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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stock Market Wisdom from The Tortoise and the Hare

Once upon a time, there was a young hare, a hotshot rabbit investor who would always brag to anyone that would listen and that he was the smartest, fastest, best performing investor in the world. He would constantly tease the old tortoise about his slow, solid investment style.

Then, one day, the annoyed tortoise answered back: "There is no denying that you are very aggressive in your investment strategy. You take very high risks and get high returns. But even you can be beaten."

The young hare squealed with laughter. "Beaten? By whom? Surely not by you. I bet there's nobody in the world that can win against me, because I'm so good. If you think that you can beat me, why don't you try?"

Provoked by such bragging, the tortoise accepted the challenge. Each of them put an equal amount of money into a new account and the race was on. The hare yawned sleepily as the meek tortoise trudged slowly off.

As might be expected, the tortoise invested in high quality blue chips, companies with household names.

The hare, as anticipated, invested his money in dotcom stocks and options.

You know the story. The aggressive hare jumped out to a big early lead. In a rising market, the highest risk stocks perform the best. This is called momentum investing. Money flows into the investments that are performing the best in stock market.

The hare, having jumped out to such a large early lead, stopped paying attention to the market environment. Basically, he fell asleep. He thought to himself, "I'll have 40 winks and still remain way ahead of that stupid old turtle."

The hare awoke from his sleep and gazed around looking for the tortoise, who was nowhere in sight. Unfortunately, while he was sleeping, dreaming about what he would do with his winnings, the market turned against him.

His very high-risk portfolio had taken a terrible beating and was now practically worthless.

The tortoise, a Warren Buffett style investor, had passed the sleeping rabbit long ago. He had been plodding forward, steadily, since the beginning of the contest. The Tortoise never for a moment stopped, but went on with a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course.

The hare realized that the tortoise was way ahead of him, and away he dashed. He leaped and bounded while gasping for breath, but it was too late. The tortoise had beaten him.

There are two very important lessons to be learned here.

First – slow and steady wins the race.

Second – never confuse your own intelligence with a bull market.



By : Gary Wollin
Gary Wollin is a Warren Buffet style investment advisor with 45+ years of Wall Street experience. He has been regularly featured in The Wall Street Journal and New York Times. He writes and speaks on sales, customer loyalty, and the stock market. http://www.garywollin.com

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