If there was one word to describe my investing philosophy, that word would probably be screwed up. Wait. That’s two words.
As most of you already know, I have a, uh, unique way of investing. I scour the internet for companies that are beaten up. I love companies that are trading at multi year lows. I love companies that have had prior glory, and are currently experiencing tough times. To steal a baseball analogy, I’m looking for home runs when I invest, rather than the singles and doubles most investors strive for. It is an odd strategy, and it might not work for you. I think it’ll beat the market over time, but it might not. As always, don’t take investment advice from some dumbass with a blog. He should also have a Twitter account.
As I type this, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is bumping up against the 15,000 point mark, and the S&P 500 is trading at an all-time high. The TSX has lagged these two indexes, but only because of Canada’s overexposure to precious metals and natural resources. Canadian stocks that aren’t resource plays are doing just as well as most American stocks.
On the surface, the economy looks like it’s doing pretty good. Unemployment is falling. American real estate is recovering, while Canadian houses just refuse to go down in any significant way. The mess in Europe seems to be getting better. Companies are reporting record profits, as business is continuing to chug along. Hell, even my lazy ass has managed to stay gainfully employed. Things don’t look so bad.
Naturally, people are bullish. Retail investors are one of the biggest causes of this rally, as they continue to put funds into the market. (Although, people are actually putting more into bonds than equities. That’s probably not going to end so well.) Investor sentiment is pretty high. This is all good. And it’s why you should start selling some stocks.
SAY WHAT?!?!?!? (Insert that sound of the needle being lifted off a record.) Man. The 1970s called, they want my jokes back.
Contrarian investors generally look at sentiment as an inverse indicator. In English, that means when everyone thinks something is a good idea, I’m usually somewhat against it. And when everyone starts telling me Blackberry is a dog, that’s when I start to buy. This attitude can make for some interesting party conversations, except I generally hate parties. Mingling is worse than water boarding.
So naturally, as things start to look good, I’m looking to go in the opposite direction, and sell some of the stocks I’ve been holding since the 2008-09 period. I’m sitting on nice gains on Bank of Montreal and Telus, and I think they’ll get sold sometime in the next week or so. I bet you’re sitting on some nice gains too. Maybe it’s time to lock those gains in.
You don’t have to just sit on that cash either. I recently bought shares of France Telecom, and I think it’s a screaming buy at current levels. It pays a succulent dividend, they’re continuing to make decent money even though the French economy is still kinda weak, and they’re focusing on paying down debt over the next couple years. Oh, and it’s trading under book value. Telus, meanwhile, is trading at over two times book value. One of these stocks is a reasonable value. The other is pretty close to fully valued.
I continue to run my stock screens, and I’m finding some compelling value out there, but undervalued companies without major warts are becoming more rare. I’m not seeing a lot of value. That doesn’t mean value doesn’t exist, it’s just becoming harder to find. Think of good stocks like the G-spot. They’re tough to find, but they’re worth the work.
You’ve heard of the expression “sell in May and go away,” right? If you haven’t, it just means that stock markets generally go down during the summer months. It happened last year, and I think it’ll happen again this year. Things have been chugging along a little too smoothly for a little too long.
I think the market pulls back, and I want to have some cash available to buy some companies I like. If you’re sitting on some gains, maybe you should do the same thing. It’s harder to sell stocks than to buy them. They’re not your children, it’s time to let go.