EBITDA (earnings before interest expenses, taxes, depreciation and amortization): Earnings before I tricked the dumb auditor.
EBIT (earnings before interest expenses and taxes): Earnings before irregularities and tampering.
1. Invest In What You Know
This is where it helps to have identified your personal investor’s edge. What is it that you know a lot about? Maybe your edge comes from your profession or a hobby. Maybe it comes just from being a parent. An entire generation of Americans grew up on Gerber’s baby food, and Gerber’s stock was a 100-bagger. If you put your money where your baby’s mouth was, you turned $10,000 into $1 million.
2. Let Your Winners Run
It’s easy to make a mistake and do the opposite, pulling out the flowers and watering the weeds. If you’re lucky enough to have one golden egg in your portfolio, it may not matter if you have a couple of rotten ones in there with it. Let’s say you have a portfolio of six stocks. Two of them are average, two of them are below average, and one is a real loser. But you also have one stellar performer. Your Coca-Cola, your Gillette. A stock that reminds you why you invested in the first place. In other words, you don’t have to be right all the time to do well in stocks. If you find one great growth company and own it long enough to let the profits run, the gains should more than offset mediocre results from other stocks in your portfolio.
3. On Growth Stocks
There are two ways investors can fake themselves out of the big returns that come from great growth companies. The first is waiting to buy the stock when it looks cheap. Throughout its 27-year rise from a split-adjusted 1.6 cents to $23, Walmart never looked cheap compared with the overall market. Its price-to-earnings ratio rarely dropped below 20, but Walmart’s earnings were growing at 25 to 30 percent a year. A key point to remember is that a p/e of 20 is not too much to pay for a company that’s growing at 25 percent. Any business that an manage to keep up a 20 to 25 percent growth rate for 20 years will reward shareholders with a massive return even if the stock market overall is lower after 20 years.
The second mistake is underestimating how long a great growth company can keep up the pace. In the 1970s I got interested in McDonald’s. A chorus of colleagues said golden arches were everywhere and McDonald’s had seen its best days. I checked for myself and found that even in California, where McDonald’s originated, there were fewer McDonald’s outlets than there were branches of the Bank of America. McDonald’s has been a 50-bagger since. (more…)
… look at the table ranking the top and bottom 10 countries by PE10 valuation. The bottom features a couple of usual suspects (Russia and Greece), although in the case of Greece you might argue that earnings are now structurally lower so the PE10 is less useful for that particular market. At the top end, it’s likewise many usual suspects: America and a selection of high growth Asian countries (and Japan). While there are some similarities between those at the top and bottom it’s hard to make a broad sweeping statement which generalizes the two groups –
Success in trading is a function of talents and skills – Trading, in this sense, is no different from chess, Olympic events, or acting. Inborn abilities (talents) and developed competencies (skills) determine one’s level of success. From rock bands to ballet dancers and golfers, only a small percentage of participants in any performance activity are good enough to sustain a living from their performances. The key to success is finding a seamless fit between one’s talents/skills and the specific opportunities available in a performance field. For traders, this means finding a superior fit between your abilities and the specific markets and strategies you will be trading. Many performance problems are the result of a suboptimal fit between what the trader is good at and how the trader is trading.
The core skill of trading is pattern recognition – Whether the trader is visually inspecting charts or analyzing signals statistically, pattern recognition lies at the heart of trading. The trader is trying to identify shifts in demand and supply in real time and is responding to patterns that are indicative of such shifts. Most of the different approaches to trading–technical and fundamental analysis, cycles, econometrics, quantitative historical analysis, Market Profile–are simply methods for conceptualizing patterns at different time frames. Traders will benefit most from those methods that fit well with their cognitive styles and strengths. A person adept at visual processing, with superior visual memory, might benefit from the use of charts in framing patterns. Someone who is highly analytical might benefit from statistical studies and mechanical signals.
Much pattern recognition is based on implicit learning – Implicit learning occurs when people are repeatedly exposed to complex patterns and eventually internalize those, even though they cannot verbalize the rules underlying those patterns. This is how children learn language and grammar, and it is how we learn to navigate our way through complex social interactions. Implicit learning manifests itself as a “feel” for a performance activity and facilitates a rapidity of pattern recognition that would not be possible through ordinary analysis. Even system developers, who rely upon explicit signals for trading, report that their frequent exposure to data gives them a feel for which variables will be promising and which will not during their testing. Research tells us that implicit learning only occurs after we have undergone thousands of learning trials. This is why trading competence–like competence at other performance activities such as piloting a fighter jet and chess–requires considerable practice and exposure to realistic scenarios. Without such immersive exposure, traders never truly internalize the patterns in their markets and time frames.
Today more and more investors are warming to the fact that psychology moves markets and therefore fundamental analysis, which fails to properly measure mass investor psychology, must be flawed.
Who can blame them? After all, fundamental analysis — based on past company earnings, rating agency projections and the like — proved to be of little value during the bust.
There is a better way.
Many investors who monitor investor sentiment readings, study Elliott wave patterns and employ other powerful technical indicators were — at very least — able to position themselves to survive the recent decline. Still others were able to turn crisis into opportunity and profit from the volatility. (more…)
George Soros doesn’t need an introduction. He is a living trading legend. Here are some of the smartest things he has ever said about markets. His thoughts are in brown.
1. Perceptions affect prices and prices affect perceptions
I believe that market prices are always wrong in the sense that they present a biased view of the future. But distortion works in both directions: not only do market participants operate with a bias, but their bias can also influence the course of events.
For instance, the stock market is generally believed to anticipate recessions, it would be more correct to say that it can help to precipitate them. Thus I replace the assertion that markets are always right with two others: I) Markets are always biased in one direction or another; II) Markets can influence the events that they anticipate.
As long as the bias is self-reinforcing, expectations rise even faster than stock prices.
Nowhere is the role of expectations more clearly visible than in financial markets. Buy and sell decisions are based on expectations about future prices, and future prices, in turn are contingent on present buy and sell decisions.
2. On Reflexivity
Fundamental analysis seeks to establish how underlying values are reflected in stock prices, whereas the theory of reflexivity shows how stock prices can influence underlying values. One provides a static picture, the other a dynamic one.
Sometimes prices change before fundamentals change. Sometimes fundamentals change before prices change. Price is what pays and until expectations change, prices don’t change. What causes expectations to change? – it could be change in fundamentals or change in prices. So what I am saying is that sometimes prices could be manipulated to change expectations, which will fuel further price momentum in a self-reinforcing way.
3. “Once a trend is established it tends to persist and to run its full course.” – Sentiment changes slowly in trending markets (up or down) and extremely fast in choppy, range-bound markets.
4. “When a long-term trend loses it’s momentum, short-term volatility tends to rise. It is easy to see why that should be so: the trend-following crowd is disoriented.” (more…)