Course 509: 20 Stock-Investing Tips
Tips 11-15
In this course
1 Introduction
2 Tips 1-5
3 Tips 6-10
4 Tips 11-15
5 Tips 16-20
6 The Bottom Line

11. Prepare for the Situation to Proceed Faster than You Think.
Most deteriorating businesses will do so faster than you anticipate. Be very wary of value traps, or companies that look cheap but are generating little or no economic value. On the other hand, strong businesses with solid competitive advantages will often exceed your expectations. Have a very wide margin of safety with a troubled business, but do not be afraid to have a much smaller margin of safety for a wonderful business with a shareholder-friendly management team.

12. Expect Surprises to Repeat.
The first big positive surprise from a company is unlikely to be the last. Ditto the first big negative surprise. Remember the "cockroach theory." Namely, the first cockroach you see is probably not the only one around; there are likely scores more that you can't see.

13. Don't Be Stubborn.
David St. Hubbins memorably said in the movie This is Spinal Tap, "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever." In investing, the line between being patient and being stubborn is even finer, unfortunately.

Patience comes from watching companies rather than stock prices, and letting your investment theses play out. If a stock you recently bought has fallen, but nothing has changed with the company, patience will likely pay off. However, if you find yourself constantly discounting bad news or downplaying the importance of deteriorating financials, you might be crossing that fine line into stubborn territory. Being stubborn in investing can be expensive.

Always ask yourself, "What is this business worth now? If I didn't already own it, would I buy it today?" Honestly and correctly answering these questions will not only help you be patient when patience is needed, but it will also greatly help you with your selling decisions.

14. Listen to Your Gut.
Any valuation model you may create for a company is only as good as the assumptions about the future that are put into it. If the output of a model does not make sense, then it's worthwhile to double-check your projections and calculations. Use DCF valuation models (or any other valuation models) as guides, not oracles.

15. Know Your Friends, and Your Enemies.
What's the short interest in a stock you are interested in? What mutual funds own the company, and what is the record of those fund managers? Does company management have "skin in the game" via a meaningful ownership stake? Have company insiders been selling or buying? At the margin, these are valuable pieces of collateral evidence for your investment thesis on a company.

Next: Tips 16-20 >>


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