Big gains can be hard to find in the financial markets. Nowadays, though, they seem to be everywhere — and that could change how you feel about taking risks.
As of Nov. 16, the S&P 500 is up 359% since the bull market began March 9, 2009, counting dividends, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. This year alone through Nov. 16, Alphabet (the parent company of Google) has returned 32%, Amazon.com 52%, Apple 50% and Facebook 56%, including dividends. Bitcoin, the digital currency, has gained more than 700% so far this year.
Against that backdrop, even what investors used to regard as a generous annual gain — say, 10% — starts to feel paltry. New research into a mental process called “contrast effects” shows how that works and how it can alter your behavior.
Finance professors Samuel Hartzmark of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Kelly Shue of Yale University’s School of Management analyzed nearly 76,000 earnings announcements from 1984 through 2013 in which companies earned either more or less than investors were expecting.
One of our favorite investors at The Acquirer’s Multiple – Stock Screener is Bill Miller.
Miller served as the Chairman and Chief Investment Officer of Legg Mason Capital Management and is remembered for beating the S&P 500 Index for 15 straight years when he ran the Legg Mason Value Trust.
One of the best resources for investors is the Legg Mason Shareholder Letters. One of the best letters ever written by Miller was his Q4 2006 letter in which he discussed the end of his 15 year ‘winning streak’ and how too many investors miss the most important aspect of investing by focusing on value or growth. Miller writes, “The question is not growth or value, but where is the best value?” It’s a must-read for all investors.
Here’s an excerpt from that letter:
Calendar year 2006 was the first year since I took over sole management of the Legg Mason Value Trust in the late fall of 1990 that the Fund trailed the return of the S&P 500. Those 15 consecutive years of outperformance led to a lot of publicity, commentary, and questions about “the streak,” with comparisons being made to Cal Ripken’s consecutive games played streak, or Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak, or Greg Maddux’s 17 consecutive years with 15 or more wins, among others. Now that it is over, I thought shareholders might be interested in a few reflections on it, and on what significance, if any, it has.
Bull markets seem like they should be easier than the alternative but even dealing with gains can be challenging as an investor. Research shows that investors trade more often during bull markets because we don’t know what to do with gains, it’s difficult to hold winners, and there are constant temptations with even bigger winners elsewhere. This piece I wrote for Bloomberg looks at how to deal with big gainers in your portfolio.
*******Major stock indexes are hitting new highs almost daily, adding to the huge gains many securities have posted in recent years. For example, Nvidia Corp. has gained almost 1,800 percent since the start of 2013. Over the past five years or so, Netflix is up 1,375 percent; Tesla is up 835 percent; Facebook is up 590 percent, and Amazon has risen 380 percent. Bitcoin is up more than 900 percent in 2017 alone.If you’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in any of these equities or other market stars, you made the right choice. But investors would be wise to work through their options on how to handle these stocks. Large gains in your portfolio are a good problem to have, but the good news also comes with psychological baggage. Continue Reading →