As per the heading, back on Friday 5th June 2020 I went a bit nuts and was lying in bed at some crazy time like 5am in the morning, and my head was utterly buzzing with thoughts about my Approach (my System), how I was Executing it, and how I needed to Optimize what I was doing. I have taken the original Tweets and shoved them into this Blog and they are in italic text. I have then added underneath in many places some further comments to try to make it clearer to Readers. I hope you like it.
I have no doubt that regular Readers (please no Wheelie, I can’t take anymore purile and unimaginative All-Bran references), will be well aware of my borderline imbecilic obsession with Hedging my Portfolio and you must be exasperated beyond belief to see that I am writing about this well-treaded subject yet again. Anyway, it is what it is, and after the recent heavy sell-off in the Markets (which after all is exactly why I have been mucking about with Hedging for so many years, in anticipation and preparation for such an event) I feel it would be worthwhile to just get down in blog format some thoughts and observations etc. that have arisen after this episode and the Global tragedy of the Coronavirus.
Overall I am quite pleased with the Hedging I did although of course in an Ideal World I could have done it better. I guess my main area of weakness was in not Hedging in larger size (more on this in due course) and I would say another failure was in not getting a big enough Short on early enough. Other than that, and some moments of panic when I shorted more and really was lucky to get away with it, I am overall fairly happy.
This is without doubt one of those Blogs that I really should have written ages ago, but I guess it has not even occurred to me before to do it because it is about something that is so mundane and everyday for me, that I didn’t even figure that actually it might be quite useful for Readers.
For many years now I have been utterly obsessed by Hedging my Portfolio of Stocks and Long Spreadbet Positions by using Short Spreadbets on Major Indexes such as the FTSE100 and the S&P500. I think the simple truth is that I have always had a fascination with Technical Analysis (the posh name for ‘Charting’) and part and parcel of that is Short-term Trading which is very much an approach which will not work without a good understanding of some basic Technical Signals/Principles. Thankfully this experience and practice with Shorting has really helped me a lot in the current Market difficulties.
I have been meaning to get on with writing this Blog for quite some time now but for various reasons (mostly good old-fashioned procrastination and farting about), I have been putting it off but at last I have to bite the bullet and get it done.
My interest here is to look at the Charting (Technical Analysis) factors which surrounded the eventual Bottom when the Markets floored out in 2009 before that monster Rally of 11 years or whatever it was. Of course we will struggle to find Signals and Indicators that point to precisely where the Bottom is (I may use the term ‘Proper Bottom’ for this because I am sure we will have lots of little Bottoms on the way to actually reaching the final one), but I think many Readers will be surprised by what I dig up here and the implication is that we can use some pretty basic Technical Indicators and Tools to help us ascertain the Proper Bottom.
Fairly recently I caused a bit of a stir on the Tweets when I suggested that People who have regular payment plans into Funds (normally Unit Trusts – see my ‘Funds’ page for definitions of what the different types of Funds actually are), might be wise to suspend the automatic payments prior to the Coronavirus problems when it is highly likely that we could see Stockmarkets really struggling.
I got a lot of flak for this and it is very understandable why because there are maybe some advantages of such drip-feeding over time; but for me personally, I wouldn’t do this at all. But then I am perhaps a different type of Investor to many others and there is an element of ‘Horses for Courses’.
I am sure I have mentioned a few times before how I really struggle with this idea of ‘Growth Stocks’ and ‘Value Stocks’ and my whole beef is really around the idea that a Growth Stock doesn’t need to encompass the concept of Value and that Value Stocks really seems to be lazily used to describe Stocks with a large Dividend Yield. Of course the idea that all Stocks with chunky Yields represent value is silly because they could just as easily be flagging a big problem and actually be a ‘Value Trap’.
‘Value Trap, utter Cr*p.’
I was thinking that had a bit of a rhyme to it and then I remembered a joke from the comedian Tony Hawks (he’s on Radio 4 a bit but most people probably won’t know him – apart from the book ‘Round Ireland with a Fridge’ which is very good), where he talks about when he had a minor hit record as ‘Morris Major & the Minors’ probably in the late 1980s and it was called ‘Stutter Rap’. Anyway, he was on about reviews it had got and some wag in a Music Paper of the time had the written the headline; ‘Stutter Rap, Utter Cr*p’.
I often think of subject matter that is way too short to justify its own blog, yet at the same time far too long to just send out via a Tweet and also I would like to store such stuff in the Website Archives so it can be retrieved by anyone who wants it; and of course with Tweets they tend to be quite ephemeral and soon lost in the River Twitter. On the basis of that, I am envisaging that this blog will cover a few possibly unrelated subjects but at least they get captured in ‘black and white’ electron imagery for the future.
Stay in control of your Position Sizes
This is something I see so often and I know I have fallen into this trap many times myself in the past. It’s a very simple concept where we buy into a Stock, and we quite like it, and we give it perhaps 4% of our Portfolio and then we leave it to do its stuff. Then it turns out that this one is a real beauty and it keeps steadily pushing higher and after a period of time we find that it has grown to be much larger and could even be up to 12% or our Portfolio or more. If we have a very focused Portfolio with maybe just 10 Holdings or something, then a Stock like this could easily grow to be 20% or more.
I am sure that in much of my scribbles over the years I have touched on the subject of ‘Over-thinking’ but perhaps not really brought it all together in one blog that hopefully puts the subject nicely to bed. The essence is that I get a strong sense that I have spent many many years learning things about Stocks and Markets and Investing and Trading, and all the related stuff, but it is only in more recent years that I have been actively trying to ‘un-learn’ much of the stuff I know and be a lot more basic and elemental in my approach.
Less is More.
Keep it simple.
Complex is bad.
A few months ago I produced a series of Checklists to be used when Buying particular kinds of Stocks and then some while later it hit me that I ought to produce one for those very high risk, often loss-making, start-up type businesses on AIM that I avoid on the whole but occasionally I will buy into one. Before getting stuck into this particular one, here are Links to the other ones I produced – in fact this is the final one but it has Links to the others:
In the Investors Chronicle dated 17th to 23rd May 2019 with ‘The Activist Effect’ as the main headline on the front cover, on page 32 there is an article called ‘Fund Managers are human after all – that’s the problem’, which makes a very good read although it is perhaps a bit ‘academic’. I guess that is where I come in and if I am doing my ‘job’ correctly then I hope I can convert what seems academic into something that normal people can digest.
It was written by Nilushi Karunaratne and the high level summary would be that Portfolio Managers make good Buying Decisions but make poor Selling Decisions – and the interesting bit is that some of the conclusions are perhaps worth taking onboard ourselves as Private Investors (assuming you are not a Portfolio Manager reading this !!) because, contrary to what many people think, institutional investors are often no better than we are (and many are worse). And the simple fact is that human psychological biases apply whoever you are. Later in my Conclusion bit I will address what we can learn.
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