How To Be A Winner
Everyone who invests in the stock market wants to be a winner. Each person's definition of a winner will be somewhat different, but there is hardly one who isn't looking for that stock that will double in price within one year.
Can it be done? Yes, but when you look at the odds you may want to find a better or maybe slower and safer way. The chance of finding that mother load is 1 in 200, about Ѕ percent. Of the 11,000 listed securities you have a choice of 55. Even the pros don't like those odds. What makes you think you are better?
We have been in a great bull market from 1982 to 2000. Then the bubble burst. Yet the investing public continues to believe that we are going to see double digit returns every year. According to the Financial Research Corporation's study the mutual fund pros return was only 10.92% and the average investor had gains of about 8.7%. The great Warren Buffett says the bull is over and that we will be looking at a 5% return not the 12% to 15% that has occurred in the recent past.
As I mentioned in my recent column the returns for the past 126 years has only averaged 7% with 2/3 of the return coming from dividends which are about nonexistent today. Instead of looking for the rainbow with the pot of gold at the end my suggestion is to limit your losses and let your winners run. You have heard that clichй before, but have you every understood what it means in the stock market? The floor traders and hedge fund managers do not look for home runs. They look for slow and steady and never allow any major losses. The key to long term investment success is to limit your losing positions and never give back profits you have earned.
If tech investors in 1999 had followed this principle they would have kept about 80% of their profits. Wall Street says you should Buy and Hold and they have told this lie so often that it has become conventional wisdom. It is absolute stupidity. A simple trailing stop-loss order would have protected the investor's capital. Almost no broker and certainly no brokerage house recommends loss limit orders. No one is taught the basic winning concept of the market - an exit strategy. Until that is learned you are doomed to give back your winnings and take losses when a stock doesn't go up and heads down.
Most investors have no plan as to how much money they would like to accumulate nor how to intelligently go about it. They don't know where they are going and they don't want o be late.
When you have decided how much you need to save the next important step is not what to buy, but how to exit in the event what you do buy happens to go down instead of up.