Yosemite.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Letting go.

I finally did it. Dumped all the stocks, at a massive loss, of the company that I was in love with forever. Its like letting go of unreciprocated love. Hurts like hell. They say letting go is supposed to make your heart feel lighter. Can't say about the heart but my wallet sure feels much lighter. Total personal loss around 140K USD and change.

I read the monstrous book by fucking Warren Buffet, the greatest investor ever, so they say. The Ingelligent Investor it was called. I felt extremely intelligent after reading the book and many other "great investment" books, much to the chagrin of my wife. At that time I ignored her irritation. Her argument was simple - if we could become rich by reading investment books then everybody in the world would be rich. Ha! What does she know about money, I would think. I followed every piece of advice about "need to focus, not diversify" and "buy low, sell high" etc. etc. Armed and ready with information I began to focus. What better than the company you know in and out about. I focussed so much that at the peak of focussing all my money, and I mean ALL my money, was invested in the one company, that screwed up eventually. The initial going was good. The stock nearly rose ten-fold in the beginning. I felt that I have made the best decision of my life. I was a half-millionaire. Everyone around me begged me sell it off and be happy with what I got. But no. I wanted to be a millionaire. I knew the stock would double and get me to the millinoaire's club. And then the downfall started. The stock dropped and fucking Warren Buffet told me to "buy low, sell high" so I bought more. And it fell further and I bought more. The more it fell the more I bought. My days went by in a dizzy. At one point I was putting in 10K, 20K dollars as the stock continued falling. Months were spent browsing all possible news about the company. I wasted around 2 years immersed in analyzing and re-analyzing the company, thinking this drop is just temporary and dreaming about what will happen when it picks up and then I can sell all these shares at record profits. Work sufferred terribly(what do you expect when all my time is spent on yahoo finance message boards). Lost confidence in my own basic skills, engineering. Its like an elongated period of time that just goes by when you don't remember what exactly you were doing. Analyzing 5 cent ups and downs in the stock price, analyzing volumes, analyzing after hours trading and what not, to fish out information that only I would understand. Information that means nothing in this randomness that they call the stock market.

Finally, I dumped it all. Massive loss. Mental stress took a toll on my health. Its strange you never think that you could be stressed. But stressed as hell I was. Gaand-faat stress. Quit my job. Started a new job. Started working out. Life changed for the better. Its all good now. My new company is doing quite well. The stock is looking great. I wonder if I should buy. Let me analyze the company......

8 comments:

Minesh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Minesh said...

VTSMX is the cure to all your problems. tathastu.

Anonymous said...

dude...you probably didn't read the intelligent investor completely..Which company was this by the way? First, did it pass Graham/Buffet's criteria? Current ratio>2, P/B ratio <=1.5, solid fundamentals in general etc etc? Assuming you had done all that analysis before jumping in..
Then the most important part.. once you are in, you are in for a long haul. You decide not to be run over by market fluctuations. You rather use them to your benefit. You can't follow someone's advice half-heartedly.

Very curious that's why wrote so much..

Pulkit said...

Anonynous poster, Good comments. Yes at that point of time the calculations were fitting in (low PE, strong profitability, a ton of cash, no debt, leaders and first movers in the industry, 70% worldwide market share, strong management according to many analysts, etc.)
However, the biggest uknown was future prospects. When the going is great you don't really worry about whats going to happen 2 years from now. You can't possibly predict the future competitive landscapes and management missteps. In short you shouldn't try to be Nostradamus. When the stock started falling, I held on to my belief and to what Warren said, to buy more. You mention long term, say how about 5 years and a 90% drop in value? And no signs of it going anywhere anytime soon (due to heavy losses, etc.). Buffet can afford to hold on to his investments for life. We can't, and we shouldn't and we should run as soon as we see signs of business missteps. I read somewhere that an average mutual fund flips its holdings regularly (a few times per year). Also, the key difference between Buffet (or mutual fund managers) and individual investors is that these big guys take huge positions in the companies and influence the decisions that the company makes. We as smalltime investors have no power over the company's direction (not that we know any better). So we just have to trust our judgements and run with it. Unfortulately, due to a lack of experience (we weren't born in a banker's family) our judgement has a 50% chance of being correct because you cannot simply predict the future. Don't get me wrong, you will make good decisions sometimes as well. For e.g. my other investments, after I dumped my loser stocks, have nearly doubled in the past year or so. So I am right this time. Does it mean that I have mastered the art of investment? Hell no ! Its just a lucky streak and a 50% chance that it will end up in losses at some other time. So we have two choices, either invest in mutual funds with good track records or take a chance on your own judgement and hope you are right more often than you are wrong. Some Buffet philosophies make sense but some don't in today's fast changing world.
I cannot openly disclose the name of the company I am talking about because I was involved with it a little more than just as an outsider. But that is immaterial.

Anonymous said...

I see your point. But just as a side, the intelligent investor is wired to the fundamentals. If there is a sign of management screwing up, hopefully it would have reflected in deteriorating fundamentals of your company. That is the time where you have to take a loss, take the tax benefit and get out. I know it is much easier said than done. Net net, this is why you need to pick your own strategy...a diversified portfolio..a balance of market indices (passive strategy) and value based security selection (an active strategy). Also be careful with picking mutual funds that are doing great. It has been qunatitatively shown that very very few ones can beat the market and countable few can do that repeatedly (like Buffet, Lynch, Soros). So sometimes it is better to pick an ETF type index fund than a mutual fund. BTW, I think I know what company you were talking about..the one that's trading at some $3 and change down from 45ish?...Now I will let you wonder how do I know..:)

Pulkit said...

Dear Anonymous poster,
>>If there is a sign of management screwing up, hopefully it would have reflected in deteriorating fundamentals of your company.

[Pulkit] Exactly. The key is knowing when to get out. Can one management mistake (which caused a 20-30 million loss on an annual revenue of 200 million) be considered grave enough? Can 3 or 4 small missteps be considered the end of the company? But then there are so many companies out there which falter temporarily and then roar back. Its just hard to call it an "end".

>>this is why you need to pick your own strategy...a diversified portfoli...

[Pulkit] Yes, this was the whole point of my post, do not put all your eggs in one basket and do not take investment "advices" by anybody literally. Buffet actually advises to not diversify. In today's economy, you have got to be diversified if you are not Buffet.

>>Also be careful with picking mutual funds that are doing great.It has been qunatitatively shown that very very few ones can beat the market and countable few can do that repeatedly...

[Pulkit] Agreed that the percentage gains of funds may not always beat the market but atleast there is a high chance that there will be a +ve % gain as opposed to a huge net loss which you will likely endure if you go at it alone.
Another point I missed on how Buffet/Mutual funds have a leg up on us. They have channel checks, they know people in the supply chain, they know the dealings, they know exactly how many products a company is selling and what is its worth in the market place. They have strategically placed people who give them this information regularly. We have to rely on yahoo finance and google news :)

And, yes you seem to have gotten the company name right. Now I will have to kill you.

Anonymous said...

Looks like you now work for Mr Jobs..it's amazing how much you can find about a person on internet..looks like you are from Mumbai..went to UT Austin?...

Pulkit said...

Obviously you know me and I know you. You live in the Cupertino/Bay area. I can tell from the IP address. With a little more effort I can actually zero-in on your exact address. Or you could end this anonymous love affair of ours and come out in the open :)