Friday, March 30, 2018

Are you a bull or a bear? Why not both?

Most small investors thrive in bull markets. They feel comfortable by buying low and selling high. The adventurous buy high and sell higher. The sophisticated buy more on small corrections to support levels. They make the trend their friend.

All their best laid plans go haywire when bears attack. Panic sets in as portfolio values go crashing. Stock prices fall below 'buy' prices. Some book losses and get out, promising never to come back again.

Others make a bad problem worse. They start 'averaging down' - buying more at lower prices. When the stock shows no sign of recovering, they lose heart and book huge losses.

What happened to making the trend a friend? The analytical side of the brain gets scrambled when money is rapidly going down the drain. The only thought is 'take the money and run'.

The smart ones - they become that way after losing money in bear markets - know that you can be a bull AND a bear depending on the trend. 'Buy the dips' when the trend is up. 'Sell on rise' when the trend is down.

The 'buy the dips' is the easier strategy to follow. No wonder small investors prefer it. You keep buying as a stock's price moves up. No selling is involved - till you decide to book profits when upward target is met.

'Sell on rise' is harder, and requires practice to succeed. For every sell, you need to buy back at a lower price. And then repeat the process - till the correction ends. Deciding when to buy back requires skill.

Studying long-term technical chart patterns to identify support and resistance levels can prove invaluable for identifying entry and exit points. 

Sometimes stocks get into consolidation phases that can last months. What to do then? If the consolidation range is reasonably wide - say, 40-50 points instead of 10-15 points - draw a line through the middle of the range. 'Buy the dips' below the mid-point, 'sell on rise' above the mid-point.

For longer term investors, it is better to be a crocodile or a python (both have a lot of patience) instead of a bull or a bear during consolidation phases. Just wait patiently for a price breakout in either direction.

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