Checklist about market cycle – 13 -MASTERING THE MARKET CYCLE

We cannot predict the future and cannot see the future so that can we prepare for the future? How can we be positioning our investments? Answers to these questions lie in the understanding of the cycle and at where we stand at the current cycle.

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It’s not always what we buy that matters but at what price we are buying that matters a lot.

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These checklists help us to an understanding regarding cycle and where we stand at the cycle. That understanding helps us with what we should do and what can be the portfolio positioning. These checklists also help us to remove some mistakes such as buying little when risk is low so that capital allocation decision also can be improved. The capital allocation also one of the key elements to becoming a successful investor.

We all see the everyday events which were covered by the media but we also need to put effort to understand that what it is going to indicate to us. These efforts help a lot to us. I got saved in recent market turmoil due to understanding of the cycle which I have practised after reading “The Most Important Things”.

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I want to quote my learning from the most important things here to explain this concept with a few additions.

The earlier scene in the year 2017-18

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The current scenario in the year 2019-20

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We need to focus on the current scenario what it is indicating to us, not to worry about the future. If the current scenario tells us to stay away and we are into the third phase of the bull market then we need to adjust our portfolio accordingly. And if the current scenario suggests the third phase of the bear market then we need to adjust our portfolio positioning accordingly. We cannot track each and every information flowing around the world but we need to understand which of them are important and help us to reach the conclusion.

When market and psychology of the investors flying then do not care for the valuations. People argue that old valuation techniques do not work in the current period. Another argument is that we should look at the business, not stock so that valuation does not matter. But what happens to this logic when bear take a charge?

Old technique again starts taking place. Higher P/E looks as an unhygienic for the health of the portfolio and low P/E tempted to the investors.

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We can see that during the bull period even non-qualitative companies also traded at the multiple of quality companies.

There are qualitative and quantitative two phenomena which we can study to understand where we stand in the cycle. We always need to ask the question to ourselves how the assets priced and how the investors around us behave? That means the quantitative part refers to the valuation of the assets. And qualitative part refers to the behaviour of investors around us & understand it.

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Example – one of the E-Commerce company of India

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When the market is booming, the psychology of investors is positive, economy growing, people are eager to make an investment then low-quality securities also getting issued by providing a better rating.

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We have to be contrarian, have to learn to go against the wind prevailing in the market.

When market falling, people tend to stay away from it. They argue that keep away from catching a falling knife. But when dust gets settled and we realize that the final bottom has made, a bargain will also be gone.

There is no way to know when and at what price exact bottom has made. We come to know about the bottom only after it has made.

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We should avoid buying with leverage money because when pendulum moves towards extreme pessimism then we cannot able to know where it will stop and we get a margin call, due to the leverage. We get a disastrous outcome of such an act.

John Maynard Keynes is reputed to have said: “The market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.”

When the economy is in a troublesome period and investors psychology also negative then only, we get a good asset at a bargain price.

We have a two-risk scenario – one is a risk of losing money and the other one is a risk of missing out an opportunity. Investors have to make a balance between the risk. When market moving higher in the cycle, we have to focus more on the risk of losing money and when market-moving lower in the cycle, we have to focus on the risk of losing the opportunity. When there is a high chance of losing money then we have to play defensively and when there is a chance of missing out an opportunity then we need to play aggressively.

The cycle is going to happen and how we respond to it is the key matter. Successful investors are those who have survived under the different market cycle and that cycle makes them more thoughtful.

Disclosure – Companies mentioned in the article are just for an example & educational purpose. It is not a buy/sell/ hold recommendation. 

Read for more detail: Mastering The Market Cycle: Getting the odds on your side by Mr.Howard Marks

8 – THE CYCLE IN ATTITUDES TOWARD RISK – MASTERING THE MARKET CYCLE

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In a good time, people do not care for the risk. They believe that they will be able to generate a good return by taking additional risk. But what happens when bad time comes? Does this behaviour remain the same? No, in bad times, people change their focus on protecting wealth rather create it.

Investing means to build a portfolio position in a way that future development helps the potential profit generation.

But do we predict the future? Someone believes that they can. Since (a) investing consists of dealing with the future but (b) the future isn’t knowable, that’s where the risk in investing comes from. If we can accurately predict the future then would not be investing becomes so easy and everyone can perform it in a better way?

We do not even know what is going to happen with us in the coming few moments, then how we can predict the future of the corporate earnings and economy accurately. It is just a probability of occurrence of the events. The event may or may not occur, and if occurs then may not be on the time at where we have predicted. For becoming superior investors must have to understand, assess and deal with the risk. And without dealing with the risk, we cannot become a superior investor. It’s an essential element of investment success. How we behave with the risk is to decide investment success.

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It is overstated that the more you take risks, the more return you get. But if we take the higher risk then the outcome might be in lower or higher potential return. The concept should be, higher riskier investment should produce a higher potential return otherwise nobody will be going to invest in the particular assets.

