Friday, March 28, 2008

Fighting the Emotional Response

I think one of the easiest traps to get into in this game is to watch your money fluctuate daily. On the one hand, you need to keep track of how things are performing, but on the other, it's an emotional roller coaster as things bounce up and down and all around.

In short, this week I wiped out my previous gains, and then some. I had made $600 on Wavefront (TSX-V:WEE) last week, when I sold for $3.18 a stock that I'd bought for $2.10. Since this appears to be a company with great growth potential for the future, I bought back in at $2.90. Now it's $2.70. I also jumped on to Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO), a stock I've been considering for a while. Unfortunately, while waiting for my account with Questrade to open, I missed out on some of its best bargains, and the price has backed off a good 5% from where I bought it. And lastly, my holdings in First Majestic (TSX:FR) continue to languish, and despite a small rally, I'm still down a couple hundred dollars on them.

So the problem I'm having is this - I'm confident in all of these companies. I believe they're great long term holdings. But in the short term, I'm watching my market value wither, and I can't help that gut response "'ll be cheaper later." I think there are times to sell losers - when there's reason to believe that the market is near the top of a cycle, or if new information is comes out that doesn't look good. But this isn't one of those situations. The market is at least mid-way down, and I personally think it's closer to the bottom than that, so selling even stock that largely moves with the index - BMO - seems to pose an equal risk to holding.

And WEE and FR could be poised for a breakout year. WEE's technology is now market ready, and they made a major sale to a Texas oil company last week, so I see no reason to believe more won't be on their heels. FR's production is way up, and it would not be unreasonable to expect them to start posting profits this year. There's a Warren Buffett quote to the effect that stocks are the only thing that people start buying as they get more expensive. I'd rather be in now than wait for the next announcement.

So, I fight the emotional response. It doesn't make sense to sell solid companies just because they're declining in the short term. But it's sure a tough urge to fight.

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