A stock or currency that is at its own yearly high must be judged for the possibility of going higher. It would quite possibly be a risky buy unless the upward momentum were pronounced and the indications of further progress were clear.
The width of the range also has a bearing. A stock near the high of a 10-point spread between high and low is likely to be less volatile than one near the high of a 50- or 60-point range.
The implication is that if a stock can cruise upward through a range of 50 points, it can with equal ease slide that far downward. Obviously, stocks do not operate forever within predictable ranges. But an issue that has caught investors’ eyes, and has started to run ahead of itself, its group, and the market can be considered to have a future. Its high-low levels of the past can be viewed as less significant, and the investor’s effort can be bent toward determining how far the run will go.
A stock at mid-range presumably has a demonstrated potential for achieving a higher level, but the course of its action should be plotted to see whether it is at mid-range through a series of small ups and downs, or whether mid-range is simply the current point of a downward slide—or, for that matter, the current point of a gradual climb.
A stock or currency at its low should also be examined for hints as to the reasons for this state of affairs. It might best be shunned—but not too quickly.
For if it seems inherently sound, although low in relation to its group or the market as a whole, it may be a sleeper, the kind of depressed, overlooked, out-of-favor stock that offers a fine opportunity for the investor who is not afraid to run against the tide.
Theoretically, at least, this is the kind of bargain that diligent investors are supposed to dig up for themselves. Be clearheaded; most depressed stocks are hovering at low levels for a reason. But the market is capricious enough to low-rate many issues for reasons having nothing to do with fundamental values.
The depressed issue usually offers a better possibility for improvement than the generally depressed group. If oils or chemicals or rails are unfashionable as a whole, there is, in most cases, a large reason for it. Customers are over inventoried, sales are down, a competing industry has cut into a market something has occurred which requires a fundamental correction before the industry will again seem attractive.
The depressed market, like the depressed stock, often has great possibilities—if the investor can satisfy himself that he is getting in at an appropriately low level. The low of 1953 was a lovely opportunity. DuPont was under 100, General Dynamics was in the 30’s, Union Carbide in the 60’s, Central & Southwest was at 19 everything that is solid, glamorous, and soaring today was at bargain basement prices.
The alternatives are many. The combination of factors that bear on any one issue at any one time is almost incalculable.
One final point is personal. Some rigor must also enter into the investor’s calculations. Caution is necessary and praiseworthy. But once an investor has decided he is operating as soundly as he knows how, he must be prepared to act. It is a human failing to want to be right.
There are few feelings more discomfiting than knowing one has figured wrong. In investment, however, this can be an extremely hampering element. The unhappiest kind of wrongness of all is to be unable to take the bold step, and then find that one has missed the boat.
Decisions infected or paralyzed by doubt and fear are no decisions at all. The point comes in all investment decisions when there is no more figuring to do, when no more answers can be squeezed from the facts, when results can only be revealed in an unknowable-future. At that point, the investor must take his courage in his own two hands and act.
Selling is not necessarily the opposite of buying. While there are the usual factors about the stock, the industry, and the market to weigh, one crucial fact is known: the price you paid. The amount of profit or loss, therefore, is always settled for the investor approaching a decision to sell. If the profit is satisfactory, or the loss insupportable, sell.
There may be further profit to be gleaned; the loser may turn around and cut the loss a few points. But if you believe you have an ample return on your investment and are ready to realize on it, don’t delay. Sell. Or, if you are thoroughly convinced that there is no advantage in waiting for the sour performer to improve, sell. Take the loss as a tax deduction, and use the funds you have salvaged to get into something better.
Beyond these fairly clear-cut situations, the confusions mount.
Many investors these days avoid them by taking no action at all, arguing that any considerable profit they have realized will be so heavily reduced by taxes that it’s just as well to ride along and see what happens and in a rising market, what happens is often very pleasant.
You should also make use of software in shares and Forex to help you plan your sales. This is becuase modern software has years of information in its database and can help you to predict the best time to sell for a good profit.