Herd Behavior

  • 26 Jun
    Don’t Follow The Herd: Why The Majority Of Investors Always Get It Wrong

    Don’t Follow The Herd: Why The Majority Of Investors Always Get It Wrong

    • Consider this, the question always remains the same: “What will my return on investment be?” But the answer changes all the time.
    • Thinking costs energy and humans prefer to let others do the thinking for them. Are you like that?
    • It’s important to know when to use history as a teacher.

    Introduction

    “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” 

    – Mark Twain

    When Albert Einstein was teaching at Oxford University, he gave his senior physics students exactly the same exam he had given them the year before. His assistant was disturbed by such a mistake, but before intervening he asked Einstein whether he actually made a mistake. Einstein replied that the exam was exactly the same. The assistant was even more concerned and asked why he would do such a thing. Einstein replied, “Well, the questions are still the same, but the answers have changed.” More →

  • 09 May
    Investment Research: The Challenge of Finding Attractive Investments

    Investment Research: The Challenge of Finding Attractive Investments

    • Bargains can be found through book value, special situations, 52 week lows, merger arbitrages, bankruptcies, etc.
    • It’s necessary to be a contrarian to be a value investor, though it might be painful for a while.
    • With experience, it will take less and less time to assess a stock and whether it has the potential to be a good investment.

    Introduction

    Last week we discussed Klarman’s view on the best business valuation methods. You can find the article here. Today we’ll discuss his approach to investment research.

    Studying fairly priced securities won’t get you far because you’re competing with thousands of others who have researched those companies and, especially in the current market environment, if there is anything worth owning, it will probably be expensive. Therefore, to find bargain investments, an investor has to look where others aren’t looking or refuse to look. More →

  • 27 Apr
    The S&P 500 Only Has Sentiment To Thank For The Gains In The Last 5 Years

    The S&P 500 Only Has Sentiment To Thank For The Gains In The Last 5 Years

    • Positive sentiment alone has added 950 points to the S&P 500 in the last 5 years.
    • The S&P 500 has returned 12% in the last 5 years, but only 4.5% in the last 10 years and just 2.7% in the last 17 years. Don’t let current positive sentiment lead you to such terrible long term returns.
    • The opportunity cost might be significant, but the long term picture of not following the herd looks much better.

    Introduction

    I know that if I buy a stock with a price to earnings (P/E) ratio of 10 and stable future business prospects, my very long-term return should be around 10%, plus inflation and eventual growth. If I buy a stock at a P/E ratio of 5, my returns will be around 20%, while if I buy a stock with a P/E ratio of 20, my returns will be around 5%. It’s as simple as that, in the long term. More →

  • 26 Apr
    If You’re An Investor, Now’s The Time To Get Out Of The S&P 500, Index Funds, & ETFs

    If You’re An Investor, Now’s The Time To Get Out Of The S&P 500, Index Funds, & ETFs

    • If you only look at averages, passive investing will always outperform active due to lower fees, but you can only expect average returns.
    • The market is skewed and inefficient due to huge flows into passive funds, outflows from active funds which should be doing the thinking, and euphoric management doing large stock buybacks. This creates a highly risky situation.
    • Avoid owning index funds, ETFs, and stocks that are largely owned by passive funds.

    Introduction

    There are two investing worlds. One is the world of active investing where the fund manager you hired analyzes company after company and invests in those they think are the best. The passive manager simply disperses your funds over an index where you will perform exactly as the market performs. With passive investing, fundamentals, dividends, growth, sales, scandals, and business trends don’t matter at all. More →

  • 19 Apr
    The Next Bear Market Is Coming. Here’s Where It Will Start.

    The Next Bear Market Is Coming. Here’s Where It Will Start.

    • $2 billion a day flows into Vanguard to be mindlessly invested in the market through index funds.
    • When the only reason people invest is because staying on the sidelines means getting sore while others get rich, it usually spells trouble ahead.
    • When the investors plowing $2 billion per day understand what are they buying at extreme valuations, the next bear market will arrive and it will be terrible as the buying reverses to selling.

