03 – THE REGULARITY OF CYCLES – Mastering The Market Cycle

The world is full of randomness and people behave differently at different times so that it is difficult to predict the exact future. If we study the science and mathematics cycles then those have predictable sets of rules and moves in a regular way. But economics, companies, and participants are relying on the psychological influences so that they do not behave in a regular way. When emotions have an involvement then things become more difficult to predict.

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So that Greed and Fear of the investors remain regular in every cycle. This affects the prices of the assets.

As per the Cambridge dictionary, the definition of cycle “a group of events that happen in a particular order, one following the other, and are often repeated.”

We can see that many factors affect the occurrence of the events and that makes it difficult to predict the exact for the future. Current global scenario, we have an ample number of factors that can affect the cycle such as crude, the decision of the USA, domestic economic conditions, etc.

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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

Mastering The Market Cycle – 01 – WHY STUDY CYCLES?

After the completion of the Bibliophile series on the book “The Intelligent Investors” by Mr. Benjamin Graham; I am hereby starting a series on the book “Mastering Market Cycle” by Mr. Howard Marks. I have already completed bibliophile series on his first book – The Most Important Things. He is one of the investors to whom I admire and learn about the cycle and always get to protect my wealth while nobody thinks about it.

As the cycle getting change, our odds also start getting change. It is mainly depending on our position to the cycle at where we stand to the cycle. If we are standing in a favorable position then we can increase our bets and reap the benefits of the cycle. Similarly, in unfavorable situations, we can protect ourselves from unfavorable changes in the cycle. If we are standing at unfavorable situations then we can adjust our position.

If we have the same information as others have and we analyze as similar to them then we cannot outperform the mass. Consistently outperform the mass is already a difficult task to perform.

Mr. Buffett has mentioned regarding the desirable piece of information – it has to be important, and it has to be knowable. Macro definitely affects the market so knowing it helps. But for consistently outperforming through knowing macro is difficult.

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When we are constructing the portfolio then we generally look at the difference between price and value. Also, we bought the company which has the highest value I. E. Company available at a discount to its value.

So, does it not look at the quality of the company?

Yes, it is right that for successful investing, we need to identify the company which understates the value proposition. Higher the upside, we can take a position accordingly. But if we adjust our position as per the upcoming market storm then it can be more profitable and can add further value to our investment journey. This estimation of the upcoming market situation helps us with the decision making to remain aggressive or to be defensive in our portfolio. We only make an aggressive /defensive decision when we know the investment environment and where we stand in a cycle. When we get investment opportunity at cheaper, discounts to value then we should be aggressive and when getting expensive, then we should be defensive.

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Similar we can do for the midcap and small-cap universe. And prepare ourselves from an upcoming cyclone.

We all talk about the risk but what actually risk mean? It can be loss of capital, academic says the risk is volatility in the price of assets. So, Mr. Marks has explained the types of risks in a good manner.

Opportunity loss, this is a missing out a potential gain, our investment has underperformed compared to what we missed and things do not happen the way we want it.

Risk means the occurrence of more things than we have predicted. If we know what is going to happen then there will be no uncertainty or not any risk. And if things are certain then we also get certain returns such as bank deposits. We cannot surely know the outcome of the events but we can assume the probability of the occurrence of the events. We assume the probability of the events that does not mean that we know the occurrence of the events. Anyone event can occur out of the many events. When we do not know the occurrence of the events, then we do not have an edge and we have to stay depended on luck. When we have the knowledge of the occurrence of the events then we have an edge and winning probability will increase with lower down losing probability.

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Superior investors are attentive to cycles and they capture the cycle for reaping profits.

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When a cycle is in our favor, we can earn good profits by taking benefits of it and visa Versa, when the cycle does not favorable to us then we can protect ourselves for loss of capital.

When cycle at extreme of Greed then we have to protect ourselves from capital loss. There will be a higher chance of incurring losses rather than earning profits.

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If we look at the P/E of Midcap and Small Cap index during the year 2017-18 then on the closing basis it was 37.22x and 86.19x respectively and high P/E of both during the same period was ~47x and ~114x respectively. At such valuation, we are not ready to buy a few growing large caps but having a huge hope of getting a return at such high valuation and transformation of small-cap as a future large cap. So that such a scenario is for protecting capital rather than chasing high returns. I had parked ~73% of my portfolio in the liquid fund during the same period which has helped me to survive in such cyclone. We need to focus on the cycle, pendulum where it is moving and where we stand in the cycle.

When in a similar cycle economy, corporate profits and prospects remain the same but pessimism among the participants provides an excellent opportunity to make an investment, increase our position to be more aggressive. And when the economy, corporate profits, and prospects remain the same but having a huge optimism among the participants then we should adjust our position as a defensive investor.

When our position in the cycle changes, our odds also get change and if we do not change our investment accordingly then we miss the opportunity to enhance return or protect capital.

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 “ADDING VALUE”

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If our target is to achieve returns similar to the market returns with the similar risk & reward scenario then it’s not a difficult task. We just need to buy an index fund. But if we want to add a value to our targeted returns, different risk & reward scenario then we require a superior investment skill, superior insights which we have seen in second level thinking.

For the understanding, what actually mean for skillful investors to add value, we need to understand Beta – portfolio’s relative sensitivity to market movements. And Alpha – ability to generate performance unrelated to the movement of the market (I.e. personal skills).

While we are active investors then we have a number of options available to us.

1) We can decide that whether to build aggressive or defensive portfolio compared to the index, such characteristics of the portfolio is for temporary situations or for permanent. If we build an aggressive portfolio then it will increase a systematic risk of the portfolio that is beta.

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2) We can make a decision to get deviate from the index. We may buy few index stocks and exclude others or add stocks which are not the part of the index. As such portfolio gets diverted from the index so that return of portfolio also get deviate from the index. But in a long-term, the return of investors with superior insights will cover index return and can able to add value in terms of risk-reward scenario.

If we are managing our portfolio actively then we require having a second level thinking skill. If we do not have such superior insights then it is advisable to go with a passive investment. We need to shift a portfolio from aggressive or defensive as per the surrounding situation and need to avoid a frequent trades with the belief of generating a higher returns.

Different active investors hold different portfolios, some of those portfolios perform better than others portfolio, and some of the portfolios perform well during some particular time period. In a longer-term, active investors with superior insights can able to generate an above average risk-adjusted return. Combination of all different active portfolio reflects market behavior but in fact, all of those portfolios having different features.

Aggressive investor’s portfolio can able to generate a higher returns compared index in a good time and lose more compared to the market in a bad time. This volatility is measured by beta.

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If the Investors who generate higher returns with risky portfolio compared to other investors who generate average returns with low-risk portfolio then always we need to put more emphasis on the risk-adjusted return. But we cannot quantify each and every risk involves the portfolio. So that we need to accept that investment skills having an existence though everyone does not possess it.

If we don’t have any investment skill then we can able to achieve index return by making an investment in the index fund. Some of the investor’s portfolio fluctuates more compared to benchmark and few of the investor’s portfolio moves near to benchmark returns and few others can able to control risk and fall less. We get a different result at the different market scenario but our core focus should be on controlling risk and able to generate a risk-adjusted return.

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In bad years, defensive investor’s lossless and in good years, aggressive investors make more money. So can we say that they are adding value? We cannot able to say anything about the value added by just seeing to the one-year performance of any investor. We can able to see the value added in a long term only.

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Mr.Buffett, Mr.Howard Marks have mentioned that they like to increase average in good years and fall less in bad years. This provides them an advantage to adding value over a longer period of time. Protecting ourselves against the worst period is essential compared to the beat into the good period.

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

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