I like to buy stocks cheap and then hold them as they rise in price. This is not a unique desire, I know. One thing this lead me to do was find a stock I liked but hold off buying it until I could buy it for less. When that works it is great. However, one thing that happened several times is that I found stocks I really liked and they just went up and went up more and kept going up. And I never owned them.
I learned, after awhile, that is was ok to buy a stock at a higher price once I realized I made a mistake. Instead of just missing out because I made a mistake and didn’t buy it at a lower price than I needed to pay today (which made it feel really lame to buy it now at a higher price) I learned to accept that buying at the higher price available today was the best option.
I have seen two types of situations where this takes place: one I realize I was just way off, it was a great deal at the price I could have bought at – I just made a mistake. And if it was still a good buy, I should buy it. Another is that the stock price goes up but new news more than makes up for the increased stock price (the news makes the value of stock increase more than the price has increased).
I missed out on the Google IPO, even though I really wanted to buy. Then the price went way up and even though I had learned this (don’t avoid buying a stock today just because you made the mistake of not buying it at a lower price earlier) tip I wanted to buy it for less than the current price and so kept not buying it (emotion is a real factor in investing and that is another thing I have realized – you need to accept it and deal with it to be a good investor). Then Google announced spectacular earnings and it was finally enough to get me to buy the stock a few days later at $219 (which was well over twice the price 6 months earlier). But it was a great buy at $219 and losing that just because I should have bought it at $119 is not wise – but something I did many times in the past.
In March of 2009 I bought some ATPG at $3.20. In August I bought more at $11. The news was bit better but really it was just a huge huge bargain at $3.20 and I should have bought a lot more. In the last 5 trading days ATPG was up $5.12 (16.78 – 11.66). A nice gain. Right now, it is up another 68 cents today at $17.43. Now this is a volatile stock and until I sell it may not turn out to be profitable investment, but the odds are good that it will.
It is also hard to know when to sell – in fact for many selling at the wrong time (either selling too late – after it collapses [for good or sell it after a collapse only to see it recover], or too early missing out on huge gains) is the biggest problem they have in becoming a successful investor). One trait of many successful investors is holding the right investments for huge gains. A few stellar performances can lift the entire portfolio to long term investing success. And if you sell those stocks early you miss huge opportunities.
Holding on for the huge gains is a mistake I do not want to make – and so when the opportunity is there for such gains I am willing to risk losing some gains for the potential of a much larger gain. Right now the balance is keeping me from selling any ATPG, though I am likely to sell some if it increases (while continuing to hold some of the position).
Related: Great Google Earnings April 2007 – Nicolas Darvas (investor and speculator) – Not Every Day is Profitable – Does a Declining Stock Market Worry You? – 401(k)s are a Great Way to Save for Retirement – Beating the Market, Suckers Game? – Sleep Well Fund