Tag Archives: stocks

Are you selling your stocks at the wrong time?

23 Jun

First of all, let me take disclaimer that I am not an expert in the equity markets nor a qualified personal finance professional to advise anyone. However, since I have been doing online share trading for almost 12 years now, I thought of sharing my experiences on how I could have made more profits by exiting stocks at the right time (By the way, I never made huge profits but fortunately I am not at loss)

Stock selling strategies and tips

Most people are good at making the right calls when it comes to picking the right stocks at the right time. However, more often than not, after they sell they will be shocked to see that the shares that they sold are moving up faster. This is because they never had a proper exit plan for that particular stock. The following are some tips for you to help you sell your stocks at the right time.

Have a target price when you buy

When you buy a particular stock or share, you should have a target exit price in mind already. This has to be arrived on the basis of the valuation of the stock, prevailing sector conditions, momentum etc. Even if you are investing for five days or five years, this is very important and more over you have to record that planned exit price.

Your first analysis is almost always the best

When you set a target price while buying, that exit price is probably based on thorough analysis and hence the best exit price. You should not keep changing that figure unless the valuation of the stock or the sector it belongs to dramatically changes. If that is the case, you have to re-rate the stock after further analysis and keep an additional exit point and make it a point to sell at this price. If there is no change in prevailing conditions around the stock or the company, it is always advised to sell at the original exit price.

Never sell a stock that is peaking day by day

If a stock is flying on a momentum and hitting 52-week highs day after day, then you may get a better price. Keep putting higher stop losses and change your sell price (above original exit price) to get maximum profits. As a thumb rule, never sell a momentum stock that has just hit the 52 week high.

Sell ASAP if the company falters

If there is negative news on your invested company, it is a call for immediate sell at whatever loss or profit. You have to always keep track of the stock news of your favorite companies via online stock news alerts and not through news papers. By the time you read your financial news papers, you are already very late.

Sell early to balance you portfolio

Another situation where you might exit a stock prematurely is to balance your overall finance portfolio or equity portfolio alone. In the first case, you have decided to keep say 30% in equities and due to several recent transactions if that proportion has gone way up, you may want to de-risk your portfolio by selling a few stocks. Similarly, within your equity portfolio, if a particular sector is over represented you may want to adjust it via further selling of some existing entities.

Sell early for any tax benefits

At times, especially towards the end of the financial or taxation year, you see that your capital gains may be offset via booking loss on certain non-performing or turtle stocks. This is sometimes good to reduce your taxes – based on the existing rules of course – as well as to give further and better buying opportunities in the next financial year.

…and finally…

Never listen to analysts on TV

These are the bunch of foxes who basically wants to play with the sentiments of investors and keep changing their stand from time to time. If necessary, you may have a paid financial adviser, who is interested in making money for you because he gets paid by you but never take those analysts’ free advice. But as I mentioned in one of the tips above, keep track of all news related to your stock and be smarter.

By the way, the tips mentioned here are applicable for those who are investing in stocks and not trading.

Happy investing!

Investment strategy in a volatile market

7 Nov

Indian bourses have been setting new and new index highs every other week amidst heavy volatile trading. There are many arguments in favour of the Indian growth story. Some believe that what we are seeing here is a fundamental move where as some others swear that India is a special case compared to other emerging markets and we will keep going up. Some wisemen and analysts even predict targets for the ‘Sensitive Index‘ for not just 2008 but for 2010 and 2020 as well. The weakening dollar combined with the huge market capitalization gains have made Mukesh Ambani the richest person on earth in less than two months time. However, it may be a matter of couple of months before 9 out of 10 retail investors loose out in the market after being exposed to the high-risk game in the volatile market. Having seen and experienced three huge market falls in my investment life, I would like to advise the inexperienced retail investors to be very cautious at this point of time.

Good, bad and ugly…

There are a couple of things that are going really good in India recently. The first and foremost thing is the consistent economic growth rate of 8% and above that the country has been achieving of late. The other good thing (which resulted in the first one) is that there are couple of wise men sitting on top
who are driving the Indian economic story – P, Chidambaram and Y.B. Reddy being the prominent ones supported by other organizational leaders of SEBI etc. Strengthening rupee, low inflation rates, increase in foreign exchange reserve, turned-around PSUs, focus on futuristic infrastructure planning etc are some of the positive results of good overall leadership. The current Indian finance ministry, Reserve Bank of India and SEBI are almost always prompt in rolling out policies for positive growth and also to curb abnormalities like credit or sub-prime issues and indirect FII inflows.

