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Welcome to Investing for Beginners podcast. This is episode 166 tonight, Andrew and I are going to answer some list of questions. We got some great ones the other day, and we thought we would answer those for you guys on the air. So the first question I’m going to go ahead and read. This is from Corey says, hi, Andrew. I just started investing a few weeks ago and found your ebook podcast and e-letter incredibly informative and helpful. I do just have a couple of questions about when to sell. So assuming we have done our due diligence and decided company XYZ is a company we should purchase after we make the purchase. Number one, how often do we reevaluate the company? Number two, how do we decide? Is it time to sell your position? Thank you for all your help and guidance you’ve given so far. I look forward to continuing to learn from you. Sincerely Corey, Andrew, what are your thoughts on all that?
So I’m going to give you two answers. I’m going to give the, what should the average investor do, and then I’m going to answer, what do I do? So those are going to be two very different things because I have the newsletter that I do full time, right? And the average investor might not. So for the average investor and when I was more of a part-time investor, it was something where I would check once a year. You know, sometimes if, if a big news thing happened to come out or obviously with coronavirus, I think everybody kind of tuned in to how things were developing, because it was such a rapidly changing environment. But, you know, in normal circumstances, just waiting for the annual reports, waiting for those 10 Ks once a year and getting those audited financial statements and seeing how those change from year to year, that’s generally a good process for that.
If you’re buying for the long term, you’re not necessarily trying to, you know, squeeze the juice out of every percentage point that you can. I think that’s, that’s a really good way to go as an example. You know, I did my research on the value trap indicator years ago, where I looked at the top 30 biggest bankruptcies in the 21st century. And, you know, just really went through those financials and tried to see if there were any common characteristics in there. And there was, you know, there were a lot of instances of companies who were the red and a lot of instances with companies with a lot of debt. So, you know, those things sound simple, but you know, sometimes the best answers aren’t always the most complex. And with, with each of those, you know, a lot of these businesses in the years before they went bankrupt, the flat they flashed these warning signs well before they did go bankrupt.
And so an investor who’s just paying attention maybe once or twice a year could look at these financials, wait until they see these red flags and then jump ship and not have to stay on the sinking ship when it comes to, you know, my investments and how I’m recommending positions for the portfolio. I’m looking at it constantly. I’m looking at, at these stocks, particularly since the COVID lockdowns I’m looking I’m reevaluating and reevaluating. I’m constantly testing my assumptions on these stocks. And so I have certain stocks where they are super locked in, right? Like I know dividend fortresses would be an example where I have these set rules and unless we see negative earnings, as we would in the annual reports, or unless we see a complete cut of the dividend for the year, things like I like that, then I’m going to keep on, keep on.
And those even through a less than an ideal economic period, when it comes through a lot of the other positions, I’m constantly trying to evaluate and gain, gain insight on how the industry is moving and how these companies are moving within them. And, you know, it’s, it’s something I think that somebody who’s taking a more active approach and needs to evaluate pretty frequently. And it’s something you always have to weigh what you have versus what’s out there. So, you know, you’re always looking for new ideas, and you do need to compare those to what you have. Now. I was watching a show on CNBC. One, one of my it’s becoming one of my favorite shows that all I’ll turn on during my lunch break, it’s called the halftime report. And one of the analysts on there was talking about how, you know, a lot of these businesses they talk about, they could be great investments, but when it comes to his portfolio, he’s only got room for so many companies.
And so I feel the same way with my portfolio. You know, I’m keeping it small intentionally and for a good reason. And, you know, as part of needing to be in that portfolio, these stocks that I’m holding need to stack up with, what else is available out there now I do need to say with a caveat to that you just don’t want to be trading in and out. And I think this year is, is, is a lot different because the world changed so fast. I think in general, you don’t see the business world change fast as it’s done in the past six months, but you don’t want it to be like changing your mind from month to month to month. And like there’s, there’s, there’s a ratio called the turnover ratio. And I think, I think that’s what it’s called. I don’t know why I’m blanking on it at the moment. Does that sound, right? Then, when they’re talking about Warren Buffet and his portfolio, he has such a low, is it the turnover? Okay.
