Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blog It As It Is - BIAS

These days when I blog, there's this nagging self censorship that stops me from finishing my blog article, or from publishing it. It's this new-found sensibility to others that I find it irritating. If this goes on further, I'll have nothing more to write!

To remedy this situation, I will follow dream's blog and do my own "dream's speak", a special feature where I get to say anything I like with scant regards to others. This will keep my mind free from the annoying self censorship that kills off my articles at its infancy.

So here it goes, my very first "Blog It As it iS" or "BIAS"...

** "BIAS" is a special feature in my blog where I get to say whatever I want with scant regards for your feelings. I'm not politically correct in this feature, so go ahead, judge me."

There are some people, after reading some books on investing, especially books on Buffett, then declare themselves value investors. I would say that books on Buffett do more harm on people than good. Why? Most of them are simplistic one liner like "Hold for the long term". Yea right, in the long term, we're all dead.

I therefore cringe whenever I hear the word 'long-term' being uttered. A shiver of uneasiness will creep up my spine. Here are some thoughts regarding the B man:

1. Buffett is a good investor and businessman. He buys in such a big amount to be able to sit in the board and do some major changes, possibly for his own interests. He did that for Salomon brothers and came out unscathed. Are you able to do the same? When he means ownership of company, he really means it! What are you? Are you able to buy 30% of the floating shares to influence the management?

2. Buffett has some glaring contradictions. First he said derivatives are instruments of mass destruction, but he also bought it. Then he said charts are for ninnies, but his dad is a stock broker and he might have learnt a trick or two from him. I dunno. He said splitting shares has no value add and he had shown great dislike for companies doing that. In the end, he did the same for his B-shares to buy some toy train.

Win liao loh, everything also he said one.

3. Buffett is a man of great influence. When he says buy, people will believe him. That's why whatever company he fancies buying, the stock price will rise up. How can one lose money like that? If I say digiland is good buy, people will just ignore me. Not so for B man. If I can influence people to that level, of course there's no need to read charts. For that matter, there's no need to read the statements too.

4. Last for now, all the books written about the world's greatest investor are not written by him. It can be his ex-daughter-in-law who adopted the same surname as him, it can be some other unknown people who happened to meet him drinking cherry coke and snapped a picture with him. How did B man do his valuation? Nobody knows...we can only speculate how he did it.

If there's anything to learn from B man, it's how he changes his opinion accordingly to times. He studied under Graham but found that it's a bit outdated, so he mixed with Fisher and combine powers to create his own way. That's unique. If you can't evolve and adapt like Buffett, forget about using his methods. For one thing, that method you're using might not even be his method.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Begone idealistic youth!

When I was younger, I was quite idealistic. This kind of idealism must have come from a limited world view due to underexposure to reality, or simple a sheltered kind of environment. As I get older, I realised that things don't always go according to what I think. Here are some things that was idealistic about:

1. I wanted to get 10-12% returns from the market per year, because I read from books that the equity returns over the long term is around 8% for average investors. And I'm above the average investors.

2. I thought that the market only have two kinds of stocks - dividends or growth stocks. Dividend stocks means that there is no growth anymore while growth stocks means that there is a huge chance of capital gains. I used to like growth and detest dividend stocks.

3. If you do your due diligence in FA, things will work out fine. Value is determined simply by certain key ratios like NAV. As such, I spend a great deal of time and energy to find out the perfect way to analyse a stock. I go around asking what are the ratios they use to determine value.

4. If you do your due diligence in TA, things will work out fine. Support is a good place to buy stocks and resistance is the good place to sell stocks. The problem is knowing a little bit of TA makes you yaya and cocksure. I can replace the word TA by FA and it's the same thing. I spent a good amount of time energy to find out the perfect setup that people use, the indicators and patterns that people see.

As I get older and wiser from the constant humbling experience from the market, I realise that besides black and white, things are usually grey. In fact, different shades of grey. Even though the examples I used are market specific, the same lessons can be applied to life. Actually, after reading so many books about the market, I really do not find any difference between the market and life in general.

The stock market is a faster tempo, rap version of life.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Batam photos

Recently I went over to Batam for my yearly pilgrimage. Since I never had the habit of bringing my camera with me, I snapped some nice scene with my handphone. Turns out nicer than I imagine, considering that it's 3 megapixels only.

Here's a flash based site that I created a few days ago, where I show case some of the pictures that I took over at Batam. Click here.

I always wanted to find some flash based sites to design some widgets or sites, and it's just pure luck that I found Anyone can do nice sites using that free interface, do try it if you like messing around with this kind of things.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My noticeboard

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New year resolutions redefined

Seeing everyone doing their new year resolutions, I thought of doing one too. However, it's a serious thing to me because I want to do one which I intend to complete, so a fair amount of thinking and planning is involved. I don't like dreaming of big things and waiting for it to happen to me - it can be quite demoralising if it didn't come true.

I was thinking about the project that I did in 2009 - which is my 50k challenge. For the uninitiated, it's my 12 months long plan to save 50k for various things that will happen this year.

Now, I'm thinking whether this is being short sighted on a long term goal. While the long term picture is of course to save more money, I'm wondering whether breaking the 50k target into monthly target is making me forget the bigger picture. Why save more money? To have a better life! However I don't seem to have a better life while trying to have a better life - thus the irony of ironies.

Here's some of the things that I observed:

1. There are months that I had suffered greatly while trying to achieve my monthly savings target, and I wondered whether it's worth my life to achieve an arbitrary number set by myself at the start of the year. While it provided me the motivation to persevere, my thoughts are always - is it worth it?

2. My temper became worse with occasional mood swings. Lessons can be quite boring and there are times that I snapped at students for sloppy work. I don't like doing this but try hopping from one place to another, walking under the hot sun, working for 12 hours and when you reached the student's place, he/she had forgotten what you had taught them the last lesson. I'm bad tempered and sarcastic - that is so unlike me. I never wanted to do this to my students again.

3. At the pace I'm working at last year, I was constantly tired and sleepy. While I did not sleep during my lessons, I really had to close my eyes for some time while my students do the work that I gave them. Again, this is not what I want to do in my work, but to reach my target, I had to put in classes very early and very late to get in more income.

4. Surprisingly, my income for 2009 is lesser than 2008. I took 1.5-2 month leave after reaching my goal to recover from the ordeal. In summary, I worked more intensely because I worked a shorter period of time.

Is it worth it? Answer is no. It's good enough to know that I can do this again if I want to, but no thanks, I won't do it in 2010. Having zoomed in to see the ugly side, I shall zoom out this year to see the bigger perspective. Having this 50k goal restricts me and confines me and I shall have none of it.

Thus, my goal for 2010 is simple - Re-learn the joy of teaching, have more group classes and have fun doing it. I figured that if I keep to these redefined goals, hitting 50k is part of the reward of that journey, no longer the end. That being said, there is still a number that I had to achieve by end of the year and hey, I'm no longer bounded by it. If I can reach it, 'tis good but if not, so be it.