However, there are couple of other things that are not really in favour of a stable economy – the first being the fact that we are having a very unpredictable political alliance at the center that can fall anytime. Many of the economical reforms, tie-ups with developed countries and global capital institutions etc are often thwarted by one or the ally. Secondly, the inability to manage (appreciate/depreciate rupee!) the rupee value at an optimum level against the US dollar has badly affected the export houses and industries like Software, textile and jewelry. Third biggest factor is that the huge FII money that is coming as foreign exchange is not really used for any long term planning. Due to the high volatility, this kind of money is not being used for developmental activities.

Some myths associated to the volatility

India is a special case and the bull run has to continue: Wrong! I personally believe that the fair value for the sensex should be around 13000-14000 at the moment as compared to the PE multiples of other stable emerging markets. The market has been fueled by the FII inflows and it can reduce anytime and India is
not really a special case.

Sensex is so high that I cannot enter now!: Wrong! Sensex is only an indicator of a small set of 30 stocks. At any point of time there are enough value stocks available in the market that you can buy.

PE valuations don’t apply any longer: Stupidity! If a few stocks are shot up because of momentum, it doesn’t mean that we are in a special situation and we can forget the valuations. If Educomp and RNRL are currently being traded at 400 or 500 times forward earnings, they are dangerously risky trading bets and not
any good for investment. Another example: Majority of IT stocks used to trade at 30 to 40 PE multiples for almost ten years now. This does not mean that, going forward Infosys is still fairly valued and be a multibagger!

Momentum trading is better than value buying in a volatile market: Wrong! Value buying is always the best mechanism to invest. Momentum trading may not be there for ever and can wipe out your money at any time.

It’s better to keep booking profits regularly to reduce risk: Wrong! If you have done your homework about your investment portfolio (See long term portfolio below) you don’t need to do this. In fact, booking profits at regular intervals will badly affect your returns. However, it is also a good option if you maintain your investment portfolio and trading portfolio altogether separated. For fun and high risk gambling you could use the trading path while the investment portfolio is probably for your retirement life.

I should book profit on my mutual funds now: No, unless you are in urgent need of money. Mutual funds are long term instruments for wealth accumulation and an ideal way to enter them is via Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs). It is not investor’s job to time the market for MF investment but your fund manager will take care of that part. So never trade a mutual fund.

A few investment tips

If you are in doubt whether you should enter the market now or not, opt for the SIP route of investment via mutual funds. Ideally SIPs should be for subscribed
for a longer investment period of say greater than two years.

Never buy your stocks in bulk: The self managed SIP route can be taken for buying even stocks. ie. You buy larger quantities when the prices go down and smaller quantities when you feel that the prices are a big high. In other words, build your portfolio over a number of months and years and not overnight. Please note that this rule is applicable only to fundamentally strong long term portfolio stocks.

Avoid playing momentum stocks. 8 out of 10 traders make losses on such trading opportunities.

If you want to play volatility then opt for some of the best exchange traded index funds. One great example for the same is Benchmark Nifty Exchange Traded
Scheme. This is a fund that invests in NIFTY stocks and is pretty much reliable in terms of low tracking error.

Don’t buy a stock due to market or analyst pressure or rumours. Do your homework before entering each and every counter.

Avoid having more than 25 or 30 percent weightage on mid and small cap stocks in your long term portfolio.

Identify sectors that have long term value and those sectors and companies that are often affected by government policies, weather, margin pressure etc. For example, textile stocks and software companies are affected big time by the rising rupee and hence they may not yield the same kind of returns as in the past. Another sector which should be almost always avoided is the airlines which are always under margin pressure.

Periodically (every three months or so) inspect your long term portfolio for any fundamental changes or external parameter influence.

Try to diversify your investment across at least four to five sectors and six to ten different stocks. Never put your bulk investment into one or two stocks alone.

Try to diversify in terms of investment instruments. One should have a good mix of Post Office deposits, equities, mutual funds, fixed/term deposits, gold and real estate in their long term portfolio. For long term, gold may be an excellent investment. Again Benchmark’s gold exchange traded fund (ETF) and DSP Merril Lynch’s World Goldfund are excellent picks for low risk investments.

My long term portfolio picks (In the order of portfolio weightage and large cap to small cap order)

L&T
Grasim
BHEL
Punj Lloyd
Reliance Communications
Crompton Greaves
Tata Steel
Bajaj Auto
ACC
SBI
NTPC
HCL Technologies
Voltas
Britannia Industries
Cipla
Kesoram Industries
Bharati Shipyard
EIH Ltd
Apollo Hospitals
NIIT Technologies
Glaxo Smithkline Consumer
Ballarpur Industries
Orient Paper
City Union Bank
Hanung Toys

Note: Some of the above stocks are already fairly valued while some others should be entered during the next correction.

Disclaimer: As a retail investor I may or may not have vested interest in some of the scrips mentioned here. Readers are advised to do their homework and exercise discretion before attempting any investment.

Investment strategy for 2007 and beyond

7 Mar

The jittery that the Indian equity market is offering right now might make one wonder as to what instruments are right for this kind of conditions. A lot of people had hope in the real estate and infrastructure until the middle of 2006. This does not seem to hold good anymore with the financial minister rolling out a very ordinary Union Budget 2007-08. Interest rates are further heading northward and cement sector has been hammered with additional excise duties stamped on them.

The Indian market, unlike the not-so-recent-past, seems to be reading and vigorously reacting to the global cues. Earlier the upcoming economies and bourses were generally driven by one or two major factors such as global crude prices, local agricultural and manufacturing growth predictions, monsoon/rain forecasts etc. Nowadays FII (Foreign Institutional Investors) activities, far eastern market movements, US employment rates, terrorist threats, Greenspan’s untimely statements (and may be even George Bush’s mother-in-law catching a mild cold) etc seems to be taking the Indian market for a roller coaster ride. The volatility is so high that small-time retail investors are the worst suffered in most cases.

(Before trying to analyze what is the best form of investment going forward, let me put forth a disclaimer. Here I am going to talk only from the view point of young – includes middle-aged persons like me – investors. I cannot really talk on behalf of the older and matured lot of investors.)

Equities for long term

I still believe that equities are the best instruments to meet your long term financial needs. This is because of the fact that no other options could yield good enough returns to beat the high inflation rates. With proper planning it is possible that the equities can yield upward of 12% annualized returns in long term. No other instruments can possibly guarantee this kind of returns on investment. So if you are below thirty or thirty five, it may be a good idea to expose 50% of your portfolio to equity market (stocks or equity oriented funds – both with long term horizon in mind). Now I am sure that most of the youngsters out there have already taken care of this aspect. The missing trick could the ‘long term’ factor. Most of the younger lot that I interact with want fast money that matches their fast lifestyle – This does not quite work with equities. Long term investment is preferred (Tip 1) over risky trading. Also, stock or fund picking becomes easier in this case.

The most critical aspect is in picking the right stocks with long term (10-20 years) value in mind. If you look at the past performance of certain blue-chip companies this may not be all that difficult. But any portfolio will get some extra punch (Tip 2) if it has one or two mid-caps that offers greater mid-term growth. Most of the time the difficult part is picking these strap-on boosters that mostly keep changing in your portfolio every other year or so. In this case one might need professional advice (and not rumours) and help from company research reports. One can afford to have one or two such scrips (Max 15% of your equity exposure) in a portfolio of 12-15 pure long-term plays. If you are sure about your long-term picks, don’t let the market fluctuations affect your decisions. Ups and downs are common in the market and you never loose in holding a good long term play that temporarily goes down. In other words, even if the current market price (CMP) is less than your purchase price, it is only notional. i.e. You don’t loose anything unless you sell them. So never sell your shares at loss (Tip 3)!

Mutual Funds

Equity oriented mutual funds are for those who don’t want to take risks on which stocks to pick. If one goes for a mutual fund he/she is basically delegating this management risk to the fund managers those who have better insights and scientific research capabilities and tools to analyze potential companies to invest and their shares better. This is always a wise choice for long term growth.

Picking an equity oriented fund is far easier than picking a stock. Most of the fund performance data (as well as fund manager’s reputation and profile) is published on various portals and is available for your reference. One needs to consider at least past three years’ – preferably more than 5 years – performance of a fund before making a decision. One might want to pick a mix of funds than just one to make sure that the equity exposure is spread across a good blend of large cap stocks of huge companies and mid cap stocks of upcoming companies. One should take care not to invest all the money in mid cap oriented funds

Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs) are very good for those have as steady income and who don’t want take decisions on when to invest. This is indeed a very good mechanism to make sure that investment as a ‘systematic’ habit is built into an individual. But please remember that SIPs are only worth if you have a longer investment horizon. Ideally, one should think of investing in SIPs if you opt of 2-5 years (or even more) of monthly recurring investment. If you don’t want to commit for a systematic plan and you are an adamant investor, you could still invest systematically by entering your selected funds on low market days of every month. But then you should stick to your own resolutions and plans. Go sip is my tip 4 for you.

