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Most folks who are familiar with Peter Lynch know of one of his books, “One Up on Wall Street” which was published in 1989. Peter Lynch was Director of Research for Fidelity Management and Research and managed Fidelity Magellan Fund since 1977 and achieved very good returns over a number of years investing in individual stocks.
There is one chapter in his book entitled “Is This a Good Market? Please Don’t Ask.” In it he makes a number of good points with excellent take a ways that would benefit stock investors.
He writes that during every question and answer period after he gives a speech, somebody stands up and asks him if we’re in a good market or a bad market. For every person who wonders if Goodyear Tire is a solid company, or well priced at current levels, four others want to know if the bull is alive and kicking, or if the bear’s grizzly face is just around the bend. His response is the only thing he knows about predicting markets is every time he gets promoted, the market goes down. And as soon as he says that, someone stands up and asks when he is due for his next promotion.
There is a theory that we have a recession every five years. And Lynch says he has looked and has yet to find that written down. “Of course, I’d love to be warned before we do go into a recession, so I could adjust my portfolio. But the odds of my figuring it out are nil.” Naturally, when the market decides to go south, it never sends you an email before. The take away is, predicting the economy is futile.
During July 1981 to November 1982 was a recession. There was 14% unemployment, 15% inflation and a 20% prime rate. “Then at the moment of greatest pessimism, when eight out of ten investors would have sworn we were heading onto the 1930’s, the stock market rebounded with a vengeance, and suddenly all was right with the world.” The take away is, ignore short-term fluctuations.
In the book Lynch writes, “In case after case the proper picking of markets would have resulted in your losing half your assets because you’d picked the wrong stocks. If you rely on the market to drag your stock along, then you might as well take the bus to Atlantic City and bet on red or black. If you wake up in the morning and think to yourself, I’m going to buy stocks because I think the market is going up this year, then you ought to pull the phone out of the wall and stay as far away as possible from the nearest broker. You’re relaying on the market to bail you out, and chances are, it won’t. If you want to worry about something, worry about whether the sheet business is getting better at West Point-Pepperell, or whether Taco Bell is doing well with its new burrito supreme. Pick the right stocks and the market will take care of itself.” The take away is, invest in companies, not in the stock market.
At Port Wren Capital, LLC, we specialize in picking specific undervalued U.S. stocks using fundamental analysis developed by Benjamin Graham using a five step process. We have beaten the S&P500, DJIA and NASDAQ benchmarks since we started 5 years ago on our own investments. Discover the difference for yourself. To learn more contact us today.
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