The world of investing can be confusing and scary at times. But fortunately, the basics of investing are timeless and some investors (often the best) have a knack of encapsulating these in a sentence or two that is insightful and easy to understand. In recent years I’ve written several insights highlighting investment quotes I find particularly useful. Here are some more.
“Stock price movements actually begin to reflect new developments before its generally recognised they have taken place.” Arthur Zeikel
This goes to the nub of how share markets work – they are forward looking. Regularly I have seen share markets bottom and start moving higher even when the fundamental news is still terrible, only to see the news improve and vice versa. This is why many often get wrong footed – selling at bear market depths because the fundamental news is so bad and buying at the height of a bull market because the news is so good.
“It’s a basic fact of life that many things everybody knows turn out to be wrong.” Jim Rogers
This can’t apply to everything – eg if it’s raining outside then it is. But when it comes to investing this quote highlights how perverse it can be because when everyone is saying the same thing – like economic conditions are so bad shares can’t recover – then maybe the share market has already factored it in, the crowd has sold and the cycle will soon turn up.
“That men and women do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.” Aldous Huxley
Which is partly why investment cycles perpetuate no matter how much regulators try and guard against a return to the behaviour which gave us the last boom and bust. The key for investors is to have an historical perspective, partly so they can filter the noise from what matters but also to help guard against being sucked up in periods of euphoria or pessimism.
“Cash is a fact, profit is an opinion.” Alfred Rappaport
This is one reason why dividends are great – providing they are not being paid for out of debt, they reflect that companies are actually generating cash and so can afford to pay the dividend.
“Even the intelligent investor is going to need considerable willpower to keep from following the crowd.” Ben Graham
When times are good the crowd is happy and fully invested. But it gets to a point where everyone who wants to buy has. This leaves the market vulnerable to bad news because there is no one left to buy. Similarly, after a sharp fall the crowd gets negative, sells their investments to the point that everyone who wants to sell has and so the market sets up for a rally when some good, or less bad, news comes along. So the point of maximum risk is when most are euphoric, and the point of maximum opportunity is when most are pessimistic. But for many investors trying to sell when the market is booming and all around you are euphoric is tough. As is trying to buy after the market has crashed and everyone is pessimistic.
Having a goal and a plan
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it…he who doesn’t, pays it.” Albert Einstein
Some may argue it was Patsy Kensit! But when it comes to investing, your best friend is time and the earlier you start, the better. This is the best way to take advantage of the magic of compound interest. (And the worst way to experience its downside is letting credit card debt build up!) The next chart shows the value of $1 invested in various Australian asset classes since 1900 allowing for reinvesting any income along the way. That $1 would have grown to $241 if invested in cash, $979 in bonds but a whopping $630,819 in shares.
Source: Global Financial Data, AMP Capital