How did the end of June get here so quickly? It’s all the way up to 75F (gasp! – and yeah, I know that isn’t hot), the neighborhood is filling with screaming grandkids (whatever happened to laughter?), and it would be an excellent time to be in the mountains (on the snow and past the mosquito zone). But, it is also the time to get the yard and house work done. Oh yeah, and one more thing, my semi-annual portfolio exercise, an exercise I’ve been practicing for over a decade. Practice makes perfect? Not really, but practice provides an opportunity to improve. For those who are interested in the process, maybe to do something similar themselves, here’s a glimpse of the work that I put into that series of posts that get published here and on several stock discussion boards. Pardon me as I leave the door open so I can see the great weather while I type.
Aachoo! Sniffle. Yeah. It’s that season, too.
For those who are new to my process, here’s the Intro I try to post with every review.
INTRO Here’s my semi-annual exercise to see if I remember why I own the stocks I own, and so I can check back and see if their stories have changed. I post in case it helps others too.
The idea was inspired by Peter Lynch. If I can’t describe the company behind the stock, then I’m not investing but blindly gambling. Keep it short, as if I am describing it to someone at a party, with a bit of license to make it useful to me, too. One of the benefits of the exercise is retrospective. Look back over several years (I buy and hold for the long term, frequently over a decade) and see how the story changes, but it will.
That sounds simple enough. At its simplest, I could record my descriptions and thoughts in under an hour. Audio’s harder to reference and share, and misses some opportunities to include simple analyses. Instead, I type. Each company and stock gets a few hundred words. That sounds like a lot when I remember my reaction in high school to the dreaded 500 word essay, but now I can write each on in about 15-30 minutes. The shorter times are for simple stories that haven’t changed much. The longer times are where the writer’s license comes in as I research facts. (Someday facts will be back in style, honest.)
The reviews tend to break into three or four paragraphs. The first is the essence of the exercise, a few sentences about the company. Another may describe their financial situation: income, expense, assets, liabilities, and their trends. Another may describe the stock, how it has been behaving and how it measures against those financials. If I get real uppity, I include a paragraph of commentary. Sometimes the numbers look good, the story looks good, but something makes me uncertain about the stock. Then, because I post these reviews for others to see, I include a disclosure paragraph that mentions how long I’ve held the stock and whether I am likely to sell, hold, or buy. A recent addition to the exercise has been to compare the market cap from the previous semi-annual portfolio review. It is humbling to see how often facts and data about the company differ from the performance of my stock in my portfolio. (See my post for A Study In Dilution – MVIS, its video, and Corporations Meet Owners MVIS 2017.)
Step 1) Find the previous review, copy it, and strip out the old information except for the market cap and the disclosure.
Step 2) Write the descriptions based on memory, and be prepared to be humbled in the editing. For this process review, I’ll assume nothing radical changed.
Step 3) Find the new market cap, maybe even a bit early, to see if the trend in the company’s growth agrees with my portfolio’s growth.
Step 4) If I’m ahead of myself, take a break (from this and get to work on something else, because there’s always something else.)
Step 5) Drumroll #1 – After close of business on the last day of June or December, finalize and publish the reviews.
Step 6) Check back as other investors read the reviews. Some people live for their stocks and analyze them to amazing detail. I usually learn something new from such devoted investors as they correct my words and numbers.
And just for my situation;
Step 5) Drumroll #2 – Before publishing the reviews, write a blog post that summarizes the process and my conclusions. That part is just another writing assignment. The tricky part is getting all of the links correct. I try to include links to each of the discussion boards, and within the reviews I try to include a link back to the blog and other pertinent posts. That’s a mad dash of uploading reviews, noting the links and editing to make sure everything connects. It’s a mad dash because some boards are so active that I get responses before I’ve finished posting the usual half-dozen reviews across up to four boards. And then, share the package out via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. (I count Reddit as one of the boards.)
Just to make the day more exciting, the semi-annual review happens on the end of the month – which is also the end of the business month (#HappyInvoiceDay!), quarter, and in December the end of the year. Even without the semi-annual review, that’s a busy day.
And here I am caught by surprise that #HappyInvoiceDay and the semi-annual review are due in a week. Whew. With that, I think I’ll have a bit of dinner, rest, then see if I can handle Step 1 this evening – unless of course, I decide that sunny, warm days in Western Washington are so rare that I should sit on the deck and enjoy this one for a while.