Holy Grail in Stock Market – Reading between the lines

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Hello!

I have been in the markets for close to 3 years. I use a fusion of – Fundamental & Technical Analysis in my trading. I am still in the process of figuring out what works in the markets but I am making good money consistently. In this blog, I thought I will write about my never ending search of holy grail. Also about the books / sources from where I learnt my skills and the strategies I use in my trades. Please treat this post as a course content book for, say, a diploma in stock market which will help you cut short your learning curve.

The line between investing and trading has eroded over time. Investing in the true sense is getting income through dividends paid by the company. To get regular income like dividends, I would rather invest in Government Securities which are risk free. In my methods, dividend is only a cushion for risk. Then came Ben Graham who bought stocks which were trading at a price less than their asset (book) value. His method worked when most of the companies listed in the exchange were old economy with asset heavy business models. Now, everyone is only interested in the price appreciation which makes everyone a trader. Per tax rules, if you buy and sell within an year, you are a trader. If you hold it for more than 12 months, you are an investor. Fundamental guys try to glorify their analysis but at the end of the day, price has to move higher than your purchase price for you to make money. My basic thought process, irrespective of timeframe, is:

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Buy Low, Sell High or Buy High, Sell Higher

If you are a newbie and have never traded before or you don’t understand a company’s financial statements, please read the beautfiul primer by Zerodha.

https://zerodha.com/varsity/

I would definitely suggest you to explore the different types of trading / investing but once you are done exploring, try to find the ONE method that you identify the most with and build a plan around it. I have attended many webinars, workshops and talks related to stock markets in the last 3 years. In every event of those, I would pick up a new strategy. Try to apply it the markets immediately. After the initial luck, I started making losses. The reason for this is that they were not MY strategies and they did not suit MY style / mentality. Also, I was playing on borrowed conviction which never works in the long run. Hence, find out what kind of trader / investor you are and then build YOUR strategy. Psychology has to be in place before you even think about adding funds to your broking account. Psychology includes discipline as well. If you are not disciplined in personal life, it is very difficult to make money in the markets. Your habits will reflect in your trading, be it profits or losses. In fact, through trading you will learn new things about you which you never knew.

Remember – More knowledge is not more wisdom!


Fundamental Analysis

Fundamental analysis (FA) is a method of measuring a company’s intrinsic value by examining financial statements of the company and related economic factors. Fundamental analysts study anything that can affect the company’s value, from macroeconomic factors such as the state of the economy and industry conditions to microeconomic factors like the effectiveness of the company’s management and past financial performance. The end goal is to arrive at a number(fair value) that an investor can compare with a company’s current price in order to see whether the company is undervalued or overvalued.

Also Read on FinMedium:  15 Highest Dividend Paying Stocks in India 2020

Basics of Fundamental Analysis:

Value Investing: (Buy Low, Sell High)

  • The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham
  • Warren Buffet’s letters to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders
  • Poor Charlie’s Almanack – Charlie Munger*

Note – These 3 guys are outliers and I don’t think anyone can repeat what they have done but they are the foundation for Value Investing.

Growth Investing: (Buy High, Sell Higher)

  • One up on wall street – Peter Lynch
  • Motilal Oswal Wealth Creation Study
  • Coffee Can Investing, Unusual Billionaires – Saurabh Mukherjea (Quality Investing)

Cyclical Investing: (extension of Value investing)

  • Kenneth Andrade
  • Capital Returns – Edward Chancellor
  • Mastering the market cycle – Howard Marks

I can identify myself with Kenneth and I love his style of investing. Unfortunately, Kenneth hasn’t written any books but has done a lot of interviews. Links to them in my twitter thread:

I tried to apply the concepts in the book – Capital Retuns – in Indian markets. This gave the foundation for my framework.

Also Read on FinMedium:  Valuation in Motion: Goodyear India Valuation

In my personal trading, I believe my Dhanuka trade falls under the Cyclical Investing category.

