Where do you want to be?

Where do I want to be?

Do I want to look at a stock price and know where things stand with the stock in question?

Yes.

That’s where I want to be.

It’s not going to come for free. 

What’s will it take?

Looking at the stock…

…for an year or two. 

That’s what it will take. 

How boring, you say?

Sure.

When stock market investing seems boring…

…that’s when you’re doing it right.

Excitement and roller-coaster rides are for video-game pleasure, and for making losses.

Money is made when it’s outright boring out there. 

Where do you want to be?

In the money?

I thought so. 

Then, please get used to boring and don’t ever complain again that things are boring.

How does one position oneself in such a manner that one studies a stock for an year or two. 

Hmmm.

Let’s put some skin in the game.

I know, this phrase is becoming more and more popular, what with Nicholas Taleb and all. 

Yeah, we are picking up stock. 

What stock?

The one we wish to observe for an year or two.

Why pick it up? Why not just observe it?

You won’t. You’ll let it go.

Why?

Because it’s not yours. 

So we pick up the stock? What’s the point of observing if we’re picking it up now?

Well, we’re picking up a minute quantity – one quantum – now. That gets our skin into the game. Then we observe, and observe. Anytime there’s shareholder-friendly action by the management, we pick up more, another quantum. We keep picking up, quantum by quantum. Soon, while we’ve kept picking up, we’ve observed the stock for so long, that now, one look at the stock price tells us what kind of margin of safety we are getting in the stock at this point. 

Wow.

Now, future entries become seamless. One look and we have a yes or no decision. Isn’t that wonderful? 

Absolutely.

That’s where we want to be.

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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.

Sheer Moat Investing is not Antifragile 

There we go again. 

That word. 

It’s not going to leave us. 

Nicholas Nassim Taleb has coined together what is possibly the market-word of the century. 

Antifragile. 

We’re equity-people. 

We want to remain so. 

We don’t wish to desert equity just because it is a fragile asset-class by itself. 

No. 

We wish to make our equity-foray as antifragile as possible. 

First-up, we need to understand, that when panic sets in, everything falls. 

The fearful weak hand doesn’t differentiate between a gem and a donkey-stock. He or she just sells and sells alike. 

Second-up, we need to comprehend that this is the age of shocks. There will be shocks. Shock after shock after shock. Such are the times. Please acknowledge this, and digest it. 

To make our equity-play antifragile, we’ll need to incorporate solid strategies to account for above two facts. 

We love moats, right? 

No problem. 

We’ll keep our moats. 

Just wait for moat-stocks to show value. Then, we’ll pick them up. 

We go in during the aftermath of a shock. Otherwise, we don’t. 

We go in with small quanta. Time after time after time. 

Voila. 

We’re  already sufficiently antifragile. 

No magic. 

Just sheer common sense. 

We’re still buying quality stocks. 

We’re buying them when they’re not fragile, or lesser fragile. 

We’re going in each time with minute quanta such that the absence of these quanta (after they’ve gone in) doesn’t alter our financial lives. We’re saving the rest of our pickled corpus for the next shock, after which the gem-stock will be yet lesser fragile. 

Yes, we’re averaging down, only because we’re dealing with gems. We’ll never average down with donkey-stocks. We might trade these, averaging up. We won’t be investing in them. 

Thus, we asymptotically approach antifragility in a gem-stock. 

Over time, after many cycles, the antifragile bottom-level of the gem-stock should be moving significantly upwards. 

Gem-stock upon gem-stock upon gem-stock. 

We’re done already. 

What is an Antifragile approach to Equity?

Taleb’s term “antifragile” is here to stay.

If my understanding is correct, an asset class that shows more upside than downside upon the onset of shock in this age of shocks – is termed as antifragile.

So what’s going to happen to us Equity people?

Is Equity a fragile asset class?

Let’s turn above question upon its head.

What about our approach?

Yes, our approach can make Equity antifragile for us.

We don’t need to pack our bags and switch to another asset class.

We just approach Equity in an antifragile fashion. Period.

Well, aren’t we already? Margin of safety and all that.

Sure. We’ll just refine what we’ve already got, add a bit of stuff, and come out with the antifragile strategy.

So, quality.

Management.

Applicability to the times.

Scalability.

Value.

Fundamentals.

Blah blah blah.

You’ve done all your research.

You’ve found a plum stock.

You’re getting margin of safety.

Lovely.

What’s missing?

Entry.

Right.

You don’t enter with a bang.

You enter at various times, again and again, in small quanta.

What are these times?

You enter in the aftermath of shocks.

There will be many shocks.

This is the age of shocks.

You enter when the stock is at its antifragile-most. For that time period. It is showing maximal upside. Minimal downside. Fundamentals are plum. Shock’s beaten it down. You enter, slightly. Put yourself in a position to enter many, many times, over many years, upon shock after shock. This automatically means that entry quantum is small. This also means you’re doing an SIP where the S stands for your own system (with the I being for investment and the P for plan).

Now let’s fine-fine-tune.

Don’t put more than 0.5% of your networth into any one stock, ever. Adjust this figure for yourself. Then adjust entry quantum for yourself.

Don’t enter into more than 20-30 stocks. Again, adjust to comfort level.

Remain doable.

If you’re full up, and something comes along which you need to enter at all costs, discard a stock you’re liking the least.

Have your focus-diversified portfolio (FDP) going on the side, apart from Equity.

Congratulations, you just made Equity antifragile for yourself.

🙂

Focused Diversification : Mantra for all Times

I’m more into focus.

One can focus on one thing at a time.

Agreed.

What if after that one thing starts running, it doesn’t require any more focus?

Wow.

Then I focus on another thing.

Get it running.

Then another.

Till my focus window is full.

Let me tell you about my focus window.

I focus on cash, debt, equity, forex, gold, real-estate, arbitrage, and options.

With that, my professional focus in finance is full full full.

I get something running.

That’s it.

Then I don’t need to be with it. Mostly.

Let me run you through.

1). Cash – Bind it in a worry-free and accessible manner. Done.

2). Debt – Study the underlying very thoroughly. Reject 10 underlyings. Take up the 11th which passes all criteria. Be happy with a slightly better than FD-return. Done.

3). Equity – Invest for life. Study till you drop the stock or take it up. Only invest in what meets all criteria and offers margin of safety at time of investing. On top of that – SIP (systematic investment plan). Done.

4). Forex – Get a software robot to trade it for you. Or some human-capital. All available online. Requires a bit of fine-tuning. Keep tuning till you start making a return. Done.

5). Gold – Buy physical gold. Research your source. Needs to be impeccable. Bullion. Coins. SIP. Accessible. No jewellery. Done.

6). Real-estate – Make your real-estate yield you an income. Regular income? Done.

7). Arbitrage – Understand what this is, and why it gives you a tax benefit. Get an online MF account going with Kotak MF or DWS. Divert some funds into their arbitrage MF, either or. I prefer Kotak. Monthly dividend payout option. Done.

8). Options – Get the option-strategy going. You don’t require a desktop. Mobile is sufficient. All you now need to do is take care of square-off. On mobile. This means a slightly higher level of engagement than the above avenues. Only slightly. Are you ok with that? Fine. Done.

In a flow, it’s all doable.

And, you remain focused.

Why all this?

Times demand it. You never know what might come in handy, and when.

Yeah, times are tough.

However, you are tougher.

To use Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s terminology, you are antifragile.