Another Boon from RealMoney.com

Well, my RealMoney column from April 9th got republished on the free site, and got syndicated out to Yahoo! as well. When I write a piece where I mention a company, like Assurant, it’s fun to see the piece appear on the Yahoo! news. But when I don’t mention a ticker, I know that if they put it on the free site, I know they also syndicate it out to Yahoo!, and a number of other places as well. I get amazed at times where my stuff ends up. Well, I hope it makes money for them, and most of all, I hope it benefits those who read it.

That’s particularly true for this piece, because it focuses on risk control in a very direct way. Too many market players don’t realize that risk control is a way to make more money on average over the long term. How does that work?

  1. It keeps you in the game. Absent war on your home soil and aggressive socialism, being an owner in society is a winning strategy over the long haul.
  2. Rebalancing allows you to pick up an incremental 2-3% annually on average. It forces you to buy low and sell high.
  3. There will be drawdowns. You will get drawn down less, and if you stay with strong companies in industries that have previously underperformed, when the bottom arrives, you will outperform the market.

I view risk differently than most market players, and than almost all academics. Risk means trying to avoid loss on every name in my portfolio, not avoiding loss on the portfolio as a whole, and certainly not standard deviation of returns, or even worse, beta.

“Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket.” True enough. “Keep all your eggs in one basket, and watch that basket carefully.” Also true. “Watch every egg.” That’s what I try to do. I’m a singles hitter, not a home-run hitter with attendant strikeouts. I try to make money on every company, by following my eight rules. That doesn’t guarantee success, but my losers over the last 6.5 years have been less than 10% of the names that I invested in. And, in each case where I lost, the error of judgment came from neglecting one of the eight rules.

All that said, I encourage you to focus on risk control. It’s a lot easier to make money if you don’t lose it.

Full disclosure: long AIZ