Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Performance ? That is a stretch!

Stock picking columns in various investing mags go through this exercise of evaluating their own performance at the end of the year. These self-evaluations (is that an oxymoron ?) make for some laugh-out-loud pieces.

Here are three - I am leaving out names for obvious reasons.
  • One particular list of stocks was cited by a magazine as having beaten the market this year. On close analysis, you see that 80% of the picks have lagged, and the one that went up the most was responsible for bringing the portfolio on the market-beating side. I would have been happy if it stopped here. Go deeper, and you see that this one big runup stock, is a very illiquid stock and if you had even attempted to sell your holdings to convert your virtual gains into real ones, you would have ended up moving the stock lower!
  • Then there is the case of another stock-picker, who had the gift of looking at the sunny side of everything. With most of his cheap/value shares recommended earlier in the year moving lower, he suggested buying more of them since they were even cheaper now. Hey, what happened to the numbers ?
  • Ready for more ? Another column, whose picks lagged the market this year, took solace in the fact that if you combine the last 2 years picks, it had still beaten the market. Whoever makes the rules here ? Carryover ?

My point ? Why make up excuses ? I would rather listen to a stock-picker who tells me that he has made a mistake and the market has beaten him this year.

Personally, I dislike the focus on such short-term benchmarks - one year is just too short a period to measure performance, especially if you are picks are undervalued/turnaround bets. Give it atleast 3 years, please!

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