11 June, 2008

Secrets to stock investing

Wonderful article on stock investing from Moneycontrol

an investment advisor, I get lots of queries from investors across the country. Here's a sample:

'I bought this scrip last week and it is down. Should I sell?'
'The markets are trading at a peak. Is it right to invest now?'
'I want to make maximum returns in minimum time. Suggest some stocks.'
'Which are the stocks worth buying with price less than Rs 50?'
'When will the market correct? I want to invest in some good shares.'

This kind of approach to investing in equity is a recipe for disaster.
There are some serious problems here. Let's pick up some important lessons.

Lesson 1

The moment the prices of scrips drop, say, by 5%-10%, we get worried. In that anxiety, we want to sell and get out.

Let's say the Reliance share you bought last week is down 10%. So what? Will Reliance business close down? Or will Mukesh Ambani run away with your money? No.

The movement in stock prices has no impact on the business. Reliance will continue to make profits and grow. Mukesh Ambani will continue to build world-class projects. If that is the case, Reliance shares will see new heights in future. Why bother about these falls which likely will only be temporary?

The problem is, we buy stocks, not businesses. The Tatas and Birlas have been around for over 100 years. Hundreds of successful companies have run for decades and continue to grow irrespective of the stock market volatilities.

Yes, some businesses succeed, some fail. There are ups and downs. That is the inherent nature of a business. But, in the long run, they will make profits and grow. That is where management counts. Good managements run profitable operations.

Second, that's why we diversify. Even if we lose money in a few stocks, we will still make lots of money in others.

Lesson 2

Recently, I read that if you had invested Rs 1 lakh in Infosys at the time of IPO, it would be worth about Rs 64 lakh (Rs 64,00,000) now. But how many people made that kind of money? None, I guess, except the employees and a lucky few who bought the shares but forgot about it.

Answer honestly: wouldn’t you have sold the shares when it doubled or tripled or became a ten-bagger? How many of us would have had the patience to hold on?

The problem is, we watch stock prices, not businesses. If people had kept track of the business, they would have seen the company had the potential to grow at 30%-40% per annum. Then they would have never sold their shares.

I know many people who got out at 10,000 Sensex levels, thinking the markets will correct and they will re-enter at lower levels. They are now ruing their decision. The problem: they were so obsessed tracking the Sensex that they didn't see strong economic and business growth.

Moral: Watch business growth, not rise in stock prices.

Lesson 3

The moment people buy a stock, they expect it to double soon. They see the stock ticker 10 times a day. They call their broker a couple of times daily to find out what is happening.

I have one question for such people. Can you set up a steel plant in one day? Can you build a power plant over the weekend? Can you start a mobile company and expect to have 1 million customers on
Day 1? No.

Businesses take time to set up, acquire customers and generate profits. Only when the companies increase their profits will the share price also increase.

Therefore, having bought a good business and good management, give it time to prosper. If you don’t have the patience, you might as well go to a casino or call-up Shah Rukh Khan at KBC.

Moral: The stock market is a serious long-term business, not a make-money-overnight casino.

Courtesy :: MoneyControl

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