that you are on it.

Instead, you have told yourself that you’ve pickled away your doubloons safely for a lifetime.

With inadequate margin of safety at the time of purchase, nothing could be further from the truth.

Why?

Biochemistry.

It changes when there’s tension.

Due to a changed biochemistry, we make mistakes.

We sell at a bottom, or we double-up thinking it’s the bottom, only to sink further, and then we actually go and sell at the bottom.

Bottomline is, we are likely to make vital mistakes if there’s something disturbing us.

Let’s remove the cause of the disturbance, so that we can go on to discover the art of sitting.

While investing, let’s buy with adequate margin of safety.

Let it come, then we’ll see…

Looking around for an opportunity?

Or letting one come?

Does it matter?

Is there a difference?

You bet!

When you’re looking around, you could be in a hurry. You want to get it over and done with.

Big mistake.

You are vulnerable.

Entry price will be expensive.

Your adversary feels your anxiety and jacks up entry level.

Quality? What quality? You’re in a hurry, right?

Don’t be.

Hurry spoils the curry.

Let the investment come to you.

It will.

Brokers are restless. They want to sell. They’ll knock at your doorstep once they know your funds situation. And, believe me, they won’t ask you about your funds situation. They’ll ask your banker. In fact, your banker could well be on retainer. He’ll make sure that high quality info ups his retainer fee. That’s how it works today. Don’t believe me? How come so many people have your cell number? Did you give it to them? No? Information is a commodity. It can be bought for a price.

So, wait.

Block your surplus funds as fixed deposits.

Get an overdraft going for one fixed deposit.

Delve into your normal activities.

Now you’re sitting pretty.

An opportunity comes.

It’s cr*p. Broker’s hoping you’ll bite into the nonsense being sold.

You tell the broker to buzz off. Lack of hurry gives you the clarity required to act like this.

Something lucrative comes along. Price is right. You overdraft on your FD. Yeah, it’s ok to pay the price for quality with margin of safety.

You can always fill in the overdrafted amount as new funds accumulate. The nominal interest paid for ODing is called opportunity fees. It’s chicken-feed. Just forget about it.

The best investments in life are worth waiting for.