It really seems like just a few months ago that I was writing my Xmas Message for 2017 - there is that old saying that time gets faster the older you get and it is hard to dispute this on the evidence of 2018 which has simply shot by. However, the fact it has gone by fast is arguably a good thing and I would probably lean that way because apart from a few bright spots 2018 has been a pretty rubbish year for me and I can only hope that 2019 is much better - it could barely be worse (oh no, that really is tempting fate….).
We all know the Stockmarket has been an utter pig this year but I have also had a pretty tough year on the personal front with the worst bit by far being the sad departing of my Mum which you may have seen me mention on Twitter. I had flagged for a while that she was in a bad way following a stroke but she finally succumbed about a week ago and to honest it is very much a relief as she was clearly not going to get better and at best she would have ended up with an extremely poor quality of life and being stuck in a nursing home requiring intense levels of care. In addition it would put immense pressure on my brother who bears the brunt of such things as he is much nearer than myself and of course my physical condition limits a lot what I can do. The funeral is in early January and I have to note the irony of how my parents both managed to make their presence felt over the Xmas and New Year periods by their absence (my father died 2 years ago at pretty much precisely the same time of the year).
Losing both your parents certainly brings home how much older you are getting yourself - it is a wake up call of our own mortality and a reminder of how we must make the most of every day we have left on this planet (and we never know how many we do have left) and it is important to spend our increasingly more valuable days doing things we want to do and enjoy rather than doing cruddy things because we feel we must or because we are in a state of ‘Learned Helplessness’ where we wallow in our own self-pity and do not raise our heads up and get a grip on things and change our lives for the better.
Once a day is gone, you won’t be getting it back.
I also had a difficult Autumn when I got that cut on my hip which meant that I was incapacitated for at least 4 weeks and even once it was mostly cleared up I had to pad it every day and be really careful. I am only now at the stage where it is pretty much back to normal although I am still very wary about it and keeping a close eye on it to make sure no further problems arise. It is one of the biggest frustrations of a spinal injury that such seemingly minor things can become such big problems - you can damage your skin in seconds and it takes weeks and weeks to heal.
A rather far more pleasant thing for me was receiving an Award at the Mello Investor Event up in Derby earlier in the year and it was a complete surprise as part of a sophisticated hijacking operation but it is a huge boost to what I do to have such recognition from people who read what I put out and find it helpful - often the whole world of blogging and stuff is a bit like a ‘Black Hole’ where you chuck stuff out and only get feedback on an occasional basis but luckily for me I fully understand how these dynamics work and I am very happy with how things are going.
Thank you to everyone who backed me in the Polls to get that Mello Award.
Another highlight was the fantastic response and turnout at ‘The WheelieBash’ which we held near Windsor back in September - it was attended by 40 people and we packed out the Pub garden and the buzz and atmosphere couldn’t have been better. There were all sorts of levels of experience and the way people mixed was a credit to everyone and there were no prima-donnas (apart from me !!) and it really was a great laugh. It is the plan that we will do a similar event later in 2019 so keep your eyes open because everyone will be invited and it is Free to attend and you just have to get your butt out to sunny Windsor. If you go to the ‘Events’ page on the WD2 Website (there is a button on the homepage of the main Website), you can see some pics from the Bash.
Another big highlight was the opportunity to meet up with lots of Investors on a more ad hoc ‘down the Pub’ basis and I did a lot of this in 2018 which I enjoyed immensely (with the Markets so grumpy I didn‘t need much encouragement). A big standout in this respect was meeting up with a few good Twitter mates somewhere up above London on a crazy hot Summer day I recall - but we had a great time and it was hugely worthwhile. I have also met up with several peeps in some Windsor boozers and that has been a very good use of many a Friday…..
And of course on the personal side of things a huge plus point was finally getting hold of my Brand Spanking New Seat Leon Cupra 290 DSG (it was supposed to be a 300 but don’t even go there !!) although that turned out to be quite a painful experience as the logistics of getting it fitted with the sophisticated Hand Controls I wanted were extremely fraught and it wasn’t helped by my old Leon FR deciding to pack-up on me after 11 years of being a truly fantastic Car (my mate now has the Car and it is working a treat after the Hand Controls had been taken off and he is well pleased with it). And before the aggravation of the Hand Controls I had something like a 6 month wait for the Car to arrive from the Factory- although I didn’t miss it too much in the summer because that is when my BMW Z3 comes into its own and you can’t beat a 2-seater with the roof down when the rain is keeping away.
My main reasoning for getting the Cupra was simply that I wanted something really daft before I pop my clogs and go to the Great Racetrack in the Sky - I knew it would have some poke (it is after all pretty much the same as the Leon I had before but with 50% more Power and 30% less Weight which are some extremely impressive stats if you want something that can really get a wiggle on), but in all honesty it has surprised me with just how bonkers it is and there have been a couple of times where it has totally shocked me and I have either had to back off quickly or to concentrate hard on removing the silly grin from my face or otherwise it will stay like it. The whole Car is just simply much more ‘refined’ and what I particularly notice is how the DSG Gearbox which was a new innovation on my previous Car has now evolved hugely and this one has 7 Gears and it just changes instantaneously and seamlessly and if you are doing perhaps 60mph on the Motorway you can whack the throttle and it drops to 4th Gear and the Car just goes mental. It is much fun and reminds me hugely of a Superbike in the way it performs with a remarkable willingness to rev. The other thing that stands out is how the Brakes must be really effective at removing the speed but whereas in my previous Leon the Brakes would throw you forwards and were quite ‘vicious’ but in this one there is no pitching of the Car and you don’t get the same sense of aggression - I am guessing it is simply that the Suspension is much more sophisticated and the Car is more balanced.
And that’s before I even dream of using the ‘Cupra’ button……
On the subject of Events…….
With another year about to start it will soon be time for the London Shows such as the Master Investor Show which takes place in Islington and the UK Investor Show which takes place in the Queen Lizzie Conference Centre very near the Houses of Parliamentary Silliness. These Shows are usually in the Spring and I will most likely attend one or both of them depending upon when they are and the gap between them - if they are a few Weeks apart then I will probably go to them both if I can. I will get my mind focused on these in coming Weeks and I will make my intentions clear in one of my Weekend Markets Blogs most likely and hopefully I will be able to meet up with many Readers there like per usual.
I do wonder if these London Shows will be quiet this year - it has been very evident over the years that when the Stockmarket is rocking and everyone is making Money simply by buying any old crud, the Shows are rammed and super busy. Once the Market goes off the boil, you tend to find there are rows and rows of empty seats……
I guess there will be more Mello Events and these really are becoming the absolute Gold Standard of Investor Shows and if you can free your diary to attend one I am sure you will find it extremely worthwhile - there is no better way to meet up with lots of highly talented and successful Investors and the opportunities to meet with the Managements of Quality Companies are considerable. Again I will probably mention any of these I become aware of and no doubt I will be Retweeting any I see that get announced.
Last year we did a small ‘Meet up’ at the wonderful Duxford Airfield Museum place thing near Cambridge and I was a bit disappointed by the turnout because I think 8 of us were there although in fact we had a great day and everyone really enjoyed it. I made the mistake of doing it on a Monday and I won’t do that again and future Events of this nature will probably be on a Friday or a Saturday which of course usually means that more Readers will be able to dodge work and make the Event. I will put out more details nearer the time but I am thinking that a Meet-up at the Gaydon British Motor Heritage Museum in the summer would be a great location as it is quite central and people who live further ‘up country’ would find it easier to attend. It is just off the M40 below Birmingham I think and I met up with Cappy (@SmallCappy) there last summer and it would make a great location with plenty of room and a couple of top notch museums full of interesting Cars.
Again I will announce the details about a Gaydon Meet-up nearer the time but it has the potential to be a fun and useful day out where you can get to meet other similarly minded Investors and catch up with people you speak to regularly on the Tweets and stuff but rarely get the chance to meet in real life.
TPI Podcasts and Website Revamp
I announced a few months back that I had two ‘Winter Projects’ to work on and one was to create some sort of Podcast thing because you know how modern and on trend I am (yeah, right). Anyway, you have probably noticed that I have teamed up with Peter @Conkers3 who is one of the best Investors I know and we have so far created 2 Podcasts which you can hear at the link below.
The intention is to do something a bit different to the usual Stock Podcasts that are available and we have plenty of ideas to enable us to put out some potentially very useful stuff - it is early days of course and it will be interesting for everyone to see how this evolves and I suspect it will go in directions that we had not even dreamt of when we first discussed our ideas. It is very much an Ad Hoc thing based on when we have the time available and we are in the mood for it but hopefully they will be very regular and will contain subject matter which means you can revisit them and still find much of value - it is my desire to always cover the current state of the Markets in them but much of the content will be timeless and educational.
Catch the Podcasts here - ideal listening for a dull Boxing Day afternoon !!
Oh, and if you go to the ‘Podcasts / Videos’ page on WD2 then there are lots of things like this that I have done over the years and in particular I recommend the Videos that I have done which so many people have told me they found really useful.
The other Project was the revamp of the Website which sadly got interrupted by my hip problems and after a sudden splurge of enthusiasm where I got a lot done, I then got derailed and it has only been in recent days that I have been doing some more tweaks and trying to sort it out. I got the big stuff done with a change to the layout and firing up the WD2 Website again but I need to revisit most of the text now and to update it and amend it etc. - this will take time but at least the big change has been done. There are some things I want to add and fingers crossed in the months of January and February where I tend to hibernate, I can get a lot of this done.
I am also involved in another ‘Special Project’ which I can’t tell you anything about at the moment in case it doesn’t come off as I expect - however, it is 85% certain to happen probably over the next couple of months and I think Readers are gonna be Mad for It !!
I published Part 4 of the ‘Control what you can Control and Moving into Cash’ Blogs a few days ago and the Final Part is in pretty good shape as a draft but needs a fair bit of work to finish it off. However, this might get delayed because my focus now needs to turn to the ‘Scores on the Doors 2018’ Blog which as always will be a full round up of how my Portfolios have done this Year and there is no doubt it will be excruciating to write and to read - barring a miracle in the final few days of 2018 I am expecting to be down something like 15% on the Year which is a very poor performance. Having said that, I suspect most Long Term Investors will have had a tough year and it will only be the hard working and committed Traders who have managed to take any Money out of this Market - thankfully this is against the normal run of things and it is a sad fact of Investing life that from time to time we will get these difficult Years. This is a subject I will cover more in the weeks ahead no doubt and I expect to be gibbering on about it on the next TPI Podcast.
Last night I made very good progress on the Blog I am writing which is very much of a Macroeconomic nature and talks about a Spectrum of how a Nation’s Economy can be structured between 100% State Control at one end (Commies) and then no involvement of the State at the other - entirely Free Markets and in fact Anarchy (I am sure that will appeal to Sex Pistols fans). This one still needs a lot of work though but it seems to be evolving into a 2-parter so I might be able to put the first part out in the not too distant future.
I also have a couple of Books to add to the ‘Non-Finance Books’ bit of Wheelie’s Bookshop and I have pretty much written reviews for both of these which should come out fairly soon - at least one of them will anyway. I am currently reading Ian Botham’s autobiography and that is surprisingly good (although I am sure this is helped by the fact that when I was a kid I was quite into Cricket for a short period of time - it was probably the influence of ‘Beefy’ who was very much like the Barry Sheene of Cricket or the James Hunt - a real character and someone of the Working Classes.
