Humans are pattern-seeking animals

Humans are Pattern-Seeking Animals! 

A man is a pattern-seeking animal. We see patterns where none may exist. We have seen Ganesh idol in the clouds and we have seen India map on highways between trees.
Those are fine, so long as our lives are not affected. However, when one starts putting serious money while looking at patterns, one may be in for a very big surprise.

Read the full article here …

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DotCom deadpool

Came across this article in Mint titled Dotcom deadpool returns as India’s start-up boom turns to bust

We have covered this topic in detail in the book as well as in many of the blog posts. A small list of these blogs is as under for quick reference:

It is always interesting

Here is an excerpt from the book:

Throwing money at every start-up without proper due diligence would look silly years later. Sachin Tendulkar came from Shardashram Vidyamandir School, but that does not mean that every Shardashram pupil would be picked up by the indian cricket team.

#RidingTheRollerCoaster – 22

History repeats …

Look at this interesting article about Indian start-up boom of recent times:

Dotcom deadpool returns as India’s start-up boom turns to bust

Sir John Templeton has famously said, “The four most dangerous words in investing are: ‘This time it’s different’.”

#RidingTheRollerCoaster – 225

 

Rational humans, forgetful humans

“Unfortunately, it is quite possible to read about Dutchmen thinking that the world had an infinite hunger for tulips, and then go right out and buy some very snazzy computer stock because the world has an infinite hunger for computers.” Wrote Adam Smith in The Money Game.

We met Adam Smith in our previous post. He is not the author of The Wealth of Nations, but used “Adam Smith” as his pseudonym.

Every market cycle, whenever there is something new, we hear such stories. Overtime there are justifications given for the present valuations by extrapolating the current demand into an infinite future.

Read the chapter “On Valuations” in the book “Riding The Roller Coaster – Lessons from financial market cycles we repeatedly forget”.

“The four most dangerous words in investing are: ‘this time it’s different’.”: Sir John Templeton said. Every time the justification of current high valuations or even the low valuations comes from such thinking that this time it’s different from whatever happened in the past. After all, in 17th century Holland, when people were chasing tulip bulbs, these were not computers or internet websites.

Whatever the logic, we always have a story. We always have a rationalisation.

#RidingTheRollerCoaster – 192

 

 

Valuations in the new era

In 1934, the great investment theorist Benjamin Graham wrote of the pre-1929 stock bubble:

Instead of judging the market price by established standards of value, the new era based its standards of value upon the market price. Hence, all upper limits disappeared, not only upon the price at which a stock could sell, but even upon the price at which it would deserve to sell. This fantastic reasoning actually led to the purchase for investment at $100 per share of common stocks earning $2.50 per share. The identical reasoning would support the purchase of these same shares at $200, at $1,000, or at any conceivable price.

(Source: Four Pillars of Investing – Lessons for building a winning portfolio by William Bernstein)

William Bernstein writes further in “Four Pillars of Investing”, “Even the most casual investor will see the parallels of Graham’s world with the recent tech/Internet bubble. Graham’s $100 stock sold at 40 times its $2.50 earnings. At the height of the 2000 bubble, most of the big-name tech favorites, like Cisco, EMC and Yahoo! Sold at much more than 100 times earnings. And, of course, almost all of the dot-coms went bankrupt without ever having had a cent of earnings.

To see a similar pattern across time periods, across geographies and across asset categories, read the chapter on “Valuation” in the book “Riding The Roller Coaster – Lessons from financial market cycles we repeatedly forget”. There were cases of such ridiculous valuations in real estate stocks in India in 2007-08, real estate prices in Japan in the 1980s, tulip bulbs in Amsterdam, technology companies in the 1999-2000 – such events have occurred at an amazingly high frequency.

#RidingTheRollerCoaster – 176

Buy high sell low … or is there another way of making money?

Success in the stock market is based on the principle of buying low and selling high. Granted, one can make money by reversing the order – selling high and then buying low.” – Said Sir John Templeton.

Sir John, a bargain hunter as he was, found a bargain in the internet stocks – well, the bargain was not in buying, but in selling. However, since he did not own any stocks, he had to short-sell the stock by borrowing the same from the market and later reverse his trade, i.e. buy back the stock.

Sir John Templeton took out the list of DotCom (or Internet) companies that raised money through IPOs and then further filtered on when the lock-in period was getting over. He started short-selling the shares a few days ahead of expiry of the lock-in period anticipating large amount of stock being off-loaded once the lock-in was over. He was right on target and in a falling market reaped huge profits.

What did the other great investors do in that time? Read it in “Riding The Roller Coaster – Lessons from financial market cycles we repeatedly forget”

@RidingTheRollerCoaster –  164

 

Samudra manthan – Excessive turbulence

Think of all market turbulence as “Samudra manthan”. In the mythological story of samurai manthan, so many things came out, including poison and nectar. The market turbulence is no different. Every market turbulence brings out some poison and some nectar.

The poison kills many investors’ portfolios and reputations of some experts. On the other hand, we have seen in some episodes how the turbulence brought out the best. Some examples of the nectar are:

  • Birth of Securities Exchange Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Federal Reserve bank after the great depression
  • Beautiful tulip gardens of Amsterdam
  • Birth of SEBI, NSDL, NSE after the great Indian securities scam. Innovations like screen based trading, dematerialisation of securities, rolling settlement, etc.
  • Birth of companies like Amazon, Google, etc. in the DotCom boom

Such churning of the ocean is required to bring out the nectar.