Yes. It’s the turnover. Yeah, you’re welcome.
Okay. So, you know, buffet had a lot of success having a turnover ratio of somewhere between 15 to 25%. And so that means he was only turning his portfolio over a 15 to 25% of his portfolio from year to year to year. So that means the big majority of his portfolio, 75% or greater, he was just hanging on and just holding. So I think in general, the business move is the business world is not going to move that fast, missing earnings estimates by like a penny or two, you know, as an example would not be catastrophic, and you don’t want to be trading in and out of these little moves. But if you do see a very big longterm trend that you start to see things working against what your original thesis was, then, you know, I think that does cause a good opportunity for you to maybe think about whether you’re going to reevaluate the company and maybe sell or, or just hold on. So I think those are a lot of thoughts that go through my head. It’s something I’m thinking about all the time, and hopefully, some of that was helpful.
I think it was helpful. And I agree with a lot of the things that you’re saying. I know that my focus on my portfolio over the last six months or so has greatly accelerated in part because I am doing this more, but also because just to like, you are all the things
There have been so many changes in the business world, as you mentioned, this is in my lifetime is, is unseen before. And
So there’s, there has been more activity. And I guess another thing that I wonder too, is with the elimination of trading fees; I guess I feel like maybe some of the barriers to get out of a company is less than it was before because I didn’t have that financial commitment of four 95, for example, to buy a company or to sell a company. Now I don’t have that speed bump, but I think that I have paid far more attention than I used to. But I agree that depending on your, of, of interest in how much you want to be focused on your portfolio, looking at it every six months to a year, I think it is perfectly fine. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Especially if you’re buying companies that are far more mature and more secure in their production and their results, somebody like, I don’t know; I’ll throw out somebody, some, a company like Johnson and Johnson is not going to have as much fluidity as a Tesla will.
For example, if you’re investing in Teslayou’re going to have to pay a lot more attention because of the gyroscope of that, that beast is going to be all over the place. And if you’re not paying attention, you could lose, you could lose everything very quickly. So I think a lot of it has to do with what kinds of things you’re investing, but it also has to do with your experience level as well. So the more that you do this, it’s, it’s like anything else, the more that you do this, the more comfortable you get and the more you understand. The more confidence you get in your abilities to analyze what is going on with each company. And you’ll start to pay a little more attention. I think that’s probably a natural thing, but I liked all the answers at Andrew gravy. I thought those are right on the Mark.
Yeah. Those are some great points. The businesses and stocks that you select do have a large impact on that too. I’m glad you brought that up. So I guess for your perspective to answer his second question,
How do you decide that it’s time to sell your position? For me, it comes down to, has something fundamentally changed in the business that I didn’t foresee or that I foresee becoming a serious issue. And if that is the case, then that is something that I would, would prompt me to sell. If the stock price drops 15 or 20%, but the company is still, I think, a great company, then I would probably buy more of the company simply for the fact that I still feel like it’s a value. And now it’s even more, more on a, on a, on a sale. Then I would probably try to take advantage of that. Of course, there is always going to be the fear in my head of what do people know that I don’t know, and there is going to be some of that for sure.
But I think by and large, if it’s a company that I’ve studied a lot and I feel like I have a really good grasp on what’s going on with a company like that, then I would probably not sell it in that circumstance. Really, for me, it’s, it’s going to boil down to if something fundamentally has changed within the company or there are maybe big signs out there that would lead me to think that, Hey, maybe this is going to be a problem for the company going and could cause it to stagger for a while, maybe not permanently, but maybe for a while. I’ll give you an example. If there’s a company that I was looking at today, it’s an insurance company, and it’s a, it’s a larger company, but they’re very heavily tied into catastrophe losses. And what that means today is that they’re tied into a lot of the things that have been happening with the weather.
