Random Thoughts on the Stock Market

Here’s one.  Invest your money wisely.  That sounds good, but the trick is knowing how to do it.  I can’t tell you how to do it, but I can tell you some things not to do.  For example, don’t buy shares in a company because one of your friends has a daughter high up in the company and the daughter says the company is doing great.  And, don’t buy on impulse, such as when you have a friend who has a daughter, blah, blah, blah.

I have a close friend that I used to work for.  His name is Del O’Roark and he plays a large role in managing his money.  He recommended a book on the stock market to me and I ran right out and bought it.  It was not easy reading.  It talked about “correlation coefficient,” and “R-squared.”  I was clueless.  I decided it was best to skip over the formulas.  I finally concluded that if you want to make money in the market, you need to be smart and lucky.  But, if you can only be one, be lucky.

Then, after I talked to Del about the book, he goes out and buys me another stock market book.  Since it was a gift, I felt like I had to read it.  I haven’t finished it yet, but I am satisfied that when I do complete it, I will not be twice as smart as I was after reading the first one.  I hit diminishing returns 30 pages into the first book.

I am relating a lot better to the second book, because it sets out a lot of dumb things people have done through the years, like investing in internet companies.  That was me.  I was right there, all excited, listening to things like, “The only thing wrong with the stock is that it is listed on the big board rather than NASDAQ.”  “The price/earnings ratio is obsolete.”  “You can determine a web company’s value by the number of hits it’s getting.”  I bought one internet stock and it proceeded to lose a third of its value.  Thus, I concluded, if it was a good buy earlier, then now, its a great buy.  So I bought some more.  Such a deal.  And I’m a conservative guy.

After the internet debacle, I decided to stick with blue chip stocks.  I put my money in a solid pharmaceutical company that had paid dividend and grown for years.  Merck.  They had this great pain killer called Vioxx.  I am not convinced that Vioxx is as bad as some people say, but it really doesn’t matter what I think.  I had had Merck for some time and it had done really well.  After the Vioxx fiasco, I sold and broke even.  In sports, there are good ties and bad ties.  This was a bad tie.

By now, you have realized that the wisdom you were hoping for is not forthcoming.  But, here is a morsel.  Anytime you can put money away that comes off of your taxable income, like an IRA, 401(k) or some pension plan, please do so.  It will grow.  Also, buy low and sell high.

5 thoughts on “Random Thoughts on the Stock Market”

  1. The writing style reminds me of Leon Hale who writes regularly for the Houston Chronicle. Interesting chatter, and it doesn’t intend to give you the map to the buried treasure. It may seem short on details to those who want investment advice, but the comments about consistent saving and the disappointment in the books are on target. Those are two reasons why the “couch potato” portfolio has been so successful.

  2. Based on my blog, I don’t think anyone will be signing up for my class. It’s good to know you are out there and that you found something of value. We have come a long way since giddy-hour at Mizzou.

  3. The last comment was from Joe Rittman, who was my teammate at the University of Missouri, back in the 50’s. The “hut” comment had to do with me being a quarterback (Monday through Friday). Neither Joe, nor I knew we were both career Army officers until after 18 years, we were stationed together at Fort Riley, KS.  Fond memories.


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