Oftentimes a person will have no idea they are doing something wrong until well after the fact. A so-called "significant other" cuts the chord and offers scant explanations as to why -- yet chances are that the decision was made long ago because of your daily actions or, usually, inactions. For another example, I admit that I just learned the ins and outs of improving a "Klout" score on Twitter -- and apparently one action that is frowned upon is loading up a tweet with abbreviations that confuse the majority of your follower base. If there are no retweets, there is no Klout score boost (a damn shame, I know).
As it pertains strictly to investing, it was only recently that I realized a nasty habit was forming -- an obsession with digesting every headline and trying to build stock ideas and opinions on the market based on those headlines. I am not lying. Literally, I plowed through every single headline, whether it surfaced first on Twitter or in rapid-fire style as I stood staring at the beautiful, orange glow of the Bloomberg terminal.
Why the seemingly unhealthy infatuation, you ask? Aside from my DNA, which is coded to go at 180 miles per hour (because 179 mph is too slow), I have been trapped into thinking that a failure to rationalize a headline potentially means missing an inflection point in the market. In turn, the reasoning has gone, I would miss sectors that are harboring ideas I'd want to recommend.
It's great to be on top of things, and flipping on that knowledge switch during a night out on the town is darn sexy. But if doing so is clouding your judgment around the basic principles of investing -- and I sense this is happening to many of you, too -- a step back is justified in order to de-clutter the old noggin.
I undertook the brain-cleaning exercise Monday. Locked in a cubby hole in the upstairs library of my alma mater, I proceeded to devote 100% of my attention to a couple of critical early-going earnings reports and a drill down into pre-earnings plays that have found their way onto my watch list in the past two weeks. The exercise was as rejuvenating as a facial mask on a Sunday evening would have been. It was as rewarding, too, in terms of gathering last-minute ideas before the start of earnings, when a premium is placed on being able to stick and move.
Old-School Thinking: Drawing Conclusions from Fundamentals