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Kass: What to Do When You're Wrong

I have a little poem I'd like to read in honor of this occasion, if I may.

Spaulding, get your foot off the boat.

It's easy to grin
When your ship comes in
And you've got the stock market beat.
But the man worthwhile
Is the man who can smile
When his shorts are too tight in the seat.

Okay, Pookie, do the honors.

-- Judge Elihu Smails (Ted Knight), Caddyshack

Here is my checklist when things go different than I expect in the markets.

  • Most importantly, spend some time objectively reevaluating one's investment thesis.
  • Be honest with yourself, challenge yourself.
  • If conditions have changed, change your investment strategy.
  • Seek counsel from smart investors you know and sit down and discuss your thesis and get his/her feedback.
  • Take ten deep breaths and do nothing for a while. Like Being There's Chauncey Gardner ... just be there and watch.
  • Try to stay balanced emotionally. (Physical exercise is usually a good idea. So is a good book.)
  • Do not double down or average up until some time elapses and you have enough time to settle down, analyze your positions again and get input from others.
  • Finally, if you conclude your currently wrong-footed investment position will prove accurate, do not be dissuaded. Stand firm in view.

Doug Kass is the president of Seabreeze Partners Management Inc. Under no circumstances does this information represent a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any security.

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