A lot of energy is wasted around discussing the market levels. Short of buying an index, I think if you are focussing on a company, the market levels do not matter. If the company is overvalued in your opinion, the market level will not matter and vice versa. So all the decision is around the stock price and its relationship with the intrinsic value.
That said, it is not easy to ignore the noise. In order to so do, I have modified the way I manage my portfolio and track individual stocks. I have done this also to avoid anchoring to the price at which I buy the stock. To read on anchoring see here
The normal tendency is to look at how the stock has done v/s the price at which it was bought. So I used to get pained if it went below the buy price and happy when it went above. That can mislead us – this is how
Suppose the company you bought came out with results which are poorer than expected. You analyse the results and realize your estimate of the intrinsic value is off by 30%. What should you do ? If you are anchored to the purchase price and if the current price is higher, you tend to discount this information and may continue to hold on to the stock, when a good decision could be to sell.
This is how I currently try to avoid the problem –
I maintain a spreadsheet of all my holding with the following columns
No. of stocks
Intrinsic value estimate
Discount to intrinsic value (intrinsic value- current price / current price)
% gain/ loss
I am constantly looking at the discount to intrinsic value number. If the price drops and the discount is more than 50%, I start buying. If the discount is less than 50%, I sit pat.
After every quarterly/ annual results, I review the instrinic value estimates again and update this number. Check the discount again and buy if below 50%. In addition if I come across some information which I had not considered, I review the instrinsic value again.So the comparison is always to the intrinsic value (which is changing based on new information) and buy/hold or sell decisions are based on the discount to the intrinsic value.
The above ensures that I am not fixated to the current price or market level or what the analysts are saying – Ok I am joking about analysts, I never bother about their opinions (prefer to make my own blunders).
Next post : Adding, selling stocks and adjusting wieghtages