December 17, 2007

It was difficult NOT to do well

2007 has been one of those years where it was difficult NOT to make money in the stock market. At the risk of offending, let me say even a monkey would have made money. Don’t get me wrong, if you have done well this year, it does not make you a monkey :) (by that measure I am a monkey too, not that I am complaining).

The monkey term is more to randomly picking stocks than to a monkey IQ. This was one of those years where almost all types of stocks did well. If you avoided some of the sectors such as IT, everything else was in a bull market. From Aug to Oct the large caps did well and since then the Mid caps have caught fire. I have seen some of the stocks almost double in the last 1-2 months. When I
wrote earlier, on midcaps in may there were a decent number of opportunities available. However the valuation gaps have started closing since then and the number of opportunities have come down (although there are still a few around).

So whats in store for the next year? As if I know !! and so does no one else. I have long stopped bothering about market forecast and which sector is going to do well etc etc. The smart thing to do is to analyse companies and if you can find one selling below intrinsic value, buy it. Not all your picks will do well at the same time (unlike 2007!), but a few would.

If I started investing this year or during the current bull run (from 2003 onwards), I would want to re-analyse my approach to ensure that it was due to my own stock picking skills and not due to the rising tide. I do that every year in the following manner

- did my portfolio do better than the market index such as Sensex
- Which stocks did better than average and which did not
- What was the reason for the stocks which overperformed (luck?)
- What the reason for the stocks which underperformed and how to avoid the the cause of the underperformance

It is important to do the above analysis to ensure that the good performance was not due to luck and can be repeated again. Luck can make you money in the short run, but in the long run you will give it back. So it is critical to be brutually honest with yourself.

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