The Stand-Out Price

You’re ready with your small entry quantum,…

…looking to add on to you portfolio. 

You’re always liquid,…

…owing to your small entry quantum strategy. 

Where do you enter?

This is not a difficult question.

Why is this question not difficult?

That’s because the stocks in your portfolio are fundamentally tested, and have been found to be sound by you.  

Fundamental soundness is a bombastic plus. 

Now comes the next question.

Where is margin of safety being offered to you?

Is it enough margin of safety for you?

Are more stocks offering this kind of margin of safety?

What, then, is a stand-out price?

You will enter there. 

A stand-out price hits you in the eye. 

It is unusual. 

It speaks of a large fall such that the level of the price draws your attention within milliseconds. 

When you see a stand-out price on the way down like this, you ask the next questions. 

Why is the price where it is? 

What has happened?

Whatever that has happened, is it a one-time thing?

Is the momentum of the fall subsiding, or mid-way, or what?

Ask as many questions as you may want. 

The answer you want to drive at is yes or no.

Yes as in you would like to use your small entry quantum to pick up the stock in question. 

No as in you would like to wait for more clarification. 

If you pick up, you’re done for the day, if you follow a one-entry per day strategy, that is. 

If not, you look for another stand-out price. 

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Making Equity Antifragile

Yeps, Taleb’s the famous one. 

Moi, je ne suis pas célèbre.

Néanmoins, j’aime le terme “antifragile” de Taleb.

Also, Taleb has termed equity as robust.

I do equity. 

I’d like my interaction and future with equity to be antifragile.

Let’s first look at Taleb’s definition for antifragile.

He says that anything that has more upside than downside from random events (or certain shocks), is antifragile; the reverse is fragile.

Robust equity will eventually crack when subjected to shock.

We are aware of that.

What do we do now?

Firstly, we take time, and put it in infinity mode. Meaning, that we stay invested, for a long, long, long time. 

We’re now allowing equity amply sufficient time to recover from not one shock, but many shocks.

Also, each time there is a shock, and equity tanks, we go in and buy some more.

How can we do this?

We are sufficiently liquid, all the time

Our small entry quantum approach is ensuring that. 

Also, we’ve chosen such equity first-up that is minimally susceptible to cracking. That’s the best we can do. 

We have either avoided debt altogether or chosen debt-levels that are adding value to the stock and can be easily taken care of in the short-term

We have chosen equity with decent quick and current ratios

We have chosen adaptable managements that function as optimal human capital, fighting inflation, showering shareholder-friendliness and adding value at all times

However, crack they do, eventually, and we keep picking up more. 

Since we’ve kept ourselves “infinitely” liquid as per our small entry quantum approach, we are then also “infinitely”poised to benefit from the cracks

As we keep getting more and more opportunities to buy with meaningful margins of safety, markets show us more upside than downside

Thus, antifragility comes to us as a function of falling price, given that the underlying has sound fundamentals, low to nil debt and benevolent, versatile and diligent management

Now, let the shocks come. 

In fact, let 20 shocks come. 

We want shocks to come…

…so that we can continue to buy at rock-bottom prices, which work in an antifragile manner for us, because of the characteristics of the equity and management we have chosen

Profiting from shocks?

More upside than downside? Owing to the effects of a shock?

What kind of behaviour is that?

That’s antifragile behaviour.

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!

🙂

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. 

 

Not Everyday is an MoS Day

Dear Long-Term Investors,

How are you?

Hope this finds you in the pink of health, and without itchy fingers. 

After running through a 70-odd day corrective phase, the Indian markets don’t seem to be offering margin of safety (MoS) anymore. 

Or so I feel. 

The groove had become natural from mid January to the beginning of April. 

There was something to be bought, almost everyday. 

One would wake up thinking about what one would be buying for the long-term when the markets opened. 

Over the last ten days, I haven’t felt like buying anything. 

My fingers are itchy.

I’m raring to go. 

However, margin of safety is not there. 

It might return, in some form or the other, and that too soon. However, it doesn’t prevail just now, as per my understanding. 

Where does that leave me?

I can now opt for compulsive buying. However, my market experience has taught me otherwise. It’s a simple rule – no margin of safety, no buying. Period. 

I focus on other stuff. 

I have a trading operation. 

I focus on that. 

I write. 

I read.

I chant. 

I plan my summer vacation. 

I attend to family matters. 

There’s other business that needs attending. 

I travel. 

However, I don’t resort to compulsive buying. 

Can you stop yourself from compulsive buying? However itchy your fingers are?

It’s not easy. Nevertheless, it’s mandatory. 

The follow-through energy from an existing groove needs to be diverted until it is fully dissipated. 

If you don’t succeed with this, you’ll end up with over-priced buys in your long-term portfolio.

This spells disaster, because lack of margin of safety won’t allow you to sit when markets crash. 

And crash they will. 

Every market crashes, some time or the other. 

That’s when your margin of safety allows you to sit quietly and sleep properly. 

You then have the acumen to recognize the re-existence of margin of safety.

Also, you have the energy to act upon your identification of the re-existence of margin of safety. 

You buy more, because MoS days are there again. 

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!

🙂

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.