Thoughts About Investing

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Never Trade the News

I know traders who spend their whole careers trying to predict the market data reports, earnings reports, unemployment numbers, etc. And you want to know the commonality among all these traders? They’re all poor.

No one can be 100% right, and even if he can predict the news, so what? The same piece of news can be interpreted in a hundred different ways. You cannot assume that bad news will cause the market fall, because bad news is shrugged off during bull markets, and good news is shrugged off in bear markets.

From the years of experience of successful traders around me, the market is going to go where it’s going to go, regardless of the news that comes out. The news doesn’t drive the price; the price drives the news. When the market is going up, the news that is constantly being relayed across the major news channels will be good news, and vice versa.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

But they way they’re presented do lie. Let me give you an example. A couple of weeks ago, I read an article titled “Why It’s Easier to Get into Harvard Than It Is to Get a Job at McDonalds”. In author based this “fact” from the fact that 7% of Harvard applicants are accepted as opposed to McDonalds’ 5%. From the way these facts are represented, it would appear as if it were easier to get into Harvards than it were to get into McDonalds. However, this is a lie. The way the numbers were presented is a lie. Only the highest caliber (academic-wise) of people apply for Harvard, while almost all teens at one point in their lives have applied or thought of applying. So out of 10,000 people, maybe only 100 applied for Harvard, of which 7% got in, which equals to 7 people. Out of 10,000 people, probably 2000 applied, of which 100 were accepted. See the difference? By representing the numbers in a specific way, an untruthful statement can be implied.

Such tricks are far too common in the financial industry. Be wary about corporate financial numbers – unless you’re an expert, be careful because there’s bound to be a lot of “lies” among those numbers. The numbers don’t lie, but the way their presented do.

Buying On Percentages

Many investors (including myself) buy into positions on percentages (scale in) – for example, I buy 25% worth of my portfolio into the position at a time. In the past, I did this based on the assumption of risk and profits – if I buy X% a time every $Y up/down, how much risk will I be taking, and how will doing so protect my position? But recently, I’ve read some books that gave me an insight: buy on percentages not because you want to protect your portfolio – buy on percentages because you want to protect your psychological sanity. Investing is moreso about being in the right mentality than being in the right market. Buying on percentages will keep you psychologically satisfy and prevent you from making any brash moves. Here’s an example.

I want to use 10% of my portfolio to buy stock XYZ. However, I feel that the market may be a bit overbought. So instead, I’ll buy 5%. If the market keeps going up, my mentality will be happy because I’m making money. If the market goes down, I’m still happy because I’m averaging-down my position cost. If I hadn’t bought when I thought the market was overbought, I could very well have chased an even more overbought market, which is a financially disastrous move.

Why I Don’t Like Dividend Investing

A lot of investors fill up my portfolio with “nice and pretty” dividend stocks, which I find to be absolutely ridiculous. The money that can be made by trading a stock makes the money that can be made from dividends look pale in comparison. A small 5% decline in the stock price can wipe out a dividend investor’s entire year of returns from dividends. Using Rogers Communication stock from early 2011 to 2012, we can see that:

During this entire 1 year period, Rogers Communications Inc paid out approximately 4% in dividends, but its stock price experienced 20%+ swings. Are you willing to forego 20%+ for the sake of a single digit return (not including the fact that you could have lost money on the stock price itself)?

Editor’s Note: Well I don’t agree with Tony’s views on dividend stocks, he does make some other good points. With dividend stocks at least you have that almost guaranteed dividend to partially protect yourself from dips in the market. It’s a lot better than investing in a non-dividend stock that dropped 20%. Plus dividend stocks can act as an income source during retirement. Also I wouldn’t ignore market news either since I believe it would affect people’s investment decisions.

What are your thoughts about the points Tony makes? Do you agree or disagree with him?

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