So, for example, there, they’ve had a lot of claims because of the wildfires in Australia and then also the tornado that hit Nashville not too long ago. And then any other weather-related things here in the United States, they’ve had some issues with those. The other bigger issue is that they have a lot of claims against the company for COVID related issues. And those are going to end up in some sort of legal battle because the insurance company is claiming that they are exempt from liabilities for those for that particular issue. And the people that had the insurance feel otherwise. And so that is going to, there’s going to be big litigation, and it’s going to be a big deal, and it’s not just going to affect this particular company.
It could be an industry-wide Side issue from now on. And so that is something that, as I was looking at the company, I thought to myself, Oh boy, that could be, that could be, it could be a big problem going, going forward. And so it will be interesting to see how all that plays out. So if that were a company that I was interested in buying, I would not just because of that big issue. And the other thing, if it were a company I did own, then it would be something I would pay attention to because as that decision came down, it would affect not only the short term but longterm the profitability of that company. And so that those are kinds of things that I guess are things that I try to keep on my radar when I’m considering buying or selling the company. Andrew, what are your be curious to hear what your thoughts are?
Yeah, I’ve got too many on those. I liked how you mentioned how you need to think when a accompany stock drops. And so I think a good example of doing that the right way was Warren buffet. When he got out of the airline stocks fairly early, he followed my lead. If, if I might add by the way,
He saw a fundamental change within the airlines and cut his losses. What Dave was saying kind of on the flip side of that was if you own the stock and it goes down 15%, and you figure out why the market thinks it should go down 15%, there could be another reason. And you, as long as you understand the reason why the market’s discounting it, then at least you argue to say while they’re discounting it, because they’re pessimistic about this, right? So if we take a company like IBM as an example, why are they getting beaten up while it’s because there’s not a lot of faith in their bread and butter business. They’re looking at the longterm, and seeing the other tech is emerging and kind of eating away from their pie. And so that’s why there’s negativity now as an investor, it’s up to you, whether you agree or disagree with that point.
And so whether you take that, that discount that’s in the market and invest in it or not. And, and you’re, you’re weighing those risks, and that’s where the decision comes. But if you’re never thinking about why this company is cheaper? Why do they go down after I bought it, then you’re, you’re kind of gambling in a way with that. You know you want to understand why it moved. If it moved against you, definitely something, I struggled with when first starting, if you go back in the Wayback machine, I used to put a trailing stop on my positions. And I learned pretty quickly that it doesn’t work with my type of valuation approach that I was using. And so utterly stopped that automatically cuts you out when the stock drops are not great because you know, sometimes the market overreacts, sometimes it doesn’t.
And the times when it does overreact and then bounces back up, you can lose a lot of gains so that you don’t want to take a black and white. You don’t want to say I’m always going to do this or that, but you want to evaluate it on an individual basis and try to figure out what went wrong, what the perception is, and then whether you agree or disagree, I guess when I’m trying to decide whether they sell to lock in profits, I’ll give you two other examples. And these are nice because they’re also recent. So I guess I’ll say this as a disclaimer before I say anything. Any of the stocks that I talk about in this episode where, you know, they are in the leather portfolio, which are for paid subscribers. I am comfortable talking about them today because neither of them is sells or buys.
And I don’t plan to, for that, to be that way for the next couple of weeks, at least. So let’s keep that in mind. So Dave helped me with this last month where I was looking at the, I was looking at the portfolio, and I was kind of undecided between whether I wanted to sell Whirlpool or whether I wanted to sell UFPI. So Whirlpool appliance company, I think a lot of people are familiar with them. They also have some other recognizable brand names like KitchenAid strong company poised to profit from residential housing, boom, if that were to occur, as it seems like it is. And, you know, just a solid company, I was able to get in at a good price and there up like 25%. And then I have UFPI on the other side; this is a lumber company. The actual company name is UFP industries.