    Introduction

    A recent The New York Times article described how Vanguard, the $4.2 trillion mutual fund, is the fastest growing fund due to the attractiveness of passive investment vehicles and the average 0.12% fee the fund charges. The low fee is something I applaud as I strongly believe fees in the financial world should be minimal or performance related where nothing is paid if the manager doesn’t deliver. More →

  • 15 Mar
    There’s Only One Reason The Markets Are Rising & Nothing Can Be Done About It

    There’s Only One Reason The Markets Are Rising & Nothing Can Be Done About It

    • Everybody knows the market is extremely overvalued and risky, but nobody cares as long as it goes up.
    • Funds keep flowing into U.S. equities despite the fundamentals. This will be very painful when the trend reverses.

    Introduction

    We all know that in the long run, our investment returns are perfectly correlated to the underlying performance of the businesses we own in relation to the price we pay for ownership. If the price is high, our returns will be weak. If what we buy is cheap in relation to underlying earnings, our returns will be great or even amazing. This is a universal truth. However, there are some issues with it.

    The first is that even if most agree on the strong correlation between earnings and stock returns, very few like to think about the long term and instead prefer to only think about the short term. In the short term, stock returns are driven by equity flows and there is nothing that we can do about it even if it has been statistically proven that long term returns are perfectly correlated to underlying earnings and the greatest investors, like Ray Dalio and Warren Buffett, keep reminding us of this fact. More →

  • 24 Feb
    Goldman Sachs Is Probably Right But Is It Worth The Risk?

    Goldman Sachs Is Probably Right But Is It Worth The Risk?

    • Goldman Sachs recommends being overweight U.S. equities because of expected loose fiscal policies and because, as they have stated, valuations don’t matter.
    • Goldman expects a 3% yearly return on a moderate risk portfolio.
    • I’ll touch on what the average Goldman client is risking for their 3% yearly return.

    Introduction

    Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) recently released its 2017 market outlook. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the outlook is positive. It’s in their interest for stocks and the economy to continue to thrive as GS makes its money from IPO commissions, asset management fees, etc.

    Despite the conflict of interest, their positive outlook will most probably be correct at the end of 2017, but there is something more important than being right or wrong on a yearly forecast.

    Today we’ll discuss Goldman’s view and analyze the possible impacts on our portfolios. More →

  • 15 Feb
    The Institutional Performance Derby: The Client Is the Loser

    The Institutional Performance Derby: The Client Is the Loser

    • It’s important to understand how investing institutions operate and think so you don’t get trapped.
    • Nobody at these institutions eats their own cooking and there is no incentive to do anything. It reminds me of communism.
    • Institutional investing is a self-reinforcing mechanism, which is great in a bull market but terrible in a bear market.

    Introduction

    Seth Klarman’s book Margin of Safety is an iconic investment book. As it’s extremely difficult to get, I’m synthesizing it for you while injecting my own up-to-date commentary.

    You can read my introduction to Klarman’s Margin of Safety here, my review of chapter one, Where Most Investors Stumble, here, and my review of chapter two, The Nature of Wall Street Works Against Investors, here. Today’s article will discuss his The Institutional Performance Derby: The Client Is the Loser chapter. More →

  • 13 Jan
    Are You Part Of The Herd?

    Are You Part Of The Herd?

    • The current market has all the symptoms of herd behavior: safety in numbers, lack of proper information, and absence of competitive edge.
    • Market timing and contrarian investment strategies are tempting because of the high rewards, but fundamental value investing is what wins in the long term.
    • We’ll discuss markets that look safer and are much cheaper than the U.S.

    Introduction

    Yesterday we discussed how the situation in the U.S. economy isn’t sustainable in the long term. However, as the economy and the dollar are strong now, U.S. equities have enjoyed another positive period of inflows.

    In the first week of 2017, ETFs had $13.1 billion of inflows in total and the majority of that money ($8.7 billion) went straight into U.S. equities while $2.8 billion went into U.S. fixed income, and only $1.6 billion to international equity ETFs.

    The $8.7 billion going to U.S. equities is a clear indication of herd behavior. More →