Read This Before You Buy Your Next Stock

I want to address an issue that has bothered me for a while now. When I write about stocks my musings are not recommendations but just thoughts on stocks at this point in time. I am usually very clear whether we own a company I am writing about. (I don’t usually write about small companies as I don’t want to create even an appearance of trying to influence a stock price.)

Stock Price

My articles are static thoughts at a fixed point in time. However, as you well know, investing is not a static endeavor. New information comes in all the time. Sometimes it causes us to adjust the assumptions in our models and may cause us to change our views on companies. As Keynes may or may not have said, “When the facts change, I change my mind.” We may buy more of a company, sell it, or do nothing. Our thinking is rarely driven by the stock price change alone, unless the price has reached our sell price.

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If you buy a stock based solely on my write-up, without doing your own research, then you are committing yourself to a static analysis. I may have already changed my mind. My writing is about teaching you how to fish and is never about providing the fish. If you like the sound of a company I write about, do your own research to firm up your own conclusions. Stress test my assumptions and form your own assumptions.

By the way, this is exactly what I do all the time. I talk to hundreds of like-minded investors a year. We share ideas. If I like an idea, we start doing our own research. We read the company’s filings, talk to management, build our models… the usual stuff. And then we arrive at our conclusion … and may even buy the stock.

Value investors are the buyers of hate. We often ride the wave of negative momentum. We try to buy $1 for less, let’s say 50 cents. The reason the $1 is selling for less is because that road in the short run may prove to be very rocky and unpleasant. Trust me on this; my rapidly balding head is a testament to it.

My long-term readers will remember my Electronic Arts adventure. We started buying at around $16, and then it seemed that the stock declined every day for eight months. It seemed that every bit of news that came out about the gaming industry and EA was negative. Until it was not. (Here is my EA presentation, and here is the article). If you had bought EA blindly based on my article, the next eight months would have been very painful, because to you there was no difference between the stock’s quoted price and its intrinsic value (what the company was worth). I think the stock bottomed 30% or 40% lower before it started its ascent.

Please, do your own research.

Article by Vitaliy Katsenelson’s Contrarian Edge

Vitaliy N. Katsenelson, CFA, is Chief Investment Officer at Investment Management Associates in Denver, Colo. He is the author of Active Value Investing (Wiley) and The Little Book of Sideways Markets (Wiley). His books were translated into eight languages. Forbes Magazine called him “The new Benjamin Graham”

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I was born and raised in Murmansk, Russia (the home for Russia’s northern navy fleet, think Tom Clancy’s Red October). I immigrated to the US from Russia in 1991 with all my family – my three brothers, my father, and my stepmother. (Here is a link to a more detailed story of how my family emigrated from Russia.) My professional career is easily described in one sentence: I invest, I educate, I write, and I could not dream of doing anything else. Here is a slightly more detailed curriculum vitae: I am Chief Investment Officer at Investment Management Associates, Inc (IMA), a value investment firm based in Denver, Colorado. After I received my graduate and undergraduate degrees in finance (cum laude, but who cares) from the University of Colorado at Denver, and finished my CFA designation (three years of my life that are a vague recollection at this point), I wanted to keep learning. I figured the best way to learn is to teach. At first I taught an undergraduate class at the University of Colorado at Denver and later a graduate investment class at the same university that I designed based on my day job. Currently I am on sabbatical from teaching for a while. I found that the university classroom was not big enough for me, so I started writing and, let’s be honest, I needed to let my genetically embedded Russian sarcasm out. I’ve written articles for the Financial Times, Barron’s, BusinessWeek, Christian Science Monitor, New York Post, Institutional Investor … and the list goes on. I was profiled in Barron’s, and have been interviewed by Value Investor Insight, Welling@Weeden, BusinessWeek, BNN, CNBC, and countless radio shows. Finally, my biggest achievement – well actually second biggest; I count quitting smoking in 1992 as the biggest – I’ve authored the Little Book of Sideways Markets (Wiley, 2010) and Active Value Investing (Wiley, 2007).