Expectations Investing: Potential future value of a company based on growth and profitability (extension of Growth Investing)

  • Expectations Investing, Reading Stock Prices for Better Returns – Alfred Rappaport & Michael Mauboussin
  • Charlie Munger’s framework and adaptation by Professor Sanjay Bakshi for Indian markets – “Relaxo Lecture”

https://fundooprofessor.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/the-relaxo-lecture/

https://fundooprofessor.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/the-relaxo-finale/

Professor Sanjay Bakshi’s framework:

https://fundooprofessor.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/vantage_point/

Other good books for FA:

  • The most important thing – Howard Marks
  • Common Stocks and Uncommon profits – Philip Fisher
  • The little book that still beats the market – Joel Greenblatt
  • The little book that builds wealth

Some Indian books:

  • Masterclass with super investors – India’s leading investors – Vishal Mittal
  • Of Long Term Value And Wealth Creation – Bharat Shah*
  • The Thoughtful Investor – Basant Maheshwari*

To understand various aspects of a company, you should read the Annual Report and Conference Call transcripts.

To anaylse companies and their financial performance, I use Screener website where you can find all the listed Indian companies’ data in one place:

www.screener.in

I use ValuePickr to see research work done by other investors on companies I am interested in. It helps me get a different perspective.

https://forum.valuepickr.com/


Technical Analysis

Technical Analysis (TA) is to evaluate investments and identify trading opportunities in price trends and patterns seen on charts. Technical analysts believe past trading activity and price changes of a company’s share can be valuable indicators of the share’s future price movements. Technical analysis assumes that a company’s share price already reflects all publicly-available information and instead focuses on the market sentiment behind price trends by looking for patterns and trends rather than analyzing a security’s fundamental attributes.

I learnt TA from these books: Martin Pring’s or John Murphy’s* with Mark Douglas (must!)

I buy when there is a high probability trading setup with low risk. Following are the high probability setups I use:

  • Darvas Box – All Time High, 52-week High, 6-month High
  • Mark Minervini – Volatility Contraction Pattern

Watch the following videos after you read these 2 books.

Rules for Buying

Rules for Buying 2

Rules for Selling

My Positional Trading Guru – https://twitter.com/iManasArora

  • Value Zone – Market and Price move from one zone to another. Each zone is a Value Zone. Fight between supply and demand. Buyers and sellers. Whoever wins, pushes the price in their direction. This book was the game changer for me! (will write a blog soon about my trades using this setup)
  • William O Neil – CANSLIM

Other Books in Technical Analysis:

  • Al Brooks*
  • Frank Ochoa*
  • Encylopedia of chart patterns – Thomas Bulkowski*

Quantitative Analysis

Quantitative analysis (QA) is a technique that seeks to understand behavior by using mathematical and statistical modeling, measurement, and research. Quantitative analysts aim to represent a given reality in terms of a numerical value. I don’t understand mathematical or statistical modeling. You will need a PhD in Mathematics or Statistics to do data driven trading. I am only interested in the measurement aspect of QA. As in, quantifying Technical or Fundamental Analysis to build trading / investing systems with complete set of rules for buying and selling.

There are 2 broad categories where we can implement Measurement QA – Trend following / Momentum investing and Mean Reversion. I am not covering Mean Reversion in this blog because I don’t know that method / concept.

  • Trend following – a trading strategy based on the idea that markets move for long durations of time in a given direction, and one can quantitatively identify such a trend and ride it.

Capitalmind’s series on trend following

My Trading Guru – Trend following and Mechanical (rule based) trading – https://twitter.com/madan_kumar

  • Momentum Investing – a trading strategy of buying financial assets that are showing strength and selling those which are showing weakness. This strategy is based on the age old tenet of cutting your losses and letting your winners ride.

“The key difference lies in the reference point used to identify a trend versus a momentum. For Momentum, we use the Performance of stocks as compared to other stocks in a given universe. In contrast, in Trend Following or Time Series momentum, we compare the current price of a stock/Index with its historical price.”

