About qualitysharesurfer

UK based private investor sunlighting as a competition economist

Portfolio review: July 2021

2021 has been an OK year so far investing-wise. My portfolio is currently near its highs and has clocked in at a 16.7% return at the half way point. This is above most of my benchmarks and more or less in line with my long term CAGR. However, after the excitement of last year and given how well the UK market has been doing in general, progress has felt a little pedestrian. Overall I’m happy, though keen to identify any weaknesses in my strategy or whether I could be doing anything differently.

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Summer lull

The summer feels like it has kicked off. A spell of decent weather and the pubs and restaurants opening has contributed to a festival atmosphere, at least round where we live. It’s great to be catching up more with friends and family even if my social skills have got a bit rusty. The stock market seems to be rocking to a more languid vibe. Volatility seems to have come down again since the ups and downs of the first quarter. My portfolio has been idly shuffling backwards and forwards. The main challenge at the moment is to restrain myself from making unnecessary trades driven by boredom and post-pandemic mania. I’m rather struggling with this challenge and have quite a few trades to update on from the last month or so.

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ATVI bought

I’ve been starting to think that there may now be relatively more return from me digging a little deeper into the long term fundamentals in choosing investments. While I still think the overall strategy is the most important thing to get right, at this point it feels like there are diminishing returns to continuing to tweak my approach from a top-down perspective. We are at a point in the cycle where I’m starting to feel more wary about following momentum and want to focus more on holding the investments where my long term conviction, given current valuations, is highest.

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Portfolio review: April 2021

Recently we passed the anniversary of the first lockdown. It’s hard to fathom that we have spent more than a year largely in social isolation. I’m glad that restrictions are finally starting to be lifted and hopeful that some semblance of normal life may resume soon. It’s a good feeling to start putting more social plans in the calendar even if the possibility of international travel to see family still seems remote. The past few months have been tough. The prospect of commuting to the office and sitting in ‘real life’ meetings has never seemed so appealing.

My portfolio hasn’t made much headway over the past few weeks but I’m pleased not to have suffered too much of the drawdown that afflicted more racy growth stocks. Overall I’m happy with my return of 8.2% YTD.

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Weather-proofing

In my last post, I decided it was time to start taking some evasive action in response to increasing signs of impending trouble for more highly-rated growth businesses. I sold off some of my most expensive holdings, converting about a quarter of my portfolio into cash. Since then I’ve been thinking more about what my next move should be.

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Trouble coming?

As we near the anniversary of the fastest market crash in history, things are starting to look pretty dicey again. After a fairly spectacular first two months, my portfolio has been hit by another rather savage rotation from growth to value. This has been prompted by a sell off in long term treasury bonds, which in turn seem to have been driven by rising expectations of rapid economic growth following the reopening of the economies. So is this another short term rotation from value to growth, imminently due to reverse when the Fed steps in again, or the beginning of the long-awaited bursting of the ‘bubble’? I’ve been considering whether it’s time for me to take some evasive action.

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Meme investing

A few people I know seem to have started to show an interest in investing lately. I’ve been shown several fairly hilarious videos on investing from my wife’s TikTok feed, which seems a bit like the modern day equivalent of hearing stock tips from the shoeshine boy ie probably not a good sign. In the meantime my news feed is filled with talk of ‘rampant speculation’ by retail investors in various bizarre stocks or cryptocurrencies. Interesting times.

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Trading surgery

My investing strategy has two stages. The first is to identify a watchlist of the highest quality businesses I can find. This takes advantage of the ‘big idea’ underpinning my strategy – that I can identify high quality businesses that are likely to be materially undervalued when their long term growth is properly accounted for. The second stage is to trade the businesses on the watchlist based on their current momentum, valuation and news flow.

In practice, it’s been the first stage rather than the second which has delivered most of the returns. This is demonstrated by the strong relative performance of my benchmark buy and hold portfolio, which simply holds all of the shares on my watchlist for the long term. My approach to the second stage is less clearly defined and has evolved over time as I have experimented with different approaches. If I want to improve my results, I think this is what I need to focus on.

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