And so basically they’re providing lumber too, as an example, you know, to build homes or the lumber that’s going into Home Depot and Lowe’s so people can remodel—and so understanding that lumber is a very commodity-type business. Somebody could care less, whether they get their lumber from Jack or Jill over here. I understood that when I bought this company, my selling strategy for this is I’m going to try to buy the value. And I’m going to try to get out when the stock is, you know, at a high point, where, when we’re at the high commodity point for this commodity now lumber very recently race through all-time highs. And maybe like the middle of last month was when I was thinking about selling because I saw lumber at all-time highs UFPI was at all-time highs. I talked to Dave about it, and he said, well, has your thesis around that change?
You know, is there something fundamentally different when it comes to that position? And it got me thinking, and I was like, well, for as long as there’s a real estate housing boom. And I guess I recognize I haven’t talked about this on our podcast yet. And so this is something maybe Eli, their subscribers will be more familiar with. It sounds like a crazy concept, right? A real estate boom. But you know, if, if this trend were to continue low-interest rates continue, and there’s a lot of construction, what’s that going to do to the price of lumber? So the way I saw it now was like, okay, as long as this boom seems like it’s still there, why cut out early? And that ended up being fantastic, not sell because ever since that conversation, lumbers continue to climb like crazy and you have pie looking like it’s going to have a very, very strong couple of corridors and probably a great year.
And we’ll see just, just how far it can go. I’m going to be reevaluating it because of the commodity aspect of that business. But I think that’s a good example of trying to evaluate if fundamentals have changed and making a decision based on that rather than what’s the stock done at the stock price. Because trust me, you can look at that and just drive yourself nuts over whether you sold at a, at, at the best part or where they show the way the longer. And it’s just; it’s psychologically devastating to think that way. And when you think instead, I’m just going to evaluate it from a business perspective. Only I realize it sounds simple, but it’s, it’s so powerful when you do it, then you can kind of let go of the results and you can let go of the fact that stock ran away or a stock retreated in the ways that you didn’t want it to go based on regret or losses. Right? So looking at it that way, you can know that at least most of the time, you’re, you’re, you’re doing something logical. You’re, you’re going not with the emotions of the market, but with how you evaluate businesses and over a long enough period, that should be a better approach than trying to guess on the timing when you’re going to sell
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Good advice. I appreciate that. Let’s move on to the next one. This one’s from Chris, he says, hi, Andrew, I’ve recently discovered your podcast, and I’m enjoying the information and perspective that you provide. Currently have a Roth account that has about 20,000 in it. And I realize that my current fund has a relatively high expense ratio of 0.3%, which I’ll add is pretty high if, if he’s indexing, right? So he said and was planning on moving that money into something with a lower expense ratio. I wasn’t sure what to do about realizing losses at the moment. My account is roughly $4,000 in the red with unrealized losses. I assume that moving these funds would cause me to realize those losses is as correct as a longterm investor. I’m 31. Would it serve my interests better to wait until my cows are covered a bit, or so I bite the bullet and plan on higher returns and lower expense ratios, making up for the difference.
My other alternative and what I’ve been doing the meantime is the direct contributions and build up a new position from scratch—so very good question. I’m curious what your thoughts are.
Oh boy. So I was afraid you were going to ask me that. All right. So I guess here’s, I guess a couple of thoughts. So his assumption is correct. If he does sell those positions with them being in the red, he will realize the losses. Once you sell those stocks or funds that the money that you’ve lost will become permanent. So I guess the question then is what does he do in that circumstance? And I don’t know that there’s any, I don’t have an easy answer. So here, here are my thoughts. The first thing that I would consider is what my tax position is? In other words, how am I sitting on my taxes? Where am I with? What kind of money am I going to owe when I sell these positions? Whenever he sells his positions, any money that he makes is possibly going to be taxed; it’s in a Roth. So he’s already paid taxes on that. So I guess some of that will be mitigated, but I guess the bigger issue is how do you, how do you, how do you handle that
Part of it? And I guess for me, if I were in a position like that, some of it would depend on what the stocks are that I’ve experienced that big of a loss. That’s a pretty sizable loss, especially this far into the stock market return. The S and P just recently recovered to the point that it’s at an all-time high as again, like it was before the crash, right before the covert lockdowns. So that would lead me to ask the question, what are those funds invested in? And that would have some bearing on what kinds of things I would want to do if they were in things that I don’t think are going to recover for a long time. I guess I would probably bite the bullet and sell them and then move them into positions and take it as a learning experience and move on from there.