 BIBLIOPHILE: THE MOST IMPORTANT THING BY HOWARD MARKS “UNDERSTANDING RISK”

If two investment avenue promises similar returns with differences into the risk scenario then we should choose the lower risk with assured return. Treasury bond and any other investment both promises same return then one should go with treasury investment.

Due to our risk aversion towards stocks, we remain careful while studying companies, keep a margin of safety, appropriate sceptical towards analysis, conservative to assumptions. For successful investing, we all need to focus on mentioned factors but not all perform these tasks and if perform then not every time.

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So, investors demand incremental returns forbearing of incremental risk. But when positive scenario plays out, people become less risk-averse than what they should. Now, they put less effort and less caution for performing an analysis. Not careful with a margin of safety, not demanding for the risk premium and resulting in it, prices of risky assets raise more compared to less risky assets. These reduce the incremental returns for the bearing incremental risk. The most unwise investment made during the good time rather in a bad time.

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So, the risk is higher when everyone feels that risk is lower. And the risk is lower when everyone feels that risk is higher. It’s all about temperament, comes with experience, no educational courses can teach it.

 Example – Maruti Suzuki – everyone bullish when marketing goods, majority of research reports indicated per capita car in India compared to others nations such as China, USA etc. but what happen when the euphoria has been wiped out then everyone has a threat of EV, disruption of business. We have to think that the country is the same, opportunity is the same. The scenario only changes from over-optimism to pessimism, liquidity has dries.

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Just as risk tolerance had positioned them to become buyers of overpriced assets at the highs, now their screaming risk aversion makes them sellers— certainly not buyers— at the bottom. Here, people realize that they have made a mistake in selecting investment Avenue, selecting a particular stock, missed a few points in the analysis, etc. etc. But when the bull phase enters, they always made similar kind of mistakes which they realized during the bear phase.

We generally take more risks when we should avoid or behave in a risk aversion. And we behave risk aversion when we should take an incremental risk for incremental returns. We need to balance between too much and too little.

Such extreme behaviour tends to work as a cycle in the market.

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Risk arises when prices of the assets reaching towards high and started getting vague investment rationale to justify such a high price.

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If we want to save ourselves from the carefree market situation then we have to accept the lower comparative return during the carefree market scenario and have to look like an old-fashioned investor. This is only a way to save our reputation and wealth.

I have experienced the same in my investment career. I have mentioned many times in the past articles that I remain in huge liquidity position since the mid of 2017, and this has given me much rough and sarcastic behaviour from people. But now, they have lost their major part of the portfolio and I am searching for a good investment opportunity with a flat portfolio.

When a negative situation prevailing in the market, people tend to become more and unnecessary sceptical, they show risk-averse behaviour about the investment which they did not perform during the boom period. Such behavioural bias left them with a lower return with incremental risk. During the boom period, people have a fear of missing out an opportunity and during the negative period, they have a fear of losing the capital. When people have to show a risk-averse behaviour, they show a risk-tolerant behaviour and vice-versa.

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We always need to check; how much positive news is discounted into the price? Whether upcoming positive events already discounted into the price? Higher price compared to the intrinsic value left with a lower margin of safety. We have to be sceptical towards the decision making but sceptical in pessimism environment is for optimism and sceptical in the optimistic environment is for pessimism.

Disclosure – Companies mentioned in the article are just for an example & educational purpose. It is not a buy/sell/ hold recommendation. 

Read for more detail: Mastering The Market Cycle: Getting the odds on your side by Mr.Howard Marks

BIBLIOPHILE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING BY HOWARD MARKS

One of the books which have influenced me and my investment journey is “The Most Important Thing by Howard Marks”. This book teaches us the most important thing which we need to develop for becoming a wise investor.

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“The Most Important Thing” has many concepts which can help us to our investment journey. I have posted articles on the book. Now, I have compiled different articles into the one file for the ease of reading.

For, All in One Article click – BIBLIOPHILE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING BY HOWARD MARKS

BIBLIOPHILE: THE MOST IMPORTANT THING BY HOWARD MARKS “INVESTING DEFENSIVELY”

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Whenever someone asks us for an investment advice, then our first step must be an understanding his attitude towards the risk and return. We need to ask a question to him that what his choice – making money or avoiding losses is.

We cannot able to do both the things simultaneously in each and every situation.

If we provide an advice or we make an own investment without knowing attitude towards risk and return then we will not able to provide a proper solution. This is as similar as an asking for a cure from a doctor without disclosing our diseases to him. Investing is a full of bad bounces, uncertainty and random events which challenge us every time. So that such uncertainty requires knowing our risk-reward attitude for long-term survival into the market.

While we hit fewer losers then our probability to win the game is much higher. We need to choose how to play the game of investment – Offensive or Defensive.

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We just need to do is to protect our wealth by not picking wrong opportunities. In investing, only avoiding losers is in our control, not everything else. We do not know what will happen in the future, our best investment can be turnout as the worst investment. But we have to be ready for it. We have to focus on missing wrong shots so that can protect game if our best turnouts as a worst.

