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5 Thoughts For Investing In 2014

The year 2013 has ended. And today being the first Sunday of 2014, I have luckily got some free time to sip a cup of hot coffee and to think about what might happen in 2014, and how it would affect stocks, investments and my portfolio.
 
coffee 2014
First Sunday Coffee || 2014
 
Indian Markets Are Not Cheap
With large cap indices like Sensex and Nifty50 trading at 18-19 times earnings, it is quite clear that as of now, Indian markets are not (very) cheap. [Read more about how to know whether Indian markets are trading cheap or not here]. Experts might tell you that current PE ratios are 14 and 15. But that is because they are considering earnings in 2015 and 2016. Not 2013 and 2014. So, don’t believe too much of what experts have to say. And if you like watching business channels like CNBC, then do it for just one reason. 😉
 
Keep Cash At Hand
If the markets are not cheap, then it’s a good idea to stay out of markets for the time being and start hoarding cash. Because it is only a matter of time, when markets would once again regress towards the mean and correct (valuation wise) and give some tremendous buying opportunities. And you don’t want to run out of cash when there is a distress-share sale. Isn’t it?
 
Invest In Business, Not In Politics
With Aam Aadmi Party’s surprising win in Delhi, it seems that everybody has become an expert in politics. And with BJP and Congress ready to fight it out in the coming elections, it is inevitable that someone, somewhere would recommend you to buy shares of companies which might benefit from either party’s coming to power. Though it may seem like a good idea to buy stocks of companies which are friends with possible election winners. But this can be risky. You can never be sure of who is going to win these elections. Did any one of us had even a slight idea that within 6 months of active politics, Mr Kejriwal would become Delhi’s CM? So the point which I am trying to make is that almost anything can happen in politics. It is better to buy shares of a company because its business is good and its shares are available at a good price. And not because its owners are friends of Prime Ministers-To-Be. Period.
 
Beware Of New Banks
With only a few months remaining before the new banking license are awarded, its obvious that one would become quite excited about this episode and try to guess the names of new banks before RBI does it. Though it seems and is highly possible that prices of applicants who get the new banking licenses would soar, the fact remains that banking as a business is not easy. And though India is under-banked, it is also true that the existing banks are pretty strong and would not allow new players to take their turf easily. So, I am not saying that don’t buy stocks of new applicants. I am just saying that it’s a bad idea to become over excited about the whole issue. Just be fearful when others are greedy. Remember Reliance Power  and you will understand what I mean. 🙂
 
I Am Not Investing To Beat The Index
This thought is something which has always been one of my key decision makers. I have always believed that money should be available when one needs it to be. And that should be the whole purpose of investing. So, it does not matter whether I am beating the index or not, as long as I am able to fund my needs, desires and at times, greed(s) 😉 So beating the index would be great, but I am not Warren Buffet, and I am not going to loose even one night’s sleep over it.
 
So that’s it. These were some of my early-morning-first-sunday-of-new-year-thoughts :-).
 
I would be happy to hear your thoughts as well as your arguments against my thoughts. It’s always better to debate the initial (raw) thoughts rather than older (established) ones. So do let me know…
 
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Last 5 Years, Next 5 Years – A small study on Indian Stock Markets

Everyone interested in stock markets these days has following perception:–
Markets have not done anything in last 5 years. The index has not moved anywhere at all!!
And that is true. Numerically speaking, markets seem to have done almost nothing in last 5 years (2008-2013).
Now it seems sensible & obvious that one should buy low and sell high. But what should one do when markets have not done anything substantial in last few years? And we are not talking about individual stocks here. We are talking about broader markets. The indices. Individual stocks can take an altogether opposite trajectory than the market.
To answer this question, we decided to look back into the past. We analysed Nifty’s data for last 22+ years (1990-2013). We checked this data for two things:
  • Returns during last 5 years (for everyday since 1995)
  • Returns during next 5 years (for everyday till 2008)

And what we found is summarized in table below –
 

Returns in last 5 Year – Returns in Next 5 Years – Correlation

What the above table means is that – “If returns of last 5 years are not great, chances of having great returns in next 5 years are pretty high.”
Now that should bring a smile on faces of those who keep cribbing about poor returns in last 5 years. 🙂
So will the market give stellar returns in next 5 years (2013-2018)? The answer is that we don’t know. But as per historical data, chances are quite high.

So, will you take chances now? Will you go ahead and invest for next 5 years? What will you do?

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Power of doing nothing in stock markets – Indian Stock Markets Perspective

A study found that a goalkeeper who stands in the middle — the stock market equivalent of doing nothing — has better success than one who tries to guess which way a free kick will come. It was found that goalkeepers jumped to the left or the right significantly more than was useful in preventing goals. In fact, they jumped an overwhelming 94 percent of the time – meaning they stayed in the middle only 6 percent of the time. In comparison, the shot went towards the centre 29 percent of the time. Goalkeepers, it seems, could achieve more by doing less.

 
 
 
Similarly in managing stocks in your portfolio, it is often best to stay in the centre and do nothing. Sitting put on your index funds & dividend stocks, not trying to find the bottom & most importantly, not panicking, serves an investor better than trying to guess and time the markets.
 
Experts (though you should not believe them blindly) agree that investors will be better off resisting the temptation to make changes to their long-term investments simply because of short-term stock market movements. If your personal circumstances and financial goals haven’t changed, and you are still interested in being invested for the long term, then it is probably appropriate to ‘do nothing’.
 
To test the benefits of doing nothing in Indian markets, we analyzed the data for last 20 years. We specifically looked at 5 & 10 year rolling returns (CAGR) of Sensex (index) to understand whether it made sense to invest once and sit through years doing nothing?
The results are shown in graphs below –
 
Click to enlarge
Returns on rolling 5 Years
  • Average 5 years returns have been a good 11.8% pa. i.e. if you invested some money in index (Sensex in this case) and did nothing for next 5 years, your money would have grown at a rate of 11.8% every year (Doubling in just over 6 years).
Click to enalrge
Returns on rolling 10 Years
  • Average 10 years returns have been a good 10.9% pa. i.e. if you invested some money in index (Sensex in this case) and did nothing for next 10 years, your money would have grown at a rate of 10.9% every year (Doubling in just over 6.5 years).

Now these two figures of 11.8% & 10.9% are not earth shattering, but if maintained for decades, they have the potential to make investor following do-nothing approach, super rich.

 
Summarizing our finding in table (below), we found some interesting things –
 
  • In all we had 201 Five-Year Periods. Of these returns earned in excess of 10% were 91 of those periods. i.e. 45%
  • The buy and hold strategy (for 5 Years) beat long term average of 11.8% a good 37% of the time.
  • For Ten Year Periods, we had a fewer 141 periods. Returns earned in excess of the long term average of 10.9% were a brilliant 59% of the time. i.e. If you stayed invested for 10 years and did nothing, chances of beating the long term average were a high 59%.

And you thought that buying and holding did not work! 🙂

 
So does it mean that Doing-Nothing works? We would say that it does, but only if you are ready to follow it for long term. And long term means years (decades) and not months. Frankly, there doesn’t seem much point in overanalyzing, overthinking, and exhausting oneself by trading in the short term. We must understand that it is TIME and NOT TIMING that is the key to successful investing.