“The way to win is to work, work, work, work and hope to have a few insights.”
– Charlie Munger
“People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to compositions as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times.”
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
"It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong."
- John Maynard Keynes
My time frame for looking at an investment would generally be between two to five years.
I approach investing as a social theorist and a cultural historian. As a result, I am a contrarian. Studying the history of financialization, I have to agree with value investors like Seth Klarman, George Soros, and John Quiggin that markets are ultimately inefficient. However, I am not an orthodox value-investor. I believe in diversified strategy so as to insure maximum gains while maintaining a "margin of safety." Understanding that markets will operate inefficiently, I sometimes find "playing the greater fool's game" will yield nice short term gains. I have been investing for five years and have had proven results. I offer unique insight on fundamentals that most analysts do not consider.
Cornelius Vanderbilt has done more than any other man to shape our idea of investing. He was the ultimate contrarian. As an investor he looked for both value and risk. His approach to markets is complex and contradictory but can be learned from.
B.A., NYU Gallatin School
M.A. CUNY Gradatuate Center [in progress]
I started a twitter. https://twitter.com/matt_finston
Having always been a learning machine, I speak five languages, have worked as a sales agent, project manager, translator, computer consultant, software engineer, built a house with my own hands, published books and essays on literature, philosophy and art, have written for magazines of various kinds in different countries.
After retiring early in 2004, little by little, I have become a fund manager for some friends and myself, following the principles of value investing laid out by Benjamin Graham, Phil Fisher, Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett. You can read about my thoughts on a suitable portfolio structure for early retirees here.
My articles should not be considered to be any kind of investment advice. What suits me well is not necessarily good for others, as successful investing is somewhat like a marriage: If only one is perfect, the marriage won’t work. So please do your own research and remember Benjamin Graham's advice: “The investor’s chief problem — and even his worst enemy — is likely to be himself.”
I sincerely hope that my readers will ignore the Performance calculations provided by Seeking Alpha (although only to Pro subscribers, I believe). For reasons unknown to me, some of my European stock picks seem to be tracked inaccurately by Seeking Alpha's system. Spin-offs are not included in total return calculations and many of my correction requests didn't receive any answer at all. Moreover, my time frame almost never is as short as only 1 year (the maximum included in Seeking Alpha's table) and personally I consider the 1 year performance of my stock picks to be close to meaningless.
I am a retired wall street attorney. I started out specializing exclusively in securities law. As I developed my practice, it morphed into a corporate finance practice specializing in mergers and acquisitions, with the securities law aspects being secondary.
I'm not much for diversification. I tend to put a substantial amount in a few baskets and then watch those baskets very, very carefully.
Private investor. Bought first stock in 1965. Held on for 20 years, following dad's advice, The Bulldog Philosophy: "Bite on to something that's got some meat to it and hold on until they chain you down, shoot you in the head, and tear it away from you with your teeth still attached to the carcass." Ahem.
Been through it all: the Crash after LBJ called for Guns and Butter & raised taxes & spending; Nixon campaigning to the right and governing to the left (stocks crash); the fear-mongering claims of the late `60s and `70s that the earth was heading into another Ice Age and the whole planet would soon be frozen, and if that didn't get us, exponential population growth would; the Nifty Fifty Crash (the first media/big NY House promoted stock con & ensuing blowout);
the first time the media and the government told us the world was running out of oil and prices spiked and stocks tanked; the Carter Years: 20% interest rates, 70% tax rates, & stagflation; the October `87 Crash; the `80s real estate crash after "tax reform" and the ensuing S&L Blowout along with 2200 lending institutions busting out over the next 7 years;
the fear-mongering claims beginning in the late `80s and continuing today that the planet is heating up to the point of boiling over (seas overflowing; islands disappearing; parts of the US East Coast under water; massive starvation from heated grounds causing soil erosion; coral reefs dying; fish and animals dying; Florida gone!);
Papa Bush's sharp turn to the left: a huge tax increase, the multi-billion-dollar handicap bill that busted thousands of small businesses, and the sex discrimination law, all costing businesses billions and producing the ensuing bad economy and stock turn down (big boon for lawyers, per usual);
the Clinton Administration attacks on every business sector: cigs, pharms, techs, banks, etc.; the Asian Contagion; the Y2-K Con (over $650 billion spent for absolutely nothing according to CNN; never mentioned again by the media or the government; they simply moved on to other scary predictions: Saddam Hussein, e.g.); the March 10, 2000 Dotbomb Explosion and tech blood bath aftermath;
15 years of Greenspan's manic interest rate moves; 9-11; the government forcing lending institutions to create the subprime loan (beginning in the `90s under Clinton) and the ensuing Cash-Credit-Crunch Crash of `08; 5 years of constant threats and attacks against Wall St., investors, Banks, savers, entrepreneurs, all forms of natural earth fuels, and most business sectors by Obama. Still standing.
Not a broker. Never been one. Not a tout. Never been one.
Do not own or run a hedge fund. Never have. Do not own or run a mutual fund. Never have. Do not receive any type of compensation for bullish or bearish statements. Never have. Never will.
Traded futures for four years in the 1980s, mostly index futures, but some commodities. Quit. Too antzy to sit in front of a screen all day. To heck with the money; would rather be broke than bored.
Hate charts. Refuse to read one. Don't send or tell me about them. If you do I'll delete you and them from my life. Must therefore dig through financial records and study ratios and try to figure out whether a company is actually doing what it claims. Some really boring stuff, trust me.
Have no idea at any time which way markets are going. Don't ask me. When someone tries to tout me on market direction, I stick my thumbs in my ears. If you write an article predicting market direction, I'll put you on my inexperienced boob list or my sham-artist list, and will not read you anymore until you mature or turn honest, whichever the case.
Occupation: Never had one. A drunkard by nature. Played golf when a child. Poker when I still had the brain of one.
My First Finite Absolute in Stock Investing: Never, ever buy a stock because an emissary from one of the Big New York Houses or Big National Banks touts it. When they upgrade or tout one, stay far away from not only that company—but that entire sector. If you happen to be invested in that company, take a second look at your investment. For it may be time to flee. The reverse is true when they downgrade one: you might want to take a look at buying it. No exceptions!!
First rule I pass on to young investors: Be humble about your investing and trading abilities, for if you do not, markets will eventually make you so.
Second Rule: Learn from your successful elders. For if they are still standing in the investment world when they are past 55 (and are not mere salesmen or touts or novices) and are still investing, they had to be doing something right—because it is a cruel environment that few survive.
Third Rule: Understand that, as soon as you step onto the investing field, you are dealing with heartless predators who work 24-hours a day to find ways to get your money out of your pockets and into theirs. The only way you can stop them from doing that is to start an account at a conservative brokerage firm that doesn't send you fliers every week telling you how its brilliant employees can make money for you or manage your money for you. Invest your money in companies that have good products, well-established management, good balance sheets, and have proven they can make it through hard times—which are bound to come every few years or so. Put your shares in an account that does not charge you for holding them, and leave them there as long as possible. You're about as safe from predators as you can possibly be, if you follow this rule.
Fourth Rule: Get the idea of making money by trading stocks out of your head. You're not going to be able to do it. If you think you're that good of a trader, trade futures—where you have a tremendous amount of leverage. If you are as good a trader as you think, you can make more money trading futures than you can find a place to put it. Of course, about 98% of futures traders lose money, so don't get your hopes too high on replacing Mexico Slim on the Forbes 400.
Fifth Rule: Invest; don't trade. Invest; don't save.
I help friends and family with their investments—gratis. I'm sorry to say, however, they all have to have jobs.
Ashraf Eassa is a technology specialist with The Motley Fool. He writes mostly about technology stocks, but is especially interested in anything related to chips -- the semiconductor kind, that is.
Civil engineer using nurtured logical predictive ability to increase my retirement accounts and thereby recover somewhat from the one two punch of a divorce (in 2007 I borrowed to settle and keep real estate) and real estate downturn (2008 my real estate went underwater).
Started investing in stocks in mid-2013 with $100k in a Roth IRA. Dropped to $69k, up to $500k, down to $105k, up to $670k, down to $315k, up to $850k. Goal is $4m by end of 2015. I am more than half way there having achieved an 8.5 bagger (end of 2015), I only need another 5 bagger to exceed my goal. TAX FREE.
"A man who follows an independent and contrary path has no guarantee of making money… but a man who follows the great mass of conventional wisdom is practically guaranteed that he will not."
Riches are made through focus and concentration on a few stocks. Riches are kept through diversification . . .
Current investments: RiteAid and Intel LEAPS
LEAPS for Fun and Profit: service only available to family and close friends :-)
Don't try what I am doing without your own extensive research.
I have retired from a 35 years career in the semiconductor industry. I now have the time to do the deep research necessary for successful investing.
I freely provide investment information for friends and family.
I am a member of MENSA, which means precisely nothing except I wake up in the middle of the night doing pointless math problems in my head:)