SIPs can be really good for entering mutual funds. But why not SIP or similar approach for buying stocks? Say, you want to purchase 100 shares of ITC this year. Why not buy 10 each every month at possible dips? It is always better to buy shares in smaller quantities (Tip 5) over a number of times until you acquire as much as you want.

All that glitters is GOLD!

As long as the Indians have their craze for the yellow metal, investing in gold is a very effective mechanism for wealth creation. If you see the way the gold prices have been shooting up for the past six years you will realize that purchasing gold is a lot better option than investments such as bank deposits or post office schemes. So whenever the gold prices are having minor dips or if it is non-wedding seasons in India, make it a habit to buy some gold (Tip 6). One can have as much as 15% (ideally 10%) gold in his portfolio. Also, never buy gold as jewelery but buy them in the form gold bars or coins which is easier to sell and will not have any depreciation or making charge related issues. The purity of the gold should be confirmed before buying the same. A good bet could be purchasing the same from banks like ICICI that offers 99.9% pure gold bars at market rates. Those who travel via gulf countries like UAE may make it a habit to buy gold abroad which is probably 10% cheaper than Indian gold prices. Also purity is guaranteed in that case.

Another excellent way of investing in gold is via the newly launched Gold Exchange Traded Funds (ETF). This option also provides you the protection that comes along with the dematerialized form of investing – you don’t need lockers and strong rooms in this case. Systematically adding a few units every month to the gold scheme may help in the long run.

Plan your Provident Fund

One of the other ways to passively invest for long term is via additional contribution to your provident fund. Why is this important? It is important because it is the only guaranteed mechanism towards your retirement planning unless you opt for some pension funds. Also, I personally believe that it is meant for the times when India becomes a developed nation (20-25 years from now) where interest rates are below 2.5% or 3% and inflation is almost nil. You will realize the value of money that you saved then. However, it is not a good idea to put more than 10% of your monthly income into PF in addition to what the employer contributes. From time to time the government will announce additional interest towards PF contributions. One needs to exploit these grace periods by adding more contribution to his/her PF whenever these offers are valid (Tip 7).

Commodities

Commodity trading is the other form of strap-on boosters that one can experiment to make short term money out of price variations in the commodity market. The commodity market in India is huge now since the government allowed the trading of the same via exchanges since 2004. Earlier only bullion trading was possible. However, I do not have any tips to pass on here as I am yet to experiment trading in commodities. But I am told that it is a very good money making mechanism in India where there are predictable patterns on the price movements as we have hundreds of festivals and seasonal events.

Real estate

25 years from now, having own land on earth may become a luxury. That will be the time when part of the human crowd will be living in other planets or may be living in one of the closets in a 250 storied apartment complex. So investing in real estate (not apartments but land) is a vise choice any day. As an investment, one does not need to be in the look out of prime locations or within city limits. Grab whatever you can (Tip 8) at throw away prices in remote areas or mountains or marshy lands or wherever. The land that comes at Rs 10 per sqft in timbuktu will be fetching you Rs. 5000 per sqft in another 20 years. Also technology will be developed to convert even wastelands into attractive home or business areas. But beware, if you want to lead a very peaceful retirement life, real estate may not be the long term thing for you.

Managing and looking after real estate in itself is a physically tiring and highly demanding activity that might deny you sleep. But it will always remain an ever-appreciating asset. Lastly, if you want to accumulate assets that will appreciate, you should also cut down on your ‘early spending’. The current consumerism and youth’s lifestyle is such that they want to be the first one to buy a new model of mobile phone, mp3 player, plasma TV or a better car as soon as it hits the market. The cost of an early buying could be double compared to differing that decision by six months or an year – especially when it comes to buying electronics. The more you cut such expenses the stronger your wealth creation path is.

Happy investing!

(Personal note: With the above words on investment wisdom one would naturally think that a seasoned investor is sitting at the other end. I should apologize that I am one of the losers on the bourses thought the blame goes to Harshad Mehta, Ketan Parekh, dot com fall or World Trade Centre attack :) But the good news is that I have started thinking long and the bad news, I am yet to put some of these thoughts into practice)