This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

The Best of Kass

Meanwhile, stick to your investment/trading knitting, and don't drift in style.

At the time of publication, Kass had no positions in securities mentioned.


Defense Drill
Originally published on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 10:49 a.m. EST.

  • Remember: It's not your batting average that counts in investing and trading; it's your defense.

Back about a week ago, on Feb. 13, I wrote a column entitled "Practice Your Defense" in which I highlighted that "the real key to delivering good investment and trading returns is not your offensive ability and swinging for a high batting average; it is importantly about your defense on the field."

This is a very important message and has been the principal subject in the comments section this morning.

It is such a valuable survival technique and means for delivering superior investment returns -- that I wanted to repeat the post in its entirety:

When we met in nineteen thirty-eight, it was November When I said that I would be his mate, it was December I reasoned he would be the greatest husband that a girl had ever found That's what I reasoned That's what I reasoned Then April rolled around
Strike three, ball four, walk a run'll tie the score Yer blind, Ump, Yer blind, Ump, Ya mus' be out-a yer mind, Ump!
-- Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. "Six Months out of Every Year," Damn Yankees

This week pitchers and catchers report, as baseball's spring training gets into swing this month.

As I have repeatedly written over the years, the real key to delivering good investment and trading returns is not your offensive ability and swinging for a high batting average; it is importantly about your defense on the field.

Let me explain.

A high batting average and an impressive display at the plate (measured by the number of stocks that rise in your portfolio as measured against your total positions taken) is important, but it is not as significant as many think.

The key to delivering returns is defense, controlling your risk by stopping your losses and, when you are up at the plate, letting your profits run.

When I mention a buy or a short on my diary, it is almost as important as how I manage the position as the actual performance of the stock.

Below are the two basic tenets that provide the foundation to good investment returns:

  1. Let it ride. If I buy Altisource Portfolio Solutions (ASPS) at $17 a share in late 2009/early 2010 and let it run to over $100 a share, it has an outsized positive impact on my returns. But only if I let it run.
  2. Stop your losses. If I buy Apple (AAPL) at $625 a share and stop my loss at $605 and don't let the loss expand on the stock's way to $450 a share, this is also a win. I have exhibited discipline, and I have contained my losses.

Now let's try an exercise.

Go over your profit and loss for your 2012 stock trades and investments. Now figure out an attribution of your returns by gains and losses. If your gains are large (no matter how few there are) and your losses (no matter how many there are) are small, you are successfully controlling your portfolio's risk and likely achieving good investment returns.

Please consider this in the future when I discuss that I am buying a stock that fails to appreciate or short an equity that rises in my face.

At the time of publication, Kass had no positions in stocks mentioned.

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.

2 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,960.57 -123.23 -0.72%
S&P 500 1,978.34 -9.64 -0.48%
NASDAQ 4,449.5640 -22.5440 -0.50%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs