How to be a better investor? Part 1

The toughest thing for many investors to do is nothing. That’s right, nothing! Once you buy a stock and watch it move up, down and all around for a few weeks, there is an urge to take action. Since you bought the stock, you’ve probably read numerous investment news stories on the market in general and your stock in particular. And even if you are only watching your stock (as we advise), you’ve taken in many days of price, volume and relative performance (RP) action. With so much input, it’s easy to have your thinking swayed, which creates temptation to take action. Another way to say it is that most investors lack patience. That’s a shame, because almost every successful investor we’ve ever met or read about has an abundance of patience. After all, if you’re correct on a stock, what’s the point of rushing things?

So the focus of this lesson, dedicated to holding great growth stocks, is on practicing patience. Many times, the stocks you purchase don’t do an awful lot for many weeks after your initial purchase. But if you have the guts to stick with those stocks, some can turn out to be huge wonders. And in the end, those big winners are what make all the difference.

Value Trap

A stock that appears to be cheap because the stock has been trading at low multiples of earnings, cash flow or book value for an extended time period. Stock traps attract investors who are looking for a bargain because these stocks are inexpensive. The trap springs when investors buy into the company at low prices and the stock never improves. Trading that occurs at low multiples of earnings, cash flow or book value for long periods of time might indicate that the company or the entire sector is in trouble, and that stock prices may not move higher.

Companies, and even sectors, can be doomed, because of situations such as the inability to survive competition, the inability to generate substantial and consistent profits, the lack of new products or earnings growth, or ineffective management. Often, a value trap appears to be such a good deal that investors become confused when the stock fails to perform. As with any investment decision, thorough research and evaluation is recommended before investing in any company that appears cheap when reviewing its relevant performance metrics.

How to avoid value traps?

  • Is the sector in long-term secular decline?
  • Is the risk of technological obsolescence high?
  • Is the company’s business model fundamentally flawed?
  • Is there excessive debt on the books?
  • Is the accounting flawed or overly aggressive ?
  • Is competition escalating?
  • Are there any worrying corporate governance noises?

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