Contra's Not Investing Is As Important As Investing

Contra The Heard’s second-quarter investment newsletter just came in the mail and the big news is no news.

There were no buys or sells during the past quarter. Some subscribers may chafe at the inactivity, but what you don’t do in investing can be as important as what you do. To use blogger Confused Capitalist’s paraphrasing of Blaise Pascal’s dictum: “Most of man's troubles come from his inability to sit and be quiet for 20 minutes.” (1)

As for the dearth of purchases, it reflects the Contra Guys’ seasonal tendency to concentrate buying at year end (tax-loss selling) as well as the scarcity of bargains to be found in the current, “picked over” market. Signs of a slowdown in the U.S. are also taking some of the pressure off, they say.

In addition to the usual review of holdings (down to 15 now), the advisory gets introspective with a look back at past decisions. The review is frank in admitting mistakes made on buying into certain picks, notably Abitibi Consolidated (ABY-OLD), Cygnal Technologies (CYGGF), and Kelman Technologies (KLMTF). They will continue to be held, but the Contra Guys seem to be saying they would rather have not bought them.

Footnote (1) Blaise Pascal exact words: “All sorrow has its root in man's inability to sit quiet in a room by himself.”