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Investors Should Use Microscopes - Weekly Blog # 513

Mar. 05, 2018 3:49 AM ET
Mike Lipper, CFA profile picture
Mike Lipper, CFA


Learning experiences occur everyday for investors with an active, searching mindset. We can see their importance more clearly if we utilize a number of tools. At this point in the market's evolution from a combination of volatility and no forward progress for many stocks, we should be searching for some guides for both our investment emotions and our considered actions. I am suggesting there may be some valuable insights being offered by looking through a microscope as to very recent investment performance for equities and fixed income.

Current Views through a Microscope - Equities

One of the basic beliefs supporting market analysis is that from time to time the ownership of stocks rotates from "strong" sound, long- term holders to short-term oriented momentum trading "weak" players. Strong and weak are applied loyally to their current holdings. In theory, the market's purpose for periodic meaningful declines is to shake out the weak holders selling at indiscriminate prices; e.g., offering bargain prices to strong buyers who foresee longer term value at these depressed prices. Historically, after a low price is followed by a rally, the question comes up whether the low price is actually the bottom of the move. Often a second or even a third down move "test" is required to convince some strong investors to be buyers. These tests can be at or somewhat near the prior low price. For me it is not only the price move that is critical in declaring a bottom. What I look for is a dramatic change in attitude on the part of the sellers who are exhausted from the emotions of the decline and proclaim they are leaving the game, often calling it "fixed." At the moment I am not hearing this lament from the sellers. Thus, I believe the February bottom to be a weak bottom. Most of the time weak bottoms are not when the base for subsequent, substantially new highs are generated.

This article was written by

Mike Lipper, CFA profile picture
A. Michael Lipper is a CFA charterholder and the president of Lipper Advisory Services, Inc., a firm providing money management services for wealthy families, retirement plans and charitable organizations. A former president of the New York Society of Security Analysts, Mike Lipper created the Lipper Growth Fund Index, the first of today’s global array of Lipper Indexes, Averages and performance analyses for mutual funds. After selling his company to Reuters in 1998, Mike has focused his energies on managing the investments of his clients and his family. His first book, MONEY WISE: How to Create, Grow and Preserve Your Wealth (St. Martin's Press) was published in September, 2008. Mike’s unique perspectives on world markets and their implications have been posted weekly at Mike Lipper’s Blog since August, 2008.

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