We need to know who we are in order to do well in stock market investing
THE recent strong market rally caught many investors by surprise again.
Most investors, including some analysts, predicted earlier that it was just a bear market rally. They have been hoping the market will turn down again. Unfortunately, it has been moving up strong without looking back.
For investors who have not invested during the recent low in March 2009, they are getting very worried as they are not benefitting from the recent rally. They may even wonder whether they should jump in now in order not to miss the boat.
Another group of investors, who have managed to catch some stocks at cheap prices during the previous market low, are also facing the dilemma of whether to lock in their gains now or continue to hold on to their gains. Some even regretted selling their stocks too early last month.
We all know that it is very difficult, in fact impossible, to predict stock market movement. Most investment gurus will refuse to time the market.
Howard Kahn and Cary Cooper published a book titled “Stress in the Dealing Room” in 1993. According to their surveys done on 225 dealers, 73.8% of them suffered from fear of “misreading the market.” Most dealers have the same problem of acquiring and handling information.
We believe that in order to do well in stock investing, we need to know ourselves, especially in controlling our emotion on greed and fear.
Due to information overloading, our emotion is highly influenced by the news that we read. Each time we feel that the market is getting bullish and time to buy stock, the overall market will collapse the moment we enter.
On the other hand, the moment we fear that it will drop further and we have decided to cut losses, we will notice the market will recover after that. Most of the time, the prices of stocks that we sold were at the lowest of the recent fall.
In order to control our greed and fear, we need to ask ourselves whether the market has discounted the news that we have received.
For example, many analysts have been bullish lately, having the opinion that the worst may be over for the market based on the recent economic indicators which showed that the overall economy may have stopped contracting or is on its way to recovery.
Nevertheless, the recent strong market rally would have discounted this bullish news. In fact, we need to ask ourselves whether the current stock prices can be supported by the fundamentals for certain listed companies.
In our experience, in most cases, the moment we feel like buying stocks is the best time to sell them while the moment that we feel like selling them is in fact the best time to buy. We can apply this contrarian theory quite successfully in most periods.
Sometimes, if we are taking in too much contradicting information and, as a result, get confused over the market direction, we feel that the best strategy is to stay away from the market until we have a better and clearer picture of the overall market or the economic situation.
We should not be influenced by other opinions.
There are times that we need to follow our heart. Sometimes, our hearts try to warn us from taking hasty investment decisions. However, we refuse to follow our intuition but instead, choosing to get influenced by others or the information that we read and ending up making mistakes.
In conclusion, we need to maintain our concentration.
We should not be led by the market sentiments regardless whether it is on the way up or crashing down fast. We need to go back to the fundamental of economic situation and the companies’ performance and future prospects.
One way to minimise the feeling of regret is to stagger our purchase and selling. We will only know the peak when the market starts turning downwards and vice versa. Therefore, by staggering, we will have an averaging effect rather than taking a one-time hit, especially if it is at the wrong timing.Ooi Kok Hwa is an investment adviser and managing partner of MRR Consulting