Trading vs Investing

I often hear from people, "I don't trade. I invest. I buy a mutual fund and I hold it". Mr. Investor, did you know you are trading on a regular basis? Are you aware that mutual fund managers are changing their positions by selling certain stocks and buying others?

Mutual funds must report quarterly what stocks they are holding. You can get those reports if you want them. I can't see where it will do you any good if you are going to blindly hang on to the fund.

A few professional traders will request these breakdowns only if a fund is greatly outperforming the market. They will see what stocks the fund manager has that is making this fund do so well and may buy those stocks. Very clever.

Did you notice that the investor is only looking at the best funds and not at the underperformers or the average performers? Now check your portfolio. Is what you own in the top most profitable funds for the past 3 or 6 months?

I know your broker told you that you have to look at the returns for the past 5 or 10 years. What nonsense. Do you care what the fund has averaged for the past 5 or 10 years or do you want to own one that is making money now?

Fund managers are constantly trading trying to increase the return for their investors. It is a shame most of them have not done a better job. They are always comparing themselves to the S&P500 index. When they do that well they think it is wonderful and they never stop bragging.

The S&P500 index is an average of the market. Mr. Fund Manager gets excited doing an average job. Does your boss like it when you are average? He expects more from you. And you should expect more than average from any investment you make especially if it is recommended by an "expert" broker or financial planner.

If anyone does an average job he will be employed until the boss finds someone who will do a better job and then Mr. Average can find the door. That should be the same way you examine the stocks and funds you own. The nonperformers should be sold and new ones found that will make money or go to cash. Don't rely on your broker. His company never wants you to sell.

Investors who buy for "the long haul" are long term traders. They are not knowledgeable enough to sell when the market is going down as it did in 2000. When there is nothing to invest in then cash is the best position you can have. Having your portfolio in cash in a one or two percent money market account will many times outperform owning stocks or mutual funds.

Everyone who invests is a trader. It is only the time period that is different.

Copyright 2005

Al Thomas' best selling book, "If It Doesn't Go Up, Don't Buy It!" has helped thousands of people make money and keep their profits with his simple 2-step method. Read the first chapter to receive his market letter for 3 months at www.mutualfundmagic.com to discover why he's the man that Wall Street does not want you to know.

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