Thursday, June 5, 2008


The quandary facing an investor today is to decide what theory should he use in his process of stock selection. If he is taking professional advice, who should he turn to, fundamentalists or chartists?

Have you ever had the experience of completely researching a stock, looking into its ratios and the market potential of its products and then investing into it, only to find that after you have bought it, the stock simply stagnates or even goes down? In such cases do you have the conviction in your analysis to hold on to your stock through thick and thin, disregarding the market and the opinions of analysts to sell? If the answer is yes, then you have the most important attribute a fundamental analyst should have. Patience.

Then again who does not like an investment to appreciate right after one makes it? Technical analysis gives one an indication of the direction which a stock is poised to take and investment decisions are based solely on such indicators. Technical analysts do not give any weightage to the accounts of the company, its products or the quality of its management. The company might be bankrupt for all they care. Their decisions are based on what the charts tell them. However, should they go wrong they have stop losses to protect them. The argument for the chartists is 'cut your losses and let your profits run'.

So we come back to the original question. Which process does one choose? It all depends on your nature and your frame of mind towards investing. If you cannot take a loss, stay away from technical analysis. Because, if your analysis should go wrong, the chosen investment has no fundamentals to protect your downside. The stock could well crash to zero (or rather near zero). If you make a trade and your stop losses are triggered, it is imperative that you book losses and not revise your stop losses downward.

If you are a fundamental investor, it does not matter what the stock price does in the short run, as long as you have done your research. The key here is patience and the capacity to mentally bear any notional losses in the conviction that your choice is backed by solid homework and that the market has to recognize its potential in the long term. This form is only suited to long term investors. If the stock appreciates after your purchase, well and good. But your timeframe should essentially be a long one right from the outset. It is an investment sin to convert short term trades to long term investments after they have fallen.

Therefore a good approach to stock selection might be to first research a stock on its fundamentals and then use technicals to time your purchase. The negative being that a stock price may already have broken out by the time your fundamental analysis is done. A method I personally like and follow is to allocate a certain percentage of your portfolio (say 75 %) to stocks based on fundamentals and deploy the remaining funds to technical picks. I generally do not tinker much with the first group, but whenever I make a profit on my investments in the technical basket, I remove my profits from the markets and redeploy the principal in other picks.


Uma said...

Hey, interesting blog I also write about stock trading...


Fundamental research is using company performance to make your buy and sell decisions.