I am aware that I have not written a Stock Blog for a long time (simply because there has been no requirement to because for all of 2018 I have not fancied buying any new Stocks) but I want to do one soon so I might just write one about a Stock I am interested in even though I might not buy it for many months - it is useful to get the Research done and dusted well in advance.
I think I have a couple of Blogs in reasonable Draft forms so I should be able to maintain the current flow of putting out one ‘Educational’ Blog every week - but as always there is never enough time to do all the things I would love to do and that is always a huge constraint. I still want to read ‘The Art of Execution’ and maybe once the Special Project is complete I can get that done. I have had some early thoughts about changing my Approach slightly and reading that Book might help my thinking so it would be a worthwhile exercise and I plan to write a Review once I have nailed it.
I am sure I have mentioned this on Tweets, Markets Blogs, Podcasts etc., but my current thinking is that 2019 is going to be very poor for the UK and European Markets as we go towards Brexit at the end of March and with the total Pigs Arse the Politicians have made of this it is hard to see how the UK avoids a Recession (in fact, the UK is always in Recession in the first few months of any year - this is simply smoothed out in the way they do ‘Seasonal Adjustments’ to the published GDP Figures) or at best a Slowdown and it is noticeable that Consumer Confidence is battered at the moment as everyone is holding back and not making unnecessary Spending Decisions whilst there is such uncertainty.
Summer is always a weak time for the Markets and I suspect that will be the case again in 2019 - my only hope is that as we get towards the last few Months of 2019 there will be some more Certainty around Brexit (hopefully that useless PM will have gone) and we might be able to get a good finish to the year - that is based on nothing concrete though and I think we need to be very cautious going into 2019 - I just see no great need to be buying anything as ‘Cheap’ Stocks have an unpleasant habit of getting a lot ‘Cheaper’.
And as for the US - to me it looks flippin’ terrible - I see the Nasdaq Composite Index in particular making new Recent Lows and it is clearly in a Downtrend - there is very little Support and I think we could have a huge Sell-off here. I am looking to Short the Nasdaq or the S&P500 in early January once we get the ‘weird’ Xmas Period out of the way and with valuations on Tech Stocks looking extremely stretched there is a lot of room for a significant drop.
If you go to the ‘Weekend Markets Blog’ I did last Weekend that sits on WD2, you should be able to see a few Charts regarding the US Indexes and my comments around them. OK, it is a week out of date but if anything they have got worse !!
Bearing all this in mind, I will be following the same Strategic Approach as I have had all through 2018 of doing very little to my Portfolio and certainly I will not be buying anything. I will be looking to Sell things if and when I deem it appropriate but this will only be a Stock-specific thing and I will be looking to Hedge my Portfolio more by Shorting and I currently have Shorts on the FTSE100 and I will be looking to Short the US Indexes as I just mentioned. Keep an eye on the ‘Trades’ page for details on these.
Well that just about wraps it up (good pun on Xmas Prezzies there then !!) and it just leaves me to wish all Readers a wonderful Christmas and New Year Break and all the best for 2019.
Huge THANKS for all the support you have continued to give me and in particular I highly appreciate the wishes you have sent to me around the passing of my Mum - it is very boosting to know that you are all thinking of me and helping me get through a difficult episode and many of you have shared your own experiences from when you lost close relatives and that is much valued.
On a more WD note, thank you for all the Retweets, Favourites, Comments on the Blogs, Beers you bought me in The White Hart, and the huge contributions so many People make to Twitter being such a helpful and encouraging tool. Sadly I am not able to be on Twitter as much as I would like these days but there are just so many competing demands on my time and something had to give - however I hope the flow of info I put out is still of much use. Also thanks to all the Book Buying you have been doing - as WheelieDealer is not a money-making enterprise but I don’t mind getting the odd few quid to go towards the Beer Fund (that can never grow too big !!).
So, to reiterate, Merry Xmas you crazy People !!
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