Capitalmind

https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/markets/what-is-momentum-investing-and-how-can-i-ace-it-4285421.html

Prashanth Krish’s journey in Momentum Investing – https://twitter.com/Prashanth_Krish

Capitalmind’s series on Momentum

https://alphaarchitect.com/2015/12/01/quantitative-momentum-investing-philosophy/

My Quant Guru – https://twitter.com/jace48

He recommended this book on how to apply math in trading. It involves a lot of Statistics and Data Analytics. Don’t waste time if you don’t know any of those.

Study the historical Mu (Mean) and Sigma (Standard Deviation). Filter based on Low Sigma (Low Volatility) and Positive Mu (Positive Rate of Change) in the last 6 months or 12 months or even 5 years. Simulate(Monte Carlo) the 95th percentile Drawdown and position size based on the Risk you want to take or buy when there is correction close to the Maximum Drawdown. Will write a blog on this soon.


Phew, thats how much you will have to read to get a Diploma in stock market. But you promised us a holy grail? The sad truth – there is no holy grail! If there was one, everyone would be making money, right? Trading and Investing are marathons and they do not have any short cuts. No free lunches. You will have to grind it out and lose some money in the process. Consider it as tuition fee.

My Framework

Fundamental Analysis – What to buy? Undervalued / Cyclical / Quality & Growth

Technical Analysis – When to buy? High probability setups with low risk

Quantitative Analysis – How much to buy? Who are the leaders in the sector? Trend strength / Relative momentum ranking / Maximum Drawdown / Position Sizing.

Action Plan

  1. Read.
  2. Load your account with few thousands. Trade, Invest. Lose money. Get a feel of the market. Decide if are you are capable of handling the emotions. You might feel that you are okay with 20% drawdowns but only when you experience a 20% drawdown in real life, you will know if you are okay with it or not.
  3. Read again. THINK! INTROSPECT! Choose your style. Identify your psychology. You need not use all 3 sciences. If you are comfortable with Technical Analysis, then just stick to charts. Don’t look at fundamentals. Don’t run behind more information or knowldge. More knowledge is not more wisdom. Less is more!
  4. Go through charts. A lot of charts. Study companies and their financial performance. Create a set of rules. Backtest those rules to see if they made money in the past. Finalise your strategy. I stress on backtesting because I have used almost every technical indicator available but I either lost money or couldn’t scale up because I hadn’t done the backtest. Only a back test will reveal if a certain indicator has an edge or not. (Personally, I do not use any indicator. My charts are clean and I use only price action with volume.)
  5. Implement the strategy rules with Discipline and Money / Risk Management (read up about this as I am not an expert, in trading lingo its called Position Sizing). A system is nothing without discipline. If you can not control your emotions, forget stock market and go back to corporate life / business.
  6. Start with small capital.
  7. Trade short term to create capital
  8. Invest long term to build wealth
  9. Always have a stop loss!
  10. If you are making less than 12% on an average every year, better to stick to Index funds. You will get the market returns with less effort.

“All you need is one trading pattern to make a living! Learn first to specialize in doing one thing well.” 

Linda Bradford Raschke.

What not to do!

  • DO NOT START WITH FUTURES OR OPTIONS OR LEVERAGE. YOU WILL BLOW UP YOUR ACCOUNT. NOT JUST ONCE. YOU WILL LOSE EVERYTHING.
  • DO NOT BUY OR SELL BASED ON STOCK TIPS YOU RECEIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA. DO YOUR RESEARCH. BUILD YOUR OWN CONVICTION.
  • DO NOT FOLLOW A LOT OF PEOPLE ON SOCIAL MEDIA. YOU WILL BECOME BETTER IF YOU STAY AWAY. INVESTING/TRADING IS BEST DONE ALONE.

The process

You will lose big

You will lose small

You will breakeven

You will make small profits.

You will make money consistently. (It will take few years to get there)

Keep evolving.

“Patience and Discipline are the holy grails in the stock market!”

you-know-who


Will leave you with this

“A blindfolded monkey throwing darts at a newspaper’s financial pages could select a portfolio that would do just as well as one carefully selected by experts”

Burton Malkiel

Good luck! (you will need a lot of that)



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Sanjay Elangovan
Figuring out what works in the markets.
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