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When Does Market Timing Actually Work? - February 04, 2020

Zacks Equity Research

Being that unique investor who has the power to constantly time the market and continually make a profit is the dream for most traders and investors.

In fact, even among long-term investors who don't attempt to time the markets, being able to call the top of the market is a skill that many think they possess. This misguided confidence is often driving investors to sit on the sidelines and wait it out for better market opportunities.

Missed investing opportunities by exiting at the first sign of trouble is a common pattern among many self-directed investors. Case in point: How many investors have missed huge opportunities waiting for the Basic Materials stocks listed below to correct, only to see them reach new highs, climb higher and drive the bull market to record levels: Arconic Inc. (ARNC), Balchem Corporation (BCPC), Sappi Ltd. (SPPJY), US Gold Corp (USAU), Trecora Resources (TREC)

Investment emotional triggers (fear and greed) can lead to costly mental mistakes by investors who typically fall into the trap of being a market follower instead of a market leader.

Productive market timing requires three key parts: 1) A dependable sign for when to get in and out of stocks. 2) The ability to follow up on the sign rapidly and precisely. 3) The ability to be completely unemotional and trust in the signal no matter the current market environment.

The popular image of market timing is that it calls for making drastic, all-or-nothing moves at the precise, exact market top or bottom. There is a less well-known, rather simple market timing approach that has been used successfully by savvy investors like Warren Buffet for decades.

Rule 1: Never attempt and time tops and bottoms.

Surrendering the objective to time the tops and bottoms gives you the adaptability to benefit and increase your odds to secure profits over the long-term, even if your calls aren't always right.

Rule 2: Don't sell during small crashes - ride the storm out, or better yet, take advantage of the opportunity.

Warren Buffett has made his fortune based of this straightforward guideline. He warns not to sell during small crashes, and weather the storm by focusing on the long term.

There is a noteworthy distinction between a complete market meltdown and a common 10% market correction. The theory is that if you like and bought a stock at a previous valuation prior to the correction, you should love the opportunity to this same at a steep discount since the underlying fundamentals are most likely still intact. Warren Buffett takes this thought one step further by often buying outsized positions in value stocks he likes across the board when markets turn, essentially leveraging his bottoms-up analysis and stock picking acumen.

When It Comes to Trading Your Retirement, A Risk Adjusted Trading Strategy Should be Followed

It's just human that many surrender to emotions and attempt and game the framework by timing the market. But, think about this: Nobel Laureate William Sharpe found in 1975 that a market timer would need to be precise 74% of the time to beat a passive portfolio. Indeed, even a slight outperformance most likely wouldn't justify the efforts - and given that even the specialists for the most part come up short at it, market timing shouldn't be your exclusive methodology for investing, particularly when it comes to building your retirement nest egg.

Chasing alpha, outsized, short - term returns through market timing and other high - risk bets is acceptable only within a small part of your investable resources, however for your long - term retirement assets a 'risk-adjusted' investment discipline is what largely bodes well.

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Arconic Inc. (ARNC) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Trecora Resources (TREC) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Balchem Corporation (BCPC) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Sappi Ltd. (SPPJY) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
US Gold Corp (USAU) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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