With like he said, he’s only 31, so he’s got quite a long time to go before he retires. And so he can easily make up those losses over the long haul. And with the lower expense ratio, he’ll also make up some money as well. So there are some advantages in that respect, depending on what the funds are in would give me some idea of whether I needed to either sell all of the positions or only part of the positions that maybe have a smaller fraction of the loss. So the bite isn’t quite so big. A lot of that depends on where you are in your knowledge, as well as where you are and your comfort level of doing all those things. So I guess those are, I guess, some of my answers it’s a, it’s hard, it’s a hard question.
It’s a very hard position to do because you always want to wait until they recover, but in some cases, they just aren’t going to, and sometimes you have to bite the bullet and take the losses and move on from there because the stock market will return. It will go up, and you will earn money over the long term if you stay with it. So there are going to be times when we’re going to lose money, and we’re going to make bad choices. Even our, one of our favorites, Warren buffet, he’s lost money. And even just recently, he lost money in the airlines. Like Andrew was talking about, he invested in them, he sold them at a loss, but he moved on and sometimes that’s what we have to do. So I guess that’s kind of my thought, Andrew, what are your thoughts on all this?
I agree with what you said, where it depends on what kind of fund It is. I think if it’s like a general All stock market ETF kind of fund than waiting for it to be not in the red might be a good idea. Particularly if you think about like, are you going to sell in the red? So to save like 0.2%, but you’re taking a 20% upfront, you know, but yeah, if it’s in a fund where we’re talking about like a marijuana ETF or something, then yeah, I’d probably just cut my losses. And so, you know, knowing that the stock market over the very long period returns around 10% a year, that’s where I kind of get the logic to, to maybe hold on and wait for it to come back. I guess those are; those are the kind of thoughts that I would have when it comes to this ETF fund. He has the expense ratios associated with that. And maybe the timing on, on where, where he is with when he invested what he bought and, and where the market is now.
Yeah. I would agree with that. I think I think all those things are things you got to take into consideration. It’s not an easy place to be for sure, but I think he has the right idea, and I think he needs to do a little more digging to figure out what’s going to work out best for him. All right. Let’s move on to the next question. Hi, Andrew and Dave, I hold S C L and w O K on my portfolio. Any thoughts on the value of SEL since the price has jumped a fair bit? I’m contemplating swapping my SEL lots for more wlk, as it seems, SEL is approaching overvalued status, and wlk seems to be a bit more undervalued. All of the metrics on wlk seem good, though. They seem to increase debt and decreasing income over the last five or so years. Any thoughts on this? Thanks, Brian.
Yeah. Another good question. So like I mentioned earlier, these are stock picks in the leather portfolio, neither buys nor sells at this point. So when it comes to answering a question like this and having the kind of determination, you need to understand the businesses underlying these stocks. So SEL talks about Stefan company and the primary thing for them, you know, that they have three segments, the way they name them is not easy to say. Surfactants, polymers specialty products. So a lot of science terms to say cleaners and, and things of that nature, you know, maybe the more of the raw materials that go into it and not so much the customer brand that’s consumer-facing. So as an example for a Stefan or step on, I still don’t know how you pronounce it. Exactly. Small, small company, they are having pretty nice tailwinds from COVID-19 in the sense that there’s a big demand for the disinfecting and cleaning solutions that come and our source from the things that they sell.
So going back what we talked about earlier, you know, unfortunately, the whole COVID thing is something that we have to live with. And so obviously you never feel comfortable about profiting from disaster. However, it’s the way I perceive it. We don’t have a vaccine yet. We don’t know how long people are going to be needing to clean their hands through this. I mean, not only do you have just regular consumers are cleaning, but look around when you go anywhere. The dog and pony show that workers need to do when you touch anything that you go to a restaurant, and they’re spraying things down like excessively, or if you go to the target, they’re spraying things down, using a ton of disinfecting as well. And any, you know, probably for a good reason. I mean, I know myself personally, I like the peace of mind that comes with knowing that they are taking care of, of the germs and, and being mindful of that.
You know, even if it’s a little bit to the extreme weather to be that way, then the other way. Right. So as it relates to stepping on it’s, it seems like there’s nothing that’s changed with that. And they’re riding great momentum. There have been high gains recently because of all of this demand. And so while I see the, I S I see the reasoning for wanting to kind of sell high and buy low that’s the reason why I’m not selling step on for now. Okay. So that’s the first half of the equation, the second half we’re talking about the walk, so this is Westlake chemical. They are also in a somewhat similar business. And so actually for both of these, these are also commodity-type businesses. I was able to buy them very cheaply. I bought wlk a second time when it was on commodity high.
And that ended up being, not, not one of my best choices that one’s down, probably 35 cents, 35% from, from where I bought. And so with that, they also deal with plastics. They also deal with polymers, and those polymers are that they deal with our plastics. And those will go into so many different use cases that are surrounded by you every day between grocery store bags, and the plastic packaging I saw even like the chairs I have; there are these fold-up chairs that you can travel around with. Those are used. Those are created with polyethylene, which is one of the main chemicals that Westlake produces. Also, I randomly saw my Aldi shopping bag, which feels like a different type of material than your regular grocery plastic bag. I saw a low-density polyethylene, which is more kind of environmentally friendly plastic.
And the walk is the number one, the number two producer globally for that, for the low D for the low density. So again, we have, in this case, a business that when prices for plastics are high, they are going to do very well. And so the reason why Brian mentioned that we have decreasing income over the past five years is because of the place it’s in, in the commodity cycle. And so even before we had the COVID-19 crisis, you had a global economy that was starting to stall. And as it related to things like building and things that consumed a lot of plastics, not just general consumer uses, but also industrial and commercial, then, you know, prices started to drop as supplies, got a lot higher and demands strong. And so, you know, the question on whether you, you kind of cut your losses there or continue with the stock. It depends on how you feel about the economy moving forward, how you feel about the commodity moving forward. And so for me, I still think it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s showing that as resilience through these tough times, it’s done pretty decently ever since the COVID crisis. They’ve had some great numbers Considering everything they’ve gone through.
They don’t look like there are any risks to post negative earnings for the year. And so for me, with this type of commodity type business, with a strong financial position, strong balance sheet, I’m willing to wait it out, get that growing dividend from them, and wait for more of a commodity high to get out with that. So something like a wlk where they’re not the number one leader, I might be more willing to cut out with a profit sooner than I would with something like UFPI, it’s a leader, but at the same time, I feel more strongly about lumber demand than I do about plastics demand, even though I feel strongly about both of those. And so that factors into the decision as well,
All great stuff. I can’t top that. I don’t have any debt either. Well, I guess, you know, on the companies either, right. And no, I don’t, and I’m not, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t follow them as well Closely as you do. So I don’t feel like I can speak intelligently on either one.
I think we answered some good questions today. I enjoyed the ones, you know, Corey, Chris, Brian, thanks for writing in. These are fun to do. And, you know, I like to mix in a little bit of theory, kind of longterm stuff with some practical stuff we’re dealing with from day today. So, you know, these would have been fun and keep them.
Yeah, absolutely. We appreciate it. So I’m going to go ahead and take us out then. So thank you very much for taking the time to write us those great questions and keep them coming. Guys. It’s a lot of fun for us to answer those, and hopefully, we give you guys some good type tips and insight from time to time as we discuss these questions. So without any further ado, I’ll go ahead and take us out. You guys go out there and invest with a margin of safety emphasis on the safety, have a great week, and we’ll talk to you all next week.
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