A Call to Inaction
I want you to do something for me today. Well, really, it’s for you. I want you to promise that, as an investor, you’ll do nothing for a little while unless you absolutely have to.
Breakthrough Tech Profits recommendations are doing great, and I’d like to briefly and selectively take stock of just how well. But not at the cost of galvanizing you into action. This is a time to luxuriate in your good fortune, and do little else. Be lazy: you’ve earned it.
The BTP portfolio now includes seven winners with gains of at least 40%, including two – Nvidia (NVDA) and IAC Interactive (IAC) – recommended in the last four months. Most other picks are up as well, and many are off to a strong start in the portfolio. Evolent Health (EVH) is up 22% since late April.
This is, of course, largely a function of a bull market hitting new highs again after the routine recent correction. Between June 8 and July 6 the Nasdaq Composite dipped almost 4%.
Tears were shed, eulogies sung. On July 6 a cousin who works at Microsoft (MSFT) nailed the low by taking his equity exposure from 100% to 0%. He did it all in a day, because with things looking so dire there was no time to waste.
Since then, the Nasdaq has reeled off six straight gains and could close today at a new record. I wrote on June 12 that the incipient correction was going to take a while but was unlikely to mark a top. I take pride in reality checks like that; knowing when not to panic sell can be as useful as any stock recommendation.
The temptation to cash out is a perennial hazard of bull markets. And it’s not entirely driven by fear of future losses and the lure of cash. Big gains can also make us feel far too smart. Next thing you know you’re selling a proven winner to try your hot hand at “cheaper” stock that’s down on its luck. Such moves tend not to work out.
But don’t take my word for it. Famous speculator Jesse Livermore had a lot of different riffs on the idea that investors are best served to sit tight until there’s a very good reason not to. “It was never my thinking that made the money for me, it always was the sitting,” he liked to say. Of course, Livermore lost not one but three fortunes he made in the market by ignoring his own advice. Giving advice is easy; mastering our emotions and urges much harder.
Take heart from knowing that we’re now in precisely the circumstance that will reward sitting tight the most: an unambiguous bull market. Here’s the rest of that Livermore quote:
Got that? My sitting tight! It is no trick at all to be right on the market. You always find lots of early bulls in bull markets and early bears in bear markets. I’ve known many men who were right at exactly the right time, and began buying or selling stocks when prices were at the very level which should show the greatest profit. And their experience invariably matched mine – that is, they made no real money out of it. Men who can both be right and sit tight are uncommon.”
If you bought into Nvidia, or IAC, or Silicon Labs (SLAB), or Biotelemetry (BEAT), you’ve already accomplished half the mission: being right. The other hard part is to keep on being right (and risk becoming wrong again, of course) by doing nothing. Experience suggests you should err on the side of patience and laziness.
This is especially topical as we embark on another earnings season. There will be big up moves that will tempt you to lock in the gains and big down moves that will make it seem sensible to limit the downside. And then we could be in for weeks of a volatile and directionless chop fairly typical of the summer dog days. Resist the urge to act on short-term price action and news that will be long forgotten by October. If we do get actionable news on one of our stocks, I’ll alert you as quickly as possible.
I’m taking this time to review the performance and prospects of portfolio stocks and research new recommendations. There will be more options trades like the welcome recent opportunity to double-down on Teradyne via discounted calls, and more portfolio changes, additions as well as subtractions. But I’m not going to get lulled into spreading myself too thin, or obsessed with anticipating the next correction.
Trading environments like this one call for a little Zen. Meditate on your good fortune and enjoy the summer. And if you’d like to share your experience with any of the mentioned trades, please do below. It’s not the worst way to pass the time you won’t be spending “doing something” in this market.