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If we look at the sports, many a time we need to protect our wicket rather play aggressively to make scores. Staying on a pitch provide us an opportunity for making a score while we get a good hitting opportunity. Investing also having many points which are similar to the game either positive or negative. As in cricket, Dhoni, Sachin, Rahul Dravid, Virat all having a different style to play a game. Some play defensive, some play aggressive and some make the balance of it. We cannot able to judge any players by looking towards his one match. Successful players perform well over a longer period of time with consistency.

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Sometimes even a good players overestimate short-term success and forget to focus on the consistency of performance over a longer period of time.

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As all players cannot be a Sachin, Dhoni, Dravid. As similarly, all investors cannot be a Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, Howard Marks, etc. We just need to focus on our game in our comfort zone.

We are not able to know what will the result of the game we played, any uncertainty can affect it. We cannot only focus on one single investment ideas, we need to work on a selective group of ideas.

Negative side – If we keep on playing an aggressive investment game then we might not able to stick for the longest period of time in the game. Many uncertain events work as bounces for us.

Many a time, short-term investment success can become a reason to ignore the durable and consistent track record of investors. And few get attracted towards shine without checking its durability.

When opponents try to keep on throwing bounces then referee blows the whistle to give warning sign to opponents but in investing, there is no one who blows the whistle, we cannot able to get protected. Also in sports, we get notifications for the change of turn from our to opponents. But in investing, there is no notifications are available to us. We have to decide ourselves for changing the game from offensive to defensive.

We need to focus on the outperform into the bad time rather focus on outperforming into the good & best time. In good time, everyone can able to generate a good return but skill comes when we can able to outperform into the bad time. Doubled your Money in Last 3 Years? Skill or Luck?

Every player can able to play well against a weak team but a good player who can able to play well against strong opponents.

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We should focus on either making more score or stay on the pitch for a longer period of time. We cannot say that only one way is the right way and we just need to select it. Selection of way can be based on our experience, learning, market environments in which we operate, etc.

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We require a different kind of mindset for doing a right thing and avoiding doing the wrong thing.

Defense is focused on avoiding bad outcomes. It can help us to generate a higher returns but more through avoiding bad outcomes, through missing bounces, through managing risk.

If we bought an asset at Rs.100 and it falls to Rs.50; it falls by 50% but for reaching to Rs.100, that asset has to rise by 100% to just reach break-even.

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When we play offensive and if it works then it will add additional returns to our investment. BUT if not works then it creates a damage to our investment and to our wealth.

Defensive game help us to stay in the game during a tough time also, it helps us to survive for a longer period of time.

Majority of a time, financial markets works in an average manner but it shows one abnormal day which has reason to destroy our financial health. We need to prepare for that worst day. We just can prepare for the worst day but cannot predict how worst it can be or when that worst day will come. But it’s sure that worst day will come.

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It is hard to say in investing that whether our investment becomes successful or not and it works in the future as we have expected, economy /industries / Companies moves in a certain way and we prove to be right every time. We need to take care of the unforeseen future events which can go against us and can meltdown us. Warren Buffett has given concept which can protect us from such unforeseen events that called “Margin of Safety”.

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When we buy Rs.100 worth of an investment for Rs.90 then we have a chance to gain. But when we buy that same thing at Rs.70 then we have very less chance of loss and if odds will be in our favor then we can able to make a good return. So that buying cheaper provide us a “Margin of Safety” when our assumptions go wrong.

In the over-optimistic scenario, people buy Rs.100 worth of investment avenue for more than its worth (I.e. Rs.150, Rs.160) and then find a greater fool who will buy at the higher price from him.

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When we need an above-fixed returns then we need to go for more uncertainty but how to balance the defensive game with the inclusion of offense is the key area to focus. We cannot get higher returns with the exclusion of offensive game. We cannot able to win the match by just keep on making a single run. We need to hit 4 & 6 but with also focus on not losing a wicket.

Our first focus is to play a defensive game for staying on the pitch and then the inclusion of offense to the game for generating higher returns. Such approach provides us a consistency for a longer period of time.

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If we take out a history of investment managers, investors then we will come to know that very few get survival for the longer period of time. Not due to their inability to make a 4 & 6 but to lose wickets in many matches. Many investors come and performed well in a good time but worst time make them disappears.

The managers who do not get survived for a longer period, the majority of them have built up their portfolio on based of favorable scenario and with the hope of likelihood of outcomes without keeping a room for the occurrence of an error.

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Aggressive investors require competitive technical skills with fortitude, patient mindset, and capital. The investment might have potential to work well in a long-term but above quality provides a support to stay in a game for a long term.

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We should focus on controlling risk, avoiding losses rather than try to focus on gaining again and again.

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Simply defensive investing means being scared while making an investment decision. Worrying about losses, bad luck, worrying about something we don’t know, bounces etc.

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Read for more detail: The Most Important Thing Illuminated by Howard Marks

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